Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

Nov. 22, 2004

Finally achieving a hunting goal

For me, and I believe most Minnesota firearms deer hunters, the experience, or event, of deer hunting in Minnesota is all about getting in the woods, and the outdoors, with family and friends.

The camaraderie, stories, events, and memories are created all because of the magnificent whitetail deer.

A part of that camaraderie is often a good natured-ribbing for bad jokes told, smelly things done in the woods, and easy shots missed.

In last week’s Herald Journal sports section, I took a good-natured ribbing from Herald Journal Sports Editor, and long-time deer hunting partner, Aaron Schultz.

Aaron, who we consider to be the luckiest and laziest member of our well-established deer hunting party, missed a dandy buck this year, and for some reason, found a way to blame his foul shooting on his outdoor writing uncle.

I’ll give you a short story from a few years ago to prove my point; and yes, I didn’t get a deer that year either.

Aaron, and his younger brother Cullen, usually ride with me on our annual deer hunting adventures, and more often than not, it takes a crane to get Aaron out of bed in the morning, and into the truck so we can get to the woods in time.

Getting him out of the truck and actually into the woods on a cold November morning in northern Minnesota is another adventure.

Keeping him in the woods for an entire day, which has been a goal of mine since he was 12, well, because of his passion to watch the Gophers and/or Vikings at the fancy cabin we stay in, has been darn near impossible.

A few years ago, when Aaron’s deer hunting luck was running strong, I dragged him out of bed into the truck on the second morning of our deer hunting adventure.

When we got to the woods, he was a little less than eager to actually wake up, get out of the truck, and head to his spot in the woods under one of my old stands.

After he promised me he would be up and out in only a few minutes, I headed from the truck and into the woods.

When I returned to the truck at about 10:30 a.m., there was Aaron still in the truck, just the way I left him at about 6 a.m.

After more than a good-natured ribbing from myself and other members of our hunting party, Aaron was in the woods and actually hunting.

Twenty minutes later, he was back at the truck with a dandy four-point buck, by noon he was at the cabin watching the Vikings game. If that’s not luck, I don’t know what is.

To make it worse, with little effort and as little time as possible spent in the woods, Aaron seems to get a deer every year. It must be the great spot I set him up with six or seven years ago.

This year, luck and the great outdoors were on my side, instead.

I didn’t get a deer, but Aaron did spend an entire day in the woods. He even missed the Gophers-Badgers football game. A goal finally achieved.

To end this return of good-natured ribbing, Aaron plans on asking me how I deal with not getting a deer year after year. My answer to him is, get used to it, buddy, it’s my turn next year and I won’t miss that trophy 10-pointer when it’s coming right at me.

Snowmobile safety course set

Winsted Sportsmen’s Club will sponsor a snowmobile safety course for youth 12 years old or older Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Dec. 7, 8 and 9.

The classes are three consecutive nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the community room in the lower level of Distinctive Dental Services, Winsted.

For more information, call Harvey Nowak at (320) 485-3738.

The Magic Bus

By Tom Hauer, Enterprise Dispatch

Rob Swendra, Dassel, has been hunting deer with family and friends since he was 12 years old, but this year was extra special. A Minnesota Bound television crew of Ron Schara Enterprises, accompanied Swendra’s hunting party at its campsite between Park Rapids and Bemidji from Thursday, Nov. 4 through noon Saturday, Nov. 6.

The show was aired first Sunday, Nov. 21 at 10:30 p.m. on Minnesota Bound hosted by Ron Schara on KARE-11 television. It will be repeated Saturday, Nov. 27 at 6:30 p.m.

What attracted Minnesota Bound to film at the campsite was the party’s unique 1956 Ford school bus, painted blaze orange.

Swendra and his hunting mates, which include two uncles, four cousins, and a friend of the family, have been using this bus since 1973. The “magic bus” has only 41,000 miles, and has its original tires. It has the luxuries of four sleeping bunks, a dining room table, eating counter, cooking stove, a burner for heat, and regular bus seats for traveling.

