While orange is in, brown is down for firearm season

Half an hour before sunrise, Saturday, Nov. 7, shots rang through the crisp fall air throughout the state of Minnesota as deer hunters gathered during the wee hours of the morning for the firearms season opener.

Anticipation for the season could be felt strongly about a week before, as hunters throughout the state sited in their rifles and prepared their gear for the big weekend.

Angel Zanardi got a first hand glimpse of how many hunters prepped for the season while working the front counter desk at Del-Tone/Ruth gun range in St. Cloud.

“I’ve seen a major increase coming this time of the year, with rifle opener, everyone comes in from all over town from an hour to two hours away,” Zanardi said.

With many hunters getting set for the season, the hope is deer population numbers will be up after having a notoriously low number of harvests in 2014.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources released a statement saying deer populations are on the rise following the conservative season last year. The department hopes the population of deer will continue to rise, aided by them allowing fewer antlerless deer permits this year. By harvesting fewer does, the populations will have a chance to grow for future seasons.

The DNR estimates about 500,000 firearm hunters in the state, with a projected harvest between 140,000 to 155,000 deer. These numbers are up from last year, which had just over 139,000 deer accounted for.

Randy Torborg has made the northbound trip to hunt on the same plot of land in Pine River for the past 25 years, spanning back to when he was in college. Now it has become a family tradition that spans three generations of hunters who arrive for the hunt, including his father and children.

“Last year we didn’t see very many deer, the first weekend has been very quiet. It’s been like that for the last few years,” Torborg said. “We’ve seen more people, more hunters out here. I don’t know if that’s making a difference here too.”

Although the season just opened this weekend and the numbers are not all in, Torborg said opener appears to be following the same trend as last year.

“The shots this morning were pretty quiet… Even when it came to the afternoon when it typically gets crazy was quiet again,” said Torberg.

Despite the “quiet” afternoon Torborg reported, the clan still managed to snag a seven-point buck and a spike buck to start the season out.

“twenty-five years ago, it was all about me,” Torborg said. “It was about getting up here with my brothers, dad, cousins and uncles. Now it’s all about the kids. Making sure they have fun, they stay safe and keep them and the tradition going of coming up here and camping out.”

As the traditions and season continues, DNR is urging hunters to continue to review new regulations and boundary changes.

One major change this year is that licenses purchased after season opener are not valid until the following day after being bought. More information on this and other regulations can be found on the DNR’s website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/deer/index.html.

Until then, happy hunting.

The Torgborg hunting grounds in Pine River, Minnesota. Photo by Sarah Rudlang
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