Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Dec. 3, 2001

Deer hunt good, but not what was expected

The 2001 version of Minnesota's duck hunting season ended on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Although the duck season was a good one and much better than most hunters expected, many duck hunters, after a very mild November, were waiting for a good late season storm to push divers and other northern ducks south for one more good hunt.

The storm and a rude awakening to winter came just before the duck season closed. We were pounded with up to 20 inches of snow Sunday, Nov. 25 and Monday, Nov. 26.

Schools and businesses closed and I would bet not even the most die hard waterfowl hunters made it out for the last few days of the season. The weather was just to nasty. If any did make it out to hunt, they may have ran into a bonanza of northern ducks.

On Tuesday, the last day of the season, I bucked the snow and drove by a waterfowl lake I hunt on occasion, and it was packed with divers, Canada geese, and a few flocks of big mallards. If time would have allowed, and my duck boat wouldn't have been buried in the snow, I would have been out there giving it one last shot.

Seeing all the ducks on the lake made me ponder the earlier parts of Minnesota's season and how duck hunting was in our area. As I thought back and compared it to other seasons, I would have to say local hunting was some of the best I can remember.

Other hunters I spoke with said basically the same. Opening day was a boom, with many hunters taking home limits. Hunter success remained high through most of October, and the hunting didn't really slow down much until the warm and balmy days of a record warm November arrived.

Aside from a blast of winter weather in late October that pushed birds down, the weather was so good through most of the season the ducks hung out in locations north. Reports from North Dakota said ducks were there in big numbers up until the last snow storm hit. In northern South Dakota, where I hunted pheasants for a few days just before Thanksgiving, ducks were plentiful, and just about every pothole was full of them.

For me, Minnesota and local ducking hunting went like this. On opening day I walked the the South Fork of the Crow River for about 20 minutes and bagged two woodducks. Through October I hunted locally for ducks three more times. Each time I headed to a large waterfowl lake in northern Sibley County and each time I bagged my limit of six ducks and saw many more. Without question, the hunting was good, and it was some of the best local duck hunting I have ever had.

Now, with the duck season closed and winter here, myself and many other hunters can look back at what was a good and memorable season.

Outdoor notes

­ Winter is here, but our lakes haven't frozen over yet. Look for the ice to arrive very soon, and please remember that no ice, especially early ice, is ever completely safe.

­ There are still a couple good weeks of Minnesota pheasant hunting left. Get out there in the snow and give it a shot.

­ Remember blaze orange requirements if you're in the outdoors. The wearing of blaze orange is required during the muzzleloader deer hunting season, which is currently open.

­ A great Christmas gift idea for the hunter or angler in your family is a lifetime fishing or hunting license. For more info call the DNR at 1-888-646-6367.

­ It's not too late to nab a few open water walleyes. Just before freeze up is the best time of year to catch lunker walleyes. Strap on your waders, be prepared for cold weather, and don't be surprised if you hook onto a lunker.

­ A great gift idea for your hunting or fishing buddies is a photo of your adventures blown up to an 8x10 and put in a nice frame.

­ Take a kid on an outdoor adventure; you will have fun and so will he or she.

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