Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

September 3, 2007

Donated deer to be processed at no cost to hunters this year

From the DNR

Deer donated to food shelves will be processed at no cost to hunters this year, thanks to a new program coordinated by the Minnesota departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Agriculture.

The program is aimed at providing a sought-after food source to those in need while encouraging hunters to help manage the deer herd by harvesting additional animals.

Previously, hunters could donate deer to food shelves but had to pay processing costs themselves.

“DNR staff recognizes that ethically, hunters will not take more deer than they can consume,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. “Simply asking someone to take another deer to manage populations provides only half of the picture. The venison donation program was developed to provide hunters an avenue to donate, at no cost to them, the extra deer they harvest.”

Processing costs are being offset through a $160,000 appropriation approved by the 2007 Legislature as well as an increase in nonresident hunting license fees.

Hunters may also donate to the program.

When purchasing a deer license purchase, hunters will be asked if they want to voluntarily donate $1, $3, or $5 to the program and any interested individual can also donate by visiting one of 1,800 ELS agents statewide.

For 2007, a minimum of $280,000 is available to the program and will pay for processing more than 4,000 deer. Additional donations will allow for more processing.

“DNR has been working closely with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to create a program that is easy for all parties involved,” Cornicelli said.

More details, on the venison donation program, as well as a list of participating meat processors are available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

DU banquet in Winsted Tuesday, Sept. 11

Quack, quack, it’s 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.

Military appreciation day at Cedar Mills Gun Club

There will be a Military Appreciation Day Sunday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Cedar Mills Gun Club, one-half mile north of the junctions of Hwy 22 and Hwy 7.

It is free to veterans of all branches of the service.

Activities will include free pancake brunch served from 10 a.m. to noon.

The brunch will include pancakes, potato pancakes, French toast, scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, toast, fruit, milk, and coffee.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be activities for the children, a program for the women, plus open shooting range – targets and clays provided.

Lots of nice prizes for veterans and their family members.

A free light lunch will be served in the afternoon, plus other snacks and food.

This is free to all military personal and their families regardless of branch of service.

RSVP’s are appreciated. Let your local armory, local service officer or VFW or Legion know if you are planning on attending, or call Wayne Rusch at (320) 587-5603 or (320) 583-0041.

Wright County/West Metro Whitetails announce their 17th annual banquet
Press Release

The Wright County/West Metro Whitetails would like to announce their 17th annual banquet – Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Buffalo American Legion in Buffalo, MN.

Social hour to begins at 5 p.m., with dinner at 6 p.m.

Come and enjoy a fine meal, camaraderie with other deer hunters, the chance to win a very nice prize, and help them continue their work to enhance the deer hunting experience in Minnesota.

Over the past year they sent 10 youth to ‘Forkhorn’ camp where they were educated in all aspects of deer hunting form proper ethics to tracking to survival techniques.

New this year is their ‘Best Buck’ contest. Everyone attending gets a chance to vote on their favorite deer mount.

If you would like to enter your shoulder or antler mount in the contest call Al at (763) 370-1206.

They will also have a taxidermist doing a demonstration of creating a shoulder mount.

There will be silent and live auctions, raffle and games; prizes will include guns, prints, and outdoor gear.

Forkhorns, (attendees 16 and under), will all go into a free raffle where the top prize is a gun.

More information is available by calling Jim at (763) 682-2061 or Al at (763) 263-7893.

DNR to manage eight fields for dove hunting
From the DNR

To provide more opportunities for dove hunters this fall, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is managing eight public fields on wildlife management areas specifically to attract doves.

The three-to-five acre fields were planted this summer with small grains, sunflowers or other crops known to attract doves.

To get ready for the Sept. 1 opener, area wildlife managers have been knocking down sections of the crops, causing seeds to fall and increasing their attractiveness to ground-feeding doves.

“We’re hoping to build a dove hunting tradition in Minnesota by providing opportunities for hunters to get started in the sport,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader. “These fields will be an excellent place for novice hunters, as well as youth, to get a feel for hunting this fun and challenging game bird.”

