Deer hunting

Read this important notice

Deer seasons are closed. Information on this page and pages linked to it applies to 2023 seasons and may be outdated.

Details for the 2024 season will be available on Thursday, Aug. 1.

Registration for 2024 special youth hunts is open.

Camp Ripley – not the DNR – now administers all on-site archery hunting.

View lottery and license dates and hunting dates on the hunting and trapping seasons page.

News & notices

Antlerless lottery results

Winners have been selected for firearm and muzzleloader antlerless permits. Winners who have not received post cards by mid-October should contact the DNR Information Center.

Surplus antlerless permits

Surplus antlerless permits become available at 5 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 2. A firearm or muzzleloader deer license must be on file or purchased at the same time to obtain a surplus permit.

New for 2023

Changes in place for 2023 include adjustments to CWD areas, the use of crossbows and blaze orange ground blind requirements on public lands. Read more in our what's new section.

CWD testing

CWD sampling is mandatory for all deer one year and older that are harvested on the opening weekend (Saturday, Nov. 4, to Sunday, Nov. 5,) of the A firearms deer season in DPAs designated as a CWD zone.

This sampling requirement applies to all DPAs designated as CWD management or surveillance zones and must be completed within 24 hours of harvest unless a hunter uses a mail-in kit, which must be obtained prior to Saturday, Nov. 4, and the resulting sample postmarked within 72 hours of harvest.

Carcass movement restrictions are in effect for all CWD management 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.

Testing for CWD

There are several options, which are are available to all hunters – even those outside a CWD zone.

  • Mail-in kit: A free mail-in kit for hunters to test for CWD. Unused kits from previous years may be used.
  • Partner sampling: Taxidermists across Minnesota will collect samples. These partners will remove a lymph node sample and submit it to the DNR. The test is free but partners may charge fees for their services. Results will be available online.

Deer permit areas affected

ZoneArea(s)
Management zone604, 605, 643 1 (was 343), 644 1 (was 344), 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 655, 661, 679, 684 1 (was 184)
Surveillance zone101, 110, 169*, 197, 201, 233, 255, 256, 257, 259, 260, 262, 263, 265, 268, 287, 293, 341, 342
1 New CWD designation
* 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.
  • Management: CWD has been found in wild deer in these areas. Multiple management actions designed to help mitigate disease spread are in place.

New DPAs with mandatory sampling

  • 101, 201, 260, 256, 257, 262, 263, 265 and 268 in northwest Minnesota
  • 259 and 287 (Itasca State Park) in north central Minnesota
  • 233, 293, 341 and 342 in southeast Minnesota.

All deer licenses (archery, firearms, muzzleloader and bonus permits) go on sale Tuesday, 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.
  • The bag limit in antlerless lottery areas for firearms and muzzleloader hunters is one deer, which must be a legal buck unless hunters apply for and receive an antlerless permit in the lottery. The permit gives hunters the choice of taking either a legal buck or an antlerless deer.
  • 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.

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.
  • Hunters who purchase an archery deer license may take deer with a crossbow throughout the archery deer season. Archery hunters may be asked at registration if they harvested their deer with a crossbow or vertical bow. Crossbow users must be 10 or older.
  • Blaze orange is required on all ground blinds used at any time on public land.
  • Deer permit area 343 is now 643, deer permit area 344 is now 644 and deer permit area 184 is now 684. All have been added to the CWD management zone.
  • DPA 644 has a two-deer limit of which only one can be a legal buck. It also has a one buck per year limit, different from surrounding 600 management zone DPAs that have a one buck per season limit.
  • Members of a hunting party may not tag a legal buck or antlerless deer for any member of their party hunting with a youth license.
  • Portable deer stands may be left overnight in certain wildlife management areas in the northwest.
  • A licensed hunter who lawfully harvests an escaped farmed deer or elk is not liable to the owner but they must notify the DNR within 24 hours. If you harvest a deer or elk with ear tags or other identification, contact a conservation officer.
  • Hunters may only possess and use nontoxic ammunition when participating in a special hunt or disease management hunt in a Minnesota state park or Scientific and Natural Area or in a regular hunt in a Scientific and Natural Area in which hunting is allowed. See details and a view the list of SNAs open to hunting.

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.

Back to top