Heads up deer hunters: New rules in effect this season

Published 5:18 pm Friday, August 4, 2023

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By Cathy Wurzer and Gracie Stockton

Deer hunting licenses are on sale as of this week, but with the fall hunting season comes some major rule changes for Minnesotans.

Some restrictions are loosening but many are getting stricter on state lands.

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has decreased the number of deer people can take in parts of northern Minnesota, as well as maintaining low deer bag limits in areas where regulations have already been restrictive.

“We’re coming off several consecutive severe winters in parts of northern Minnesota, which does take a toll on the deer herd there,” Barb Keller, leader of the DNR’s big game program, said on Morning Edition.

In the metro, deer herds generally do well because they’re generally protected from hunting.

“So we usually have actually problems with overabundant deer populations in urban areas, Keller said.

There’s also new crossbow hunting guidance. In the past, hunters had to be age 60 or older to use one during the archery season or get a disability exemption. This past legislative session that changed, now allowing any hunter with a deer archery license freedom to use a crossbow, as of Aug. 1. Keller said other states that have loosened crossbow rules saw an uptick in popularity.

Also new: Deer hunters out in state parks or scientific and natural areas must now use non-toxic ammunition for special hunts. This, however, doesn’t apply to shotgun zones. Additionally, adult hunters may no longer party hunt on a youth deer license.

New areas of Minnesota have been added to a chronic wasting disease management zone and more surveillance, due to spreading infection. There’ll also be regions requiring mandatory sampling for CWD during the opening weekend of firearms deer season, which is Nov. 4-5.

“So hunters — if even if they hadn’t been affected in the past — we really encourage them to pick up and look at the new deer hunting regulations to see if the areas they hunt are now affected by these regulations,” Keller said.

Last fall, Keller says the DNR detected two deer positive for CWD in a permit area.

“But the fortunate perspective is that where we have detected it the longest, which is in southeastern Minnesota, we’ve been able to keep prevalence relatively low,” she said, “[at] about one percent.”