Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

November 27, 2006

It has been a great fall!

Last week I was reading a column in the Outdoor News about hunting in North Dakota.

The writer was telling his story of deer hunting in the southeastern part of the state, and then went on to write about the large number of pheasants, snow geese, and ducks that were in the area.

He noted there were so many pheasants that he and his hunting partners put away their deer rifles, picked up their shotguns, and quickly harvested their limit of roosters.

To him it was a wildlife and hunting paradise.

As I was reading that column, I thought to myself, I just came home from a few days of hunting in that area and you know what, the guy was right. It was wildlife and hunting paradise.

We harvested a fair share of pheasants, a few snow geese, and got to watch all kinds of deer hunting on a mix and private and public land.

To top it all off the weather for pheasant hunting was just about perfect.
The best part of that little story from southeast North Dakota is that many of the same kind of stories are being told across the Midwest.

In the Dakotas, even with dry conditions and good chunks of CRP acres that have been cut, the pheasant hunting and weather this fall has been tremendous.

In Minnesota, we are off to another record deer harvest, the pheasant hunting in many parts of the state’s pheasant range has been great, probably the best in over 40 years, and ducks hunters have even said the season was a good one and much better than they expected.

Mix into all of that, the weather we have had for most of the fall and the walleye and muskie bite that has been on and we’ve got a fall that has been well worth remembering.

Aside from limited access to hunting land and all the problems that come along with it, the only other negative things I can come up with regarding the fall of 2006 are what is shaping up to be a very late start to the ice fishing season in our area and how complicated the various DNR licensing options have become.

I’ll leave you with this post Thanksgiving message, get out there and enjoy the outdoors.

Fall isn’t over with yet, the fish are biting, the pheasant hunting is still good, and if you live in the right area, listen hard at night, and you’ll hear the coyotes howling.

MN DNR reminds parents of thin ice danger to children
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning parents to caution their children to stay off water bodies around their homes that now have a thin coating of ice.

On Nov. 21, even in the northern part of the state there is no ice that is consistently four inches, the minimum thickness experts recommend for walking on.

Ice safety guidelines also recommend a minimum of five inches of new, clear ice for snowmobiles and eight to 12 inches for a small to medium-sized automobile, pickup or SUV.

“There are already rumors of close calls where people had to be rescued who fell through the ice,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “It’s especially scary when these incidents involve children. In the last 10 years, 52 people have died in falls through the ice years in Minnesota, with nearly 25 percent of those victims eight years old or younger.”

During the holidays, when parents send the kids outside to play while meals are being prepared and presents being wrapped, they are advised to warn the kids in no uncertain terms to stay away from any frozen water bodies around the home.

“Many years around the holidays, we receive reports of children falling through ice and drowning and it’s just so incredibly tragic,” Smalley added. “Kids are attracted to ice like a magnet. They just don’t have the knowledge of how much ice it takes to support a person nor the understanding of what is or isn’t safe.”

Smalley noted, “It seems like common sense, but I think a reminder to busy, holiday-stressed adults is necessary. Danger to their children and potential drowning is as close as the frozen pond or stream near their house if they aren’t carefully supervised. The DNR recommends that children not go out on the ice without adult supervision, even when conditions improve.”

The DNR also recommends people contact a local bait shop or resort to check on local ice conditions.

Winter sports enthusiasts can obtain a free packet of ice safety information, including a pamphlet and a minimum ice thickness wallet card by calling (651) 296-6157 in the Twin Cities area or toll-free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-63

Participation in special youth deer hunts top 1,000
From the DNR

Opportunities for young hunters have increased dramatically since 2002, when 87 youth hunters harvested 13 deer from central Minnesota’s Camp Ripley during the state’s first youth deer hunt.

This year, more than 1,000 youth hunters had the opportunity to participate in special youth hunts and seasons spread from Winona to Warroad, and 218 of them harvested deer. Department of Natural resources (DNR) officials hope to see even greater participation in coming years.