About one-third of the state’s managed dove fields are located at the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area near the South Dakota border.

The remaining fields will be scattered throughout southern Minnesota, Penning said.

Hunters on these fields will be required to use non-toxic shot to avoid accumulating lead in areas that attract ground-feeding birds.

Because crops are being manipulated, the fields would be considered baited under federal waterfowl regulations and are off limits to duck and goose hunters.

Signs reminding hunters of the non-toxic shot requirement as well as regulations that disallow waterfowl hunting, will be posted on the fields.

The new fields, however, shouldn’t interfere with waterfowl hunting.

“They are not located where waterfowl would typically go,” said Penning. “Our intent is to expand hunting opportunities without taking anything away from the waterfowl hunter.”

Because Minnesota’s dove hunt is regulated under federal guidelines as a migratory game bird, the season will open Sept. 1, along with other states in the Mississippi Flyway.

However, doves tend to leave Minnesota when nighttime temperatures begin to drop near freezing.

“The majority of birds generally migrate through Minnesota by the middle of September,” Penning said.

The daily bag limit for doves is 15. Hunters 16 and older are required to have a small game license and Harvest Information Program (HIP) certification.

The following wildlife management areas will have posted dove-hunting fields: Red Buffalo WMA, Lac Qui Parle County; Lac Qui Parle WMA, Swift, Big Stone, Chippewa and Lac Qui Parle counties; Whitewater WMA, Winona and Olmsted counties; Carlos Avery WMA, Anoka and Chisago counties.

Apply now for either-sex deer permits
From the DNR

Deer hunters who wish to harvest antlerless deer are encouraged to take extra time in determining if they need to apply to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for an either-sex permit prior to the Thursday, Sept. 6 application deadline.

Adult hunters who purchase an all-season or regular firearm license and hunt in a lottery permit area (noted as blue on the colored maps available with the 2007 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook) need to purchase their license and apply for an either-sex permit by the Sept. 6 deadline.

Hunters who intend to purchase an all-season license and hunt during the muzzleloader season also need to apply if they intend to harvest an antlerless deer this year.

“It’s important for hunters to look at the book every year before the lottery application deadline,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. “While some areas are always lottery, there have been some changes around St. Cloud and in western Minnesota as well.”

Hunters who fail to apply before the Sept. 6 application deadline or are unsuccessful in the lottery will be restricted to bucks only, Cornicelli added.

Leftover lottery permits will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15.

However, hunters should understand that permits will be limited as most are distributed through the lottery.

A complete list of lottery areas can be found in the 2007 hunting synopsis, which is available on the DNR Web site or at all 1,800 electronic licensing system agents.

Alternatively, hunters can view specific 2007 deer season information at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Permits available for special deer hunts in 34 Minnesota state parks
From the DNR

This year 34 Minnesota state parks will be open for special permit archery, firearm or muzzleloader deer hunts.

In addition, bonus permits and other special hunting incentives will be in place to attract more participants to apply for special hunts.

Prior to making application for a special hunt, applicants must first purchase a deer license that is valid for the park they want to hunt.

Hunters can apply at any of the 1,800 statewide ELS agents. The application deadline is Thursday, Sept. 6.

Hunters who wish to camp at the park hosting a special hunt will not need reservations. After Nov. 1, all camping is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Park visitors should note, however, that due to the extensive area included in the hunt, some parks will be open only to hunters during the special hunt.

• Applicants must first purchase a deer license

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Parks and Recreation annually holds a number of special hunts in order to manage the deer population.

While this effort has been relatively successful overall, there are some parks where a combination of factors, such as mild winters and undersubscribed hunts, has allowed deer populations to expand beyond acceptable levels.

“Deer are part of the natural communities that we seek to preserve or restore in state parks,” said Ed Quinn, resource management coordinator for Minnesota state parks. “When deer populations in an area become too high, however, they can have significant negative impacts on native plant and animal communities.”

