Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Aug. 5, 2002

'Dog days' of summer are here

Every year in late July, the dogs of summer start barking. Then, as the summer rolls along and August arrives, they begin howling, long and loud.

The dogs of summer are the things that put fish in a state of laziness and people in a state of "I'll get it done tomorrow."

The two top dogs are named heat and humidity. The rest just basically follow those two.

This year it seems the dogs of summer are howling louder than usual, especially when it comes to fishing. Fishing activity has been nil on our area lakes, and the bite almost non-existent.

This week I couldn't even come up with a local fishing report that even hinted about a lake that was producing fish.

The only bright spots have been Waconia and Mille Lacs. On Waconia, the muskie action has been excellent, with several lunkers being landed.

Heading north to Mille Lacs, the walleye fishing has been super ­ world class ­ and many are saying the best bite Mille Lacs has ever produced.

On that note, don't pass up the opportunity to fish Mille Lacs this summer. Just about everybody is catching fish and the charters or launches are really doing well. As summer moves on and September arrives, the fishing on Mille Lacs will only get better.

That's about it when it comes to fishing. I'm sure a few anglers are finding fish locally. However, for most of us, our fishing has went to the dogs.

Minnesota duck hunting season may open Sept. 21

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is proposing a Saturday, Sept. 21 start date for this year's duck hunting season. In a press release, included in this column, the DNR is asking for public comment regarding that proposal

Here's my comment and opinion:

The US Fish and Wildlife Service is crazy for allowing or approving such a liberal frame work.

The fly way councils remind me of the executives from Enron, and although the Minnesota DNR opposed such a liberal frame work, they are crazy for proposing such an early start date.

An early start date in a state that was once known as the most ethical in the country regarding duck hunting and waterfowl issues, and carries more duck hunters than any other state in the country.

First of all, we are still losing wetlands faster than we are restoring them. Second, for many hunters, ethics change a bit when they cross a border into another state.

Imagine all the Minnesota duck hunters heading to North Dakota to take advantage of liberal seasons. Their standards or ethics seem to drop a bit when they get out of Minnesota, and we wonder why so many resident North Dakota hunters and landowners are upset with non-resident hunters. Then think about the ducks.

This comment has more to do with the framework in general than Minnesota's proposed start date.

Third, many parts of the midwest are in the middle of a drought. May pond numbers are the lowest since records began in 1955.

In our fly way and across the continent, duck numbers are on the decline, not on the rise.

Finally, the outdoors and duck hunting have a lot to do with tradition, and who wants a duck opener where mosquitoes outnumber the ducks by a few million or more.

My opinion is far more detailed than what I have just shared, however, I'll keep the rest to myself until the DNR makes a final decision.

DNR announces duck season opening (from the DNR web site)

Minnesota's duck season will open this year Saturday, Sept. 21, under a proposal announced today by the DNR.

The proposal is in response to the recently announced expansion of the allowable duck season frameworks by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Framework dates are the earliest and the latest dates that the US Fish and Wildlife Service allows states to select open waterfowl hunting seasons. Minnesota has consistently opposed extending frameworks earlier than the traditional Saturday nearest Oct. 1 or later than the Sunday nearest Jan. 20 in recommendations to both the Mississippi Flyway Council and US Fish and Wildlife Service, according to Tim Bremicker, director of the Minnesota DNR's Division of Wildlife.

This opposition was based on US Fish and Wildlife Service predictions of higher harvest rates and the likelihood of more years with shorter duck seasons and lower daily bag limits if frameworks were extended. However, other states and flyways have supported expanding the framework dates.

Earlier this week the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the new frameworks will be from Saturday nearest Sept. 24 (Sept. 21 this year) to the last Sunday in January for the moderate and liberal regulations packages.

"Even though we opposed expanding frameworks, we now have to work within the decision that has been made by the Fish and Wildlife Service to structure the best season we can for Minnesota's duck hunters without harming our breeding duck populations," Bremicker said.

"The DNR's Waterfowl Committee very carefully examined potential additional risks to waterfowl populations and how to structure the best season for waterfowl hunters. The consensus was that taking the earlier opener would pose little risk to Minnesota breeding duck populations, and that there would be negligible continental impact on duck populations if Minnesota chose not to take the option offered all other states," said Bremicker.

Minnesota mallard populations this spring were estimated at 367,000, up 14 percent from 2001 and 72 percent above the long-term average. Blue-winged teal increased 217 percent. Total ducks increased 64 percent and populations were the highest since the current survey began in 1968.

