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Local deer season underway

The Outdoors
Lead Summary
Scott Rall, outdoors columnist

The firearms deer season started in most of Minnesota on Nov. 7.  In the southwest part of the state it runs for 11 days.  Other regions have different dates and season lengths.
I am a pretty serious deer hunter but have not harvested a deer in over 30 years. This by no means indicates that I have skipped the opportunity to buy a license and take part in the hunt for any of those three decades. I hunted each and every one.
After hunting deer since I was about 20 years old, now 60, I have had an opportunity to harvest a deer in almost all of those years. I just am getting pretty picky about what I want to shoot and have kind of taken my deer hunting in a different direction.
My favorite part of the deer hunting tradition is the fact that in many cases there can be four generations of hunters all sitting around the kitchen table helping plan the season’s efforts. Name another passion where great-grandpa all the way down to great-grandson or great-daughter can all enjoy the same sport. I don’t know of a single great-grandpa that can play football, soccer, tennis or roller blade at 85 years of age.
The oldest hunter I have had the enjoyment of helping was a 94-year-old gentleman that had given up the sport about 20 years earlier because he could no long endure the cold temperatures that accompany the deer season. We put this encyclopedia of worldly knowledge in one of our heated stands and I got to take his picture with a 1.5-year-old buck.  It was no trophy by any means but the smile on this weathered man’s face was just as good as the smile on a 12-year-old who shot their very first deer. The great guy has since passed away.
Hunter numbers are in freefall across the United States. There are many reasons for this but competition from other leisure options is a big culprit.
When I was a kid, we did not have the numerous options kids have today to play round ball sports and travel all over in pursuit of a winning record or an invitation to a top-notch college. I had a bike and a curfew when I lived in my parents’ house. Parent taxi services were not available back in the early ’70s.
Deer hunting is not where most young boys and girls normally get their start in the hunting traditions. Small game and things that fly are the normal starting points.
This has been changing as of late with the expansion of youth seasons and the tons of information available on how to get kids unplugged from an outlet. There is an almost unlimited amount of information available if you don’t hunt but would like to give it a try or allow your child to give it a shot.
You get expanded hours for deer hunting that other game does not get. For example, you can shoot a deer from a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset. All other seasons start and end at the actual sunrise/sunset. Pheasant hunting does not start until 9 a.m. each day of the season.
I had the best deer hunting season of my life last year when I mentored a 46-year-old woman to her first deer in over 30 years. In that same season I had four kids 12 years of age all shoot their very first deer on my property.
Youth get an automatic any-sex deer permit. In some areas an adult has to apply in a doe tag lottery and be lucky enough to be drawn. In my unit there are only 50 does tags, and they sell over 500 licenses in that area. I apply for a doe tag every year and then because the rules in Minnesota allow it, if I am drawn, I let an adult new to hunting use my tag.
It is called party hunting and for the most part it works out OK.
You can shoot a deer on opening day and still hunt all of the other days in the season as long as you are hunting with another license holder who has not filled their tag. This extends over to the muzzle loader season as well. You must be in proximity of the holder of the un-filled tag. You cannot go hunting by yourself while the tag holder sits at home and watches TV. The Conservation Officers write a lot of tickets for this violation.
Without deer hunters there would be untold numbers of additional car/deer collisions. Deer hunters harvest a renewable resource and help keep deer populations where wildlife management agencies think they need to be.
Join the ranks of harvesters who know the food they are eating is organic and where it came from.  This, by the way, is one of the fastest-growing segments of new hunters.
Whether you hunt deer or just enjoy the outdoors in other ways, you get to enjoy the very best part of every day. That is the sun peaking over the horizon at dawn and watching it slip away at last light. Both are better than any time spent indoors or glued to your phone.
Scott Rall, Worthington, is a habitat conservationist, avid hunting and fishing enthusiast and is president of Nobles County Pheasants Forever. He can be reached at or on Twitter @habitat champion.

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