Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Jan. 27, 2003

HL Sportsmen's Club fishing derby just around the corner

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.

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.

Minnesotans can vote for favorite bird

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources non-game wildlife program is conducting an informal survey to determine Minnesotans' favorite wild bird species.

Minnesota is home to 428 species of birds, but only a few species tend to create interest and excitement among nature enthusiasts, according to Carrol Henderson, DNR non-game wildlife program supervisor.

"This fun and simple survey is an ideal project for both school classes and for individuals to show their interest in Minnesota's wildlife," Henderson said.

To be part of this survey, people should list on a postcard their three favorite wild bird species and mail to: DNR Non-game Wildlife Program, Box 25, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Choices can also be send by e-mail to info@dnr.state.mn.us.

Surveys are due by Friday, Feb. 28. Survey results will be announced in mid-March.

This citizen survey will help the DNR non-game wildlife program provide Minnesotans with information about their favorite birds. This can include information about how to attract some species to property.

In other cases, the DNR can provide information on where to see and enjoy favorite birds.

Last year, the DNR non-game wildlife program completed more than 100 projects around the state involving research, habitat protection, and population surveys on rare and endangered species, and habitat improvement and protection for bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and a variety of songbirds.

Outdoor notes

­ The McLeod County Sheriff is reopening Lake Marion in McLeod County to all motor vehicle traffic. This was effective Jan. 24 at 11 a.m.

Chief Deputy Mark Taylor reminds the public that ice conditions are uneven, and there still may be some areas on the lake that are not safe for automobiles and trucks.

Taylor states the public should continue to use caution when on the lake.

­ It's been a wild year of ice fishing or, more accurately, just lake ice issues, in general.

The DNR and other law enforcement officials noted a combination of wind and warm weather were the reasons many fish houses sank into the water a few weeks ago.

Apparently, heavy winds blowing under fish houses caused open ice fishing holes to expand and grow bigger and bigger, until they got big enough to sink a fish house.

On a positive note, though, there weren't any fish houses in our area that sank to the bottom of a lake.

Other ice fishing and lake ice reports talk of black holes or spots in the middle of lakes that are not freezing over.

Officials have noted that high water table levels from all the rain last summer is creating the problem. Many speculate that underground springs are more active this winter, and that water feeding into the lakes is creating more water movement under the ice and the varied ice conditions.

With that in mind, we should all remember that lake ice can vary greatly from lake to lake, and from one spot on a lake to another.

Finally, never make an assumption regarding the condition of lake ice. If you're heading out to a particular lake, especially one you are not familiar with, please check with local sources.

The people who use that particular lake on a regular basis, along with local bait shops, are probably the best sources of information when it comes to lake ice conditions.

­ During periods of extreme cold weather you should pay a little extra attention to your pets, especially dogs that are kept in kennels.

Check the paws, ears, eyes, and underside for signs of frostbite or cracking due ot the cold weather.

­ If your hunting dog is a kennel dog and is used to being outside during cold weather, leave him there.

Many people think their dog may be better off in the house on those frigid nights, but in most cases, the dog is better off left in the kennel and in conditions the animal is used to.

Make sure the dog house is well insulated and off the ground. The dog should have areas to escape from the wind, and inside the dog house there should be an ample amount of bedding.

In the dog house, the less space the dog as to heat the better off the animal will be in cold weather.

Making sure a kennel dog has fresh water in the winter can also be a battle.

If your kennel set up is like mine and you don't have a heated water system, the only thing you do is consistanly make sure the dog has water in a non-metal bowl. Cold metal can be tough on a dog's tongue and nose.

Here's what I do ­ three times a day, I head out to the kennel with fresh water in a plastic milk jug. I cut the top third off of the milk jug, and that's what the dog gets for a water bowl.

­ Make sure you're prepared for cold weather. Dress appropriately, and carry all the winter necessities in your vehicle that you can think of.

­ The walleye and northern pike fishing season on lakes in our area closes Sunday, Feb. 16.

­ Take some time to share the outdoors with somone. You will have fun and so will they.

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