Their camp site is on state land, and some from the group have been hunting the same spot through 40 years, and six generations of hunters. This was Swendra’s 17th year of hunting with this group and the magic bus.

Swendra said the Minnesota Bound camera crew, with them all Saturday morning, kept deer from his hunting spot because of their noisy cameras. Shortly after the crew left him, at 2:15 p.m., he got his buck – a spike buck. You won’t see this magic moment on television.

Swendra knew it was exactly 2:15 p.m., because he has to record the time. When he gets back to the bus and tells his story to the rest of the hunters, it’s a tradition to note the exact time.

The eight-man hunting party were eight for eight. They bagged a nine-point, eight-point, three four-horns, two spike bucks, and a doe.

Minnesota Bound producer Bill Sherck told Swendra they would like to do a sequel on the “magic bus,” when Swendra’s group decides to give the bus a new coat of blaze-orange paint. Apparently, right now, the bus is more rust-colored than blaze orange.

Deer harvest likely to be among highest on record

From the DNR

The number of deer harvested during the 2004 firearms season will likely be among the highest on record, according to preliminary estimates from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Using preliminary data from the electronic registration database, the 2004 harvest is down about 8 percent compared with 2003, the highest harvest on record.

The harvest may exceed 2002, when 197,000 deer were registered during the firearms season, the second highest total on record.

“The nice weather this past weekend apparently made some difference,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. “We had lots of hunters in the woods and many took advantage of permit options that allowed them to harvest multiple deer.”

Sales of firearms deer licenses through Monday totaled 420,321, slightly below last year’s total of 422,376 at the same time.

License sales in 2002 were 412,913 following the second weekend of the season.

Cornicelli said this season’s deer harvest, when fully totaled, will likely be lower than the 2003 record of 290,525, but ahead of the 2002 total of 222,050. “We didn’t expect to set a new record this year,” he said. “We’re very pleased with the number of deer harvested.”

The DNR recently completed collection of lymph node samples to be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

The samples were collected from harvested wild deer this year at more than 130 big game registration stations in 60 permit areas located in parts of the northwest, north central, east central and southwest portions of the state.

Hunters who allowed DNR staff to sample their deer were entered in a raffle for 30 guns and bows.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will conduct the drawing, and winners will be announced in December.

This is the third and final year of DNR testing for CWD in Minnesota’s wild deer population.

During the 2002 and 2003 deer hunting seasons, the DNR collected and tested 14,450 deer, none of which tested positive for CWD.

Testing results for deer harvested in the 2004 season will be available at the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us as results for each permit area are completed.

Deer hunting season remains open from Nov. 20-28 in southeast Minnesota. Muzzleloader season will be held statewide from Nov. 27-Dec. 12, and archery deer season continues through Dec. 31.

Deadline approaching to apply for spring wild turkey hunt

From the DNR

All resident Minnesota wild turkey hunters interested in hunting this spring must apply electronically no later than Friday, Dec. 3, at any of the 1,800 Electronic License System (ELS) agents at businesses across the state.

A nonrefundable $3 application fee must be paid at the time of application.

This spring’s wild turkey hunt will consist of six five-day and two seven-day seasons between April 13 and May 26 in 60 wild turkey permit areas.

More hunters than ever will be able to pursue Minnesota’s wild turkeys this year, as an additional 4,300 permits will be available in the lottery for 2005 spring turkey season.

The decision to increase permits, which is supported by the National Wild Turkey Federation, was based on current hunter densities, hunter satisfaction and the amount of turkey habitat available.

“There’s no question that our wild turkey population can withstand more hunting,” said Bill Penning, Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) farmland wildlife program leader. “But we don’t want hunters to feel crowded in the woods. “With the additional permits, hunter density will increase from one to about 1.6 hunters per square mile of turkey habitat, still well below the three to four hunters per square mile common in southern and some Midwest states.”

Hunters will be asked for the first time this year to state a second choice in the last three seasons if they aren’t successful in the lottery for their first choice.

