Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

June 26, 2006

Sowing oats and safety tips for summer

We are currently in week number seven of our series of photos charting the growth of an oat field south-west of Lester Prairie.

The field is about 12 acres in size and was planted April 14.

The first photo of the series was taken May 12.

The most recent photo was taken June 22.

The photo with my 23-month-old son Ethan standing in the field was taken May 18.

At that time. the plants just barely covered his ankles. Then, the rain we got the weekend of June 17, after an extended dry spell, really made a difference for the oats.

After the rain, the plants shot up, became much broader, and developed seed heads. It was like they did a month worth of growing in one week.

The photo used in today’s column also includes my son Ethan. As you can see, the plants are now about three feet high and taller than he is.

For me, the field has been a wonderful thing to watch. I’ve seen deer grazing, several litters of raccoon, red fox, possum, and woodchucks in it. The field has also been home to nesting pheasants, ducks, and various songbirds.

At one time in our area, actually not all that long ago, fields of small grain, oats and wheat were common across the landscape.

In spring and early summer, they were a beautiful green; then in late July and August, they turned a beautiful gold in color.

At that time farms were smaller and 30- to 40-cow dairy herds were the norm. With them came the small gains and also fields of alfalfa.

Today, small grains are not common in our area and alfalfa fields are fewer.

In reality, those changes probably had a dynamic impact on wildlife in our area.

Small grains, or cover crops provided safe nesting habitat for many forms of wildlife from early June and into August.

By August, those chicks, like a pheasant, are long off the nest.

Smaller fields also created more edges for wildlife and more undisturbed nesting habitat like fence lines.

In general, it’s hard to say how dynamic those changes have been to our wildlife populations, many of which are doing very well right now.
However, the greatest impact has probably been related to water erosion and water quality, which without question has impacted the quality of our shallow lakes and our duck populations.

It’s simple. Farming practices have changed. That change in our area has created less cover crops and more row crops that are more susceptible to erosion and run-off.

They also require more and better drainage or tiling to be economically productive.

This particular oat field is adjacent to the Crow River and has a buffer strip of grasses right along the river. Hopefully, both are adding to wildlife habitat and clean water in the Crow.

Lately, the oats have been growing and so have the wildlife in it.

Keg’s Bar Fishing League

Bass & Walleye
Week 5 - Waconia Lake
1. Dave Groff and Todd Prudent
2 bass 5 lbs. 2 oz.
2. Mike and Kimberly Moy
1 bass, 1 walleye 4 lbs. 13 oz.
3. Woody Langenfeld and Dave Fiecke
2 bass 4 lbs. 6 oz.
4. Jason and Mark Kieser
2 bass 3 lbs. 10 oz.
1 northern 6 lb. 0 oz.
5. Marcus Halverson and Corey Zitzloff
2 bass 3 lbs. 9 oz.
6. Gus and Thomas Schuenfeld
2 bass 3 lbs. 4 oz.
7. John Lambrecht and Brian Hamkomp
2 bass 2 lbs. 5 oz.
Week 5
Name Pts PtsTotal
Woody Langenfeld 14 75
Dave Fiecke 14 55
Gus Schuenfeld 10 40
Thomas Schuenfeld 10 34
Jason Kieser 12 26.5
Mark Kieser 12 26.5
Corey Zitzloff 11 28
Mike Moy 16 78
Kim Moy 16 78
John Lambrecht 9 32.5
Brian Hankomp 9 32.5
Tim Thul 1 15
Russ C. 1 15
Dave Groff 20 38
Todd Prudent 20 37
Kyle Kulinski DNF 9
Gaylen Schoenfeld DNF 8
Steve Sherman DNF 14
Neil Syvertson DNF 14
Bonnie Schoenfeld DNF 8

To participate, stop in at Keg’s Bar in Winsted, or call (320) 485-4250.

Tournament runs Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m. Lake is chosen at 3 p.m. on day of fishing. Twelve weeks total with different lake each week.

DNR offers water safety tips for summer
From the DNR

As the weather heats up and vacation season begins, people are heading to the beaches, lakes and pools around Minnesota.

Everyone wants a little wet relief from soaring summer temperatures and humidity.

Unfortunately, as cool and refreshing as it may look, water can be a killer. According to statistics kept by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), as of June 20, non-boating drownings have claimed 13 lives this year, compared with seven as of this date a year ago.

This toll includes a 5-year-old girl who drowned June 6 in a backyard pool in Stillwater.

There have also been four boating fatalites, compared with 12 last year on this date (June 20).

