Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

July 31, 2006

103 days later and ready for harvest

The oat field southwest of Lester Prairie that I have been writing about since early May is now one more step closer to harvest.

The field, which was planted April 14, was cut or swatted Tuesday, July 25.

At the time of cutting, the oats were a golden brown with full heads and presented a beautiful scene to the entire landscape.

The sight of a ripened grain field gently rolling from a mid-summer breeze is one of the most graceful and elegant scenes our countryside has to offer. On this small 13 acre patch of land that borders the Crow River, it will be a sight that I will truly miss.

Through heavy rains, periods of drought, and a few windstorms, the oats were pretty much a picture of slow, steady growth for a period of 103 days.

From planting to cutting the progress of the oat field was incredible to watch and was also a tremendous learning experience for my kids.

Next week, we’ll wrap it all up and my kids are planning on making some of their own oatmeal.

Winsted chapter DU banquet Sept. 12

The 23rd annual Winsted Chapter Ducks Unlimited Banquet is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 12 at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted.

Social hour begins at 6 p.m., with the dinner and program to follow at 7:30 p.m.

The cost of the banquet is $45 and includes a one-year membership to Ducks Unlimited, a one-year subscription to Ducks Unlimited Magazine, a chance at various door prizes, and the banquet dinner.

To be eligible for D.U.’s early bird prize drawing of a Savage .17 cal. rifle, your registration form must be returned by Friday, Aug. 25.

Some of the featured items that will be availiable for auction include D.U. Sponsor Framed Print of the Year; D.U. Commemorative Shotgun; a variety of framed wildlife prints, carvings, and guns; and many other D.U. products.

To register for the banquet contact either Dale Gatz at (320) 485-4274 or the Blue Note at (320) 485-9698.

Keg’s Bar Fishing League

Bass & Walleye
Week 10 - Lake Parley
Results
1. Tim and Russ H
1 bass 3 lbs. 9 oz.
2. Corey and Marcus Zitloff
1 bass 1 lbs. 14 oz.
3. Mike and Kim Moy
1 bass 1 lbs. 13 oz.
4. Brad and Al
1 walleye 1 lbs. 9 oz.

Name Pts PtsTotal
Mike Moy 14 138
Kim Moy 14 138
Woody Langenfeld 1 120
Gus Schuenfeld 1 89
Dave Fiecke 1 80
Brian Hankomp DNF 77.5
Thomas Schuenfeld 1 78
Marcus 16 90
Corey Zitloff 16 79
Jon Lambrecht 1 94.5
Mike L. 1 1
Tim Thul 20 56
Russ C 20 42
Brad 12 21
Al Q. 12 20

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.

Going hunting this fall? Get certified now
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters to sign up for a firearms safety hunter education class now if they plan to hunt this fall.

Hunters can not buy a hunting license in Minnesota and many other states unless they have completed the training.

“Instructors throughout the state are gearing up for the late summer and fall rush,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR hunter education coordinator. “So now is the time to start planning for the fall hunting season by registering for a class today.”

In Minnesota, hunters born after Dec. 31, 1979, must complete a DNR firearms safety training course, or equivalent course from another state before purchasing a license for big or small game.

“Every year we have hopeful hunters who wait until the last minute when courses are no longer available,” Hammer said. “Usually we are able to get them into a class somewhere, but every year there are a few who cannot hunt because they didn’t plan early.”

The vast majority of volunteer instructors are also hunters, Hammer said. Their goal is to have most of the courses completed prior to the small game opener. They also want their students to enjoy a full season of hunting opportunities.

Hunters who do not plan now frequently encounter problems when they hunt out of state.

Many states have more stringent requirements than Minnesota when it comes to mandatory hunter education requirements.

Colorado, for example, requires a hunter education certificate for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1949. Neighboring states such as North Dakota and Iowa have requirements for those born after 1961 and 1967.

“If you have lost your certificate or have questions about certification from other states, now is the time to get a certificate in your hand so you won’t miss the opportunity to hunt in Minnesota or take that trip of a lifetime to Colorado this fall,” Hammer said.

Late summer and fall classes are now available, and new classes are posted every day.

