Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Aug. 26, 2002

Mosquito-mania all around

It was early to mid-September, about 10 years ago.

I was in the heart of the prairie and grain fields of southwest Manitoba, Canada. I was there to write a story on the Turtle Mountains and International Peace Gardens and to do some early season hunting for Hungarian partridge and Sharptail grouse.

I had spent about two days working on the story and exploring the area with Manitoba Natural Resource officials. Enough was enough, and it was time to actually do some hunting: my first crack at it for the season.

Now, by myself and excited to get out the dog and start, I pulled my truck off the minimum maintenance road and starting walking along a long drainage ditch that was part of a Ducks Unlimited cell and wetland restoration area­a big one.

That year the area was dry and the water in the DU area carried thousands of waterfowl. The ditch had maybe a foot of water in it and had the right kind of cover around it to hold sharptails.

I figured, if there weren't any sharpies along the ditch, I would have a great evening of waterfowl watching.

I had walked the ditch for about two miles and there were a few sharpies in my game bag. Snow geese were flying in big numbers, and I would soon find out that the wet drainage ditch was a mecca for mosquitoes.

I was a long way from the truck, and as dusk began to set in, the mosquitoes came out in huge numbers. They were like miniature storm clouds­thick, fast, and hungry.

Before I knew it, I was engulfed in mosquitoes. As I ran back to the truck, opening my mouth and even keeping my eyes open was difficult. When I eventually got to the truck, the dog dove in before I could. After 30 seconds in the truck, the mosquitoes were again unbearable.

My hair and clothes were filled with them. I pulled over, hopped out, ripped off most of my clothes, threw them in back of the truck, and was flying down the road with all the windows open and an overheated, mosquito ravaged, soaking wet dog sitting on the seat next to me.

An hour later, I was being treated by a doctor in a small Manitoba clinic.

I was lucky, he said. If I were one of the many people that react severely to mosquito bites, the situation could have been much worse.

That was the one and only time I have seen mosquitoes worse than I have in our area this year.

In my yard, which is close to another creek with standing water, it is almost unbearable to go outside at dawn or dusk. When my dog is in the kennel, he is seldom out of his dog house.

Throw in the West Nile Virus and heartworm danger for dogs, the mosquito affair this year only gets worse.

Here are a few quick points to help you deal with the mosquitoes:

· Don't go outside at dawn or dusk

· Wear long sleeve shirts and long pants

· Use repellents with DEET.

You may also want to keep your lawn a little shorter, limit standing water in your yard, like in pails and bird baths, and wear mosquito netting around your head.

Another thing to remember is to do your best to enjoy the outdoors on windy days.

For more information on mosquitoes and the West Nile Virus, check this article.

Outdoor notes

­ The early or September Canada goose hunting season in our area and across much of the state is set to open Sunday, Sept. 1.

Hunters can find more information on pages 87 and 88 of the 2002 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook. Hunters should also be prepared for mosquitoes and take steps to prevent mosquito bites to have an enjoyable and safe hunt.

­ Quack, quack it's back, the Winsted Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its annual banquet Tuesday, Sept. 10 at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted. Tickets are available at the Blue Note.

­ The application deadline for antlerless permits and special hunt permits is Thursday, Sept. 9.

The application are now done through the ELS when you purchase your license.

­ This year avid deer hunters may want to take a look at the new All-Season deer license which costs $75. More information on license option can be found on page 54 of the 2002 Minnesota hunting and Trapping Regualtions Handbook.

­ Spinning wings decoys are banned for the Sept. 14 youth waterfowl hunting day in Minnesota. There are also banned on public waters for the first week of the regular waterfowl season.

­ Now is the time to get yourself and your dog in shape for the upcoming hunting season.

­ Sharpen your shooting eye and get ready for fall with a practice round of trap at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen's Club. It's a good to review firearms safety and get familiar again with your firearm before the hunting seasons start.

­ The fish have been biting on a few area lakes. Big Swan has been giving up crappies, muskies are hitting on Sugar and Waconia. Parely has been giving up sunfish and although the bite has slowed a bit Mille Lacs has still been giving up a lot walleyes. Look for the northern pike action on Mille Lacs and many local lakes to pick up in the next few weeks.

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