Hunting an important cultural aspect of Minnesota

By Brent Frazier, mayor City of Pelican Rapids

“Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to affirm that hunting and fishing and the taking of game and fish are a valued part of our heritage that shall be forever preserved for the people and shall be managed by law and regulation for the public good?”

This was the text of the measure that was put on the Minnesota election ballot in 1998 which was also referred to as “Minnesota Amendment 3.” The measure passed with 77.24% of  voting YES and 22.76%, NO.

By such a decisive margin of victory, Minnesota became only the 3rd state in the country to possess a right to hunt and fish. Since then Utah became the 23rd state in the 2020 election.

Hunting and fishing have always been a major part of our country’s history, as they also are here in Minnesota. Our forefathers, and their forefathers, relied on the legal harvesting of wild game and fish to be a major portion of their families food supply.

Through the course of time, we witness much less dependency on wild game to feed our families.

With the rush-rush society in which we now live, it is fortunately (or less fortunately) easier to grab a quick burger ‘to-go’ than to hop in the boat to catch some fish or trek to the duck blind or deer stand to gather a meal for the dinner table.

Along with the decline of people ‘wetting a line’ or ‘taking a shot at a critter’ is the loss of the bonding between friends and family members.

Gone are the memories that could have been for many people. The memories of; digging your own angleworms, catching a lunker size Walleye, shooting your first Mallard, the smell of gunpowder, spotting that trophy buck, eating a bologna sandwich in your duck blind under the rays of a warm autumn sun or the companionship of a first hunt with your grandchild. 

It should be noted that money generated from license fees and excise taxes on guns, ammunition and angling equipment provide about 60% of the funding for state wildlife agencies, which manage most U.S. wildlife. 

The 2021 Minnesota hunting season recently started with the Waterfowl opener on September 25. 

The waterfowl that fly across our area use the Mississippi Flyway. This is the flight pattern from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico which has dramatically changed from the 1960-70s since many of us baby-boomers sat in our first duck blinds. This flight pattern has shifted  west as the waterfowl now travel the reservoirs and plush grain fields of the Dakotas.

Also adding to the mix is the absence of the many young hunters that were present in years gone by. With fewer hunters, the waterfowl are more apt to stay in places of calm instead of resorting to the skies and be susceptible the deadly range of a shotgun. 

Being a good hunter is much more than being a sharp marksman and harvesting wild game.

A good hunter; knows the rules & regulations, know the parts of the firearm, knows the shooting fundamentals, knows how to identify wild game species, knows hunter responsibility & ethics, knows about resource management, knows about personal preparedness & survival, knows the proper wild game care after the game is harvested and knows all about firearms safety in detail.

Yes, all of the previous ‘knows’ are important, but most importance is Firearms Safety.

The first Minnesota Firearms Safety Program was established in 1955 when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources instituted the Hunter Education Program. 

Firearms Safety begins at an early age for many in their youth as they await their 1st hunt. Anyone born after December 31, 1979 must have a Firearms Safety Certificate to purchase a license to hunt with a firearm, by completing a Hunter Education and Firearm Safety Course. 

Classes have been available for decades in Pelican Rapids during the months of April and September. In the past, all classes were conducted with in-person attendance, over many hours and spanning several weeks’ time.

In 2010, Minnesota added an online class option, consisting of many hours of online study by the student, two 4 hour refresher in-person classes & a 50 question test, followed by a field day.

Hunting in Minnesota is an important component of Minnesota’s outdoor recreation and heritage. It is therefore up to each hunter to be a safe, legal and responsible hunter and thus help ensure Minnesota’s hunting heritage.