By Chris Schultz Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake Herald, Minn. November 23, 1998
Local deer hunting: right place, wrong time
The second season of firearms deer hunting in our area was boom nor bust for most hunters.
Although conditions for hunting were good - fair weather and almost all of the crops off the fields - there was a definite lack of hunters compared to other years.
The number of deer registered for the four-day hunt at Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake was down by about 30 percent when compared to the second season last year.
In 1997, Joe's registered 66 deer for the second season. This year, 47 deer were registered.
Although the number of deer registered at Joe's may not be a very scientific sample of the actual number of deer harvested and hunter success in our area, it does provide a good indication of how the hunting was this year compared to recent years.
I spent most of my hunting time in one location, but did take some time to drive around a bit and talk to other hunters in the area.
In that adventure, I had a hard time finding any other hunters. Those I did speak with said they were seeing a few deer and weren't complaining about low numbers.
They also noted a lack of hunters compared to other years. When the DNR comes out with the final numbers on the deer harvest in our area, the total will definitely be down.
The decrease is not so much from a lack of deer, but from a lack of hunters and also a reduction in the number of antlerless permits.
Another somewhat surprising note was the number of nice bucks taken.
Just take a close look at the photos in this week's column. They are amazing - trophy racks are almost the norm.
I should say, almost the norm for everybody else, because I wasn't one of those lucky orange clad slug hunters.
For me, it was the old standard of not being in the right place at the right time. I guess I could say I was in the right place, but not at the right time.
On the Saturday evening of the second season, I had hunkered down in a prime location in a woods just off the south fork of the Crow River near my brother's farm.
My nephew, who I was hunting with, had told me about the spot, a heavily used trail with a number of rubs and scrapes along it.
As I sat there, visions of a dandy buck coming down the trail and through the thick brush to check out his scrap filled my mind.
To make a typical deer hunting story short, my vision of a buck coming down that trail was fulfilled. I just wasn't on the trail anymore.
With about 20 minutes to go before legal shooting hours ended, I gave up and headed out of the woods because I was having a tough time seeing.
The sky was grey, the woods dim and bland, and my eyes bad and getting worse. My hunting for the day was over.
About an hour later, my nephew called with the story of my deer hunting life. Right after I picked up and headed out of the woods and off the trail, a nice buck moved through the brush past his stand and right by the area where I had been.
The right place, but the wrong time. At least I got half of it right.
Deer registration comparison
at Joe's Sport Shop, Howard Lake
First (24 antlerless) 65
Most of you, I believe, are familiar with Angus, a six-month-old lab that I got back in July, and have been writing about on and off since.
To bring you up to speed, Angus is growing into a monster. Something closer to a steer than a dog.
At six months, he is a whopping, tall, trim, and clumsy 85 pounds. Although he often still thinks and acts like a puppy, he sure doesn't look like one.
He is learning more and more every day and has done far better in the field duck and pheasant hunting then I thought he would. Actually, he is fast turning into an excellent bird dog.
Believe me, he can run just as fast as any rooster can. Which by the way, is a heck of a lot faster than I can run.
In time, he'll figure out that flushing that bird when I'm not next to him isn't going to get him anywhere.
The fields and sloughs have been great with him so far, however, the back yard is a little different story.
Actually, there's an incident that deals with my neighbors, the local police officer, the keys to my truck, and, of course, Angus, that I haven't told you yet.
It's a doozy and I'll tell it sometime in the next few weeks.
- Remember to wear blaze orange. Small game hunters are required to wear blaze orange and all hunters and outdoor enthusiasts should be aware that the wearing of blaze orange is also required during the muzzleloader deer hunting season in Minnesota which runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 13.
- At least four inches of good clear ice is needed for walking out onto a frozen lake or pond. Also, no ice, especially early ice, is never completely safe.
- A few late season waterfowl hunters noted that a few ducks were in the area last week.
One hunter, on a lake in the Winsted area broke ice to put out his decoy spread and took two mallards, a merganser, and one bluebill in a morning of hunting.
At this time, a majority of the smaller lakes and sloughs in our area are covered with ice and the duck hunting is probably over for another year. In Minnesota, the season ends Dec. 1.
- If you plan on doing some late season pheasant hunting, remember to be patient and work slow. Stick to your dog like glue and use a stop-and-go style.
- Reports from northern Minnesota indicate and excellent firearms deer hunting season. Registration numbers are up as much as 40 percent in some areas.
Local hunters taking to the woods in the Park Rapids and Aitkin areas reported excellent hunting and good numbers of deer.
- In next week's column, look for great gift buying ideas for the outdoor enthusiast in your family.
- The Outdoor News reported South Dakota gets an estimated $90 million of revenue each year from local and non-resident pheasant hunters.
- Enjoy the outdoors before the windchills hit negative numbers and piles of snow cover the landscape.