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Plenty of opportunities for deer harvest again around Alexandria in 2021

Antlerless-only season back after doe kills increase in DPAs 213, 214 and 215 in 2020.

Deer permit areas 213, 214 and 215 in West-Central Minnesota are part of 20 deer permit areas across the state that will have an early antlerless season that coincides with the youth deer-hunting season that runs Oct. 21-24 this year. These three local permit areas near Alexandria all saw increased adult doe harvest by hunters last year from the 2019 season after the early antlerless season was allowed for the first time in those areas in 2020. (Forum News Service file photo)

Deer hunters in Minnesota can start planning their hunts with the Minnesota DNR releasing its online version of the 2021 hunting and trapping regulations for the state, and this year’s season around the Alexandria area looks similar to that of 2020.

Hunting licenses go on sale Aug. 1. The archery deer season opens Sept. 18, and firearms deer season opens the first Saturday in November again, which falls on Nov. 6.

“For the 2021 season, hunters may harvest more than one deer in almost half of the permit areas,” DNR big game program leader Barbara Keller said in a release. “Overall, bag-limit designations for this year are similar to last year, with a few changes in certain areas to move populations toward goal (levels).”

Hunters in the West-Central Minnesota deer permit areas of 213, 214, 215, 218, 240, 241 and 277 can take up to three deer with the proper tags this upcoming season.

The DNR changed the names of the bag-limit designations to make the bag limits more clear. These permit areas with three-deer limits were previously called intensive areas.


Deer Bag Limits.jpg
Map courtesy of the Minnesota DNR

Permit areas 213, 214 and 215 are part of 20 DPAs from around the state that will have an antlerless-only season that runs from Oct. 21-24. That season coincides with the statewide youth deer season.

The addition of an antlerless-only season before the regular firearms season in those permit areas of 213, 214 and 215 came after a population goal-setting process in early 2020. Through public meetings, surveys and say from area wildlife staff, the DNR set goals to manage permit areas 213, 214, 215, 218, 240, 276 and 277 toward decreasing deer numbers by 25% over the coming years.

Hunters must possess an archery, firearm or muzzleloader license and at least one valid early antlerless permit to take part in the antlerless-only season in October. The limit is five deer during the early antlerless season, which is in addition to the statewide bag limit. Party hunting is allowed.

Hunters took advantage of that early antlerless season a year ago as adult doe harvest was up from the previous year in all three local deer permit areas.

Throughout all hunting seasons, a total of 3,062 adult female deer were registered in DPA 213, 2,070 in DPA 214 and 1,967 in DPA 215 in 2020 . That’s compared to 2,312 registered in DPA 213 during the 2019 hunting season , 1,628 in 214 and 1,451 in DPA 215.

The DNR has expanded the 2021 early antlerless season to include more areas in the central and southeastern part of the state. The season increases opportunities for hunters to manage local deer herds in areas where deer populations are considered to be above population goals or where there is an increased risk of chronic wasting disease spreading.


Voluntary CWD testing in areas 213 and 273

The DNR will continue to monitor and try to slow the spread of CWD within the state by holding late-season hunts and moving back to mandatory disease testing for the vast majority of CWD zones in Minnesota after testing was voluntary in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chronic Wasting Disease testing will be mandatory in CWD zones on the opening weekends of both firearms A and B seasons for any deer older than 1 year, but there are two exceptions to that. Permit areas 213 and 273 in the West Central CWD Surveillance area are once again voluntary for hunters until the sampling goal for each DPA has been reached.

Both of those local DPAs are CWD surveillance zones, which means the disease has not been found in the wild deer herd . There are no carcass movement restrictions for deer harvested in this zone.

A CWD-positive doe was confirmed on a small deer farm in Douglas County in December of 2019. Glenwood DNR wildlife manager Kevin Kotts said in 2020 that the site of that farm is in an area of Douglas County that is not considered to have the high deer numbers that are seen in some portions of permit areas 213 and 273.

The 2021 hunting season will be the second of at least three years that the DNR will collect samples from the areas as a way to try to confidently say whether or not CWD could have gotten into the wild herd.

In 2020, hunters submitted samples from their deer at self-service locations around both permit areas and also by going through some local taxidermists and meat processors. That will again be the case this coming season, with a list of participating individuals and businesses listed on page 77 of the 2021 Minnesota hunting regulations booklet.

Douglas, Pope and Stearns county are part of the Minnesota counties with a deer feeding ban in place. Feeding deer is prohibited in areas where CWD was detected in farmed deer.

Todd County has both a deer feeding and attractants ban. Deer attractants are natural or manufactured products that are capable of attracting or enticing deer. They include salt, minerals, and any product that contains or claims to contain cervid urine, blood, gland oil, feces, or other bodily fluid.


Full information on the 2021 deer hunting seasons can be seen at the DNR’s website .

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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