Some half-million deer hunters went afield beginning Saturday for Minnesota’s firearms whitetail season, resuming traditions or making new ones. Here are some of their stories:

Darian Peterson 22, Vernon Center

Deer hunting has always been a huge bonding weekend for my dad, Dennis, and my brother, sister and me. He has taken us hunting for years. This year, my brother couldn’t go, but my sister, Devin, 27, decided to hunt even though she recently gave birth to her first son. She shot a small buck at 6:49 a.m. opening day. My dad and I went out Sunday morning and settled into our stands. I hadn’t gotten a deer in four years. At about 8:10 a.m., I stood up to stretch and there was a doe right in front of me. I froze, she walked by, and then I sat down and fired. We found her in the woods, and my dad hugged me. It was such a happy moment. Less than an hour later, two deer came in and I shot at one, dropping it. My heart was racing and my legs were shaking. After four years of not getting a deer, I shot two within an hour! My dad came over and hugged me; I am so proud and lucky to have someone so special teach me how to hunt.’’


Erik Stromberg Maplewood

“Erik bagged his first 8-point buck — his second-ever deer — on opening morning at our deer camp near Park Rapids,’’ said his dad, Skip. “This was his first day out with my Model 7600 Remington that was bequeathed to him last May in recognition of his graduation from the U of M College of Pharmacy. After 25 years in the deer woods with this trusted weapon, it was fitting to pass this friend down to my son and go back to my dad’s Model 94 Winchester, which he bought used upon returning from the war. Such memories and traditions with father and son!’’

Tommy McNamara 11, Bloomington

“Tommy just completed his gun safety training this summer and was super excited to finally go deer hunting with me and his older brother near Longville,’’ said his dad, Chuck. “On Saturday morning, the first deer we saw was this 10-point buck. Tommy and I were hunting together in the same stand. He made a nice 75-yard shot. There were six of us in our party and we ended up getting three deer. Tommy’s was by far the nicest! He’s one lucky 11-year-old!’’

Dave Hrbacek St. Paul

“I started bow hunting three years ago at age 49. I worked hard and had opportunities, but couldn’t tag a deer. This year, I had more frustrations, including having a stand collapse. But, I never gave up. I reinforced the stand and hunted out of it Nov. 6. There was fresh snow on the ground, and I felt this might be the day I would finally put my archery tag on a deer. A little before 9 a.m., an 8-point buck came down the trail to my left and walked toward me. The wind was perfect. I let him walk a step or two past me and released an arrow for a perfect 10-yard shot — and got my first-ever bow kill at age 52!’’

Lincoln Carlson 13, Becker

“My son Lincoln got his first dear this year, hunting over a swamp near a lake on Grandpa’s central Minnesota dairy farm,’’ said his dad, Matt. “Lincoln was in the stand 45 minutes on opening morning when this nice 10-point buck poked its head out of the brush, and he shot it at 20 yards. He is still grinning. So is his proud Papa!’’