The special hunts in state parks include regular firearms and muzzleloader options as well as archery hunts.

With the exception of Glacial Lakes State Park, the regular firearms hunts in state parks include an opportunity for hunters to purchase up to four bonus permits to take additional antlerless deer.

Muzzleloader hunters with special hunt permits for Jay Cooke, Crow Wing, Lake Louise and Interstate state parks may purchase and use up to four bonus permits.

Muzzleloader hunt permit holders at Lake Shetek, Myre-Big Island, and Nerstrand Big Woods state parks may use one bonus permit.

No bonus permits are available for the muzzleloader hunt at Sibley State Park.

The divisions of Parks and Recreation and the Fish and Wildlife are in the third year of collaboration on a research project to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative harvest regulations on deer populations.

The purpose of these regulations is to increase the harvest of antlerless deer.

One of the regulations being tested is an earn-a-buck option where hunters “earn-a-buck” by harvesting an antlerless deer prior to taking a legal buck.

The antlerless deer and the buck must be harvested in the same park.

The eight “earn-a-buck” parks include Beaver Creek Valley near Caledonia, Frontenac southeast of Red Wing, Great River Bluffs in the Winona, Lake Louise in LeRoy, Maplewood in Pelican Rapids, St. Croix in Hinckley, Whitewater in Altura and Wild River near Center City.

The other regulation being tested is an antler-point restriction where, depending on the park being hunted, a deer must have a minimum of either three or four points on one side in order to be taken.

For example, at Itasca and Savanna Portage state parks, a buck must have at least three antler points on one side to be taken.

At Forestville State Park, the requirement is at least four antler points on one side.

• Youth deer hunts scheduled in state parks.

This year in addition to a number of special youth deer hunts, the state has scheduled a special youth deer season in northwestern Minnesota.

Special Youth Deer Hunts: Lake Bemidji, Savanna Portage, Buffalo River and St. Croix state parks are hosting a youth deer hunt in addition to the regular deer hunt in the park.

The youth hunts are scheduled for October, outside the regular deer season time frame, in order to harvest more deer.

The application deadline for special youth hunts was Aug. 17.

New this year, the special Northwest Youth Deer Season includes hunts at Hayes Lake, Lake Bronson, Old Mill and Zippel Bay state parks.

There is no special license required for this season but as for all hunts, a valid firearms deer license is required.

For all youth hunts, a nonhunting adult must accompany the youth hunter.

• Accomodations for disabled hunters.

During the regular firearms hunt at Wild River State Park from Nov. 3-6, an accessible elevated platform will be available for disabled hunters.

• Special hunts as a resource management tool.

Heavy deer browsing on seedling trees during the winter can nearly eliminate regeneration of some tree species, such as pine.

In addition, deer can also greatly reduce the numbers and variety of wildflowers and other herbaceous plants that grow on the forest floor.

“Techniques, such as bud-capping and exclosures are also used to control the amount of deer browsing,” Quinn said. “Our overall goal is to manage the deer population in the parks so that their numbers are at a level that does not negatively affect the other natural resources. In some cases, that is best accomplished through special hunts.”

While most of the hunts are designated for regular firearms, eight parks (as noted below) will hold hunts for muzzleloaders.

During the city-sponsored archery hunt at Flandrau State Park in New Ulm and the hunt at Lake Bemidji State Park in Bemidji, the parks will be open for use by the public.

Where noted by a double asterisk, access to the park or certain areas within the park will be limited to hunters only during the special hunt period.

