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DNR announces changes for 2006 deer season

Minnesota deer hunters can expect some changes this coming fall.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says they are continuing to streamline their deer management program which they hope will make it easier for hunters to bag a deer.

Some of the changes include deer zone realignments and changes to deer area boundaries.

DNR officials point out that these changes were discussed at several public meetings across the state and from these meetings they gained that public support for the changes was high.

"We are continuing to make changes to more efficiently manage whitetail populations," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR Big Game Program coordinator. "Realigning zone and deer area boundaries that better fit with habitat types is one way to accomplish this goal."

The changes will take effect on Sept. 16 with the opening of the archery season. the firearm season begins on Nov. 4 and muzzleloader season starts on Nov. 25.

Several deer zones have been realigned. Deer areas 410, 411, 413, 414, 415, 419 and 429 have been moved to Zone 2 and renumbered.

This creates one continuous nine-day season instead of the current split seasons of two and four days, according to DNR officials.

Hunters who previously purchased a multi-zone buck license for these areas now need only purchase a Zone 2 firearm license, which is half the cost. In addition, hunters with a Zone 2 license may take a deer of either sex in one of these areas.

Other changes affect deer area boundaries. Deer areas 412 and 413 have been split along Interstate 94.

The area north of I-94 has been moved to Zone 2 and renumbered 213.

The area south of I-94 remains in Zone 4 and retains number 412.

Deer areas 417 and 418 have been split along highway 55. The area north of highway 55 has been moved to Zone 2 and renumbered 218. The area south of highway 55 remains in Zone 4 and retains number 417.

These changes were made to better align the area with habitat type and deer management objectives.

The DNR will hold two-day antlerless only hunts on Oct. 14-15 in deer areas 225, 227, 236 (North Metro) and 209, 201, 252, 256 and 257 (northwestern Minnesota).

Officials say hunters need a valid firearms license for the zone and may purchase up to two early antlerless deer permits for use only during the special antlerless season.

Two deer may be taken in the special antlerless season and would be in addition to the statewide bag limit of five.

This year, the price of the early antlerless permit has been reduced to $6.50 (plus a $1 issuing fee).

To increase hunting opportunity and better manage the Twin Cities deer population, the DNR created a Metro Deer Zone (deer areas 228 and 337).

The firearms season in this zone will extend from the start of the general season (Nov. 4) to the end of the Zone 3B season for a total of 23 consecutive days.

Any unfilled firearm license will be valid in the Metro Zone.

DNR officials say that there will be no special permit or authorization required to participate, but hunters will need to register their deer in the metro zone.

Shotguns with slugs or muzzleloaders are the only legal firearms in the metro deer zone.

This year, there is no limit to the number of deer that can be harvested in the Metro Deer Zone.

Last year, the DNR implemented antler point restrictions and earn-a-buck regulations on some state parks. The regulations are being tested to determine which regulatory alternative achieves deer management objectives but also has broad public support.

Hunters are allowed to tag deer on both their regular archery and regular firearms licenses (including muzzleloader), but only one buck will be allowed.

Until 2005, a hunter could purchase both an archery and firearms license but could only fill one of those licenses.

All of the changes are included in the 2006 Hunting Regulations Handbook, available now wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.