By Joe Albert
St. Paul – As the DNR’s big-game program coordinator, Lou
Cornicelli was instrumental in creating this fall’s early
antlerless deer season, the first of its kind in the state.
But he’s not just going to sit on the sidelines and wait to see
how it turns out.
”I’ve got a new flintlock and I want to try that out,
so I’ll be there,“ Cornicelli said.
He’ll join thousands of other hunters in trying to thin deer
herds in areas where traditional management hasn’t worked. The
two-day season is set for Oct. 15 and 16 in eight northwest permit
areas (209, 210, 225, 227, 236, 252, 256, and 257).
As of Tuesday morning, 1,125 permits has been sold for the early
season. That surprised Cornicelli, who figured sales would be low
until just before the season began. Neither he nor the other five
hunters he’s going with have purchased a permit yet.
Any hunter with a valid Zone 2 license and a $14 early
antlerless tag can kill a deer.
”Basically, we’re looking at another way to reduce
overall deer populations,“ Cornicelli said. ”It’s a good
opportunity for people to go out and get their first deer of the
Each of the early season areas has a long history of offering
intensive harvest permits, yet the deer population still is too
high. The season is modeled after the T-Zone in Wisconsin, which
has ”noted quite a bit of effectiveness with it,“
In evaluating an early season’s potential, officials considered
a variety of factors. The later in the year seasons are held, the
more harvest drops off, Cornicelli said. And, in some places,
modifying hunter behavior – prescribing a new season, or mandating
what hunters can shoot, for example – are the only ways to increase
the deer kill.
”We could put the limit to 35 and it wouldn’t
functionally increase harvest,“ Cornicelli said.
When the hunt is complete, the DNR will assess participation,
and survey hunters on issues like any conflicts with other outdoor
user groups, including bowhunters, who could be affected because
the early antlerless season is in the middle of the archery
While Cornicelli acknowledged the bowhunting conflict, he said
archers consistently have their lowest success that weekend.
If the hunt is successful, it could be held in the same areas
next year, and could be expanded to include others, Cornicelli
said. Though the hunt coincides with the pheasant hunting opener,
it’s unlikely the two ever would be in the same areas, since the
heart of the pheasant range, generally, doesn’t have deer permit
areas with intensive harvest permits.
€Hunters must have a valid zone license and early antlerless
permit. The following licenses are valid: Zone 2, multi-zone buck,
all-season deer, and muzzleloader.
€Licenses for zones 1, 3A, 3B, 4A, and 4B cannot be used.
€Hunters cannot tag deer with their regular license, antlerless
portion of the all-season deer license, or multi-zone buck
€Bonus permits are not valid.
€The total bag limit is two deer, which is in addition to the
statewide limit of five deer.
€All deer hunters, including archers, must wear blaze