Dick Herfindahl: Deer hunting with a bow can be very rewarding

Published 9:17 pm Friday, October 19, 2018

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


Although I am not a deer hunter I have learned to appreciate the sport by being close to some folks who are avid archery hunters. When I listen to them talk about some of their experiences I can see the excitement in their eyes as they reminisce about past hunts. My brother-in-law, Lynn Johnson, has made it a tradition to return to Minnesota each fall from his home in Nome, Alaska, to archery hunt for deer with his friends. He has hunted almost every critter imaginable in Alaska, but returning to Minnesota to archery hunt for deer is something that he looks forward to each year.

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My son Brian once took me to his hunting spot over in the Bricelyn area just to show me why he valued the time spent in the woods. I know that the ultimate goal is to shoot a deer, but what better way to spend a few hours outdoors than sitting in a tree stand on a cool, crisp, sunny fall day. Sitting in a tree stand is a real connection to nature and you may be surprised at the different critters that may walk under your stand in the course of an afternoon.

I know that another big part of it for Lynn is being able to spend time catching up with good friends and relatives. Lynn is the person who got my oldest son, Brian, into archery hunting as a teen. Lynn took him to Colorado bowhunting for elk one year. I know that Brian really enjoyed that trip, which is something that he can always reflect back on as a special time. They camped in the mountains, hunted elk and fished for trout while they were there. This would be a dream come true for any youth who is an aspiring outdoorsman.

I have watched TV shows where a guide will take a customer on a hunt, site the rifle in for that person and all the hunter has to do is basically just pull the trigger. Personally, I can’t really see where a “real sportsman” would get very much satisfaction out of that type of hunt. Each person has his or her own set of values, so if getting a trophy means that much to someone and it’s a legal hunt then I’m fine with that.

There is a growing concern that the number of folks hunting and fishing is dwindling and that is a problem. The Minnesota DNR has taken steps to help promote these two great sports realizing that we need to get more of our youth involved in both sports if they are to be there for future generations.

The Commissioner’s Council on Hunting and Angling Recruitment and Retention (CCRR) was formed in January 2013. The council was created following conversations in late 2012 between leaders of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Outdoor Heritage Alliance (MOHA). The council was formed because MOHA, an umbrella organization for more than 50 Minnesota-based hunting, fishing and conservation organizations, and the DNR share a mutual interest in sustaining Minnesota’s hunting and fishing heritage.  Creating future generations of outdoor enthusiasts is a priority for the DNR. It is a priority for MOHA, too.

To address this issue, DNR and MOHA convened a council of stakeholders. Specifically, the group was charged by DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr to “discuss and better mutually understand how best to recruit future generations of hunters and anglers, as well as retain those who already participate in these sports.”  The group was further charged to “establish a long-range vision for how we can all design and deliver more effective public and private sector recruitment and retention programs.”

Minnesota has a strong and long hunting and fishing tradition. Minnesota’s angling and hunting participation rates (28 percent and 12 percent, respectively) are double the national averages of 14 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Nationally, only Alaska has a higher angling participation rate than Minnesota’s 28 percent. Minnesota ranks ninth in the nation for resident hunters.  Each year the state licenses about 1.1 million resident anglers and 550,000 resident hunters. Total expenditures by Minnesota residents on hunting and fishing within and out of Minnesota totaled $3.3 billion in 2011, the most recent year for federal information on hunting, fishing and wildlife-related recreation.  This level of spending supports nearly 48,000 Minnesota jobs.

Minnesota citizens so value hunting and fishing that as recently as the 1998 general election voters passed a constitutional amendment that states “hunting and fishing and the taking of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people.” This passed by a three-to-one margin.

Until next time, now is a great time to introduce a youth to hunting, and small game hunting is a great way to start. You could start by visiting one of the many WMA’s that we have available in Freeborn County to do some small game hunting. Hunting for squirrel and rabbit can be a relatively inexpensive and easy way to get a youth involved in the sport. It is also a great time to practice gun safety and teach respect for our resources.

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