Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

April 2, 2007

Spring fire restrictions set for today

From the DNR

Spring open burning restrictions in most of the northern two-thirds of Minnesota will go into effect at 8 a.m. today (April 2), according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The purpose of the fire restrictions is to reduce personal property damage resulting from wildfires caused by debris burning.

The counties affected by the April 2 fire restrictions are all counties from northern Minnesota south to Ramsey, Hennepin and Washington counties, except the counties of Koochiching, Lake, Cook, Lake of the Woods, Polk west of County Road 6, St. Louis north of County Road 16, Beltrami north of Highway 1, and Roseau east of Highway 310 south to Highway 89.

Restrictions are expected to begin on April 9 or later for the remaining counties listed above.

As temperatures continue to warm and vegetation dries out, fire agencies are expecting an increase in fire activity.

Data indicates most spring wildfires originate from the burning of yard debris, according to Olin Phillips, DNR fire protection manager.

Historically, 80 percent of all wildfires in Minnesota occur during April and May. Since the inception of annual permit restrictions, the number of spring wildland fires has been reduced.

“The DNR is asking residents to use alternative methods of debris disposal, such as recycling, composting or chipping,” Phillips said.
Once the restrictions are in place, they will continue for four to six weeks, or until vegetation greens up enough to significantly lower the fire danger.

This is a restriction on the issuing of debris burning permits. Forestry personnel may still give some variances for specific activities.

“Each variance application is reviewed separately,” Phillips said. “These permits are only granted for situations such as prescribed fires conducted by trained fire personnel, burning for approved agricultural practices, and construction or economic hardship burning for which there is no feasible alternative.”

More counties will be added to the restricted area as snow cover disappears and potential for wildfire increases in areas north of the metro. Additional information is available on the DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us/forestry/fire.

Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club to offer firearms training

The Rainbow Sportsmen’s Club will sponsor firearm safety and training classes beginning Tuesday, April 3 in the Cokato City Hall.

Classes begin at 7 p.m. with registration open to students 11 years old and older.

The cost is $15. For additional information contact Harlan Kotila at (320) 286-5482.

Register for DNR firearms class at LP Sportsmen’s Club

A Minnesota DNR firearm safety class will begin Thursday, April 5 at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club. Class will meet Mondays and Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and will run until Monday, May 7.

Cost is $12, and space is limited. If you plan on getting your certification this year, call Gary Godel at (320) 395-2561 to register for the class.

Crow River Chapter Ducks Unlimited banquet

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its 27th annual banquet Tuesday, April 10 at the Blue Note in Winsted.

The doors open at 5:30 p.m., with the dinner starting at 7 p.m., and the auction to follow.

Tickets are $50 per individual, or $75 for a couple.

Your ticket includes dinner, and the opportunity to participate in the auction, silent auction, and numerous drawings.

To RSVP, call (320) 543-3372. The early bird deadline is Monday, March 26.

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.

McLeod County PF Spring Banquet April 14

The 21st annual McLeod County Pheasants Forever Spring Banquet is scheduled for Saturday, April 14 at the Commercial Buildings at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

The banquet begins at 4 p.m. with a prime rib dinner to follow at 7 p.m. A special event will then kick off at 8 p.m.

For banquet registration or questions, call either 866-352-1270 or (320) 587-0052. If no answer, leave name and number and your call will be returned.

Stream and lake monitoring training for volunteers
From the Crow River Organization of Watertown

The CROW is teaming up with the Middle Fork Crow Watershed District, and Minnesota Waters to offer two FREE volunteer lake and stream monitoring trainingworkshops.

The intent of the workshops is to provide volunteers with the knowledge and tools necessary to conduct monitoring on surface waters in the Crow RiverWatershed.

Anyone interested in learning about volunteer options in the Crow River Watershed is encourged to attend.

There is no commitment required by attending the workshop.
Volunteer water monitors will learn sampling methods, data collection and record keeping tips.

Participants will be provided with materials, equipment and lunch free of charge.

All current volunteers are encouraged to attend to learn about updates and obtain a refresher in proper sampling techniques.

