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Early Minnesota antlerless-only deer hunting season runs Oct. 19-22

Hunters in portions of southeastern Minnesota can harvest antlerless deer in an early antlerless-only season from Thursday, Oct. 19, to Sunday, Oct. 22, in deer permit areas 346, 348, 349 and 603 in Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted and Winona counties, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“This hunt aims to reduce the deer population because of high deer densities that damage agricultural crops and other resources in three of these permit areas,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations manager. “This year the hunt includes permit area 603 as one of several ways to reduce deer numbers to limit the spread of chronic wasting disease.”

Populations in permit areas 346, 348 and 349 have been over the population goals established in 2014 for multiple seasons. The antlerless-only season would help move populations toward established goals and provide additional hunting opportunity.

To participate, hunters must possess at least one valid unused early antlerless permit. Bonus permits may be used but hunters must possess at least one valid unused early antlerless permit.

Public land is limited in the early antlerless hunt areas and hunters need to ask permission to hunt private lands.

In the early antlerless deer hunt, only antlerless deer may be taken, and hunters may use up to five early antlerless permits. Deer harvested during the special season do not count toward a hunter’s statewide limit during other deer seasons. Early antlerless deer permits cost $7.50 for residents, $40 for nonresidents, and may be purchased wherever hunting licenses are sold.

Hunters in permit area 603 must have their adult deer tested for chronic wasting disease and cannot move the carcass out of the permit area until a negative test result is received. Properly cut-up deer and boned-out meat can be taken out of the area provided no brain matter or spinal column material is attached. Information on proper steps to follow after harvesting a deer in permit area 603 is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd/603.

CWD testing during the early antlerless and youth season outside the CWD zone is not required. Mandatory testing will occur on Nov. 4 and 5 during the first two days of the firearms deer season in these areas. Individuals can voluntarily have deer tested for CWD through the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab at the University of Minnesota for a fee. More information is available online at vdl.umn.edu or by telephone at 612-625-8787.

The DNR has not yet made a decision about whether to have a late antlerless-only season in permit areas 346, 348 and 349 this winter.

All deer harvested during the early antlerless-only season must be tagged with an early antlerless or bonus permit, or disease management permit if the deer was taken in permit area 603. Hunters also must have a valid archery, firearms or muzzleloader deer license to participate. The early antlerless season coincides with the four-day special youth deer season. More information can be found at mndnr.gov/deer.