The "land of sky blue waters" - -including 10,000 lakes, 10,000,000 acres of public hunting land (that's 20% of the state - -and Minnesota's big!) - -and of course, lutefisk. Well, maybe lutefisk is not one of the primary reasons deer hunters love to come to Minnesota- -but there are plenty of other reasons.
First off - -the oversight agency for all things hunting is the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). Of the many websites that we've scoured over the years, Minnesota's one of the very best. It huge- - like the state – covers absolutely everything, and is fairly easy to navigate. We'll provide the contact indicia at the end of this article.
In addition to the website, and unlike some other states - -there is a toll free number you can call to reach someone "live" In St. Paul, the state capital. One problem we experienced however, is that if you want to confirm some information, or obtain some information from a source other than the web, it can be difficult. Dropped calls. Long waits and then the line goes dead. Stuff like that.
Minnesota's deer herd totals around 1,000,000 animals, and the MNDNR is trying to manage population goals established with public input. The firearm deer season is the most popular, and some 500,000 hunters hit the woods during the season. Nearly a third of the hunters were successful - -and that's a real good success rate.
Harvest for the multi-deer hunting season runs around 200,000. And there are some real trophies available, too. Minnesota ranks four or five among the states as having the most entries in both Pope and Young (archery) and Boone and Crockett (firearms). So the big boys are there. You've just got to be patient and diligent.
Deer hunting season(s) in Minnesota like nearly every state is a complex hodge-podge of dates and types of hunting, what you can go after, and on and on (e.g. antlerless, bucks only, and on and on). We'll keep it simple, if not complete. The archery season starts in September and off-and-on goes to December 31st. There are numerous formats, that change yearly. But there's plenty of opportunity in Minnesota. There are a lot of different and indeed complex regs as to what you can hunt and where. Archery starts it out, then there's a sectioned-period firearm season, and finally muzzleloaders, There are some excellent special permits available for the handicapped to use things like a cross bow. And there is a youth hunt, as well, where the kids can get that trophy without having to contend with adults. The northern area of the state's firearm season may close a week later than the south. The firearm season runs from early to late November (22 day total in 2011, but those dates and season(s) are staggered from Nov. 5th to Nov. 27th), and the last portion of the season is in the southeastern section of the state. While our research shows that this information is correct when it was written, that can change quickly, so check ahead carefully before going out.
And if you like totality of information on everything, use the MNDNR website. It's lengthy beyond belief- - but VERY, VERY good and complete. Regs? Heck, there are only 130 pages of web information regarding hunting regulations in Minnesota. That should be enough for you. But the site as we've said is extremely easy to navigate. One of the best we've ever seen.
Where to hunt? Take your choice. Know a hunting friend? Good. Know someone who deer hunts regularly in Minnesota. Great. But, the state is so large, and has so many opportunities that we strongly suggest you go through this website, and call the guides or businesses that are listed. They'll be able to tell you what it looks like in their area for the upcoming season, whether trophies are available, and generally what you can expect. We do believe and state unequivocally that Minnesota is a GREAT place to deer hunt. The roads are generally top-flight, and there's easy access to every area (and yes, like other states, Minnesota has that same crazy-quilt of hunting management zones, with each one having their own very peculiar regs and requirements). The people are absolutely terrific – and they'll be nice to you even if you’re a Bear or Packer fan. Uncounted small towns, with good food, reasonable accommodations, entertainment and fun galore. Minnesota has its own 150 year history of deer hunting, and that includes deer camp, and all that goes with it.
If you don't know where you want to go, call the MNDNR and find out the harvest numbers for the particular management zone you want to hunt - -trophy whitetails? Bigger population density? Types of deer that can be hunted in that particular area and/or in a particular season? You can make comparisons and go from there. We've also noticed that many Minnesota visitors will literally stop in a small or mid-size town, go to the local café, and/or sporting goods store and talk things over—Minnesotans are honest and forthright. Ask a question, and you'll get a straight answer. "Straight answer", except maybe when it comes to whether lutefisk makes for a great meal. There are plenty of wonderful church suppers, local festivals and events all over the state. The service and infrastructure is very good and inclusive. Prepare to travel long distances - -and that's OK, if you get to the perfect place for your hunt.
And finally, there's one thing where Minnesota really shines - -its absolute pristine beauty. And that's not just any one portion of the state – the whole state is one figurative "nature preserve." We don't know of anyone who has traveled to, and deer hunted Minnesota that didn't come away marveling at what nature has provided - -and that surely includes some fabulous deer hunting.
Here's the contact information the Minnesota Department of Natural
Web site: www.mndnr.gov. Address: DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4040. Phone: 888-646-6367 (toll-free). There are four DNR regions and regional offices in Minnesota: Northwest, Northeast, Central, and Southern. The main DNR information center will be able to provide you contact info for each of them.