Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Sept. 9, 2002

Pheasant numbers up across much of the range, but down locally

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently completed its August roadside surveys and released the numbers last week.

Along with my input on the subject is a press release from the DNR. For more detailed information, and for those who really want to dive into the subject of pheasant and other wildlife population numbers, the complete report, including pheasant density maps, can be found on the DNR's web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

If you're a local pheasant hunter who doesn't mind a two-hour drive, it should be a good, or maybe even a great, season of pheasant hunting in Minnesota.

That two-hour drive can take you to southwestern Minnesota, where bird numbers are up 133 percent. In the southwest, 48 birds per 100 miles driven during the survey were counted in 2001.

In 2002, 133 birds were counted. That's more birds counted per 100 miles than in 1999 or 2000, and the pheasant hunting in the southwest during those two seasons was very good.

That two-hour drive can also take you to far western Minnesota where bird numbers are up 161 percent. 26 birds per 100 miles were counted in 2001, compared to 67 birds per 100 miles counted in 2002.

In western Minnesota, let's say west and southwest of Montevideo, the hunting should be good.

There's a pile of public land to hunt. The late season hunting out there last year was great, and from my experience, the survey always indicates fewer birds then there actually are.

A two-hour drive will also take you to areas of south central Minnesota, where bird numbers increased a whopping 234 percent. Eighty-eight birds per 100 miles driven were counted in that region in 2002 compared to 26 counted in 2001.

An easy winter, and warm, dry nesting conditions this spring, added up to more birds in those regions of Minnesota's pheasant range.

If you're a local pheasant hunter who likes to stay in the backyard and not travel beyond, Wright, Carver, McLeod, Sibley, or Meeker counties, the news is a little different.

According to the survey, the numbers are up 2 percent in our central region and down 53 percent in the east-central region.

In my opinion, breeding success and the actual numbers of pheasants in our area is worse than the survey indicates.

Heavy rains throughout much of the summer just took its toll on pheasants. In our area, much of the available cover for pheasants is on low ground. This year a majority of those areas were flooded and underwater leaving very little cover for nesting pheasants and other ground nesting wildlife.

The 2002 Minnesota pheasant hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 12 and I'll be one of those guys driving a couple of hours to find the birds.

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 still available and can be purchased at the Blue Note.

I consider Ducks Unlimited to be the nations leader in conservation and wetland restoration efforts.

Also, Ken Durdahl of Howard Lake is the current Minnesota Ducks Unlimited Chairman.

Outdoor notes

­ Duck numbers seem to be very high in our area this year. Many people have told me they are seeing more ducks then ever.

The reason is pothole after pothole, all full of water. Right now, the habitat in our area for ducks is very good, the prairies of the Dakotas are dry, and the ducks are making their way back.

The Minnesota Youth Waterfowl Hunting day is Saturday, Sept. 14. The regular waterfowl hunting season opens Saturday, Sept. 29.

­ The application deadline for antlerless permits and other special hunt permits was Sept. 5.

­ Looking for a place to hunt or for other recreational opportunities in Minnesota? If you are, purchase a PRIM, Public Information Recreation Map . The maps are broken into several regions of the state and can be purchased by calling 1-888-646-6367.

­ Now is the time to take special care of your hunting dog. Schedule an appointment with your vet, and make sure the dog has all appropriate vaccinations. If you plan on traveling with your dog, get the certification papers for vaccinations also from your vet.

­ Take the time to get yourself in shape for the upcoming hunting season. It's also a good idea to break in your hunting boots at the same time.

­ The small game hunting season and the archery deer hunting season in Minnesota opens Saturday, Sept. 14. Now, with the early goose season in progress and other seasons opening soon, we should take the time to review firearms safety, the principles of conservation ethics, and note that the things we do affect the outdoors and our environment.

­ With the growing popularity of recreational trails, particularly in southern Minnesota, the rush to design and build trails can result in projects that run into detours and dead-ends.

In an effort to provide trail advocates with the information needed to see a trail vision become reality, a one-day forum will be held at Jackpot Junction Monday, Sept. 16. A number of experts will present insights on a variety of topics concerning trail development. For additional information or to register, contact: Mark Lindquist, DNR Regional Planner at New Ulm (507) 359-6034.

­ Review firearm safety and know the 10 commandments of firearm's safety.

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