Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

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

Nov. 24, 2003

Record harvest in 2003

Will the Minnesota deer hunting season of 2003 be the best ever and set a new record for the total number of deer harvested by firearms, muzzleloader and archery hunters?

The archery deer and muzzleloaders seasons have ways to go yet and the numbers from the firearms season aren't out yet. But, the answer is most likely yes.

So far, the hunting has been excellent across the state, with tremendous deer numbers and hunter success rates in the transition zones and the central forests.

Even in the far northern and northeastern parts of Minnesota, like the Tower area, where deer numbers were in big trouble just a few years back, the numbers are good and harvest numbers are up about 52 percent.

Locally, the second season of hunting in our area was excellent. Hunters reported good numbers of deer seen and harvest numbers are up. Backing that up, Joe's Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported a total of 209 deer registered; 139 registered in the first season and 70 in the second. That's getting close to the record for the number of deer registered by firearms hunters in a single year at Joe's. The current record for Joe's is 237 deer registered in 1992.

When the DNR releases the official harvest totals for the firearms season I'll take another look at the 2003 hunting season.

Personally, I didn't harvest a deer, but I did see several in a few days of hunting. Pressure from other hunters was light, my hunting part harvested a total of nine deer including a couple of decent bucks. Two young first-time hunters bagged deer and every one in the party had a great time. Record harvest or not, that's a great hunt and a quality experience in Minnesota's great outdoors.

Ask first when hunting private land

Hunters are doing a better and better job every year representing themselves and improving the standards that hunters as a group are judged by. Trespass complaints are down, accidents are down and it seems the anti-hunting society has lost some steam.

Actually, I made it through three straight deer seasons without a reader calling to complain about deer hunters trespassing on their property. Before that, calls regarding trespassing were common and I even got to the point where I expected them.

More country homes were being built, local communities were just really starting to grow and we were at a spot where less and less land was available for hunting. That was the case five or six years ago and because of it trespassing complaints were common. To be fair, many of the complaints were due to over sensitive landowners that had just moved to the area and weren't familiar with the general aspects of hunting.

Then, as time moved on deer hunting patterns in our changed and moved away from very large groups of hunters driving deer to smaller groups walking and stand hunting. Hunters also became aware of land use changes and the higher level of landowner sensitivity that comes along with rising property values. Things got better.

This year however, complaints came in again. They dealt with very specific accounts and not with large groups of hunters, but were still issues of deer and coyote hunters crossing property lines and not obeying trespassing laws.

In Minnesota the law is simple, on agricultural land permission for access or to hunt is always required; on nonagricultural land that is not posted access is legal unless hunters are told they may not access or hunt on the land.

To make it safe and even more simple, always ask first when hunting private land.

DNR warns against rescues of animals fallen through ice

The DNR is warning people to not risk their lives trying to save an animal that has fallen through thin ice. "It's very upsetting to see a beloved pet or other animal in a bad situation, but we strenuously advise against risking human life in an attempt to rescue any animal," said DNR water safety specialist Tim Smalley.

DNR records indicate that over the years there have been a number of people who have drowned in a attempt to rescue a dog. "Sadder still is that often after the person goes under, the animal gets out of the water without help," said

This comes after a 19-year-old man drowned after breaking through the ice of Wettles Lake in Becker County, Tuesday, the

day before his birthday.

He was thought to have been trying to rescue his dog that had broken through while following some deer on the ice. He fell into the water and was submerged for about a half-hour. He was recovered and resuscitated and then flown to a Fargo hospital, where he died. The dog got out of the icy water on its own.

The DNR recommends if you are walking your dog anywhere there might be thin ice, keep it on a leash so it can't bolt out onto the lake. If you see an animal that has fallen through the ice, contact the local authorities or DNR conservation officer who will determine if the animal can be rescued safely.

For more information about ice safety, Minnesotans may call the DNR toll free at 1-800-MINNDNR. Computer users can download ice safety information from the DNR website www.dnr.state.mn.us and click on "Danger Thin Ice: Ice Safety Information"

Outdoor notes:

­ The muzzleloader deer hunting season in Minnesota opens on Sat., Nov. 29, the wearing of blaze orange is required.

­ For Minnesota pheasants, especially when the snow flies, hit the cattail sloughs and work them hard.

­ Remember that no ice, especially ice at this time of year, is ever completely safe. For now, please stay off the ice.

­ Over Thanksgiving I'm planning on a few days of pheasant hunting in Minnesota and South Dakota I'll let you know how it went.

­ Get outside and enjoy the outdoors before winter really arrives.

­ The Crow River Chapter willsponsor a banquet for Ducks Unlimited at the Blue Note Ballroom on December 5.

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