Strong numbers are once again expected to trigger a good whitetail hunting season for Otter Tail County deer hunters.

Coming off a season in which 187,587 white-tailed deer were harvested by archery, muzzleloader and firearm hunters statewide, the signs all point toward good deer numbers again in 2020.

DNR figures show that 464,086 hunters went afield in 2019 and achieved an overall success rate of 35.9%.

“This season, hunters in general will see more chances to harvest deer,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “These opportunities are due to increases in deer populations in much of the state and as part of our response to chronic wasting disease in southern Minnesota.”

Hunting licenses go on sale Saturday, Aug. 1. They can be purchased from any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-665-4236, or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense.

The popular youth deer hunting season will happen statewide Oct. 15-18. During last year’s inaugural statewide youth season, nearly 5,700 young deer hunters harvested a deer, which represented a 77% increase from the previous season when it was limited to fewer areas.

The statewide archery season begins Sept.19 and runs through Dec. 31. The firearms season locally will run Nov. 7 to Nov. 15. The muzzleloader season will kick off Nov. 28 and run through Dec. 13.

Permit areas 213, 240 and 241 which all touch Otter Tail County, will offer an intensive three-deer limit. Permit area 239, north of Fergus Falls, will be a managed area with a two-deer limit. Permit area 273 will offer a hunter’s choice option of taking one buck or one doe.

Other deer season changes include:

  • The DNR has expanded the early antlerless deer season, Oct. 15-18, to include more deer permit areas in central and southeastern Minnesota. The season increases opportunities for hunters in areas where deer populations are above population goals, or where there is an increased risk of chronic wasting disease (CWD) spreading. Permit areas open during the hunt are 213, 214, 215, 341, 342, 343, 344, 604, 605, 643, 645, 646, 647, 648, 649 and 655.

  • Several deer permit area boundaries in north-central and northwestern Minnesota have changed due to input from the public and DNR staff during the deer population goal-setting process, or in response to CWD spread. Hunters should double check the boundaries of any permit areas where they plan to hunt.

CWD testing requirements

While a good portion of Otter Tail County will be free of CWD testing, two kill blocks - 273 and 213 - will be subject to CWD surveillance work.

The 273 kill block daggers into Otter Tail County  in the Ten Mile Lake area. It also includes portions of Grant, Douglas and Pope counties. The 213 area runs southeastward from Fergus Falls to Sauk Centre in Stearns County. It also includes portions of Douglas, Pope and Todd counties.

Surveillance testing means that CWD has been detected in captive deer and elk. The DNR tests harvested deer in these areas to monitor for the potential spread of CWD.

Additional regulation changes are detailed on the DNR’s deer hunting webpage at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer.

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