Anyone curious about giving deer hunting a try has more ways than ever to learn how to get out into the woods and fields.
New hunters often express interest in putting locally sourced meat in the freezer. As they become hunters they tend to find new friends, create new family traditions and gain deeper understanding and connections with the outdoors.
Efforts to recruit, retain and reactivate hunters will play a leading role as the 17th annual Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener celebrates Minnesota’s hunting tradition Thursday, Nov. 7, through Sunday, Nov. 10, in Fergus Falls.
Throughout the year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works to make it easier for anyone to start hunting, and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) supports efforts to mentor new hunters.
Each year, MDHA collaborates with environmental learning centers and the YMCA to offer hands-on training for future hunters through camps for youth ages 11-17. At Forkhorn Camp, youth get a hands-on approach to sharing knowledge on hunting practices and hunter safety.
All across the state this year, Minnesota offers mentors an ideal way to share hunting knowledge and traditions with youth ages 10-17 during the inaugural statewide youth deer season Thursday, Oct. 17, to Sunday, Oct. 20. This hunting season just for kids gives a chance for parents, relatives and trusted adults to discover, explore and practice hunting with youth in Minnesota’s fields and forests.
Adults learn to hunt
Leading up to deer seasons, the DNR hosts a variety of learn-to-hunt classes aimed at adults interested in learning how to hunt.
Learn to Hunt Deer 101 teaches adults 18 and older all the skills they need to hunt and process deer to put meat on the table. Participants start in the classrooms, progress to the shooting range, then to learn how to spot deer sign and pick hunting spots. Finally, they get an opportunity to use their new skills during special deer hunts in October and November.
The Becoming an Outdoors Woman program offers women interested in hunting a chance to gain skills in a supportive environment. This year, women signed up for a three-part series that covered deer biology and habitat, regulations, calls, tree stand safety, equipment and hunting blinds. Participants later learned where to shoot, how to gauge shooting distance and how to shoot from elevated stands; and took part in a mentored archery deer hunt in late September.
The DNR’s own recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) program offers grants to organizations that make ongoing efforts to get more people outdoors. Funded projects include MDHA mentored hunts and numerous other hunting programs, with details available at mndnr.gov/R3.
Hunter safety training also furthers the efforts to continue Minnesota’s hunting tradition. More than 1 million Minnesotans have completed firearms safety training.
Hunters who know someone who wants to try hunting but doesn’t have a firearms safety certificate can make use of the apprentice hunter validation. The validation is a short-term exception to the requirement for completing hunter firearms safety training and can be purchased where hunting licenses are sold. The validation may be purchased two license years in a lifetime. Find details at mndnr.gov/safety/apprentice.
Take someone hunting
Hunters themselves continue to play the largest role in bringing new hunters out into the woods and fields, and hunters are encouraged to take someone else hunting to help pass on Minnesota’s hunting tradition to the next generation.
Information about the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener is available at mngovernorsdeeropener.com. The event promotes hunting and tourism and is being hosted by Gov. Tim Walz through a partnership among the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and its local chapters, Explore Minnesota Tourism and Visit Fergus Falls.
Contact: Bri Stacklie
460 Peterson Road
Grand Rapids, MN 55744