DNR reducing barriers to get more hunters in the woods
A dwindling number of hunters in Minnesota have Department of Natural Resources officials coming up with new ways to get more people involved in hunting.
DNR officials say they are reducing several barriers to hunting in the hopes of getting would-be hunters off the fence and into fields and forests.
"Nationally, Minnesota ranks fifth in terms of hunting participation," said Dave Schad, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division director. "Currently, 13 percent of the population hunts. While that is down from 15 percent in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, it is still at a level that exceeds most other states.
The department is focusing on getting younger people energized about hunting. Officials say they have expanded youth hunts, reduced the price of youth deer licenses and have made the state a national leader in the archery in schools program.
Officials point out that they are also developing a new mentoring program. This effort aims to work with existing hunting, fishing and mentoring organizations to link avid outdoors enthusiasts with youth who have an interest in the outdoors but not the opportunity to experience it.
The agency has also implemented a special deer hunting clinic for women, a guided grouse hunt for women, an outdoors family weekend that included shooting skills and other activities that aim to keep hunting healthy in the face of national trends that show a downward decline in hunting participation.
"Think about it. Ruffed grouse numbers are at their highest level in years. Pheasant numbers are excellent again. Deer are abundant. What better time to introduce a friend, spouse, or child to someone's back forty or a nice wildlife management area perhaps 40 miles down the road," Schad said.