One-deer limit to rule in most of Minnesota

The Department of Natural Resources is anticipating another conservative deer season in 2015 as managers continue to rebuild deer numbers across much of the state.

The Department of Natural Resources is anticipating another conservative deer season in 2015 as managers continue to rebuild deer numbers across much of the state.

Hunters harvested just under 140,000 deer in 2014.

"The 2015 deer hunting regulations will be quite similar to last year, with one-deer limits in most of the state," said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader for the DNR. "Hunters should check the 2015 regulations early, because in the majority of areas, hunters will need to apply for a permit to shoot an antlerless deer."

In 70 of Minnesota's 128 deer permit areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to shoot an antlerless deer. Only bucks can be hunted in 14 areas. In 29 areas, hunters have the choice of shooting a doe or a buck. Bonus permits allowing hunters to shoot more than one deer may only be used in 11 permit areas and for some special hunts. In three southwestern areas, the DNR is restricting antlerless harvest to youth hunters only.

Wadena is a point at which three permit areas meet - 241, 240 and 214. An eastern portion of Wadena County is in 246. The 241 and 214 kill blocks will be managed deer areas. The 240 block has a hunter's choice option. Hunters in 246 will have to enter a lottery and be drawn in order to take an antlerless deer.


"We liberalized the management in 241; this comes as a result of our public goal setting process in which a new goal for the area was to 'stabilize' the population at current levels," McInenly said. "Goals for other permit areas around Wadena are a bit older and were slated to be considered in 2016."

McInenly pointed out that the legislature is going hunting for some facts of their own.

"Due to the audit of the deer program this fall by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, all goal setting discussions/work has been postponed until the OLA report comes out this winter." McInenly said. " However, we have distributed surveys to a random sample of hunters and landowners in the Wadena area and that will provide some information regarding preferences of these groups."

Whatever changes that may be coming down the pike for area deer hunters will be coming along next spring.

"Every spring we consider field observations and evaluate a number of indices that give us information about the deer population status prior to setting the season designations," McInenly said. "We will do so in 2016 to determine appropriate strategies to maintain or move populations toward goal.

Hunters can buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery for antlerless deer permits starting Saturday, Aug. 1. The deadline to apply for the lottery is Thursday, Sept. 10.

"Given the mild winter for most of the state and reduced harvest last year, we anticipate that hunters will be seeing more deer when afield, and we are already hearing from people that they are seeing more deer this summer," McInenly said. "We are continuing a conservative harvest approach in order to raise deer numbers consistent with our recent goal-setting process."

The 2015 season marks the second year of a management approach to rebuild deer populations based on goal setting and listening sessions that indicated a desire for more deer in many areas.


Northern Minnesota hunters will again feel the impact of a bucks-only season. In bucks-only areas, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any hunter, including those with archery or youth licenses. Similarly, no antlerless deer may be harvested by any adult hunters in youth-only antlerless areas. However, as a result of 2015 legislation, new this year is an exception allowing either-sex harvest by any hunter age 84 and up or by hunters who are residents of veterans' homes.

Buying a license

All hunters who purchase licenses by Sept. 10 are automatically entered into the lottery if they declare a lottery deer permit area. Those who do not wish to harvest an antlerless deer are encouraged to purchase their license after the lottery deadline. Hunters may apply using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses. If hunters are selected for both licenses, they must select the one season in which they want to shoot an antlerless deer.

Deer hunting licenses, lottery applications and special hunt applications are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-665-4236 or by using the DNR website. Lottery winners will be notified in October.

Permit areas

Bucks-only deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 103, 108, 111, 118, 119, 152, 169, 176, 177, 178, 181, 183, 199 and 203.

Youth-only antlerless deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 234, 237 and 286.

Lottery deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 101, 105, 110, 117, 122, 126, 127, 155, 156, 157, 159, 171, 172, 173, 179, 180, 184, 197, 208, 210, 221, 222, 224, 229, 232, 235, 238, 242, 246, 247, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 258, 259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 266, 267, 268, 269, 270, 271, 272, 273, 274, 275, 276, 278, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 288, 289, 290, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297, 298 and 299.


Hunter choice deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 201, 209, 213, 218, 219, 223, 225, 230, 233, 239, 240, 248, 254, 255, 256, 257, 264, 265, 277, 292, 293, 338, 339, 341, 342, 344, 345, 347 and 348.

Managed deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 114, 214, 215, 227, 236, 241, 287 and 343.

Intensive deer areas in 2015 are permit areas 182, 346 and 349.

(The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources contributed to this article).

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