Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

March 5, 2007

Winter finally came back, spring just around the corner

If you’re an ice angler that had a stationary house on one of our area lakes, you can only hope you got it off the ice before the storm hit.

Fish houses were required to be off area lakes by Wednesday, Feb. 28.

Usually the DNR is somewhat flexible with that date if they know anglers are making an attempt to remove the fish house.

After 12 to 16 inches of snow on Thursday, fish houses that were still on the ice could be there for a while yet.

Aside from ice fishing, it sure looks like a true Minnesota winter again, at least for now.

Two snowstorms within a week’s time did the trick. In fact, it seemed like many people in our area had never been through a big snowstorm before, and were hesitant to even come out of their house.

Yes, the roads were slick. But a big snowstorm, to me, is one where the drifts get so big I can’t drive my 4x4 truck through them.

Although each storm did dump fair amounts of snow on our area, compared to many other snowstorms I can remember, I wouldn’t consider either storm a big blizzard.

Blizzard or not, it sure seems like winter is here again.

Moving on, it’s already March and the snow probably won’t last long.

Within a week’s time, the snow could be melting, creeks and streams running, and ducks flying.

Here are a few signs of spring to look for:

Watch the sun travel north, take note of the sunset every evening, and chart its location on the horizon – you will actually be able to notice the sunset moving north on the horizon.

Watch the steam from the ground unthawing and enjoy the smell of spring, which by the way, could be the pleasant smell of a skunk.

New fishing licenses needed

Beginning March 1, anglers heading out after panfish are reminded their previous fishing license has expired and they need to purchase a new 2007 Minnesota fishing license.

Daylight savings time starts Sunday

Daylight savings time kicks in 2 a.m. Sunday, March 11. Turn clocks one hour forward at that time. Daylight savings time has been extended about one month by an earlier start date, concluding the first Sunday in November.

Local fire departments encourage citizens to put new batteries into their smoke detectors during daylight savings time.

Wright County Pheasants Forever banquet April 2

The 22nd annual Wright County Pheasants Forever (WCPF) banquet is scheduled for Monday, April 2 at the Buffalo Civic Center.

The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner scheduled at 7 p.m.

All proceeds raised at the banquet are used to purchase, restore, and enhance wildlife habitat for local and regional projects, as well as fostering conservation education for our youth.

Over the past 22 years, the WCPF chapter has raised over $500,000 that has been dedicated to acquiring and preserving habitat in the state of Minnesota and conservation education.

If you would like to attend the banquet, contact Walt Barlow at (320) 543-3660, Brad Hayes at (763) 682-3117, or Bruce Bartl at (763) 682-0653.

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner March 10

Prairie Archers will host a steak/shrimp dinner Saturday, March 10 at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie.

The dinner begins at 5 p.m. and runs through 8 p.m.

The steak and shrimp combo costs $10; steak alone is $8; and six shrimp is $8.

The dinner includes baked potato, tossed salad, bread, dessert, coffee or milk, and complimentary drink.

Call in your reservations before 6 p.m. Friday, March 9 to Jim Richardson (320) 395-2721, or to the Dodge House at (320) 395-2877.

Watertown Rod & Gun firearms safety training

The Watertown Rod and Gun Club will be having a firearms safety training class this spring.

The class will be Tuesday and Thursday nights, with registration Tuesday, March 6 at 6 p.m.

Classes begin March 6, and will run through Saturday, March 31, which will be a field day.

The cost is $10, and a parent or guardian must sign for students under 18 years of age.

Classes will be at the Watertown Rod and Gun Club, located .5 miles south of Watertown on State Hwy 25, then west on County Rd. 122 one mile – club on north side.

Classes will begin at 6:30 p.m. and students must attend every class, with class running to 9 p.m.

No firearms or ammunition may be brought to class.

For additional information, contact Tom Radde at (952) 446-1471.

Weather cancels DNR wildlife public input meeting in St. Paul
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has canceled the wildlife public input meeting because of weather, which was scheduled for Thursday, March 1.

The meeting will be re-scheduled at the earliest convenience.

Each year, the DNR holds a series of public meetings across the state to gauge hunter opinions about regulations, seasons, and other wildlife management issues.

Safe hunting is no accident
From the DNR

The basic purpose of a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hunter education course is to teach safe, responsible firearm handling in the field, in the vehicle, and in the home after hunting.

Through lectures, hands-on activities and videos, students learn about firearms, firearm safety, shooting fundamentals, and firearm and wildlife laws.

“While hunter education courses enable safer hunting, they also help hunters be more successful in their hunts - and emphasize ethical hunting behavior,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Enforcement Education Program coordinator. “Subjects covered include hunter responsibility, wildlife identification and management, game care, outdoor survival and more.”

Hammer said now is the time to sign up for a Firearms Safety Hunter Education class. People can’t buy a hunting license in Minnesota and many other states unless they’ve completed the training.

“Instructors from throughout the state are gearing up for the spring rush right now,” Hammer said. “So now is the time to start planning for the fall by registering for a spring 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. The course is also open those who do not hunt.

“Hunter education courses are recommended for anyone who spends time in the outdoors, whether or not they intend to hunt,” Hammer said. “Basic outdoor skills acquired in a hunter education course can be invaluable during any outdoor activities. For example, survival basics can help you prepare for and deal with emergencies.”

Hammer noted firearm safety courses also provide insight into how and why wildlife agencies manage the resource, particularly by using hunting as a management tool.

The youth firearm safety class consists of a minimum of 12 hours of classroom and field experience in the safe handling of firearms and hunter responsibility.

Those 18 and older can complete the training through an independent study online course, or by acquiring an independent study guide and workbook available from a volunteer instructor.

Spring classes are now available but fill-up fast. For more information, log on to or call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

DNR question of the week
From the DNR

Q: One of the sure signs of spring is when tree sap begins to run and the spring tradition of maple syrup making begins.

What determines when and how tree sap runs and what is the process that turns sap into syrup?

A: Maple sap runs best when daytime temperatures are in the high 30s to mid-40s and overnight temperatures are below freezing.

This cycle of above-freezing days and below-freezing nights needs to continue for several days, although nature has been known to occasionally provide a good run under less perfect conditions.

Some sap may flow as early as late January or as late as May, but the typical time for a “good” sap run in Minnesota is March 15 to April 20.
Sap is converted to syrup by boiling off most of the water content of the sap, which leaves the sugar and flavor behind.

It usually takes 30-40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple to produce one gallon of pure maple syrup.

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