Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

Nov. 1, 2004

Firearms deer hunt opens Saturday

Without question, the white-tailed deer is Minnesota’s most popular, and most sought after, wildlife species. On an average year, approximately 500,000 hunters harvest about 200,000 deer.

In Minnesota’s outdoor picture, deer hunting, and the deer opener, play second fiddle only to the fishing opener, and like the fishing opener, the start of the deer season is as much an event as it is anything else.

Tradition, and time spent in the outdoors with family and friends, are all big parts of Minnesota deer hunting.

Throw in the chance to hunt and harvest an animal that has a tremendous sense of smell, keen hearing, good eyesight, can run at speeds up to 40 miles per hour, leap over 8 foot high fences, and can almost become invisible in the smallest scrap of cover, and you’ve got the stuff memories are made of.

Moving on: Deer hunting in Minnesota had never been better. Last year, Minnesota deer hunters harvested just over 290,000 white-tails, a new record.

The previous record of just under 250,000 deer was set in 1991.

This year, with a burgeoning deer population in many areas of the state, the harvest numbers will be pushing 300,000 again.

Although trophy bucks are hard to come by, deer hunting, especially in the northern forested regions of Minnesota, will be better than it has ever been this year.

Corn could make it tough: In the farm belt, where deer numbers are also in good shape, the hunting this year may be a bit tough because of acres and acres of standing corn.

Typically, and almost always in our area, most or all of the corn is long corn by the deer hunting opener.

This year, a majority of the corn will still be standing when the deer season opens. That standing corn will be a haven for deer, and a tremendous challenge for deer hunters.

Hunters with permission to hunt in standing crops need to be more concerned about safety and understand the issues and hazards that are created when hunting in standing corn, especially with large groups of hunters.

Wet conditions, and the heavy rains our area and other parts of west central Minnesota received within the past week, will also effect deer hunting.

It can be pretty tough to walk or drive across a chisel-plowed field that’s just been soaked with a couple inches of rain.

Always ask first: When it comes to trespass and landowner relations, I’ll be blunt: farmland firearms deer hunters have created the most problems.

It’s simple, you don’t hunt on or enter private property unless you have permission to do so.

That also means not hunting in standing corn or unharvested crops unless clear permission has been given to hunt in crop fields.

It also means being completely honest with landowners.

If permission has been granted for two hunters to enter property, that means two and not 10.

On the bright side, landowners’ relations with hunters are getting better, and more and more hunters every year understand the level of respect deserved by the land and its owners.

More information: The DNR’s Web Site is full of information on the upcoming 2004 Minnesota firearms deer hunting season. Tap into it all by going to www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Good luck, be safe, and have fun during your 2004 Minnesota deer hunting adventure.

DNR Information Center extends hours November 5 and 6

From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Information Center staff will be on hand to answer customer and agent calls until 8:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5.

Walk-in customers will be welcome until 5 p.m. that evening.

The Information Center staff will also be available to take calls Saturday, Nov. 6, from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The DNR building will not be open for walk-in customers Saturday.

Contact the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 (metro area), or toll free at 1-888-646-6367.

Question of the Week

From the DNR

Q: On occasion, an eerie green glow can be seen illuminating from the forest floor. Is there something causing this or is it an unexplained Halloween phenomenon?

A: This phenomenon, called “foxfire,” is a blue-green glow given off by the mycelia (threadlike strands) of certain fungi that grow in rotting wood.

Armillaria, a root- and trunk-rotting fungus common in Minnesota, is one such organism that can emit a faint, blue-green light seen at night.

It grows on hundreds of species of trees, shrubs, vines and forbs found in forests, along roadsides, and in cultivated areas.

Bioluminescence, the emission of light from living organisms, is most likely to occur when decomposing wood is damp and when the temperature is in the high 70s.

If you want to see foxfire, go for a hike in the woods after dark on a cloudy or moonless night in late summer or early fall.

If you kick some decayed and softened stumps, you may also have a shoe that glows in the dark.

Outdoor notes

• The best place in our area to site in your deer rifle or shotgun is the Waverly Sportsmen’s Club.

The club has a great range and for more information call (763) 658-4644.

• Although there’s still a lot of standing corn out there across the Midwest pheasant range, hunters heading to the Dakota’s are reporting great hunting.

The story has been a bit different in Minnesota. Some good reports have come from the southwest part of the state, but in general, hunters are saying bird numbers are down considerably from a year ago.

• Make sure your firearms and ammo are kept in safe and secure storage.

At this time of year, with hunting seasons in full swing, it can be easy to leave a firearm in a closet or behind the seat of a truck, with ammo right next to it.

Make sure you keep both, ammo and firearms, locked and away from children.

• Remember to wear blaze orange when you’re in the outdoors during the firearms deer hunting season.

• Look for great walleye and northern pike action on many of our area lakes in early November.

When the water temps cool, the fish get active. The best action can often be just before freeze up.

• It’s been one goofy year of weather. Right now, the leaves have fallen off the trees in my yard and my lawn is still green and growing.

• Today, Nov. 1, the sun will rise at 6:52 a.m. and set at 5:01 p.m.

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