An archery deer hunt opens Saturday, Sept. 18, in the East Minnesota River Refuge.

The refuge is located entirely on private land in Blue Earth and Le Sueur counties along the east bank of the Minnesota River. It is open to archery hunting until Dec. 31 for taking antlerless deer or legal bucks. Hunters must request landowner permission before hunting the area.

The East Minnesota River Refuge hunt has several significant changes. This year, it is no longer considered a special hunt, which means prior hunter registration will not be required and standard archery hunting regulations apply in this area. The East Minnesota River Refuge is not open to firearms deer hunting.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources area wildlife managers removed the special hunt designation because deer harvest numbers no longer support the need for a special hunt.

“Deer harvest within the refuge has been tracked since 2016,” said Stein Innvaer, Nicollet area wildlife supervisor. “The annual harvest has ranged between 20 and 30 deer with around 50 to 80 hunters participating, so now is a logical time to simplify hunting rules and regulations on that refuge area.”

Unique to this hunt is the fact that the entire hunting area is on private land, which means hunters must request landowner permission before hunting the area. Trespassing is a misdemeanor and could cost hunters their license to hunt. The Kasota Prairie Scientific and Natural Area is not open to public hunting.

Hunters are reminded that they are no longer allowed to use a bonus tag in the refuge area, which is a change from prior years.