Legal & safe hunting

Division of Enforcement offers hunting suggestions

Minnesota's conservation officers want you to have a safe and enjoyable hunt. DNR Enforcement offers the following tips so that your time afield is the best it can be. "Know the law. Plan ahead. And treat other hunters and landowners with the same kind of respect you'd expect."

To avoid common hunting violations and problems:

  • Take time to read and understand the hunting regulations.  Many regulations change from year to year. Don’t be caught off guard by not checking for changes. The recent change in the firearms transportation law is a good example: The new law allows for transporting unloaded/uncased firearms in certain circumstances but is still requires firearms to be cased in others. Pack a spare gun case: This advice is aimed for those who walk long distances in one direction and then catch a ride back to the starting point or hunting cabin in someone else's vehicle. Either make sure the awaiting vehicle has everyone's gun case in it, or simply buy a cheap case - the kind that fits in a pocket - so that you can transport your firearm legally. Transporting loaded or uncased firearms is a common violation and is extremely dangerous. The best advice is to always unload and always case., there will be no doubt as to if the firearm is being legally transported
  • Tag your deer properly: See your most recent Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.
  • Carry a roofing nail in your pocket: A nail is a handy reminder that you must validate your deer license at the site of the kill. It can also be used to punch a hole in the paper license in the correct date and zone location. A license that has not been validated is technically an untagged deer.
  • Wear a watch: Don't guess at the time. Legal shooting hours relate to specific times of day based on sunrise and sunset, which are listed at the end of your Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook. A watch will keep you from hunting before or after legal shooting hours.
  • Plan your hunt and hunt your plan: That means you need to communicate with the members of your hunting party. This is especially true when game is abundant and your hunting party is spread out. Before you pull a trigger or set afield, make sure everyone knows how much game is in the bag, how much more can be legally taken, and where everyone intends to hunt. Failure to communicate can lead to accidents as well as violations that relate to over-limits and wanton waste.
  • Handle guns carefully nears cars and camps: Load and unload your gun in the field, not while standing in a group. Place your gun in a stable position, not leaning against a car door, tailgate, or other unstable object. Always keep your muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
  • Eliminate risk: Scout. Know the location of buildings, roads and other places where people may be. Assume every noise and movement is that of another person, not an animal.
  • Listen to your body: Hypothermia may be in your future if you are shivering, have numb extremities, or stumble repeatedly while walking. People who suffer from hypothermia are more apt to make poor decisions. Don't be one of them. Get warm. Listen to your body, not peer pressure from those who want to hunt longer.
  • Read the party hunting law: It's in your hunting regulations booklet. The party hunting law is designed to allow a popular form of hunting while also preventing parties from shooting more deer than the available number of tags or permits possessed by the party. In short, if you plan to tag a deer for someone else you must take precautions so that you can contact other party members quickly to ensure that excessive deer are not taken. Practically speaking, this means you must hunt close to each other, or agree on a way to signal each other when a deer is taken.
  • Know the trespass law: Trespassing is the most frequent complaint landowners have against hunters. You can do you and your fellow hunters a favor if you follow the rules in the hunting regulations booklet. Trespass is not only illegal but it can ruin your relations with private landowners, which in turn could hamper habitat programs, cut off land access, and possibly eliminate the future of hunting in certain areas.