More kids with rifles? No thanks

New proposal for a youth-only deer hunt in Minnesota is a big miss

This fall, you might hear the happy calls of children cavorting in the woods. If that sounds a idyllic to you, then imagine it again âÄî punctuated by gunshots.
That will be the scenario if the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources gets through a proposed youth-only preseason on deer hunting. The main argument for the special season is the aging population of MinnesotaâÄôs hunters. Like farmers, they are generally getting older without bringing in new blood, and thereâÄôs a concern that the practice of deer hunting will fade along with them. The premise of a special preseason for youth is that it would incentivize kids to try hunting for the first time by setting them up for an easy kill. But where are these hunting happy kids coming from? ThatâÄôs where the logic of this proposal breaks down. TheyâÄôll certainly come from hunting families âÄî the same families most likely to take their kids on a regular-season hunt anyway. All the youth hunting season will do is spoil the season for the dedicated hunters who look forward to those first bountiful days of the hunt every year, each hoping to nab the prize buck before the next. Kids can get into hunting the same way they always have: by being invited to take part in the time-honored rite of the family hunt. Giving them a season all their own robs them of that community experience, and dissolves a unique intergenerational tradition.