Minnesota’s Mentored Youth Wild Turkey Hunt Needs Your Help!!

Do you know a youth age 12 to 17 who yearns to be a “first” time wild turkey hunter here in Minnesota?   Perhaps you know a youth who also wants to learn more about turkey hunting and is willing to attend a pre-hunt orientation session to start gaining these necessary skills?   If so, have I got an exciting opportunity for some lucky kids.


That’s right.   Applications are currently being taken by the Minnesota DNR, but the deadline is less than a week away (application must be received by 2/13/12).   To download the application and review the complete details, please link HERE.

This is the 10th consecutive year the Minnesota DNR has teamed up with the National Wild Turkey Federation to provide mentors for qualified youth who desire to experience this unique outdoor challenge.   Over the years, more than 1,500 new wild turkey hunters have been successfully introduced to the outdoors thanks to volunteer adults who show the youth a safe, responsible experience out-of-doors.

A mentored youth turkey hunt is often the best way for first-time hunters to discover how to tag a tom.

To be eligible, a youth hunter must be the proper age on or before April 21; have a valid firearms safety certificate; and be accompanied by a parent or guardian.   Please note the program is for first-time turkey hunters only.   Any youth who has previously purchased or been selected by lottery for a Minnesota turkey license of any type is not eligible.

Most hunts will occur April 21-22, which is the first weekend of the regular wild turkey season.   Nearly all youth will hunt on private land thanks to the generosity of private landowners and the NWTF volunteers who obtained permission.

Participants will be selected through a random lottery.   Applications, maps and general information for the special youth wild turkey hunt are available online HERE.

Now for the important part.   I have it on good authority that so far this year applications for this special hunt are way down—as much as 40 percent compared to last year, for various reasons.   That means there’s a lot of willing, qualified mentors who could be missing an opportunity to make this program work unless we all take time to act now by encouraging a youth to get involved and to apply.

It’s worth noting that the average success rate for the mentored youth hunt in Minnesota is approximately 42 percent.   That’s a full 10 percent higher than the regular hunter success rate.   Why?   Because these youth get paired up with some experienced, skilled hunters who typically do extensive scouting before the actual hunt.   These volunteer adults know the importance of providing a positive experience, so not only do they dedicate their time, but often their best locations for the hunt, as well.

If you have additional questions about this great opportunity either post your question in the comments section below or contact Mike “Cold Front” Kurre at the DNR.   Michael.Kurre@state.mn.us

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Minnesota DNR Shuns My Media Access Request

Blog readers please excuse this brief rant. What it comes down to is my state’s DNR that holds an annual meeting to discuss fishing and hunting resources/management matters. Hundreds of the state’s most influential policymakers are INVITED to attend this 2-day conference to discuss concerns, management principles and essentially every aspect of the future of what us sportsmen enjoy in this state.

Several months back I mailed a handwritten note to the Minnesota DNR’s Chris Niskanen, Communications Director, Office of Communication and Outreach requesting to be included in these annual roundtable meetings. I shared with him my credentials along with my interest in reporting on the event through social media (Twitter, Facebook and blogging).

Well, you probably guessed it…Niskanen took NO ACTION on my request. Today, in fact, kicks off Day 2 of the event and once again a meeting which should be reported on by any means possible given the importance, was apparently only limited to selected “stakeholders” and traditional media outlets by invitation.Invite-Only

I guess what disappoints me the most is making an official request to a top official in the Office of Communication and Outreach and subsequently receiving NO COMMUNICATION in return. Perhaps they had some concerns such as space limitations, etc. which prevented the DNR extending me an invite…but to receive no response whatsoever is just plain rude, not to mention unprofessional.

On top of that, Niskanen came to the Minnesota DNR by leaving his outdoors writer job at the St. Paul Pioneer Press newspaper. During his tenure at the newspaper he even wrote occasional blog postings so you would think he would have some greater appreciation of the efforts I have been doing with this blog for nearly 8 years running.

What I have been talking about here details my frustrations with the Minnesota DNR. Yet, I suspect even in this quickly-evolving world where media is changing almost daily…there remains many in government—no matter what state—that just don’t get it. It’s not just happening in Minnesota, I’m sure.

And the problem is you can tell these DNR folks what they need to be doing and my experience has shown it usually falls on deaf ears. What a shame! For example, since 2010 I’ve been pushing for the state’s hunting and fishing regulations to be available in a smartphone friendly version…but again, you guessed it. They seem set in their ways to embrace the old and not to make changes that seem sensible on all levels.

