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Walleye season closes on Mille Lacs Lake after fishing hours conclude on Monday, Sept. 4. Anglers fishing for all other species from shore, dock or pier may use live bait during daylight hours through Thursday, Nov. 30.
“We’re pleased the DNR can fulfill the community’s desire that shore fishing opportunities be available, particularly for children and families,” said Brad Parsons, central region fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The live bait restriction remains in place for anglers in watercraft.
Anglers can fish for muskellunge and northern pike at night using artificial lures longer than 8 inches or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. Bowfishing for rough fish also is allowed at night but possession of live bait or angling equipment is not allowed and only rough fish may be in possession.
With the final open water walleye season closure on Mille Lacs, anglers cannot target walleye when fishing for other species.
Hunters have a lot to look forward to this fall when the Minnesota waterfowl season opens Saturday, Sept. 23.
“Habitat conditions look good in most areas, wild rice reports are good for hunters in the northern portions of the state and waterfowl numbers are favorable,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The waterfowl season will open with similar bag limits and season dates that were in place last year. The early goose season will open Saturday, Sept. 2 and extend through Sunday, Sept. 17.
Duck seasons and limits
Duck season will again be open for 60 days in each of the three waterfowl zones.
The daily bag limit for ducks remains at six per day and individual species limits are identical to those used last fall: four mallards (only two can be hens), three scaup, three wood ducks, two redheads and two canvasbacks, except the pintail bag limit was reduced to one per day and the black duck limit increased to two per day.
Canada goose seasons and limits
The goose season and limits will also be the same as last fall.
“Our Canada goose population in the state is healthy and it looks like there will be lots of young geese this fall, so hunters should expect a good season. And, the seasons are long and extend late into December or January depending on where you hunt – so lots of opportunity to participate,” Cordts said.
Youth Waterfowl Day will be Saturday Sept. 9. The season for sandhill cranes runs Saturday, Sept. 16, through Sunday, Oct. 22, in the northwest goose and sandhill crane zone only.
For more detailed information, the 2017 waterfowl hunting regulations are available online at mndnr.gov/waterfowl.
Hunters should be aware of several errors in printed copies of the 2017 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook and in the fold-out deer season map that accompanies the regulations booklet.
In the fold-out map, correct information is as follows:
In the printed booklet, correct information is as follows:
“We apologize for these errors and will take steps to ensure that we can avoid these errors in the future,” said Paul Telander, DNR Wildlife Section chief. “We’re working with license vendors and stakeholder organizations to ease any confusion by directing hunters to correct information posted online and encouraging hunters with questions to call the DNR information center at 888-646-6367.”
Correct information for all of these errors is available at www.mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting in the online versions of the 2017 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook and fold-out deer map.
Firearms and muzzleloader hunters who want to harvest antlerless deer in a permit area designated as lottery this hunting season are reminded they must purchase their license by Thursday, Sept. 7. Hunters who purchase their license before this date are automatically entered into the lottery for the deer permit area or special hunt area they declare.
Regularly updated deer information, including the DNR’s deer permit area mapping tool, can be found online at www.mndnr.gov/deer.
Several Southeast permit areas were incorrectly listed in multiple designations in the print version of the regulations. The correct designation for those permit areas are: 344-Hunters Choice; 341,342,343 and 347- Managed; 346- Intensive. They are correctly displayed on the map depicted above and in the online version.
Beginning Friday, Sept. 1, hunters can access 26,700 acres of private land across 46 counties in western and south-central Minnesota through the Walk-In Access program.
“Finding land for hunting can be a challenge,” said Scott Roemhildt, Walk-In Access coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Walk-In Access allows hunters to access high-quality private land and makes it easier for landowners to allow that access.”
The Walk-In Access program pays landowners to allow hunter access. Hunters with a $3 Walk-In Access validation may hunt during legal hunting hours, during open hunting seasons from Sept. 1 to May 31. No additional landowner contact is necessary. More than 230 sites across 46 counties are available through the program. Bright yellow-green signs have been placed on Walk-In Access boundaries.
