Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Nov. 11, 2002

Living moments that they will never forget

Last week I didn't have much time to put into my column. An ailing father, two young daughters, newspaper ownership, and, of course, a mad rush to get ready and packed up for a tradition-filled northern Minnesota deer hunt didn't leave much time.

Aside from the rigors and pace of life, the previous weekend was a tremendous one. I spent an hour or two of it sitting on top of a high bluff in western Minnesota, admiring a beautiful pheasant rooster I had just harvested and my dog Angus had just retrieved.

The sun was shining, the grass was thick, and the view, just like it was 23 years ago, was breath taking. Mixed in, just like 23 years ago, were a good number of ringnecked pheasants.

The spot is special to me, and becomes more special every year. The top of that hill was the first place I hunted with my dad on our first hunting trip away from home.

As I sat on the hill, the memories from that first hunt and others with my dad in that same spot were so thick my dogs tail couldn't brush them away.

My dad quit making the pheasant hunting trips to western Minnesota a few years back, and today at age 87, he spends his time in a nursing home, stricken with Alzheimer's Disease and cancer.

He enjoyed the trips with me, our dog, a few other relatives and friends, and his old single shot St. Paul Arms 16 gauge, until he said the drive was too much for him and he couldn't pick up his legs high enough to wade through the tall grass.

On those trips, as I think back, he used my excitement and desire to go like a remote control.

"Get this done, do this, and do that, and then get every thing packed up and then we'll go." He never threatened and he never made anything mandatory, but he sure knew how to get the most out of me during the hunting season.

In high school, it always seemed like I got more farm work done and got better grades than at any other time of year.

On that first trip, I fondly remember sitting on that hill with him and Bear, our dog at that time, with four grand roosters in our bag. As we sat there enjoying the view, the dog flushed a big rooster out of the grass right between us.

The bird's wings almost brushed our caps, and the cackle was loud and clear. We laughed for a long time and noted that next time on that hill, we would just sit down and let the dog chase the birds to us, instead of us chasing the dog for miles and miles. We tried it a few times and it never worked.

Moving on to this year, on a recent waterfowl hunting trip to Manitoba, Canada, I had the chance to watch a few other father and son teams.

As I watched and hunted with them through their success and struggles, I wondered if the dads knew how to push the buttons like my dad did, and if the sons knew they were living moments that they will cherish 23 years from now, and probably never forget.

With this column, my goal is to help both fathers and sons along the way a little bit; to help them push the right buttons, and keep the right memories.

As time allows, and of course the snow flies, we'll get into a few of the neat father and son stories from a trip to Canada in the fall of 2002.

Hunters will play critical role in MN's CWD efforts

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is relying on firearms deer hunters to help in the effort to determine if chronic wasting disease (CWD) has infected the state's wild deer herd.

Aside from providing deer for sampling in selected permit areas, DNR officials are asking that firearms deer hunters watch carefully for deer that may be displaying symptoms consistent with CWD.

Hunters who see a deer that is excessively thin, drooling, has drooping ears, doesn't show fear of humans, or is drinking excessively should carefully note the location of the deer and report it to the DNR.

"We are asking hunters not to shoot sick-looking deer," said Mike Don Carlos, DNR wildlife research manager. "Instead, hunters should report the precise location to a conservation officer or the local DNR wildlife official."

Telephone numbers for DNR officials are available on the DNR website at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

If a deer has CWD or any other disease, it is likely that it won't leave the area, so DNR officials will be able to find it and get it tested.

"Hunters should carefully consider any deer they see before they decide to harvest it," Don Carlos said. "If they don't intend to eat it, they shouldn't harvest it."

For the past year, the DNR has conducted an ongoing surveillance program, testing "suspect" deer reported by citizens and DNR officials.

The surveillance program also included deer culled in Aitkin County, where CWD was discovered in a single farmed elk. So far, more than 150 deer have been tested, including more than 100 in Aitkin County, and no positives have been found.

In addition, the DNR is asking firearms deer hunters who harvest an adult deer in one of the permit areas selected for CWD testing to register the deer as soon as possible so that good samples can be obtained for testing.

DNR staff will be at selected registration stations (see list on the DNR website) until the target number of samples is obtained at each station. The DNR will only 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.

Hunters who would like to have their deer tested also have another opportunity because more than 150 veterinarians at 98 clinics have agreed to collect brain stem samples for chronic wasting disease testing from deer harvested during this fall's firearms season. (Check the chronic wasting disease information page on the DNR web site for a list of veterinary clinics where hunters can take deer for CWD testing.)

