Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

March 12, 2007

The South Fork of the Crow River may be designated as canoe route

Press Release

A bill sponsored by Senator Steve Dille (R-Dassel), could possibly designate the South Fork of the Crow River as a canoe route.

The bill passed out of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources last week with broad support.

This bill would allow the South Fork to be listed on state canoe maps and gives an increased profile to the river throughout the state.

This legislation was requested by the South Fork Crow River Association, located in Hutchinson.

The North Fork has been maintained as a canoe route by the DNR for several decades.

The bill includes an appropriation of $60,000 to provide signage, camp sites, canoe access points, removal of obstructions such as trees and development and printing of South Fork canoe route maps.

The South Fork is 104 miles long and runs through Kandiyohi, Meeker, McLeod, Carver, and Wright counties, where it joins with the North Fork at Rockford and continues on to the Mississippi River.

Deer hunting expo in Silver Lake March 17

The Big Little Deer Hunting Expo and Auction will take place at the Silver Lake City Auditorium in Silver Lake Saturday, March 17.

There will be free admission, free parking, and free turkey and deer hunting seminars.

This is a family event with national and local organizations, door prizes, items for women, minnow races, food, and other games for kids.

You can also meet Olympic archery hopeful Kelsey Robinson. The expo runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information call (320) 327-2266, or visit www.christiandeerhunters.org.

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.

Brush-cutting event set to open spaces for sharp-tailed grouse
From the DNR

The Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society (MSGS) will hold its annual volunteer brush cutting event on Saturday, March 17.

The group invites people to come and help celebrate the 20th anniversary of ensuring the sharp-tail’s place as a native game bird of open landscapes.

MSGS is one of a few conservation organizations to sponsor volunteer fieldwork events. This is year 15 of hosting the event in Minnesota’s “sharp-tail country”, this time near Cromwell, MN.

“The MSGS has selected a site that is a good example of cooperation between private landowners and the DNR Private Lands Program and of using cost share programs to improve brushland wildlife habitat,” said Joe Worm, DNR wildlife technician, Cloquet.

“The goal of this year’s outing is to cut down invading brush and trees around a sharp-tail ‘dancing ground’, helping maintain its open character, a critical requirement for sharp-tails,” said Worm.

As in the past, MSGS will provide a free breakfast and lunch.

Volunteers will meet at 8:15 a.m. at the Country Inn Cafe, near the junction of Hwy 73 and 210, in downtown Cromwell.

After breakfast, the group will caravan to the project site, 2.7 miles west of Cromwell on Hwy 210, then one mile north and east via East Mud Lake Road and Woodbury Drive.

According to Bill Berg from the Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society, “after a brief project orientation, it’s just a short walk beyond end of the road to the brush-cutting site.

Shortly after noon, the flock will gather for a bog lunch, consisting of brats, burgers, chips and beverage.

Usually by 3:30 p.m., brush cutters will call it quits and head back home. These outings are good family fun, good exercise, and educational”.

The public is welcome and invited for breakfast, or to join the group in the field at any point during the day.

Observant folks will likely spot sharp-tails, said Berg. Last year, Natural Resources students came from Central Lakes College at Brainerd, Vermilion College at Ely, and Itasca College at Grand Rapids.

All participants will receive a copy of the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer, which featured Gustave Axelson’s article, “Brushland Dervishes.”

There will also be MSGS caps and t-shirts for sale at a special reduced price.

Although March can be pleasant, come prepared for cold, wind and snow, and bring with you some high-energy snacks and water. Snowshoes can be helpful if more snow arrives.

Bow saws and pruning shears will be provided. But, Berg asks that people please bring their own brush cutting tools if they have them. No power tools allowed.

Everyone will be signed on as a “DNR Volunteer” for the day.

Questions can be directed to MSGS representative Bill Berg, (218) 326-4253, or to the DNR Cloquet Area Wildlife Office, (218) 879-0880.

DNR seeks watercraft inspector applicants
From the DNR

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking watercraft inspector interns for the upcoming boating season.

These inspectors are stationed at public accesses on lakes and rivers infested with invasive species such as Eurasian watermilfoil and zebra mussels.

“We’re looking for enthusiastic young adults interested in doing important environmental conservation work,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR Watercraft Inspection Program coordinator.

Watercraft inspectors inform and educate the public about aquatic invasive species and the threat they pose to Minnesota waters.

