Deer licenses on sale Aug. 1; regulation changes announced
Minnesota hunters are now able to purchase 2011 deer licenses starting Monday, Aug. 1, the same day the state's hunting regulation booklet became available online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Booklets will be available in mid-August.
This year's archery season opens Saturday, Sept. 17. The general firearms season opens Saturday, Nov. 5. The deadline for lottery permit applications is Thursday, Sept. 8.
"We're looking forward to another good season," said Lou Cornicelli, big game program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). "Deer populations are at or near goals throughout much of the state."
Cornicelli said hunters will discover several new regulations for the upcoming deer season. The changes, he said, reflect the agency's interest in regulation simplification and the protection of the state's deer from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Significant changes for 2011
+ A new CWD management area, called Deer Area 602, has been established in southeastern Minnesota surrounding the area where a CWD positive deer was detected last fall. The new CWD management area will feature a 23-day firearm season. Submission of samples for CWD testing will be mandatory for deer harvested in this area, and there will be carcass import/export restrictions. Detailed information can be found in the regulations book and on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/cwd.
+ A new "hunter choice" deer management designation has been established that will allow hunters in certain areas to take one either-sex deer per year in one of these areas. These areas function like lottery areas, with the difference being hunters do not need to make a lottery application or possess an either sex permit to take an antlerless deer. In hunter choice areas, the license is automatically valid for an either-sex deer.
+ Bonus permits are not allowed. If a deer is taken in one hunter choice area, a hunter cannot take another deer in another hunter choice or lottery deer area. The designation was created because the majority of deer permit areas are within their established goal ranges, and DNR managers believe one either-sex deer without a lottery would allow those areas to stay within goal without going back and forth between lottery and managed areas. Hunter choice was not created to increase antlerless harvest rates, but rather to make it simpler to take one either-sex deer in the area. Overall, 30 percent of Minnesota's 127 deer permit areas are designated hunter choice this year.
The DNR still uses the lottery in areas where antlerless deer harvest is restricted and managed and intensive harvest designations when additional antlerless deer harvest is needed. This year, 27 percent are managed and 17 percent are intensive areas.
Firearm and muzzleloader lottery either-sex permits
Hunters may once again apply for either-sex or special hunt permits in both the firearm and muzzleloader seasons. In a change from previous years, hunters successful in the lottery can use their permit in either the firearm or muzzleloader season, provided they have a valid license for that season. The deadline for lottery and special hunt applications is Thursday, Sept. 8.
Although a hunter can be selected for both licenses, successful applicants still can only take one deer. In the case of special hunts, a person may draw both a firearm and muzzleloader permit, in which case they must adhere to the bag limits established by each special hunt.
This year's lottery deer areas are: 103, 108, 119, 234, 235, 237, 238, 250, 251, 252, 253, 274, 275, 276, 277, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296 and 299.
Because deer herds are largely within goals, there will be no early antlerless deer season this year, and no youth-only antlerless areas available this year. The DNR will continue to monitor harvest and population size, and may use these designations in the future. Also, the 16-foot height restriction for permanent deer stands has been eliminated.
Cornicelli urged hunters to familiarize themselves with 2011 regulations before the hunting season begins. Due to delays created by the state shutdown, the hunting regulations booklet will not be available until mid-August wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, but hunters may access an online version of the regulations at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.
Deer hunters are also encouraged to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before the Thursday, Sept. 8 application deadline for either-sex deer permits in lottery areas, and for all special hunts.
Additional information about the 2011 deer season can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.