Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

January 8, 2007

A new year with some new promises to keep?

From Tom Conroy of the DNR
A new year and promises to keep?

So, here we are again, beginning a new year, some of us with new resolutions.

I don’t make many resolutions anymore, heeding instead the notion that the best way to avoid breaking promises is simply not to make them.

In looking back over the past year, however, there are several things I intend to at least try to do differently during 2007. To wit:

• Get out of the office more. The only difference between a rut and the grave is the size of the hole, another sage once said.

Ruts are easy to get into. And knowing that a day or two away from the office to attend meetings or visit with area staff or citizens means there will be a backlog of e-mails, phone messages and paperwork in the office makes it tempting to just stay put.

Yet if one wants to know what the people are really thinking and doing, you have to get off the bus now and then and mingle.

• Somewhere out there is a young kid who would love to go hunting or fishing but has no one to take him or her.

Don’t know who or where that youngster is but I hope to find one.

(And I can say with almost absolute certainty that there is one person who I have not gone fishing with in much too long a time - my wife. We’ll go fishing, maybe even hunting.)

• Put more effort into pounding away at trying to create more public awareness and appreciation of prairie and grasslands.

Prairie, shallow lakes and wetlands once dominated the landscape of southwestern Minnesota.

Today, mere specks of prairie remain and the waters they once protected are either gone or despoiled.

Even though we are children of the prairie, we have decimated it.

Small intentions, certainly, and few in number. And if I do meet them, none are likely to have a far-reaching impact.

Still, you never can tell when tiny efforts might take root and grow into something big.

In fact, as noted anthropologist Margaret Mead once observed, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Government, all too often, is looked upon as either the whipping-boy or the savior where conservation is concerned. But in the end, government exists to deliver the services that its citizens deem important.

The true forces of long-lasting change are groups of citizens in their local communities, working on a grassroots level.

On a recent icy morning, a group of us stood next to the outlet of a lake in southwestern Minnesota that has been reclaimed from the carp that had infested and sullied it.

This project was conceived a number of years ago and has just recently been completed. In a year or two this lake will once again have clean water, plenty of vegetation and abundant numbers of waterfowl and other wildlife.

Instrumental in the resurrection of this lake has been a local landowner.

By working cooperatively with the DNR, state and federal farm conservation programs, various sportsmen’s organizations and others, this landowner not only granted an easement on his property for work to be completed at the outlet, he also helped convince others of the importance of the project.

And, he is now about to enroll a substantial portion of land in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

As the landowner explained to those present at the recent gathering, he’s doing it for the kids and grandkids that will be around long after he’s gone.

While his support and work on this project will not change the world, it has helped turn back the clock on a once-fabled waterfowl lake.

In fact, this might be just the place to take that young kid hunting. Or, my wife.

And so, here’s to hoping that when this new year comes to a close we’ll be able to look back and take pride in knowing that our water is a little cleaner, more prairie grasses are blowing in the wind, and more citizens have become members of the conservation booster club of Minnesota.

61st annual Howard Lake fishing derby Feb. 10

The 61st annual Howard Lake Fishing Derby is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Howard Lake.

The grand prize this year will be a 6.5’ by 12’ King Crow fish house on wheels.

First prize is a FL8 Vexilar Depth Finder; second and third prizes are framed prints; and there will be a number of other prizes given away.

Before the derby, The Country Store in Howard Lake will be serving lunch from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

There will be a limited supply of fried fish, potato salad, beans, and dinner rolls, which will be served until they are gone.

The lunch is open to the public, all you need is a raffle ticket, which will be available at the event. Children are guests.

DNR turkey plan builds on past success
From the DNR

Spring turkey hunters will have more opportunities to hunt and a better chance of harvesting a bird under goals set forth in the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) long-range turkey plan, available online today.

The plan establishes a goal of increasing the spring wild turkey population to 75,000 birds and boosting the number of spring turkey hunting permits from 33,000 to 35,000 by 2011.

Currently, there are more than 60,000 birds in 74 of the Minnesota’s 87 counties.

“We’ve worked closely with the National Wild Turkey Federation in drafting this plan and believe it reflects the priorities of this state’s hunters,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader.

“Three decades of careful management, a successful trap and transplant program, and continuing support from hunters and the National Wild Turkey Federation, have helped make Minnesota’s wild turkey population one of the state’s premier natural resource success stories.”

Wild turkeys were successfully re-established in southeastern Minnesota in 1976.

