MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Who needs Black Friday when you have “Orange Friday?” Deer hunters across the state are gearing up to go hunting. Firearms hunting opener starts Saturday and a half-million Minnesotans are expected to head outside for the weekend tradition.
Here are four things you need to know for this hunting weekend:
1. The first week is the busiest.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says 70 percent of Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest usually occurs during the first three to four days of the season.
2. The deer count is down.
Last winter was a long one, and for that reason the DNR is predicting one of the worst success rates in decades. Largely due to harsh winters, wolf predation, past hunter success and managing the herd means cutting back on the harvest. DNR officials said they think the harvest will fall from 170,000 last year to as few as 120,000 this year.
“I hunt in northern Minnesota so it’s usually not always as abundant. I’m kind of used to it,” said Randy Hoff, who goes hunting about 20 miles north of Grand Rapids every year.
He said he’s usually successful 50 percent of the time.
Hunters are looking for an edge any way possible. At Gander Mountain in Woodbury, more customers are buying equipment to give them every extra advantage because of the expected lower harvest.
“There are a few things customers are getting more detailed about: Controlling their scent, using scents to attract deer and using the new technologies to eliminate a scent completely,” Woodbury Gander Mountain store manager Chris Valentine said.
3. What about the most common deer hunting violation?
According to DNR enforcement officer Maj. Greg Salo, the number one violation they ticket for is baiting.
“If you go to any of the store shelves at any of the sporting goods stores, 99 percent of the stuff they sell would be considered baiting,” said Salo. “Anything that is sweetened with food products is considered illegal.”
Salt licks are allowed, but any sweetened food products need to be removed 10 days prior to your hunt.
4. What is the best safety tip?
Check your deer stand. The DNR recommends you check your stand to ensure it’s secure. Salo said the most common cause of injury isn’t from guns, but rather deer stands not being secured properly.
“Get out a couple weeks before and make sure everything is sturdy and up to par,” Salo said.
Last year, 30 percent of Minnesota firearm hunters successfully harvested a deer.