Hunting and CWD sampling

CWD sampling is mandatory in select areas where CWD has been found. Learn more about the restrictions and sampling requirements in these areas:

CWD test results are available on the test results page.

Read below for information you need to know when hunting in any of the 2019 CWD surveillance areas.


Firearms hunters

Firearms hunters

1. Know your zone.

  • Know what deer permit area and disease management zone, control zone or surveillance area you are hunting in. Note: Some deer permit area boundaries have changed in the disease management zones, so you may now be in a different deer permit area.
  • Know the restrictions that apply to that area.
  • Full details for each area can be found on its respective webpage. Watch these pages for updated information throughout the season, including current carcass disposal stations.

Table showing overview of hunting regulations for each CWD management zone, control zone and surveillance area.

Overview of hunting regulations for each CWD management zone, control zone and surveillance area.
(Download a printable version.)

2. Have the appropriate hunting license and enjoy the hunt!

3. Register your harvest the same day it was harvested.

Do this by phone at 888-706-6367; online at mndnr.gov/gameregistration; or in-person at one of these locations. (Full details on each method available here.) Getting your deer tested for CWD does not count as registering your deer.

4. Provide a sample.

  • When?
    • CWD management zones: Hunters must provide samples from all deer 1-year-old or older to the DNR throughout all deer hunting seasons.
    • CWD control zone: Sampling is mandatory for all deer 1-year-old or older during the first weekend of both the firearms (A and B) seasons, Nov. 9-10 and Nov. 23-Nov. 24.
    • Central surveillance area: Sampling is mandatory for all deer 1-year-old or older during the first weekend of firearms (A) season, Nov. 9-10.
  • Where?
    Use the interactive map or see a list of self-service sampling stations on your area page:

Black barrel wrapped in an orange sign with CWD SAMPLING STATION in black lettering.

Orange sign with CWD SAMPLING STATION in black lettering, staked near black barrel, attached to wood, with DNR written in white lettering.

At a staffed station (9 a.m. to 7 p.m. during firearms seasons; check your CWD area page for exceptions):

Prep your deer for sampling and gather important information, and bring your deer to the station on the same day as harvest.

  • Bring the deer in before it is frozen.
  • Have the deer’s head accessible for staff. (E.g., head facing toward truck’s tailgate, not on top of vehicle or under gear; not wrapped in tarp.)
  • Have your blue hunting license ready and know your harvest location: township, range and section. (Find your township, range and section level using the DNR Recreation Compass. Simply click the map in the area you hunted, and a pop-up box will come up under the County header, preceded by PLS.)

At a self-service sampling station:

Once at the station, follow the instructions listed to properly submit your sample. (Note: If the tag is not filled out correctly, the deer may not be tested.) You will need to provide the township, range and section of your harvest location. (Find your township, range and section level using the DNR Recreation Compass. Simply click the map in the area you hunted, and a pop-up box will come up under the County header, preceded by PLS.)

This video shows you what to expect and what to do at a sampling station.

Example of red tag at self-service sampling station.

5. Keep the carcass in the disease management zone or control zone until you receive a “not detected” CWD test result.

Whole carcasses of all deer, including fawns, taken within a CWD management zone must remain in that zone until a "not detected" test is confirmed. In the control zone, the carcasses must remain inside the CWD control zone or the southeast CWD management zone while awaiting test results.

See the carcass import and movement restrictions page for more details.

If you need to leave the zone, quarter your deer and take only the meat, and dispose of the carcass properly. Or take the deer to a meat processor within the zone.

  • If you wish to leave the CWD zone before test results are available, you may properly quarter your deer or bone out the meat; however, the head, spinal column and all brain material must remain in the zone until the test result shows a “not detected” confirmation. Learn how to quarter your deer by watching this video.

  • Carcasses can be disposed of at designated dumpsters listed here:

6. Stay tuned for your test results.

  • Check test results at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck or by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.
  • A DNR official will contact you only if your deer tests positive for CWD.

7. Keep hunting! Hunters are essential in managing CWD in Minnesota's wild deer.

Archery and muzzleloader hunters

Archery and muzzleloader hunters

1. Know your zone.

  • Know what deer permit area and disease management zone, control zone or surveillance area you are hunting in. Note: Some deer permit area boundaries have changed in the disease management zones, so you may now be in a different deer permit area.
  • Know the restrictions that apply to that area.
  • Full details for each area can be found on its respective webpage. Watch these pages for updated information throughout the season, including current carcass disposal stations.

Table showing overview of hunting regulations for each CWD management zone, control zone and surveillance area.

Overview of hunting regulations for each CWD management zone, control zone and surveillance area.
(Download a printable version.)