Hunting seasons open Sept. 1 for mourning doves, crows, snipe, sora and Virginia rails. Hunting seasons open Saturday, Sept. 16, for several small game species including squirrels and rabbits. The Minnesota pheasant hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 14.
Maps of all Walk-In Access sites are available electronically at mndnr.gov/walkin. Printed atlases can be found across the 46-county area at DNR license agents, DNR wildlife offices and county soil and water conservation district offices. Atlases are also available by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367.
“Walk-In Access works because hunters respect the land and that respect encourages landowners to enroll their land,” Roemhildt said. “We are glad to talk with landowners who are considering the program,” Roemhildt said. “We hope to grow the program to 30,000 acres by 2018.”
Parcels enrolled in the Walk-In Access program must be at least 40 acres in size with high quality cover. Most land is also enrolled in private land conservation programs. The next enrollment period will begin in January 2018.
The Walk-In Access program began in 2011 and is currently funded through 2018 with a three-year grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Other funding sources come through a surcharge on nonresident hunting licenses, a one-time appropriation from the Minnesota Legislature in 2012, and donations from hunters.
When archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 16, mandatory testing for chronic wasting disease and restrictions on moving deer carcasses begins again in southeastern Minnesota’s CWD management zone, deer permit area 603.
“With archery deer season approaching, hunters are encouraged to plan ahead and be aware of the testing that will be required and the specifics about when they can and can’t move carcasses out of the CWD zone,” said Lou Cornicelli, wildlife research manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Archery hunters in deer permit area (DPA) 603 will be required to submit the head from all adult deer 1 year old or older so lymph nodes can be tested for CWD. Hunters cannot remove the carcass or carcass remains from the CWD zone until a negative test result is reported.
Carcass movement restrictions do allow hunters to immediately transport out of the zone quarters or other deer pieces without spinal column parts; boned-out meat; and antlers with a skull plate that is free of brain matter. Hunters should check page 65 of the 2017 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook for additional information.
“Archery deer hunters also should check the DNR website for the DPA boundary map,” Cornicelli said. “As a reminder, the CWD management zone was created from DPAs 347 and 348, so hunters need to be mindful of what area they’re hunting.”
Hunters are required to register their deer. DNR will allow phone and Internet registration during the archery season in the CWD zone. The system will be monitored for compliance and may be turned off if needed.
Mandatory testing and carcass movement restrictions will remain in effect for area 603 throughout deer seasons for archery, firearm, muzzleloader and any late season hunts.
Head collection boxes will be located in:
Archery hunters should do the following:
1. Field dress (gut) deer as normal.
2. Register deer via phone, internet or walk-in big game registration station. If harvest occurs late in the day, sample (head) submission and registration do not have to occur on the same day.
3. If the deer will be mounted, a video showing how to properly cape your deer is available at bitly.com/capeadeer.
4. Remove the head, leaving at least 4 inches of neck attached.
5. Hunters can take meat out of the zone immediately but the carcass (head with brain and spinal column) cannot be moved outside deer permit area 603 until a negative test result is received so hunters must:
6. Ensure no spinal column or brain matter is included with the meat or on the antlers.
7. Properly dispose of carcass remains. There will be a dumpster at the DNR forestry office in Preston for hunters who don't have a way to dispose of remains.
8. The Preston dumpster is being provided as a courtesy for deer carcass disposal only. It will be removed if people attempt to process deer there or use the dumpster for trash disposal.
9. Bring the entire head of deer to one of five head box collection sites. Each collection box has specific instructions on how to properly submit the head for sampling.
10. Put heads in the plastic bags provided. Use the maps provided at each box to mark an "X" where the deer was harvested. Submit this map with sample.
