Minnesota DNR sets state-wide youth firearms deer hunt

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released the 2019 Hunting and Trapping Regulations earlier this month and the highlight for me was the announcement that there would be a new statewide youth firearm’s deer hunt in October.

The four-day hunt will take place from Oct. 17 to Oct. 20 everywhere in Minnesota except Deer Permit Area (DPA) 287, which includes Itasca State Park.

It’s open to youth ages 10-17 and they may take one either-sex deer by firearms statewide during that period.

In the past, the youth season was only available in the southeast, northwest and Twin Cities metro permit areas.

“We heard a lot of support for a statewide youth deer hunting season,” Barbara Keller, the big game program leader for the DNR, said in a release. “We’re excited to make it easier for parents, relatives or trusted adults to share their hunting knowledge and traditions with the next generation of deer hunters.”

In other words, the DNR is trying to get more kids involved in deer hunting so they opened up a short season during what is traditionally a pretty mellow weather-wise time period to entice them.

I, for one, think this is a great idea and my kids will definitely be taking advantage as they won’t have to deal with snow or cold or a whole bunch of hunters in the woods.

And, from my experience, a lot of deer – especially bucks that like to pair up, are on the move during daylight hours in mid to late October which should create some great opportunities for action.

The regular firearms season always opens in November – this year in the northeastern part of the state it runs from Nov. 9 through Nov. 24. It is usually timed around the peak rutting time for whitetail deer.

Tom Rusch, DNR Wildlife Manager for the Tower Area, said the hunt was set for Oct. 17-20 because that is MEA weekend and Minnesota kids are usually off from school.

“The weather is typically nice, and deer are un-pressured by hunting activity,” he said, adding that this hunt joins previously established youth seasons for turkey, archery deer, waterfowl and small game hunts and that other states offer similar seasons.

“Fish and wildlife agencies and organizations across the country are aggressively working on recruitment, retention and reactivation,” Rusch said. “Women, minorities and disabled people are also being actively recruited. Women are the fastest growing demographic in hunting.”

The push to get more youth involved in the outdoors at a time when fewer young people are hunting and fishing has been going on for a while across the country. In Minnesota, DNR officials and representatives from groups such as the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association have been working on several initiatives including the R3, which stands for recruitment, retention and reactivation.

A few years back former DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr commented on it as part of a “toolkit” designed to guide officials.

“R3 is important work. It’s important because hunting and fishing are pathways for understanding nature, supporting sound natural resource management and becoming a conservation advocate. Moreover, expenditures from hunters and anglers contribute to the economic health of local and state economies, plus fund state and national fish and wildlife management,” he wrote. “Therefore, it is in our best interest to understand how people become hunters and anglers, what motivates them to continue and why they return to these activities after temporarily stopping. Thankfully, a growing body of research exists in these areas. If we study it, understand it and apply it we can do much together to preserve Minnesota’s hunting and fishing heritage.

Details of the hunt are as follows:

•Youth ages 10-17 may take one either-sex deer by firearms statewide, including in the Whitewater State Game Refuge.

•Participant numbers are not limited and there is no special permit.

•An adult parent/guardian/mentor 18 or older must accompany youth ages 10-13 at all times during the hunt. The adult does not need to be licensed.

•Blaze orange/pink requirements apply to all hunters, trappers and adult mentors in areas open during this season.

•The accompanying adult cannot hunt and party hunting is not allowed (youth must tag their own deer) except during the early antlerless season with the correct license.

•Youth 12 years of age and older must have a firearms safety certificate or apprentice hunter validation.

•Participating youth must possess a valid firearm deer license. Youth age 10, 11, and 12 must possess a free license.

•The bag limit is one deer only. Youth may use their regular license or a bonus permit if they take an antlerless deer, except in a ‘bucks only” DPA.

•Bucks must be tagged with the youth’s regular license.

•Participation does not affect eligibility for the regular deer season, however, the harvested deer counts against the youth’s annual statewide bag limit.

•Deer permit area designations for the youth season are the same as for the regular firearms deer season. For example, a deer permit area designated as Hunter’s Choice during the firearms season is Hunter’s Choice during the youth season.

For more details see the DNR’s deer hunting page at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer. Hunting licenses went on sale Aug. 1 and are available at any DNR license agent, by telephone at 888-646-6367 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense.

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Other news of note and changes include:

•The entry deadline for either-sex/antlerless permits in lottery deer permit areas, special firearms and special muzzleloader hunts in Thursday, Sept. 5.

•Crossbows are no longer required to have a 30-inch stock to be legal for hunting (Page 61).

•A person may use a dog to retrieve wounded deer or bear.

•A person attempting to locate the animal must have in possession a valid license to take the deer or bear. Dog handlers who do not have a valid hunting license must be accompanied by a licensed hunter with the license in possession.

•The licensed hunter and dog handler must be on foot and must wear blaze orange/pink. Any light used must be an artificial light carried in the hand or attached to the person.

•The dog must be on a leash no longer than 30 feet. The hunter or dog handler must physically control the leash at all times.

•The dog owner’s name and telephone number must be on the dog while it is used to locate a wounded deer or bear.

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Open house set for Mountain Iron

The public is invited to talk about deer at a DNR open house from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Aug. 27 at Mountain Iron Community Center.

This is one of several open-house-style meetings set for various locations across the state for discussing deer and deer management with DNR area wildlife.

The meetings do not include formal presentations; people can arrive any time during the scheduled meeting times. For those who prefer to talk on the phone, people are welcome to call their area offices.

In addition to discussing general concerns about deer, individuals can ask DNR staff about the 2019 deer season, population outlook, share observations, get an update on Chronic Wasting Disease, and discuss changes for 2019.

Season changes include a statewide youth deer hunting season in mid-October.

Other area meetings will be held on Aug. 20 in Two Harbors; Aug. 27 in International Falls; and Aug. 28 in Grand Rapids and Cloquet.

For more information on deer management:

https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/mammals/deer/management/planning/index.html.

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