Last year hunting participation was the highest on record for both archery and youth hunts. In 2012, bowhunters purchased 108,349 licenses, while youth hunters bought 62,949 licenses. Both groups took their fair share of whitetails last season. Archery hunters alone bagged about 22,000 deer. In total, 185,000 deer were harvested in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Based on population estimates, the number of whitetails appears to be up about two percent over last year (over one million deer).

“In the North and Southeast, over 90 percent of our permit areas are at departmental goals,” said Leslie McInenly, big game program leader for the Minn. Department of Natural Resources. “But deer numbers in the North are expected to be a bit lower due to the prolonged winter.”

Regulation Changes
This fall hunters can expect to harvest a few more deer than they did last year. All deer slayers must register their harvest within 48 hours, and hunters who harvest a whitetail in the Chronic Wasting Disease Zone (Permit Area 602) must register their deer in-person. This year archery hunters will be asked to indicate the permit area they hunt most often – something firearm and muzzleloader hunters have been reporting for years. Reporting where you hunt most often doesn’t mean you can only hunt in that area.

There is good news for deer and deer hunters in Minnesota. After eight years of monitoring and aggressive management, bovine tuberculosis has disappeared. And 2012 testing revealed no deer infected with chronic wasting disease either.

Public Land
Minnesota has a ton of public land open to hunting. There are also oodles of acres of forest lands open to hunting via the Forrest Legacy Program in the North, along with the walk-in access program in the South.