Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

December 25, 2006

Minnesota pheasant hunting season ends Jan. 1

For the second consecutive year, the Minnesota pheasant hunting season has been extended by two weeks.

Prior to 2005, the Minnesota season traditionally ended in mid-December.

The season now runs through all of December, with the last day of hunting being Monday, Jan 1.

With only one week to go, we can take a look back at the season and say, “Wow, the hunting was great, and I sure hope it stays that way.”

In comparison to most of the 26 years that I have been hunting pheasants in Minnesota, it was truly one of the best years ever. There were more birds, more public land to hunt, and great weather.

Although many may not see it this way, another positive was the increased number of hunters.

On several occasions, I noticed a fair share of young hunters, teenagers, out in the field after roosters, and for all us that’s a good sign.

To really top it off, those of us who like to chase late season roosters when there’s snow on the ground may actually get that chance.

Have a Merry Christmas and with the ice fishing season off to another poor start because of warm weather and poor ice, don’t forget that last chance to hunt Minnesota roosters.

Fixing a flat and roadside habitat
From Tom Conroy of the DNR

There was plenty of time to ponder as my Labrador Charlie and I sat in my SUV on a dark, quiet country road the other night. Not much else to do, actually, when stranded by a flat tire that won’t come off the axle.

One of the thoughts that curiously occurred to me was the similarity between my flat tire and a meeting I had attended that day in Owatonna. Teamwork was the common denominator.

The meeting involved a mix of public agency types and private citizens. The topic was the DNR Roadsides for Wildlife program.

The purpose was to try to figure out how to better manage Minnesota’s roadsides- ditches, in the popular vernacular. Representatives from the DNR, local, county and state road authorities, organizations such as Pheasants Forever, Minnesota Pheasants, Inc., Ducks Unlimited, Minnesota Farm Bureau, the state legislature and others were among the invited guests.

When compared to Iowa, Minnesota’s roadsides don’t match up very well.

Ours are often disturbed by mowing, spraying and other activities, thus providing considerably less nesting cover for ducks, pheasants, songbirds and other critters than do those in Iowa.

Iowa roadsides, overall, also have more visual appeal, thanks to the extensive native vegetation growing along them, and provide more widespread water quality benefits.

In 1988, the Iowa legislature created the Living Roadway Trust Fund (LRTF), an annual, competitive grant program that provides funding for integrated roadside vegetation management activities.

The Iowa legislature declared it to be “in the general welfare of Iowa and a highway purpose for the vegetation of Iowa’s roadsides to be preserved, planted, and maintained to be safe, visually interesting, ecologically integrated, and useful for many purposes.” (See www.iowalivingroadway.com/LRTF.asp).

Minnesota has lagged behind Iowa in its roadside management but there is growing interest in ramping up our state’s roadside program.

That was evident by the discussion at the recent meeting in Owatonna.

In addition to the aforementioned wildlife and water quality benefits and visual appeal, tax dollars can be saved as a result of a decrease in ditch mowing and spraying.

There is also growing evidence that roadside vegetation limits snow drifting, thus improving safety and decreasing snowplowing expenses.

Later on the day of the meeting, a group of participants gathered for a short pheasant hunt south of Waseca.

As the group prepared to enter a complex of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land for a 45-minute hunt to end what had been a productive and encouraging day, someone tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to my left rear tire.

Two bagged roosters later, we were back at the road. In a NASCAR-like effort, one person worked on the lug nuts, another removed the spare, and another handled the jack.

Others simply offered advice. In no time the tire was off the ground and ready to be replaced.

Just one problem – the aluminum wheel was rusted against the brake drum and wouldn/t come off, try as we might. It was then that a fellow named Tom Bauman came to the rescue.

A habitat specialist for Pheasants Forever, Inc., Tom lives just a few miles away. As the others climbed into their vehicles and headed for home, Tom left for his farm to pick up a floor jack and other tools.

And so here we sat, Charlie and I, watching the silhouette of a windmill disappear into the darkening sky.

An hour and a half later, Tom had the flat off and the spare on. As I drove home through the country night, I began to ponder anew the similarities between the meeting and the flat tire episode.

This, I thought, is always how things get done. People come together and pitch in positive ideas and efforts. And then someone steps forward to lead the charge.

There is much more that can be done to improve the quality and appearance of Minnesota’s roadsides.

Many are already working to make that happen and the invitation is out for others to join the cause. Naysayers need not apply.