In closing, I’m going to say this. I was willing to give up my time and make the effort necessary to learn more about my states’s DNR so I can better understand, for my communication endeavors, the dynamics of why they make the decisions they do. More importantly, I wanted to share with my network of social media readers all the important news that should be streaming from the 2012 Minnesota DNR Roundtable meetings.

Instead, I’m sitting home here on my birthday planning out how I will spend a much different day. And that’s okay…because my main goal of this posting is to expose just how out-of-touch the Minnesota DNR remains with those of us attempting to drive the social media communication effort.

©2012 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

What Constitutes A “Shootable” Deer And Who Should Determine It?

Before I get deep into the crux of today’s blog post, take a look at these three videos taken about 5 1/2 weeks ago on my farm using the new Cuddeback Attack trail cameras.   Each video lasts about 30 seconds and in general shows a small buck browsing on some field corn.

At this stage during the crop growing year it appears the deer is consuming the secondary, more immature ears of corn that commonly grows on the corn stalks.   Thus, this deer AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR does not appear to be doing any particular damage to the standing corn or its eventual crop yield.

That being said, earlier in the summer when all of the corn ears are immature and this deer goes browsing throughout the field…significant damage can then occur when deer choose to dine as you have witnessed.

Shifting gears just a bit…I did something fun with these videos.   I showed them to the neighbor who rents my farm and grows these crops.   This particular farmer also happens to be one of my hunting buddies each fall.   I told him, “look at that deer.   It just stands there defiantly taunting you to come get him if you don’t like what he’s doing.”

My buddy agreed, this fall that particular deer is what he is targeting as the deer of his choice during the firearms season.

Now, keep in mind this vendetta brewing between the farmer and the buck deer is all in good fun.   After all, isn’t that what the hunting experience should be all about anyway?   Everyone heads out into the woods for very personal reasons…and it’s quite fair to say not every hunter is motivated by the same set of factors.

Yet, oddly enough…if this deer traveled just 7 miles to the northeast of my farm’s location…it would then exist in a Minnesota deer zone protecting bucks like this one.   In fact, here in Minnesota we have a three year experimental project underway that protects bucks that don’t sport at least 4–points on one antler.   This buck clearly does not.

Yes, the antler-obsessed hunters here in Minnesota have long pushed for legislation to manage the hunting experience the way they believe it should be conducted.   Apparently it’s not good enough to use self-control whereby selectively harvesting a mature deer that fits the criteria of a specific hunting party.   Nope, this group of folks want to see Antler Point Restriction (APR) rules spread across the land like a wildfire on the windy prairie.

Okay, I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of APR in this blog posting.   Instead, what I am going to underscore is the misguided notion among some that all of us hunt for the same reasons.   In fact, I will even go so far as to say pushing for the establishment of certain minimum restrictions on the size a buck deer before it can be legally harvested is downright selfish on the part of the hunters requesting such a prohibition.

This farm where I now hunt and live was first settled by my family back in 1856–-two years before Minnesota even gained statehood.   My ancestors traded provisions for venison with a friendly tribe of Chippewa Indians during those first years so I have a long-standing familial connection with deer hunting taking place on my property.   Indeed, I take personal exception with anyone pushing for game management actions only to better satiate their obsession for shooting a big deer.

Don’t get me wrong…I like big deer, too.   Over the years this farm has been home to some big deer as shown here and here, for example.   Yet, I am fervently opposed to the DNR telling me I am restricted from shooting certain deer because their management objectives are geared solely to satisfy the whims of a certain class of hunters.   When you manage for some hunters and not for all…it fuels a certain elitism that simply has no place in hunting, at least not in my honest opinion.

Yes, thank goodness I still live in a MN deer hunting zone that is not yet affected by rules governing the size of the buck I can harvest in my woods.   Just like the farmer who plans to hunt the particular deer shown in the videos this November, our reasons for hunting are often quite varied and not always fueled by the same passion for large racks.

I think it’s high time both hunters and DNR game managers alike begin to recognize there are differences in what drives each of us to pursue this wonderful sport called deer hunting.   To think we all go hunting for deer sporting massive racks is, well…rather naive at best.   If game management doesn’t involve the physical health of the deer herd, then it ought to be up to the individual hunter—and only that hunter—to choose what constitutes a “shootable” deer.

©2011 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.