Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Dec. 2, 2002

Don't underestimate the danger of frozen lakes

From the DNR

With the Thanksgiving holiday past, parents need to strongly warn their children to stay off any frozen bodies of water, especially when there is no adult present, according to Tim Smalley, water safety specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

"There is a saying among water safety professionals that 'when your child is near the water, you should be near your child.' That saying holds just as true for ice," Smalley noted.

The DNR recommends a minimum of four inches of new clear ice for walking and small group activities on the ice.

"There is no way that the ice in Minnesota is near being walkable at this point," Smalley said. "With the unusual fall weather we have had, it is hard to predict when folks can go out without taking a risk."

The DNR recommends that people call a local bait shop or resort to check on ice conditions before heading out on an ice fishing trip.

Three brothers fell through the ice of a small backyard pond in Anoka County, Nov. 19. All three died from effects of the incident.

Last winter, five people died in ice accidents. The highest number of fatal ice accidents on record occurred during the winter of 1982-83 when 22 people died.

The DNR has free ice safety publications, including "Danger Thin Ice" and "Hypothermia, the Cold Facts" brochures, a wallet-size card listing recommended ice thicknesses, a 12-by-18-inch poster that illustrates recommended ice thicknesses, and plans to make ice self-rescue picks.

To obtain this information, call the DNR at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-646-6367, or go online to the DNR's Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us and request the free ice safety packet.

DNR asks hunters to comment on deer season changes

From the DNR

The Minnesota DNR is asking for comments on two proposed changes to the state's deer management system.

The proposals were developed following the completion last January of the most comprehensive survey of deer hunters ever done in the state. A DNR deer management subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Chris DePerno, DNR farmland wildlife deer biologist at Madelia, formulated the recommendations to improve deer population management and streamline deer management regulations.

The recommended changes are designed to increase the efficiency of deer population management and should also reduce harvest pressure on bucks in some areas.

In addition, the proposals would reduce paperwork, administrative costs, and regulation complexity, as well as reduce the overall length of firearms deer hunting seasons in southeastern Minnesota, which is primarily private land.

The first recommendation is a statewide proposal to streamline provisions for taking deer of either sex and to simplify the allocation of permits for taking multiple deer. The second recommendation is a proposal to modify the basic deer season structure in Zone 3 (southeastern Minnesota).

"Comments from hunters and landowners are going to be key to this process," said Steve Merchant, DNR Forest Wildlife Program leader and former chair of the DNR's deer committee. "We realize these proposals will represent a significant change for some hunters, particularly in Zone 3, so public involvement is critical."

Three public meetings to discuss the Zone 3 proposals and take public comments will be scheduled in mid-January in southeastern Minnesota.

Comments on the statewide proposals can be e-mailed to info@dnr.state.mn.us. Written comments may also be sent to Deer Season Changes, Division of Wildlife, 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

Statewide proposals

Under the statewide proposal, the DNR would allow firearms deer hunters to purchase either-sex deer licenses over the counter in certain permit areas. Currently, every firearms deer hunter who wants an antlerless permit must go through the DNR permit lottery system.

Permit areas would be designated as unrestricted, management or lottery. Over-the-counter sales of either-sex licenses would be allowed in permit areas designated as unrestricted or management.

· Unrestricted: Generally, these are permit areas where intensive harvest permits are available under the current system. Hunters would still be allowed to purchase additional intensive harvest licenses at a lower cost.

· Management: Generally, these are permit areas where only management permits are available under the current system. Hunters would be allowed to purchase one additional management license at a lower cost.

No additional intensive harvest licenses would be available in these areas.

· Lottery: Hunters in these permit areas would receive antlerless permits through a lottery system similar to the one currently in place.

No management permits or additional intensive harvest licenses would be available in these areas. Also, under the statewide proposal, muzzleloader and archery hunters would be allowed to use one intensive harvest license in a management permit area and the remainder in unrestricted areas.

Multi-zone buck and all-season deer license holders would be allowed to purchase management licenses to harvest antlerless deer in specific permit areas.

Comments on statewide proposals will be accepted through Saturday, Jan. 25. Comments may be e-mailed to info@dnr.state.mn.us.

Written comments may be sent to Minnesota DNR, Box 7, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

Proposed changes to Zone 3 season

Proposals to change the Zone 3 season structure are aimed at encouraging hunters to harvest adult does and may also increase buck survivorship in southeastern Minnesota.

"The deer population in southeastern Minnesota is a concern," Merchant said. "This proposal should help manage the deer population in general and we hope it will reduce pressure on older bucks in that area."

· The Zone 3A hunt would be shortened from nine days to five days (Saturday through Wednesday). The season would open on the statewide firearms deer season opener. A limited number of either-sex permits will be available during the 3A season.

· The Zone 3B season would be lengthened from seven days to nine days and begin the Saturday immediately following the close of the 3A season.

Multi-zone buck and all-season deer license holders would be able to participate in the 3B season because the season would be concurrent with other firearms seasons.

"Providing some either-sex permits in 3A will encourage the harvest of adult does," said Lou Cornicelli, big game season specialist for the DNR Division of Wildlife. "It will also reduce the time that 3A hunters will have to harvest bucks."

In addition, Cornicelli said, starting the 3B season earlier will allow a five-day break between the 3B and muzzleloader season, which may increase the muzzleloader harvest. Muzzleloader hunters primarily harvest does.

Three public input meetings will be scheduled in January to discuss the proposed Zone 3 season changes.

In addition, hunters may e-mail comments to info@dnr.state.mn.us. Written comments may be sent to Minnesota DNR, Box 7, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4007.

Outdoor notes

­ The application deadline for Minnesota's 2003 spring turkey hunt is Friday, Dec. 6.

­ Look for deer harvest numbers and numbers from local registration stations and the scoop on this year's deer hunting season in upcoming columns.

­ In next week's column, I'm going to share another neat father/son hunting story.

­ Just after Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to hunt pheasants in eastern South Dakota. For me, it was a new destination and something I had been really looking forward to. I'll let you know how the trip went.

­ The muzzle loader deer hunting season in Minnesota opened Saturday.

­ The pheasant hunting season in Minnesota closes Sunday, Dec. 15.

­ The duck hunting season in Minnesota Tuesday. Most hunters considered the season to be fairly dismal again.

­ The critter that moved into my backyard shed is still there and continues to outwit any type of trap I have set. In the past week, he managed to chew another hole in the chipboard floor.

­ The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its annual banquet Friday, Dec. 6, at the Blue Note of Winsted.

­ Please remember that no ice, especially early ice, is ever completely safe. For now, with the ice covering our area lakes and just starting to thicken, the best bet is to just stay off it.

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