Wright County/West Metro Whitetails are still collecting hides
Submitted

The Wright County/West Metro Whitetails, a member club of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, would like to thank the hunters who have donated to this program so far.

We would like to remind you that boxes are still out at Ebner’s Bait in Elk River, Big Lake Lumber in Big Lake, Cabela’s in Rogers, and AK Corner in Corcoran through the end of the year.

They can be also be brought to the Buffalo Gun Club and dropped off by the shed. We take Deer, Elk, and Moose hides.

The money collected from these hides is used to create and enhance wildlife habitat in Minnesota.

In the past few years, the local club has used this fund to provided money for the DNR to plant oak trees in two Wright County WMA’s, purchased a Plotmaster to be used to plant wildlife food plots, provided food plot seed at a discounted price, and helped other Outdoor groups purchase land for public hunting in both Wright County and greater Minnesota.

If you have any question on this program or other programs of the MDHA, please call Al Weller at 763-370-1206 or Jim McCarty at 763-682-2061.

Or visit our statewide website at www.mndeerhunters.com

Holsten named DNR commissioner
From the DNR

Governor Tim Pawlenty has appointed Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Deputy Commissioner Mark Holsten as DNR commissioner. Holsten has served as deputy commissioner of DNR since January 2003.

Additionally, the Governor permanently appointed acting commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency Brad Moore as PCA Commissioner.

“During this transition period it’s natural to have changes in our team,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Mark Holsten has the experience, talent and know-how to build on the great work that’s been accomplished over the last four years at DNR and to bring additional reform and accountability to the management of our great outdoors.”

Prior to serving as the Deputy Commissioner of DNR, Holsten served in the Minnesota House of Representatives for ten years, including as Chair of the House Environmental & Natural Resources Finance Committee.

As Deputy Commissioner, Holsten oversaw all legislative and budgetary functions for the agency and had general administrative oversight of operations.

He was also responsible for the Division of Fish and Wildlife and regional offices in Northwestern, Northeastern, Central and Southern Minnesota.

Holsten, 41, was a key leader in the Pawlenty Administration on a number of outdoor and conservation initiatives including improved management of ATV trails to protect the environment, while preserving Minnesotans’ ability to enjoy the outdoors; forest certification of more than 4 million acres of state lands; and enhanced management of 1,380 public wildlife areas with 1.2 million acres of habitat, from prairies and wetlands to forests and swamps, for Minnesota’s game and non-game wildlife species.

Holsten received his bachelor’s degree in sociology and history from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a teaching license from the University of St. Thomas. He lives in Stillwater with his wife, Lisa, and two children.

The Governor also named Brad Moore as commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA).

Moore became acting commissioner of PCA in August 2006. Moore previously served as Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, where he oversaw seven divisions including Enforcement, Ecological Services, Waters, and Lands and Minerals.

MN conservation officer tales – December
From the DNR

• Multiple violations:

Conservation Officer (CO) Dan Malinowski (Fosston) responded to violations including litter (the driver didn’t know the empty cup landed on the road when he threw it out the window and placed a full cup in the holder), burning prohibited materials (the fireman stated a citation was not necessary, the embarrassment of being caught was enough), and transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle (the violator stated it was more dangerous to uncase, load, and shoot in a hurry than to have the gun already loaded).

• One unusual deer:

CO Gary Sommers (Walker) received a call about an unusual deer that had been taken. The deer had one short antler and both male and female sex organs.

• Staring down the end of a gun:

CO Lloyd Steen (Ray) reported while observing with his binoculars a hunter in his stand, the hunter pointed his loaded 30-06 at the officer to identify him through his scope. The hunter was cited for dangerous handling of a firearm.

• Lucky to be alive:

CO Dan Starr (Tower) assisted with a boat that had overturned in the icy waters of Lake Vermilion.

Three deer hunters had set out at night with a boat full of camping gear, guns and a portable stand.

The boat took on water and flipped; luckily the three occupants were wearing life jackets and made it to a remote shore. Enforcement action was taken for over-capacity on a 12-foot boat.

• Tee time:

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) received a call of someone possibly shooting a deer from a roadway along a golf course and then harvesting the deer on the 14th tee.

• A memorable first deer story:

While driving on a heavily brushed and bumpy road, CO Marty Stage (Babbitt) passed a parked truck and felt bad about possibly scaring any deer away on such a calm quiet morning.

