By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Thousands of Minnesota hunters will try and bag a trophy buck next weekend.

The firearm deer season means more than 150,000 deer will be successfully hunted.

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There is no season quite like deer season for a lot of hunters — even if it occasionally leaves them empty-handed.

“If somebody says they’ve never missed a deer they’re lying, because it happens,” said one hunter at Capra’s Sporting Goods in Blaine.

It happens to all hunters. But in a hit-or-miss sport, there are more hits than misses. And if the more than half-million Minnesota deer hunters decided to give it up, the impact would be as noticeable as a 12-point buck.

“There would be very significant consequences,” said Steve Merchant, who manages the Minnesota deer population program for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

(credit: CBS)

He says hunting is the main way we manage deer, and no hunting would mean a dramatic spike in numbers.

Merchant says they would eat themselves out of their own habitat.

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“There would be lots of crop damage, lots of damage to forestry generation,” he said.

Merchant says disease and starvation would take over. Even the moose population wouldn’t be out of the woods, as deer would also eat their food. And humans would suffer, too.

“There would be a pretty significant negative economic impact to rural Minnesota,” Merchant said. “Deer hunters spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually.”

Not to mention the traffic issues. Right now, there are an average of 2,500 deer-vehicle accidents reported each year in Minnesota. But Merchant says you can bet that number would increase for drivers.

That is why the DNR hopes this Minnesota tradition continues on for generations to come.

Merchant says controlled hunts in the Twin Cities also help maintain deer numbers, and it stops the spread of disease among animals.

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It’s estimated there are more than one million white-tailed deer in the state right now.

John Lauritsen