Deer season questions & answers

When are deer licenses or bonus permits valid if they are purchased after opening day?

A deer license purchased after the opening day of the season is valid the first day after it is issued. A deer license purchased before legal shooting hours begin is valid when the same day of purchase. This also applies to bonus antlerless permits.

What is the difference between a license and a permit?

A license is the basic document that allows you to hunt. A permit is something that adds on to what you can do with your original license. For example, if you have a Statewide A license and an either-sex permit for deer area 197, the license allows you to hunt throughout the state and the permit allows you to take a deer of either sex in deer area 197. Similarly, bonus permits are in addition to your regular license and allow you to take additional antlerless deer in specified areas but you must have a license that is valid for the season you are hunting.

Why did the agent ask what deer area I hunt most often when I bought my license?

You won’t be restricted to hunting in the deer area you indicate. The DNR uses this information to assess hunter success and how many people are hunting a given area. Also, it enables DNR to easily survey hunters based where they hunt.

Are crossbows legal for the archery season?

Hunters age 60 or older may use crossbows during the archery season with an archery license. Any hunter with a firearm license may use a crossbow during the firearm season.

Are scopes on muzzleloaders legal for the muzzleloader season?

Any hunter may use a magnifying or holographic "red dot" scopes during the muzzleloader deer season without a special permit.

Can I hunt one of the special areas (like Ripley or a state park) and still hunt a regular deer permit area?

Yes. The authorization you receive from one of the special hunts allows you to participate in that special hunt. It does not preclude you from hunting anywhere else in the state during your open season; however, you must adhere to the one buck restriction statewide and the bag limits for that deer permit area. For example, if you’re successful in the lottery and hunt St. Croix State Park on the second weekend, you can still hunt opening day somewhere else and then come to the park for your hunt. But if you’ve already taken a buck, you’ll be antlerless deer hunting only at the park.

Do deer harvested in special hunts count toward the yearly 5-deer bag limit?

Yes. Special hunts contribute to a hunter’s annual bag limit. Special hunt areas are distinct from the surrounding permit area; the bag limit in a special hunt area do not count toward the limit in the surrounding permit area but participation in a special hunt does not allow a hunter to exceed their yearly five-deer bag limit.

How do I register a deer taken during a special hunt?

Deer taken during a special hunt must be registered under the special hunt number assigned to that special hunt area. For example, a deer harvested in the St. Croix State Park special firearm hunt should be registered under hunt number 902 (not in the greater permit area, DPA 159).

What tag do I use when I kill a doe during the firearm season in a lottery or hunter choice area?

When you take an antlerless deer during the firearm season in a lottery or hunter choice area, you have to tag that deer with your main license. You cannot use a bonus permit. This means that you can no longer take another deer in a bucks-only, youth-only antlerless, lottery or hunter choice area and you have used your firearm license for the year. If you still want to kill a buck during that season, you have to party hunt and use someone else’s license tag, except in 300-series permit areas where party hunting is prohibited for antlered bucks. A hunter still could take a buck during the muzzleloader season with a muzzleloader license in a managed, intensive or unlimited antlerless area.

*NOTE: The same rules apply to archery and muzzleloader seasons when tagging antlerless deer in a lottery or hunters choice area.

How does the landowner license work?

To qualify for a landowner license, you must be a resident owner or tenant or non-resident owner actively farming at least 80 acres of agricultural or grazing land in a permit area that is under a Hunter Choice, Managed, or Intensive management strategy. If you obtain one of these free licenses, it can be used in any open season on your property; however, you still have to abide by the season regulations. For example, you can’t shoot the deer with a rifle during the archery season. This license is additive to the bag limit in the surrounding permit area.

