Deer hunting seasons information

News & notices

CWD tests voluntary

To minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission among hunters, all CWD testing will be voluntary in 2020. Hunters are being asked to tag and drop deer heads at designated collection stations.

Movement restrictions

To help minimize the risk of CWD spread, deer carcass movement restrictions are in place. Restrictions vary but even with voluntary CWD sampling, all restrictions remain in place.

Questions & answers

Got a question about the season? Want more details on deer regulations? Take the time to review our FAQ and the deer section of the new hunting and trapping regulations booklet.

Chronic wasting disease

2020 CWD testing is voluntary

In an effort to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission among hunters, all CWD testing will be voluntary for fall 2020. Instead of staffing sampling stations, DNR will provide self-service stations where hunters can properly mark, tag and drop deer heads.

In all deer permit areas where CWD has been detected, hunters are asked to voluntarily submit deer heads from deer one year of age or older at a self-service sampling station. Hunter-submitted samples are one of the most important ways to help monitor the extent of this disease.

Carcass movement restrictions remain 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.

Deer permit areas affected

ZoneArea(s)
East-central surveillance area157, 159, 225, 236
North-central management zone604
South metro management zone605
South metro surveillance area292, 293, 338, 341, 701
Southeast control zone255, 343, 344
Southeast management zone643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 655
West-central surveillance area213, 273

CWD zone & area definitions

Surveillance: CWD has been detected in captive cervid (deer, elk, etc.) facilities. DNR tests harvested deer in these areas to monitor for potential spread of the disease to wild deer.
Management: CWD has been detected in wild deer. Disease management activities and hunter restrictions are in place to help prevent potential disease spread.
Control: A buffer area around a management zone.  Control zone restrictions help prevent disease spread from the management zone to surrounding areas.

Test for CWD yourself

If you hunt in a deer permit area that is not in a CWD disease mangement zone, control zone or surveillance area 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.

Licenses

All deer licenses (archery, firearms, muzzleloader and bonus permits) go on sale Saturday, 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.

Regulations

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.

New for 2020

  • Special CWD regulations, including voluntary disease testing and carcass movement restrictions are in effect in a number of areas.
  • A new CWD management area has been created in the south metro. Special regulations apply.
  • Due to the continued expansion of the CWD management zones, antler point restrictions are temporarily canceled statewide.
  • Party-hunting (also known as cross-tagging) for antlered bucks is allowed statewide.
  • The early antlerless deer season has been expanded to include more deer permit areas.
  • Experimental regulations allowing hunters to leave portable tree stands overnight in some northwestern Minnesota WMAs have been discontinued.
  • Some deer permit area boundaries have changed. Check the map to ensure the boundaries of areas in which you hunt have not changed.

Download the 2020 Hunting & Trapping Regulations book.

Special hunts

DNR, municipalities and organizations across Minnesota offer opportunities to hunt at special times and in areas that might regularly be closed to hunting.

Participation in these hunts is limited and often requires special registration. Consult the information contained in regulations book and the links below to register and participate in these hunts.

Earn-a-buck regulations apply during some special hunts. The regulation requires that a hunter harvest and tag an anterless deer with his or her own tag before harvesting a antlered deer.

Learn to hunt

Do you value strong connections to your outdoors and the food you eat? Are you looking for a new way to interact with the fields, woods, and waters around you?

Then register for a series of 10 free, one-hour Learn To Deer Hunt lunchtime webinars over the five weeks leading up to the statewide youth deer season on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Beginning in September, the DNR also will offer a series of short videos designed to help make you a better deer hunter. From sighting in your gun to managing land to reading deer sign and setting up your stand, these videos are intended to help regardless of your experience level.

Discover fall fields and forests with help from our archery and firearms how-to-hunt-deer guides.

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.