Deer at the Superior Forest Scenic Byway

Best Places to Hunt for Deer in Minnesota

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Deer at the Superior Forest Scenic Byway
Outdoor Adventures // Hunting // Article

Best Places to Hunt for Deer in Minnesota

By Joe Albert

Every fall, hundreds of thousands of hunters clad in blaze orange head out in search of Minnesota's white-tailed deer. For many people, hunting deer during the firearms season is just as much about renewing friendships, maintaining family traditions, and fostering a deep connection with nature as it is bagging a buck. 

Minnesota's Varied Landscapes

Minnesota's county, federal and state lands contains four distinct biomes, all of which provide diverse habitats for thriving deer populations. The Minnesota DNR alone offers nearly 1.3 million acres of wildlife management areas throughout the state, many of which offer high-quality deer hunting unlike anything you'd see in Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Iowa or Illinois.  

The bluff country of southeast Minnesota offers some of the most stunning scenery around, with deep valleys and meandering streams and rivers as prominent natural features. Hunters lodging in big cities such as Rochester or small towns such as Lanesboro have easy access to thousands of acres of prime hunting land within this deciduous forest biome.

Buck at West River Park in Hutchinson

Buck at West River Park, Hutchinson

Hunters who prefer the more open terrain of grasslands and prairies can headquarter in cities such as MarshallFairmont and Montevideo in the southwest, while those who prefer a mix of prairie and deciduous forest may choose Fergus Falls and Morris in central Minnesota.

Hunters who enjoy heading into thick woods will find a wide array of options in the coniferous forests of northern Minnesota. Just some of the many cities to consider include Detroit LakesBemidjiPark RapidsGrand RapidsGrand Marais and towns throughout Cook County and the Iron Range.

And those who really want to get away from it all can hunt within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. There may be fewer deer, but there are far fewer hunters, too.

Father and son in deer stand

A dad teaches his son how to deer hunt

Tips for Hunting Public Lands

The beauty of public land is everyone is allowed the same access. Still, hunters may find that someone else has chosen the same location.

To avoid this situation, plan to walk as far away from the road as possible since most hunters often stay within several hundred yards of their vehicles. Another option is to find the heaviest cover available and choose that as your base. Deer may live in such areas, or they may be pushed into those areas to escape hunting pressure.

When hunting public land, please be respectful of the land; anything brought in, such as food and beverage containers or ground blinds and temporary deer stands, must be removed.

For information on deer hunting licenses, seasons and regulations, visit the DNR's Deer Hunting Season Information page.

Joe Albert

Joe Albert is a Bloomington-based writer who currently works for the Department of Natural Resources. His work has appeared in publications including Outdoor NewsStar Tribune and Field & Stream.