The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been hearing from hunters around the state that there are too few deer in the woods, and last Wednesday the DNR took action.
For some hunters, that means they will only be able to take bucks in 2014 or they will have to apply for the limited antlerless permits that are available throughout the state. Faced with fewer deer in many areas of Minnesota after a couple harsh winters and high hunter harvest rates, the DNR has dramatically scaled back antlerless permits that will be issued.
“This is the most conservative deer hunting season we’ve had in…two decades,’’ Steve Merchant, the DNR’s wildlife populations and regulations manager, said in a story by John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune.
Those who hunt popular areas around Alexandria in 213, 240 and 270 will be affected by the changes. Area 240, which was a management area last year where hunters could take up to two deer, is now a hunter’s choice area where hunters can take only one deer. Each person can still take a buck or a doe without applying for an antlerless permit.
Areas 213 and 270 were hunter’s choice in 2013 but are lottery areas this upcoming season. That means those who want to shoot a doe will have to apply for a tag through a lottery. Hunters can enter that lottery beginning on August 1 with the deadline to apply being September 4.
Hunters can only harvest one deer in 95 percent of the state now. They had been able to take as many as five deer in some areas after liberalized regulations were set in 2007 to lower the population. The DNR reached their target deer density numbers at that time by meeting with groups of people that included hunters and non-hunters alike.
The message then they said was that there were too many deer in many areas of the state. The DNR held listening sessions all over Minnesota earlier this year and heard a common message now that was much different from hunters.
“Many hunters voiced concerns about current deer densities and their hunting experiences in recent years,” Leslie McInenly, the big game program leader for the DNR, said in a statement. “We heard from hunters at the listening sessions we conducted, in the online comments we solicited and by contacting us directly. This past winter only added to those concerns so this year’s conservative approach will protect more antlerless deer, reduce the statewide harvest and allow the population to rebound.”
Hunters are urged to read the 2014 regulations booklet to make sure they know the laws for the upcoming season. The 2014 regulations booklet is currently available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/deer/index.html.
With the exception of bucks-only permit areas, a regular archery license is valid for an either-sex deer statewide in any open area.
Deer hunting licenses, lottery applications and special hunt applications are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at (888) 665-4236 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Lottery winners will be notified in October.