Other duties include assisting with access posting, conducting invasive species plant removal and other natural resource projects.

These full-time temporary internships start in late April and run through October, with flexibility for students still in school.

Positions are available in the seven county metro area, Wright and Chisago counties, along the Mississippi River, in Duluth, Brainerd, Spicer/Willmar and Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods.

Applicants must have a valid Minnesota driver’s license and be eligible to receive school credit for the position. The application deadline is Friday, March 16.

For more information or to request an application, contact Heidi Wolf at (651) 259-5152 or write to: DNR, 500 Lafayette Rd., Box 25, St. Paul, MN 55155-4025.

Applications and a complete job description can be found on the DNR’s Web site at: www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Conservation officer tales – March
From the DNR

• Yes, you didn’t think

While checking anglers, CO Pat Znajda (Karlstad) encountered two juveniles in a shelter that had eight lines in the water.

When the juveniles were asked about the extra lines, they said two of the lines belonged to their father, but he had gone home to feed the cattle.

The other two lines belonged to their grandfather, who had left to make lunch. About 15 minutes later, the grandfather returned and confirmed the story.

After enforcement action was taken on the grandfather, he said he didn’t think leaving his lines in the water was that big of a deal since he wasn’t gone that long and the fish weren’t biting.

• Feeling guilty

CO Mike Shelden (Alexandria) had an individual admit to spearing a large muskie in Lake Miltona a couple of days after Shelden had initially checked him.

At that time, the man said he had not seen any northerns while spearing in the location of his fish house.

The officer then noticed a large amount of blood outside the house and questioned the man about that.

The man admitted he had speared a large muskie.

• Please, tend your traps

CO Larry Francis (Remer) received a phone call from a citizen about a dog being caught in a trap.

The party was not upset his dog was caught in the trap, but was very upset that whoever set the trap was not tending it.

The party estimated his dog was in the trap for at least five days before being released, presumably by the trapper. The dog’s leg had to be amputated.

• Wolf pack allows CO to pass

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) encountered a wolf pack on a snowmobile trail. The wolves stepped off about 30 yards, allowing the CO to pass.

The pack then went on their way down the trail.

• Three-legged critter

CO Brian Buria (Bigfork) reported investigating calls concerning a three-legged coyote in a horse barn.

• Act 2

CO Cary Shoutz (Crosslake) reported ice conditions continue to be unpredictable and despite the recent cold weather, a vehicle went through the ice in the lake channel between Rush and Lower Whitefish lakes.

The responding tow truck then went through the ice in another channel between Island and Loon lakes.

• A bathroom break

While working snowmobilers, CO Sarah Backer (Cambridge) stopped a speeder going 85 mph.

When asked why he was going that fast, he said, “I have to go to the bathroom.”

• Glad he’s not part of the menu

CO Mark Fredin (Aurora) had a large timber wolf walk within 20 yards of him with the leg of a freshly killed deer in its jaws.

• Only you can stop the spread of invasive species

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) walked into a remote designated trout lake and watched three men fish for a period of time. He determined they had extra lines and were using live minnows.

As Fagerman approached them, one man kept pouring his minnows into the lake. Some minnows were still swimming around in the hole, and live minnows were found on the extra lines.

Hopefully, there were no invasive species or minnows that will be a detriment to the brook trout in the lake.

• Remember, COs are always on the job

CO Bob Mlynar (Aitkin) stopped a group of snowmobilers riding on the Mississippi River at speeds of more than 80 mph.

When asked why they were going that fast, they said, “We thought all DNR officers would be working the Arctic Blast event on Mille Lacs Lake.”

• Shelters becoming popular party spots for teens

CO Jason Jensen (Forest Lake) reported checking anglers and shelters on area lakes.

Jensen found one shelter that was a large tarp with wooden girders underneath, creating a large party hall for local youth on the lake.

Judging by the alcohol containers around the area, it would seem that fish shelters are increasing as popular party spots, since access inside the shelters is illegal.

• Give me shelter

CO Lloyd Steen (Ray) found a fish shelter occupied by eight students, six of whom were handed over to a deputy sheriff, who cited them for illegal consumption.

• Trapper snared

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) located more than 50 untagged traps and snares belonging to one trapper.

The investigation ended with violations of untagged traps, failing to check traps, illegal snare height and loop size, driving on a state trail, and possession of a car-killed deer without a permit.

• Be pet smart

CO Marty Stage (Babbitt) observed several wolves that appeared to have little fear of vehicles or humans.