As Stage headed into the woods to contact a deer baiter, a loud shot rang out very close by. Stage ducked down and continued on.

Later when he was leaving the woods he saw the truck and went to apologize for driving by on opening morning.

To his surprise, they were very happy about it because the truck’s noise had run a nice buck right to a young hunter. Now there’s a memorable first deer story!

• How he came about that unique rifle:

CO Brian Buria from Bigfork checked a man with a very old and unique looking 8mm, short-barreled rifle.

When asked how long he had been hunting with it, the 80-year-old Minnesota resident said, “Ever since I took it from a German paratrooper in WW II.”

• Taking a shot through a chain link fence near a playgroud:

CO Sam Hunter (Grand Rapids) responded to a call of a hunter who shot a deer from the road, through a chain link fence.

The deer was standing on the infield of a baseball diamond near a playground.

• The officer didn’t do it:

CO Scott Staples (Carlton) had a very upset hunter call him on the firearm deer opener demanding the state buy him a new deer stand.

Apparently someone took his stand out of the tree and destroyed it, then left a note stating that it was illegal to hunt over bait and that he would be fined if caught.

The note also had the officer’s name and phone number left on it!

After calming the hunter down, he realized Staples had nothing to do with the destruction of his stand. The incident is still under investigation.

• Deer rescued from boatlift:

The day prior to season opener CO Cary Shoutz (Crosslake) was called to rescue an 8-point buck that had its antlers hung up in a rope hanging from a boatlift.

Shoutz was able to cut the rope and free the buck although the rope had spooled tightly around the bucks rack, sounding like a turbine as it unwound when the deer ran away.

• Just a routine patrol:

During routine patrol on state wildlife management areas, CO Brent Speldrich (McGregor) encountered a man brandishing a pistol, hunters leaving property on WMA units, hunters hunting over bait (six hunters cited, six weapons seized, six deer feeders seized), and illegal ATV operation on county park lands.

• Flimsy excuses:

CO Dan Perron (Onamia) worked with DNR aircraft on a baiting case and caught a hunter just 20 yards away from a pile of corn.

The hunter told Perron that he wasn’t going to shoot any deer in that direction because he was facing the other way. He also had a hunter enter private property and shoot a deer decoy twice.

The hunter said they saw the deer and just thought he would take a shot at it. Both violations resulted in fines and loss of firearms.

• Unbelievable:

CO Paul Kuske (Pierz) reports a hunter lined up two deer and killed them with one shot!

Quite an act of marksmanship, except Kuske found the shooter had literally dropped them on a bait pile.

Also, numerous untagged deer were found in camps, residences, farms and vehicles. One hunter said, “When did they start making us tag deer?”

• Doing the right thing:

CO Brett Oberg (Maplewood) assisted with a hunter harassment call where an individual was banging garbage cans to scare away deer from nearby hunters.

The hunters involved did the right thing by calling the local conservation officer instead of confronting the individual.

• Firearm and 600 pounds of corn seized:

CO Travis Muyres (Ham Lake) worked Anoka County during the firearms deer season opener with one individual cited for hunting deer over bait. His firearm as well as a receipt for 600 pounds of corn was seized.

• Mystery liquid identified:

CO Matt Loftness (Redwood Falls) investigated a hunter harassment case where a yellow liquid was dumped on a vehicle in a Wildlife Management Area.

Originally thought to be doe urine scent, the liquid was actually Mountain Dew.

• A hopefully uncommon father/son hunting team:

CO Jim Robinson (Slayton) investigated a father/son hunting team reportedly chased a deer in a bean field and shooting the buck from the truck.

The father said he shot the deer with a .20 gauge smooth bore shotgun from an adjacent cornfield that was about 200 yards away, which he said that were not uncommon shots for him to make!

• Slug fest

CO Greg Abraham (New Ulm) reported seeing the largest number of hunters in the field for the firearms deer opener in 10 years or so.

• I got your picture:

Officer Pat Znajda (Karlstad) reports a man who shot a nice buck over bait even posed with the deer while another hunter took his picture.

The man must have thought it wasn’t the best idea to have his picture taken and left the deer behind.

Officer Znajda obtained the picture and the deer was confiscated. The man was later found and charged with hunting over a baited area.

• A doe sporting a 10-point rack:

Officer Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls) was fortunate enough to see one uncommon site this deer season, an antlered doe.

The doe was sporting a rack scored a 10 and taken by hunters along the Red River south of Robyn.

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