Deer season questions & answers

General questions

What does bucks-only, antlerless permit lottery, either-sex, two-deer limit or three-deer limit deer area mean?
  • Bucks-only deer area, one-deer limit (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, antlerless permit lottery or either-sex area. Important: Bonus permits are not valid in bucks-only permit areas, regardless of weapon type.
  • Antlerless permit lottery (formerly Lottery) deer area, one-deer limit (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 Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, 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, antlerless permit lottery or either-sex area. Important: Bonus permits are not valid in antlerless permit ottery permit areas, regardless of weapon type.
  • Either-sex (formerly Hunter choice) deer area, one-deer limit (brown): All adult hunters, including archery, firearm, muzzleloader, and disabled permittees can take 1 either-sex deer. If you take a deer in an either-sex area, you cannot take another deer in either another bucks-only, antlerless permit lottery or either-sex area. Important: Bonus permits are not valid in either-sex deer areas, regardless of weapon type.
  • Two-deer limit (formerly 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 two-deer limit 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 two-deer limit areas they hunt.
  • Three-deer limit (formerly 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 three-deer limit areas. Hunters can mix and match licenses and bonus permits so long as they do not exceed 3 deer total per year.
  • Five-deer limit (formerly Unlimited antlerless) area (purple): Regular archery, firearm and muzzleloader hunters may tag one deer of either sex with their base license. Up to four antlerless deer that may be taken in this area. Hunters can mix and match licenses and bonus permits.
  • Early antlerless season (lined): Areas with horizontal lines as part of their fill allow hunters to participate in the early antlerless deer season from Oct. 21-24.
What tag do I use when I kill a doe during the firearm season in an antlerless permit lottery or either-sex area?

When you take an antlerless deer during the firearm season in an antlerless permit lottery or either-sex 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, antlerless permit lottery or either-sex 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. A hunter still could take a buck during the muzzleloader season with a muzzleloader license in a two-deer limit, three-deer limit or five-deer limit area.

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

Are crossbows legal for the archery season?

Hunters age 60 or older, or hunters who have a valid crossbow permit, 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. Youth may use a crossbow on a firearms license during the youth deer 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.

Do I have to stay inside the three-digit DPA that is on my license when firearms deer hunting or can I hunt the entire state?

You aren’t restricted to hunting in the deer permit area you indicate; you can hunt the entire state. The DNR uses the three-digit information to assess hunter success and how many people are hunting a given area. It also helps the DNR to easily survey hunters based where they hunt.

If I harvested a deer during archery season in a one-deer limit DPA, can I still harvest a deer in a one-deer permit area during the firearms deer season?

No, you would not be able to harvest another deer in any of the one-deer permit areas (antlerless permit lottery, hunters choice, bucks only). You could still party hunt with your hunting party, though.

Can I hunt small game from my deer blind when I am firearms deer hunting?

Yes, as long as you have a small game license and follow all the regulations for taking small game.

Does my ground blind need to have blaze orange on it? Do I need to wear blaze orange when I am inside my deer blind?

You are not required to have blaze orange on your ground blind, but we do recommend it. You are required to meet all the blaze orange requirements if you are in a ground blind while firearms deer hunting.

Licenses Back to top

Can I hunt in the late southeast (B) firearms season in the southeast disease management zone if I have a statewide (A) firearms season license?

Yes. In the southeast disease management zone, you may use either an A- or B-season license to hunt in the B firearms season.

This does not apply to the southeast control zone. You must use a B-season license to hunt in the B season in this area.

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.

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 on the same day of purchase. This also applies to bonus antlerless permits.

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 the DNR to easily survey hunters based where they hunt.

If I want to sit with someone deer hunting, but not hunt, do I need to be licensed?

No, you don’t need a license if you accompany another hunter, but you cannot assist in the hunt in any way (use deer calls, help to look for deer and help to track the deer) until the deer is known to be dead.

I haven’t taken firearm safety; can I still hunt with an apprentice hunter validation? Is the apprentice hunter validation my deer tag or do I need a firearms license as well?

You can purchase an apprentice hunter validation for $3.50 and hunt, as long as you are within sight and hearing distance of an adult who has a valid license to hunt the same game species.

The apprentice hunter validation is not your deer tag; you still have to purchase all applicable licenses and stamps for the game you will be hunting.

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 an either-sex, two-deer limit, or three-deer limit 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 the youth firearm (or youth 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 antlerless permit 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.

My child didn’t harvest a deer during the youth season. Can they use the same license for the regular firearms deer season or do they need to purchase a different license?

Yes, the youth hunter can use the unused license from the youth deer season; they don’t have to purchase an additional firearms deer license.

Lottery Back to top

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, either-sex, two-deer limit or three-deer limit 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.

Special hunts Back to top

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).

Early antlerless season Back to top

Do I need an early antlerless permit or do I need just my main license?

You must have an early antlerless permit in addition to your main license (whether it is an archery, firearm or muzzleloader license).

If I have just an archery main license, can I use a firearm during this season?

No. You must use the weapon that matches the main license used to purchase your early antlerless permit.

Can an adult hunt with the youth hunter if they are in an early antlerless DPA?

Yes, with the correct license. Adults with youth hunters who are participating in the statewide youth deer season may hunt in an early antlerless DPA if they have the appropriate license and early antlerless permit.

Can adults party hunt during this season?

Yes. Adults may party hunt with other adults during the early antlerless season. Adult members of a party cannot take antlerless deer for youth under age 18.

Can I use bonus or disease management permits during this season or only early antlerless permits?

If you have at least one valid early antlerless permit, you may use bonus permits (or disease management permits in 600-series areas).

Where can I find more information about the early antlerless season?

Visit the early antlerless season webpage and check out the regulations book.

Youth deer season Back to top

What license does my child need? The license agent said all the licenses he/she sees are for the November season.

Participating youth must have a valid youth firearms deer hunting license. Youth age 10, 11 and 12 must possess a free license. Youth age 12 and older must also have a firearms safety certificate or apprentice hunter validation.

If the youth hunter harvests a deer during this season, can they hunt during the regular firearms deer season?

Yes. If the youth uses the tag from their youth firearms license to tag a deer, they could purchase a bonus permits and harvest additional antlerless deer in two-deer limit, three-deer limit or five-deer limit areas during the November season. They could also use bonus permits or disease management permits to harvest antlerless deer in any 600-series area. Youth could also party hunt during the November season, although adults are not allowed to take antlerless deer for youth under 18.

Can a youth hunter harvest a buck during the youth season if they are in an early antlerless deer permit area or antlerless permit lottery area?

Yes. A youth can harvest a buck in any permit area. The bag limit is one deer of either sex (exception: antlerless deer may not be taken in bucks-only areas). The youth must tag the buck using their youth license tag. They would not be allowed to harvest another buck with a regular firearm for the remaining deer seasons. The youth could harvest additional bucks under an archery or muzzleloader license in deer permit areas 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649 and 655.

Is this season open statewide or are there areas that are not open to this hunt?

The season is open statewide except for Itasca State Park (deer permit area 287), which is closed during this season. The Whitewater Game Refuge is open for youth hunting, but closed to adults hunting the early antlerless season.

Where can I find more information about the youth deer season?

Visit the youth deer season webpage and check out the regulations book.