Controlled Archery Hunt FAQ

Common questions regarding the Abbey deer hunt.

The Abbey land and trails will remain open throughout the hunt.


How long is the controlled hunt taking place?

The 2013 Saint John's archery hunt runs from October 26 through December 31 or until 55 deer are taken, whichever comes first.


Can I continue to use the land and trails during the hunt?

Yes. All the trails that have been open in the past for people visiting the Abbey Arboretum will continue to be open. You can even walk off-trail if you want. We want you to continue to enjoy the land while we work on restoring a balance of the deer population to vegetation growth.


Is it safe to be out in the Abbey Arboretum during the hunt?

Safety outdoors is a relative term. Many parks and municipalities (including the St. Cloud area) have successfully combined archery hunting with ongoing park activities without problems. We expect similar results here. We switched to an archery hunt this year after hosting shotgun hunts in the past because we believe that archery will result in an overall safer hunt. Naturally, the decision to use the land during the hunt is one that you have to make for yourself and your family.


How many hunters are there?

108 hunters were selected to hunt, although it is unlikely that they will ever all be in the woods at the same time.


How were hunters selected?

We accepted hunting applications this summer from 555 interested hunters. The 108 selected were chosen in a lottery process. Those who had taken the MN DNR Advanced Bow Hunter Safety class were given a priority in the lottery. Over 90 of our 108 hunters have completed the class. We worked with the MN DNR to verify that selected hunters do not have any significant past hunting violations. All hunters have also completed 1.5 hours of additional safety training by Saint John's Life Safety.


How can I hunt at Saint John's?

To get on a mailing list to receive notification about next year's hunt, email We will send an email out with details about the application process and hunting rules for 2014.


Will I see the hunters?

Most archery hunters feel they have the best chance of success around sunrise and at dusk. Many do not hunt in the middle of the day due to the fact that deer don't move around as much. The hunters have tree stands and ground blinds that are at least 30 feet off the trails. Archery hunters are also well camouflaged, so you could walk by without knowing they are there.


Will the hunters see me?

Archery hunters have a range of about 30 yards or less, so they have a much easier ability to verify their targets than with other hunting methods. They will see you coming long before you see them. Wearing bright colored clothing, such as an orange hat or jacket, will help make you even more visible from a longer distance, but it is not required.


Will the hunters confuse my dog for a deer?

The easy answer to that question is NO because dogs are not allowed at Saint John's - in the woods or on the campus. They never have been, leash or no leash. Please leave your dogs at home. You can review the Saint John's Abbey land use policies (including the Pet Policy) if you'd like more information.


Why is there a hunt at Saint John's?

Saint John's Abbey Arboretum is designated a state game refuge. We cannot have any kind of hunting or trapping without the permission of the Commissioner of Natural Resources or an exemption in the law. We are allowed to have a deer hunt because the local deer population is so high and has been so high for so long that it is causing significant ecological damage. Species deer eat - like oak and pine seedlings - are not regenerating (at all), and species not eaten by deer - raspberries and ironwood - are proliferating. The natural vegetation of the ecosystem is out of balance.


Why is the hunt going on now?

The Minnesota archery season runs from September 15 through December 31. We have chosen to start our hunt on October 26 to reduce the potential for conflicts with the many other events and recreational uses of the land. Most of our regular fall events and visitors reduce or end their visits as the fall colors fade and the cold season approaches. We don't want to delay the hunt any longer than October as we want to provide the best chance of hunter success to achieve our goals.


Are you still having a shotgun hunt during the MN shotgun season?

No. We've moved entirely to an archery hunt this year and will likely continue with archery hunting only. The number one reason is safety. With land and a University campus that have so many uses, it is also logistically easier to maintaint that standard of safety with archery.

Contact Us

Saint John's Outdoor University
Saint John's University
2346 Science Drive
PO Box 3000
Collegeville, MN 56321

Main Office:
104 New Science Center

(320) 363-3163
Fax (320) 363-3202

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