Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Sept. 24, 2001

Duck season opens Saturday

Anticipation will turn to passion. Things will go undone, meetings will be missed, appointments changed and not met, birthdays, anniversaries, and social events will be passed over at a price.

They will be replaced with time spent watching over decoys in cattail sloughs, calling geese in fields, and chasing ducks up and down rivers.

For many, waterfowling is a passion that turns into an obsession when fall arrives.

A few years ago one of my obsessed waterfowling buddies told me he wouldn't be making our annual Canada waterfowl hunting trip. His wife was expecting their first child and she was due in October. He was a little shaken, but in control, noting it would only be a one year absence.

His mood changed quickly, and he almost broke into tears, when I reminded him that he would have a birthday to celebrate every year in the middle of October.

Moving on, and wishing a successful and safe waterfowl hunting season for everyone, here a few items of information from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources on the upcoming duck hunting season and duck hunting safety.

Canada hunting

There has been a lot of talk, information and confusion flying around in the duck hunting community about hunting in Canada this year.

The talk centers around registering firearms, and crossing through customs with driving offenses and other misdemeanors on a persons record. Again, the information out there has been confusing, and to get the job accomplished of actually hunting in Canada some work and research is required.

First of all, any one traveling to Canada to hunt this fall must register their firearms with customs, and, because of the recent terrorist attacks must be prepared and expected to be checked thoroughly at border crossings.

Registering firearms

All US citizens wishing to bring a firearm into Canada must now register that firearm and get a temporary permit to carry that firearm into Canada. The Canadian government form that needs to be filled out is JUS 909 and its companion form JUS 910. The form needs to be completed in triplicate with all three copies signed in front of the appropriate customs agent.

Regarding firearms registration, I'm not going to get into the rest of the details, because Canadian customs agents can be very discretionary. However, here are the appropriate phone numbers and Web address to get more information: 1-506-624-5380; online www.cfc-ccaf.gc.ca.

If you are going to hunt in Canada this fall and are bringing with a young hunter, under the age of 18, please call the above number because special regulations do apply.

Getting through customs without a perfect record: One requirement that Canada does have is that to cross the border you must be law abiding. In previous years customs agents haven't done many background checks or even asked a lot of questions regarding a person's background. Now, because of the new firearms regulations and the terrorist attacks, it is common for a customs agent to ask about a persons background or do a formal background check.

For example, and one there is a lot of confusion on, if you had a DUI in the United States, even 15 years ago, you may have a problem with entry into Canada. In Canada drinking and driving offenses are felonies.

Again, Canadian customs agents are very discretionary. They may not ask the guy in front of you, but they may ask you about your background and if you have had a DUI.

If that is the case, or you have other types of items on your record, you still may be able to get through customs and enter Canada.

The process goes like this, and must be done through immigration services and not customs. That means you have to go through a border crossing where immigration agents are available. The immigration officer will check your background and, depending on the date and type of offenses, allow you to purchase a $200 (Canadian) discretionary waiver. With the waiver you will then be able to enter Canada.

While in Canada you must be law abiding and carry the waiver at all times.

If you or any or your hunting or fishing partners are in this situation, I highly suggest that you call Canadian Immigration services at 1-800-992-7037 or the Emerson, Manitoba border crossing where Immigration officers are on duty at 1-204-373-2885.

The Emerson customs or border crossing is straight up I-29 from Fargo/Moorhead.

On final note for crossing into Canada, make sure you bring your birth certificate and a photo ID.

Outdoor notes

­ Hunters participating in the annual youth waterfowl hunt Saturday, Sept. 15 reported good hunting in the Winsted/Howard Lake area had very poor hunting in areas around Hutchinson and Litchfield. Other reports indicated very few ducks or none at all on the Crow River.

­ In next week's column we'll dive into more information on pheasant hunting in Minnesota. The Minnesota pheasant hunting season opens on Saturday, Oct. 13.

­ Make sure your dog has all appropriate vaccinations before you take to the field or travel this fall.

­ Be courteous and not competitive while hunting this fall. You will have a better time and so will everyone else.

­ Don't forget to buy your hunting licenses and appropriate stamps.

­ Duck hunters, don't forget about your HIP registration.

­ With the hunting seasons underway be sure to always properly store and lock your firearms and ammunition. They should be stored and locked in separate locations and be completely unaccessible by children.

­ To improve your wingshooting skills practice and make sure you pattern your shotgun. If you have trouble hitting a bird on the wing, the pattern of your shotgun may tell the story.

­ Take some time to think about conservation this fall. While you're out there enjoying our great resources, take note on how you can help to conserve and improve them.

­ Start an outdoor or hunting journal. A journal helps to build a valuable relationship with the outdoors for yourself and your kids.

­ Last week, to my great surprise, I heard a flock of snow geese passing over during the evening. They weren't Canadas, but definitely snow geese. If your familiar with it, the cackle of snow geese is unmistakable.

­ Take a kid hunting ­ he or she will have fun and so will you.

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