Minnesota DNR reports good deer numbers ahead of firearm season opener

Darin Stenzel walks out on a plowed field.
Darin Stenzel walks out on a plowed field to a position where he could wait to shoot deer that were scared out of a grove by his brother and father in rural Wells, Minn.
Jackson Forderer for MPR News | 2015

Updated: 1:35 p.m.

When the firearms deer hunting season opens Nov. 4, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources managers project good opportunities for hunters around the state.

The DNR expects over 400,000 thousand hunters to take part in the three firearms seasons which run through Nov. 23.

In southern and central Minnesota deer numbers are robust. However, in the northwest populations are projected to be stable or slightly below ideal hunting season numbers. In the northeast area the DNR has set aggressive bag limits with only bucks allowed to be harvested.

As concern over chronic wasting disease continues DNR Wildlife Manager David Trauba said on opening weekend hunters in certain deer permit areas are required to have deer one-year or older sampled for the always-fatal disease.

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“Hunters just need to be aware of where we’re going to be at — on opening weekend — bring their deer by and we do all the rest,” Trauba said.

Trauba recommends hunters visit the DNR website for more details.

In the northwest region where there have been multiple CWD cases reported over the last couple years there will be mandatory sampling in Bemidji, Crookston/Climax and Grand Rapids. Regional Manager Blane Klemek said the DNR is also doing sampling in northwest Minnesota’s elk range.

“If it wasn’t for the partnership that we have with our hunters, we couldn’t do what we are doing in trying to curtail CWD amongst wild populations,” Klemek said. “So, hats off to deer hunters and thank you for your help.”

Klemek said because of dry, coarse conditions caused by this year’s drought, hunters should take care campfires don’t get out of hand.

Gov. Tim Walz will take part in the Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener Nov. 3-4 at the Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center in Lanesboro in southeast Minnesota. The annual opener tradition is now in its third decade.

DNR officials say hunting is the primary deer population management tool, which in turn contributes to the overall health of the state's ecosystems.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the requirements for hunters in regard to chronic wasting disease.