Children head into the woods with arrows, camera and binoculars

Published 10:22 am Thursday, November 7, 2013

Minnesota’s deer hunting season is getting underway this weekend in Minnesota. -- Photo provided by the DNR

Minnesota’s deer hunting season is getting underway this weekend in Minnesota. — Photo provided by the DNR

By Heather Rule

Furgus Falls Daily Journal

FERGUS FALLS — Children aren’t being left out in the cold when it comes to activities at the Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener this week.

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About 175 fourth- and fifth-graders at Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in Fergus Falls will take part in a youth field day on Friday.

Matt Conner, director of the PWLC, has heard from many people who wished they had learned about birds or nature photography, for example, when they were younger. He wants to create some of those lessons sooner rather than later.

“The main thing I want all youth to get is, occasionally you’ll see in hunters, they’ll be a hunter, but they’ll never stop and look around,” Conner said. “There are people that go hunting … but they never actually see nature. So we’re trying to get them prepared for that. If you’re going to be out there hunting, why not learn about nature photography?”

Students will attend the field day as part of the 11th annual Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener. Minnesota’s general firearm deer season opens Saturday, and guests of the Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener will hunt in the Fergus Falls area. It’s great to be able to work with partners, like the Department of Natural Resources, for an exciting event like this, Conner said.

Sessions for the youth field day include, “Taking Aim at Invasive Species,” where kids will try their hand at archery; “Snapshot Hunter,” giving students a chance to shoot (cameras, that is); a sketching class which includes a doodling warm-up, pencil tricks, learning how to keep a journal and sketching using magnification; and “Oh Deer and Animal ID,” led by DNR staff.

“We’re going to teach you the ABCs of close encounters with wildlife,” Conner said. “Archery, binoculars and cameras. We’re going to teach you to get close to wildlife with any three of those things.”

They will also eat lunch together and watch the Gould Bros. Shooting Expo at the fairgrounds.

The hunting piece is almost secondary to the other nature education they’ll provide for students at the PWLC, according to Conner. Besides, not everyone wants to be a hunter of animals, which is OK, but you can still hunt nature with a camera, journal or binoculars, he said.

Being an educator, Conner said, they’ll teach archery, but not just archery. They’ll teach tracking skills to go with it. There’s more out there than just hunting, Conner said.

“Hunting’s great,” he said. “But that doesn’t have to be the only time you go into the woods.”