Hunters prep for rifle opener

Deer hunters can donate their hides to any of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s Hides for Habitat boxes like this one located at Johnson Oil in Milaca to help fund conservation efforts.

Local hunters are gearing up for the opening rifle season for deer, Saturday, Nov. 3 in an area that is the envy of outdoors people and sportsmen and women around the state.

Most of Mille Lacs County is located within an area the Department of Natural Resources categorizes as “intensive” — a label given to less than 15 percent of the state. In intensive zones, hunters can bag up to five deer. More than half the state is now in lottery zones in which hunters must rely on chance to be permitted to harvest deer.

President of the local chapter of Central Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and local man Scott Minks reminds hunters of the most important aspect to keep in mind this deer hunting season.

“The number one thing is safety,” Minks said. “Hunters — make sure to be safe with the firearms and wear those harnesses.”

He said those hitting the stands or driving in groups should also be mindful of property owners and be sure to receive permission before hunting on someone else’s land.

“Don’t trespass,” he said. “And maybe take them some venison if you’re successful. It’s good PR and it keeps giving deer hunters a good name.”

With technological advances in recent years, not only can hunters track and find their prey easier, but they can also register their kills easier as well. Minks said hunters can call in their deer tags, register them in person, or, a relatively new feature used by the DNR, they can register them online at

For hunters with a bit of extra land, Minks said it’s a good idea to leave a few acres of corn, alfalfa or beans out for the four-legged critters.

“Try to leave some food behind, because we never know what kind of winter we’ll have,” he said.

If successful, Minks said a good place to donate unused deer hides is Hides For Habitat. He said contributions help maintain deer habitat and conservation efforts.

For the full story, see the Thursday, Nov. 1 print edition of the Times.