Make a deer hunting plan - CWD management zone

1. Know your deer permit area

To buy a deer hunting license, you must declare the deer permit area in which you expect to hunt. If you don't know your DPA number, use the interactive deer map.

Additional tools to help

Image showing hunters need to determine where they hunt before attempting to buy a license and link to video tutorial.

Click above for a video tutorial from our Learn to Deer Hunt webinars

2. Choose your hunting season(s)

Whether firearm, archery or muzzleloader hunting, there are a wide variety of opportunities available for deer hunters in Minnesota. Be aware that there is also a shotgun-only zone and a rifle zone, and the boundary is shown on the downloadable deer map.

ArcherySept. 16 - Dec. 31
Firearm (A) - 100 SeriesNov. 4-19
Firearm (A) - 200 SeriesNov. 4-12
Firearm (A) - 300 SeriesNov. 4-12
Firearm (B) - 300 SeriesNov. 18-26
MuzzleloaderNov. 25 - Dec. 10
Metro deer management zone (701)Nov. 4-26
Youth - StatewideOct. 19-22
Early antlerlessOct. 19-22
Special huntsVaries
CWD huntDec. 15-17
3. Know the regulations

Whether you can shoot a doe or a buck and how many deer you can harvest can change from year to year in any permit area. Know the regulations for your DPA and understand how harvested deer must be handled and transported to help prevent the potential spread of disease.

Image showing hunting regulations booklet and link to video tutorial.

Click above for a video tutorial from our Learn to Deer Hunt webinars

Individual elk have been observed this fall in Clay, Norman, Polk, Clearwater, Stearns, Meeker, Watonwan, Nobles and Brown counties. Know the difference so you don't mistakenly shoot one.

4. Prepare for chronic wasting disease sampling

Your deer permit area is in a CWD management zone. In management zones, you are required to get your deer sampled for CWD during the opening weekend of the firearms A season (Nov. 4-5). Carcass movement restrictions are in place, which means that deer harvested in any season cannot be moved out of a management zone until a "not-detected" test result is received.

CWD sampling options available for deer harvested Nov. 4-5

  • Staffed sampling stations available Nov. 4-6
  • Self-service sampling stations available during firearms season only within CWD zones*
  • Taxidermists and processors participating in the partner sampling program
  • Mail-in kits (while supplies last)

*Please note: Self-service sampling stations will no longer be available in archery and muzzleloader seasons for DPAs located in management zones.

What to expect

Screenshot of township, range and section (PLS) location on DNR's recreation compass
  • Deer must be registered before sampling.
  • Hunters who harvest a deer either Saturday, Nov. 4 or Sunday, Nov. 5 in DPAs requiring mandatory sampling must have any adult deer (1 year or older) sampled.
  • Testing 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.
  • Hunters will need their Public Land Survey (PLS) number or GPS coordinates in latitude and longitude at staffed and self-service sampling stations so the township, range and section of your harvest can be recorded. For the PLS number, zoom completely in to your harvest location on recreation compass and click. Write down the PLS number that appears in the popup box.

Other regulations

There are a variety of other special regulations in management zones that affect how many deer you can harvest, what permits you can use and whether you can use deer attractants for hunting. Please review the management zone page for these important details.

5. Buy your license

Hunters can purchase a firearms, muzzleloader and archery deer license (no more than one of each per 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.

Although a deer hunting license can be used throughout the state, you must declare the DPA in which you intend to hunt. Once purchased, you can hunt in any DPA and do not need to update your initial declaration of location.

6. Get ready
  • Scout for hunting so you know how you'll access your hunting spots, and gain understanding of how the deer might be using the area.
  • Practice shooting. 
  • Prepare your hunting and safety equipment, including tree stands, safety harnesses, safety ropes and other safety-related items.
  • Get permission well ahead of the season if hunting on private land.
  • If you're new to hunting or want to brush up on your skills, check out the DNR learn to hunt guides.
Image showing deer hunting gear and link to video tutorial.

Click above for a video tutorial from our Learn to Deer Hunt webinars

7. Plan how to process your deer

You cannot take a whole deer carcass out of this permit area until you receive a "not detected" test result.

Find a processor willing to take your deer before your hunt to ensure your field-dressed deer will be accepted. If you can't find a processor, quartering or boning your own deer will allow you to take the meat home before receiving a test result. The main leg bone can remain in each quarter.

The following parts of deer may leave a CWD management zone before a "not detected" test result is confirmed:

  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached;
  • Meat that is boned out or that is cut and wrapped (either commercially or privately);
  • Hides and teeth; and
  • Antlers or clean (no brain tissue attached) skull plates with antlers attached.

Every deer – even those destined for a processor – must be field dressed.

To butcher your deer elsewhere, simply quarter your deer.

Can't find a processor? Butcher your own deer.

Please utilize all the useable parts of your deer and properly dispose of what's left using dumpsters in your area.

Throwing away or dumping a harvested deer is considered wanton waste. View details in the hunting regulations booklet. If you have a deer that you believe can't or shouldn't be processed or butchered, contact a conservation officer.

8. Be safe

Minnesota DNR conservation officer patch.Always know your target and what's beyond before you aim.

9. Make the most of your hunt

A multi-generational friends and family portrait taken at a Minnesota deer campHave fun, make memories and do your part to keep Minnesota's deer hunting tradition strong.

  • Take a friend hunting! The DNR has partnered with Pheasants Forever to help promote their Hunter Mentor Challenge in Minnesota and encourage experienced hunters to take a new or lapsed hunter into the field.
  • Brush up on your skills or help someone new learn to deer hunt.
  • Log your deer sightings. The DNR uses this information about deer populations and populations of other wildlife to compare what hunters see to population estimates used for wildlife management.
  • Share your deer camp and deer hunting photos with us so we can share them back with all of you. Plan to post to social media? Tag us!

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