Deer hunt starts Saturday; 1 in 8 Minnesotans to participate

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Good luck, buck.

Roughly 500,000 Minnesotans – roughly 1 in 8 of hunting age in the state – will join the 2013 deer rifle hunting season that starts Saturday morning and runs through Dec. 1.

Following tradition, Gov. Mark Dayton will help launch the deer hunting season, this year in Fergus Falls. Dayton is expected to speak at a kick-off event Friday, but still nursing an ailing hip a few weeks after surgery, he is not expected to take part in the actual hunt.

Last year, the blaze-orange clad army of hunters fanned out across Minnesota and harvested about 186,000 deer. A similar harvest is expected this year, Department of Natural Resources officials said.

DNR officials are making a special point this year of warning deer hunters about deer baiting – placing food near deer stands or clearings to lure the animal into close shooting range. Violations of the practice, which has been outlawed since 1991, are at an all-time high, conservation officers say.

Deer hunting generates about $234 million per year in direct sales, the Associated Press reported.

Minnesota's controversial wolf hunting season also opens Saturday, the second year in a row for that hunt since the animal was taken off the endangered list.

The target harvest is 220 wolves, down from a limit of 400 last year, when hunters and trappers killed 413. The DNR lowered the target after it was estimated that there were 2,211 wolves in Minnesota last winter, a decrease of about 25 percent from 2008, the Associated Press reported.

Animal-rights activists have protested the hunt.

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