Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

May 15, 2006

Turkeys and morels


Every once in a while, you hear a good story through the outdoor grapevine, and even though you don’t have all the details, or confirmation that it is actually true, the story is still worth sharing.

Apparently, last week, a local outdoor enthusiast was out and about in the woods in search of the delectable morel mushroom.

During his search, he encountered several aggressive wild turkeys.

The story goes – the turkeys, all but the big tom, got so alarmed, they became aggressive and basically attacked the morel hunter.

Luckily, the hunter found a bunch of morels, because he used his bag to beat off the turkeys.

Moving on, the morel and wild turkey hunt is on right now, and it seems local hunters have been doing quite well on both.

Sowing oats

Beginning this week, I plan on running a photo of an oat field just southwest of Lester Prairie, every week until harvest.

The field was planted Good Friday, April 14 and sprouted small shoots of green blades a couple of weeks ago.

The field is near the south fork of the Crow River, making the soil sandy and the crop sensitive to dry, hot weather.

Every week in this column, and online at herald-journal.com, you will be able to chart the growth and development of the crop, from its early beginning stages to its golden stalk and head, and eventual harvest in August.

The first photo was taken Friday, May 12.

Fishing frenzy set for Sunday, May 21

Carver County Parks and Carver County Sheriff’s Office will again sponsor the Take-A-Kid Fishing event at Lake Minnewashta Regional Park, located on TH 41 between TH 5 and TH 7 in Chanhassen. This year’s event is scheduled for Sunday, May 21 form 1 to 5 p.m. Fishing equipment, life jackets, bait along with a snack and dinner will be provided for all participants.

Join Sheriff Bud Olson, Vikings tackle Adam Goldberg and park staff for the day’s planned activities.

Fishing with Sheriff Bud Olson from 1 to 3 p.m. (limited to the first 50 kids ages 6-15). Dinner and program from 3 to 5 p.m.

Sponsors for this year’s event include Cabin Fever of Victoria, Chaska Bakery, Victoria Lions and Von Hanson’s of Chaska.

There is a $3/child or $10/family registration fee for the event, which covers the refreshments, equipment and dinner. For more information or to register for the Fishing Frenzy event, contact the Carver County Parks office at (952) 466-5250 and Monday-Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Safety tips for the fishing season
From the DNR

For many Minnesotans, the opening of the inland fishing season also marks the beginning of a new boating season.

For a safe start, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recommends a pre-launch review of safety equipment and regulations.

Minnesota law requires a wearable personal flotation device for each person on any boat.

For most boats there are requirements for lighting, signaling device, fire extinguisher and other equipment.

Regulations and safety recommendations are listed in the Minnesota Boating Guide, available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us or by calling toll free (888) 646-6367.

“Take a few minutes to think about safety as you’re preparing your boat and fishing equipment,” says Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. “It’s a small investment of time that could save your life or that of a family member.”

Last year, 23 people died in boating accidents, up from 15 deaths in 2004.

Over the past decade, an average of 22 boaters have died each year in Minnesota.

• Life jackets: Minnesota law requires a U.S. Coast Guard approved wearable personal flotation device (PFD), more commonly known as a life jacket or life vest, for each person on the boat.

The vest has to be of the correct size and type for the person for whom it is intended. Also required is a throwable flotation device (called a Type IV) like a boaters’ seat cushion on boats 16 feet or longer.

Children under 10 are now required to wear a life jacket unless they are below deck, such as in a houseboat, or are swimming or diving from an anchored boat.

“Lack of the correct number, type and size of flotation devices is the second most common boating law violation - right behind expired boat registrations,” said Smalley. “Not wearing a life jacket is the number one reason people die in boating accidents. They just don’t believe it can happen to them until it is too late. I’ve often wondered what their last thought was before they went under. If it were me, I suspect I would be thinking, ‘I wish I had worn my life vest.’”

U.S. Coast Guard-approved inflatable life vests or foam vests with a mesh material at the shoulder area are comfortable even on the hottest Minnesota summer day.

“The new life jackets are stylish, comfortable and easy to wear,” Smalley said. “Even though adults aren’t required to wear a life vest on most boats, it is the one thing that could save their life, especially in a cold water situation.”

