Away from desks, into the outdoors for youth deer season

Youth ages 10-15 can participate in a special deer season that runs from Thursday, Oct. 18, to Sunday, Oct. 21, in 28 permit areas of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota, including in the Twin Cities metro permit area 601, according to the Department of Natural Resources. 

“Youth deer season is about giving kids a unique opportunity to get out into the woods with a parent or mentor,” said James Burnham, DNR recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) coordinator. “Many students get a couple days off school for teacher workshops during the youth season so the break is a great time to go hunting and help share the passion for being outside that so many of Minnesota’s hunters and anglers have.”

Deer permit areas open to the hunt are: 101, 105, 111, 114, 201, 203, 208, 209, 256, 257, 260, 263, 264, 267, 268, 338, 339, 341, 342, 343, 344 (including Whitewater State Game Refuge), 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 601 and 603. Blaze orange or blaze pink requirements apply to all hunters, trappers and adult mentors in areas open for the youth firearms deer season. Public land is open, and private land is open if the hunters have landowner permission.

Since it was first implemented in 2004, the youth deer season has expanded and encompassed new areas – creating a growing number of opportunities to develop Minnesota’s next generation of hunters. Passing along the annual fall deer hunting tradition does more than contribute to the bottom line of businesses in communities across Minnesota. It helps fund conservation efforts that benefit wildlife, habitat and water quality, making a better Minnesota for all.

How to participate

Youth ages 10 through 15 must obtain a firearms deer license. Youth ages 12 to 15 need to have completed firearms safety or, if not, can obtain an apprentice hunter validation.

During the youth season, a parent, guardian or mentor age 18 or older must accompany the youth and only need a license if the youth is taking advantage of the apprentice validation option. Party hunting on a youth license is not allowed – so youth must take and tag their own deer.

The bag limit for the youth season is one deer only. Youth may use their regular license or a bonus permit if they take an antlerless deer, regardless of the management designation. Bucks must be tagged with the youth’s regular license. Participation does not affect eligibility for the regular deer season; however, the harvested deer counts against the youth’s annual statewide bag limit and the bag limit for the deer permit area.

If hunting in permit areas 346, 348, 349 and 603, the early antlerless only season is in effect from Oct. 18 to Oct. 21, so adults and youth can hunt at the same time in these areas; however, if a youth harvests a deer and wishes to continue hunting during the early antlerless only season they must purchase an early antlerless permit.

Tags and CWD testing in permit area 603

In permit area 603, youth hunters may purchase and use disease management tags but only for antlerless deer. Disease management tags may be purchased at any electronic license vendor, online or by telephone and are valid without first purchasing a regular deer license. The tags cost $1.50 plus issuing fees.

Youth hunters in permit area 603 must have their adult deer tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) by providing the head of all adult deer in one of five head collection boxes (see page 64 of the 2018 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook for location details).

After the head of these deer are provided for sampling, the hunter cannot move the carcass out of the permit area until a not detected test result is received. Properly cut-up deer and boned-out meat can be taken out of the area provided no brain matter or spinal column material is attached.

A tent and tripod to hang deer is provided by the Bluffland Whitetails Association at the Preston DNR Forestry office. This is available to hunters to allow them to quarter their deer, leave the carcass remains in a provided dumpster, and give them options so quarters or meat can leave the 603 zone before receiving a CWD test result. Information on proper steps to follow after harvesting a deer in permit area 603 or to check CWD test results is available on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd.

CWD testing during the early antlerless and youth season outside the CWD zone is not required. Mandatory testing will occur on Saturday, Nov. 3, and Sunday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 17, and Sunday, Nov. 18, during the first two days of the firearms A and B deer seasons in these areas.

More information about the youth season can be found on page 35 of the 2018 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook and online at mndnr.gov/regulations/hunting.