News release: Fish and Wildlife Almanac, Oct. 31

October 31, 2022

Small game license sales remain below 10-year averages

The number of small game hunters in Minnesota continues to decline along a long-term trendline. The number of small game licenses sold in 2021 was 233,901, down 4% from the previous year and 7% below the 10-year average.

Hunters who did pursue waterfowl, grouse, and pheasants had success rates similar to the 10-year averages, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ hunter mail survey.

The survey covers estimated harvest and number of hunters for two dozen species. The survey asked small game license buyers whether they hunted, what species they hunted and harvest numbers. Using the 2021 survey results, the DNR estimates the following harvest and hunter numbers:

  • Canada goose – Harvest of 218,200 geese, down 13% from the 10-year average of 251,800 geese. There were 36,100 hunters, down 26% from the 10-year average of 48,800 hunters.
  • Ducks – Harvest of 590,000 ducks, down 16% from the 10-year average of 702,800 ducks. There were 56,600 hunters, which was 21% below the 10-year average of 71,900 hunters.
  • Ruffed grouse – Harvest of 206,700 grouse, down 27% from the 10-year average of 281,900 grouse. Approximately 57,300 hunters pursued grouse in 2021, 26% below the 10-year average of 77,900 hunters.
  • Pheasants – Pheasant stamp sales (78,538 stamps) were 4% below the previous year’s sales but similar to the 10-year average of 78,873 stamps. Harvest was estimated at 210,300 roosters, which was slightly above the 10-year average of 200,400 roosters. There were 49,000 hunters, which was 18% below the 10-year average of 60,000 hunters.

The complete small game hunter survey report is on the DNR website.

Hunters: Register your deer

Hunters are required to register every deer they harvest before processing, before antlers are removed and within 48 hours after taking the animal. Hunters can register deer online, via phone or in person. Information from deer registration is essential for the DNR to track and manage deer populations. Detailed registration instructions for all methods are available on the DNR website.

Deer carcass movement restrictions in place in
14 deer permit areas 

Deer carcass movement restrictions are in place for 14 deer permit areas located in southeastern and north-central Minnesota and the south metro area.

DPAs 604, 605, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649, 655, 661 and 679 together form the Chronic Wasting Disease management zone. Hunters are not allowed to bring whole deer carcasses outside of the management zone until a “not detected” test result is received. DPAs 255, 343 and 344 form a control zone and whole deer carcasses cannot be moved out of a control zone or the adjacent management zone until a “not-detected” test result is received. Hunters are allowed to move whole deer carcasses in between contiguous management zone DPAs or from a control zone DPA into the management zone.

If hunters do not submit their deer for sampling or want to transport a deer outside of these zones before getting a test result, they must debone or quarter their deer, properly disposing of the head and spinal column inside the zones. The DNR provides dumpsters for hunters to use for this purpose.

These restrictions are part of a comprehensive strategy to keep Minnesota’s deer, elk and moose healthy by limiting the spread of disease. Hunters can find details for the DPA in which they hunt by visiting the DNR’s CWD page and using the “find your requirements for your DPA” tool.

Deer harvest numbers available online

Hunters, media and anyone interested in deer harvest data can find current deer harvest figures and harvest reports for past years on the DNR deer reports and statistics page. The page also features an interactive map and graph that visualizes the data.

DNR webinars cover preserving your harvest, winter fat-tire biking

The DNR invites people interested in wildlife and outdoor skills to tune in to upcoming webinars that will discuss preserving your harvest, and winter fat-tire biking.

The first webinar is at noon Wednesday, Nov. 2. Kraig Kiger, DNR shooting sports specialist, will discuss what to do with a harvest after a successful hunting or fishing trip. The webinar will cover ways to preserve your harvest and provide tips for preparing it.

The second webinar is at noon Wednesday, Nov. 9. Gunnar Carlson from Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists will share some of the great opportunities to bike year-round in Minnesota. From trail etiquette to snow grooming, Carlson will share the joy of winter fat biking and tips on getting started.

The webinars are part of the DNR’s Minnesota Outdoor Skills and Stewardship Series. The webinars are free but registration is required. More information is available on the outdoor skills and stewardship page of the DNR website.

Back to top