Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Jan. 20, 2002

How important it is to make memories

Sharing the outdoors

Many of us who enjoy the outdoors and have the knowledge and opportunity to share our experiences with others probably don't understand how valuable it really is.

We have the ability to give something that can last a lifetime ­ a story or memory created from a day of ice fishing, a weekend of pheasant hunting, an annual deer hunting trip, or a walk through the woods in search of morels.

My dad passed away this past week and, in his passing, I have come to understand the true value of the outdoor experiences he gave to me and shared with me.

They are important, meaningful, and will last a lifetime. Most importantly, they need to be shared.

Now it is my responsibility to share a day of ice fishing, a weekend of pheasant hunting, an annual deer hunting trip, or a walk through the woods in search of morels.

As I have now come to understand, the true value of the experience comes from sharing it.

Openings announced for 2003 Minnesota hunting seasons

From the DNR

Opening dates for many of the 2003 Minnesota hunting seasons were announced this week by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The dates are being announced now for the benefit of those who must establish vacation or hunting plans well in advance. Although these dates are tentative, pending final approval in June, it is unlikely they will change.

Small game

Saturday, Sept. 13 ­ General small game, including grouse, gray partridge, rabbits and squirrels

Saturday, Oct. 11 ­ Pheasant

Wednesday, April 16 ­ Spring wild turkey (first season)

Wednesday, Oct. 15 ­ Fall wild turkey (first season)

Big game

Monday, Sept. 1 ­ Bear

Saturday, Sept 13 ­ Deer (archery)

Saturday, Nov. 8 ­ Deer (firearms)

Saturday, Nov. 29 ­ Deer (muzzleloader)

Saturday, Oct. 4 ­ Moose (northeast zone)

Furbearers

Open continuously ­ Fox, raccoon

Saturday, Sept. 13 ­ Gray fox, badger, opossum

Saturday, Oct. 25 ­ Mink, muskrat, beaver, otter (North Zone)

Saturday, Nov. 1 ­ Mink, muskrat, beaver, otter (South Zone)

Saturday, Nov. 29 ­ Fisher, marten, bobcat

Migratory birds

Saturday, Sept. 6 ­ Early Canada goose (tentative)

To be announced ­ Youth Waterfowl Day

Saturday, Sept. 27 or Oct. 4 (to be announced) ­ General duck and goose

Monday, Sept. 1 ­ Rails, snipe

Saturday, Sept. 20 ­ Woodcock

March 1 through 31 and July 15 through Oct. 15 ­ Crow

The waterfowl season opener will not be known until the US Fish and Wildlife Service publishes proposed migratory bird hunting frameworks this summer.

Under the federal framework in effect before 2002, the Minnesota duck and goose season would have been scheduled to begin Saturday, Oct. 4. However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service offered expanded waterfowl season frameworks in 2002 and may do so again in 2003.

Expanded frameworks would give Minnesota the option of opening as early as Saturday, Sept. 27. The final opening date for the 2003 waterfowl season will be announced in August.

The DNR will be taking comments on wildlife hunting and trapping seasons and proposed season changes during February. Details on proposed season changes and meeting dates will be announced in late January.

Proposed deer season changes for Zone 3 (southeastern Minnesota) will be discussed at a series of meetings in mid-January.

Additional details on season lengths, quotas and bag limits will be announced next summer after the 2003 seasons are finalized.

Conservation education workshop

The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will sponsor a Leopold Education Project training workshop Saturday, Feb. 1 at Ney Memorial Nature Center in Maple Lake from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The workshop is designed for formal and non-formal educators of science, language arts, social studies, history, environmental or agricultural studies, math, and art. Lessons present hands on interdisciplinary activities that engage students in authentic learning situations.

For more than 50 years, the words of Aldo Leopold have influenced and inspired people around the world with his writings in "A Sand County Almanac," a collection of essays focusing on ecology, natural esthetics, and environmental ethics.