Most boating fatalities involve capsizing and falls overboard, and almost all of the victims had swimming ability.

Unfortunately, that ability wasn’t enough to save them from the gasp that is brought on by entering cold water.

“If your head is underwater when you experience that sudden reflexive gasp, you’ll draw water into your lungs and you’re probably going to drown, no matter how good of a swimmer you are. That is, unless you’re wearing your life jacket,” Smalley noted.

• Navigation lights: After sunset and before sunrise, motorboats must be illuminated by red and green bow lights, and a white stern light visible from 360 degrees.

While at anchor, motorboats are required to be illuminated by the white stern light. All lights should be operational and placed so they aren’t blocked by passengers or equipment such as mounted trolling motors or canopies on pontoon boats.

“If people can’t see you at night, you may get hit,” Smalley advised.

• Fire extinguiser: Many motorboats are required to carry a U.S Coast Guard approved fire extinguisher.

“Unfortunately, many extinguisher cartons are poorly marked,” Smalley said. “You might have to open the box to check the extinguisher label itself to ensure it has the Coast Guard approved label.”

• Horn or whistle: Boats 16 feet or longer must carry a whistle or horn capable of producing a sound for at least two seconds that can be heard for at least one mile.

• Spare parts and tools: Although not a legal requirement, tools and spare parts like spark plugs and shear pins (if your motor uses them), and an anchor to drop to keep you from being blown onto the rocks if you motor conks out are all good ideas.

People should not forget to put in the drain plug in before launching.

• No alcohol: Fatal errors in judgment brought on by beer and booze can cause trouble long before you reach the .08 level of intoxication.

“Also, it gets expensive if you are caught operating your boat under the influence,” Smalley said. “Lawyer fees, fines, civil penalties and a conviction for boating while intoxicated goes on your auto driver’s license record and may also effect your insurance rates for years to come.”

With precautions for safety, boating can be safe and fun for fishing or just cruising the lake.

Just a few minutes of time and the proper precautions can make a big difference in preventing tragedies on the water, he said.

Minnesota moose season application deadline is Friday, June 16
From the DNR

The application deadline for the 2006 Minnesota moose hunt is Friday, June 16.

Applications may be made from any of the 1,800 statewide electronic license vendors across the state and from the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

This year, a total of 279 permits are available in 30 zones in the northeastern part of the state. There is no hunting season in northwestern Minnesota.

The season dates are Sept. 30 through Oct. 15, 2006.

Moose hunters must apply in parties from two to four individuals. An application fee of $3 per individual must be included with the application. Only Minnesota residents, at least 16 years of age, are eligible for the moose hunt.

Permits are issued through a random drawing, except that applicants who have been unsuccessful at least 10 times since 1985 will be placed in a separate drawing for up to 20 percent of the available licenses.

A person who is still unsuccessful in this separate selection will also be included in the regular drawing.

Because the moose hunt became a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in 1991, hunters who received permits for moose hunts for the 1991 hunt and later are not eligible to apply for the 2006 drawing.

The bag limit is one moose of any age or either sex per party.

The license fee is $310 per party. There will be mandatory orientation sessions required for all hunters chosen for moose licenses.

In 2005, 3,060 parties applied for the 284 available state permits. State licensed hunters killed 136 bulls and 27 cows, for a party success rate of 57 percent.

Boaters reminded to help stop aquatic hitchhikers
From the DNR

With the start of the 2006 boating and fishing season approaching, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking boaters and anglers to keep up the good work in minimizing the spread of aquatic invasive species.

By taking a few simple steps, like removing all aquatic plants from their boats and trailers, emptying water from live wells and bait containers and other areas containing water, boaters can do their part to help stop aquatic hitchhikers such as Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels in the state’s water bodies.

Those who leave infested waters and want to keep their live bait for another time should drain any infested water from the bait container and replace it with tap or spring water.

Boaters should also remember to dispose of unwanted live bait including worms and minnows in the trash rather than dumping them in the lakes and woods.

“The continuing spread of zebra mussels and the discovery of New Zealand mudsnails have us especially concerned,” said Jay Rendall, DNR invasive species program coordinator. “The potential to spread aquatic invasive species increases each year and we need Minnesotans to continue with their high level of action.”

