Hunters need to be aware of significant regulation changes this year
Deer hunters will have more ways to hunt in Minnesota this fall, and deer hunting licenses can be purchased starting Aug. 1.
“We’re excited for deer season. Hunters have a lot to look forward to this year,” said Barb Keller, big game program leader. “We encourage all hunters to review the new hunting regulations and make a plan for hunting success.”
New this year, crossbows are allowed for all deer hunters with an archery license, synthetic ground blinds on public lands are required to have blaze orange covering, some chronic wasting disease zones have changed, nontoxic ammunition will be required for special hunts in state parks or in scientific and natural areas where hunting is allowed, and some harvest limits are reduced in northeast and north-central Minnesota while most areas have similar bag limits as last year.
Deer hunting specifics can be found on the Minnesota DNR website. Electronic copies of all 2023 Minnesota hunting regulations are available now online. Printed copies will be available by the end of August wherever licenses are sold.
After a tough winter, deer hunters in northern Minnesota might see fewer deer. In central and southern Minnesota, deer likely fared well.
“Hunters in most of Minnesota can expect a season similar to last year in terms of how many deer they can harvest,” Keller said. “The lower bag limits in northeast and north-central Minnesota aim to allow deer populations to recover after back-to-back severe winters. Deer are resilient and we are hopeful deer populations there will gradually recover along with lower harvests, especially if we get some mild winters.”
The Minnesota DNR increased the bag limit or lottery permits in 12 deer permit areas this year, 80 DPAs have the same designation as last year, and 38 DPAs have reduced bag limits or lottery permits. Information about specific DPA bag limits and other season information is available on the Minnesota DNR website.
The crossbow change allows all hunters who purchase an archery deer license to take deer with a crossbow throughout the archery deer season. Previously, only hunters 60 years or older, individuals with a disability who had a valid permit, or any hunter with a valid firearms license hunting during the firearms season could use crossbows. Hunters will be asked whether they harvested their deer with a crossbow or vertical bow when they register their deer.
The change on ground blinds requires that fabric or synthetic blinds on public land must have a blaze orange safety covering on top of the blind that is visible from all directions, or a patch made of blaze orange that is at least 144 square inches (12×12 inches) on each side of the blind.
CWD sampling continues
It’s important for hunters to get their deer tested in CWD zones. This year, some DPAs were added to CWD zones and some were removed. Hunters should check the requirements and available sampling options for the DPAs where they hunt. Hunters can find this DPA-specific information by visiting the make a plan tool.
Hunters are required to have their deer 1 year or older sampled for CWD in all CWD management and surveillance zones during the opening weekend of the firearms A season (Nov. 4-5). In all areas outside CWD management and surveillance zones, hunters will have other options to get their deer sampled for CWD.
Sampling options include requesting a mail-in kit before hunting or utilizing kits obtained but not used last year. Hunters also may participate in the partner sampling program.
Visit the Minnesota DNR website throughout the deer season for the most up-to-date information, find sampling locations or request a mail-in sampling kit.