HIBBING — A total of 57 youngsters attended the annual Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) Youth Day Saturday at the Mid-Range Marksmanship Center located west of Hibbing.
Sponsored by the Hibbing/Chisholm Chapter of the MDHA, youngsters from ages 10-18 who attended were able to process through a number of stations to expose them to outdoors-related activities. Brice Pierce, president of the local MDHA chapter, said the number of participants dwindled from previous years, but he added that a number of area activities also may have been a factor.
“There are a lot of events going on this weekend and it’s hard to compete with everybody,” Pierce said. “So we made the best that we can and just rolled with it. The biggest part of this event is just education, and then getting some hands-on education. This is something for us adults to give back to the kids and show them what we know, too.
“Plus, it is important that they learn the proper handling of everything.”
Stations that were present Saturday at Youth Day included stations teaching safety, trapping, dark house, deer stand safety, air rifle, trapshooting, archery, muzzle-loading, and small-bore rifles.
Pierce said the MDHA sponsors Youth Days around the state and he said the plan is to continue the events in the future.
“It is a growing thing in different areas. For us, there are a lot of folks who have come together to make this a successful day,” Pierce said. “It is exposure to a lot of things. All of us are out here to help them and educate them, and it’s fun when everybody has some common ground to build off of.”
Ellie Miller, secretary of the Hibbing/Chisholm Chapter of the MDHA, said the youngsters seem to enjoy going through the different stations. She added that a noon meal is provided for everyone, and that youngsters received MDHA hats. Prize drawings were also conducted with rifles and archery equipment as the prizes. In addition, members of the local fire department stopped by and donated different items.
“We put a lot into our Forkhorns program because they are the future of hunting,” Miller said about the MDHA chapter. “We want to start them out on the right foot so they learn the proper way to handle and manage their rifles. This also gives them a great experience to see if they want to try trapshooting or other things. They really enjoy coming every year.”
Miller said it is hoped that when students complete the stations, they know of good hunting ethics, and they may also be motivated to try different things that were learned at the event.
“We think that they learn a lot of things here and they get to be good people in the woods,” Miller explained. “They get excellent training here; there are a lot of youngsters that go through our hands that probably don’t have an at-home dad. So, they can learn some of the things from all the mentors at these different stations. I think they benefit from that.”
Miller said the many volunteers who help with the Youth Day are much-needed in order to make the event a success.
“I bet we had more than 50 adult volunteers here today, and I think they are very important. This whole day – no matter if we have 57 kids or if we had 140 kids – it goes like clockwork. Everything is a well-oiled machine and we are right up with everything with it. It wouldn’t go that well if we didn’t have the people who come and help every year.”
Ethan Sundvall, 10, of Hibbing, attended his first MDHA Youth Day on Saturday. He said he was having fun going through the various stations.
“I like to fish and things and I think it will help me,” said Sundvall. “I have shot guns before and this has helped me with my aiming. I also like to trapshoot. I think I want to come back next year because it’s fun.”
Scott Lindstrom, who is one of the Hibbing High School trapshooting coaches, was manning a trapshooting station on Saturday for the Hibbing Trapshooting Club, assisting youngsters in learning the sport. He said the MDHA is a great organization and that the Youth Day is fantastic for the youngsters involved.
“It is a free event for the kids and they are able come in and try the different stations and get exposed to it,” Lindstrom explained. “We have been able to get a lot of kids involved into our youth (trapshooting) program and also the high school program by just coming and trying it. They fall in love with it and it’s a great day.
“This day is a great opportunity for the kids. A lot of kids today don’t have the opportunity to get exposed to the shooting sports. With the way trapshooting has been exploding in the state, we are getting kids out here and they are having a great day learning how to shoot and learning all the basic fundamentals.”