Zebra mussels were discovered last fall in the Brainerd area. New Zealand mudsnails were recently found for the first time in the Duluth harbor.

The DNR is continuing to use the national Stop Aquatic Hitchhikers! logo to remind boaters and anglers to take precautions.

It is likely people will see the icon and messages in many places this year including some new places such as display panels at traveler centers, ads on top of gas pumps, and on outdoor banners.

Signs at public accesses, reminders from DNR watercraft inspectors, radio and television ads, and public service announcements will also be used to reach boaters this summer.

“Precautions should now be part of the routine for boaters,” Rendall said. “These simple actions help boaters comply with the state laws that prohibit the transport of aquatic plants, zebra mussels, and other prohibited invasive species.”

Last year, DNR biologists found 13 additional waters infested with Eurasian watermilfoil, bringing the total number of infested water bodies in the state to 177.

Inland waters known to be infested with zebra mussels include Ossawinnamakee and Rice Lake near Brainerd, Mille Lacs Lake, and Lake Zumbro north of Rochester.

The Mississippi River from its confluence with the Pine River down to the Iowa border is also on the infested waters list.

More information about aquatic invasive species and a list of infested waters can be found in the 2006 Minnesota Fishing Regulations booklet.

The Minnesota Legislature directed the DNR to establish the Invasive Species Program in 1991 to address problems caused by aquatic invasive species.

The program is responsible for preventing introductions, curbing their spread and management of invasive species of aquatic plants and wild animals.

DNR advises against rescuing young wildlife
From the DNR

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) advises people to leave young wildlife alone.

This is the time of year when young animals seem to appear everywhere in Minnesota.

Young birds are falling out of their nests and turtles are crossing roads to lay their eggs.

Each spring, well meaning people rescue healthy young wildlife, thinking they are abandoned or lost.

Many animals, like deer and rabbits, attend to their young just a few short minutes a day and intentionally stay away from their young to avoid drawing attention of predators.

Carrol Henderson, DNR Nongame Wildlife Program supervisor, advises people to leave wildlife alone unless it can be verified the mother is dead.

“If the young are really small and have been removed from the nesting site, replace them in the nest as soon as possible,” Henderson said.
Birds can be handled the same way. Sometimes nests get crowded as the birds grow, and some birds get crowded out before they are ready to leave.

These birds will usually do fine because they will most likely be fed by their parents on the ground.

Purple martins should be replaced in their nest box. Very young birds without feathers should be picked up and returned to the nest.

“People should not be afraid of passing on human scent because it generally will not prevent parent birds from caring for their young,” noted Henderson. Most birds have a very poor sense of smell.
Fawns are often mistaken as abandoned or lost, but in reality, the doe is nearby and will soon return.

People should always leave fawns alone unless it can be verified that the doe is dead or the animal is seriously injured.

“The best thing to do if you find an injured or a verified orphaned animal is to contact the DNR Information Center for the telephone number of a DNR-permitted wildlife rehabilitator in their area,” Henderson stated.

Injured wild animals require skilled care that can only be provided by a DNR-permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

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

For a list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators, visit the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Outdoor notes

• With the fishing season underway, please take note that water levels on most of our area lakes are very high right now.

When water levels are high, extra caution while boating is required.

Note rocks, docks and other structures that usually aren’t covered by water and are typically visible.

• Get your dog checked for heartworm and on a heartworm-preventative medication.

• Put new line on your fishing reels. Also, keep your reels and line out of the sun when not in use. The UV rays can take a big toll on fishing line.

• Learn to be patient with kids when you take them fishing.
Bring a lunch, or snacks, keep the outing short, and always remember to make it fun, even when the fish aren’t biting.

A great trick to really get kids involved in the fishing process is to have them dig worms.

They have a blast doing it and the worms give them something of interest from the beginning to the end of the fishing experience.

• The 2006 Minnesota bass fishing season opens Sat., May 27.

• Look for a report on the 2006 fishing opener in next week’s column.

As of Friday, May 12, it looks like the opener was shaping up to be a cold, wet one.

• The DNR has determined that driver’s license data used for the purchase of fishing and hunting licenses is not public information.

The DNR will no longer be able to obtain that information and is now considering the development of their own database.

• Today, the sun will rise at 5:45 a.m. and set at 8:35 p.m.

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