Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

August 6, 2007

Climate or just the weather ?

That is a question that it seems everyone is trying to answer lately.

Is the drought we have been experiencing this summer just a normal fluctuation of weather patterns, or is it more of a trend that will be here to stay?

Without question, in the past few years we have experienced dryer and warmer weather conditions than we are used to.

If you are an outdoor enthusiast the impacts range from subtle to extreme. For example, pheasant numbers across the Midwest range, mostly due to a stretch of warm winters and dry springs, have been increasing every year.

In some areas, numbers are close to all time highs. Again, this is due mostly to mild winters and warm, dry springs.

On the flip side, severe drought conditions in some areas have caused pheasant numbers to decline.

Our area lakes and rivers have also been impacted by dryer conditions.

For example, the fish kill that recently occurred on the South Fork of the Crow River near the Hutchinson dam. Waters levels are so low in the river fish have not been able to move upstream and are being trapped in shallow pools in the river.

Lastly, and while little needs to be said, duck numbers are down, pond numbers are down, and continued dry conditions in the prairie pothole region aren’t helping.

Climate change, or simply just a normal fluctuation in weather patters, which ever one it may be, our outdoor environment is changing.

Black powder shoot at Waverly Gun Club

The annual Black Powder Shoot will be at the Waverly Gun Club Sat., Aug. 11 and Sun., Aug. 12.

Individual shooting will begin Aug. 11 at 9 a.m. This includes mens’ and ladies’ rifle, pistol, and carbines.

There is also shooting for youth 16-and-under, and for those who are 60 years-old or older, or physically challenged.

At 4 p.m. Aug. 11 there will be the miniature cannon and ladies team competition.

The competition begins at 9 a.m. Aug. 12 with the men’s carbine team followed by men’s musket team at 11 a.m.

All interested shooters and spectators are welcome to attend.

The gun club is located about two miles north of Waverly just off County Road 9.

Waterfowl hunters party

The Crow River chapter of Ducks Unlimited will be hosting a waterfowl hunters’ party Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Montrose Community Center.

There will be over 60 dozen Greenhead Gear decoys, Avery blinds, and shotguns to be given away.

Wear a camo shirt or pants to be eligible to win a Benelli Nova 12-gauge Max-4 Camo Shotgun.

Doors open at 6 p.m. Advance tickets only (no tickets sold at the door). Call Mark Linder at (612) 308-5275 for tickets, which are $25.

Fishing Frenzy
Press Release

Carver County Parks and Sheriff’s Office have again teamed up to bring you the annual Take-A-Kid Fishing event at Lake Minnewashta Regional Park, located on Hwy 41 between Hwy 5 and Hwy 7 in Chanhassen.

This year’s event is rescheduled for Saturday, August 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Fishing equipment, life jackets, bait along with a snack and dinner will be provided for all participants.

Join Sheriff Bud Olson and Parks Staff for the days planned activities.

• Program and Activities 9 to 10:30 a.m.

• Fishing with Sheriff Bud Olson from 10:30 a.m. to noon (Limited to the first 50 kids ages 6-15).

• Lunch and program from noon to 1 p.m.

Sponsors for this year’s event include Cabin Fever of Victoria, Chaska Bakery, Westwood Men’s Group and Oak Grove Dairy.

There is a $3/child or $10/ family registration fee for the event which covers the refreshments, equipment and dinner.

For more information or to register for the Fishing Frenzy event contact the Carver County Parks office by today (Monday) at (952) 466-5250 between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.

New Farmfest event to feature outdoor activities, kids, and conservation
From Tom Conroy of the DNR

A ‘pioneer mentality’ was ingrained in me early on. I was taught that things were to be planted in straight rows and kept neat and clean. If not properly planted by the hands of man, it was often targeted to be burned, plowed, cut or pulled.

Pulling a hoe straight along a tightly-stretched string through the garden was an aggravating spring chore, but not nearly as maddening as having to pick every brittle bit of morning glory from the dog pen in the fall. And, of course, in between those two events was the regular weeding of the garden.

Those early lessons were re-enforced some years later when I landed a summer job with the Ag Research department of the Green Giant Company.

Planting, hoeing, irrigating, pollinating, picking corn and beans by hand – all jobs that taught me to believe that nature was meant to be tamed.

Eventually it became evident that nature does not work in straight lines and segregated species and some of it should never be tamed.

Nature, to an untrained eye such as mine once was, is messy and indiscriminate.

That truth is perhaps no better typified than by a prairie. A prairie is comprised of many things just kind of spread all over. And once one gets past that archaic pioneer mentality, a prairie becomes nothing less than an astounding masterpiece of biodiversity.

A prairie, most of the time, cannot be appreciated from a window while speeding down a country road. To appreciate a prairie, one has to take pause from the hurly-burly haste of daily life, stop and look. Really look.

