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Minnesota early antlerless-only deer hunting season

Hunters in portions of southeastern Minnesota can once again harvest antlerless deer in an early antlerless-only season from Thursday, Oct. 18, to Sunday, Oct. 21, in deer permit areas 346, 348, 349 and 603 in Fillmore, Houston, Olmsted and Winona counties, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

“The goal of this hunt is to reduce the deer populations in these areas with higher deer densities because of damage to agricultural crops and increased risk of chronic wasting disease spreading,” said Erik Thorson, acting big game program leader. “Any antlerless deer harvested as part of this hunt do not count against an individual’s normal statewide or deer permit area bag limit, so they can be considered extra deer.”

Deer populations in permit areas 346, 348 and 349 have been over the population goals established in 2014 for multiple seasons. The antlerless-only season is intended to help move populations toward established goals, reduce damage to resources and provide additional hunting opportunity.

How to participate

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

All deer must be tagged with an appropriate permit. There are a few permit and license options for those who want to participate.

With at least one valid early antlerless permit, and a valid archery, firearms or muzzleloader deer license for all four open permit areas.

With bonus permits and at least one valid early antlerless permit, as well as a valid archery, firearms or muzzleloader deer license for all four open permit areas.

In permit area 603 with disease management tags. Any hunter of legal age may purchase and use an unlimited number of disease management tags to harvest antlerless deer during the early antlerless-only hunt in permit area 603. They are available for $1.50 plus issuing fees wherever deer licenses are sold and are valid without any additional licenses. Disease management tags may not be used outside permit area 603.

In the early antlerless deer hunt, only antlerless deer may be taken, the bag limit is five, and hunters may use up to five early antlerless permits or other valid 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.

The early antlerless season coincides with the four-day special youth deer season. More information can be found at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

CWD testing in permit area 603

Hunters in permit area 603 must have their adult deer tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) by providing the head of all adult deer in one of five head collection boxes (see page 64 of the 2018 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook for location details).

After the head of these deer are provided for sampling, the hunter cannot move the carcass out of the permit area until a not detected 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.

A tent and tripod to hang deer is provided by the Bluffland Whitetails Association at the Preston DNR Forestry office. This is available to hunters to allow them to quarter their deer, leave the carcass remains in a provided dumpster, and give them options so quarters or meat can leave the 603 zone before receiving a CWD test result. Information on proper steps to follow after harvesting a deer in permit area 603 or to check CWD test results is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

CWD testing during the early antlerless and youth season outside the CWD zone is not required. Mandatory testing will occur on Saturday, Nov. 3, and Sunday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov. 18, during the first two days of the firearms A and B deer seasons 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.