2003 Deer Seasons Set

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The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will authorize more hunters than ever to harvest antlerless deer this fall, but relatively few will need to apply for either-sex permits through the lottery-drawing process.

A new system for managing the antlerless deer harvest eliminates the need for hunters to apply to take a deer of either sex in many areas of the state, according to Lou Cornicelli, the DNR's big game program coordinator.

More than three quarters of the firearms deer licenses sold this year will let hunters bypass the lottery drawing by automatically allowing the harvest of an either-sex deer on their regular license, Cornicelli said. The change is part of a streamlining of deer license sales, especially in areas of the state where the number of antlerless tags regularly exceeded the number of hunters seeking them.

"Getting drawn in the lottery had become nothing more than a formality for hunters in parts of the state with large deer populations," Cornicelli said. "The new system makes it easier for hunters to get licensed to take antlerless deer and will improve our capability to manage deer populations within goals."

The annual lottery system for either-sex permits will remain in place only in permit areas and seasons where wildlife managers need to more closely regulate the number of hunters taking antlerless deer.

New antlerless deer system

Under the new system, the state's 128 deer permit areas have been classified into one of three categories: lottery, managed and intensive. All firearms and all-season deer hunters, including those who hunt bucks only, will be required to declare a permit area when they purchase their license. Firearms licenses will be valid to take a legal buck anywhere in the zone, but the taking of antlerless deer on a regular license will only be authorized in the area selected. Firearms hunters who declare a managed or intensive permit area may take a deer of either sex within that area on a regular license tag. Firearms hunters who declare a lottery deer permit area may take an antlerless deer only if they apply for and receive an either-sex permit in the lottery drawing.

Getting permits to take more than one deer will also be easier. Firearms hunters will no longer need to apply in advance for management permits to take a second deer. Licenses to take additional deer in specified areas will be available over the counter for firearms, archery and muzzleloader hunters.

Muzzleloader and archery licenses will still be valid to harvest a deer of either sex statewide.

Details on permit area classifications and specific licenses follow.

Lottery Deer Permit Area

Firearms hunters must apply for an either-sex permit through the lottery by Sept. 4 to legally harvest an antlerless deer. Deer management and intensive harvest permits are not available.

  • Regular Firearms: Must apply for an either-sex permit through the lottery system. The application and lottery process follows the same procedure as in previous years. The application deadline is Sept. 4. Lottery winners will receive their permits via U.S. mail. If successful in the lottery, the bag limit is one deer of either sex.
  • Archery/Muzzleloader: May take one deer of either sex without applying in the lottery.
  • All-Season Deer: If hunting with a bow or muzzleloader, a hunter can use the antlerless portion of the license to take an antlerless deer without applying in the lottery. Firearms hunters must apply for the lottery. Successful applicants may use the antlerless portion of their license to tag the deer. There is a two-deer limit in lottery areas for All-Season Deer License holders.
  • Multi-Zone Buck: May not apply for an either-sex permit in any permit area or special hunt.

Managed Deer Permit Area

These deer permit areas have a two-deer limit, with all permits available over the counter. There is no lottery procedure or application. Hunters who purchase a firearms license for a managed deer permit area will automatically receive an either-sex license.

  • Regular Firearms: Firearms hunters will be issued an either-sex license at the time of purchase. The license will be valid for a buck anywhere in the zone or a deer of either-sex in the selected permit area. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing a deer management permit for one-half the cost of the regular license. That permit will be for antlerless deer only and valid only in the selected permit area.
  • Archery/Muzzleloader: These license holders won't have to declare a permit area and will be able to take a deer of either sex in a managed permit area. Also, archers and muzzleloader hunters can purchase one intensive harvest permit to use in a managed area. The archery and muzzleloader deer management permits have been discontinued and replaced by the intensive harvest permits. Hunters cannot use more than one intensive harvest permit in managed permit areas during the year.
  • All-Season Deer: May take one legal buck statewide (except Zone 3B) and use the antlerless portion of the regular license to take an antlerless deer; may also purchase one additional deer management permit for use in the selected permit area.
  • Multi-Zone Buck: May not purchase deer management permits.

Intensive Deer Permit Area

These permit areas have a five-deer limit, with all permits available over the counter. There is no lottery procedure or application. Permits may be purchased throughout the season and are valid at the same time as the regular license.

  • Regular Firearms: Firearms hunters will be issued an either-sex license at the time of purchase. The license will be valid for a buck anywhere in the zone or a deer of either-sex in the permit area they selected. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing up to four intensive harvest permits for one-half the cost of the regular license. That permit will be for antlerless deer only and valid in any intensive deer permit area for which the hunter has a valid license.
  • Archery/Muzzleloader: These license holders won't have to declare a permit area and will be able to take a deer of either sex in an intensive deer permit area. Archers and muzzleloader hunters may also purchase up to four intensive harvest permits for one-half the cost of the regular license. That permit will be for antlerless deer only and valid in any intensive deer permit area for which the hunter has a valid license.
  • All-Season Deer: May take one legal buck statewide (except 3B) and use the antlerless portion of the regular license to take an antlerless deer. May also purchase up to three intensive harvest permits for one-half the cost of the regular license. That permit will be antlerless only and valid in any intensive deer permit area, except during the Zone 3B season.
  • Multi-Zone Buck: May take a buck during any firearms season (except Zone 3B) and purchase up to four intensive harvest permits for one-half the cost of the regular license. That permit will be for antlerless deer only and valid in any intensive deer permit area, except during the Zone 3B season.

Zone 3 deer season changes

The Zone 3 (southeast Minnesota and southwest metro) deer season has been changed. The Zone 3A season has been shortened by two days (Nov. 8 through 15) and the Zone 3B season has been lengthened two days (Nov. 22-30). The early season in Zone 3 was formerly bucks only, but this year there will be some either-sex deer permits available through the lottery for the Zone 3A season.

"This represents a significant departure in management strategy for Zone 3 that is designed to increase antlerless deer harvest and perhaps reduce the harvest of bucks," Cornicelli said.

Youth hunters and hunters with disabilities will also be able to take a deer of either sex in the Zone 3A season without a permit.

Deer licenses and regulations will be available at license agents after Aug. 1.