Additionally, volunteers on up to 10 lakes and 10 stream sites will be eligible to receive funding for monitoring surface water chemistry (Total Phosphorus, Chlorophyll a, etc).

The first training session took place March 31 in Maple Lake, and the second will be in Spicer Saturday, April 28.

The workshops are offered at no charge, but registration is required. Please contact Diane Sander at (763) 682-1933 Ext. 3 or Julie Klocker at (320) 796-0888 if you are interested in attending.

These training sessions are part of a two year volunteer monitoring enhancement grant through the MPCA.

Funding was made possible by the Minnesota Legislature approval of the Clean Water Legacy Act.

Hrbek and local celebs going to bat for wildlife
From Pheasants Forever

Minnesota’s Build-A-Wildlife Area partnership will hold the 2007 Kent Hrbek Outdoors Celebrity Sporting Clay Shoot Thursday, May 3, at the Minnesota Horse & Gun Club in Prior Lake.

All proceeds from the third annual event go toward the acquisition of new Minnesota Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) open to public hunting.

Headlining the list of local celebrity participants are the co-hosts of popular Kent Hrbek Outdoors television, former Minnesota Twins great Kent Hrbek and Eric Gislason.

The list of remaining celebrities will be released in the coming weeks.

The public, outdoor writers and shooters of all levels are invited to participate in the event, which will kick off the 2007 campaign.

Since its inception in 2003, Minnesota’s Build-A-Wildlife Area (BAWA) partnership has purchased five new WMAs with funds raised through the campaign.

Most recently, the partnership acquired a 159-acre parcel of land in Goodhue County in 2006.

Other accomplishments to date include the 126-acre Delafield WMA in Jackson County (2005), the 240-acre Chetomba Creek WMA in Renville County (2004), the 400-acre Hunters’ Paradise WMA in Traverse County (2004) and the 318-acre Mud Lake WMA in Morrison County (2003).

Through the unique BAWA partnership, every dollar raised is tripled through matching grants from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MnDNR) and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

In other words, each $100 becomes $300 through the campaign.

Also, there are no hidden administrative costs in the BAWA campaign, with 100 percent of the donations going directly into land acquisitions.

Registration for the tournament will begin at 2 p.m., with the 100 bird shoot (shells included) to follow at 3 p.m.

Boasting & toasting, a silent auction and raffles will take place at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Tournament sponsors and participants include Outdoor News, KFAN, Gander Mountain, Federal Premium Ammunition, Rapala, Mills Fleet Farm, Cambria, Carrier, Rapid Sport Marine Center, Game Fair, MnDNR and Pheasants Forever.

A team of five shooters can enter the clay shoot for $1,250, while individuals can register for $250 each.

Space is limited, so please register today.

To learn more and/or contribute to Build-A-Wildlife Area 2007, contact Pheasants Forever toll free at (877)773-2070.

For additional information about Pheasants Forever, please visit www.pheasantsforever.org

DNR announces changes to Minnesota moose season
From the DNR

Allowing Minnesota hunters to harvest only antlered moose this year is among several changes the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has implemented for the 2007 moose season.

The application deadline has been moved up to May 4 and some zone boundaries have been changed.

In the past, hunters who drew one of the state’s once-in-a-lifetime moose permits could harvest either a bull or cow moose.

The change was a precautionary measure prompted by a DNR research project that has shown above-average moose mortality in northeastern Minnesota.

“While hunter harvest is only a minor part of overall moose mortality, DNR biologists feel that restricting cow harvest is a prudent measure, given the unexplained moose mortality in northeastern Minnesota,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.

A study of radio-collared moose has identified nonhunting moose mortality that ranged from nine to 34 percent in the past five years.

This year’s nonhunting mortality rate in northeast Minnesota was 34 percent. The nonhunting mortality rate for moose is generally between eight and 12 percent elsewhere in North America.

Details of changes for this year’s moose season include:

• Moose zones have been reconfigured to better reflect the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) boundaries.

Previously, several moose zones included land both inside and outside the BWCAW, concentrating hunters in more accessible areas.

The new zones will allow hunters to more clearly identify their zone of interest before applying for a permit.