Classes fill-up very fast this time of year. For more information and class listings, log on to www.dnr.state.mn.us, or call (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

DNR seeks input on ruffed grouse plan
From the DNR

Ruffed grouse enthusiasts can offer their input on a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) draft plan to improve grouse hunting in the coming decade.

A presentation, survey and a draft of the plan have been posted at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

The presentation guides viewers through the draft ruffed grouse plan goal and collects input through a survey at the end.

“We’d like to know what grouse hunters want, whether it’s more access to lands, more management areas for grouse or anything else,” said Steve Merchant, DNR Forest Wildlife Program leader. “We’re open to any suggestions. It’s important for those who are keenly interested in ruffed grouse to help us develop this plan.”

For several months, the DNR grouse management committee has been assessing Minnesota’s ruffed grouse habitat and populations for the plan.

The next step, Merchant said, is to gather public input on how best to utilize existing habitat for the benefit of grouse enthusiasts.

“This is an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the plan at an early stage,” Merchant added. “We hope their comments will provide us with a broader perspective of interests, not only from the hunting community but from industry, tourism and private landowners. In addition, we feel this will add more credibility to the final plan.”

The plan also establishes a goal of increasing the average annual grouse harvest from 550,000 to 650,000 birds. In peak years, Minnesota’s ruffed grouse harvest exceeds 1.2 million birds.

About 120,000 hunters pursue ruffed grouse in Minnesota, making it the state’s most popular game bird. On average, slightly more than 100,000 hunters pursue ducks, while pheasant hunters and Canada goose hunters on average number about 85,000 and 65,000, respectively.

There are currently about 11.5 million acres of ruffed grouse habitat in the state. About 62 percent of that habitat is in Aspen/birch cover, 12 percent in lowland deciduous shrub, 11 percent in oak, and 8 percent in upland shrub. The remaining habitat is mixed. About 35 percent of Minnesota’s 16.3 million acres of forestlands are privately owned. The remaining 65 percent is under federal, state and county or municipal ownership.

After public review and input, the DNR will add pertinent issues and specific conservation actions to address issues identified for the next 10 years. Later this year, the DNR will work with hunters, grouse enthusiasts and others in a series of public meetings to finalize the plan.

Copies of the draft long-range plan are also available by writing to: Ruffed Grouse Plan, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Road Box 20, St. Paul MN 55155-4021, or by calling (651) 259-5204. Written comments may be submitted to the address above.

Natural mosquito control at your lake
From the DNR

It is a myth that short mowed grass by the lakeshore will keep mosquitoes away.

Mosquitoes will breed in shallow water on lawns and in shallow rain-filled depressions regardless of the length of the grass.

Taller grasses and wildflowers do not necessarily provide better mosquito habitat.

In fact, natural vegetation serves as a resting or feeding area for mosquito predators like dragonflies and bats.

Shoreland buffer zones help restore the ecological balance of lakeshore predators and prey, and concurrently reduce the need for chemicals that poison mosquito predators along with the mosquitoes.

The most common nuisance mosquito of northern regions lays eggs in shallow soil depressions that hold water for a few days after a rainfall.

Shallow watery depressions can produce mosquitoes in as little as a week whether in neatly mowed lawns where the grass is no more than one inch high or in natural unmowed areas.

Clogged rain gutters, tire swings, whiskey barrel planters, neglected birdbaths and old pails all provide ideal breeding habitat for stagnant-water mosquitoes.

These containers should be removed or drilled to create drainage holds.
Eliminating stagnant water will reduce mosquito habitats, but mosquitoes will still be abundant after rainy weather and scarce during dry weather.

The best solution is using repellent when necessary. It is neither cost-effective nor practical to remove or chemically treat enough rainwater pools to make a difference in mosquito numbers.

But, there are other ways you may be able to make mosquitoes less of a nuisance. Plantings of red and yellow flowers such a coreopsis and cardinal flower attract small insects that serve as prey of dragonflies.

Dragonflies feed on mosquitoes while hunting other insects.

In addition, some plants generate aromas that repel mosquitoes, including citronella, a member of the geranium family. Citronella can be planted in pots and placed around decks and patios.

Other plants that seem to repel mosquitoes are thistles, chamomile, basil, evening primrose, peppermint, comfrey, cloves and garlic.

Bat houses can also be set up your yard. Bats eat thousands of insects per night including mosquitoes. The DNR has plans for simple bat houses that will encourage bats to nest near your home.

