Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

November 22, 1999

Firearms deer season excellent

With Minnesota's firearms deer season complete in most of the state, I think it can be said the 1999 version of deer hunting in our area and in much of the state was excellent.

Early reports from the DNR and information from hunters reflect a deer herd that has rebounded from severe winters a few years back, and hunting prospects in many areas of the state, including northern forested portions, that compare to the record harvest years of the early '90s.

Total harvest numbers probably won't top those of 1990 or '91, but it will be close.

In our area, Joe's Sport Shop in Howard Lake registered more deer than in any season since 1995, and considerably more than last season.

In 1992, Joe's registered a total of 237 firearms deer; in 1995, 184 were registered; in 1998, 113; and this season, Joe's registered a total of 158 firearms deer.

Also, hunters from around the area took advantage of warm weather and pretty good hunting conditions to spend more time in the field and woods and see more deer.

Almost every hunter I spoke with who hunted in our area stated he saw good numbers of deer and was very happy with the quality of the hunt, regarding the number of deer and pressure from other hunters.

Farther north, in the Brainerd area near Cross Lake, where I spent the opening weekend of the firearms deer hunt, deer numbers were up and the hunting was excellent.

My hunting party, which consisted of six hunters, bagged two nice bucks, and although I spent a limited amount of time in the woods, I saw a total of 19 deer (no doe permit and no good shots at a buck) and they all looked healthy and in good shape.

With another late start to winter and hopefully another easy winter, hunting prospects, especially in the woods where I sat, for next year should be excellent.

The DNR should have final harvest numbers from the 1999 season out in the next month or so.

Dry conditions hamper pheasant hunters

Reports on pheasant hunting across the midwest have definitely been mixed, with the only consistent feature being extremely dry conditions.

Hunters throughout northern Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and southern Minnesota have all been saying how dry it is out there.

In Nebraska, where I spent some time hunting last week, bird numbers were down due to a wet, cold spring; and the ground, grass, roads, and fields were so dry and dusty that hunting was almost miserable.

One farmer I spoke with said it rained and rained in May and June. Then it turned off and they haven't had a drop since.

In that area, the risk of fire was extremely high and several farmers were concerned enough not to allow any access on their property.

In northern Iowa, much of Minnesota's pheasant range, and in South Dakota, reports have said the same about dry conditions.

Regarding bird numbers and hunting success, the best reports are coming from central parts of South Dakota, southern North Dakota, and southwestern Minnesota.

It seems a wet and cold spring in northern Iowa, parts of Nebraska, and South Dakota have really knocked down bird numbers and hunting has been somewhat poor.

There isn't much time left to chase pheasants, and hunters across the range are hoping for a good rain to get rid of the dust, dampen the grass, and improve scenting conditions for dogs.

Outdoor notes

  • Fall fishing in our area continues to be good, with anglers nabbing walleyes and northerns on both forks of the Crow River, and lakes Collinwood and Belle being hot for walleyes of late. Muskie anglers on Sugar and Rebecca have also reported excellent fishing.
  • The bait of choice for fishing the Crow River continues to be a fathead minnow on floating jig head.
  • Minnesota's 1999 duck hunting season closes Tuesday, Nov. 30.
  • Minnesota's 1999 pheasant hunting season closes Sunday, Dec. 19.
  • Remember to properly store your firearms and ammunition. They should be stored separately and in a secure, lockable location.
  • The application deadline for Minnesota's spring wild turkey hunt is Friday, Dec. 3.
  • Take some time to get outside and enjoy the outdoors before winter finally arrives.

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