Thousands set to hunt during special youth deer season

Nearly 5,000 hunters ages 10-15 will take to the fields and forests this weekend during the youth deer season, an annual hunting opportunity that helps develop Minnesota’s next generation of hunters.
“Traditionally most hunters have learned how to hunt from a parent, relative or someone they know well,” said James Burnham, angler and hunter recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Those folks who take time to pass on their hunting knowledge and traditions really deserve a high five because they are carrying on the strong hunting tradition in our state.”
Minnesota’s youth deer season began in 2004 in northwestern Minnesota and since has expanded and encompassed new areas. Currently, the youth season’s 28 permit areas include parts of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota, and the Twin Cities metro permit area 601.
The season is timed during the weekend when many students have school off due to teacher workshops, this year from Thursday, Oct. 18, to Sunday, Oct. 21.
“This weekend may be the first time many youth throw on hunting clothes, learn how to spot a flick of a tail in the woods, or feel what it’s like to take home venison they harvested themselves,” Burnham said.

This weekend’s youth deer season is open to permit areas 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 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.
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.
Youth hunters in permit area 603 must have their adult deer tested for chronic wasting disease 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).  
More information about deer hunting can be found at Information about the youth season can be found on page 35 of the 2018 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Deer hunts set at several Minnesota state parks this fall

Special hunts to prevent overpopulation of deer and protect resources will occur this fall at several Minnesota state parks, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Access to the parks will vary during these hunts. Some parks will remain open to all visitors, some will have limited access and some will be open only to hunters with special permits (closed to the general public). Deadlines for youth and adults to apply for a special permit to participate in the hunts, which include firearms, muzzleloader and archery options, have passed.
“These hunts are a cost-effective way for the DNR to help manage deer populations. And for some youth-only park hunts, they’re a great way to introduce youngsters to deer hunting,” said Tavis Westbrook, natural resource program coordinator for the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division.
When there are too many of one animal or plant species in an area, it can start to throw off the balance of other species. For example, when there are too many deer in a park, they tend to feed on certain trees and native plant communities. Because of this, the DNR occasionally allows deer hunts as a means of protecting natural resources.
The DNR advises anyone planning to visit a state park between now and the end of December to check online or call ahead to see whether a hunt is planned and whether the park will be open. The DNR also advises wearing blaze orange when visiting parks where hunts are taking place. Visitors should check for hunt-related information at the park office when they arrive, look carefully for hunt-related signage and follow instructions.
For a list of parks that are open, partially open or closed during the 2018 hunting season, visit or contact the DNR Information Center at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 888-646-6367 (8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday).
Details on which areas of each park will be affected by the special deer hunts can also be found in the “Visitor Alert” boxes on the individual park webpages at

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Wisconsin's pheasant season opens Oct. 20

