Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Nov. 4, 2002

Firearms deer season opens Saturday

Just like the leaves turning color, another Minnesota firearms deer hunting season is about to happen.

Like the leaves and their fall colors, the deer hunting season comes with great anticipation. Then, with a few more cold nights, a stiff November breeze, and a few days spent in the woods, they are both gone, only to return next year, we hope.

The days go by quickly, but they are great days.

This season, the event begins Saturday, Nov. 9. On that day thousands of orange-clad hunters will take to the woods, fields, and swamps of Minnesota in search of whitetailed deer.

Some will come home with deer, most will not. In either case, we all hope everyone comes home safe, and with a quality outdoor experience firmly placed in a bank of fond outdoor memories.

As always and with every hunt, safety comes first with sound hunter and conservation ethics second. Everything else falls in after that.

Not to diminish the importance of hunter safety and sound outdoor ethics, there is another matter I would like to mention.

In Minnesota and many other states, deer hunting is number one when it comes to participating in a hunting season or any outdoor activity.

For many, more and more it seems, deer hunting is the only time of year when they actually get out in the woods or prairies to get a taste of the land and all the things that live on it.

Few other times and for even fewer reasons will anyone trudge through a swamp or dense alder thicket. My gosh, when do any of us ever consider climbing a tree and sit in it for hours to watch fox, raccoons, porcupines, or that curious chipmunk that would sit on a person's lap if anyone had the patience to let it?

The awe of a whitetail and the opportunity to harvest one is one of the only things that will drive us to the slough, prairie, or woods.

On that note, this year when you are finally there and the sun is rising on Saturday morning, take the time to watch the fox, raccoon, and porcupine, and dig deep down inside yourself to find the patience for that little chipmunk that may just sit on your lap.

Whitetail or not, you will be rewarded with the quality hunt all of us should be striving for, and next year, like the leaves turning color, another Minnesota firearms deer hunting season will happen.

Seven firearms safety tips

1. Don't squeeze the trigger until you've positively identified your target.

2. Never point a firearms at a person.

3. Be sure no obstructions are inside the barrel.

4. Unload the shells from your firearm if not in use.

5. Treat any firearms as if it were loaded.

6. Never climb a tree, cross a fence, or jump a ditch with a loaded firearm.

7. Never use a firearm while drinking alcohol.

Tips and notes for the firearms deer hunting season

­ Read the 2002 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook and carry one with you.

­ Carry a map and compass.

­ Know survival skills and carry a simple survival kit.

­ Know the limitations of you and your firearm.

­ Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.

­ Always remember that people judge hunters by your behavior.

­ Wear blaze orange anytime you are in the outdoors during the firearms deer hunting season.

­ Get familiar and comfortable with your firearm again before the season starts.

­ For information on chronic wasting disease in deer go to the DNR's web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

­ Brush up on the proper method of field dressing a deer and note that a sharp knife is much more effective and much more safe than a dull one.

­ The lucky hunters who were drawn for an antlerless permit were notified last week. If you did not get a permit in the mail, you can a assume you were not drawn for one.

­ Don't forget to carry your license with you, and remember that deer must be tagged at the site where they were killed.

­ Finally, make sure you take good care of your game after it is harvested. In this matter, there is no choice. Proper care of game is the obligation and responsibility of every hunter.

­ Good luck and have a safe hunt.

Public land maps

From the DNR

With Minnesota's firearms deer hunting season opening, hunters are scouting for public hunting lands. The Department of Natural Resources has developed a valuable resource to help hunters and other recreationalists in that search for public lands.

Public Recreation Information Maps (PRIM) are actually several recreation maps combined into one. The maps bring together federal, state and county lands, and their recreational facilities, making them easier to find. A comprehensive, full-color chart on the back of each area map summarizes recreational facilities of the area.

The PRIM series divides the state into 51 map areas, with each map showing:

public lands (color-coded)

township, section and range lines

topography

public campgrounds

state trails and state forest roads

designated trout streams

water access sites, and much more.

Since the PRIM maps were first printed in 1991, several maps have been revised. The most recent revisions are for maps in northwestern Minnesota, where some Consolidated Conservation lands have been reclassified. Those revised maps are for the Baudette, Blackduck, Grygla, Roseau, Thief River Falls and Upper Red Lake areas. Map purchasers should check the date on the front of those area maps for a 2002 date.

PRIM maps are sold at sporting goods stores and gas stations throughout the state. Complete sets are available from the Minnesota Bookstore at 117 University Ave. in St. Paul. PRIM order forms are available on the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/prim.

