Deer Management

Whitetail buck standing in fieldThe white-tailed deer is one of Minnesota's most recognizable mammals and is a popular big game animal. It is found in every Minnesota county and adapts well to most surroundings.

At the time of European settlement, white-tailed deer in Minnesota existed throughout the wooded river valleys and woodlands of central and southern Minnesota. In northern Minnesota where the forest habitat was much different than it is today, deer were absent or rare. Moose and woodland caribou were the most abundant members of the deer family.

As European settlement cleared forests for lumber and agriculture, deer habitat quality improved through the creation of new openings. Increased agricultural land conversion eventually reduced habitat quality in many areas and, along with market and subsistence hunting, resulted in deer population declines. By the 1880s, deer were rare in many parts of Minnesota.

Natural resource management and regulated hunting has enabled the population to grow. Today, Minnesota is home to about 1 million white-tailed deer.


  • 2015 Goal Setting
  • 2014 Goal Setting
  • Resources & Links

Goal-Setting Blocks


Click on an area of the map above to identify the name of the goal-setting block and associated deer permit area for which you are interested. Click the plus (+) and minus (-) signs in the upper left corner or use your mouse's scroll wheel to zoom in and out.

Public Meetings & Comment

The first phase of public online comment on deer population goal setting ended Feb. 12. Email and postal comments will be accepted through Friday, Feb. 20.

To submit comments, click on the links in each block heading below or the link provided when clicking an area of the goal-setting block map at right.

All population goal-setting meetings will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. After a short presentation on deer populations and management, meeting participants may comment verbally, interact with DNR staff and complete a written questionnaire.

For those unable to attend a meeting for the area in which they are interested, use the links to the goal-block areas on this page.

Block 1Superior Uplands Arrowhead

  • Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015: Two Harbors High School Auditorium, 1640 Highway 2, Two Harbors.
  • Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015: Cook County Community Center, 317 West 5th St., Grand Marais.

Block 2North Central Plains Moraines

  • Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015: Sanford Center, Lakeview Rooms, 1111 Event Center Drive NE, Bemidji.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015: Deer River High School Commons, 101 1st Ave. NE, Deer River.

Block 3Pine Moraines

  • Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015: Century School Cafetorium, 501 Helton Ave., Park Rapids.
  • Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015: Franklin Art Center Auditorium, 1001 Kingwood St., Brainerd.

Block 4East Central Uplands

  • Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2015: Hinckley High School, 201 Main St., Hinckley.
  • Thursday, Feb. 12, 2015: Anoka-Ramsay Community College, Peterson Center, 300 Spirit River Drive South, Cambridge.

Block 5Sand-Plain Big Woods

  • Monday, Feb. 2, 2015: Monticello Community Center, Mississippi Room, 505 Walnut St., Monticello.
  • Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015: Spring Lake Township, Town Hall Community Center, 20381 Fairlawn Ave., Prior Lake.

More deer in much of southeastern Minnesota is the anticipated outcome of a citizen-led deer population goal-setting process that increases deer numbers in five of the nine permit areas under review. DNR increased goal densities in deer permit areas 341, 342, 345, 347 and 348. Permit areas 343, 346 and 349 will maintain existing goal densities. Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, permit area 344, will maintain current densities.

Materials DNR wildlife staff provided to advisory team members and the public during the goal-setting process are available for public review. Contact Leslie McInenly, DNR big game program leader, at 651-259-5198 or send an email to to receive these materials.

Current Landowner & Hunter Survey Results

Deer hunting – DNR's most-recent information on deer hunting seasons.

Harvest reports

Annual compilation of the deer harvest

Population modeling

Southeastern Minnesota landowner survey – This study was conducted to understand private landowners' perspectives on crop damage, deer hunting and deer management, and land use patterns in southeastern Minnesota.

Southeastern Minnesota deer hunter survey – This study sought to gather information from hunters about deer hunting in southeastern Minnesota. Specifically, the purpose of this study was to better understand deer hunting participation and deer management in that part of the state.