A youth deer hunt: Good idea or bad?

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 10, 2010 - 6:32 AM

A proposed four-day statewide youth deer hunting season is generating plenty of reaction. If there's public support, the hunt could be held next fall.


Minnesota DNR officials are proposing a four-day youth deer hunting season to be held in October, before the regular firearms season.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Minnesota's 500,000 deer hunters usually aren't gun-shy when it comes to voicing their opinion on anything related to deer hunting.

Especially when Minnesota officials tinker with deer regulations or management.

This year, the Department of Natural Resources is floating a possible four-day statewide youth-only deer season in October, a couple weeks before the regular firearms season. Youths age 10-17 would be allowed to kill one either-sex deer. The purpose is to encourage youths to deer hunt at a time when the percentage of young hunters is declining.

The reaction thus far from hunters ranges from "Great idea!" to "Are you crazy?"

"The idea is to provide a high-quality initial hunting experience for youths," said Jay Johnson, DNR hunter recruitment and retention coordinator. And remove barriers to hunting.

"The weather is warmer [in October], there would be less competition in the woods and a parent could focus on their kid," Johnson said. "What a wonderful opportunity for a parent."

A DNR survey of hunters in southeastern Minnesota found that a majority supported a youth deer hunt, and neighboring states all offer some type of youth deer hunt.

But not so fast, says Mark Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.

"We're very interested in getting kids out and creating more opportunities for them, but there's real confusion of why DNR would even consider it statewide, when there are many areas that are lottery-only or bucks-only," said Johnson. "We just don't have the numbers of deer available, especially in the far northeast and southwest."

Said Johnson: "You have a half-million deer hunters out there; if you throw them to the wind and concentrate just on the kids, it doesn't make sense. If you don't provide opportunity for adults, they won't stay in hunting either. You can't give up retention and focus on just recruitment."

A deer hunters association survey of members in southeast Minnesota mirrored the DNR survey: A majority supported the youth hunt. But Johnson said that's far different from a statewide youth hunt. Neither the MDHA nor the DNR has surveyed hunters statewide about the idea.

Since the proposal was announced last month, some online forums have been buzzing. The DNR is taking comments on the youth hunt and several other hunting-related issues at public meetings around the state. The agency also is accepting comments through an online survey. (See accompanying story.)

Public comments at meetings in the southeast supported the idea. But at a meeting in Little Falls last week, there was some opposition, said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program manager.

"Some said it will ruin the regular [season] hunt, others said youths don't need a special opportunity," he said. But there has been strong support for the youth hunt among the 1,600 people who have taken the DNR's online survey, Cornicelli added.

Cornicelli said he doesn't believe the youth hunt would impact the deer population, the regular firearms season or bow hunters, who would be in the woods at the same time. Bow hunters are among those who have criticized the idea.

"I think the impact would be negligible," Cornicelli said. "There's already people out grouse and duck hunting then. Putting some kids out for a few days likely won't impact the archery season."

Cornicelli said stakeholders at the agency's 2002 roundtable meeting suggested the DNR consider a youth deer hunt.

"We've put a fair amount of thought into this," he said.

The hunt would coincide with annual teachers' conferences, when school is out on a Thursday and Friday in mid-October. Though adults wouldn't be allowed to carry a firearm, some fear they might be tempted to shoot a deer.

"We don't think an individual who goes to the time and effort to take their kid on a special youth hunt will shoot the kid's deer," Cornicelli said. "It just doesn't make any sense. Will someone do it? Yeah, probably. But I don't think it's going to be a big problem."

Officials aren't sure how many youths would partake in a hunt. There are about 55,000 to 60,000 youth hunters now, but Cornicelli said only a percentage of those likely would hunt the youth season. Ideally, the special hunt would attract others who might not have hunted, but it's uncertain how many that might be.

And only a percentage of the youths would bag a deer, Cornicelli said.

The DNR offers a special two-day youth deer hunt in the northwest, and other youth hunts are held around the state. The idea originally was to offer a youth hunt in the southeast, too, but officials decided to consider a statewide hunt.

Jack Peck, secretary of the Bluff-land Whitetails Association in southeastern Minnesota, said his group has suggested for several years that the state launch a youth deer hunt.

"We're one of the only states that doesn't have one," he said. "It's a good way to get kids involved. It's nice and warm out then; we just thought it would be a good idea."

Said the DNR's Johnson: "Once the public weighs in, we'll make a decision."

Doug Smith • dsmith@startribune.com

  • related content

  • What's your opinion?

    Wednesday March 10, 2010

    What do you think of a four-day statewide youth deer season? Or allowing hunters age 55 and older to use a crossbow during the archery season?

  • Neighboring states offer youth deer hunts

    Wednesday March 10, 2010

    Neighboring states Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota all offer some type of youth deer hunting season.

  • Minn. Deer Classic opens Friday

    Tuesday March 9, 2010

    Deer will be the topic at the 28th annual Minnesota Deer Classic, which runs Friday through Sunday at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum Building.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 FINAL
Dallas 1
St. Louis 5 FINAL(SO)
Vancouver 6
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 81 FINAL
Colorado 87
Washington St 67 FINAL
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question