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Statewide youth deer hunting season kicks off Thursday

Updated: October 17, 2019 06:21 PM

The youth deer hunting season is open statewide for the first time in Minnesota.

It's part of an effort by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to combat a decline in hunter numbers, which they say is a concern for both managing deer populations and boosting local economies.

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About 360,000 firearm deer licenses were sold last year, a decrease of about 5% over the last decade, that is expected to keep getting worse.

Learn more about deer hunting season here in general.

"The majority of our deer hunters are composed of the baby boomer generation and as that generation ages out of the sport, we're really concerned with replacing them," said Barb Keller, the DNR's big game program leader. "Hunting is very important to some of our rural economies. Hunters are purchasing fuel to make it out to their hunting locations, they're buying gear and they're using local lodging options as well as restaurants."

To help recruit a new generation of hunters, the youth deer hunting season now runs statewide. Previously, it was limited to the northwest and southeast portions of the state.

Numbers are up so far this season. The DNR said 21,000 youth licenses had been sold as of Thursday morning, which is more than double this time last year.

"If they have the tradition of hunting from when they were younger, they're more likely to continue to participate in the sport," Keller noted.

Families like Chris and Dave Miller of Anoka County, agree.

"It was always fun to go up north and get out of the house," said Chris Miller. "It was good bonding for me, my dad and my grandpa so it was kind of our thing."

The youth hunting season kicked off Thursday and runs through Sunday, coinciding with statewide teacher workshops, which means many kids are out of school.

The DNR wants to remind people that new chronic wasting disease rules in parts of the state do apply to youth hunters, so you should check the regulations before heading out.

For more information, click here.

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