For more information contact: lakewaves@dnr.state.mn.us.

Your lake, our lakes: three ways to reduce pollution from your lakeshore property
From the DNR

Lakehome owners have a strong desire to protect their lake. Healthy lakes provide the recreational and aesthetic benefits lakeshore residents value.

In addition, healthy lakes enhance lakeshore property values. There are three ways we can reduce pollution and maintain healthy lakes.

1) Reduce runoff from roofs and driveways by getting rainwater into the ground near where it falls.

2) Reduce lawn size by reverting back to natural shorelines.

3) Maintain our septic systems.

• Reduce runoff

Rainwater runoff is a major source of water pollution. Nationally, runoff is responsible for up to 15 percent of rivers and lakes with poor water quality.

Rainwater runoff comes from roads, driveways, roofs and lawns. Rainwater that does not infiltrate into the ground or evaporate becomes runoff.

Runoff is not only occurring when streams are full after a rain, but it also occurs when small sheets of water flow over the surface of our lawns and head down to the lake.

Runoff carries pollutants, such as oil, dissolved metals, pesticides, suspended solids, pet waste and nutrients, such as phosphorous, which can lead to algae blooms.

Good rainwater management can help reduce pollutants and excessive nutrients from entering our lakes.

When rainwater is allowed to infiltrate into the ground, the soil and plants can purify the water before it reaches the lake or river.

There are two ways to manage rainwater. The traditional way has been to move water off fast. This approach uses stormwater sewers, pipes and ponds.

Unfortunately, civil engineers have found that this expensive approach does not work well. Often, the outcome is water quality and water quantity problems downstream or downhill.

The second way of managing rainwater is to get the water and the pollutants it carries into the ground near where it falls.

This can often be a small-scale, decentralized and low-cost option. This approach uses infiltration basins, rain gardens, grass overflow parking areas, grass swales, porous or pervious paver blocks, parking lot infiltration islands and fewer impervious surfaces. Infiltration reduces pollutants and nutrients entering our lakes, thus protecting the lake water quality.

For lakeshore owners, a simple start to managing rainwater is to redirect gutter downspouts that run onto impervious surfaces, such as driveways and sidewalks so they run onto vegetated areas instead.
Rain gardens are a good way to capture runoff when greater infiltration is needed.

• Reduce lawn size

Managing rainwater also includes protecting natural areas important for water transport and filtering, such as wetlands, streams, and vegetated buffers near water. A shoreline buffer of natural vegetation traps, filters and impedes runoff.

The simplest and sometimes most effective way to recreate this buffer is to stop mowing down to the lake. A smaller lawn with a larger shoreline buffer will help infiltration and reduce runoff.

• Maintain septic systems

Finally, for those lakehome owners who use septic systems to treat and disperse waste and recycle water, maintenance is critical.

Sludge builds up in the septic tank and should be pumped out every two to three years. If sludge accumulates to the level of the outlet pipe, clogging will occur, which will damage the drainfield and reduce the life expectancy of the system.

Drainfields can also fail when they are overloaded, either with too much water or too much garbage disposal waste. The average life of a drainfield is 10 to 20 years.

Lakehome owner management of septic systems is sometimes inadequate.

Some government organizations and communities have developed septic system management programs that track routine maintenance and compliance with public health standards.

These programs can save homeowners money, because regular maintenance and inspection costs are much less than cost to replace failed systems.

The Governor’s Clean Water Initiative pilot project brought people together to create an alternative set of shoreland development standards.
Citizens that worked on the Shoreland Standards Update project recommended promoting better rainwater management techniques.

The Alternative Standards could serve as the foundation for local government administered ordinances.

Details of the shoreland rules update project are online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Outdoor notes

• Now is the time many hunters get excited about working their dog and getting the animal in shape for the hunting season.

If you’re one of them, be careful of the heat work your dog early in the morning or late in the day when temperatures are cooler.

Work the dog for short periods of time and make sure the dog always has plenty of water.

• The pan fish are still biting on many of the lakes in our area. The best bets have been small leeches in 8 to 10 feet of water. Ramsey has been the best producer of decent-size sunfish.

• Plan your fall hunting trips now.

• If you haven’t noticed, the days are getting shorter in a big hurry.

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

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