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Plenty of deer harvest opportunities locally

Plenty of bucks in velvet are showing up on cameras all across whitetail ranges right now. Hunters will have more opportunities to harvest more than one deer again this year in area deer zones. (Eric Morken | Echo Press)

The DNR released the structuring of the license types for deer permit areas in Minnesota last week, and hunters around Alexandria will once again have additional opportunities to harvest more than one deer this fall.

In the release, the DNR credited mild winters and recent conservative management strategies in helping the deer populations rebound across much of Minnesota.

"Deer populations have responded well to favorable winter weather and our efforts to rebuild deer numbers, and we have been able to expand harvest opportunities in almost all areas of the state this fall," said Adam Murkowski, big game program leader for the DNR.

Hunters can buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery for antlerless deer permits now. The deadline to apply for the antlerless permit lottery is Sept. 7. Archery deer season opens Sept. 16, and firearms deer season opens Nov. 4.

Hunters can take two deer, only one of which can be a buck, in zone 213 near Alexandria and zone 240 north of Parkers Prairie.

Zone 273 west of Alexandria is a hunter's choice zone, which means only one deer can be harvested but that deer can be a buck or a doe. Zone 214, which sits northeast of Alexandria near Long Prairie, is an intensive zone where hunters can take up to three deer, only one of which can be a buck. Hunters must purchase bonus tags to take more than one deer that is allotted with the regular license.

Every year harvest regulations are reviewed, taking a wide variety of information into consideration. Department scientists use the previous year's harvest data, winter severity information, aerial survey information, where available, and other information to estimate late winter deer abundance in each permit area.

These estimates are compared to established population goals for each area and along with observation from DNR area wildlife managers, hunters, farmers, foresters and others, form the basis for final season recommendations.

"Throughout the process, coordination and discussions occur to ensure science-based decisions are guiding management decisions, with the best information we have available to us," Murkowski said.

There are 130 permit areas in 2017. In one deer permit area only bucks can be hunted (down from five areas last season). In 48 areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to harvest an antlerless deer (down from 67 areas). In 38 areas, hunters have the choice of harvesting a doe or a buck (up from 32 areas). Bonus permits allowing hunters to harvest more than one deer may be used in 43 permit areas and for some special hunts (up from 24 areas).

Chronic wasting disease sampling

The discovery of deer infected with chronic wasting disease that were raised in captivity on farms in Crow Wing and Meeker counties means that wild deer harvested from permit areas surrounding those farms will be tested for CWD this fall during the first two days of the firearms deer season. Those areas are:

• North central (Crow Wing County area): Permit areas 155, 171, 172, 242, 246, 247, 248 and 249.

• Central (Meeker County area): Permit areas 218, 219, 229, 277, 283 and 285.

Wild deer in these areas are not known to have CWD. Testing will determine if the disease has spread.

Testing also will be mandatory during the first two days of the firearm season in permit areas surrounding the disease management zone in southeastern Minnesota. Those areas are 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349.

Deer harvested within the disease management zone — deer permit area 603 — will be tested throughout the season and carcass movement restricted until a test result is received.

Deer permit area 603 will again open for late season hunting from Jan. 6-14, 2018. More information will be available approaching the firearms deer season.

Carcass movement restrictions

Hunters who harvest deer outside the state are reminded that they cannot bring whole carcasses of any member of the deer family into Minnesota.

These animals include but are not limited to white-tail deer, mule deer, black-tail deer, elk, caribou and moose. More information is available at mndnr.gov/deerimports.

Regularly updated deer information, including the DNR's deer permit mapping tool, can be found online at mndnr.gov/deer. See the 2017 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations guide for more information.

2017 permit area breakdown

The following is a breakdown of 2017 deer permit areas. A hunter may tag one legal buck per year, without exception. In southeastern Minnesota's 300 series permit areas, these designations apply to both early and late — A and B — seasons.

Only male deer with one antler at least three inches long may be harvested in the bucks-only permit area 119.

Lottery Areas (Hunters must be selected in the lottery to harvest an antlerless deer): 103, 108, 111, 126, 132, 152, 159, 169, 173, 176, 178, 181, 183, 197, 199, 224, 234, 235, 237, 238, 250, 251, 252, 253, 262, 266, 269, 270, 271, 272, 274, 275, 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297 and 299.

Hunter's Choice (Hunters can choose to shoot a single buck or single antlerless deer): 101, 105, 110, 114, 117, 118, 130, 131, 133, 155, 156, 171, 172, 177, 179, 184, 203, 208, 219, 221, 222, 223, 230, 239, 246, 247, 249, 254, 258, 260, 273, 277, 281, 290, 298, 338, 339 and 344.

Management Areas (Hunters may harvest two deer, only one of which may be a buck): 157, 201, 209, 210, 213, 218, 225, 227, 229, 232, 233, 236, 240, 242, 248, 255, 256, 257, 259, 261, 263, 264, 265, 267, 268, 276, 292, 293, 341, 342, 343, 345 and 347.

Intensive Areas (Hunters may harvest up to three deer, only one of which may be a buck): 182, 214, 215, 241, 287 (no archery hunting), 346, 348 and 349. This is a change from previous years when up to five deer could be taken in intensive harvest permit areas.

Deer permit areas 346, 348, 349 and 603 are open for the early antlerless-only hunt in October.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

(320) 763-1229
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