The Minnesota DNR is implementing some significant rule changes for deer hunters during the 2019 deer hunting season in an effort to minimize chronic wasting disease. Most of the rules are new to Minnesota and represent a shift in how deer are going to be managed in some areas of the state.

Dogs may be used to retrieve a wounded deer or bear, provided the dog is on a leash no longer than 30-feet and has the owner’s name and telephone on its tag. Hunters are able to harvest an unlimited number of antlerless deer in areas of southeast Minnesota and north-central Minnesota with CWD. Hunters are also able to bag up to three bucks in the CWD-affected zones in southeast Minnesota, while antler tagging points are canceled in those zones. Deer must be presented at a CWD sampling station on the same day it’s killed if it’s bagged in pink and orange zones of the DNR rules book. Finally, the zone where deer feeding and attractants is banned has been extended to take into account CWD areas, with feeding/attractants said to increase the spread of the disease. These new rules are listed on the DNR website.

Climate change, the spread of disease, and the discovery of new diseases is changing the deer hunting landscape. We can only hope that these new measures will help control or put a stop to the threats to our deer herd’s good health.

The University of Minnesota is working on a plan that will help hunters know immediately if the animal they have shot has CWD. The process is not yet available but is something down the road that will help hunters make sure the deer they have shot is safe to eat.

It seems as if there is a new report coming out every month warning of a new tick or bug disease that is moving into the Midwest. It is very scary business to think that a mosquito or deer tick bite can cause death but that is the reality of today’s changing environment. It is also important to keep in mind that most of our deer herd is healthy, most of the deer that we shoot is safe to eat and that if we take the proper precautions, we can spend quality time hunting and enjoying the outdoors.

The mild winter and early reports from bow hunters suggest that we have an excellent population of deer in the state. There should be plenty of antlerless deer to hunt and as always, those big bucks are out there but not easy to find.

Be sure to get a copy of the new deer hunting rules from the DNR before stepping into the woods this year and above all else … be safe!

Minnesotan Ray Gildow is a full-time fishing guide, writer, and television producer and host.

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