In terms of species richness and biological diversity, a prairie is almost unrivaled. And when the flowers are in bloom, it is hard to imagine the person who cannot see beauty in a prairie.

And now, in addition to all the environmental benefits of prairie, we are discovering that prairie and grasslands may well hold one of the keys to eventual energy independence for out nation.

The biomass potential of prairie is beginning to show great promise as an energy source – and as a future alternative crop for farmers.

What potential prairie and grasslands holds will be one of the focuses at Farmfest this year Tuesday, Aug. 7 through Thursday, Aug. 9.

An additional 40 acres will be added to the show grounds at the Gilfillan Estate between Redwood Falls and Morgan this year and will feature a wide assortment of landowner information and assistance activities, presentations and events.

The new venue is being called the Outdoor Sports Showcase and in addition to a focus on bio-fuels and conservation, it will also emphasize youth outdoor activities and events, ranging from laser gun shooting and ATV fitting to fishing lessons and bluebird house building.

There will also be a series of presentations on a wide variety of topics from pheasant management to gun dog training. And, there is a three-acre prairie planting demonstration site adjacent to the DNR tent.

“Kids and conservation” will be DNR’s dual focus during the three-day event. And, for good measure and fun, there will be two buffalo chip throwing contests on Aug. 8 and 9.

The Aug. 8 contest will feature, among others, DNR Commissioner Mark Holsten, State Sen. Dennis Frederickson, Rep. Brad Finstad, commissioners from Renville and Redwood counties, local mayors, and DNR Southern Region Director Mark Matuska.

The Aug. 9 contest will highlight local and statewide media representatives, including Lynn Ketelson from the Linder Farm Network, Kevin Schulz from The Land Magazine, Tom Rothman from MN. Farm Network, Andrea Johnson from MN Farm Guide, Lori Roti from Tri-State Neighbor, Joel Koetke and Tom Mulso from Three Eagles radio, and possibly others.

Show hours are expanded from normal Farmfest hours. Hours for the first two days are 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the last day.

For additional information about Farmfest and the Outdoor Sport Showcase, go to www.farmshows.com.

Mies named National Wildlife CO of the Year
From the DNR

Wildlife enforcement officers from throughout the United States and Canada gathered in St. Paul two weeks ago for the annual meeting of the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officer Association (NAWEOA). It was the first time Minnesota hosted the event.

It also marked the first time a Minnesota conservation officer was named NAWEOA’s officer of the year as Brian Mies of Annandale received the prestigious award.

“I’m extremely honored considering the number of quality wildlife enforcement officers that comprise NAWEOA,” Mies said. “Receiving it during the 120th year of natural resources enforcement in Minnesota made it even more special. I also accept this award for all past, present and future wildlife enforcement officers.”

Nominations for the top award come from fellow wildlife enforcement officers or supervisors, with the final selection of a winner picked by a panel of peers.

The award is given every year to a wildlife enforcement officer of outstanding character, professional competence, and knowledge that has shown exemplary support and contribution to protection and preserving of natural resources.

“Throughout his career, Conservation Officer Mies has gained the respect of his peers and the public as a tenacious investigator, and a fair but firm officer,” said Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Mark Holsten. “Officer Mies is a valued member of the our natural resources law enforcement team and on behalf of the entire DNR, I extend congratulations to him on this well deserved honor.”

2007 has proved to be a banner year for the 16-year DNR Enforcement veteran.

Earlier this year, Mies was named the DNR Conservation Officer of the Year, as well as recipient of the Willard Munger Wetland Achievement Award, in addition to an appreciation award for his work on the DNR deer committee.

Mies won the Minnesota Turn-In-Poachers Officer of the Year Award in 1999.

“I’m really proud of Officer Mies winning each of these prestigious awards,” said Col. Mike Hamm, DNR Enforcement chief conservation officer, “but seeing him recognized with the pinnacle of awards for wildlife law enforcement officers is the ultimate honor.”

The 8,000-member NAWEOA presents annual awards recognizing people and agencies that have performed outstanding work, exemplary service to the public or have contributed to wildlife law enforcement in other ways.

Start planning 2008 fishing tournaments
From the DNR

Anglers and others who want to host fishing tournaments in 2008 can submit applications beginning Aug. 1.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which limits the size and frequency of tournaments on certain waters, will give preference to applications received by Sept. 28.

The application is available at www.mndnr.gov.

Unlike previous years, a fee is now required for fishing tournament permits. The fee is designed to recover administrative costs, which will free-up dollars for fish management programs.

The citizen oversight committee that monitors the DNR’s Game and Fish Fund recommended the change. It was passed into law by the 2007 Legislature.

