Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With fall comes the beginning of the hunting season in Minnesota. Duck and goose hunting is already underway, and in a few weeks the deer hunting season will start as well.
Every year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has a special three-day season for youth hunters in October. But there’s a lot more to the special season than attracting young hunters.
“My dad did it as a kid. His dad did it as a kid, and his dad did it before him. It’s just been a family tradition,” said Jacob Wolfe.
Wolfe got his first bb gun when he was 4 years old. He sat in a deer stand for the first time when he was 10. He’s 17 now and works at Capra’s Sporting Goods in Blaine. And when it comes to hunting, Wolfe says he’s just getting started.
“It’s an addiction. It’s a different sport,” said Jacob.
And that’s exactly what the DNR wants to hear. From Oct. 17-20, they’ll have a special youth deer season in parts of Minnesota. Licenses for 10, 11, and 12-year-olds are free that weekend, and 13 to 17-year-olds pay just $5. The DNR is trying to generate interest, but their target isn’t just young hunters.
“We need more of you. And the reason we need more of you is because we need good stewards who will take care of the water and the land for the long haul,” said Mike Kurre of the DNR.
Kurre is talking about what he calls the middle base. Over the past few years, Kurre has seen a drop in hunters between the age of 20 and 45. He blames technology and busy lives, but he’s not giving up.
“It’s great to spend that time with a youth outdoors,” said Kurre.
This year more than ever, the DNR is hoping those 20 to 45-year-olds take a kid through the entire hunting process. From properly using a firearm to staying safe during a hunt and simply having fun. For the DNR, generating interest is the equivalent of bringing home a trophy buck.
“It’s always concerning right now because we want to have that good base. And to teach the kids right now in the future you have to have that middle base. You need the old base, middle base, and youth base to be successful over the long haul,” said Kurre.
Kurre said that while licenses may be down for 20 to 45-year-olds, bow hunting numbers are on the rise. And that may be due to archery programs in schools.
He added that youth numbers overall have seen a slight increase over the past, couple years.