DNR urges hunters to buy their license early

Published 9:00 am Sunday, October 23, 2016

The firearms season for deer hunting is fast approaching and to me it doesn’t seem possible that we are that close to the deer hunting season. I have really been enjoying the nice fall weather that we have been experiencing thus far. As a true Minnesotan I am still waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. I’d be willing to bet that most folks these days have probably no idea what I was talking about by that statement.  To simplify things, let’s just say that it means that all good things must eventually end.

In 2003 I attended the first ever Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener in the Brainerd area. Once again the event will be held in that same area of the state. I attended the event as an observer and not as a hunter, but what I learned about deer camps and the camaraderie that goes with it gave me a whole new perspective on the sport.

The week before I was to attend, I received a phone call from a man named Gary Drotts. He said he was the wildlife management supervisor for the Brainerd area where the opening festivities were to be held. Until I received this call I was having reservations about what part I would really play in the whole event.

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It was estimated that about 500,000 hunters would be out for the first weekend’s hunt. It was also estimated that on Thursday licenses were selling at a clip of about 1.3 per second and on Friday it would be at 2 per second. This would translate into about 1/4 of a billion dollars in revenue for the weekend.

On that opener I discovered that deer camps are not only about the hunt, which is why they exist in the first place, but about tradition and the gathering of family and friends for this annual event. I have been attending the governor’s fishing opener since 1995 and to compare the two is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, fishermen gather each year to compare tales and in some cases swap a few lies, but deer hunters are a much closer-knit group.

Most of the people that I met over that weekend never talked about the “Big Buck” they had shot or how many, but instead talked about the experiences they’d have had and some of the funny and crazy things that have happened to them over the years or the “monster buck” that they’d had in their sights but couldn’t get a clean shot at.

I’m not a politician or a real drum beater for any righteous cause, but I did agree with then Governor Pawlenty back then when he said that preserving the outdoors, preserving our heritage and as Minnesotans preserving the traditions we have established as outdoorsmen and women are things that we should really care about.

Buy your license early to avoid the bottleneck

With nearly 500,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and any potential system issues associated with the high sales volume. The 2016 Minnesota firearms deer season begins Nov. 5.

“Don’t wait until the last minute to buy a deer license. There can be long lines of people waiting to buy licenses in the days before deer opener. Last year we sold more than 145,000 licenses the Thursday and Friday before opener,” said Steve Michaels, DNR licensing program director. “Buy early and you can spend more time getting ready to hunt and enjoying time with family and friends.”

Deer licenses can be purchased at DNR license agents across Minnesota, by phone at 888-665-4236 or online on the buy a license page.  There are additional fees for telephone and internet transactions. Deer licenses and tags ordered by phone and internet take three to five business days to arrive, so hunters who choose these options should allow enough time for delivery. Hunters must have a valid deer license and tag in their possession when hunting deer.

Until next time, it’s a good time to take a little leisurely drive in the country and enjoy the beauty of our area. Don’t forget that there is still a lot of good fishing to be had before the water hardens.

Please take some time to honor those who have sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today. Take a little time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops who are serving today.