Minnesota DNR unveils what deer hunters can expect this season

Bring Me The News
Bring Me The News
Oct 18, 2021

It's shaping up to be a good deer hunting season in most areas of Minnesota, wildlife officials say.

The firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 6, and nearly 500,000 hunters are expected to participate this season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said Monday.

The DNR's wildlife managers say weather has been favorable so far this year and there are "good opportunities to harvest deer in most areas," the release said.

"Currently, managers report dry conditions that can improve hunter access due [to] low water conditions in wetlands, floodplains and small water bodies," the DNR says. "Dry conditions are also resulting in greater fire danger, and deer hunters are advised to be careful with any heat source that can cause a spark."

The DNR says hunters help keep deer numbers in line with state deer population goals. It's the primary tool used to manage deer populations.

Here's a look at what to expect this year in different areas of the state:

Southern Minnesota

The drought conditions for much of the year had "no measurable impact" on the deer herd in southern Minnesota and the DNR says fawn production "was good."

The overall deer habitat is in good shape despite the drought conditions. In fact, river floodplains had two years to recover after persistent flooding.

River floodplains, which offer some of the best deer habitats in the region, are providing "excellent cover for deer, which bodes well for deer hunters," the DNR said in its release.

"Upland grassland areas and wetland basins are in good shape as well, and hunters may encounter lower water levels or completely dry wetland basins, the DNR said. "Conditions will be spotty with recent rains."

The DNR also notes that the fall crop harvest is in full swing and is ahead of schedule, which is good news for hunters because deer will start using other habitats as cover instead of corn.

In southern Minnesota, the DNR has adjusted some deer permit boundaries, which impacts regions 237, 275, 276, 281, 282, 283 and 295. The DNR says this will make population modeling more accurate, and they were something local hunters requested.

The Minnesota DNR's website has information about each permit area statewide and CWD areas.

Central Minnesota

Deer populations are "robust" in the central part of the state and are above to well-above goal levels throughout nearly all central Minnesota permit areas, the DNR says. Many permit areas allow hunters to kill up to three deer.

Like southern Minnesota, things are also quite dry in central Minnesota due to the summer drought. Recent rainfall has greened things up a bit but many wetlands are dry to low, which the DNR says will improve hunter access.

And the crop harvest is a couple weeks ahead of schedule in some areas, with the majority of crops expected to be harvested by the start of firearms deer season, the DNR said. This is good news for hunters as deer will start using other habitats as cover instead of corn fields.

The DNR says acorn production has been "decent" in some areas, while "marginal to spotty" in others, adding some of the red oaks are dropping acorns.

The dry conditions have also limited the mosquitos and other bugs for early season hunters.

Overall, the DNR says the forecast for archery and firearms deer hunting is "very good." And wildlife officials in the central region of Minnesota as urging deer hunters to take advantage of bonus licenses to hunt antlerless deer from Oct. 21-Oct. 24 to help manage deer populations.

The Minnesota DNR's website has information about each permit area statewide and CWD areas.

Northeastern Minnesota

The drought in northeastern Minnesota is not expected to have negatively impacted the deer populations in the region. In fact, dry conditions are expected to increase access opportunities in wetlands, streams and along the lakeshore.

Though, the DNR says access due to surface water is "expected to be close to normal."

The DNR says:

"Hunters are expected to encounter the most deer in areas of mixed habitat where there is a blend of forest and open fields of private land. Areas farther north with extensive public lands are still struggling to recover from past harsh winters. It’s important to acknowledge that the deer population recovery is typically faster in the south and southwestern part of the region, while their recovery generally takes longer when moving to the north and northeast."

Bag limits this year will be "conservative" in most northeastern Minnesota deer permit areas to give the local deer populations a chance to grow more. This winter, the DNR will review deer population goals for additional permit areas in the northeast region this winter.

The Minnesota DNR's website has information about each permit area statewide and CWD areas.

Northwestern Minnesota

Deer survival last winter was good in most of the northwestern part of the state, with deer populations being stable and "generally in good shape," the DNR said.

"There are plenty of deer on the landscape and hunters who do their homework and spend time in the woods and fields should have plenty of opportunities to harvest deer," the DNR said.

Thanks to drought conditions, much of northwestern Minnesota is more dry than normal, which should allow better access to public lands due to low water levels in wetlands and ditches. The crop harvest is also "well ahead of schedule" so hunters shouldn't expect any corn to get in the way when the firearms season opens.

In northwestern Minnesota, many permit areas have two- or three-deer limits. Hunters should check the regulations for the permit areas they hunt because some have lower limits in place to allow the deer her to grow, including 203, 297, 298 and 111.

The Minnesota DNR's website has information about each permit area statewide and CWD areas.

Comments / 6

Richard Axelson

In the northeast zones we have had conservative limits for years. They blame everything but an over abundance of wolves. We have to thin the wolves down to a reasonable level but the DNR doesn’t seem to want a hunt just our license money.


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