Four years later, the DNR issued 394 permits for the state’s first spring wild turkey hunt.

This year, the DNR has received approximately 52,000 applications for 34,000 available permits.

Long term, the DNR’s goal is a turkey population that exceeds 100,000 birds with 50,000 spring turkey permits available.

Copies of the long-range plan are available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Hard copies are available by writing to: Wild Turkey Plan, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Road Box 20, St. Paul MN 55155-4021, or by calling (651) 259-5230.

Draft changes to state’s endangered species list available for comment
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resource (DNR) is seeking help from the public as it updates the state’s list of species that are endangered, threatened or of special concern.

Under the state’s endangered species law, the DNR identifies plants and animals that are at risk of disappearing from Minnesota, according to DNR biologist Rich Baker.

The list identifying those species was first created in 1984 and was last revised in 1996.

“The DNR’s goal is to maintain an endangered species list that reflects our scientific knowledge of the conservation status and needs of Minnesota’s plants and animals,” Baker said. “We hope folks will provide us with information that can help us determine if a species is threatened with extinction in the state. All information submitted to the DNR will be considered as we proceed to revise the list during 2007.”

Over the past 10 years, research and survey work conducted by the DNR and other resource management agencies, and by university and other researchers, has provided new information about where rare species are and whether or not they are vulnerable to extinction.

DNR staff has used this information to develop a set of draft changes to the list. These changes are now available for the public’s review and comment.

Details of the draft changes, along with an online comment form, are available on the DNR’s Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Comments on the draft will be accepted between Jan. 2 and March 5.

Following the comment period, the DNR will revise the draft changes, prepare additional supporting information, and submit the final proposal for administrative rulemaking.

That process will include additional opportunities for public input.
Printed copies of the draft changes and comment form, and further information can also be requested from the DNR by calling or writing to: Rich Baker, Minnesota DNR, 500 Lafayette Rd., Box 25 St. Paul, MN 55155; phone (651) 259-5073; e-mail rich.baker@dnr.state.mn.us.

Conservation officer tales - January
From the DNR

• Now that’s a big deal

A deer hunter told Conservation Officer (CO) Kipp Duncan of Duluth he killed three deer last fall.

Not a big deal, considering hunters can shoot up to five deer in some areas.

“Then the hunter said he killed all three with one shot,” Duncan reported. “Now that’s a big deal.”

• I’ve got your picture

CO Nikki Shoutz (Pine River) reported a hunter in the Pine River area discovered a surprise when he checked his trail camera: a photo of his neighbor trespassing on his property.

• A black eye for hunting

CO Jeff Johanson (Osakis) investigated complaints of deer carcasses dumped along township roads.

In one case, a large doe was found dumped along the road, field dressed with no meat taken off at all.

• Senseless acts of vandalism that cost everyone

CO Colleen Adam (OHV Recreation Officer – Park Rapids) reported numerous newly erected road and trail signs destroyed by various caliber firearms.

The signing process of the legislatively required forest reclassification is labor intensive and costly.

Resigning costs all citizens of the state. If you see someone shooting at signs, note a vehicle description and call TIP.

• Another example of why it’s important to read hunting handbook

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) found a muzzleloader hunter who had shot a deer.

The problem was there is no open muzzleloader season in Cook County.

Another example where reading the synopsis would have saved the hunter a lot of hassle and money.

• Decoy found in pike’s belly

A spearer explained to CO Tony Arhart (Deer River) that a large northern pike had ripped his live decoy and the harness loose and swam away.

Fortunately for him the 36-inch fish was greedy and was speared by his buddy from a neighboring shelter.

The missing decoy and the hardware were found in the pike’s stomach.

• Violators held by landowners until officer arrives

CO Chris Howe (St. Peter) investigated a case where two individuals kayaked across the Minnesota River and attempted to take deer with a muzzleloader on private property in the East Minnesota River State Game Refuge.

Both men committed multiple violations.

They were apprehended by a landowner and held for law enforcement.
The officer expressed his appreciation but suggested the landowner let law enforcement officers do it in the future.

• Trap bites dog owner

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reported dogs caught in traps were the call of the week.

One person found the trap on his hand after letting his dog out. He had to drive home for help to get it off.

• The great escape

CO Dustie Heaton (Willow River) received a call that approximately 70 geese were trapped in the ice on Sand Lake.

It turned out that the geese were just fine and flew off when the reporting party approached them.

