Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

August 18, 2003

From Gooseberry Falls to Plum Creek

In last week's column I wrote about recent trips to Walnut Grove and Plum Creek in southwestern Minnesota, and Split Rock Lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls on Lake Superior's North Shore in northeastern Minnesota.

The focal point of the column was the great geographic diversity that Minnesota has to offer. Gooseberry Falls and Plum Creek are great examples of that diversity.

In last week's column I also said that I would dive a little more into each location in the upcoming weeks.

This week I'm going to start with the prairies and farmland of the southwest, because I prefer the open spaces of the prairie over the forests. I guess I like to see where I have been and where I'm going.

In the 1870s, when the Ingalls' family and Laura Ingalls first got to Walnut Grove, they were well out of the "Big Woods" and were met by a sea of tall to medium height prairie grass and wildflowers.

The landscape was rolling and much, if not most of it, was still untouched by immigrant farmers. The county was open and there were almost no trees.

It was probably an amazing sight. As time went on, small towns grew, farms and roads were built, and trees for shelter belts planted.

Just take the time to imagine the vastness of southwestern Minnesota without telephone poles and electric lines on the landscape. It would look a lot different.

Actually, for the Ingalls and thousands of other families like them, the prairie was about imagination. The prairie presented to them the image and hope of a new and better life.

For the traveler, great places to experience this are at Blue Mounds State Park, near Luverne, and the Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant hosted on weekends in July near Walnut Grove.

Finally, Walnut Grove is named after a small grove of walnut trees that rose above the prairie. The walnut trees were apparently there when the first settlers arrived and to this day no one knows who planted them or exactly how they got there. Walnut trees are not native to the southwestern Minnesota prairie.

Goose hunting station applications accepted for Lac qui Parle hunt

From the DNR

Hunters seeking to reserve a date to go goose hunting in the controlled hunting zone at Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area are reminded to submit their application postmarked between Monday, Aug. 25 and Wednesday, Sept. 17.

Applications postmarked prior to Aug. 25 will be rejected. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will be accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis.

Proposed goose season dates at Lac qui Parle will be Saturday, Oct. 11 through Wednesday, Nov. 19. The proposed season is 40 days in length.

Hunters must apply on a standard three-inch by five-inch postcard bearing the applicant's full name and address, and listing first, second, and third choices of hunting dates. Only one postcard per hunter may be submitted.

Those submitting more than one application will have all of their applications rejected. Applications should be sent to: Controlled Hunt, Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area, 14047 20th ST NW, Watson, MN 56295.

Successful applicants will receive reservations by mail designating the date of their hunt. Only successful applicants will be notified. Goose hunting stations will be assigned through a drawing held on the morning of the hunt. Reservation holders may be accompanied by one or two guests.

All hunters using hunting stations in the Lac qui Parle controlled hunt zone who are 18 years of age or older will be charged a $3 fee on the day of their hunt to partially cover controlled hunt expenses. The reservation system will be in effect for the entire goose season.

For more information, call the Lac qui Parle headquarters at (320) 734-4451.

Updated public recreation information maps now available

From the DNR

The Department of Natural Resources' Public Recreation Information Maps (PRIM), which cover the entire state of Minnesota, have all been updated and are now available at locations statewide.

The set of 51 separate maps contains a great deal of public ownership data, including federal, state and county lands. The maps include a wide variety of recreation information for activities such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and boating.

The maps also indicate public water access sites, fishing piers, state trails, forests, parks, wildlife refuges, and much more.

"About half of the 51 maps for the state were printed this year, with the remainder of the maps being from the year 2000 or newer," explained Amy Ellison, cartographer in the DNR's Recreation Mapping Unit.

The first set of PRIM maps was produced in 1990. They have been a work in progress ever since. In 1997, maps for the entire state were completed, but they had not been updated until now.

Another new feature of the updated PRIM maps, which will particularly interest vendors who sell the maps, is the addition of UPC numbers (bar codes) for each of the 51 maps. This will allow business owners to use digital technology to keep their inventory up-to-date.

PRIM maps are available from the DNR, Minnesota's Bookstore, the Explore Minnesota Store at the Mall of America, and at sporting goods, station stores, and map stores around the state. The cost for each is $4.95, with special discounts when purchased in bulk.

Maps may also be purchased by logging onto the DNR's web site at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/prim.html.

Outdoor notes

­ The hunting seasons are fast approaching. Now is the time to get your gear ready and finalize all the details. One of the first places to start is the 2003 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook. Get a few copies and take the time to read it. The handbook has a variety of good information in it and more than just regulations.

­ If you're a firearms deer hunter, take a hard look at the anterless permit process for this year. There have been a lot of changes and you may not have to apply for a permit at all to hunt antlerless deer this fall.

­ The DNR will be stepping up their efforts of testing for Chronic Wasting Disease in deer this fall.

­ Pheasant numbers will be out soon. The DNR will conduct roadside counts for pheasants and other wildlife in mid to late August. Look for those numbers to be posted in late August or early September.

­ If you're confused about out-of-state hunting licenses and licensing options, especially in North Dakota where there have been several changes for non-resident hunters, go to the web site of the state you plan on hunting in. On this site I have links to Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

­ We need rain. If you haven't noticed, our landscape is getting very dry, and if we don't get some measurable rainfall very soon, the dry conditions could dramatically affect hunting opportunities this fall. On the bright side, the crops in our area are in good condition and there are very few mosquitos.

­ The fishing has been tough lately. The only reports I have are on my own fishing adventures and they haven't been good. So far my new boat and the fish-finding electronics haven't produced much.

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