Minnesota’s muzzleloader deer season is over, concluding our annual series of reader-submitted photos and stories from the whitetail harvest. Hundreds of families contacted Star Tribune Outdoors starting early last month to share tales and images from the season. We’ve sampled those contributions weekly to reflect the tradition and passion surrounding the state’s keystone hunt. Thank you to all who participated.
Opening day success
Eleanor Porisch, 11, of Edina, was with her father on family land near Climax, Minn., for opening day of the firearms season when this eight-point buck walked in below their elevated deer stand. Sand Hill River is in the background.
Two deer in first hour
Dave Hrbacek of St. Anthony was in the first hour of hunting during Minnesota’s firearms opener when this buck stepped out of the woods into the edge of a cornfield near Red Wing, Minn. When the buck approached a downed doe that was shot 10 minutes earlier, Hrbacek fired to fill his second tag. It wasn’t until he recovered the buck that he realized it was missing one antler.
Breck Miller, 14, of Cottage Grove, watched this 10-pointer descend a hillside on family land near Plainview, Minn., during the late afternoon of Nov. 16. When it reached bottom, the buck took steps in the direction of the boy’s ground blind. Breck quickly raised his 20-guage shotgun and downed the deer — his first ever — with one shot from 70 yards away. His father, Chad, watched it all unfold from a nearby blind.
Return home pays off
Neil Smith, 35, lives in Elko, Nev., now, but grew up in Renville, Minn., and still returns there to the nearby Minnesota River Valley to hunt deer with his dad and other relatives. On the second weekend of this year’s season, he was perched in a lawn chair among bottomland cedars when he shot this dandy 10-pointer — but not before his copper slug, only slightly off course, blew clean through a sapling en route to its target. The buck, estimated at 185 pounds field-dressed, toppled after taking only a few steps.
Sisters Rebekah Aleckson, 31, of Zimmerman, left, and Leah Schoenecker, 25, of Cambridge, Minn., were walking to their respective deer stands for an afternoon hunt on family land north of Deer River when they spotted a big-body deer with antlers walking along a wood line 150 yards away. They knelt down before the buck noticed them and on the count of three, they both fired their rifles. Both shots hit the deer — the second-largest buck ever taken on their land since it was acquired by their grandfather in 1973. The sisters have been hunting deer since they were 14 and have long been active in the Rum River chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association.