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What’s new at the 31st annual Minnesota Deer Classic, March 8-10 at the NSC?

02/27/2013, 12:45pm CST
By Barclay Kruse, NSC Chief Communications Officer

New owner, new venue, new activities.

BLAINE, Minn. (February 27, 2013) – For the 31-year old Minnesota Deer Classic, the big news this year isn’t tradition, it’s all about what is new for the venerable Minnesota outdoor show.

For the event to be held March 8-10 at the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine, Minn., here’s a run-down of what will be new this year, plus some of the popular traditions of the past that will continue.

New owners.

Last September, the National Sports Center purchased the Minnesota Deer Classic from creator and long-time owner Hugh Price. Price was looking to transition into retirement, and the NSC was building a stable of outdoor recreation shows to fill its new Sport Expo Center building and adjacent Schwan Center. The NSC has been more well-known as a busy soccer, hockey and amateur sports venue, with 4 million visitors a year on its 600-acre campus. The fact that it’s expanding into sports and recreational consumer shows is a natural growth strategy.

New venue.

After being held at the Minnesota State Fairground Coliseum in recent years, the Deer Classic moves into the National Sports Center’s Schwan Center. The Schwan Center complex sits right in the middle of the NSC’s 600-acres campus and totals 35,000 square feet. It includes the 21,000 square foot Sport Expo Center, which will be the location for exhibit booths. Immediately adjacent is the 15,000 square foot Schwan Center, which will be the site for more exhibit booths, trophy measuring, and educational seminars.

Additionally, the NSC’s amply outdoor space will be used for two major activities, a 3D Archery Shoot in the NSC Stadium, and a World Qualifying Shed Dog Hunt Trial conducted by well-known dog trainer Tom Dokken.

The National Sports Center offers ample free parking.

Two unique special outdoor events.

In an effort to utilize the ample outdoor space at the NSC (46 playing fields), the Minnesota Deer Classic will offer two major outdoor activities, a 3D Archery Shoot and a World Qualifying Shed Dog Hunt Trial.

The 3D Archery Shoot, presented by, will be held March 9, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, March 10, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Archers may shoot at any time during the two days. Fifty targets, ranging in size from a mosquito to a moose, will be set up in the NSC Stadium. There is an additional fee to compete in the 3D shoot, and participants may pre-register or sign-up on site. The pre-registration fee is $20 per person.

Tom Dokken will be conducting the World Qualifying Shed Dog Hunt Trial on Saturday, March 9 from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The hunt will take place on field U2 at the National Sports Center, just southwest from the Schwan Center and adjacent to the stadium field. There is a $25 entry fee to participate in this event. The entry fee is $25 per dog.

Both these events will be held regardless of the weather.

For more information on either of these outdoor events:

Trophy measuring.

A traditional and popular part of the Minnesota Deer Classic returns. Hunters can bring their whitetail, moose, elk, or bear trophies to be measured at the Minnesota Deer Classic.  On-site will be certified measurers representing the Minnesota Official Measurers (MOM), a service organization that provides an accurate and official big game measuring and scoring service for Minnesota big game hunters. 

Measuring will take place in the Schwan Center, and there is an additional $25 charge. Hours: Friday, March 8, 3-8 p.m., Saturday, March 9, 10 a.m.-6 p.m and Sunday, March 10, no later than 11 a.m. Upon official certification, trophies will be available for public viewing.

World's Greatest Whitetails.

Antlers by Klaus is sponsoring a display of four trophy bucks and one world-record moose,  including the Minnesota Monarch, the Knisely Buck, the legendary Ghost Buck (the world record albino from Wisconsin), the archery world record Real Langlois Moose, and Tim Forret’s monster Iowa buck, Ole Two Row. Antlers by Klaus is also presenting a display of record-breaking sheds. There is no additional charge to view the World’s Greatest Whitetails.

Commitment to education.

The new Minnesota Deer Classic is committed to offering an all-star line-up of educational seminars. Here is the list of presenters and the times for their seminars. All seminars will held in the Gold Room of the Schwan Center.

Bill Miller, legendary outdoor television host, writer and outdoor educator for more than 30 years. Miller’s shows have appeared on ESPN, the Outdoor Channel, and the Sportsman Channel. “Shot Selection and Ballistics,” 1 p.m. Saturday; “Bullet Performance and Outfitter Selection,” 11 a.m. Sunday.

Dusty Minke, professional fisherman, Forest Lake, Minn’s Minke has also hunted big game all over Minnesota. Through his sales work for the outdoor shooting sports industry and fishing in professional tours, Dusty is able to utilize quality products in the field and teach others how to best use the same tactics and goods. “Deer Cam Strategies,” 5 p.m. Friday.

Tom Giese, born and raised on a dairy farm in western Minnesota, Giese received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture from North Dakota State University. Upon graduation, he was hired by a national feed nutrition company in 1988. He has been active in animal and wildlife nutrition for nearly 25 years. “Chunky Buck Minerals,” 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

Dave "Benny" Bennett, hunting and fishing guide in the Lake of the Woods area of Ontario's Sunset Country for 20 years. “Hunting Big Woods,” 4 p.m. Saturday.

Jason Lund, avid outdoorsman and a professional photographer and videographer for over 15 years. His work has been featured in Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, North American Outdoors and In-fisherman and has worked on television productions all over North America and India.. “Outdoor Filming & Photography,” 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Al Heidebrink, retired Minnesota DNR Conservation Officer with more than 30 years of experience, primarily in the Grand Marais and Ely areas of Northeast Minnesota. “Moose Hunting 101,” 6:30 p.m. Friday. This seminar will also discuss the most recent census data on the decline of the moose population in Minnesota.

Dick Alford, long-time turkey hunting expert who has hunted turkeys in New Zealand, Hawaii, the Florida Everglades and 17 other mainland states. “Turkey Hunting Tips & Tricks,” 3:30 p.m. Friday. “Making Turkey Hunting an Art Form,” 10:30 a.m. Saturday. “Turkey Hunting - When the Rubber Hits the Road,” 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

Dan Stark is the Large Carnivore Specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Fish and Wildlife. Dan works as the state's wolf specialist, overseeing the transition of wolf management from the federal government to the Minnesota DNR and implementing the state’s wolf-management plan. Dan also works on bear season and policy issues for the DNR.  “Minnesota Wolf Season and Management Recap,” 8 p.m. Friday.

Tom Dokken is the owner of Oak Ridge Kennels in Northfield, Minn. and the president of North American Shed Hunting Dog Association (N.A.S.H.D.A.) “Train Your Dog to Find Shed Antlers,” 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Minnesota Deer Classic Facts:

Location: National Sports Center, 1750 105th Ave NE, Blaine, MN 55449.

Hours: Friday, March 8, 3 - 9 p.m.; Saturday, March 9, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sunday, March 10, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Admission: Adults, $10/day; youth (12-17), $7/day. 11 and under admitted free. Unlimited free parking.

Features: Hunting and wildlife seminars and classes, latest in hunting equipment, information on lodges and guides, official antler and trophy measuring, 3D archery shoot, shed-dog hunting event, outdoor campfire area, youth activities, kids’ fishing pond. will present former Miss Sprint Cup Paige Duke. Duke, who was also a bachelorette on CMT’s Sweet Home Alabama, works with representing their KF Fearless line of women’s outdoor wear. She is an avid outdoors person herself.

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