New deer hunting regs confusing state hunters

Associate Editor

St. Paul Each fall, conservation officers get calls from hunters
with questions regarding hunting regulations. This year, some COs
report, changes in deer hunting regulations have increased the
annual barrage.

“This year, the (deer hunting) regulations were supposed to be
simplified, but they’re not,” said Stuart Bensen, a CO from the
Erskine area in northwestern Minnesota. “It’s going to be a very
interesting fall.”

What’s confusing the matter, Bensen and other COs say, is a new
system meant to decrease DNR paperwork and hunter footwork. In many
areas of the state, hunters can obtain permits to harvest deer of
either sex over the counter. In the past, hunters were required to
apply for the privilege of harvesting antlerless deer, even though
in many areas antlerless permits were virtually guaranteed.

However, there remain parts of Minnesota those areas where deer
numbers are lower where hunters still were required to apply for
such permits. The application deadline for those areas was Sept.

To help hunters understand the changes in deer hunting
regulations, DNR officials including big game specialist Lou
Cornicelli have produced a series of maps, “frequently asked
questions” forms, and other information to make the regs more
readily understood. That includes a “flow chart” that’s available
online (

The fact that there are four types of licenses available is one
thing that confuses hunters, Bensen said. Those four license
options regular firearms, regular archery and muzzleloader,
multi-zone buck, and all-season deer are not new this year. What’s
new is that the state is now divided into three types of permit
areas, depending on the estimated availability of deer and other

For regular firearms license holders the majority of deer
hunters in the state the following permit area rules apply:

1) In “lottery” areas, hunters needed to apply for either-sex
permits by Sept. 4. The harvest limit is one deer.

2) In “managed” areas, either-sex permits are available over the
counter. The bag limit in these areas is two deer, as an additional
“management permit” for an antlerless deer is available.

3) In “intensive permit” areas, there’s a five-deer limit.
Regular firearms hunters in these areas will automatically receive
an either-sex permit and may purchase up to four “intensive harvest
permits.” The intensive harvest permits are valid in any intensive
permit area within the hunter’s chosen zone.

Furthermore, bucks may be taken anywhere in the zone for which a
regular firearms license was purchased.

Holders of the other license options should keep in mind these

In lottery permit areas, archery/muzzleloader hunters may take
deer of either sex without applying in the lottery;

Multi-zone buck license holders are limited to one buck only in
managed permit areas. They may not purchase a deer management

Bag limits for all-season deer license holders are somewhat
different. If you purchase this license, your bag limit is two deer
in lottery areas (antlerless deer harvest by firearm is allowed
only if the hunter is successful in the lottery); three deer in
managed permit areas, and up to five deer in intensive harvest
permit areas.

The pull-out section of the 2003 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping
Regulations Handbook has a color-coded map showing hunters how the
permit areas are classified this year.

Perry Loegering, DNR area wildlife manager in Grand Rapids, said
the most common question from hunters initially was how to both
archery and gun hunt for deer in the managed areas around Grand

Loegering’s also been asked by rifle hunters if they need to
apply for an either-sex permit in a managed area. The fact that
they do not has been popular.

“Those who hunt one thing kind of like this new system,” he

The latest confusion, though, according to Loegering, is that
archery and muzzleloader hunters don’t purchase deer management
permits in managed permit areas; they now may buy intensive harvest
permits in those areas.

Cornicelli said with intensive harvest permits, archery hunters
are allowed greater flexibility; they may use the intensive harvest
permits in other IHPs in their given zone.

There are other variances on deer bag limits, depending on type
of license. Some officials suggest eliminating the multi-zone buck
license next year would simplify matters.

Cornicelli spoke to COs during recent training at Camp Ripley
regarding the 2003 regulations. Bensen said the information helped,
and with further study of the regs, he’d be able to guide license
vendors and hunters through the season.

“Hunters call with questions so they don’t screw up,” Bensen
said. “They truly want to do the right thing.”

There also are exceptions for zones 3A and 3B. For those and
more specifics, see the 2003 hunting and trapping regulations

Archery deer season began Sept. 13. The season runs through Nov.
23 in the northeast border zone, and through Dec. 31 in the
remainder of the state.

The firearms seasons are Nov. 8-23 in Zone 1A; Nov. 8-16 in Zone
2A; Nov. 8-14 in Zone 3A; Nov. 22-30 in Zone 3B; Nov. 8-9 in Zone
4A; and Nov. 15-18 in Zone 4B. The muzzleloader season runs Nov.
29-Dec. 14.

Hunters encouraged to submit deer for CWD sampling

While the majority of the CWD testing effort will take place
during the firearms deer season, the DNR is encouraging archery
deer hunters who take deer in the surveillance permit areas to
submit samples, according to Cornicelli. The list of deer permit
areas can be found at:

Archers who take a deer in one of the surveillance permit areas
are encouraged to call their local DNR wildlife office to arrange
dropping off their deer head. Locations and phone numbers for
wildlife offices also can be found on the web site or by calling

When the deer head is collected, the hunter will be asked a few
questions pertaining to where the animal was harvested.

During the 2003 firearms deer season, DNR Wildlife employees
will staff 135 registration stations throughout Minnesota. All
stations will be open during opening weekend (Nov. 8-9) and some
will be open Nov. 15-16 and Nov. 22-23 for the 3B season. Call your
local DNR Wildlife office for check station specifics or if you
would like to volunteer at a station.

All hunters who turn in a sample will receive a cooperator patch
and be automatically entered in a drawing to win one of several
firearms that are being provided as an incentive from Gander
Mountain, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Bluffland
Whitetails Association, the Minnesota State Archery Association,
and Austin and Halleck.

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