This fall, my home state of Minnesota took the admirable step—in my opinion—of lowering the minimum hunting age for big game seasons. This year, hunters as young as 10 could participate in the firearms deer season. They must be accompanied (read; kept at arm’s length) by a licensed adult mentor. The young hunter did not need to have passed a hunter’s safety class, but would need to do so by age 12.
Just this weekend a friend (my daughter’s former 2nd grade teacher) pulled me aside at a dance recital and asked “do you think this is a good idea? Letting 10-year olds hunt?” I said that, providing the 10-year old was eager, physically big enough to handle a gun, and escorted by a mentor of sound judgment, the idea was a good one, indeed. Better yet, I could point to an excellent example.
Brooke Johnson is an 11-year old 5th-grader who attends the same school my kids do; Rushford-Peterson elementary. Brooke and her father Brent were hunting Minnesota’s first firearms deer season when Brooke shot this fine 6-point buck. My young daughter (also named Brooke) was standing by me when Brooke told me she’d shot her first deer. After we congratulated her, my Brooke tugged at my sleeve and said “I want to do that next year!” Well I would like her to do that next year to, and I thank Brooke Johnson—and the Minnesota DNR—for inspiring my young daughter in such fine fashion!