BEMIDJI, Minn. - Deer hunters will have more options this season, thanks to a rebounding population, officials said.

According to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, "favorable" winter weathers and previously conservative hunting regulations have led to stable and growing deer populations around the state.

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The DNR will allow hunters to use bonus permits to harvest more than one deer in more areas than in previous years; fewer areas will require hunters to apply in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer.

Last year, 48 areas required hunters to be chosen in a lottery in order to harvest an antlerless deer. This year, only 39 areas will require it. Bonus permits may be used in 54 areas, up from 43 areas in the 2017 season.

Hunters can buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery starting Wednesday. The deadline to apply for the lottery is Thursday, Sept. 6. Archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 15 and firearms season open Saturday, Nov. 3.

Mandatory testing for chronic wasting disease (CWD) continues this year: in the disease management zone (deer permit area 603) during all deer seasons; in most permit areas in southeastern Minnesota during the first two days of both the A (Nov. 3 and 4) and 3B (Nov. 17 and 18) firearm seasons; and in several deer permit areas in Crow Wing and Meeker county areas in north-central and central Minnesota during the first two days of the A firearms season.

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