MADISON - The longtime and popular tradition of pheasant hunting in Wisconsin takes center stage when the fall pheasant hunting season opens statewide at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20. The season will run through Jan. 6, 2019.
Several other seasons also open that day including bobwhite quail, Hungarian partridge and ruffed grouse in Zone B. Like pheasant, the bobwhite quail and Hungarian partridge seasons open at 9 a.m. The ruffed grouse season opens with the start of legal shooting hours.
Hunters should check the Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations for rules and season structures for the game species they will pursue.
"Pheasant hunting offers a fantastic means to experience the outdoors, and it complements the other upland bird hunting opportunities in Wisconsin very well," says Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. "Pheasant hunting offers the chance to explore landscapes and habitat types you might not otherwise see," added Witecha.
Pheasants are one of the most sought-after game birds in North America, and populations do best in the agricultural landscape of southern and western Wisconsin provided there is habitat present in sufficient quantities to meet their food and cover needs throughout the year, according to Witecha.
The 2018 spring pheasant surveys in Wisconsin show that pheasant abundance is above the 5-year average with the highest pheasant detection rate in the west-central part of the state.
To pursue wild pheasants, hunters should look for areas that contain adequate winter cover, such as cattail marshes and dense brush, intermixed with cropland, hay and idle grasslands which provide food and nesting cover. It will be important for hunters to identify areas with high-quality habitat, concentrating their hunting efforts in those areas, according to Witecha.
During the 2017 pheasant hunting season, an estimated 42,450 hunters went out in search of pheasants and reported harvesting 301,490 birds. The top counties for harvest included Fond du Lac, Kenosha and Jefferson.
A 2018 Pheasant Stamp and a valid small game license are required to hunt pheasants statewide. Please note that the free leg tags previously required on the hen/rooster areas are no longer required.
The daily bag limit is one pheasant daily for the first two days of the season and two pheasants daily for the remainder of the season, with a possession limit of three times the daily bag limit.
More information is available in the Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations, available online at, keyword "regulations."
A new hunting app also allows hunters to brush up on regulations as well as explore public lands on an interactive map, see up to the minute shooting hours, or even listen to podcasts. For more information and how to download the app, visit, search keywords "hunt app."
In addition to wild pheasant hunting opportunities, the DNR wildlife management staff plan to release approximately 75,000 pheasants from the state game farm on 90 public hunting grounds. These numbers are similar to the 2017 stocking efforts.
Pheasants raised by conservation clubs as part of the Day-old Chick Program will also be released this fall. The Day-old Chick Program involves conservation clubs that typically receive about 35,000 rooster chicks annually. These clubs release pheasants on public hunting land and private land open to public pheasant hunting. Hunters are reminded to be polite and notify the landowner before hunting on private property open to public hunting as part of this program.
A list of all properties stocked with pheasants is available on the 2018 Pheasant Stocking Information Sheet, or go to, and search keyword "pheasant."
Hunters can use FFLIGHT, the DNR's gamebird mapping application, to locate and explore properties stocked with pheasants, as well as ruffed grouse and woodcock habitat and managed dove fields. FFLIGHT allows hunters to use aerial maps, topography and measuring tools to easily navigate and identify areas of interest and make their trips more productive and enjoyable. To learn more about FFLIGHT, visit, keyword "FFLIGHT."
Land enrolled in the Voluntary Public Access Program (VPA) is open to public hunting this pheasant season. The VPA Program has more than 30,000 acres of private land open to public hunting, fishing and bird watching year-round. Many properties are located within a short driving distance of urban areas and are popular pheasant hunting spots. To find properties enrolled in the VPA program, visit, keyword "VPA."
The Mentored Hunting Program allows any hunter, born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, to obtain a hunting license and hunt without first completing Hunter Education, provided they hunt with a mentor and comply with all the requirements under the program. For additional information and the requirements of the program, visit, keyword "mentored hunting."
"Pheasants are a popular game bird, and they offer a great hunting experience to both novices and experienced hunters," said Witecha. "I wish hunters safe and successful trips this fall."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR

Luverne ends successful weekend for governor's pheasant opener

Hunters reported excellent weather for hunting in the Luverne area during the eighth annual Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunt Saturday.
The Luverne area, known for its pheasant habitat and hunter and dog-friendly lodging, hosted hundreds of guests.
Attendees that hunted in the field ranged in age from 14 to 91. Those hunters encountered wet fields that delayed the fall harvest, yet yielded 26 roosters during the morning hunt.
The weekend festivities included a dog parade and a trick-shooting show as well as the dedication of the Rooster Ridge Wildlife Management Area, which had 121 people on hand.
The Friday evening community banquet had 474 people in attendance.
Next year’s Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener is in Austin. Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will assist local partners in planning the event.
Austin has a population of 24,933 and is the county seat of Mower County. Austin is located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 218.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

MDHA Hides for Habitat ready for fall hunt

GRAND RAPIDS, MN - For the first time in the 32-year history of the program, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association's (MDHA) Hides for Habitat almost did not take place.
In fact, some press reports earlier in the week suggesting that the program was taking a one-year hiatus were accurate at the time based on the circumstances that existed. Fortunately, an 11th hour agreement between fur buyers and MDHA for a higher price for hides will enable MDHA to avoid a one-year pause in the program.
Hide prices have dropped dramatically in the past year due to the following factors:
* China changed their regulations regarding the entry of deer hides to their country. As of August, China will no longer allow tanning of hides in the country which did not allow enough time for tanneries to react and create new facilities in countries such as Vietnam
* A current oversupply of tanned hides from last year is also in the market. China has imposed a 25 percent tariff to all deer hides entering China.
However, the MDHA worked hard with fur buyers to negotiate prices that would allow the program to continue uninterrupted. Chapters across the state are collecting hides again this deer season. Boxes typically are put out the last week in October and are pulled by early December.
MDHA's Hides for Habitat program is a flagship program of the MDHA and since its inception in 1985 has generated nearly $5.23 million dollars and 865,000 hides to help fund statewide habitat projects. This program works because hunters donate their hides to the orange MDHA logo collection boxes around the state and because of dedicated chapters.
For more information on MDHA and the Hides program, including where you can find boxes to donate your hide, visit our website at or call 800-450-3337.


