- 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
- 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.
Season Dates Archery Sept. 16 - Dec. 31 Firearm (A) - 100 Series Nov. 4-19 Firearm (A) - 200 Series Nov. 4-12 Firearm (A) - 300 Series Nov. 4-12 Firearm (B) - 300 Series Nov. 18-26 Muzzleloader Nov. 25 - Dec. 10 Metro deer management zone (701) Nov. 4-26 Youth - Statewide Oct. 19-22 Early antlerless Oct. 19-22 Hunt Dates Special hunts Varies CWD hunt Dec. 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.
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 permit area is a CWD surveillance zone, which means that CWD has been found in captive deer or wild deer in a nearby deer permit area. Precautionary management actions in place in this DPA can detect an infection early. In surveillance zones:
- Testing is mandatory during the opening weekend of the firearms A season (Nov. 4-5).
- Deer must be registered before sampling.
- 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.
- Deer feeding and attractant bans may be in place. Deer permit areas (DPAs) do not necessarily follow county lines. A DPA may only partially overlap with a county that has a deer feeding and attractant ban in place.
CWD sampling options
You have multiple options for getting your deer sampled for CWD including staffed sampling stations, self-service sampling stations, the partner sampling program, mail-in kits and by appointment at a local DNR wildlife management area office. Visit the surveillance zone page for details about these options including when and where they're available. There are also options available if you wish to get your deer tested regardless if it's required.
What to expect
- 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.
- 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.
There are a variety of other special regulations in surveillance zones. Please review the CWD surveillance 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.
- 7. Plan how to process your deer
Some processors may not accept deer from hunters. Contact the processor you plan to use before your hunt to ensure your field-dressed deer will be accepted.
- Every deer – even those destined for a processor – must be field dressed.
- Want to butcher elsewhere? Simply quarter your deer.
- Don't have a processor? Butcher your own deer.
Please utilize all the useable parts of your deer and properly dispose of what's left. Disposal is allowed:
- On private land with the landowner's permission;
- Through your refuse hauler after checking how to properly bag the carcass; or
- At a landfill.
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
Always know your target and what's beyond before you aim.
- 9. Make the most of your hunt
- 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!