Minnesota deer facts

Deer: The animal

  • Adult female white-tailed deer weigh about 145 lbs., and males weigh about 170 lbs.
  • The biggest white-tailed deer recorded in Minnesota was a 500-pound buck.
  • A whitetail’s home range is about 1 square mile.

Deer hunting

  • There are nearly 500,000 firearms deer hunters in Minnesota.
  • Last year, 32 percent of Minnesota firearm hunters successfully harvested a deer. About 61 percent were antlered bucks.
  • 70 percent of Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest typically occurs during the first three or four days of the season.
  • The average hunter spends five days afield during Minnesota’s firearms deer season.
  • The highest deer harvests occurred during the early to mid-1990s and from 2000 to 2008. From 2000 to 2008 the harvest topped 200,000 deer each year. The high harvests in the early 2000s occurred at a time when the overriding philosophy was to reduce the deer population so it wouldn’t grow out of control and to address certain environmental, economic and social concerns. Harvests in the 1970s never topped 100,000, while harvests in the 1980s were under 150,000. In 2016, the harvest was just over 173,000.

Deer licenses

  • In total, about 604,000 deer hunting licenses and permits (all types) were sold in 2016.
  • The three primary types of deer hunting seasons are firearms, muzzleloader and archery. Firearms season opens on Saturday, Nov. 4; muzzleloader on Saturday, Nov. 25; and archery season opened on Sept. 16.
  • The DNR Information Center last year extended hours until 8 p.m. and received nearly 1,300 inquiries the day before last year’s firearms deer opener. Most questions were related to the upcoming deer season.

Hunting economics*

  • Deer are the number-one hunted species in Minnesota and deer hunters along with other hunters and wildlife watchers together contribute more than $1.3 billion each year to the economy.
  • All hunting-related expenditures in Minnesota totaled $725 million.
  • Trip-related expenses such as food, lodging and transportation were $235 million.
  • Hunters spent $400 million on equipment.
  • Hunters spent $90 million on other items such as magazines, membership dues, licenses, permits, land leasing and ownership.

* From the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (census.gov/prod/www/fishing.html).

Deer management in Minnesota

  • The DNR is entrusted to manage the deer herd on behalf of, and for, the benefit of all Minnesotans.
  • Hunters help manage deer populations, and hunting also is a tool used to control deer diseases, including chronic wasting disease.
  • Opinions on how deer should be managed are diverse, and the DNR values all opinions. Deer population management affects many other natural resources.

More information on deer and deer management can be found at mndnr.gov/deer.