11. Samples during the archery season will be submitted for testing on Mondays and Thursdays. It may take up to four business days for test results to be available. CWD test results can be searched using a nine-digit MDNR number online at www.mndnr.gov/cwdcheck.
Deer hunters should regularly check the DNR’s CWD website at mndnr.gov/cwd for the most recent information.
Catch-and-release walleye fishing and use of live bait will return to Mille Lacs Lake effective at 6 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 11, and continuing through Monday, Sept. 4.
“After an extended mid-season closure, we look forward to reopening the lake to catch-and-release walleye fishing,” said Don Pereira, fisheries section chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
A prohibition on night fishing will remain in place from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Nov. 30. Regulations do allow anglers to fish for muskie and northern pike at night, but they may only use artificial lures longer than 8 inches or sucker minnows longer than 8 inches. Bowfishing for rough fish also is allowed at night but possession of angling equipment is not allowed and only rough fish may be in possession.
As of July 31, state anglers had harvested 47,899 pounds of walleye, out of the state’s conservation cap of 55,800 pounds. The DNR decided last month to dip into the conservation cap in order to extend the walleye season through Labor Day.
To learn more about Mille Lacs Lake and its many great fishing opportunities, www.mndnr.gov/millelacslake. To plan a visit to the Mille Lacs area, visit www.millelacs.com.
Additional deer hunting opportunities will be available this fall thanks to a series of mild winters and conservative hunting regulations, which have resulted in rebounding deer populations across Minnesota, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
“Deer populations have responded well to favorable winter weather and our efforts to rebuild deer numbers, and we have been able to expand harvest opportunities in almost all areas of the state this fall,” said Adam Murkowski, big game program leader for the DNR.
Hunters can buy deer licenses and apply to the lottery for antlerless deer permits now. The deadline to apply for the antlerless permit lottery is Thursday, Sept. 7. Archery deer season opens Saturday, Sept. 16, and firearms deer season opens Saturday, Nov. 4.
Every year harvest regulations are reviewed, taking a wide variety of information into consideration. Department scientists use the previous year’s harvest data, winter severity information, aerial survey information, where available, and other information to estimate late winter deer abundance in each permit area. These estimates are compared to established population goals for each area and along with observation from DNR area wildlife managers, hunters, farmers, foresters and others, form the basis for final season recommendations.
“Throughout the process, coordination and discussions occur to ensure science-based decisions are guiding management decisions, with the best information we have available to us,” Murkowski said.
The regulations for each of Minnesota’s deer permit areas are set to manage deer populations toward goals established for each area. These goals are based on information from the DNR and local citizens through a periodic goal-setting process.
There are 130 permit areas in 2017. In one deer permit area only bucks can be hunted (down from five areas last season). In 48 areas, hunters must be chosen in a lottery to harvest an antlerless deer (down from 67 areas). In 38 areas, hunters have the choice of harvesting a doe or a buck (up from 32 areas). Bonus permits allowing hunters to harvest more than one deer may only be used in 43 permit areas and for some special hunts (up from 24 areas).
Buying a license
All hunters who purchase licenses by Sept. 7 are automatically entered into the lottery if they declare a lottery deer permit area when they buy their license. Those who do not wish to harvest an antlerless deer are encouraged to purchase their license after the lottery deadline.
Hunters may apply using both their firearm and muzzleloader licenses. If hunters are selected for both licenses, they must select the one season in which they want to shoot an antlerless deer.
Deer hunting licenses, lottery applications and special hunt applications are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-646-6367 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. Lottery winners will be notified in October.
Permit area changes
Changes in southeastern Minnesota occurred when portions of permit areas 347 and 348 were merged to form permit area 603 when chronic wasting disease was detected last fall. In northeastern Minnesota’s moose range, all or some of permit areas 122, 127, 176, 178, 180, and 181 were realigned to form permit areas 130, 131, 132 and 133.