"Even though we recognize that these high counts included many migrant ducks still in the state when the survey was conducted due to the late spring this year, the data still indicate that Minnesota breeding duck populations remain at very good levels," Bremicker noted.

The allowable season length is not known at this time. Adaptive Harvest Management, a science-based method used by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and flyways to help decide duck hunting seasons, indicates a "liberal" duck season option should be offered for 2002. For the Mississippi Flyway, including Minnesota, this would be 60 days. Adaptive Harvest Management is based on dual objectives of achieving the North American Waterfowl Management Plan population goal for mallards while maximizing harvest.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has not stated whether regular Canada goose seasons will be allowed to open Sept. 21 or Sept. 28.

The DNR will announce additional details of proposed waterfowl seasons in early August after final proposed season length and bag limits are known following Flyway Council and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations Committee meetings in late July and early August.

If a 60-day season is offered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Minnesota duck season as proposed would be from Saturday, Sept. 21, through Tuesday, Nov. 19.

This proposal provides additional early duck hunting opportunity as well as November days that can provide excellent hunting in some years, Bremicker said.

The earlier week would allow hunters opportunities to harvest more early migrants, such as blue-winged teal and wood ducks. Many states are currently allowed special early hunting opportunity for teal.

"We discussed concerns about effects on Minnesota breeding ducks with an earlier opener, especially wood ducks and late-molting hens," said Bremicker. "We concluded that while there are some unknowns with an earlier opener, we do not have a good biological basis for Minnesota to decline the additional opportunity offered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service."

DNR can issue duplicates Firearms Safety certificates

It may be the middle of summer, but it's not too early to start preparing for the fall hunting seasons, according to a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) official.

"We are fast approaching the time of the year when we're overrun with requests for duplicate Firearm Safety Training certificates as hunters prepare for upcoming hunting seasons," said Capt. Jeff Thielen, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator.

"People who have lost or misplaced their certificate need to show proof of having taken Firearms Safety or Hunter Education training before purchasing a hunting license in Minnesota or another state," Thielen said.

Firearm safety training consists of at least 12 hours of instruction in safe handling of firearms, which includes firing on a rifle range, hunter responsibility, a field trip for teaching commonly accepted principles of safety in hunting, and providing experience in the handling of all types of common hunting firearms.

Upon completion of this course, a youth receives a certificate that is used in lieu of a license to hunt small game. In Minnesota, this certificate is also required to purchase any license if born after Dec. 31, 1979.

Many states have more stringent requirements, with the state of Colorado requiring proof of Hunter Education and Firearms Safety for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1949.

"It is the hunters who are going out of state and must show proof of having taken training who have the most problems," Thielen said.

The DNR's Electronic Licensing System provides duplicate Firearm Safety and Snowmobile Safety certificates for those who have lost or misplaced theirs. A duplicate certificate can be obtained at the time of a license purchase.

Duplicates are also available from the DNR Information Center by calling (651) 296-6157 or

888-MINNDNR (646-6367), or by contacting the DNR Safety Training Section at 800-366-8917.

Applicants must provide their full name, date of birth, current address and Minnesota drivers' license number, if available. It also helps to know when and where the applicant originally took the course. There is a small fee for the issuance of a duplicate certificate.

Hunters who no longer have their Firearm Safety certificate might already have proof on their driver's license of completing a Firearm Safety Training course.

"People should check the endorsement section on the back of their driver's license. If they see 'Firearms Certificate' or 'Snowmobile' listed, that's proof that they have taken a Minnesota Firearms Safety or Snowmobile Safety course," Thielen said. "That's all the proof they will need to purchase a license in Minnesota or in any other state that requires proof of Firearms Safety Training or Hunter education.

Outdoor notes

· The annual black powder shoot will take place Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 10 and 11, beginning at 9 a.m. at the Waverly Gun Club.

· Minnesota's youth waterfowl hunting day is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14.

· The early Canada goose hunting season is less than a month away.

· Look for fishing activity to pick up, especially for northern pike, as the days get shorter and cool down a bit.

· Take some time to enjoy the outdoors. For example, take a good look at all the foliage on our trees. All the rain we received this summer was good for something.

· Mosquitoes are definitely out in full force. Be prepared when you go outside. Long pants, long sleeve shirts, and repellents do help.

· Plan your fall hunting trips now.

· With the fish not biting, take this time to get your body in shape for the fall seasons. If you're in shape, you will have a much more enjoyable hunting season.

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