Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Nov. 5, 2001

Season offers opportunities to contemplate conservation

On the Canadian prairie

The smiles on the faces of three young hunters told me we were in the right place at the right time.

It was their first waterfowl hunting trip, and their first adventure to the prairies of southwestern Manitoba, Canada, and they loved almost every minute of it. Early, early mornings, and some late evenings cleaning up and taking care of game didn't slow them down, but did question their desire a bit.

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, and especially a waterfowl hunter, in the fall there probably isn't a better place to be than the Manitoba prairie. Snow geese fly by the tens of thousands, a wide variety of ducks fill the marshes and potholes, and it seems the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and hunt is limitless and without competition. The sights, sounds, and bounty of the natural environment and wildlife are beyond amazing by any standards.

For the young bucks and the rest of us it was a trip and experience where the ducks actually decoyed and were lured by calls. Hungarian partridge, and sharptailed grouse burst from cover with in range, and snow geese, although wary, hovered above decoy spreads and were retrieved by more than a willing labrador.

The trip and experience was well worth writing about, but like most things can be better told by pictures and not by some guy who should be getting ready for deer hunting instead of trying to write. Enjoy them in this week's column and next week, there will be more.

From the DNR website

Cellular phones have become a common piece of gear for many hunters these days, right there alongside blaze orange clothing and Global Positioning System (GPS) equipment, according to Major Chuck Schwartz, DNR Enforcement Information and Education manager.

"They can save your life if you're hurt, help you get found if you're lost, and they even allow you to chat with your spouse as you sit around the campfire at night," Schwartz said. "I take mine while hunting and call up my wife and tell her what's going on."

But cell phones can also land a hunter in court if the phone is used for the wrong things, Schwartz noted. According to Minnesota hunting regulations, it is illegal to use radio communications to aid in the taking of game, such as talking to another hunter about the location of animals or about driving animals.

"Cell phones are, in fact, radio communications," Schwartz said. "They do transmit on radio waves. A lot of people don't think of it as such, but it's no different from talking to somebody on a walkie-talkie."

Schwartz said more hunters are using or taking a cell phone into the field with them for safety reasons. Used for the right reason, they can save a life.

"We've had cases where people who are lost have used cell phones for emergency reasons," Schwartz said. "They can be real safety tools, just as long as they are used legally. People should remember, just because it's available doesn't mean it's necessarily legal for hunting or fishing in Minnesota or any other state, so buyers beware."

Use of radios to take animals is specifically mentioned on page 30 of the Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook under general hunting information. Using radio equipment to take big game or small game is unlawful. A DNR permit is required to take unprotected animals with the aid of radio equipment.

Schwartz said the biggest problem with radio communications encountered by DNR conservation officers is hunters using cell phones, walkie-talkies or CB radios to communicate with other hunters or people in vehicles while they are locating or driving game.

"It's not really common, but it happens," Schwartz said. "If a person is using radio communications devices to direct anyone in on game, that's a no-no."


Outdoor notes

­ The Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club will meet Monday, Nov., 12, at 7 p.m., at the clubhouse.

­ Remember to wear blaze orange during the deer hunting season. Blaze orange is not just required by deer hunters but all those in the outdoors during the firearms deer hunting season.

Specific requirements can be found in the 2001 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

­ Reports from across Minnesota's pheasant range definitely have been hit and miss. Some areas of southwestern and western Minnesota are holding good numbers of birds and have provided excellent hunting, while other areas, like Canby and Clarkfield, seem to almost void of birds.

The hunting will get better as more crops come off and the birds concentrate to area of good cover. However, it will still be a hit and miss afar depending on the area you are hunting and if you can find a pocket of birds.

­ When taking photos of your game this fall, make sure the game is well presented, clean and not bloody. Take time to set a nice shot with a good background, and make sure those in the photo are also in good appearance.

You will appreciate the extra effort when you get the photos back, and they will be much more presentable when you show them to people who don't hunt.

­ Last week I saw a few very large flocks of divers that moved into the Winsted area. If you're a duck hunter, the diver and northern mallard migration is on, and depending on the weather could be over soon.

­ Take proper care of the game you harvest this fall. The extra time it takes to clean, wash and properly store your game is well worth it and a matter of hunter ethics.

­ Look out for deer on the roadways. At this time of year deer are really on the move. Pay special attention during dusk and dawn.

­ There was a full moon on Halloween, the harvest moon. Typically, and from experience, the night of the October full moon is one of the best nights of the year to fish for lunker walleyes. If you missed the opportunity, don't worry. The fall bite is on and may get better as fall moves on.

­ Take a good, hard look at your hunting dog. Check the eyes, ears, pads and underbelly. Hunting, especially in dry conditions can be hard on dogs, and a little extra care today can go along way next time you and your pooch are out in the field.

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

­ If you just got home from a weekend of deer hunting, take some time to think about conservation and the area you were hunting. How can you make that place better for wildlife? What can you do to preserve, protect and enhance it?

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