“I think everyone is anxious for some fun in the water,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “Now that it’s starting to warm up, more folks are heading to the lake, beach or pool. But people need to remember that even though water is fun, it can be deadly to the careless or clueless or just plain unlucky.”

The DNR offers these tips to help make it a safer summer in Minnesota:

• Take swimming lessons and make sure your children do too. Many local parks and recreation departments, community schools and the American Red Cross offer swimming lessons, even for adults.

• Wear your life jacket when boating. Most boat-related drownings happen to people who can swim, but aren’t wearing life vests at the time of the accident.

• Swim with a buddy. Adults can get into trouble in the water and if no one is there to help, drowning can be the outcome.

• Swim in a designated swimming area with lifeguards whenever possible.

• Don’t swim from a boat anchored in deep water without a life vest no matter how good of a swimmer you think you are. Drowning is often silent, occurs within minutes, and often when help is nearby.

• Watch your children carefully at the beach, pool or anytime they are near the water. Children can slip away without you noticing and they are unable to cry out for help while they are drowning. If you are reading a book or chatting with friends, you may not be watching closely enough.

• Don’t rely on plastic arm “floaties,” inner tubes or water toys to save your child’s life. Those items may deflate and can slip off the wearer.

The only flotation device your child should be using is a U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest. Recently-approved child’s models include bathing suits with life vests built in.

• Know how to rescue a drowning person without putting yourself at risk. Throw a floating object or extend something like a paddle, towel or other item to the victim, so if they start to pull you in, you can release it to try another form of rescue. Only attempt a swimming rescue if you are properly trained in lifesaving techniques.

• Call 911 in an emergency; you can always cancel your call if it turns out to be a false alarm.

• If a person has been totally submerged in water and then recovered, insist they seek medical attention. A small amount of inhaled impure water can cause severe lung infections and even death if untreated.

• Learn child and adult CPR.

• Alcohol and water don’t mix. Booze and beer are two of the greatest dangers while swimming or boating. And never drink alcohol while supervising children.

For more tips on boat and water safety, call the DNR at (651) 296-6157 or toll free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367). Computer users can visit

DNR advises ATV, OHM riders to know the rules
From the DNR

Summer is here and that means spending more time outdoors with family and friends.

One way many Minnesotans spend their time is enjoying the countryside operating and riding all-terrain vehicles (ATV) and off-highway motorcycles (OHM).

In order to have a safe and enjoyable time riding this summer, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages all riders to know and obey the laws and safety rules concerning these vehicles. Riders should know that:

• All ATVs and OHMs are required to be registered and to have the registration displayed. The only exception to the display rule is that OHMs being operated on private property or at a closed course-racing event still need to be registered but do not have to display the registration.

• Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a helmet while riding or operating an ATV or OHM. Headlights and taillights must be on at all times if the ATV equipped with them.

• In the agricultural zone from April 1 to Aug. 1, ATVs may not be operated in the road right-of-way, or ditch, unless the ATV is licensed for agricultural use and only used as such.

• OHMs are not allowed to operate in the road right-of-way, or ditch, unless that portion of the ditch or road right-of-way is part of a designated OHM trail.

• ATV operators may operate on a bridge, a roadway shoulder, or the inside bank of a public road right-of-way if necessary to avoid obstructions to travel.

• ATV operators must be at least 16 years old and have a valid drivers license to operate in the road right-of-way.

• Anyone born after July 1, 1987, and who is 16 years or age or older, must successfully complete the ATV independent study course component before operating an ATV on public lands.

Persons under 16 must successfully complete the ATV safety training independent study course and the riding component before operating an ATV on public lands.

One exception is that persons age 10 or 11 may operate an ATV up to 90cc on public lands and frozen waters if accompanied by parent or legal guardian.

Persons under age 10 may operate on private property with permission of the landowner.

• Persons ages 12 through 15 must have a valid safety certificate, may operate on public lands and frozen waters, and make direct crossings of public roads only when accompanied by another person on an ATV who is 18 or over and has a valid drivers license.

Those ages 16 and 17 must have a valid drivers license to make a direct crossing of a roadway or operate on road right-of-ways.

This is only a brief summary of state ATV and OHM laws. For a complete listing please visit the DNR Web site at or pick up a copy of the 2005-2006 Minnesota DNR OHV regulation booklet from a local DNR office or law enforcement center.

People may contact county and city law enforcement agencies in the areas they plan on riding to obtain information on local laws and ordinances.

Upswing in ruffed grouse counts
From the DNR

Results from this spring’s ruffed grouse drumming count survey indicated the increase for which hunters and others have been waiting.

