Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

Nov. 21, 2005

Poor weather spoils fishing on Crow

Four years ago, on the evening of the November full moon, the walleyes on the Crow River were biting like crazy.

It was the best evening, and three-day stretch of walleye fishing I had ever experienced. There was a fish with almost every cast.

This year, the November full moon was last Tuesday night. I had actually worked it out to get most of the week off, Wednesday through Friday anyway.

I was going to start with an evening of full moon fishing on the Crow, another attempt at fishing on Wednesday, and then head to North Dakota for a few days of duck and pheasant hunting.

Sorry to say, the winter storm that blew in last Tuesday ruined the best night, and three-day stretch, of local walleye angling of the year.

Without question, fishing the Crow from late October until freeze up can be a real treat if the conditions are right.

The river, either fork, has to be low to moderately low, somewhat clear, received no recent run off and moving slow.

If those conditions exist, the moon phases are right, and you can hit the river just before a heavy low pressure front like I did four years ago, the fishing can be excellent.

This year it was setting up to be another great period of full moon fishing. The weather had been warm enough, the river was clear and low, the current was slow and a low pressure front was predicted.

The low pressure front, bringing with it winter winds and snow just hit a few day to soon to create perfect fishing conditions for the November full moon. Maybe the conditions will be right next year.

Moving on, in next week’s column I’ll take a look at how the firearms deer season ended up and try to confirm some rumors about a 21-point buck that may have been taken locally.

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.

Dealing with coyotes
From the DNR

Coyotes are wild members of the dog family, intermediate in size between red foxes and wolves.

In Minnesota, coyotes average 30 pounds, and stand about 18 inches high at the shoulders.

However, they may appear much larger due to their heavy fur coat, especially in winter.

They are gray/brown in color, and somewhat resemble a small German Shepherd dog in appearance.

Coyotes in Minnesota are loners, except when families are raising pups.
Their primary foods are rabbits and mice, but they are very opportunistic, and will feed on other small mammals, deer, birds, carrion, and even melons.

Most coyotes avoid people and domestic animals, but occasionally they will kill sheep, turkeys, and calves. They may also raid garbage cans, and kill domestic cats and small dogs.

Healthy wild coyotes avoid people, and no attacks have ever occurred in Minnesota.

If you are concerned about the presence of coyotes where you live, consider the following do’s and don’ts:

DO:

• Secure all garbage containers, wildlife feeders, compost and other food sources to prevent coyote access.

• Confine small dogs and cats in kennels, or supervise them when outside.

• Vaccinate all pets for rabies, distemper, parvo, and other diseases, as recommended by a veterinarian.

• Consider installing coyote-proof fencing.

• Harass (by chasing, shouting, etc.) any coyotes that do not immediately run from people.

DON’T:

• Don’t feed coyotes.

• Don’t leave pet food outside.

• Don’t allow cats and small dogs outside, unattended.

These simple suggestions should prevent most coyote problems.

However, if depredation occurs or aggressive coyote behavior is observed, removal of the coyotes may be necessary.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources does not trap, shoot, or relocate coyotes.

Where necessary, removal of coyotes is the responsibility of the landowner or tenant.

Coyotes are unprotected in Minnesota, and may be taken at any time by shooting or trapping, without a license or permit.

Most cities (including Grand Marais) have ordinances prohibiting the use of firearms within city limits.

For information on pest control contractors or trapping techniques for coyote removal, contact your local DNR Wildlife office or

Conservation Officer.

For additional information on co-existing with coyotes and answers to other common questions about the animals, visit http:/www.vcn.bc.ca/spes/urbanwildlife/cocoyote.htm

Snowmobilers need new sticker when riding trails
From the DNR

As people prepare for snow and winter recreation, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds snowmobilers of a new sticker requirement.

Anyone planning to ride on a state or Grant-in-Aid snowmobile trail in Minnesota this winter must purchase a Minnesota Snowmobile State Trail sticker for their snowmobile.

Generally, if people ride on groomed trails, they will need the sticker. Those who ride only on private land or on lakes would not need to purchase the sticker.

The trail sticker price is $16 for an annual permit or $31 for a three-year permit. This sticker fee is in addition to the snowmobile vehicle registration fee of $48.50 for three years. The annual trail sticker permit is valid only from Nov. 1 through April 30.

Revenue generated from the sale of the snowmobile state trail stickers will go to the Grant-in-Aid program to fund trail maintenance and trail acquisition. Local snowmobile clubs receive funding through the Grant-in-Aid program.

There are several ways to purchase the Minnesota Snowmobile State Trail stickers.

Annual permits can be purchased from a deputy registrar or any of the 1,800 electronic licensing agents throughout Minnesota, by telephone at 1-888-665-4236, or through the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Three-year stickers may only be purchased when registering a snowmobile or renewing a registration. Registration through a deputy registrar’s office, by mail to the DNR, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, or with an online renewal a www.dnr.mn.us.

A $3.50 convenience fee will be added to stickers purchased by telephone or online.

Violation of the snowmobile state trail law will require the purchase of an annual permit at the price of the three-year permit, $31.

State Legislators passed this sticker law during the 2005 session. The law went into effect Oct. 1.

