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Monday, October 31, 2016

Deer hunting opener: Top 10 points to know

In less than a week, excitement over Halloween and pumpkins turns to deer hunting and blaze orange, with the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season set to begin a half-hour before sunrise on Saturday, Nov. 5.

"Deer season is talked about as a major holiday among hunters, and it's a great time to reconnect with family, friends and nature," said Adam Murkowski, big game program leader with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Here are 10 reminders for deer hunters from the DNR: 

CWD sampling in southeast 
Deer hunters in southeastern Minnesota who harvest a deer during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons are encouraged to have their deer sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at one of 30 locations. 

Due to the expansion of CWD in Iowa and Wisconsin, the DNR will be conducting CWD surveillance in deer areas 339 to 349 during the firearm season, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas. Locations of deer check stations, information about how hunters can enter to win prizes for participating and more are available at www.mndnr.gov/cwd. Prizes are two muzzleloaders and a bow donated by Bluffland Whitetails and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

Buy license and check regulations 
The DNR encourages hunters to purchase their licenses now to avoid long lines and any potential system issues associated with the high sales volume. Locations to purchase are listed at www.mndnr.gov/licenses/agents.html. Hunters also should review regulations, permit area designations and boundary changes at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/deer
 
Register deer
Hunters are reminded to register deer before processing, before antlers are removed and within 48 hours after taking the animal. Deer can be registered by phone, internet or in-person, with details available at www.mndnr.gov/gameregistrationhelp. However, in-person registration will be required in deer permit areas 339 to 349, an area that includes nearly all the 300 series permit areas, during the 3A and 3B firearms deer seasons.

Learn to hunt with a mento
Do you know somebody who wants to try hunting but doesn't have a firearms safety certificate? 

The potential hunter can use the apprentice hunter validation. The validation is a short-term exception to the requirement for completing hunter firearms safety training and can be purchased where hunting licenses are sold. The validation may be purchased in two license years in a lifetime. Find details at www.mndnr.gov/safety/apprentice.  

Stoke the digital campfire
Have Minnesota deer camp photos or stories to share? Hunters can use #‎DeerCampMN on Twitter or #DeerCampMN on Facebook. Also check out #MNDeerOpener, which will include some activity from the festivities at Breezy Point Resort during the 2016 Minnesota Governor's Deer Hunting Opener. 

Celebrating tradition at Breezy Point
Each year the Minnesota Governor's Deer Hunting Opener celebrates the state's deer hunting tradition – and offers a chance to start some new ones. A deer hunting expo is open to the public, starts 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, at Breezy Point Resort, and features a variety of hunting-related booths and activities. More about the event is at www.mngovernorsdeeropener.com

Projected harvest
The DNR is projecting that the 2016 total harvest will be between 165,000 and 185,000 deer. The 2015 total harvest was a little more than 159,000. More information on deer management can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

Deer plan
The DNR continues to develop the state's first-ever deer management plan. Overall goals of the deer plan include setting a statewide harvest objective; addressing regional variations in deer habitat and populations; and describing and guiding the DNR's responsibilities and activities related to deer management. More information will be posted as it becomes available at www.mndnr.gov/deerplan, and people can stay informed by subscribing to the Deer Notes email list at www.mndnr.gov/deer.

No whole deer carcasses allowed to enter Minnesota
Hunters who harvest deer outside the state are reminded that whole deer carcasses are no longer allowed to be brought into Minnesota from anywhere in North America. This new restriction that includes all members of the deer family (deer, elk, moose and caribou) is an effort by the DNR to respond to the increasing prevalence and geographic spread of CWD. More about how hunters can bring deer into the state and a link to a video about how to cape a deer can be found at www.mndnr.gov/deerimports.

Info center expanded hours
To provide better year-round customer service, the DNR Information Center is piloting a permanent move to longer hours and days for phone calls only, starting this Wednesday, Nov. 2. The public will be able to get answers to their natural resources questions by dialing 888-646-6367 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Information Center will take phone calls only during the new hours, not in-person visits or license sale requests. The License Center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, as well as 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, for deer opener only, but is otherwise open for calls and in-person visits from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

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