Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

September 13, 1999

Small game hunting to start

On Saturday, Sept. 18, the hunting seasons for ruffed grouse, Hungarian partridge, fox and gray squirrel, and rabbits will open.

It's the start of the small game hunting season, a sure sign of fall, and a date that many look forward to with great anticipation. The archery deer season will also open Sept. 18.

Although the early Canadian goose season has already started and many hunters have tasted the rights of fall, the small game opener is the date of importance.

The opener brings back memories of days spent in a squirrel woods as a youth and sets the tone for all that is exciting and yet to come for the fall season.

Those who have grown and expanded their hunting interests will most likely not take the field until the waterfowl and pheasant seasons open, or not even until the firearms deer opener.

But, many others, including those just getting their feet wet in the outdoors, will. For those who will wait, their first hunt probably took place in a squirrel woods on a small game opener many seasons ago.

I fondly remember my first small game opener. With a new Winchester .22 that my dad gave to me for confirmation in hand, I headed up a set of railroad tracks just outside of town to a woods that was full of squirrel nests.

The sun was shining, and the grass and woods were wet with dew. I sat down on a big log and listened to the gray squirrels chattering from beyond my sight, waiting for the chattering to get closer.

With my eyes glued to the trees and not paying much attention to anything else around me, I turned and saw the massive rack of a monster whitetail buck standing not more than 30 feet from me.

That season would also be my first season of firearms deer hunting, so the sight of that buck got my heart going at a pace faster than it had ever raced before.

The buck was broad and gray, with 12 points and a very black nose. He was magnificent and when he walked away into the darkness of the woods, it was like he took a part of me with him.

For the next two months of my youth, the only things I could think about, even when I went squirrel hunting again, was that buck and heading up north for my first firearms deer hunt.

It's kind of funny. I remember that day, that woods, and that buck like it was yesterday, but I couldn't tell you if I took home a squirrel or not.

Outdoor notes

  • The start of the possible snow season is Wednesday, Sept. 15.
  • Reports on the early Canada goose season have been mixed. A few hunters in our area did very well, while others reported very poor hunting with not many birds in the air. Two hunters I spoke with said the geese in the area they had planned on hunting moved on the day before the opener.
  • Fishing on our area lakes and across the state has picked up quite a bit in the last week or two. Howard is producing northern pike, Big Waverly sunfish and walleyes, and a few anglers heading to Mille Lacs reported great fishing on walleye and big northern pike.
  • Last week, I purchased a firearms deer license, early goose permit, federal waterfowl stamp, state waterfowl stamp, and state pheasant stamp - total, $51.
  • If you're an upland game hunter, remember to include steel shot in your supply of ammo. Steel shot is required on federal wildlife lands. Refer to page 112 in the 1999 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook for more information.
  • The days are getting much shorter. Today, the sun will set at 7:28 p.m.; on Oct. 13, the sun will set at 6:32 p.m.
  • Get out your blaze orange clothing and review all blaze orange requirements for hunting before you take the field this fall.
  • The Winsted Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will hold its annual banquet Tuesday, Sept 14 at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted. Tickets are still available at the Blue Note.
  • The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse.

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