Snowmobilers need the sticker to ride Minnesota’s 20,385 miles of snowmobile trails. More than 18,000 of those miles are managed and maintained by local snowmobile clubs through the Grant-in-Aid program.

For more information on this and other snowmobile laws, see the 2005/2006 Minnesota Snowmobile Safety Laws, Rules and Regulations book or the DNR Web site at www.dnr.mn.us.

Spring turkey hunting applications available
From the DNR

Applications for the 2006 Minnesota spring turkey hunt are being accepted by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Spring turkey hunters may apply for one of 32,856 permits to hunt a five or seven-day season in one of 60 permit areas. Last year, spring turkey hunters harvested 7,789 birds.

“Turkey hunters can look forward to more great opportunities this spring,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader. “Turkey numbers remain strong and their range continues to expand into parts of northern Minnesota.”

This spring’s hunt will consist of six five-day and two seven-day seasons.

All resident Minnesota wild turkey hunters interested in hunting this spring must apply electronically no later than Friday, Dec. 2. A nonrefundable $3 application fee must be paid at the time of application.

Nonresident hunters may apply by mail, Internet, or phone at 1-888-665-4236 (MNLICENSE).

A nonrefundable $3.50 transaction fee must be paid at the time of application.

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

Hunters who are successful in the lottery for second choice and who purchase a license will lose their preference points for future drawings.

Hunters who are successful for either the first- or second-choice drawing and choose not to purchase a tag will lose the current year’s preference point for future drawings but not accumulated preference from past years.

Hunters who were not successful in either the first or second choice drawing will be eligible to purchase surplus turkey permits, which are sold on a first-come, first-served basis in mid March.

Archery spring turkey licenses will once again be available 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 2006 must obtain an application booklet at one of the Electronic License System agents or an application worksheet on the DNR Web site under wild turkey hunting at www.dnr.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.

Successful applicants in the drawing will be mailed the 2006 Spring Wild Turkey Hunt Book in February. For information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Farmers, hunters, and hanging together
From Tom Conroy, of the DNR

Early in the morning, two or three times a week, all year long, he would park his familiar old truck in front of our house and walk to the back door. Soon after, one of us would step outside and retrieve the bottles of milk he left.

Much has changed since the days when milk was delivered to the door in quart bottles, a layer of creaming floating on top. In time, milk became available in grocery stores in wax-coated cardboard cartons.

That milk was both “pasteurized” and homogenized.” Eventually the milkman and his refrigerated truck disappeared from the elm tree-lined streets of towns across the nation.

The dairy industry has continued to undergo dramatic change since the arrival of wax-coated cartons.

Small dairy operators seem to be vanishing from the landscape as surely as the milkman did. But changes in dairying are hardly the only indication that rural America is a much different place today.

The average American is now three generations removed from the farm. We now get almost all of our food directly from supermarkets and restaurants, not the farmer.

Pizza, not milk, is delivered to the door. Homes and highways now occupy many of the places where the buffalo (and cows, pigs and chickens) once roamed. Large confinement buildings have steadily taken the place of grand old barns with their appealing haylofts, cupolas, stanchions and stalls.

Do we care? Do we even notice? Moreover, should we?

As Aunt Bee once said, “Opie, drink your milk. We can’t put it back in the cow, you know!”

Some things can’t be undone. On the other hand, just because we decided to launch the boat doesn’t mean we can’t change direction if needed, provided all hands are paddling in the same direction.

It’s been said that the act of putting into your mouth the food you’ve personally helped raise, harvest and prepare is perhaps the most direct interaction one can have with the earth. But few of us today have that sort of direct connection with the earth. The farmer and the hunter, however, do. And both face an uncertain future.

Today’s typical urbanite might have a hard time understanding how the farmer can be fond of his cow and yet be glad to turn it into steak.

Yet when it’s time to pluck a steak or pork chop from the supermarket shelf, little thought is given to anything other than its’ cost and how it will taste. The necessary blood was on someone else’s hands, not theirs.

Hunting involves blood as well, making it difficult for some to understand and accept.

As David A. Swan pointed out in his book, “In Defense of Hunting,” life for modern man has become a spectator sport. “We live our lives at a safe distance,” Swan states, overwhelmed by video games, the Internet, and TV channel choices ranging to infinity. Hunting is the antithesis of that.

Hunting, Swan maintains, is instinctual in man and for those who truly follow the spirit of the hunt it is spiritual in nature.

Spending hours alone on a deer stand or duck blind, for instance, is almost guaranteed to have you pondering the majesty of nature, the meaning of life and what’s to come when it ends. The practice of meditation, I think, must have been discovered by a hunter.

Yet despite the intrinsic values in and worthy motivations behind both animal farming and hunting, there are those who are dedicated to the dismantling of both.

Fringe organizations such as PETA, ELF, Farm Sanctuary and others have often resorted to violence and illegal activities in an attempt to stop hunting, animal research and factory farming. (For additional information, visit the web site of the organization Animal Agricultural Alliance that was established in 2001 to counter eco-terrorism efforts at www.animalagalliance.org.)

Three generations of Americans have been disconnected from life on the farm, causing major shifts in attitudes, implements and activities.

Farmers and hunters alike have been, and will continue to be, affected. Farmers and hunters, it seems, have a lot more in common than we might think.

In the words of Ben Franklin, we can hang together - or we can hang separately.

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