Minnesota DNR Unveils Deer Season Framework

Minnesota's 2016 deer season framework will allow for a limited harvest of antlerless deer as the herd continues to recover from harsh winters. News Tribune file photo
Minnesota’s 2016 deer season framework will allow for a limited harvest of antlerless deer as the herd continues to recover from harsh winters. News Tribune file photo

Minnesota’s firearms deer season framework was unveiled online today, and hunters across Northeastern Minnesota can expect a somewhat more liberal season than in the past two years. Most deer permit areas across the northeast are designated as “lottery” or “hunter’s choice,” meaning that more antlerless deer will be available to hunters.

“Things are loosened up a little bit in the northeast,” said Dave Olfelt, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources regional wildlife manager at Grand Rapids. “But it’s still a conservative approach… Pretty much everywhere, we’re below or near the bottom of our goals.”

During the past two firearms deer seasons, few antlerless deer permits have been issued so that the deer herd can recover from several severe winters in recent years.

Even in areas designated as “lottery” units this fall, the number of doe permits available to hunters will be less than in many past years when deer were more plentiful.2016 deer area designations

“I’d call it a rebuilding year,” said Tom Rusch, DNR area wildlife manager at Tower. “We’re in a rebuilding process after those tough winters. Where most hunters hunt, we’re looking at ‘lottery’ areas. But if you have a camp of six, you’re probably looking at one or two (antlerless deer permits) for the camp. We don’t want to shoot a lot of does in the early part of that process.”

The exception remains permit area 182 surrounding Duluth, which is designated an “intensive harvest” unit with a five-deer limit. (Duluth’s city bow hunt will remain classified a “metro” hunt with unlimited doe permits.)

Hunters should soon be able to pick up hunting regulations pamphlets wherever licenses are sold. Meanwhile, the new regulations are available online at mndnr.gov.

Minnesota’s 16-day firearms deer season opens Nov. 5, and the state’s archery season opens Sept. 17.