Students: Set your sights on Minnesota

The Spring 2019 issue of Backcountry Journal featured an article, “Student Licenses Aid in Recruitment,” that detailed how discounted student license rates help R3 efforts across the country and called for more states to offer college students licenses at resident rates. The graphic included with the article mistakenly did not show Minnesota as offering these discounted student rates, which it does. The below article, contributed by the Minnesota DNR, details their R3 and student recruitment efforts.


Photo: Minnesota Department of Natural Resources courtesy of Mitch Kezar


By C.B. Bylander

Since 1986 – long before hunter recruitment and retention was a hot topic – Minnesota has allowed nonresident students to purchase a resident small game or fishing license. In 1987, this student-friendly opportunity was broadened to include deer hunting. Then, in 1996, it was expanded again to include hunting for all big game species except moose.

Have students taken advantage of this option?

You bet.

In 2018, for example, 1,039 nonresident students purchased lower cost resident hunting and fishing licenses. That’s pretty cool.

How can students in Minnesota take advantage of this program?

They simply show a current fee statement from their school and proof of Minnesota residence during the school year.

Minnesota has also allowed a temporary exemption from firearms safety training for students. An Apprentice Hunter Validation is a  special hunting permit allowing students and others a twice-in-their-life exemption from firearms safety training – if they hunt in a prescribed manner with an adult who has firearms safety training. As such, any student who wants to introduce someone new to hunting can do so almost immediately. The validation, an addition to the license, can be purchased for only $3.50 wherever Minnesota hunting licenses are sold.

Anyone seeking a top-notch education amid high-quality outdoor recreation would do well to set their sights on Minnesota. The state has outstanding colleges and universities nestled with the ranges of many popular hunting species, including ruffed grouse, black bear, pheasant, wild turkey, Canada geese, ducks, sandhill crane, prairie chicken and more.

The fishing is mighty good, too. Minnesota is home to 4,500 fishing lakes and some of the best muskellunge fishing in the nation. It also features high quality stream trout fishing in the southeast, great walleye and bass fishing throughout most of the state and lake sturgeon up to 100 pounds in certain rivers and lakes. Many schools even host outdoor clubs where hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts gather.

Minnesota is also home to a very active BHA chapter that fights for public land, water and conservation issues. The Minnesota chapter came home from the annual BHA Rendezvous in 2018 with the George Bird Grinnell Award for outstanding chapter of the year. It also has two Collegiate Clubs chartered - the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and Bemidji State University – with more planned for the future.

In addition, Minnesota’s BHA chapter has long-time partnered with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to help implement an Adult Learn to Hunt program at St. Croix State Park. They also play an active role in developing a DNR hunting and angling mentor network across the state and have a seat at the DNR’s citizen-advisory R3 Council, which is focusing on getting more Minnesotans hunting and fishing. 

I want to thank BHA for its recent efforts to highlight the importance of resident hunting license options for nonresident students as a way of sustaining America’s hunting tradition and for this opportunity to set the record straight on Minnesota. Good hunting, fishing and hiking to all.


C.B. Bylander is a former Minnesota DNR Outreach Section chief who worked on many R3 initiatives.

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