Thousands of Minnesotans headed to the woods and fields today for the opening of muzzleloader deer hunting season.
The season runs through December 12. Hunters are limited to using old-fashioned guns that are manually loaded from the front of the barrel.
DNR big game coordinator Lou Cornicelli says muzzleloading has grown from about 10,000 participants 10 years ago, to more than 60,000 today. Cornicelli says the sport is growing in popularity because it gives hunters another chance to go back into the woods.
"Hunters like opportunity. It's less about putting a deer in the bag than it is being out hunting and enjoying nature and being with friends and stuff. And the muzzleloader season really allows that," he said.
The regular firearms deer hunting season ended last weekend in most of the state. DNR officials say about 215,000 deer were killed.