Hunters can start planning ahead for the deer season with the release of the 2020 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping regulations handbook, now available on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources deer hunting page at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.
“This season, hunters in general will see more chances to harvest deer,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “These opportunities are due to increases in deer populations in much of the state and as part of our response to chronic wasting disease in southern Minnesota.”
Hunting licenses went on sale Aug. 1, and are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-665-4236, or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense.
The popular youth deer hunting season continues and will happen statewide Oct. 15-18. During last year’s inaugural statewide youth season, nearly 5,700 young deer hunters harvested a deer, which represented a 77 percent increase from the previous season when it was limited to fewer areas.
“Positive early hunting experiences go a long way toward starting or continuing a rewarding fall tradition,” Keller said. “We’re excited to be able to continue providing this great opportunity that helps adults introduce youth to all that deer hunting has to offer.”
Other deer season changes include:
The DNR has expanded the early antlerless deer season, Oct. 15-18, to include more deer permit areas in central and southeastern Minnesota. The season increases opportunities for hunters in areas where deer populations are above population goals, or where there is an increased risk of chronic wasting disease spreading. Permit areas open during the hunt are 213, 214, 215, 341, 342, 343, 344, 604, 605, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649 and 655.
Several deer permit area boundaries in north-central and northwestern Minnesota have changed due to input from the public and DNR staff during the deer population goal-setting process, or in response to CWD spread. Hunters should double check the boundaries of any permit areas where they plan to hunt.
CWD testing requirements
There are significant changes to the regulations related to chronic wasting disease, as the DNR continues its aggressive management of CWD and also ensuring hunter and staff safety by implementing sampling changes that allow for social distancing and community mitigation measures.
The DNR has created additional CWD testing areas due to the detection of CWD in both wild and captive deer in new areas last year. While sampling is voluntary this season, a move the DNR made to mitigate the risk of spreading coronavirus during the COVID-19 pandemic, the DNR highly encourages hunters in these sampling areas to participate in testing their harvested wild deer. The DNR remains confident that hunter cooperation will allow the agency to detect the disease.
Since fall 2017, the DNR has required hunters to have their deer tested for CWD in certain areas of the state to monitor the disease and discover new areas where it may have spread. Rather than having staffed sampling stations as in the past, the DNR will set up a network of self-service stations where hunters can drop off samples. Full details will be available on the CWD webpage closer to the start of the season.
On July 1, deer feeding and attractant bans were expanded to include the metro area. In addition, due to the spread of CWD, the antler point restrictions in southeastern Minnesota have been temporarily lifted and cross-tagging, also known as party hunting, will be allowed in southeastern Minnesota for antlered bucks.
As in previous years, the DNR is enforcing carcass movement restrictions in disease management and control zones to limit the spread of disease.
Additional regulation changes are detailed on the DNR’s deer hunting webpage at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.