Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Sept. 17, 2001

More on the Minnesota pheasant population

In last week's column I reported on the 2001 pheasant roadside counts done by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

According to the DNR pheasant numbers across Minnesota's pheasant range are down about 50 percent compared to last year, and considerably down from the five year average.

The DNR noted the sharp decline is in most part due to a very severe winter, and poor nesting and brood rearing conditions from late April though early June.

In any case, the numbers that came out of the roadside counts aren't good if your one of Minnesota's 78,000 plus pheasant hunters. John Giudice, wildlife research biologist with the DNR's Farmland Wildlife Population and Research Group in Madelia, summed up Minnesota's 2001 pheasant hunting prospects as fair to poor this fall. He also expects hunters to harvest only a meager 240,000 to 270,000 pheasants this fall.

Regarding the roadside counts done by the DNR, I can tell you this. They have been conducted on the same routes in mid to late August thoughout Minnesota's pheasant range since the 1950s. For research purposes the routes haven't changed. But, the amount and types of cover along those routes I'm sure has changed over time.

The routes are driven and the counts taken usually on mornings when there is a heavy due. The due pushes the birds out of cover and makes them easier to see and count.

Finally, and coming from years of following the counts and pheasant hunting in Minnesota, I can tell you the counts are fairly accurate and due reflect general hunting prospects.

However, and on a good note for this year, the DNR and myself do believe the numbers could be a little deflated. We're hoping good weather in late June and early July gave hens an advantage in renesting and raising broods to maturity.

If a late hatch did occur many of those birds probably would not have been visible and counted during the August survey. They were just still too young and too small to be seen.

Another indication that this may have happened is that an unusual high amount of roosters compared to hens was counted during the survey. Fewer hens may have been counted because they were still sitting on nests and rearing young chicks.

That is the hope that is the case, in areas where large tracts of good cover are available, there will more birds than the roadside counts indicated.

Outdoor notes

­ Get your gear ready, review the regulations and safety measures, and be prepared. The 2001 Minnesota regular waterfowl hunting season opens on Saturday, Sept. 29.

­ The archery deer, small game and ruffed grouse hunting seasons in Minnesota opened Saturday.

­ Looking for a place to do some some shooting and sight in your rifle, give the new range at the Waverly Sportmen's Club a try. For more information call 763-658-4644.

­ The trapshooting season at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club ended Wednesday evening.

­ Get yourself and your dog in shape for the waterfowl and pheasant hunting seasons.

­ If you plan on hunting in Canada this fall, you must register your firearms with the Canadian Government. The entire affair is somewhat complicated. But, with a few phone calls and some leg work it isn't that bad. Also, the recent terrorist attacks on the US will probably affect travel across the Canadian border. In next week's column I'll provide you with the appropriate phone numbers to call for information.

­ Now is a great time of year to fish. Big northern pike are hitting on several area lakes, and the fall walleye bite is just getting started. For good action find a few deep holes on the Crow River and fish with live bait, and plan on fishing during the Oct. full moon.

­ A snowmobile safety training course will be offered at the Winsted Sportsman Club near Lake Mary Oct. 10 and 11, 6 to 9 p.m. This is a mandatory course by the state for those born after 1979. Cost is $5 for ages 12 to 17, and $10 for ages 17 and up. Call Harvey at (320) 485-3738 for information and registration.

­ Regarding the terrorist attacks on the U.S. last week - a mother asked me, "What are we supposed to tell our kids? We teach them that violence isn't right and that we should turn the other cheek."

My response to her was, in this world there is good and evil, we are also taught that in the Bible. Good must overcome evil and the people that attacked our country without warning on Tuesday are most definitely evil.

We must suppress them and prevent them from afflicting harm on any person, group or nation ever again. In the U.S. we must realize that not absolutely everyone deserves an opinion. That not every opinion is right, and political correctness does have a limit.

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