MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It is “Orange Friday.” That means in just a few hours, more than half a million Minnesotans will head to the outdoors for the opening of deer hunting season.

It is a long-standing Minnesota tradition. The Department of Natural Resources says it expects this year’s deer harvest to be relatively low, between 140,000 and 155,000 deer.

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But that is not stopping die-hard Minnesotans from sticking with tradition and heading out for the weekend hunt.

You can see the anticipation of a good hunt on the faces of all who walk into Capra’s in Spring Lake Park.

“I thought I’d pick up a new set of boots to keep my feet warm,” shopper Mark Kowal said.

Hunters are picking up those final items they need to make this year’s firearms season opener a success.

“It’s kind of like the day before Christmas,” Capra’s Jerry Riege said. “We sell a lot of hand warmers, we sell a lot of licenses, we sharpen knives, deer scents, calls, everything.”

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The DNR says hunters spend big bucks during the season opener. Last year, hunters spent more than $725 million on equipment, food, licenses and permits.

“Half a million people all going out tomorrow, you know, for the same thing, for the same reason,” Riege said. “And a lot of it isn’t just killing deer. A lot of it is just being with your family and friends.”

Pictures of past hunting seasons show the tradition and how important the “deer camp” is to all who spend time searching for the perfect buck.

“Hunting is all about tradition, family and all that stuff,” hunter Jim Lambert said. “It was my mom that made us get up. She’d tell us we couldn’t come back to the cabin until we had a deer.”

The state is divided into areas where people can choose where they want to hunt. The season is a bit longer up north, and there is a late season in the southeast corner of the state.

The DNR says this year’s regulations are the same as last. You can find what you need to know in the regulations handbook on their website.

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The DNR is also offering a sneak peek to an interactive deer map. It is the first step in launching a mobile app that gives hunters information like harvest history, permit area designation and winter severity history.

Reg Chapman