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home : sports / outdoors : sports/outdoors Saturday, June 24, 2017

10/8/2015 2:18:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Minnesota Deer Management
The white-tailed deer is one of Minnesota's most recognizable mammals and is a popular big game animal. It is found in every Minnesota county and adapts well to most surroundings.

At the time of European settlement, white-tailed deer in Minnesota existed throughout the wooded river valleys and woodlands of central and southern Minnesota. In northern Minnesota where the forest habitat was much different than it is today, deer were absent or rare. Moose and woodland caribou were the most abundant members of the deer family.

As European settlement cleared forests for lumber and agriculture, deer habitat quality improved through the creation of new openings. Increased agricultural land conversion eventually reduced habitat quality in many areas and, along with market and subsistence hunting, resulted in deer population declines. By the 1880s, deer were rare in many parts of Minnesota.

Natural resource management and regulated hunting has enabled the population to grow. Today, Minnesota is home to about 1 million white-tailed deer.

Season Outlook and Preparation

While deer sightings by hunters should be up in many areas this fall, hunters can expect another conservative deer season in 2015 as restrictive harvest will allow deer populations to rebuild across much of the state. The 2015 deer hunting regulations will be similar to last year, with one-deer limits in most of the state.

Hunters can buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery for antlerless deer permits starting Saturday, Aug. 1. The deadline to apply for the lottery is Thursday, Sept. 10. The DNR strongly advises hunters to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes in the 2015 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, available at the DNR's deer hunting page.

In 70 of Minnesota's 128 deer permit areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer. Only bucks can be hunted in 14 areas. In 29 areas, hunters have the choice of shooting a doe or a buck. Bonus permits allowing hunters to shoot more than one deer may only be used in 11 permit areas and for some special hunts. In three southwestern areas, DNR is restricting antlerless harvest to youth hunters only.

New for 2015 in brief

Here are some of the changes for deer hunters in 2015. For specific information, see the DNR's deer hunting page.

• Northern Minnesota hunters will again have a bucks-only season but specific permit areas have changed. In bucks-only areas, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any hunter, including those with archery or youth licenses.

• Similarly, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any adult hunters in youth-only antlerless areas. However, as a result of 2015 legislation, new this year is an exception allowing either-sex harvest by any hunter age 84 and up or by hunters who are residents of veterans' homes.

• Another change this year is the return of youth-only antlerless harvest for a few areas in southwestern Minnesota. The measure is designed to increase populations into goal range in areas where antlerless harvest under the lottery system hasn't been restrictive enough to increase deer numbers. Similar to the bucks-only designation, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any adult hunters in youth-only antlerless areas.

• One important exception for antlerless harvest is that, as a result of 2015 legislation, any hunter age 84 and up or any hunter who is a resident of a veterans' homes may harvest a deer of either-sex.

Central Minnesota

Deer numbers are up in central Minnesota due to conservative harvest in 2014, coupled with one of the mildest winters in recent memory. Reproduction has been strong, with fawns being born in late May and early June. The lush vegetation may be making it hard to see deer this summer, but does that are observed in the fields are often accompanied by one or two fawns. Bucks' antlers are noticeable and developing fast.

Deer are taking any succulent vegetation this time of year and the browse activity on shrubs and tree saplings is obvious throughout the central region. Landowners who hunt deer and maintain wildlife food plots are saying the deer are numerous and browsing down the food plots as they grow. Many of the central Minnesota permit areas will maintain conservative harvest strategies in 2015. The Metro Deer Management Area (601) will continue to allow for unlimited antlerless harvest. A variety of special hunts, both archery and firearms, have been identified region-wide for 2015.

For more information visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/index




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