The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for the first time this fall is offering a statewide four-day youth deer season beginning Thursday, Oct. 17 and concluding Sunday, Oct. 20, coinciding with the annual teachers' convention that gives students a long weekend.

The youth season began in 2004 in northwest Minnesota before expanding to southeast Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area, where deer were most abundant. A 2018 statewide survey of Minnesota hunters showed support for a statewide youth deer season, the DNR said. Deer management interest groups also supported the concept.

“This is a hunting season just for kids,” said Barb Keller, DNR big game program leader. “It’s a chance for parents, relatives and trusted adults to discover, explore and practice hunting with youth in Minnesota’s fields and forests.”

Typically, temperatures in the middle of October are warmer than those during the regular November firearm deer season, snow has yet to set in for winter and deer are moving more during the daylight hours. Those factors create an ideal opportunity for youth deer hunters.

To participate, young hunters must be 10 to 17 years old and have a deer license. An adult parent, guardian or mentor must accompany youth ages 10 to 13. All youth hunters and mentors must follow blaze orange/pink clothing requirements. Adults may not hunt, unless they are in an area open during the early antlerless season.

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“Hunting is a pathway for understanding nature, supporting sound natural resource management and becoming a conservation advocate,” Keller said. “Creating this opportunity is one of the ways the DNR is working to preserve Minnesota’s hunting heritage.”

More info: mndnr.gov.