2. Have the appropriate hunting license and enjoy the hunt!

3. Register your harvest the same day it was harvested.

    Do this by phone at 888-706-6367; online at mndnr.gov/gameregistration; or in-person at one of these locations. (Full details on each method available here.) Getting your deer tested for CWD does not count as registering your deer.

    4. Provide a sample.

    • When?
      • CWD management zones: Hunters must provide samples from all deer 1–year-old or older to the DNR throughout all deer hunting seasons.
      • CWD control zone: Sampling is mandatory for all deer 1-year-old or older during the first weekend of both the firearms (A and B) seasons, Nov. 9-10 and Nov. 23-Nov. 24.
      • Central surveillance area: Sampling is mandatory for all deer 1-year-old or older during the first weekend of firearms (A) season, Nov. 9-10.
    • Where?
      Use the interactive map or see a list of self-service sampling stations on your area page:

    Black barrel wrapped in an orange sign with CWD SAMPLING STATION in black lettering.

    Orange sign with CWD SAMPLING STATION in black lettering, staked near black barrel, attached to wood, with DNR written in white lettering.

    Once at the station, follow the instructions listed to properly submit your sample. (Note: If the tag is not filled out correctly, the deer may not be tested.) You will need to provide the township, range and section of your harvest location. (Find your township, range and section level using the DNR Recreation Compass. Simply click the map in the area you hunted, and a pop-up box will come up under the County header, preceded by PLS.)

    This video shows you what to expect and what to do at a sampling station.

    Example of red tag at self-service sampling station.

    5. Keep the carcass in the disease management zone or control zone until you receive a “not detected” CWD test result.

    Whole carcasses of all deer, including fawns, taken within a CWD management zone must remain in that zone until a "not detected" test is confirmed. In the control zone, the carcasses must remain inside the CWD control zone or the southeast CWD management zone while awaiting test results.

    See the carcass import and movement restrictions page for more details.

    If you need to leave the zone, quarter your deer and take only the meat, and dispose of the carcass properly. Or take the deer to a meat processor within the zone. 

    • If you wish to leave the CWD zone before test results are available, you may properly quarter your deer or bone out the meat; however, the head, spinal column and all brain material must remain in the zone until the test result shows a “not detected” confirmation. Learn how to quarter your deer by watching this video

    • Carcasses can be disposed of at designated dumpsters listed here:

    6. Stay tuned for your test results.

    • Check test results at mndnr.gov/cwdcheck or by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.
    • A DNR official will contact you only if your deer tests positive for CWD.

    7. Keep hunting! Hunters are essential in managing CWD in Minnesota's wild deer.

    Information for trophy deer

    Harvest a trophy deer? Here's what to do to sample and leave the zone

    European mounts can go through the regular sampling process outlined in the firearms or archery/muzzleloader sections on this page.

    Read below for more information for shoulder mounts.

    How to get it sampled

    • During firearms season: After registering your deer, visit your deer to a staffed sampling station and let DNR staff know that you wish to have that animal mounted. After filling out some paperwork, you can bring your deer to a taxidermist in your respective management (or control) zone. Once the taxidermist has removed the antlers and cape from your deer, you are responsible for bringing the caped-out head to a sampling station testing. If you’re hunting inside a CWD management or control zone, make sure that you abide by the carcass movement restrictions until test results are returned as "not detected" for CWD.
    • Outside of firearms season: After registering your harvest, provide a sample in one of the following ways:
      • Take your own lymph node samples either by extraction or by caping the deer yourself. 
        • Bring the caped deer head to a self-service sampling station or submit your lymph nodes in a zip-lock bag. Fill out the hunter's information on a red tag and record the age and sex of the deer. Retain the head for at least three days so staff can verify you took the correct samples. If you took the wrong sample, we will call you.
      • Leave the intact deer head at a self-service sampling station, following the instructions listed. You can either skull cap your deer and take the antlers away with you, or leave your deer head with antlers attached at your own risk. You must indicate that you want your deer head back after sampling and a DNR staff member will call you to make arrangements to retrieve your deer head at an area wildlife office (this may take several weeks).

    • Any season: Specific taxidermists will remove the samples for you and submit them to the DNR for testing. (Using a taxidermist for sampling will result in a longer turnaround time for your CWD test results.) Taxidermists may charge a fee for caping. Information on cooperating taxidermists for each zone can be found here:

    How to leave the zone

    While whole deer carcasses cannot be taken out of the zone before a “not detected” test result is received, you can leave the zone with antlers or clean (no brain tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached to meet deer carcass movement restrictions. See the carcass import and movement restrictions page for more details.