By Chris Schultz Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn. November 1, 1999
Outdoors opportunities abound
Deer, ducks, fish, and pheasants.
Fall is in full swing and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in our area, across the state and midwest abound.
Minnesota's 1999 firearms deer hunting season opens Saturday, Nov. 6, and hunters in our area should be greeted by solid deer numbers and with almost all the crops off the fields - excellent hunting conditions.
Locally, the season is split for slug hunters, running Nov. 6-7, and Nov. 13-16.
The hunters I have spoken with are excited, and due to last year's mild winter and the crop harvest, expect better hunting then last year.
Moving on to ducks, the skies are still empty in our neck of the woods and duck hunting has been slim to none.
The lone bright spot for local hunters right now is length of the season. The waterfowl season doesn't close until Nov. 30 and, with any luck, ducks still held up on the Canadian prairies will move through slowly and in small spurts providing some good late season hunting.
In a worst case scenario, one big storm will hit with a majority of the ducks riding it and the hunting will be over for another season.
Heading west, I did spend a day duck hunting in the Ortonville area a week ago and the hunting was fair. The far west definitely carried more ducks than any other place I have been in Minnesota so far this fall.
Chasing over to the next area of outdoor opportunities, the pheasant hunting, especially in southwestern and western Minnesota, has been excellent.
In the southwest, almost all of the crops have been off since the Oct. 16 opener, making birds pretty easy to find.
In the western part of the state, where the number of birds surprised me a bit, high winds and a good chunk of corn still in the fields has dampened hunter success a bit so far this season.
However, as the corn is harvested, mid and late season hunting could be better there than in the southwest. Each area is about a 2 1/2-hour drive from our area, which is well worth it for good bird chasing.
Locally, I've done well on two excursions and a few hunters have said they have found pockets of birds in areas of good cover. Overall, the hunting has been very good.
Right now, the only thing that has made pheasant hunting a bit tough, has been the dry conditions. Fields of good cover are extremely dry, making it tough on dogs and hunters. Also, the gravels are as dry and dusty as they can get.
Dropping a line in the water, the fishing on our area lakes and rivers has been super. The Crow River, both forks, continues to produce walleyes, and lakes like Waconia, Washington, and Belle have really turned on.
On Waconia, anglers are nabbing nice walleyes on the eastern side of the lake near the clay banks. That area of the lake is also an excellent spot to wader fish at night.
Whatever your choice, fall is in full swing and the outdoors are calling.
- I'll be spending the firearms deer opener in a northern Minnesota woods near Cross Lake. It's an area I love to hunt, tradition and stories will be relived with long-time hunting partners, and even without deer, it should be a good time.
- Remember to wear blaze orange clothing when you're in the outdoors during the firearms deer hunting season.
- With the pheasant hunting season in full swing, now is a good time to check your dog for abrasions, cuts, and general health. Pay special attention to eyes, ears, and paws.
- The pheasant hunting season in Iowa and Nebraska opened Oct. 30.
- Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the clubhouse.
- Good luck deer hunting, and please be cautious, courteous, and not competitive in the field this fall. You will have a better time and so will everyone else.