“With a growing number of societal forces making it harder to get involved in hunting, we think special youth hunts are one of the tools that can make it easier,” said Ryan Bronson, the DNR’s hunter recruitment program supervisor. “The future of wildlife management depends on a sustainable population of hunters.”

Special youth hunts were held at nine different locations. Most of the events coincided with the Education Minnesota school break.

Four archery hunts were held, three at military facilities and one at a forest preserve owned by a private non-profit.

All of the hunting locations are normally closed to hunting. The 201 participants in these bowhunts harvested 24 deer during their two-day hunts.

The Arden Hills Army Training Site produced the highest success rate, with 20 percent of the hunters taking deer Oct. 21 and 22.

Five firearms hunts were held in parks and refuges that are normally closed to hunting. The 166 participants harvested 44 deer. Rydell National Wildlife Refuge led the way with a 53 percent success rate on Oct. 21 and 22.

In addition, 750 youth hunters took part in the northwest Minnesota youth antlerless deer season in Kittson, Roseau, Marshall, Lake of the Woods and Pennington counties. Those hunters harvested 150 deer Oct. 21 and 22.

A parent or guardian accompanied all participants during the special youth hunting events.

The adults were not allowed to hunt. Rather, they served as guides and mentors to make sure the young hunters learned to hunt safely and effectively.

“Special hunts and seasons provide additional access to places to hunt,” said Bronson. “They also provide incentives for families to set aside extra time to hunt. Having extra incentives is important when people have such busy lives, and could be doing other things.”

The DNR is already working on the schedule of special spring turkey hunts to be held in early April. Applications will be available in January.

Special youth turkey hunts are limited to youth ages 12 to 17 who have a Firearms Safety Certificate and who have never hunted turkeys in Minnesota before.

For more information about special youth hunts, or to find a firearms safety class go to www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Spring turkey application deadline approaching
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters that applications for the 2006 spring turkey hunt are being accepted wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold through Friday, Dec. 1.

Spring turkey hunters may apply for one of 33,976 permits to hunt a five- or seven-day season in one of 60 permit areas.

Last year, spring turkey hunters harvested 8,241 birds.

“The spring turkey application deadline tends to sneak up on hunters,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader. “We encourage hunters to apply early and avoid the last-minute rush.”
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 at Electronic Licensing System (ELS) no later than Friday, Dec. 1.

A nonrefundable $3 application fee must be paid at the time of application.

Nonresident hunters may apply by mail, Internet or telephone at 1-888-MNLICENSE (665-4236). 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 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 ineligible for the spring archery license.

All wild turkey hunters seeking to hunt in spring 2007 must obtain an application booklet at one of the ELS agents or an application worksheet on the DNR Web site under wild turkey hunting at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

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 2007 Spring Wild Turkey Hunt Book in February.

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

Outdoor notes

• As mentioned in this column, the application deadline for the 2007 Minnesota spring turkey hunt is Dec. 1.

• Please remember that no ice, especially ice at this time of year is ever completely safe.

• Cattails and corn, if you can find those two things close to each other you’ll find good late season pheasant hunting.

Local hunters heading to southwestern and western Minnesota are still reporting good bird number and good hunting on the many acres of public land in those areas of the state.

Finally, if you are a late season rooster chaser don’t underestimate the importance of being quiet.

• Look for area registration numbers and a report on the local deer hunting season in next week’s column.

• The north and south forks of the Crow River have been producing fish this fall.

I have managed to land a few walleye and other anglers have reported good catches of walleye, a few northern pike, and catfish.

• Don’t forget about our local sport shops when comes to buying a Christmas gift for that special person this holiday season.

• The landscape in our area and across the Midwest is dry, very dry.

In the Dakotas almost every small to mid-sized cattail slough is completely dry and locally the Crow River is very low, and most lake levels are lower than normal and are continuing to drop.

• Ice over will be later than normal this season and if current weather conditions continue I’m beginning to wonder if we will be ice fishing at all by the holidays.

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

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