(RELEASE) – 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).