Deer hunting seasons information

News & notices

Archery season opens

Archery deer season starts Saturday, Sept. 18, and is open through Friday, Dec. 31. Review the archery deer information and big game equipment information in the hunting regulations booklet before heading out.

Deer hunting how-to

Interested in deer hunting? Watch our series of 10 online videos for information, explanations and tips on how to venture into field and forest this fall. You also can see how to field dress, skin and quarter a deer.

New for 2021

A number of changes are in place for 2021. Among them are additions to CWD areas, the return of mandatory CWD testing and new bag limit labels. Read more in our what's new section or the regulations book.

CWD testing

CWD sampling is mandatory for all deer one year and older that are harvested in any CWD zone on the opening weekend of the A or B firearms deer season. Voluntary sampling options are available outside of opening weekends for deer harvested within a CWD zone.

Exceptions: Deer permit areas 213 and 273, which are part of a risk-based surveillance program. Both areas will accept voluntary samples until its sampling goal is reached.

Sampling stations, either staffed or self-service, will be available in every CWD zone on opening weekends.

Carcass movement restrictions are in effect for all CWD management and control zones.

Detailed maps and corresponding information are available in the CWD information section and on the fold-out deer map, which is distributed with the printed regulations booklet.

Test for CWD yourself

If you hunt in a deer permit area that is not in a CWD zone but still would like to have your deer checked, watch this video to learn how to collect a lymph node sample and pay for a private test.

Deer permit areas affected

ZoneArea(s)
Management zone604, 605, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 655
Control zone255, 343, 344
Surveillance zone110, 157*, 159, 184, 169*, 197, 213, 225*, 233, 235*, 236*, 273, 292, 293, 338, 341, 342, 701*
* Only a portion of this deer permit area is within the surveillance zone.

CWD zone definitions

  • Surveillance: CWD has been found in captive deer in this zone or in wild deer in an adjacent deer permit area or state. The DNR is gathering information to determine if CWD has infected any wild deer in these deer permit areas. Some precautionary management actions are in place.
  • Control: This zone borders a management zone where CWD in wild deer persists or a slight spread has been documented. These areas are designated to help prevent further disease spread.
  • Management: CWD has been found in wild deer in these areas. Multiple management actions designed to help mitigate disease spread are in place.

Licenses

All deer licenses (archery, firearms, muzzleloader and bonus permits) go on sale Sunday, Aug. 1. Once on sale, licenses may be purchased at any time before or during the season.

After a deer season is open, all licenses and permits are valid the same day of purchase if purchased before legal shooting hours. If the license or permit is purchased after legal shooting hours have begun, it is valid the following day.

  • A person may purchase no more than one firearms, muzzleloader and archery deer license in a calendar year.
  • Bonus, early antlerless season and disease management permits may be purchased in addition to regular licenses. Bonus permits may be purchased throughout the season but must be in possession when taking deer. Regular licenses and bonus permits may be used in any order.
  • A person may not take or tag deer without the appropriate license or permit. The term “take” includes attempting to take deer, deer drives, spotting or otherwise assisting another person in taking deer.

Tagging your deer

Your deer license and site tag comes as a two-part form. The upper half is the site tag for tagging the deer in the field. The lower half is the deer license and registration slip. Hunters must do the following:

  • Detach the site tag from the deer license/registration slip.
  • Before moving the deer, the hunter whose name is on the license validates the tag by using a knife or similar sharp object to cut out the notches indicating the month, date and time of day the deer was killed (AM/PM).
  • If more than one month, date or time is cut out or marked, the tag becomes invalid.

Download the 2021 Hunting & Trapping Regulations book.

General

  • Hunters may not take deer with the aid or use of bait.
  • Ensure you are using legal equipment for taking big game.
  • Hunters using firearms to take big game must use legal ammunition.
  • Legal bucks have one antler at least 3 inches long.
  • Fawn bucks, sometimes called button bucks, are not legal bucks.
  • Antlerless deer are deer without an antler at least 3 inches long.
  • Know the difference between a deer and an elk.
  • Special CWD regulations, including mandatory disease testing and carcass movement restrictions are in effect in a number of areas. See page 68-78.
  • Deer permit areas 110, 184 197, 233, 342, and 169 west of Highway 6 have been added to the CWD surveillance zone. See page 70.
  • Bag limit labels have changed:
    • Lottery is now antlerless permit lottery
    • Hunter choice is now either sex
    • Managed is now two-deer limit
    • Intensive is now three-deer limit
    • Unlimited antlerless is now five-deer limit
  • The early antlerless deer season has been expanded to include more deer permit areas. See page 81.
  • Several changes to permit area boundaries are depicted on the fold-out 2021 Deer Season Area Map. Affected permit areas include 169, 171, 172, 173, 179, 184, 197, 237, 259, 275, 276, 277, 281, 282, 283, and 295. Find precise detail in the online interactive deer map.
  • The Camp Ripley archery hunt is a single, three-day hunt. Applicants must apply for the lottery by August 20.
  • Late CWD hunts will be held in DPAs 343, 605, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, and 655, December 17 - 19 and December 31 - January 2. See page 83.

Management

Hunting is only one aspect of the DNR's effort to manage deer for the public trust. We are committed to socially and ecologically responsive and responsible deer management for the benefit of all Minnesotans now and into the future. Visit our deer management page to learn about the many things we do to manage one of Minnesota's most popular animals.