Hunters can participate in two special deer hunts to help limit the spread of chronic wasting disease in wild deer in southeastern Minnesota.

Residents and non-residents can participate in the hunts from Dec. 20-22, and Dec. 27-29, in deer permit areas 643, 646, 647 and 648, which are the only permit areas where the disease has been found to be persistent in wild deer.

Additional permit areas (and their included public hunting lands) may be added to this hunt, as pending CWD sampling results come in. Any added areas will be noted on the CWD Web page.

These hunts are part of the DNR’s three-pronged approach to limit the spread of CWD. Because the disease is spread through direct contact with an infected deer’s saliva, urine, blood, feces, antler velvet or carcass, reducing deer numbers in localized areas helps lower deer densities and remove those CWD-positive animals.

In some areas, the DNR has also implemented deer feeding and attractant bans in order to reduce the human-facilitated contact between deer, and restricted how hunters are allowed to move deer they harvest.

Hunt details

Hunters must plan ahead and should check the DNR’s Web site at mndnr.gov for complete details about the special hunts, including hunt rules, locations for registration and CWD sampling, carcass movement restrictions, a map of the hunt area and information about the DNR’s efforts to keep Minnesota wild deer healthy.

During these hunts, hunters may tag deer of either sex with disease management tags or unused tags from a 2019 landowner license, youth or adult firearm license, youth or adult muzzleloader license, or youth or adult archery license.

Only antlerless deer may be tagged with bonus tags or early-season antlerless tags. Hunters may purchase an unlimited number of disease management tags. Hunters participating in the disease management hunts in deer permit areas 643, 646, 647, and 648 may use only legal shotguns loaded with single-slug shotgun shells, legal muzzle loading long guns, legal handguns or legal crossbows for taking deer.

Private land makes up most of the area within the hunt area and hunters must have landowner permission to hunt that land. Public lands open during the regular season are open during the special hunts. Hunters can check the DNR’s Recreation Compass online for more details about public lands.

Permits required to hunt Permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for Forestville State Park, Pin Oak Prairie Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) and Great River Bluffs State Park (including portions of King’s and Queen’s Bluffs SNA).

There is no fee for these permits, and they can be obtained online or wherever DNR licenses are sold. Permits will be valid for either the first or the second weekend hunt in these locations; the permits will not be valid for both weekends.

The Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA, which adjoins the Cherry Grove Wildlife Management Area, and Rushford Sand Barrens SNA will also be open to deer hunting; no special permit is required for these two SNAs.

Keeping Minnesota’s wild deer population healthy remains the goal in the DNR’s response to chronic wasting disease.

– Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources