Minnesota’s firearms deer season begins half an hour before sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 9, and the Department of Natural Resources expects nearly half a million hunters to participate.
Firearms deer season is one of several seasons for deer hunters. Archery deer season opened Sept. 14 and lasts through Tuesday, Dec. 31. Muzzleloader deer season is from Saturday, Nov. 30, to Sunday, Dec. 15.
Call ahead for conditions
Conditions remain wet in many areas of Minnesota, so the DNR advises hunters to scout first or call ahead. Information including contact information for individual deer permit areas can be found at mndnr.gov/deermap.
Hunters looking for local information before hunting opener can find regional deer hunting reports for the entire state.
Safety the first priority
Hunters should follow the three tenets of safe firearms handling: Treat each firearm as if it is loaded by keeping finger off the trigger; always control the muzzle of the firearm; and be sure of the target and what is beyond.
Tree stand accidents are the leading cause of injury to hunters, so it’s always important to wear a safety harness and follow other safety guidelines when using a stand.
CWD testing mandatory in places
Minnesota deer hunters must bring their harvested deer to sampling stations to be tested for chronic wasting disease in the central surveillance area; north-central and southeast disease management zones; and the southeast disease control zone on opening weekend of firearms deer season Saturday, Nov. 9, and Sunday, Nov. 10.
Testing is also required throughout all deer seasons in both the north-central and southeast disease management zones (600-series permit areas); and during the opening weekend of the B firearms season Saturday, Nov. 23, to Sunday, Nov. 24, in the southeast disease control zone (permit areas 255, 343 and 344).
Carcass movement restrictions are in place in disease management and control zones, and hunters cannot move whole deer carcasses outside of these zones until a “not detected” CWD test result is received. These restrictions are part of a comprehensive strategy to keep Minnesota’s deer, elk and moose healthy by limiting the spread of disease.
Details are available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.
How to get questions answered
Deer hunters will have a little extra help during the firearms opener.
The DNR Information Center, while usually closed on Sundays and holidays, will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 10, and Monday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day), in order to answer questions from the field. DNR information consultants can help with many of the questions that arise during this busy weekend, and they will be available by phone at 888-646-6367 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People are encouraged to call for more immediate information; the DNR strives to answer email within 48 hours. To report a violation in progress, call the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line at 800-652-9093. Information Center normal business hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
On the DNR website, hunters can find deer hunting information at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer, and they can join in on social media using #DeerCampMN.
Deer and hunting facts
Adult female white-tailed deer weigh about 145 pounds, and males weigh about 170 pounds.
A whitetail’s home range is about 1 square mile.
The biggest white-tailed deer recorded in Minnesota was a 500-pound buck.
Last year, 32 percent of Minnesota firearm hunters successfully harvested a deer.
Seventy percent of Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest typically occurs during the first three or four days of the season.
The average hunter spends five days afield during Minnesota’s firearms deer season.
Economic benefit of hunting
According to a 2011 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, all hunting-related expenditures in Minnesota totaled $725 million; trip-related expenses such as food, lodging, and transportation were $235 million; hunters spent $400 million on equipment; and hunters spent $90 million on other items such as magazines, membership dues, licenses, permits, land leasing and ownership. And deer hunting in 2011 contributed 3,760 jobs in Minnesota, according to the Hunting in America report.