He also advised people in the area to keep close control of family pets to avoid any attacks.

• A change in disposition

An angler complained to CO Mike Lee (Isle) he had not had a walleye bite all day.

However, while speaking to the officer the man had a hit and brought up a nice 24-inch walleye (that was released).

The party stated the CO had either driven some fish to him, or was good luck.

When the officer asked him about the third line that he was using, and trying to hide, the angler’s feelings changed, and stated, “Well, at least I caught one walleye.”

• You keep talking, I’ll keep writing

CO Bret Grundmeier (Mora) pulled over a snowmobile clocked going more than 70 mph on a lake.

The driver had already received a speeding ticket from a different CO five minutes earlier.

The snowmobiler also claimed it was nearly impossible to drive under 50 mph due to the snow-packed conditions and because he couldn’t really see the speedometer on the snowmobile very well. A second citation was issued.

• Mystery solved

CO David Schottenbauer (Princeton) came across an angler who found a boat on the bottom of Green Lake with his underwater camera.

The boat was reported to have sunk in May 2002. One could still read the registration number on the side.

• The long eye of the law

CO Jason Peterson (Eagan) stopped two individuals after driving onto a lake and smoking marijuana.

The driver asked Peterson how he knew they were smoking marijuana.
The two were surprised when the officer told them he had followed them onto the lake and had watched them with high power optics.

• Reading about the fundamentals of good stewardship

One of CO Nathan Barington’s (Litchfield) lunches was spent talking to a book club at Dassel Elementary School.

The club had just finished reading a book about poaching and game wardens.

• K9 helps apprehend speeding snowmobilers

Two snowmobile operators, displaying expired registrations, decided to flee instead of stopping for CO Travis Muyres of Ham Lake.

The fleeing snowmobiles were abandoned and the two operators decided to continue fleeing on foot.

Both operators finally gave up after being warned that K9 Hunter was going to be sent to apprehend them.

The operators were arrested for felony fleeing in a motor vehicle. Both snowmobiles were forfeited.

• I watch cops all the time

CO Brad Schultz (Center City) noted a very erratic set of vehicle tracks on road.

Then the officer encountered a vehicle stopped in the middle of the road.

As the officer approached the vehicle, the driver got out, nearly falling into the ditch.

Officer noted a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on the driver’s breath.

A deputy was called and the driver was arrested for DWI, subsequent breath test of .31 BAC.

As driver was being placed in squad, he commented, “I know how this works, I watch COPS all the time.”

• You never know who may be listening

Under the “you never know who can hear you” category, CO Jeff Johanson (Osakis) was monitoring the two-way radio traffic on Lake Osakis when he overheard two people talking about just catching a walleye.

The anglers thought the season had closed, and one angler suggested said they better throw the fish back or they might get caught.

The other angler replied he was going to keep the fish and take his chances.

Johanson located the fishermen with the walleye and found out the person knew the season for walleyes was still open and they had just been joking around with the other person.

The joke ended abruptly when it was found the walleye was under the 15-inch minimum size limit, and enforcement action, and the fish, was taken.

• Rod and reel down the hole

CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) checked anglers throughout the area.

In one instance, an angler placed his rod in a rod holder near his hole while he left his line down.

The angler began digging in his wallet for his angling license when Mathy noticed the rod tip violently jerking up and down.

The angler was told he has fish on, he hurried to grab the rod.

The mysterious fish however pulled the whole rod and reel down the hole to the dismay of the angler.

The next time a CO asks to see your angling license, you may want to reel up your line.

Outdoor notes

• I hope you remembered daylight savings time. It changed Sunday, March 11.

• Pheasants galore. The heavy snow cover has really brought pheasants to the roadside area in the past week.

On a drive from Dassel to New Ulm last week I counted over 230 pheasants. All of them looked plump, and in good shape.

• Remember to purchase your new 2007 Minnesota fishing license.

• The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club will begin practice shooting Wednesday evening, April 11.

They will be hosting a grand re-opening event, celebrating the clubs new trap houses and automatic traps, Sunday, April 15.

League shooting will begin Wednesday evening, April 18.

Interested shooters, and teams, are encouraged to call (320) 395-2258.

• Take the time to get outside and watch spring happen.

• The earliest ice-out recorded on Howard Lake was March 15 of 2000.

The latest ice-out occurred May 2, 1950.

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