Samples will be sent to the University of Minnesota's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in St. Paul for testing. Hunters will be notified of results through the mail. The test will be available to any hunter who wants a deer tested for a fee determined by local veterinarians and the diagnostic lab.

Bones and other remains may be disposed through rendering, burial, incineration or landfill, Don Carlos said.

"We are asking hunters not to dispose of deer carcass remains in public road ditches or on public land," Don Carlos said.

Hunters who take the following precautions should be able to safely eat deer or elk taken this season, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.

Hunters should follow these recommendations:

· do not consume meat from any deer that looks or acts ill

· do not eat the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils, or lymph nodes of any deer

· remove meat from bones rather than sawing through bones

· field dress the animal properly; minimize handling of brain or spinal tissues, wear sturdy rubber or latex gloves when field dressing, wash hands and instruments after field dressing is complete.

Each year more than 500,000 Minnesota hunters harvest roughly 200,000 whitetail deer in Minnesota. This year, hunters are being asked to take advantage of management and intensive harvest permits to help keep the state's deer population in check.

"Managing deer populations at goal densities is an important part of maintaining a healthy deer herd," said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game and season management specialist. "We rely heavily on hunters to help do that."

Spring wild turkey license application deadline Dec. 6

From the DNR

All resident Minnesota wild turkey hunters interested in hunting in the spring 2003 season must apply electronically for a spring 2003 wild turkey license through the Department of Natural Resources computerized electronic licensing system (ELS).

Applications will be accepted at any of the 1,800 ELS point-of-sale agents beginning immediately, and must be completed no later than Friday, Dec. 6.

It will again cost $3 to apply. This nonrefundable fee must be paid at the time of application at the ELS agent. Applications can also be made on the ELS telephone licensing system by calling toll free 888-665-4236, or on the Internet at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

An additional fee of $3.50 per transaction is charged for the telephone or Internet service.

The 2003 spring wild turkey hunt will consist of eight five-day seasons between Wednesday, April 16 and Sunday, May 25 in 53 wild turkey permit areas. A total of 25,016 permits will be available for the 2003 spring wild turkey hunt, which is a 3.5 percent increase from the 24,136 permits offered in 2002.

All wild turkey hunters seeking to hunt in spring 2003 must obtain an application booklet at one of the ELS agents or an application worksheet on the DNR web site under wild turkey hunting at www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting.

The application booklet contains maps of open wild turkey permit areas, permit quotas, dates and an application worksheet.

The application worksheet should be filled out in advance to ease completion of the application process at the ELS point-of-sale agent terminal. Customers need to provide the completed worksheet to an ELS agent for entry into the terminal.

Customers receive a receipt with the area and time period for which they applied. They need to make sure the information on the receipt is correct prior to leaving the agent location.

Customers using the Internet or telephone license agents will not receive a receipt, so they need to print or make a note of the confirmation page information at the time of purchase.

Nonresident wild turkey hunters seeking to apply can use an ELS point-of-sale agent, the DNR telephone system at 888-665-4236, the ELS web site at www.dnr.state. mn.us, or complete and mail a signed and dated worksheet with a $3 application fee for each individual hunter to: Spring Turkey Hunt, DNR License Bureau, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4026.

Non-resident applications must be postmarked or delivered by Friday, Dec. 6.

Resident applications for the 2003 spring wild turkey hunt must be submitted by Friday, Dec. 6. Nonresident applications will be accepted if postmarked or delivered no later Dec. 6.

For more information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-MINN-DNR (646-6367).

Outdoor notes

­ Remember to wear blaze orange clothing anytime you are in the outdoors during the firearms deer hunting season.

­ A pesky critter has moved into my backyard shed. The varmint even chewed a chunk of the floor away to get himself in. The battle has started, and for now the critter is winning.

­ Always ask permission before you enter private land.

­ Be cautious and courteous, and not competitive in the field this fall. You will have a better experience, and so will others.

­ Now is a great time to think about conservation. Just take a look at our local landscape, with the crops gone it's pretty bare. Every donation and every hour spent does make a difference.

­ The pheasant hunting in certain parts of Minnesota continues to be very good. The trick now is to scout and look for area where there are still standing crops adjacent to good pheasant cover. Note those areas and hunt them immediately after the crops are removed and you'll run into roosters.

­ The DNR's web site has some great maps and ariel photos on it. To get a new look at the areas you hunt go to www.dnr.state.mn.us and click on maps.

­ A good tip for pheasant hunters is too hunt and move slow. Give yourself and your dog the time to work every nook and cranny of the cover you are hunting.

­ Take some time to enjoy the last few weeks of fall. Soon winter will be here and fall will again be nine months away.

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