Firearms safety paramount concern in Minnesota

With the pheasant season opening Saturday and the firearms deer season on the horizon, Enforcement Division officials from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are reminding hunters to keep firearms safety at the top of their minds.
“Hunting is a very safe recreational activity, considering more than a half-million people hunt each fall in Minnesota,” said Jon Paurus, DNR Enforcement education program coordinator. “But our goal is for every hunter to make it home safely after every hunt. We’ve made great strides thanks to our firearms safety curriculum, but we aren’t there yet.”
During September, there were four hunting-related firearms incidents in which people were injured or killed. The number of incidents in September was the highest since 2013, when the total for the year was 17. Between 2013 and 2017, there have been an average of about 10 firearms-related hunting accidents each year.
While the number of incidents – and particularly fatal incidents – is below long-term historical averages, even one is one too many, Paurus said. As recently as 2015, there were no hunting-related fatalities in the state. During the 1960s, by comparison, as many as 29 hunters were killed.
“These incidents can change people’s lives forever,” Paurus said.
The three most common factors in hunting-related firearms incidents are careless handling, not knowing the safe zone of fire and not being sure of what’s beyond the target.
Whatever they’re pursuing, and whether they’re hunting alone or in a group, hunters should follow the three tenets of safe firearms handling: Treat each firearm as if it is loaded by keeping your finger off the trigger; always control the muzzle of your firearm; and be sure of your target and what is beyond.
Of this fall’s firearms incidents, one was a fatality that occurred when one person stood up as another person pulled the trigger on passing ducks. Preliminary reports of the other incidents indicate a hunter in a tree stand was mistaken for a squirrel and suffered head and shoulder wounds; a hunter in a canoe took pellets to his hand and foot after a shotgun tipped over and discharged; and a hunter was hit in the abdomen and groin area after another person in his party swung to shoot at nearby ducks.
Enforcement officials advise anyone who plans to hunt to complete a firearms safety course. Since 2011, the DNR’s 4,000 certified instructors have provided firearms safety training to 177,453 students. Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979, must obtain firearms safety certification before they can buy a hunting license in Minnesota.
See the DNR website for more information, including a list of available courses.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR

Public invited to Rooster Ridge WMA dedication Oct. 12

The public is invited to attend the dedication of Minnesota’s newest public hunting land, Rooster Ridge Wildlife Management Area at 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 12, as part of the Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener.
The dedication ceremony will include comments from Gov. Mark Dayton, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr, and Explore Minnesota Director John Edman among other local leaders.
Rooster Ridge WMA was made possible by Pheasants Forever and the Outdoor Heritage Council fund.
“We’re excited and honored that we could help with this project,” said Rock County Pheasants Forever president Darin Kindt. “We hope the public will enjoy this parcel for generations to come.”
The new WMA features 93 acres of rolling hills and wetlands. Restoration work was conducted by more than 40 volunteers who gave their time over three organized work days. In addition to the Rock County Pheasants Forever chapter, Beaver Creek Sportsmen and the Luverne High School trap team members pitched in to make this new parcel a reality.
“The community involvement has been impressive,” Kindt said. “We had volunteers from several different groups around Rock County, including the Luverne High School trap shooting team. Through their generosity and the support of local landowners, a large project like this was made possible.”
Rooster Ridge WMA is located 1 mile southwest of Beaver Creek in Rock County, or about 10 miles southwest of Luverne.
The dedication is part of the 2018 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. Gov. Dayton leads the weekend festivities, which feature many hunting, recreational and travel opportunities the Luverne area has to offer visitors. More information and updates on the event can be found at
Luverne has a population of 4,658 and is the county seat of Minnesota’s southwestern-most county, Rock County. Luverne is located at the junction of Interstate 90 and U.S. Highway 75.
Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting the Luverne Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau in planning the event.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR