Friday’s Weekend Column
Here Come the Guns

by James Glaser
October 22, 2004

I should have said the "Rifles." We are getting close to the Minnesota Firearms Deer Hunting Season. This is the time of year that carloads of men are coming up here to build new deer stands, clear out shooting lanes, and get what supplies they need for their deer camp. Yes, it is true that under the Second Amendment women can own guns too and they do and they do deer hunt, but I have never seen a carload of women with guns driving up here, but I have seen lots of carloads of men with guns driving up here. Every bar parking lot from the Twin Cities to here is filled with their cars on this pre hunting weekend.

It is reported that about 500,000 hunters will hit the woods this year and they will spend about $250,000,000.00. That makes venison about the most expensive meat you will buy. 5,000 Minnesotans have their jobs because so many people like to hunt deer.

Down in Walker, a town 70 miles south of here, they have about 3,000 customers a day going into Reeds Sporting Goods Store. The man sells everything you could possibly need to hunt with. He sells about 5,000 firearms a year and who knows how much buck sent?"

Many bar owners tell me that deer season keeps them in business. Gas stations, restaurants, and even gift shops do well. If you have a gift shop, you have to lay a guilt trip on any hunter who wanders in the door and most will buy something, anything, for their wife or girlfriend. Some even buy for both.

In Funkley, the smallest town in Minnesota, population 10, ten miles south of Northome, they have "Exotic Dancers" at the Funkley Tavern every night of the season. Hundreds of hunters make that place a yearly tradition. All I can figure out is that when your dancing career is near its end, Funkly is one of your last stops.

It won't be long now until you can tell the locals by the clothes they wear. Local people are smart enough to get their deer early before the season starts or after it is over. It is safer that way. So, local people dress like they do all year long, while hunters blind you with their blaze-orange costumes. Blaze-orange is worn so that other hunters will not think you are a deer and shoot you. It used to be Red, but too many people thought that Red hunters, looked like a tan or brown deer.

Soon we will be hearing shots all day long. The lone shot makes me think the hunter got his deer. I hear ten or twelve from two different guns and I think the deer got away from two bad shooters.

Sometimes you hear a shot in the middle of the night and you know somebody was out shining. Good way to get a deer, but you can also lose your vehicle, rifle, and get a large fine. Nowadays, you lose your hunting privileges too. Game Wardens work the night shift this time of year.

With the heavy fines and the potential confiscations, it takes a lot of guts to be a game warden and walk into an armed deer camp. Almost all of the hunters nowadays try hard to stay within the rules and most Game Wardens will let an honest mistake slide if it can be fixed on the spot.

Some people do abuse the system and usually they will get caught. People who cheat, start thinking they can always get away with it, but a lot of times it is their own friends who turn them in. Most people want to protect this sport for their children and grand children. They know the rules are made to keep things safe and protect the population of the deer heard. Nobody likes to watch somebody cheat.

I don't really like deer season, but I know it helps the local economy. There will be lots of cars driving down my road all the time for a few weeks. I will have to wear something orange just to walk over to my workshop. The town will be filled up and I swear that gas prices are never higher than in deer season.

It is however good that we cull the heard. There are so many deer up here. It is nothing to come home and see six or more in the yard. This time of year they eat everything. Plant a bush and they will eat it down to nothing. They have eaten all of my hostas down to the soil line.

If man didn't hunt deer, then nature would send some sort of disease to take down the population and then we would have a cycle going like the rabbits have. It would be nice though if all the deer who eat my flowers and vegetables were taken this year, I wouldn't even miss them. They can really become huge rodents.

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