Deer Management

Whitetail buck standing in fieldThe 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.


  • 2015 Goal Setting
  • 2014 Goal Setting
  • Resources & Links

Goal Setting Map & Timeline

Blue areas will have goals set in 2015 2015 Green areas will have goals set in 2016 2016 Goals already are established in gray areas Completed/Not Affected


Deer Goal Setting Map

Citizen Input & Involvement

The public participation process for deer population goal setting has been designed to include input from anyone who has an interest in deer management. The process will provide opportunities for broad public input through public meetings as well as online and written questionnaires prior to convening a citizen advisory team for each goal block. Each block consists of multiple deer permit areas (DPAs) that have similar habitat types.

Citizen members of the teams that recommend goals for each block will be selected to represent the range of public interests, including hunting, wildlife viewing, natural resource management and local business interests. In addition to public input, DNR also is collecting representative data on public desires using hunter and landowner mail surveys administered by the University of Minnesota.

Participation Opportunities

Call for team member nominations: The nomination period for members to serve on one of 5 goal-setting blocks closed on November 17, 2014. For more information about the advisory teams, visit the 2015 Deer Advisory Teams page.

Additional participation opportunities will be listed here as information becomes available.

More deer in much of southeastern Minnesota is the anticipated outcome of a citizen-led deer population goal-setting process that increases deer numbers in five of the nine permit areas under review. DNR increased goal densities in deer permit areas 341, 342, 345, 347 and 348. Permit areas 343, 346 and 349 will maintain existing goal densities. Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, permit area 344, will maintain current densities.

Materials DNR wildlife staff provided to advisory team members and the public during the goal-setting process are available for public review. Contact Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader, at 651-259-5198 or send an email to to receive these materials.

Deer hunting – DNR's most-recent information on deer hunting seasons.

Harvest reports

Annual compilation of the deer harvest

Southeastern Minnesota landowner survey – This study was conducted to understand private landowners' perspectives on crop damage, deer hunting and deer management, and land use patterns in southeastern Minnesota.

Southeastern Minnesota deer hunter survey – This study sought to gather information from hunters about deer hunting in southeastern Minnesota. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to better understand deer hunting participation and deer management in that part of the state.