NEW LONDON — Hunting, fishing and conservation groups and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are all doing more to introduce young people to the outdoors.
We want to give young people the life-long rewards that come with discovering the outdoors, and we know what’s at stake. We need young people to be the good stewards who protect our resources going forward.
Those are some of the points made by Michael Kurre, director of the youth mentoring program for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Sibley State Park is offering its first youth deer hunt this October 27 and 28 as part of the effort to introduce young people to the outdoors.
Our state’s deer hunting heritage remains strong.
We are holding our own when it comes to the number of deer hunters.
Yet there are reasons for concern. The numbers are skewed. There may be as many deer hunters as ever, but it’s an aging population and we are losing the old hunters at a fast rate.
We are seeing good recruitment of young hunters, but we are lacking hunters in the mid-range ages, said Kurre. “We kind of skipped a generation there,’’ he said.
It’s a gap that is difficult to fill. Deer hunting is very much a family situation for most. “It really is hard to bring someone in from the outside into your deer camp, so it makes it a little more challenging,’’ he said.
That’s why the DNR is placing more emphasis on offering special hunts and working with sports and conservation groups to make possible more opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy deer hunting. We need to fill the gap and assure that there is a steady progression of generations keeping and passing on this important and rewarding outdoor heritage.
— Tom Cherveny