Anterless Permits At Record Level

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The firearms deer season will open Nov. 9, archery deer Sept. 14, and muzzleloader deer Nov. 30. The 2002 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, including regulations, quotas and special hunt information, will be available at license agents by early August. Deer hunters interested in obtaining antlerless or special area permits are encouraged to apply early.

The application deadline for antlerless and special hunt permits is Thursday, Sept. 5. Hunters interested in these permits may apply at any of the 1,800 Electronic Licensing System (ELS) license agents throughout Minnesota, beginning in early August. They may also apply over the Internet at www.dnr.state.mn.us or by ELS-Telephone by calling 1-888-665-4236 and paying an added $3.50 convenience fee.

After unusually mild winters four out of the past five years, Minnesota's deer population has increased dramatically, particularly in the northern forested areas hit the hardest by the back-to-back severe winters of 1995-1996 and 1996-1997.

A total of 363,765 antlerless permits will be offered this fall, an increase of 28 percent from 2001. This is the highest number of antlerless permits offered by the DNR in the 26 years since the antlerless permit system was first started in 1977. The previous high was 322,030 available permits in 1992. Antlerless permits allow hunters the opportunity to harvest a deer of either sex. They are the main way that DNR wildlife managers control deer numbers throughout the state.

In Zone 1 (northeastern Minnesota), quotas increased from 71,850 in 2001 to 111,250 in 2002 (up 55 percent). Only one permit area in the state, permit area 116 in the Arrowhead Region, remains restricted to bucks-only hunting.

In Zone 2 (a transition band from the northern Twin Cities area to Lake of the Woods), permit numbers increased 38 percent, from 87,975 to 121,710.

Intensive harvest permits (which, combined with regular and management tags, authorize hunters to take up to five deer per year) are available in 18 permit areas across zones 1 and 2.

In agricultural areas of Minnesota, permit quotas increased slightly overall. There were some small quota decreases in parts of southeastern Minnesota, primarily in the Whitewater Wildlife Management Area block, which receives heavy hunting pressure due to the concentration of public land and proximity to large numbers of hunters. Overall in Zone 3 (southeastern Minnesota), antlerless quotas decreased 3 percent, from 37,500 to 36,525. Most permit areas in southeastern Minnesota will continue to have intensive harvest permits available in the late 3B (either-sex) season.

Quotas in Zone 4, which includes the extreme western and southwestern parts of the state, increased 8 percent, from 86,885 to 94,280. Intensive harvest permits will be available in 13 permit areas during both the Zone 4A and Zone 4B hunts, primarily in northwestern and west-central Minnesota.

Overall, nearly one-third of the 128 antlerless permit areas in the state will have intensive harvest permits available in 2002.