Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

Oct. 2, 2000

Safety, ethics come first

The outdoors and nature can be truly amazing and wonderful when experienced in the right perspective.

Many who hunt, consider nature to be extremely valuable, and hunting to be an experience of the outdoors that is irreplaceable. The joy of nature and the outdoors for them is found in a deer stand, duck boat, or through the actions of a good bird dog.

With the hunting seasons upon us and soon to be in full swing, we have to be aware that nothing can ruin an outdoor experience faster than a lack of caution and a poor measure of ethics.

When it comes to any type of hunting, there are two things that should always come first - safety and ethics.

Regarding safety, it's simple: brush up on the basics. Here's a little reminder.

­ Review the 10 commandments of firearms safety.

­ Plan a safe hunt and be prepared.

­ Never hunt alone and always let someone else know where you are going and what time you plan on being back.

­ Carry a simple survival kit and understand that weather and conditions, especially in Minnesota, can change rapidly.

­ Carry a compass and know how to use it.

­ Know your physical and emotional limitations, as well as those of your hunting partners.

­ If you're on the water, wear a personal flotation device.

­ Don't mix alcohol with firearms and hunting.

­ Use common sense and don't take unnecessary risks.

Those are just a few of the basics to remember and practice. If you're not confident about your safety measures or would like to know more, take an advanced hunter education class, or call the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-766-6000.

Regarding ethics, it's much the same as safety: brush up on the basics. Here are a few reminders.

­ Sit down and think about why you are really out hunting, anyway. What do you want to get from the experience and what do you feel good about when it's done?

­ Follow and obey the regulations and laws.

­ Hunt for the joy of hunting and for the satisfaction of doing it right, not for the bag.

­ Be cautious and courteous while in the field, not competitive.

­ Take pride in your outdoor skills and your sense of conservation, and share them with others.

­ Educate yourself on the outdoors, and the animals you are hunting.

­ Remember you are your own judge. In most cases, there is no one watching your actions.

­ Finally, be ethical, do it right, and expect and demand the same from others.

This season, put safety first and set the measure of your own personal ethics high. If you do, you will be rewarded with outdoor experiences that are truly amazing and irreplaceable.

Outdoor notes

­ In next week's column, look for a report on Minnesota's first week of waterfowl hunting, and a preview of the pheasant season, which opens Saturday, Oct. 14.

­ At this time, the crops are coming off the fields at a pretty good pace. Much of the harvest could be complete by the pheasant opener.

­ The firearms deer hunting season in our area and throughout much of Minnesota opens Saturday, Nov. 4.

­ Many areas across the Midwest are experiencing very dry conditions. If you're planning a trip this fall, know the conditions for the area you are heading to.

­ Fall colors will be peaking in our area very soon.

­ For information on duck densities, and reports on waterfowl hunting conditions in Minnesota, head to this newspaper's Web site at www.herald-journal.com and find the link to the DNR's site in the outdoors section. This year, the DNR has added a new feature to the site for waterfowl hunters and watchers. Reports on duck densities and hunting conditions are there and are updated on a regular basis.

­ The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse.

­ Here's a tip for waterfowl hunters: get into your decoy spread and muck it up once in awhile. Live ducks do a pretty good job at mucking up the bottom and ducks in the air are used to seeing dirty muddy water around a flock on the water ­ not clear, clean water.

­ Take a kid hunting or fishing - he or she will have fun and so will you.

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