Yes, it’s about hunters — deer hunters — and dreams of bagging the big one.
But, more so, it’s about other things outdoors: Archery as well as outdoors destinations. And, in particular, a decade-long-or-longer effort to get youths — girls, too — into the outdoors.
Northland Outdoors stuff.
Most every year for the last 10 years, likely more, the number of youths and young families participating in outdoors activities has dropped across the Upper Midwest. And, during that time, natural resources agencies have constantly been looking for ways to somehow change the direction of that trend. Or at least stop it in its tracks.
Tanner Speer is hoping to do the same to a big Minnesota buck. But he has no idea what to expect for his upcoming archery hunt.
He’s never personally seen a Minnesota buck. In fact, he’s never been to Minnesota.
But Tanner, 16, from Winter Haven, Fla., has heard about Minnesota’s big white-tailed bucks. He has arrowed Florida deer, but there’s a reason he and his father, Steve, are coming to Minnesota: For a chance at a Minnesota buck that his dad said would be bigger than anything Tanner will ever see in Florida.
Like the number of youths in the outdoors, deer numbers also have been on a downward spiral in Minnesota in recent years. But, as the Speers’ trip will attest, Minnesota remains a destination — in this case, for a young bow hunter. Getting a youngster into the outdoors, and the Minnesota outdoors, is a doubly good thing here.
And that speaks volumes of the impact archery has had on all of this. While firearms safety participation — and youth firearms hunting — numbers are mostly down in recent years, archery has helped even things out a bit when it comes to youth participation numbers as a whole. Kids are getting into archery — girls included.
Breanna Theodore started hunting deer with a pink .243 rifle. But it wasn’t long before she, too, found her niche with a bow.
And in a big way.
Breanna, 15, of Hibbing, is a member of the Team USA archery squad, and she will be on hand to shoot an arrow next week to officially kick off the 2015 Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener festivities.
Two years ago, she arrowed a buck that her youth archer counterpart, Tanner, has only dreamed about, at least up to this point: A big-bodied 8-pointer.
For Breanna, archery shooting and deer hunting go hand-in-hand.
“When you see a deer and you stand up and get ready and know you’re going to shoot one, your heart beats (faster),” Breanna said. “And it’s the same thing with target archery, that feeling. It’s basically the same thing. You have to learn how to control it. And you do it for the love of it.”
That’s what’s bringing Tanner Speer 1,700 miles from Florida to Minnesota.
That and big Minnesota bucks.
It’s his vision quest — and that of outdoors agencies across the Northland.
Follow Northland Outdoors (www.northlandoutdoors.com) next week for updates on Tanner Speer’s Minnesota archery hunt and all things deer hunting across the Upper Midwest.