What does bucks-only, lottery, hunter choice, managed, or intensive deer area mean?
  • Bucks-only deer area (YELLOW): Any licensed hunter (including those with archery and youth licenses or disability permits) may tag one legal buck with their base license. With the exception of hunters who are 84 or older or residents of Minnesota State Veterans’ Homes, no antlerless deer may be taken in any bucks-only area. If you take a deer in a bucks-only area, you cannot take another deer in either another bucks-only, youth-only antlerless, lottery or hunter choice area. Important: Bonus permits are not valid in bucks-only permit areas, regardless of weapon type.
  • Youth-only antlerless dee area (YELLOW WITH HATCHES / / /): Any licensed hunter (including those with archery or disability permits) may tag one legal buck with their base license. Only licensed youth, residents of Minnesota State Veteran’s Homes, and hunters who are 84 or older may take and tag a deer of either sex. If you take a deer in a youth-only antlerless area, you cannot take another deer in either another bucks-only, youth-only antlerless, lottery or hunter choice area. Important: Bonus permits are not valid in youth-only antlerless permit areas, regardless of weapon type.
  • Lottery deer area (BLUE): Hunters interested in hunting antlerless deer during either the firearm or muzzleloader season must apply for an either-sex permit through the lottery process. The lottery deadline is Thurs, Sept. 6, 2018, and lottery winners will receive permits via U.S. mail. Regular firearm and muzzleloader hunters must apply for an either-sex permit if they want to hunt antlerless deer. If successful, the either-sex permit will be valid during either the firearm or muzzleloader season; however, you MUST have a valid license for that season. Otherwise, those license holders will be restricted to bucks only. Archery hunters, residents of Minnesota State Veterans’ Homes and hunters 84 or older can take a deer of either sex without applying for an either-sex permit. If you take a deer in a lottery area, you cannot take another deer in either another bucks-only, youth-only antlerless, lottery or hunter choice area. Important: Bonus permits are not valid in lottery permit areas, regardless of weapon type.
  • Hunter choice deer area (BROWN): All adult hunters, including archery, firearm, muzzleloader, and disabled permittees can take 1 either-sex deer. If you take a deer in a hunter choice area, you cannot take another deer in either another bucks-only, youth-only antlerless, lottery or hunter choice area. Important: Bonus permits are not valid in hunter choice deer areas, regardless of weapon type.
  • Managed deer area (RED): Regular archery, firearm, and muzzleloader hunters may tag one deer of either sex with their base license. A total of 2 deer can be taken in managed areas, regardless of license type. Hunters can mix and match licenses and bonus permits so long as they do not exceed 2 deer total per year, no matter how many managed areas they hunt.
  • Intensive deer area (GREEN) Regular archery, firearm, and muzzleloader hunters may tag one deer of either sex with their base license. A total of 3 deer can be taken in intensive areas. Hunters can mix and match licenses and bonus permits so long as they do not exceed 3 deer total per year.
  • Unlimited antlerless area (PURPLE): Regular archery, firearm, and muzzleloader hunters may tag one deer of either sex with their base license. There is no limit to the number of antlerless deer that may be taken in this metro deer management area. Hunters can mix and match licenses and bonus permits.
When is my lottery either-sex permit valid?

The permit will be valid for one either-sex deer during either the firearm or muzzleloader season, depending on what license you have in possession. If you applied for the permit with your firearm license, you can use it in the muzzleloader season only if you buy a muzzleloader license. The same is true if you applied with your muzzleloader license and decide later to hunt the firearm season. Simply buy a firearm license and your permit will be valid for that season.

What happens to my lottery status if I don’t apply in the lottery and instead hunt in a bucks-only, youth-only antlerless, hunter choice, managed, or intensive area?

Nothing, you will retain all your preference until you are successful in a lottery; however, you will not accrue additional preference if you do not apply.

What does the youth firearm (or muzzleloader) license let me do?

The youth license is a reduced price license for youth ages 13-17 that includes a tag. Youth are allowed to take deer of either sex in youth-only antlerless areas and lottery deer areas without applying in the lottery. The youth firearm license lets youth hunters hunt during both the Statewide A and late Southeast B seasons. So, for $5, youth hunters can pursue deer throughout the state. For youth muzzleloader hunters, the $5 license is valid only during the 16-day muzzleloader season. Youth hunters may purchase both licenses. Youth ages 10 to 12 must obtain a free license to take big game.

How many deer can I legally tag per year?

During the regular seasons, up to five deer can be taken per year statewide. Hunters may hunt multiple permit areas, but must pay attention to the bag limits that are based on deer area management designations. Without exception, only one legal buck may be tagged by an individual hunter per year. Additionally, qualifying landowners can tag one additional antlerless deer in certain deer areas and an additional five deer can be taken in permit areas 346, 348 and 349 during the early antlerless season. In the metro (601) there is no limit to the number of antlerless deer that can be taken. There is also no limit to the number of antlerless deer that can be taken in permit area 603 (CWD management zone).