The annual count was the highest since 2001, with increases observed in all survey regions except the southeast, where counts were stable.

Counts had been at the low end of the 10-year cycle for the past four years.

“It’s always tough to predict when the upswing will start,” said Mike Larson, DNR grouse research biologist. “I’ll be more confident that we’re in the cyclical increase when the counts go up again next year.”

Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s ruffed grouse range.

This year, observers recorded an average of 1.0 drum per stop statewide. Last year’s average was 0.8 drums per stop. During years of high grouse abundance counts of at least 1.8 drums per stop are typical.

The ruffed grouse is one of Minnesota’s most popular game birds. Minnesota, which consistently ranks within the top three states for harvest, is frequently the nation’s top ruffed grouse producer. At the peak, Minnesota’s annual harvest often exceeds 1.2 million birds. The average annual harvest is more than 500,000 birds.

For the past 57 years, DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations. This year, DNR staff and cooperators from 14 organizations surveyed 128 routes across the state.

Sharp-tailed grouse counts in the northwestern survey region declined each of the last two years, but counts in the east-central region remained unchanged, Larson said.

Observers look for male sharptails displaying on traditional mating areas, called leks or dancing grounds.

During the last 20 years, the sharp-tailed grouse index has been approximately seven to 11 birds counted per dancing ground.

This year’s statewide mean of 9.2 birds counted per dancing ground was well below last year’s average of 11.3.

Sharptail populations appear to have declined over the long term as a result of habitat deterioration. In recent years, the DNR has increased prescribed burning and shearing that keeps trees from overtaking the open brush lands that sharp-tailed grouse need to thrive.

Counts of prairie chickens at their leks, or booming grounds, in western Minnesota were lower in 2006 than 2004 and 2005, but still higher than average over the last 15 years.

In survey blocks representing relatively good prairie chicken habitat, observers counted 11.8 males per booming ground and one booming ground per 3.7 square miles.

Apply now for Minnesota elk hunt
From the DNR

The July 14 deadline to apply for one of eight permits to hunt the 2006 Minnesota elk hunt is approaching.

The hunt is being held to reduce the elk population, located in a zone around Grygla, from the present level of 55 animals.

Two of the eight permits will be for a legal antlered bull, while the remaining six permits will allow the harvest of antlerless elk only.

Applications may be made at any of the 1,800 statewide locations where hunting and fishing licenses are sold. The license code for the ELS elk application is 625. The area that must be entered is 10.

Applications are also available from the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul. Paper applications will not be accepted.

Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two.

There is a nonrefundable application fee of $10 per hunter. Successful applicants, who will be notified by mail, must purchase an elk license for $250.

Each party will be authorized to harvest one elk. Hunters must be 16 years of age by Sept. 16, 2006.

One of the eight licenses will be issued to a qualified landowner in the elk zone in a preferential drawing.

Unsuccessful landowner applications will then be added to the general drawing, from which four more applicants will be selected.

A second drawing will determine which of the eight successful parties receive the bull licenses. The remaining six successful applicants will receive licenses for antlerless elk.

Alternates will be selected in case successful parties opt not to purchase a permit.

If no qualified landowners apply, all eight licenses will be drawn from the general pool of applicants.

The hunt is once in a lifetime, which means that parties that choose to purchase their license will not be eligible to apply for future elk hunts.

The bull elk hunt will be held from Sept. 16-24. There will be two antlerless elk hunts from Nov. 18-26 and Dec. 2-10.

Outdoor notes

• Get outside and enjoy the great weather and the long days. Soon, the days will start getting shorter and because of last week’s rain, swarms of mosquitos will be back.

• The fish are biting at a pretty good pace on many of the lakes in our area. The sunfish bite has been the best.

With sunnies now off their spawning beds and in deeper water, try trolling with small spinner and leech rigs just off the outside weed lines.
When you feel a lot of little taps, anchor the boat and drop a small jig down tipped with a sunfish leech or wax worm and you’ll catch fish.

The trick is in finding the fish.

• Make sure your dog has been checked for heartworm and is on a heartworm preventative medication.

• Check your boat trailer tires and wheels.

• It seems my two daughters 8-year old Abbi and 6-year old Emmi, have finally won the battle.

For months, they have been hounding me about getting a new pup, and I caved last week.

Angus, our black lab springer mix is now eight years old and showing some signs of wear and tear, and the girls think he needs a buddy.

At the current time, we are is search of golden or yellow lab pup that will be a good hunter and family dog.

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

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