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Calling all deer hunters

WILLMAR -- With all the pheasant, duck, turkey and other wildlife organizations that have chapters in Kandiyohi County, one is sorely missing.

Joe Cannella, the development director for the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, wants to change that.

The MDHA will hold an informational meeting for those who are interested in a Kandiyohi County chapter at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 11 at the Kandiyohi Entertainment Center in Willmar.

Like other conservation-minded organizations in the state, the MDHA spends much of its time -- and money -- fostering habitat projects and youth programs to continue the legacy of our natural resources for generations to come.

Plus the MDHA is lacking representation in the west-central and southwest portions of the state, so issues that might be different from those in the northwoods of Minnesota might not get heard.

"The southwest has a lot of holes in it," Cannella said. "When I look at the map on my wall, we could have more chapters."

He also noted the MDHA differs from other state and national organizations in its structure. Members of local chapters can have a resounding effect on the group's direction.

"The MDHA is really democratic. Chapters can make proposals that can be adopted by an organization as a whole," he said. "Besides habitat, we are one of the few organizations that have a paid lobbyist."

The first step in creating, or resurrecting, a chapter in Kandiyohi County will be to get enough people interested to start a fundraiser. Raising money is the key to funding programs locally and statewide.

"You need bodies. You'd like to have 15 guys for a banquet committee," Cannella said. "Once you get the banquet going, you get to decide how to spend the money. Even though the fundraiser money is split with the (MDHA), all the money stays in the state."

Local chapters can fund anything from a local version of the Hides for Habitat program, which sells donated deer hides to fund habitat projects, to youth programs.

One popular youth program is the Forkhorn Camp. These camps are for beginning hunters and "provide extensive hands-on instruction in basic firearms safety, shooting techniques in rifle, shotgun, muzzleloaders and archery," according to the MDHA website. The state's Firearm Safety Certification is part of the camp.

"The kids will shoot trap, rifles, do carries through the woods and survival training," Cannella said. "Everything is hands on. Last year, 615 kids went through that program. It's pretty high-skilled training."

A program that is gaining ground across the state is the National Archery in Schools program, which provides funds for schools to teach archery to students in physical education classes. Cannella said there are about 200 schools in Minnesota that are part of the program.

The MDHA thinks so highly of putting a chapter in Kandiyohi County that Cannella said the 2009 state banquet will be held in Willmar.

For more information on the proposed chapter, call Cannella at 1-800-450-DEER or email