Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Nov. 18, 2002

Deer hunting has been excellent this year

One hundred four deer were registered at Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake for the first weekend of local firearms deer hunting.

That's a big increase over the first weekend of last year, when 80 deer were registered at Joe's.

Also, if you take a hard look at the photos in this week's column, you'll notice a good chunk of those deer are dandies. All of that measures up to a pretty good start to the firearms deer hunting season in local permit areas 428, 419, and 429.

Local hunters noted they saw more deer than expected, and that bucks were active and in full rut.

At this point, I haven't contacted other registration stations in the area, but I expect that registration numbers at those stations were also up.

As the season progresses, we'll take a look registration and harvest numbers compared to recent years.

The firearms deer hunting season in our area ends Tuesday, Nov. 19.

In north-central Minnesota near Cross Lake, the hunting was also very good. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said numbers were high in that area, and for the first time even offered management permits.

From my hunting experience, the DNR was right when it came to deer numbers. My hunting party, consisting of 12 hunters, bagged six deer including one monster eight-pointer in two days of hunting. Every member of the party saw deer and had opportunities.

In general, deer numbers were excellent, hunting pressure was just about perfect, and the quality of the experience was better than expected.

For me, I once again write about a missed opportunity on a nice buck. At about 9 a.m. on the morning of the Saturday opener, I was rested against a small birch tree with my butt comfortably placed on the ground. Through the woods about 20 yards in front me was a heavily-used trail and several scrapes.

I was in a good spot. Just minutes after settling down, I heard two deer behind me. They would stop, then move a few yards and then stop again.

In an effort to bring them closer, I started on my grunt call. The call was working and with every quiet blow, the deer would come closer.

Soon, still not in view, but directly behind me and very close, I was ready to make one more grunt call and then turn and hope for a good shot. When I made that last grunt call, a big loud bleep like the beller of a calf, it came from the brush 20 yards in front of me. It was a big buck.

I don't now who was more surprised, myself or the deer. With a flash, the buck bolted down the trail, and the two deer behind me were gone into the woods.

Not a shot was fired and I chalked up the missed opportunity to simply not looking in the right direction at the right time.

I imagine the buck was coming to the call and the other deer behind me, and when he got close enough to figure out the noise wasn't coming from another deer, but an impatient hunter, he got the wits scared out of him and bellered in fright.

The noise that buck made was some thing I had never heard before, and when he did it, I dang near had a heart attack.

Deer or no deer, that experience made my hunt and is now firmly planted in my book of unforgettable outdoor memories.

Fathers and sons in the field

For the past few weeks now, I have been planning to write a few neat stories about father and son hunting teams. Some of the stories are from a waterfowl hunting trip to Manitoba, Canada, I was on in October. Others are from many other hunting trips I have been on through the years.

Each week the plan seems to get backed up a bit. For now, I still have great intentions to write about the stories I have, but there is something I have to clear the air on first.

In the past week, I have gotten several calls about why I have limited my storyline to only fathers and sons hunting together and not on fathers and daughters and or mothers and sons.

The reasons are simple. First of all, my personal experiences involve father and son teams, and personal experience is what I write from.

Secondly, with the understanding that any and all types of relationships that are created and flourish through outdoor activities like hunting are good, I don't have the time right now to interview and then share the stories from, let's say, a father-daughter hunting partnership.

Regarding the calls I received, I have two young daughters that I hope someday will hunt with me. Without question they will be given every opportunity to love the outdoors like I do. At two and four, they are off to a great start.

Crow River Ducks Unlimited chapter to conduct banquet

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will conduct its annual banquet Friday, Dec. 6 at the Blue Note of Winsted. Social hour starts at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m.

For tickets, or more information, please mail to DU Crow River Chapter, PO Box 62, Howard Lake, MN 55349.

Flood reduction programs

The Wright Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) now has approval for a special RIM Reserve sign-up.

This program is focused on setting aside marginal and/or frequently flooded land. If you have received damage to cropland from flooding, or have sites that could reduce the effects of future floods, you could be eligible for funding.

The deadline for the application is Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2002, so there is little time to lose.

For more information, contact Joe Jacobs at the Wright SWCD (763) 682-1970.

NEMO workshop

The Crow River Organization of Water (CROW), Wright SWCD, and Minnesota Erosion Control Association collaborated and hosted a NEMO Workshop Oct. 3.

NEMO stands for Nonpoint Source Pollution Education for Municipal Officials. The workshop introduced tools and technologies that can be used by decision-makers and planners to make land use changes that will minimize adverse water resources impacts.

