Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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A record deer hunt?

Field Editor

St. Paul Minnesota deer hunters may set a record this year.

“If I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet against it,” says DNR
Big Game Specialist Lou Cornicelli.

Estimated at more than 1 million deer, Minnesota’s whitetail
population is at a near-record high. Due to a newly revamped permit
system, early every hunter heading afield will have at least one
antlerless deer permit. In the south the crops are out. Up north,
the snow cover is likely. Provided the weather is halfway decent
when the season opens Saturday, hunters should kill a lot of

Last year’s harvest of 222,000 was the state’s third highest,
but Cornicelli points out the top three kills vary by less than
1,000 deer. He is optimistic the harvest will exceed 220,000 this
year. The high harvest won’t hurt the overall deer population. In
fact, hunters may have trouble harvesting enough deer to control
whitetail abundance. Successive mild winters have allowed the herd
to expand. In some permit areas, hunters can get additional tags
that allow them to kill up to five deer.

This year, hunters were confronted with a revamped licensing
system intended to make it easier for them to get antlerless deer
permits. Cornicelli says what feedback he’s heard about the
licensing system indicates that most hunters have been able to
figure out the options available to them. The map of deer permit
areas is color-coded to indicate antlerless permit options.

As in the past, hunters are required to register the deer they
kill. However, this year, they may meet DNR staff at the
registration stations who will ask them to donate heads from the
deer they’ve killed for chronic wasting disease (CWD) testing. The
DNR intends to sample deer from throughout the entire state during
this year and next to look for the disease, which hasn’t been
discovered in the wild here.

Wildlife officials hope to collect 13,000 samples this year. All
hunters who donate heads will get a cooperator’s patch and be
eligible for a drawing on about 20 rifles and bows, with one entry
per donated head.

For hunters who want to have a deer sampled for CWD, but want
the head for taxidermy purposes, DNR staff may be able to cape the
hide and collect the sample.

About the postcard

Hunters in permit areas where antlerless deer permits are issued
by lottery were mailed a postcard if they were successful in the
lottery. To hunt antlerless deer, those hunters must carry the
postcard while hunting. They must present the postcard when
registering an antlerless deer.

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