Minnesota’s archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 17, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is encouraging hunters to make a plan for the season by considering safety, hunting regulations, chronic wasting disease and steps they need to take to process their deer.
“The start of fall is an exciting time for hunters who are looking forward to deer season,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “Because regulations and CWD testing requirements can change year-to-year, it’s critical for hunters to think ahead and make a plan for a safe, successful and enjoyable season.”
Hunters may notice their deer permit area bag limit has changed. The DNR increased the bag limits or lottery permits in 28 deer permit areas this year and reduced limits in 12 DPAs. Bag limit changes are made based on deer populations in each DPA relative to the population goal for that permit area. Population goals are reviewed every 10 years through a process that includes public input.
Hunters should know the DPA number of the area they plan to hunt prior to buying a license and ensure they understand CWD regulations and sampling requirements for that particular area. Hunters can use the DPA lookup tool on the DNR’s make a plan for deer season webpage to check if the DPA they plan to hunt requires CWD sampling during the opening weekend of firearms A season, has carcass movement restrictions, or has deer feeding or attractant bans in place.
As a result of CWD’s larger footprint in Minnesota, the DNR has changed the availability of self-service sampling stations. These stations will be available during firearms deer season, and the most up-to-date locations and available times will be posted on the DNR website. For archery season, self-service stations will only be available in DPAs 213, 256, 257, 262, 265 and 273. Archery hunters in DPAs located within CWD zones will have other options for submitting voluntary samples, including by appointment with DNR in some locations, through participating taxidermists and processors, and via mail-in kits.
“Many hunters are accustomed to using self-service stations during archery season and this year we’re asking them to instead consider using one of the other voluntary sampling methods available,” said Erik Hildebrand, DNR wildlife health program supervisor. “Submitting samples for CWD testing is voluntary for all archery hunters unless they’re hunting during the firearms opening weekend when it is mandatory for all deer harvested Nov. 5 or 6.”
To provide more locations statewide for hunters to submit samples for CWD testing, the DNR has expanded the network of taxidermists and processors participating in the partner sampling program. Additionally, the DNR is piloting hunter mail-in sampling kits, which allow a hunter to submit a lymph node sample from their deer. Finally, hunters within CWD zones can make appointments with DNR area wildlife offices to get their deer sampled by appointment.
Hunters will be required to have their deer sampled for CWD during the opening weekend of firearms season Nov. 5-6 in most CWD zones, including hunters using archery equipment during the firearms season.
Deer hunting regulations are available on the DNR’s deer hunting page and in the hunting and trapping regulations booklet.