Minnesota DNR shares changes to upcoming deer hunting season
Kalli Hawkins
Outdoor News

Minnesota DNR shares changes to upcoming deer hunting season

The fall season is a welcomed time of year for many. 

Minnesota deer hunters will soon don camo and blaze orange as they head into the woods for the 2022 hunting season. However, before they do, there are a few changes to make a note of for the upcoming deer hunting season. 

For the 2022 deer hunting season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has reduced antlerless lottery permits, changed special chronic wasting disease (CWD) rules, and added regulations for the use of non-toxic ammunition in Minnesota state parks and Scientific and Natural Areas.

While changes to regulations differ across the state, the Superior Uplands Arrowhead region in northeastern Minnesota will experience a significant reduction of antlerless lottery permits. 

The number of antlerless lottery permits dropped considerably in the deer permit area (DPA) 126, which encompasses the majority of Cook County. In 2021, the DNR allowed 100 antlerless lottery permits. This year, it is a mere 25. 

Deer populations along the North Shore and the greater Superior Uplands Arrowhead region have steadily declined. And after a harsh winter, deer populations show no signs of improvement. 

“So this year, deer permit areas for this work area, and many others are either more conservative than last year, or the same as they were last year,” said Nancy Hansen, Area Wildlife Manager with the Two Harbors Minnesota DNR. 

Hansen explained that DPA 126 and 131 would be limited to 25 antlerless lottery permits during the upcoming firearm and muzzleloader seasons. The DPA 131 region is north of Silver Bay, Minn., primarily in Lake County. 

After seeking input from landowners, hunters, forest management agencies, conservation organizations, and tribal partners during a deer population goal-setting process, Hansen said the DNR “Came up with a strategy to be more conservative and reduce the number of antlerless deer taken.”

DPAs 126 and 131 are typical moose habitats, and Hansen said, “We’re trying to maintain a low-density deer population in moose range.”

While portions of the North Shore are experiencing lower deer populations, Hansen explained that DPA 133, farther down the North Shore, is “Some of the best deer habitat that we have.”

The antlerless lottery permit application closed on September 8. Hunters who did not apply for an antlerless lottery permit can still purchase a license for a buck. The antlerless lottery permit system does not apply to archery hunters. 

In addition to reducing antlerless lottery permits in portions of Cook and Lake County, the DNR has added a requirement for non-toxic ammunition in Minnesota state parks and Scientific and Natural Areas. 

“Fragments of lead that are left behind when people dispose of the organs or guts of a deer once they take one down can be harmful to wildlife,” said Hansen. “And we’re just trying to do our part and make that safer.”

Hansen also explained that the DNR had expanded CWD regulations, including mandatory disease testing and carcass movement restrictions in certain DPAs. 

While Hansen said there are currently no cases of CWD in the Superior Uplands Arrowhead region, there are positive CWD cases in nearby Grand Rapids. 

“So we’ve got a new zone set up there. We’re going to be sampling deer that hunters harvest in that area,” said Hansen. 

Hunters who would like to get their deer tested, whether or not they are in a CWD area or not can request a test kit on the DNR website. Hansen said, “We have video instructions on how to find a lymph node and submit it. That’s what we’re looking for.”

The 2022 deer hunting archery season begins on September 17, with the firearm season following shortly after on November 5 in northeastern Minnesota. 

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Nancy Hansen, Area Wildlife Manager with the Minnesota DNR in Two Harbors. Audio from the interview is below.