Minnesota’s deer hunting tradition is rich and strong, reaching back many generations and in general, hunters in 2022 can expect more opportunities to harvest deer.
Overall deer harvest is expected to be strong across the state in 2022. Firearms season begins Nov. 5, youth and early antlerless hunts will take place Oct. 20-23, and archery season begins Sept. 17.
Available tags will be stable or increasing in number in the vast majority of deer permit areas (DPAs).
Because of recent chronic wasting disease (CWD) finds, new CWD zones have been established. Over opening weekend, sample submissions will be mandatory in CWD management, control, and surveillance zones. Carcass movement restrictions will continue to be in place. As always, hunters are encouraged to consult the regulations booklet or the DNR website for the most updated information.
According to data available from the Minnesota DNR, 2021 license sales across the state were strong (586,963), down slightly from 2020, which had been the highest since 2011. Deer harvest was also reduced, by roughly 9,000 animals.
In DPA 701, which encompasses the heart of the Twin Cities metro area, 2021 total deer harvest was 2,331. Archery hunters accounted for 1,495 (64%), and firearms hunters took 726 (31%). Muzzleloader, youth, and early antlerless seasons accounted for only 110 deer all together.
DPA 236 (an area less than a third of DPA 701), which includes the northern Stillwater area, Hugo, Centerville, and Forest Lake, saw overall harvest that was similar, at 1,943 deer. However, archery and firearms hunters took proportions of deer that were roughly inverse from those in DPA 701, around 32% and 57%, respectively.
As in 2021, DPA 701 will have a 5-deer limit and DPA 236 will have a 3-deer limit in 2022. Hunters who are or may be hunting on private land or within city limits are responsible for knowing boundaries and laws pertaining to their location.
September is Tree Stand Safety Awareness month. Tree stand accidents are the leading cause of injury to hunters. Thousands fall from elevated stands each year, causing many to take trips to emergency rooms. Some are killed by their falls.
Fortunately, according to data provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, treestand falls requiring emergency room care have been on a downward trend. There has been an estimated 70% reduction between 2010 and 2021.
Also fortunate is the fact that falls from tree stands are almost entirely preventable. According to the Tree Stand Safety Awareness Foundation, 86% of fall victims were not wearing a body harness, and 99% were not secured to the tree or stand.
Jeff Davis is Communications Director for Whitetails Unlimited, a national nonprofit organization of over 110,000 members with a focus on deer hunting, resource conservation, and education. He knows that falls from tree stands offer the potential of serious injury, and that harnesses can nearly eliminate that risk.
“No deer in the world is worth serious injury that ranges from a twisted ankle to death,” Davis said. “Any time you get above the ground, you should wear a harness. The modern full-body harnesses are very good; they prevent a lot of injuries. Think what would happen if you fell and broke your pelvis or something else and couldn’t work…or worse.”
He likened body harnesses to seat belts, in that some people resist them, but they pose little imposition and offer lots of protection.
“You just get in the habit and it becomes second nature. It takes only a little thinking and a little doing,” he said.
If hunters consider a safety harness an undue expense, Davis suggests they consider the cost of gas, ammunition, and other factors, then “work it into the budget.”
Harnesses are widely available and affordable. The highly-regarded Tree Spider line of harnesses, for example, has options that start at less than $100, according to Davis.
Davis also suggested that non-hunters buy a harness for those they know who need one.
When it comes to implementing safety gear, he offered one last piece of advice. “Practice with it ahead of time. Don’t be trying it on for the first time an hour before sunrise on opening day.”
Roy Heilman is a contributing writer for Press Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-407-1200.