Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

Nov. 14, 2005

Deer season is off to a fast start, at least for most hunters

Although official numbers won’t be compiled and released by the DNR for a month or more, and hunting in the Cross Lake area for my deer hunting party was a bit slow this year, the 2005 Minnesota firearms deer hunting season is shaping up to be one for the record books.

The current record was set in 2003 with a total harvest of 290,525 deer and that number may get topped this year.

At Joe’s Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake in 2003 a total of 209 deer were registered, 139 in the first season and 70 in the second.

In 1992 Joe’s registered a total of 237 deer, 120 in the first season.
This season Joe’s established a new first season record by registering a total of 140 deer.

Locally, the deer of record so far this season was taken by Lori Hoof of Lester Prairie with some help from Tony Kley, also of Lester Prairie.

The buck, which was harvested a few miles south of Lester Prairie, weighed nearly 200 pounds field dressed and carried an 18-point non-typical rack.

Just a few years ago, Lori was a Lester Prairie Ambassador.

In the northern forested region of the state near Cross Lake Minnesota my deer hunting party ran into a much slower than expected hunt.

The woods were full of deer sign, and it seemed the deer should have been there.

However, our party of 11 hunters saw only three deer and harvested two; a dandy 10-point buck and a good sized four-pointer.

In recent years we’ve become accustomed to seeing numerous deer and harvesting seven or eight.

We blamed the lack of deer movement on warm weather, a perceived delay in the rut, and very little hunting pressure in areas adjacent to the area we hunt.

Personally, along with my nephew Cullen, a deer did come within our gun sites.

We were heading out the woods to take in the first half of the Gopher football game and have lunch, when a young doe bolted out of the woods and ran across the road just in front of the truck.

The deer had been wounded and was running on three legs. When she crossed the road, she headed into a narrow strip of pine and then into a large logged out clearing.

We made an attempt to push the deer and get in position for good shot.

We didn’t get a good shot at the animal, but we did push it back across the road and right passed the stand of the young girl who originally hit the animal.

This time the gal, and with some whooping and cheering, got the deer in one clean shot.

Take a look at the photos in the this week’s column, and if your deer hunting season isn’t over yet, good luck. The firearms deer hunting season in our area ends Tuesday.

Crow River DU Banquet

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its annual banquet Friday, Dec. 2, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted.

Chicken and prime rib are on the menu. For more information call (320) 543-3372.

CO Tales – 2005 Firearms deer season opener
From the DNR

Look on dad’s face? Priceless!

CO Joe Frear (Waseca) believed deer hunter numbers in the area to be lower than previous years.

Success among deer hunters was good, with a high percentage of antlered deer taken.

A father and son were encountered, with dad doing some questionable things. The officers questioned dad about it. The son stated, “I asked him the same question.” The look on dad’s face was priceless!

Goes deer hunting, shoots horse

CO Chad Sherack (Pequot Lakes) found that a hunter attempting to shoot a six-point buck crossing an open field missed and hit the neighbor’s horse corralled next to the house.

The suspect told Officer Sherack that he had “buck fever” and made a poor decision to shoot.

Officer Sherack reminds hunters to avoid tunnel vision and always know your target and what’s beyond it!

Left their guns in the stands

While checking four hunters coming out of a state forest, CO Greg Verkuilen (Garrison) noticed they only had one gun amongst them.

The unarmed hunters stated they had left their guns in the stands because they were coming back the next day.

Conservation officers highly recommend removing your property, especially firearms, from public property whenever you are not attending it.

Firearm owners can be criminally liable if the gun is found and misused.

Radio traffic nabs poachers

While on patrol Officer Pat Znajda (Roseau) monitored portable radio traffic between two hunters using radios to hunt deer.

It became apparent they were close by as they indicated on the radio when the game warden drove by.

One of the hunters was found hunting over bait. As the one hunter was interviewed he called the other hunter to come to his location.

Officer Znajda knowing where the other hunter was fully expected him to walk to the location, but instead the hunter chose to drive with a loaded and uncased firearm sitting next to him in his car.

Enforcement action was taken on both hunters and the portable radios were seized.

Deer hide and seek

CO Dan Malinowski (Fosston) observed a buck play hide and seek with traffic and hunters for the first 20 minutes of the firearm deer season.

In need of mentors

CO Chris Vinton (Detroit Lakes) had a case where a young hunter had his 11-year-old brother hunting in the stand with a .410 slug shotgun. They were both hunting over bait.

To tell the truth

CO Pat Znajda (Roseau) stopped a hunter operating an ATV on a public roadway and operating with an expired registration.

Even though there was fresh blood on the ATV the hunter denied shooting a deer.

When the hunter provided his hunting license the site tag was detached, bloody, and the date had been notched.

As Officer Znajda and the hunter proceeded to the hunting camp the hunter stopped his ATV and confessed that he had shot a large buck earlier in the day.

