Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

Sept. 11, 2000

Pheasant hunting should be good this fall

From the DNR

Hunting prospects for Minnesota pheasants and cottontail rabbits look good this fall, according to results of August roadside wildlife counts recently completed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Minnesota's pheasant season opens Saturday, Oct. 14, and the rabbit season opens Saturday, Sept. 16.

Overall, the number of pheasants seen along the August roadside count routes was up slightly, but did not significantly change from 1999, according to Kurt Haroldson, a wildlife research biologist with the DNR's Farmland Wildlife Population and Research Group in Madelia.

"The slight increase of 12 percent range wide was not statistically significant, but there was a major shift in the regional abundance of pheasants," Haroldson said. Pheasant counts in the northern half of Minnesota's pheasant range were up 78 percent while those in the southern half declined 18 percent.

"The breeding population this spring was up 20 percent over the spring of 1999 due to the mild winter," explained Haroldson. "The northern half of the pheasant range was able to capitalize on this increase and get off good broods this summer, but the wetter-than-normal conditions in the south and southeast hurt brood production there."

Haroldson said pheasant hunting prospects are similar to those of 1995 and 1996, when hunters harvested 340,000 and 400,000 roosters, respectively.

"I predict we'll be closer to 340,000 this year," Haroldson said.

Pheasant population trends are based on results of the DNR's annual roadside count survey. Begun in 1955, this survey notes numbers of ring-necked pheasants, cottontail rabbits, jackrabbits, mourning doves and deer.

Conducted during the first two weeks in August, the counts are done along roughly 170 prescribed routes in farmland counties from Lake of the Woods south to Houston. Wildlife managers and conservation officers drive back roads in early morning at about 15 miles per hour and count the number of game animals they see.

Haroldson said that good numbers of pheasants are spread throughout more of the pheasant range than in 1999.

"Last year the birds were bunched up in southwest and south-central Minnesota and there were so many hunters cramming in there that it was terrible some days," said the avid upland hunter.

"This year we should have good hunting in south-central, southwest, west-central and east-central Minnesota. Because there's no real concentration in one spot, people should be able to hunt locally and the pressure should be more evenly distributed."

Haroldson noted that the number of federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in the pheasant range, while up slightly from 1999, is still 38 percent below the peak of 1.078 million in the early 1990s.

"The scarcity of CRP grasslands should concentrate pheasants in the remaining cover areas early in the season," he said. "But after the first few days of shooting, the birds will disperse to fencelines and odd brushy areas."

While pheasant hunting appears promising, the outlook for Hungarian partridge hunting is dim. The number of Hungarian partridge seen along the August routes was down 56 percent from 1999.

Angus update

If some of you don't remember, Angus is my dog, a good-sized lab with a little springer mixed in. He turned two in late July.

I started writing about Angus the week I got him and there have been some pretty interesting stories since.

From being a shoe hound to grabbing my keys and creating a big stir in the neighborhood by setting off the alarm in my truck, it's been wild at times.

Don't get me wrong, Angus is turning out to be a pretty good dog. He hunted well last fall and he is best buddies with my two-year-old daughter, Abbi.

Many evenings, Abbi likes to feed Angus, one piece at a time. The whole affair can take more than an hour.

Lately, especially with bees being extremely active at this time of year, Angus has turned into a champion bee hunter and eater.

Last week, I watched him dart back and forth in a small area of the back yard by an apple tree. Every so often, he would jump and take a big chomp of air.

Being somewhat confused by his behavior, I had to go down and take a closer look. Sure enough, a few bees were swarming around the apples and Angus was nabbing them one at a time.

He would knock one to the ground, give his head a wild shake like he had been stung in the nose, and then gulp, another bee would be gone.

Later in the week, I noticed Angus doing the same thing in his kennel. He was having a hey day, one bee at a time. I'm not sure if he likes the flavor, or just hates bees.

To top his bee-hunting efforts, at my dad's place, I watched him knock down and gobble up three fairly large wasps. Sorry to say, a butterfly got mixed up in this adventure. The taste, must not have appealed to him, because he didn't eat it.

Trap shooting winners at LP Sportsmen's Club

With a shooter appreciation party, league shoot-offs, and an Annie Oakley shoot that included more than 90 participants, the Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club ended its trapshooting season Wednesday evening.

Winners included: Class AA - Harm's Bar of Norwood/Young America with a 107, over King Pin Pub of Plato with a 101.

Class A - DeKalb Seeds of Hutchinson shot a 96 to edge out an 87 shot by Millerbernd Manufacturing of Winsted.

Class B - Dodge House of Lester Prairie notched a 103 to top the 83 shot by Dobrava Bothers of Glencoe.

Class C - Shanahan Construction of Norwood Young America shot a 93 to edge rival Elm Street Station, also of Norwood/Young America. Elm Street notched a 79.

In Class D, a new class added due to the tremendous turn out of teams and shooters this season, Jack's Gun and Pawn II of Plato scored a 92 to beat Winsted's Bailey's Lounge II's score of 89.

In the 16-yard singles competition, with winners awarded via Lewis Class, Matt Krull of Lester Prairie took home top honors and the AA trophy with a score of 368 out of 400 targets.

Drew Williamson of Excelsior won in Class A with a 363. A score of 345 gave the the Class B championship to Gary Duesterhoeft of Hutchinson, and Adam Glander of Hamburg earned the Class C championship with a score of 309.

Annie Oakley winners were Rommie Sinnen of New Germany and Drew Williamson.

The 2001 trapshooting season will begin in April.

Outdoor notes

  • Take a good look at the pheasant distribution maps included in this column. You can expect the hunting in our area to be little better than the numbers indicate. As the pheasant season approaches, look for my insight in this column on where the best hunting in Minnesota will be this season.
  • Waterfowl hunters, don't forget to purchase your federal duck stamp. The federal stamp is not included in Minnesota's new electronic licensing system.
  • Reports from area goose hunters during the first weekend of the early September Canada goose season have been mixed. A few hunters in the Hutchinson and Lester Prairie areas reported excellent hunting, while others hunting near Glencoe and Howard Lake reported they didn't see a goose all weekend.
  • For an aerial view of your hunting spot, a great Web site to check out is www.terraserver.com. The site includes aerial photos of locations in the midwest and Canada.
  • The application deadline for antlerless permits was Sept. 7. Those who applied can expect to be notified by Oct. 23 if they were drawn to receive a permit. Those who are not notified can assume they were not drawn for a permit.
  • Make sure you get out and do some pre-season shooting before you take to the field with your firearm this fall. Get to know your gun again and review the basics of firearms safety.
  • Always remember to properly store your firearms and ammunition. Keep them safely locked in separate locations.
  • The small game and deer archery seasons in Minnesota open Saturday, Sept. 16.
  • Minnesota's Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day is also set for Saturday, Sept. 16. Refer to page 83 of the 2000 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook for more info.
  • The 2000 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Supplement should be available at area license vendors this week.
  • Take a kid hunting or fishing - he or she will have fun and so will you.

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