Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Aug. 20, 2001

On the eve of another season

Time has crept up on us, and no matter how much we would love to hang on to summer, it soon will be gone and fall will arrive.

With it will come shorter days, cooler nights, the harvest, falling leaves, and of course, another season of hunting in our area and throughout Minnesota and the midwest.

Without much notice, some hunting seasons have already started and more will get underway very soon.

Although seasons for black bear and crow in Minnesota have already started, the hunting in our neck of the woods will really get going Sept. 1, with the start of the September Canada goose season.

On that day, hunters will dawn camoflauge, set out decoys, blow on calls, and probably swat mosquitoes in pursuit of giant, local Canada geese.

Some hunters will bag a few birds; other will not. In either case, the hunting season will be off and rolling.

With Saturday, Sept. 1 just around the corner, we are truly on the eve of another hunting season, and with that in mind, here are a few items to remember and add to your checklist before the season you are preparing for actually starts.

Important dates:

· Thursday, Sept. 6 ­ application deadline for antlerless permits.

· Saturday, Sept. 15 ­ Minnesota youth waterfowl hunting day and opening day for archery deer, ruffed grouse and other small game.

· Saturday, Sept. 29 ­ opening day for the regular waterfowl hunting season.

· Saturday, Oct. 13 ­ opening day for the Minnesota pheasant hunting season.

· Saturday, Nov. 3 ­ opening day for Minnesota firearms deer hunting season.

· Saturday, Nov. 24 ­ opening day for Minnesota muzzleloader season.

Other good stuff:

­ Remember to buy your licenses and stamps well in advance.

With the new Electronic Licensing System (ELS), one problem a few hunters have faced deals with getting all the appropriate stamps - Minnesota waterfowl, federal waterfowl, Minnesota pheasant, and few others depending on what you are hunting.

All state stamps can be purchased through ELS and are then validated on your license if purchased with the license. Otherwise, a separate piece of paper is generated though ELS when you purchase the stamp.

After the ELS stamp is purchased, the DNR will mail the actual printed stamp.

Although there has been some confusion, the ELS stamp validation does meet the license requirement if you don't have the printed stamp signed and affixed to your license. Federal waterfowl stamps must still be purchased separately and are not available on ELS.

What has happened to a few hunters I know is this: in spring, they purchased their Minnesota Sportsmen's licenses (combined hunting and angling) and because the hunting season was still a long way off, didn't consider any of the appropriate stamps needed for hunting.

Then fall arrived. They knew they had the licenses in their billfolds, but again completely forget about the stamps.

ELS had made the stamp process more confusing, but the bottom line is, don't forget them.

­ Get a copy of the 2001 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook; actually, get a couple of copies. Read and review it; then stick one in with your hunting gear.

­ Track down a copy of your firearms safety certificate. Most other states and Canada now require that you have some type of training before you can buy their appropriate licenses to hunt. In most cases, your firearms safety certificate will do the trick. If you can't find it or don't know your number, call the DNR and it will get you your number and a new certificate. If you haven't taken the course, plan to take it as soon as you get the chance.

­ Review the 10 commandments of firearms safety and every aspect of safety when it comes to hunting. Head to the Waverly Sportsmen's Club to do some rifle shooting at its new range, or head to the Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club on a Wednesday evening in the next couple of weeks to do some trapshooting. The point is to get familiar and comfortable with your firearms again.

­ Get your outdoor journal rolling again. Pull out your journal, look at the notes and details, and review the great memories from past trips. Doing that will get you back in the right mindset, increase your anticipation, and help you to be prepared and organized. If you don't keep an outdoor journal, start one this fall.

­ Lastly, get your body in shape and your dog's body in shape. Trudging through a cattail slough, or dragging a deer out of the woods is a lot more fun if your muscles aren't cramping and lungs aren't struggling to take another breath.

Get ready and enjoy the season. It will be here soon.

DNR urges hunters to harvest a doe (or two)

From the DNR

With the Thursday, Sept. 6 deadline for applying for an antlerless permit fast approaching, and deer populations bulging in many parts of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife officials are urging hunters to apply for antlerless permits and harvest a doe this fall.

"We have too many deer in many parts of the state, and that is causing some real problems," said Earl Johnson, Minnesota DNR area wildlife manager at Detroit Lakes. "The only way we can bring those numbers down to a manageable level is for more hunters to harvest does."

Johnson explained that high deer numbers in many parts of the state are a result of several consecutive mild winters that have allowed deer to not only survive the winter, but to reproduce at higher than normal levels.

After a mild winter, the older does often have twins and even triplets, Johnson said.

Too high a deer population creates havoc for farmers and other landowners. Deer eat crops, orchard trees, and even garden plants and shrubbery in towns and suburbs. Vehicle collisions are another problem. The DNR estimates that at least 15,000 deer are killed on Minnesota roadways each year.

The solution to deer overpopulation is for hunters to step in and help reduce the deer herd, according to DNR Information Officer Tom Dickson.

"We're increasing antlerless permits in much of the state this year," Dickson said. "In many areas we are also offering management permits that allow hunters to take a second deer. In some areas, we even have intensive harvest permits that allow hunters to take up to three additional antlerless deer."

Johnson and other DNR wildlife managers urge hunters to consider harvesting a doe this year rather than a small buck. "Too many hunters will pass on doe after doe and then wait for a spike or forkhorn buck," Johnson said. "But that buck won't be having fawns next spring, so harvesting it doesn't really help much to reduce deer overpopulation."

Another problem with shooting small bucks, added Johnson, "is that they never get a chance to grow to be the big bucks that hunters tell us they want to see. If you give that forkhorn another few years to live, it will eventually become a trophy."

Johnson said that hunters who have the option of taking additional deer with management or intensive harvest permits, but who don't need the additional meat, should consider donating the meat to friends or family.

"I can't tell you how many senior citizens I've met over the years who would love to have some venison, but they just can't hunt anymore," Johnson said.

Added Dickson, "Just ask around at church or at your kids' sporting events. There's always someone who's trying to lower their cholesterol with lean meat like venison, or someone who grew up in the country and likes venison but can't get it anymore. That additional permit is only $13.50, and when you consider that venison sells in specialty shops for up to $10 a pound, giving someone a dressed deer is a really generous gift."

Outdoor notes

­ The Winsted Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will have its annual banquet Tuesday, Sept. 11 at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted. The quacking hour begins at 6 p.m. with feeding at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Blue Note.

­ In the most recent issue of the Outdoor News, Ken Durdahl of Howard Lake, Minnesota's current state Ducks Unlimited chairman, wrote a compelling editorial on conservation.

He urged all of us to contact our congressmen and senators and voice support for conservation measures in the federal farm bill. If you get the Outdoor News, read the editorial.

Also, contact numbers for our federal representatives can be found in the paper. Take Ken's advice and give them a call in support of conservation.

­ Visit the DNR building at the Minnesota State Fair. It's one of the best features at the fair.

­ Make sure your dog has all current vaccinations and that you have records of them.

­ The 2001 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations Supplement will be available soon. Look for it at area license vendors in the next couple of weeks.

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