PRIM maps cost $4.95 plus tax. For help in deciding which maps to buy, or to order maps by phone with VISA, MasterCard or Discover, call the Minnesota Bookstore at (651) 297-3000 in the Twin Cities metro area or call toll free 1-800-657-3757.

Hunters in selected permit areas asked to register harvested deer as soon as possible.

Register your deer

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is asking firearms deer hunters who harvest an adult deer in permit area 427 (Renville, Sibley, McLeod counties) to register it as soon as possible to so that good samples could be obtained for Chronic Wasting Disease tests planned for those areas.

DNR staff will be at selected registration stations until the target number of samples is obtained at each station. The DNR will sample deer older than one year and only those taken in specific target areas.

Samples will not be taken from every deer registered at these locations

The DNR plans to test between 5,000 and 6,000 hunter-harvested deer during the 2002 firearms deer season. The tests will be conducted in cooperation with the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa, the 1854 Authority, students in the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, and other volunteers. This is part of an ongoing effort to find out if CWD is present in the wild deer herd.

"Depending on the weather, there is a relatively short time before the sample needs to be extracted or the head needs to be preserved on ice," said Dr. Chris DePerno, deer research biologist for the DNR Division of Wildlife. "If hunters wait too long before registering their deer and submitting it for sampling, the sample could be unusable."

Selected registration stations will be staffed for CWD sampling starting at noon on Saturday, Nov. 9. As needed, stations will be staffed again on Sunday, Nov. 10 starting at 9 a.m. Staff will continue to collect samples at selected registration stations until the stations quota (60 samples, 30 male and 30 female) is met.

Stations in southeast Minnesota will be staffed again starting at noon on Nov. 23 for the start of the Zone 3B season. Selected registration stations in Zone 3B will also be staffed on Nov. 24 starting at 9 a.m.

In addition to permit area 427, samples will be collected in permit areas 154, 175, 181/199, 221, 247, 227, 284, 341, 342, 345, 346, 410, 415, 417 and 451.

Hunters who register their deer at a station where samples are being collected may be asked several questions about where the deer was harvested. Taking a sample requires removing the head from the carcass. Submission for sampling is voluntary

"The success of this effort will depend on getting good information from hunters," DePerno said. "We're counting on their ability to tell us exactly where they harvested their deer. It's in everyone's best interest that this effort is successful."

Hunters who submit their deer for sampling will receive notification of the test results by mail.

Hunters who are not asked to submit their deer to the DNR for testing may have their deer tested for a fee at the University of Minnesota.

Selected veterinarians across the state have agreed to extract samples and send them to the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for testing. A full list of participating veterinarians will be available on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Outdoor notes

­ Pheasant hunting in certain parts of Minnesota has been very good in the past few weeks. Much of the success found by hunters can be attributed to the crop harvest. There is much more corn or beans off the fields now than there was on opening day. The best hunting, according to reports, has come in south central and southwestern Minnesota.

The trick now is to closely watch the crop harvest in areas you hunt. Note where standing crops still are and look for areas of cover that adjoin crop fields that have recently been harvested.

­ Pheasant hunting seasons across the midwest are off and rolling. Reports from the Iowa opener were mixed with notes of a lot of corn still in the fields.

South Dakota is down a bit compared to last year. But, like usual, the hunting is still better than most other pheasant states.

North Dakota pheasant hunters have done well as expected, and I haven't heard anything yet about the hunt in Nebraska.

­ Local waterfowl hunting has picked up a bit with a few northern birds coming though the area, but for the most part has still been very slow. Duck hunters should remember that the season in Minnesota for pintails is closed.

­ With the cold weather we have experienced, please be aware of thin ice conditions on small ponds and other small bodies of water.

­ Look for information of snowmobile safety training courses offered in our area very soon.

­ Although October was a very cold month, the long range weather forecast for November calls for a warm, dry month.

­ Take the time to properly store your firearms and ammunition. Make sure they are locked in separate locations and don't leave them placed in the trunk off in the corner of the garage where children have access to them.

­ Always make sure you take proper care of the game you harvest.

­ Good quality photos can be a big part of any hunt. For a good photo, take the time to properly set it up.

Make sure the game is clean and free of blood. With deer, place the tongue back in the mouth, and make sure the hunters in the photo are in good appearance. On a photography note, the photographer should keep the sun at his back, fill the frame, and have hunters in the photo tip their caps up.

­ Enjoy the outdoors this fall, and then find a way to share it with someone else.

­ In next week's column, and throughout the rest of the hunting season, I will continue with my insights on what fathers do to ensure quality hunts for their sons.

For a father, it can be filled with joy, excitement, worry, and, at times, frustration.

If you have a story to share about hunting with your father or son, please give me a call at (320) 485-2535 or e-mail schultz@herald-journal.com.

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