The hunter said he had removed the tag so he could go out and try to shoot another one.

What did you learn?

Lt Norm Floden of Perham reports two young men with their fathers and other family members were among those found to be transporting uncased firearms.

Both young men had recently completed firearms safety training and said they remembered the law being taught in the course.

Education is only as effective as people are willing to apply it.

Forest land or farm land?

CO Dan Starr (Tower) thought his station had become an agricultural area after seeing all the grain in the woods during the firearm deer season.

A fine example you’re setting

On opening morning of the firearm season, CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) followed an ATV path and located a 13- and 14-year-old hunting together in the same stand.

A pile of oats (bait) was placed in front of their stand. An adult as required by law did not accompany the 13-year-old.

Fredin continued to follow the ATV path and came upon a 17-year-old also hunting over bait.

Continuing on to the end of the path an adult was located and he too was hunting over oats.

The adult admitted to placing all the bait. A fine hunting example this is of showing our youth hunting ethics and placing youth in a violation situation.

CO seizes handgun from juvenile

CO Mary Manning (Grand Marais) patrolled problem deer shining areas and made several vehicle stops, including one in which she seized a handgun from a juvenile. Parents are reminded to keep all guns securely locked up, not just hidden from children and teens.

Too young, dad

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd) found a 10-year-old in the field a shotgun and slugs.

His father was reminded that his son couldn’t hunt big game with his own firearm until he reaches the age of 12 and has completed a firearms safety course.

The son was allowed and encouraged to observe, but not aid in the taking of the big game animal.

What would mom think?

CO Jeff Humphrey (Willow River) found a first time 12-year-old deer hunter hunting by himself over bait on public land with no compass or means of communication.

He was dropped off in the morning and told he would be picked up after dark.

After an interview with the juvenile and some searching his dad was found to be hunting nearly two miles away, clearly out of sight and audible range! I wonder what mom would think.

The laws apply to everyone, officer

CO Paul Kuske (Pierz) reports only one trespass complaint was handled over opening weekend. It involved an off-duty police officer that felt posted “No Trespassing” signs didn’t apply to him.

No class

CO Jeff Humphrey (Willow River) found a first time, 12-year-old first hunter without a license and no Firearms Safety Certificate.

The dad claimed he would have had to drive two hours to get the youth in a class since he couldn’t find any that weren’t filled up.

The Pine City officer assisting explained that a class was available locally only 20 minutes from his home with plenty of room for more students!


CO Dean Olson (Rochester) reports trespass continues to be a problem.
One 11-year- old son with his dad asked, “Why don’t those people go to firearms safety class and learn to be respectful?” 

Quite an observation by a young man thinking about becoming a hunter.

DNR Question of the week

From the DNR

Q: The past few winters have been relatively quiet across much of central and southern Minnesota.

Is there anything in Minnesota’s historical weather records that indicates what type of winter we will have this year?

A: Unfortunately, there is no statistical correlation between warm autumns and the temperature regime of the winter that follows.

Additionally, water surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean at the equator are near their historical averages.

Warmer than average sea-surface temperatures in this area of the Pacific create the weather phenomenon known as El Niño, which usually foreshadows mild winters in Minnesota.

With the absence of any strong predictive indicators, the safest bet is to expect for near average temperatures.

In any Minnesota winter there will be spells of bitterly cold weather, bouts of snowfall - sometimes heavy - and at least one January thaw.

Most communities in southern Minnesota average around 30 days during the winter where the minimum temperature drops below zero.

Northern Minnesota typically has 50 to 65 days of below-zero weather, on average.

Outdoor notes

• Garrett Schultz, on his first deer hunt, noted he a great time, but the only thing he saw in the woods was a squirrel. Garrett did show a great deal of patience, by spending almost 10 hours each day in the deer stand with his dad.

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

• The muzzleloader deer hunting season in Minnesota opens Nov. 26 and ends Dec. 11. Blaze orange requirements for the firearms deer hunt are the same for the muzzleloader season.

• The strong northwest wind that blew mid last week did push some ducks into the area.

The Duck hunting season in Minnesota ends Nov. 29. The canvasback season closed Nov. 6.

• Pheasant hunting continues to be good in the Dakotas and parts of southwestern and western Minnesota.

• I had no calls or complaints from other hunters or landowners regarding trespassing by deer hunters last week.

Typically, I’d receive several calls from readers complaining about hunters trespassing on property during the first weekend of the deer hunting season in our area.

• The fall walleye bite is on. Several lakes in our area, and the Crow River in Hutchinson, are producing walleyes right now. Fathead minnows have been the top bait.

• Make sure your properly store and secure your firearms. Lock them up, and lock ammo in a separate location.

• Next week, I’m heading to North Dakota for a few days of duck and pheasant hunting.

• Take a kid hunting or fishing he or she will have fun and so will you.

• Watch for additional deer photos in the upcoming weeks.

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