Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

November 8, 1999

Area lakes hunting and fishing report

With Minnesota's firearms deer season over for some hunters and in full swing for many others, most would-be hunters don't realize that the best pheasant hunting, and this year, maybe even some of the best duck hunting is still yet to come.

Minnesota's pheasant hunting season doesn't close until Sunday, Dec. 19, and often the best hunting of the year comes when the farmland deer seasons are over, all the crops are off the fields, and a light dusting of snow covers the ground.

Also, hunting pressure is light, allowing dogs and hunters to cover ground at a slow and comfortable pace without the worry of other hunters.

Although public hunting spots in prime pheasant areas may not carry the birds they did in the first couple weeks of the season, with the firearms deer season over, private landowners are much more willing to allow well-intentioned pheasant hunters on their property.

Often, some private areas, especially posted ones, have not been hunted for pheasants since opening day and will harbor hoards of late season roosters.

In my case, I don't hunt any private land, especially in southern and western Minnesota until after the firearms deer season is over. At that time, many landowners are just more likely to let me on their property to do some hunting.

On another pheasant hunting note, hunting success in Minnesota's pheasant range so far this season has been excellent, with hunters having nothing to complain about except extremely dry and dusty conditions. A few rainfalls or a little snow in November would be a big boost to mid- and late-season pheasant hunters.

Regarding ducks, the hunting has been so slow this season that any kind of good hunting before the season ends on Nov. 30 will probably be the best hunting of the season.

According to reports, most of the ducks in our flyway are still held up on the water and food-rich Canadian prairies. The only thing that will move them into or through Minnesota is bad weather or a hard freeze.

If we're lucky, the ducks will move through in a few spurts providing some excellent hunting and the chance to see a bunch of ducks that many Minnesota waterfowlers have been waiting all season for.

Most duck hunters who complain about the poor hunting and lack of ducks aren't complaining about the lack of shooting opportunities, but the lack of ducks seen.

They put their time in sloughs and in conservation efforts for the opportunities to see and watch waterfowl, and even if a shot isn't fired, they are happy if birds are in the air.

Moving on to fishing, the warm weather has kept our lakes and rivers busy, and the walleyes and northern are still biting.

The best action, according to many anglers, is still coming from the Crow River. On a drive through the area last week, I crossed four bridges of the south fork of the river, and every bridge carried at least three anglers. That tells me the fish are still biting.

Enjoy the fall before winter arrives and get out there for some of the best duck and pheasant hunting of the season.

Outdoor notes

  • Minnesota's firearms deer hunting season in our area (Zone 4b) ends Tuesday, Nov. 16. In areas of Carver County, east of highway 25 in Zone 3b, the season ends Nov. 26.
  • Remember to wear blaze orange clothing any time you are outdoors during the firearms deer season.
  • Minnesota's muzzleloader deer season opens Nov. 27.
  • The taste of venison and other wild game depends greatly on how the game is cared for in the field once it is killed. Take the time to properly care for the game you harvest. You will reap the benefits at the dinner table.
  • With good weather and a majority of the crops off the fields, the opening weekend of deer hunting in our area should have provided some excellent hunting.
  • Get your winter gear ready. It's been dry and warm so far this season, but with the blink of an eye the windchill could be below zero and the ground covered in snow.

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