• I hear your’re looking for me

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) received a TIP call of a deer shot from the roadway, after legal shooting hours, on agricultural private property.

Fortunately the suspect vehicle (with fresh blood on it) was found nearby parked at a “local establishment.”

As Kuske was parked down the street the suspect walked out, came over to her truck, knocked on the window and said, “I hear you’re looking for me.”

The person had been deer hunting earlier with no success.

They said they saw the deer in a farm field on their way home, stopped and shot it.

The deer and muzzleloader were seized with citations issued.

• Explaining importance of safety to someone who should know better

CO Rob Haberman (St. Cloud) pulled over an ATV being operated in a careless manner along Highway 10.

The ATV had an expired registration tag displayed.

When asked why he had no current registration, the man stated the ATV was an uncle’s who was killed on the same ATV in an accident in 2005.

Haberman explained safe operation is an important part of ATV riding.
Law enforcement action was taken for the violations.

• I’m beginning to see the light

CO Sarah Backer (Cambridge) received a complaint involving a bow hunter who was baiting and using artificial lights while sitting in a stand well after legal shooting hours.

After observing the activity for about an hour, Backer made contact.

The individual had a light affixed to the bow “so I can see where I am going and what I am looking at.”

• Not a very positive image for hunting

CO Joe Frear (Waseca) reported a group of hunters were shooting birds in the ditches of Highway 14 west of Waseca with cars passing by. The officer watched a goose land next to the road.

The bird crossed the road with the hunters in hot pursuit. Not a very positive image for hunting.

• A pink squirrel?

CO Thor Nelson (Bloomington) encountered a homeowner who was releasing a squirrel that was live trapped in a residence.

What made this encounter unusual was that the squatter squirrel was painted pink so that it could be identified if it returned to the residence!

• Goose damage

CO Mike Shelden (Alexandria) handled complaints of goose hunters shooting too close to houses.

In one situation, a goose was shot and it fell into the side of a house damaging the vinyl siding.

• Good luck warden

CO Mike Lee (Isle) observed an individual take a nice 14-pound northern pike while spearing in a dark house.

The individual’s comment to taking the nice fish was, “I guess when you see a game warden, it’s not all bad.”

• Pesky musket gets speared

CO Joyce Kuske (Little Falls) checked a spear house with a lot of blood by the door. The occupants stated they had not caught any fish.

When asked what the blood was from they said they had just speared a pesky muskrat (which is illegal to do).

• Spinning your wheels

CO Rob Haberman (St. Cloud) cited a man for careless operation of an ATV for riding 360s close to fellow fishermen.

While Haberman was loading his truck at the public access, a companion of the individual cited asked how far away do you have to be to spin 360s.

Haberman told the individual he couldn’t ride in that manner on any public land and frozen waters regardless of distance from people.

• Spiked boards in field drive

With the assistance of metro COs, CO Dan Book (Rushford) reported charges are pending on a person, who while trespassing, placed spiked boards in a field drive in an attempt to flatten the tires of the landowner’s vehicles.

• Lake bottom dwelling

CO Tim Collette (Longville) reported an angler had a bad day when his large sleeper house fell through the ice. He got it out, but totally demolished it in the process.

When asked if any of the debris ended up in the lake, the owner assured the officer that none had.

A look with an underwater camera proved differently.

The man is now faced with having to remove a large amount of debris from the lake bottom as well.

• Help! The eelpout got me

CO Mike Lee (Isle) observed a man who was in the process of landing his first eelpout.

When the individual went to grab hold of the fish, the eelpout began to wrap itself around his arm. Lee wrote, “Not knowing this would happen, the angler became very, well, let’s say excited, and was yelling for help from the other anglers who were with him. After a lot of commotion, the line was cut and the eelpout was removed from his arm, much to the relief of the individual.”

• Anglers stumble back to unhappy spouses

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) dealt with three very intoxicated anglers who left fishing lines in the lake and walked to the next lake one-quarter mile away.

When they returned, they had tallied six violations.

In the time it took to issue the paperwork, they had downed another liter of tequila and stumbled back to unhappy spouses who were called to take them home.

• An old game warden provides a little entertainment

CO Chris Johnson (Marine Unit) received a call on a Christmas Day from a family who found an injured eagle while walking in the woods.

The eagle could not fly very well, but it could run just fine.

The family enjoyed watching the old game warden chase the eagle through a black spruce swamp.

The family eventually joined the chase helping the officer capture the bird before it was taken to a rehab center.

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