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Finding Minnesota: D.E.A.R. Hunting In Waconia

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(credit: CBS) Mike Binkley
Mike Binkley has been covering Minnesota news for more than 25 year...
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WACONIA, Minn. (WCCO) — Blaze orange becomes the unofficial state color on Saturday, Nov. 9. You’ll see it throughout the state as men, women and children take part in Minnesota’s deer hunting opener.

Even people who aren’t headed to the fields can still dress the part and join another kind of hunt in Waconia, a place that’s split between bagging bucks and spending bucks.

It’s a hunt where the targets are all in the city, and the focus is on a different type of rack: the type that holds clothes.

It’s known as D.E.A.R. hunting, which stands for “divas enjoying awesome retail.”

“You do not need a license,” Carmen Gesinger said, “but it’s helpful to have a checkbook.”

In this case, wearing blaze orange and having good aim will get you discounts. One store, The Stash, has a toy gun for shoppers to try.

“If you hit a bullseye, you get a free pair of earrings,” store owner Summer Jensen said. “We believe every woman should have a little bling.”

Twenty-five businesses are signed up to take part in the hunt, including shops, restaurants, a salon and a hotel. Visitors receive a listing of all the places offering special features.

“You want to get as much in as you can,” Chamber of Commerce president Kellie Sites said, “and go to the fashion show and you want to have some chocolate and some wine.”

It’s a one-day shopping and sampling adventure that can turn into a wandering party.

“It’s a great time to get together with girlfriends and shop ’til we drop,” Karen Kirby said.

Last year’s hunt attracted shoppers from more than 60 different communities. In one day, nearly 700 people squeezed into Summer Jensen’s little store.

“We’ll order in special items for the weekend that we will completely sell through, just for the day,” she said. “And women are literally like trying on clothes in the middle of the store.”

Then, by the end of the day, the “hunters” have their own trophies to show off.

They celebrate their success with something else that comes in orange. Chuck, the bartender at Lola’s Lakehouse has come up with a candy corn martini, a refreshing way to kick back after a grueling day of “hunting.”

“You just end the day knowing you just had a great day,” said Sites.

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