Duluth, MN (Northland’s NewsCenter) --- For many Northlanders, the opening weekend to the Minnesota deer hunting season is more of a holiday than a season, and for some, it's a tradition that might as well be engrained in their DNA.
And, while the goal for many is to bag that next big buck, it's the memories that last long after the freezer is empty.
"My dad, he was the first, so he started this all," George “Pooks” Radosevich III said.
A thin layer of ice greeted the Radosevich team on Boulder Lake early Saturday morning, where their hunting shack has resided in the family for over 50 years.
Son George "Pooks" Radosevich III says he's been walking these woods since he could remember with his father, George Radosevich II.
"Walking out here with a BB gun and a little knife in my hand, just learning the woods," Pooks said.
"Next year I might even give him some bullets to use," his father, George Radosevich II said.
Both hunters claim that venison is the number one goal for them every year, buck or doe.
"It's good eating, and it fills the freezer," Radosevich II said.
But they always keep an eye open for the next trophy.
"We always hope for big bucks, but they're few and far between," Radosevich II said.
For Pooks, the tradition has become an escape from the hustle of everyday adult life.
"We're so busy with our lives-everyday lives-and work, and school, and everything like that,” he said. “Just to be out here and get some fresh air is great."
Pooks said he hopes to pass what he's learned from his father down to the next generation, especially when it comes to safety.
"Obviously wearing as much orange as you can,” Radosevich II said. “Most hunting accidents actually happen from people shooting one another by accident. [Keep your] safety on, watch the barrel of the gun."
Both hunters also plan to have their deer tested for Chronic Wasting Disease, which is mandatory in management zones in the East Central and Southeastern part of the state.
"They do a quick test on it, and see if they can identify it,” Radosevich II said. “Hopefully it will stay over, across the border [of Wisconsin]."
But, while a full freezer is great, and trophies are nice, for this family, what matters most are the memories.
"Hopefully we can make some good memories,” Pooks said.
More than 382,000 resident firearm licenses have been issued this year, along with an additional 59,000 muzzleloader licenses according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.