“The popularity of fishing tournaments has risen to the point where our annual administrative expenditures has grown to $108,000,” said Al Stevens, fisheries program consultant. “The fee was identified as a reasonable way to recover costs.”

Stevens said several approaches for recovering costs were discussed with tournament organizers and legislators before the current structure was adopted.

Under the new system, small open-water contests (31-100 participants, 50 or fewer boats) will pay $120, large open-water contests (more than 100 participants or 50 boats) will pay $400, small open-water contests with off-site weigh-ins will pay $500, large open-water contests with off-site weigh-ins will pay $1,000, and ice fishing contests (more than 150 participants) will pay $120.

The fee, required at the time of application, is nonrefundable except for applications denied following a drawing or withdrawn by the applicant prior to issuance of the permit.

Fees may be waived for charitable organizations. Those wishing to have the fee waived, should send proof of their charitable status and justification for the waiver.

The DNR limits the size and frequency of tournaments on lakes smaller than 55,000 acres, and on rivers and streams.

Any open-water tournament that has more than 30 participants or an entry fee more than $25 requires a permit from the DNR.

Permits for ice fishing contests are required for contests exceeding 150 participants.

However, tournaments for youth age 18 and younger do not require a DNR permit.

In 2007, DNR issued nearly 600 permits statewide for fishing contests.

“By limiting the number of contests held on any lake or stream on a monthly basis, we are addressing the concerns of lake users that fishing tournaments disturb their fishing, swimming, boating and other water recreation,” said Stevens. “Additionally, we keep two weekends each month free of permitted tournaments.”

The number of tournaments allowed each month on lakes is based on lake size.

For example, on lakes smaller than 2,000 acres, two tournaments per month are allowed, each limited to no more than 50 boats or 100 participants.

Lakes from 15,000 to 55,000 acres can have five contests per month, three of which may exceed 50 boats or 100 participants.

There are no limits for lakes larger than 55,000 acres.

If the number of applications exceeds monthly limits, the DNR uses a lottery to allocate available permits.

Applications received from Aug. 1 through Sept. 28 will be eligible for any necessary lottery drawing.

Tournaments with a history established prior to 2001 for a particular lake and time period will have preference.

Applications received after Sept. 28 will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis through the 2008 tournament season.

For a complete summary of the tournament regulations, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367), or view the summary and a tournament application on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov.

Returning soldiers eligible for free hunting, fishing licenses
From the DNR

Minnesota soldiers returning from service outside the United States in the past two years are eligible for free hunting and fishing licenses from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Returning soldiers, including those who served in the National Guard, may fish and hunt small game without a license for two years from their discharge.

They may also obtain one free deer license under regulations passed by the 2007 Legislature.

“Many Minnesota soldiers have put their hunting and fishing trips on hold while they serve abroad,” said Mark Holsten, DNR commissioner. “The free license is a small way we can recognize their sacrifice, welcome them home, and extend an opportunity to be with friends and family in Minnesota’s great outdoors.”

The DNR long has provided free hunting licenses to Minnesota military personnel on leave from stations outside of the state.

The new legislation builds on that tradition. Holsten said a number of DNR employees are in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world or recently returned.

“Their service to state and country is moving,” he said. “I extend to them, and all Minnesota soldiers, our agency’s respect and appreciation.”

The discharged residents must carry proof of residency and official military discharge papers while fishing or hunting small game.

All required tags or state stamps must be obtained. They are available for free at any of 1,800 businesses that sell hunting and fishing licenses across the state.

Firearms hunters born after Dec. 31, 1979, are required to have a DNR firearms safety certificate, which is available online through a training course on the DNR’s Web site www.mndnr.gov.

Military personnel who have completed basic training are exempt from the range and shooting exercise portion of the DNR’s firearms safety training.

A free deer license will be issued to residents who provide military discharge papers and proof of residency at any of the 1,800 businesses that sell deer licenses in the state.

Outdoor notes

• Quack, quack, its back, the Winsted Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its annual banquet at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted Tuesday evening, Sept. 11.

For tickets or more information contact the Blue Note.

• Habisch Outdoors will celebrate the construction of its new retail and service building with a grand opening event Sat., Aug. 25.

A firearm, and many other prizes will be given away.

Habisch Outdoors is located a few miles south of Winsted on McLeod County Highway 1.

• Now is the time to finalize your fall hunting plans.

Take the time to make those last few phone calls confirming permission from landowners and obtaining other needed information.

It’s also time to start getting yourself and your dog in shape for the upcoming season.

• Copper, the yellow lab pub we added to our family back in June, is getting bigger and bigger every day, he’s also driving our old dog Angus, crazy.

• On a sunset walk last week, my daughter Emily and our dog Angus caught the worst end of skunk.

Emily didn’t get a direct hit, but Angus sure did.

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

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