Invitations were sent to planning commissions, city councils, city administrators, citizen groups, city engineers, county commissioners, and public works staff of the majority of the cities in the Crow River Watershed and all of Wright County.

The eastern portion of the Crow River Watershed, especially Wright County, is undergoing dramatic land use changes. Suburbs are expanding into the area, and rural residential developments are popping up all over.

By providing city councils, planning commissions, and staff of these municipalities with responsible methods for developing areas and design alternatives, it will help minimize the water quality degradation that often comes as a result of poor planning.

If you would like more information on NEMO Workshops please contact Diane Sander-CROW Outreach Technician at (763) 682-1933 ext. 3 or Bradley Wozney-Wright SWCD at (763) 682-1970.

DNR collects samples for CWD testing

From the DNR

Deer hunters submitted about 3,500 samples for chronic wasting disease (CWD) tests during the first weekend of Minnesota's firearms deer season, which began Saturday, Nov. 9, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The DNR intends to collect between 5,000 and 6,000 total samples at selected registration stations across the state as part of an ongoing surveillance program to determine if CWD is in the state's wild deer herd.

"We had good success collecting samples in the northern permit areas," said Mike Don Carlos, research manager for the DNR Division of Wildlife. "It appears that hunter success was lower in the south and we didn't get as many samples there."

Volunteers, DNR staff and tribal staff were stationed at selected big-game registration stations in 17 permit areas around the state. Hunters who brought deer in for registration were asked to voluntarily submit their deer for sampling. Only deer that were one year old or older and harvested in certain areas were sampled.

According to early estimates, six of the 16 antlerless permit areas reached their goal of collecting about 360 samples in the first weekend of the firearms deer season. The remaining 10 permit areas will continue to collect samples throughout the firearms deer season or until their goals are reached.

In southeast Minnesota, sample collection will continue through the 3B firearms season, which is open from Nov. 23-29.

CWD, a fatal brain disease known to infect deer and elk, was discovered in a farmed elk near Aitkin in August. It has not been found in the state's wild deer herd.

Note ­ No additional results have been received from CWD tests on deer killed in the Aitkin area surveillance program. To date, test results have been received for 69 of 111 deer samples submitted for testing from the surveillance area. None were found CWD positive.)

Funding from the Initiative Foundation, a regional foundation, helped cover the cost of a dinner provided during the workshop. Jay Michels from Minnesota Erosion Control Association was the keynote speaker.

Michels' presentation covered land use planning and urban storm water quality issues. A total of 61 people attended the workshop. Representing 11 cities were: four city engineers, mayor, seven city council members, county commissioner, rivers council of Minnesota, PCA citizen board member, two citizen groups, lake associations, and various staff from state and local agencies.

Following the workshop, several municipalities signed up for follow up sessions with the Minnesota Erosion Control Association to explore new approaches to land use planning, develop and revise ordinances and operational procedures.

Outdoor notes

­ Pheasant hunting in several parts of Minnesota continues to be very good, and may even get better.

The end of the firearms deer season, fewer standing crops, and snow on the ground all bolster pheasant hunting success. When the deer season is over, it is traditionally easier to get permission to hunt on private land, fewer crops mean less cover, and snow (especially the first dose of it) tends to make wily birds more willing to sit instead of run.

­ When taking photos of your game, especially deer, take the time to set up a good photo. Make sure the animal is clean and free of blood. Make sure hunters are well presented, and use the woods, slough, or field as your backdrop. Finally, fill the frame and keep the sun behind the camera.

­ November is the highest-risk month for deer-vehicle collisions. Drivers should take special precautions to avoid collisions with deer, especially at dawn and dusk.

In Minnesota there are approximately 19,000 deer vehicle collisions every year.

­ The application deadline for the spring wild turkey hunt in Minnesota is Friday, Dec. 6.

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

­ Be aware that the DNR and other county, state, and federal agencies are cracking down on permanent deer stands on public property.

If a permanent stand in a state or national forest or county-owned land belongs to you, please read the laws regarding stands and be prepared to remove it.

­ The critter that moved into my backyard shed is still there. I'm not sure what it is or how I'm going to get rid of him. For now, the battle is on and the critter is winning.

­ Always ask first before you enter private land.

­ Winsted Sportsmen's Club will sponsor snowmobile safety training Tuesday and Thursday, Nov. 19 and 21, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the basement of Distinctive Dental Services at 131 Main Ave. W., Winsted.

Driving tests will take place when snow permits.

The training is available for anyone age 12 and older. For people under the age of 18, a signature is required from a parent or guardian.

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