Make a deer hunting plan

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. 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.

5. 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.
  • Consider whether you want to participate in optional chronic wasting disease sampling.
  • 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

6. Plan how to process your deer

Processed venison in plastic wrappings identifying the meat.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.

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.

7. Be safe

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

8. 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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