Record Number of Antlerless Deer Permits

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering nearly 80,000 additional antlerless permits this fall compared with last year. The total of 363,765 permits is an increase of 28 percent from 2001. It is the highest number of antlerless permits ever offered by the DNR. In 1992, the DNR offered the previous high of 322,030 permits.

"Obviously, these are impressive numbers of antlerless deer permits," said Steve Merchant, who coordinates the DNR Forest Wildlife Program. "They demonstrate just how productive our deer herd is."

It also points out a significant challenge to Minnesota deer hunters and landowners, Merchant noted. "We need to harvest a record or near record number of deer this coming season in order to curb the growth of our deer herd. To do this, hunters and landowners need to work cooperatively to get hunters to where the deer are," Merchant said. "Hunters need to be ethical and respectful of private property, while landowners need to realize their important role in managing Minnesota's deer by allowing hunting access to ensure an adequate antlerless deer harvest."

Antlerless permits, which allow hunters the opportunity to harvest either an adult buck or an antlerless deer (doe or fawn), are the primary tool DNR wildlife managers use to manage deer numbers throughout the state.

Permit increases were greatest in northern Minnesota. In deer Zone 1, which comprises the northeastern forested part of the state, quotas increased from 71,850 in 2001 to 111,250 in 2002 (+55 percent). In addition, permit numbers increased 38 percent in Zone 2, which consists of east-central and north-central Minnesota. Intensive harvest permits, which combined with regular and management tags authorize individual hunters to take up to a total of five deer per year, are available in 18 permit areas across Zone 1 and Zone 2.

Only one permit area in the state remains restricted to bucks-only hunting. A bucks-only restriction remains in effect for permit area 116 in the Arrowhead Region.

In Zone 3 (southeastern Minnesota), antlerless quotas decreased slightly, yet most permit areas will continue to have intensive harvest permits available in the late Zone 3B (either-sex) season. Quotas increased 8 percent in Zone 4, which includes extreme western and southwestern Minnesota. Intensive harvest permits will be available in 13 permit areas during both the Zone 4A and Zone 4B hunt, primarily in northwestern Minnesota.

Overall, 41 of Minnesota's 128 antlerless permit areas (32 percent) will have intensive harvest permits available in 2002.

Hunting and trapping regulations and deer licenses will be available in early August. Applications for antlerless permits and deer licenses can be made through the state's Electronic Licensing System (ELS) at one of 1,800 ELS agents throughout the state, or through ELS-Telephone or ELS-Internet. Hunters may begin applying for antlerless permits in August. The antlerless permit application deadline is Thursday, Sept. 5 (the first Thursday after Labor Day).