Hunters are strongly encouraged to consult the moose application guide, available where hunting and fishing licenses are sold in late March.

• The application deadline has been moved up to Friday, May 4.

This change, which will allow the DNR to inform successful applicants about six weeks earlier than in past years, will also give hunters more time to prepare.

Applications for moose permits may be made at any of 1,800 businesses where hunting and fishing licenses are sold electronically and from the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

This year 233 antlered bull-only permits are available in 30 zones in the northeastern part of the state.

There is no hunting season in northwestern Minnesota. The season dates are Sept. 29 through Oct. 14.

Moose hunters must apply in parties from two to four individuals.

An application fee of $3 per individual must be included with the application.

Only Minnesota residents, at least sixteen years of age, are eligible for the moose hunt.

Permits are issued through a random drawing, except that applicants who have been unsuccessful at least 10 times since 1985 will be placed in a separate drawing for up to 20 percent of the available licenses.

A person who is still unsuccessful in this separate selection will also be included in the regular drawing.

Because the moose hunt became a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in 1991, hunters who received permits for moose hunts for the 1991 hunt and later are not eligible to apply for the 2007 drawing.

The license fee is $310 per party.

There will be mandatory orientation sessions required for all hunters chosen for moose licenses.

In 2006, 2,952 parties applied for the 279 available state permits.

State licensed hunters killed 133 bulls and 28 cows, for a party success rate of 60 percent.

Bear hunt application deadline approaching
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will accept applications for the 2007 Minnesota black bear hunting season through Friday, May 4.

This year, 13,200 licenses will be available in 11 permit areas in northern and central Minnesota. The season will run from Sept. 1 through Oct. 15.

Applications can be made through the Electronic Licensing System (ELS) agents throughout the state, plus the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul. Applications can also be made by calling 1-888-MNLICEN (665-4236), or online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Licenses for the no-quota area, which is the area outside of the 11 permit areas, can be purchased directly at any ELS agent beginning July 1.

No previous application is necessary to buy a no-quota area license.

In 2006, there were 15,722 applicants for the available 14,850 permit area licenses. Six of the 11 permit areas were under-subscribed.

Hunters harvested a total of 3,290 bears: 2,718 in the permit areas and 520 in the no-quota area.

Bear licenses cost $39 for residents and $196 for nonresidents.

The bag limit will remain at two bears in the no-quota area and one bear in all-quota permit areas.

Outdoor notes

• Yes, it’s time to get the rods and reels rigged, and the boat out of storage.

Many of our area lakes opened up and became completely ice free last week and, after the weekend rains, all of the ice should be gone for another year.

With warm weather look for the spring crappie bite to start soon.

• When you get your boat out of storage make sure you check the trailer and tires first, before you head down the road.

• Good luck to all the Minnesota spring turkey hunters, especially to those lucky enough to draw permits in our area.

• Remember to use phosphorus-free fertilizer on your lawn this spring.

• The cormorants inhabiting an area near Lake Ann between Winsted and Howard Lake have been getting a lot of attention of late.

For the last year or so, I believe the birds have been doing significant damage to the Lake Ann fishery.

Read more on Lake Ann in upcoming weeks.

• The photo in this weeks column of Tonia Radtke and her trophy walleye also made the front page of this week’s Outdoor News. Tonia was the weekly Rapala winner.

• With five new automatic traps, new trap houses, and a recently renovated clubhouse, the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club is hosting a grand reopening to kick off its 2007 trapshooting season.

Also celebrating its 40th year, the event will kick off with practice shooting Wed., April 11 from 6 to 9 p.m., practice shooting with lunch and beverages Sunday, April 15 from 1 to 5 p.m., with official league shooting beginning Wed., April 18.

• With the weather climbing over 80 degrees Monday, March 26, a local, and well known, pastor from Cokato made a neat reference to me, saying; “We all headed south for the day.”

• Don’t forget to purchase your new 2007 Minnesota fishing license.

• The 2007 Minnesota fishing opener is set for Saturday May 12.

• Take a mom fishing weekend is also set for May 12 and 13.

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

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