By Chris Schultz Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn. January 25, 1999
Clubs and firearms safety instructors make a difference
In last week's column' you read a an article from the Department of Natural Resources titled the "Safest year ever for Minnesota hunters."
The article highlighted the fact there were no firearms fatalities reported in the last year and that 1998 was the safest hunting season ever recorded in Minnesota.
With an estimated 400,000 hunting licenses issued in Minnesota in 1998' the fact that no firearms fatalities related to hunting were reported is a huge accomplishment to those who spend many volunteer hours training and instructing hunters and future hunters on hunter and firearms safety and ethics.
In our area' we can be proud of those who are and have been' DNR certified firearms safety training instructors. They are people who are concerned about our youth, the practice of hunting, and the outdoors.
By all accounts' they have done an excellent job and' as hunters who have been through their programs, we should be happy that there were no fatalities and that we have finally proven the worth and value of their efforts.
Also, the sponsors of our local programs should be recognized. Along with the DNR, those sponsors are our local sportsmen's clubs. Winsted, Waverly, Lester Prairie, and Howard Lake clubs all sponsor the firearms safety training programs. They provide meeting space and facilities, financial resources, and, in most cases, our local instructors are closely associated with one of the clubs.
For the training they provided me and for all those they have trained that I may hunt with or encounter in the field, I am thankful.
A job well done.
Area lakes fishing report
The message from local anglers is about the same as it was last week. Although a few fish are biting, the action, especially for crappies, has been slow, and getting around on the lakes has been, and continues to be, difficult.
Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake reported: Anglers with four-wheel drive vehicles are getting around a little bit. But if you don't have four-wheel drive and there isn't a road plowed, travel on the lakes is almost impossible.
Several anglers also noted the weight of the snow is starting to push water up through the holes and, with the tough travel conditions, they are considering getting their houses off the lake very soon.
If you currently have a fish house out or will be putting one out in the near future, it's good idea to block that house up and get it several inches up and off the ice. When the time comes to move the house, it's much easier to chop out a few frozen blocks then the entire floor of a fish house.
I'm sending that message from experience. A few ago, in the midst of one of the worst winters we have ever had, it took myself and several friends almost two complete days to get my big eight foot by 14' fish house off Howard Lake. The house wasn't frozen in, but the snow was too deep and compacted to plow and we had to move the house close to 100 yards to get in on a plowed road. Believe me, that was not a fun experience.
On a brighter pail flipping note, other reports from the area have anglers on Buffalo Lake still nabbing a few crappies. Big Waverly Lake is finally giving up good numbers of crappies to anglers fishing at night and Lake Waconia is producing good numbers of panfish again.
On Waconia, the panfish bite was hot early on, then it shut down like a Viking's fan after the NFC championship game. Now, anglers are saying the bite is back on.
Getting around on the lakes may be a bit difficult right now, but don't let that discourage you. The weather we had this fall may have really changed fishing patterns and it's a safe bet that sooner or later this winter the fish on several of our area lakes will bite in good numbers.
- The Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club will host their 53rd annual Fishing Derby on Howard Lake Saturday, Feb. 13, from 2 to 4 p.m. The grand prize in the drawing is a deluxe King Crow fish house on wheels. Tickets are available from club members and at Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake. The fish house is also on display at Joe's.
- The Wright County Parks Department has several nature and outdoor programs scheduled this winter at the Ney Memorial Nature Center. For more information call 612-682-7693.
- Those outdoor photos from last fall's hunting trip can easily be enlarged on a color copier.
- If you're a Viking's fan, there's always next year.
- A reader reported last week that a bald eagle has decided to make a gravel pit near Lester Prairie its home for the winter, or at least, it seems for part of the winter. Bald eagle sightings have become more and more common in our area in the past few years.