If a hunter is successful in the lottery for second-choice and purchases a license, they will lose their preference points for future drawings.

Hunters who are unsuccessful in the second-choice drawing or choose not to purchase a second-choice tag will not lose preference points for future drawings.

They will be eligible to purchase a surplus turkey permit, which are sold, on a first-come, first-served basis in mid-March.

Also new this year is an archery spring turkey license for residents and nonresidents.

Archery spring turkey licenses may be purchased for the last two time periods only for any permit area with 50 or more applicants.

Applicants who are successful in the spring permit lottery are exempt from the spring archery license.

All wild turkey hunters seeking to hunt in spring 2005 must obtain an application booklet at one of the ELS agents or an application worksheet on the DNR Web site under wild turkey hunting at www. dnr. state. mn. us/hunting.

The application booklet contains maps of open wild turkey permit areas, permit quotas, dates and an application worksheet.

The application worksheet should be filled out in advance to ease completion of the application process at an ELS agent.

Turkey hunting licenses are made available by a preference system drawing.

A special landowner-tenant preference drawing for up to 20 percent of the permits is also a part of this system.

Starting this year, licenses issued under this special drawing are restricted to land owner or leased by the license holder.

Successful applicants in the drawing will be mailed the 2005 Spring Wild Turkey Hunt Book by Feb. 15.

For more information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Outdoor notes

• Minnesota’s duck hunting season ends Tuesday, Nov. 23.

Without question, the season has been dismal, and with continued warm November weather, many of the northern ducks may not migrate through our area and other parts of Minnesota until after the season is over.

I plan on giving it one last shot on the last day of the season.

• Pheasant hunting across Minnesota’s range, and other parts of the Midwest, has definitely been hit and miss.

Hunting has improved with the crop harvest, but good hunting has been spotty.

One area of the range may hold pockets of good bird numbers, while other areas, where spring rains may have been more intense, hold few birds.

The trick, right now, is to hit areas where the corn has just been harvested. The pheasant hunting season in Minnesota closes Friday, Dec. 31.

• While pheasant hunting in South Dakota last weekend, I saw a bobcat in the wild.

The cat came out of a cattail slough about 30 yards in front of me, and it was the first one I have ever seen in the wild.

• Look for a report on local deer hunting in next week’s column.

• A deer hunter from Delano was charged with reckless discharge of a firearm last week.

The hunter apparently thought two duck hunters floating down the Crow River were deer moving through the woods.

He fired four 12-gauge slugs at them. The incident occurred at about 7 a.m., and one of the slugs penetrated the boat and hit one of the oars.

Both of the duck hunters were from Buffalo.

• The Crow River Organization of Water will have a committe meeting Wednesday, Dec. 16 at the Hutchinson Event Center. The meeting runs from 9 a.m. to noon.

• Trespass complaints, although fewer then past years, continue to come in. This one appears to really be over the edge.

A local landowner northwest of Winsted stopped in and said two pheasant hunters stopped and asked if they could hunt a few acres of property where they had seen a rooster head into.

Because the property is small and close to the landowner’s home, the answer was “no.”

A short while later, one of the landowners heard two shots fired and then looked out the door to see what was going on.

What she saw was the two hunters that she had just spoken to heading through the ditch and into their truck.

She followed them, got the license plate, and then filed a complaint with the sheriff’s department and the Department of Natural Resources.

Hunter ethics regarding trespassing and property rights are getting better, but there are still a few that seem to ruin it for the rest of us.

• The muzzleloader deer hunting season in Minnesota opens Saturday, Nov. 27.

• The December goose hunting season in our area opens Saturday, Dec. 4 and closes Tuesday, Dec. 14.

• Look for great fall fishing on several of our area lakes.

Fast action on northern pike and walleye often happens just before freeze up, and it’s the best time of year to nab a lunker.

• Look for great, after the season buys on hunting clothing and equipment.

• Today, Nov. 22, the sun will rise at 7:20 a.m. and set at 4:38 p.m.

• Have a happy Thanksgiving.

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