Deer hunters will get an early antlerless season, zone realignments and a metro deer-hunting zone this year, the DNR announced.
"We hope to increase deer harvest in areas with high populations," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. "To do this we're offering hunters more flexibility with deer licenses and more hunting opportunities."
The changes will take effect with the Sept. 17 opening of the archery deer season. Firearms season opens statewide on Nov. 5 and muzzleloader season opens Nov. 26.
A two-day antlerless-only hunt is slated for permit areas 225, 227, 236 in the northern Twin Cities metropolitan area and permit areas 209, 210, 401, 405, 406 in northwestern Minnesota. The hunt is scheduled for Oct. 15-16. Hunters must have a firearms license and can purchase up to two early antlerless deer permits at $14 each for use only during the special antlerless season. Two deer may be taken in the special antlerless season and would be in addition to the statewide bag limit of five.
"This is a tool to help landowners manage deer populations," Cornicelli said. "Ultimately it's up to the landowner to decide if the deer population on his property is high enough to warrant allowing additional firearms hunters on the property."
The dates for the hunt coincide with what historically is the lowest archery harvest weekend in October. The dates were chosen to minimize the affect on bowhunters and to avoid conflict with the MEA school break.
In a deer zone realignment, permit areas 401 through 409 will become part of Zone 2, creating a continuous nine-day season instead of the current split seasons of two and four days. In addition, permit areas 205, 211, 214, 283, and 284 will be moved into Zone 1 to create a 16-day season. Hunters who want to hunt in adjacent Zone 2 permit areas can purchase a multi-zone or all-season license. Permit areas will be re-numbered in the 2005 Hunting Regulations Handbook.
To increase hunting opportunities and better manage the deer population in the Twin Cities area, a metro deer zone consisting of permit areas 228 and 337 has been created. The firearms season in this zone will start Nov. 5 and run for 23 consecutive days. Any unfilled firearms license will be valid in the metro zone and there will be no special permit or authorization required to participate. But hunters will need to register their deer in the metro zone. Shotguns with slugs or muzzleloaders are the only legal firearms in the metro deer zone.
In another change, hunters will be allowed to tag deer on both their regular archery and regular firearms licenses, including muzzleloaders, but only one buck will be allowed. Previously, a hunter could purchase both an archery and firearms license but could fill only one of those licenses.
New statutes will streamline the process for getting a permit to use a non-magnified scope on a muzzleloader. Currently, scopes are prohibited from use on muzzleloaders during the muzzleloader-hunting season. See the DNR Web site for details on permits for non-magnified scopes for muzzleloaders.
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