Now, an innovative environmental education curriculum, The Leopold Education Project (LEP) is based on the classic writings that ring evermore true today.

Through the generosity of Wright County Pheasants Forever, workshop participants will receive almost $100 of materials ­ a copy of "A Sand County Almanac," a teacher's guide, student task cards, a video, and more.

A $20 registration fee include lunch and all educational materials. Graduate credit is available for an additional $85 fee.

For more information or to register, contact Sil Pembleton by phone at (651) 429-1228, or e-mail edorsil@mac.com, or see the Leopold Education Project web page at www.lep.org.

Snowmobile safety

From the DNR

Snowmobiling can be a fun and exciting way to spend a winter's day in Minnesota. This sport can also be very dangerous when basic safety rules are ignored.

Last season, there were 17 snowmobiling fatalities in Minnesota.

Jan. 12 through 18 was snowmobile safety week.

An official with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says snowmobilers can reduce accidents and fatalities by following a few safety rules.

"Drive safely and drive smart when operating a snowmobile," said Capt. Jeff Thielen, DNR enforcement safety education program coordinator. "Drivers should always be aware of potential hazards and use good judgment," said Thielen.

Residents born after Dec. 31, 1976, who operate snowmobiles in Minnesota must possess a snowmobile certificate, earned by attending either a youth or adult training course.

Volunteer instructors certified by the DNR offer classes throughout the state. Class offerings are available by calling toll free 888-MINN-DNR (646-6367).

In addition to snowmobile safety training requirements, snowmobilers are advised to follow safe driving tips from the DNR.

· Don't drink. Drinking and driving can be fatal.

Drinking alcohol before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and slow reaction time. Snowmobilers who have been drinking may drive too fast or race across unsafe ice.

Alcohol also causes the body temperature to drop at an accelerated rate, which increases the likelihood of hypothermia.

· Slow down. Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents.

Drivers should proceed at a pace that will allow ample reaction time for any situation. When driving at night, a speed of only 40 miles per hour may result in "over driving" the headlight.

That means that by the time a hazard is illuminated, it is too late for the driver to react in time.

· Be prepared. When traveling, make sure to bring a first aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof matches, and a compass.

· Stay alert. Fatigue can impair a driver's coordination and judgment.

· Ice advice. Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and ice strength on lakes and ponds.

Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming. Never travel in a single file when crossing bodies of water.

· Dress for success. Use a full-size helmet, goggles, or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice, and flying debris.

Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so that no loose ends catch in the machine.

· Watch the weather. Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous conditions.

· Bring a buddy. Never travel alone.

Most snowmobile accidents result in some personal injury. The most dangerous situations can occur if a person is injured and alone. If you must travel alone tell someone your destination, planned route, and when you will return.

Report accidents. A snowmobile operator involved in an accident resulting in medical attention, death or damage exceeding $500 must file an official accident report through the county sheriff's office within 10 days.

Any resident born after Dec. 31, 1976, who operates a snowmobile in Minnesota, must possess a snowmobile safety certificate, which can be earned by attending either a youth or adult training course.

Snowmobile training sessions are now being scheduled.

Check the DNR web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us for a current class listing of all DNR enforcement division classes currently scheduled.

Outdoor notes

­ The Howard Lake Sportsmen's Club 57th annual fishing derby will be Saturday, Feb. 8, from 2 to 4 p.m. on Howard Lake.

The grand prize in this year's raffle drawing is a deluxe King Crow fish house on wheels. Tickets can be purchased at Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake, or from club members.

­ A Sportsman's banquet, hosted by Good Shepherd Free Lutheran Church, Cokato, will take place Saturday, Jan. 25, beginning with dinner at 6 p.m.

At 7 p.m., speaker John DeYoung will share Florida tarpoon and shark stories, and local hunting and fishing stories.

Prizes will be awarded at 7:45 p.m.

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