Minnesota deer season generates big bucks

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources expects more than 500,000 deer hunters to hit the woods from the beginning of the season in September until it concludes in December.

Governor Tim Walz, at this year’s opening of gun deer season Saturday, said the deer hunt across Minnesota is a “billion dollar industry” and a “family event” as well.

Pre-pandemic numbers from the DNR showed retail sales connected to the deer hunt meant $260 million in retail sales and generated $33 million in sales taxes.

Mike Vinje, an avid deer hunter near Brainerd, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS he could easily spend, over the course of the entire deer season, about $1,000 to $2,000, if he added everything up.

“Just ask my wife, yeah, I could easily spend that much over the entire bow and rifle season,” said Vinje.  “I run 15 trail cameras all year round, eight lithium batteries in each one and those lithium batteries are $3 a battery.”

Minnesota Whitetails Unlimited Field Director, Buck Nordlof, told KSTP small businesses across the entire state benefit tremendously from the four-month deer hunt and that boost especially helps small towns and cities and it’s a recreational activity that is expanding beyond men in Minnesota.

“I think the Minnesota deer season is a big part to helping these smaller shops make it through the year whether it’s the gun shops, the grocery stores, the convenience stores,” said Nordlof.  “I believe the number of women is one of the fastest growing groups in the sport. I think women are actually growing, that segment, is growing faster than youth hunters even.”

Nordlof said hunters will also donate thousands of pounds of venison which will make their way to food shelves across Minnesota for the holiday season, too.

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