Permit area breakdown
The following is a breakdown of 2017 deer permit areas. A hunter may tag one legal buck per year, without exception. In southeastern Minnesota’s 300 series permit areas, these designations apply to both early and late – A and B – seasons.
Only male deer with one antler at least three inches long may be harvested in the bucks-only permit area 119.
Hunters must be selected in the lottery to harvest an antlerless deer in these lottery permit areas: 103, 108, 111, 126, 132, 152, 159, 169, 173, 176, 178, 181, 183, 197, 199, 224, 234, 235, 237, 238, 250, 251, 252, 253, 262, 266, 269, 270, 271, 272, 274, 275, 278, 279, 280, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 291, 294, 295, 296, 297 and 299.
Hunters can choose to shoot a single buck or single antlerless deer in these hunter-choice permit areas: 101, 105, 110, 114, 117, 118, 130, 131, 133, 155, 156, 171, 172, 177, 179, 184, 203, 208, 219, 221, 222, 223, 230, 239, 246, 247, 249, 254, 258, 260, 273, 277, 281, 290, 298, 338, 339 and 344.
Hunters may harvest two deer, only one of which may be a buck, in these managed permit areas: 157, 201, 209, 210, 213, 218, 225, 227, 229, 232, 233, 236, 240, 242, 248, 255, 256, 257, 259, 261, 263, 264, 265, 267, 268, 276, 292, 293, 341, 342, 343, 345 and 347.
Hunters may harvest up to three deer, only one of which may be a buck, in these intensive permit areas: 182, 214, 215, 241, 287 (no archery hunting), 346, 348 and 349. This is a change from previous years when up to five deer could be taken in intensive harvest permit areas.
Deer permit areas 346, 348, 349 and 603 are open for the early antlerless-only hunt in October.
Chronic wasting disease sampling
The discovery of deer infected with chronic wasting disease that were raised in captivity on farms in Crow Wing and Meeker counties means that wild deer harvested from permit areas surrounding those farms will be tested for CWD this fall during the first two days of the firearms deer season. Those areas are:
Wild deer in these areas are not known to have CWD. Testing will determine if the disease has spread.
Testing also will be mandatory during the first two days of the firearm season in permit areas surrounding the disease management zone in southeastern Minnesota. Those areas are 343, 345, 346, 347, 348 and 349.
Deer harvested within the disease management zone – deer permit area 603 – will be tested throughout the season and carcass movement restricted until a test result is received.
Deer permit area 603 will again open for late season hunting from Jan. 6-14, 2018. More information will be available approaching the firearms deer season.
Complete CWD sampling, testing and disease management information is regularly updated on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd and details will be announced as they become available.
Proposed late-season hunt
Liberal regulations have not been adequate to bring some populations to goal levels, so a new late antlerless-only hunt may be offered. The purpose of the hunt would be to reduce deer populations in deer permit areas 346 and 349 that have been over goal since at least 2010, and in area 348 which has also been above goal since 2014 and is immediately adjacent to CWD deer permit area 603. Efforts have been underway in area 603 since last winter to reduce deer densities to remove potentially positive deer and reduce the risk of disease transmission.
Proposed dates for areas 346, 348 and 349 would be the same as those for the CWD late hunt in deer permit area 603, Jan. 6-14, 2018.
Public input about this proposed late hunt will be taken at public input meetings in August in Houston and St. Paul. An opportunity to provide online input will also be provided.
Details will be announced once more information is available. A decision as to whether or not to offer this hunt will be made after the DNR considers public input.
Carcass movement restrictions
Hunters who harvest deer outside the state are reminded that they cannot bring whole carcasses of any member of the deer family into Minnesota. These animals include but are not limited to white-tail deer, mule deer, black-tail deer, elk, caribou and moose. More information is available at mndnr.gov/deerimports.
Hunters need to review new deer hunting regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes before applying for the antlerless lottery. Regularly updated deer information, including the DNR’s deer permit mapping tool, can be found online at mndnr.gov/deer.
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