Minnesota’s first-ever statewide youth firearms deer hunting season was welcomed in with a lot of participation in mid-October.

The Minnesota DNR issued a release on Oct. 28 that said nearly 5,700 young hunters killed a deer during the hunt that ran from Oct. 17-20. That represents a 77 percent increase from the 2018 youth deer season when the hunt was limited to fewer areas.

“We know that a number of youth license-buyers won’t be hunting until the regular firearms deer season, but the large increase in harvest reflects the great response to this new opportunity,” Barbara Keller, big game program leader for the Minnesota DNR, said in the release. “Positive early hunting experiences go a long way toward starting or continuing a rewarding fall tradition.”

Before opening day of Minnesota’s first statewide youth deer hunting season, 21,211 youth licenses had been purchased, up more than 50 percent from last year at the same time. After the first day of the season, the total increased to 27,960 youth licenses. A total of 7,896 licenses purchased through the youth season were for first-time license holders.

The first regional youth deer hunting season happened in 2004 in northwestern Minnesota. Over the years, youth deer hunting season expanded to 28 deer permit areas in parts of southeastern and northwestern Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area where deer are most abundant.

The regular firearms season for deer in Minnesota opens up on Nov. 9 this year.