Hunting and CWD sampling

As part of the DNR's COVID-19 response, CWD sampling is voluntary in select areas where CWD has been found.

Read below for information you need to know when hunting in any of the 2020 CWD sampling areas.

How to submit your deer for voluntary sampling

1. Plan ahead and know your zone.

Know your deer permit area and what disease management zone, control zone or surveillance area you are hunting in. (Note: Some deer permit area boundaries have changed, 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.

While planning ahead, make sure you know how you'll be handling your deer carcass, especially where deer carcass movement restrictions are in place. Check in with your meat processor and taxidermist for availability well in advance of bringing in your deer.

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

Make sure that you have the right hunting license for your hunt and know the regulations. Have fun and be safe out there!

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

Do this by phone at 888-706-6367; online at; 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. Voluntarily provide a sample.


Sampling is critical to understanding how persistent CWD is within the deer herd, which is critical to our management of the disease. The DNR strongly encourages hunters to provide samples to help collect this data by providing deer heads at local sampling stations.

Where and when?

Use the interactive map or see a list of self-service sampling stations on your area page. Please note that some areas have sampling goals and will not have stations out for all seasons.

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.)

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

You will need to provide the township, range and section of your harvest location on the tag. You can find this information on the map at the station, which notes TRS information in a grid on the map, or by using the DNR Recreation Compass. If using 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 (which is the same as TRS).

Example of red tag at self-service sampling station.

5. Keep the carcass within any 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.)

The DNR provides dumpsters for hunters so that they can properly dispose of their carcasses. Locations are listed here:
6. Stay tuned for your test results.
  • Check test results at 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.

Your participation is appreciated and helps us keep our wild deer healthy. Thank you!

Other sampling information

Harvest a trophy deer? Here's how you can submit a sample

Deer heads will not be returned to hunters after sampling, so if you would like to keep your antlers and provide a sample, register your deer and then provide a sample in one of the following ways.

(Note: If you harvest a deer in a management or control zone, deer carcass movement restrictions are still in effect in management or control zones, regardless of which option you use below.) 

Use a self-service sampling station.

  • 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.
  • Skull cap your deer, follow instructions to leave the head, and take the antlers away with you.

Bring in your deer to get it sampled.