• State parks that will hold special hunts include:

REGULAR FIREARMS – Beaver Creek Valley State Park (Nov. 3-4), Blue Mounds State Park (Nov. 3-4), Buffalo River State Park (Nov. 3-4), Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park (Nov. 17-19, Nov. 23-25), **Frontenac State Park (Nov. 17-19), Glacial Lakes State Park (Nov. 10-13), **Gooseberry Falls State Park (Nov. 3-18), Great River Bluffs State Park (Nov. 17-19 and Nov. 23-25), *Hayes Lake State Park (Nov. 3-18), Itasca State Park (Nov. 3-11), Judge Magney State Park (Nov. 3-18), Lake Bemidji State Park (Nov. 3-6), Lake Bronson State Park (Nov. 3-11), Lake Carlos State Park (Nov. 3-6), Lake Louise State Park (Nov. 10-11), Maplewood State Park (Nov. 3-11), **St. Croix State Park (Nov. 10-13), **Savanna Portage State Park (Nov. 10-18), **Scenic State Park (Nov. 3-18), **Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (Nov. 3-18), **Tettegouche State Park (Nov. 3-18), **Wild River State Park (Nov. 3-6) (Accessible elevated platform for disabled hunters available), William O’Brien State Park (Nov. 3-4), Whitewater State Park (Nov. 17-19), Zippel Bay State Park (Nov.3-18).

MUZZLELOADER – Interstate State Park (Nov. 29 - Dec. 2), Sibley State Park (Dec. 1-2), **Crow Wing State Park (Nov. 30 - Dec. 2), **Jay Cooke State Park (Nov. 24-28), Lake Louise State Park (Nov. 24-25), Lake Shetek State Park (Dec. 1-2), Myre-Big Island (Nov. 24-25), Nerstrand Big Woods (Nov. 24-25).

YOUTH FIREARMS – Special Youth Deer Hunts (application deadline for youth hunts was Aug. 17).

Buffalo River State Park (Oct. 20-21), Lake Bemidji State Park (Oct. 20-21), St. Croix State Park (Oct. 27-28), Savanna Portage State Park (Oct. 27-28).

Special Northwest Youth Deer Season (no special license for this season required). Old Mill State Park (Oct. 20-21), *Hayes Lake State Park (Oct. 20-21), Lake Bronson State Park (Oct. 20-21), Zippel Bay State Park (Oct. 20-21)

ARCHERY – Flandrau State Park (part of New Ulm city hunt, Oct. 13-Dec. 31), Lake Bemidji State Park (Part of Bemidji city hunt, Sept. 15-Dec. 31).

Hayes Lake is located in the special deer area created around the bovine TB core area in northwestern Minnesota.

There is no limit to the number of permits that can be purchased for this hunt.

All deer taken in this area must be registered prior to transporting outside the area.

See pages 78 and 87 of the 2007 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook for details.

** Access to these parks or certain areas within the park will be limited to hunters only during the special hunt period.

For more information on special hunts, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367) or visit the state park pages to view the online chart of deer hunts and restrictions at www.mnstateparks.info.

See Minnesota fall colors on DNR web site
From the DNR

Drought conditions and stressed trees could mean a short, unimpressive fall color season in some areas in Minnesota this year while recent rain in other areas of the state may have been enough to “save” their autumn color display.

To keep tabs on the progress of the fall color season, the Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Parks and Recreation has launched its “Fall Color Reports 2007” online at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

The color reports are gathered from information provided by observers in Minnesota state parks.

Because the fall color show in Minnesota includes more than tree leaves, these reports contain extras such as changing fall colors among the native grasses and wildflowers, information about birds, butterflies and other wildlife that are migrating or preparing for winter, and a listing of the berries, nuts and fruits that are ripe for harvesting.

The site also features photos of the changing fall colors and information about autumn events in and around the state parks and recreation areas.

The public is invited to share their current fall color photos online by following instructions listed on the site.

Fall color information can be accessed from the DNR home page by selecting “2007 Fall Colors.” Click on a region of the fall leaf color map to be linked to detailed reports from state parks in that region.

For people who can’t get away to see the fall colors in person, online photo galleries will provide a first-hand look at the autumn scene in various parks.

Typically, colors peak in along the Canadian border in mid-to-late September. Peak colors arrive in the northern third of Minnesota the last week in September or early October.

The following weekend, peak colors usually arrive in central Minnesota including the Twin Cities area.

The southern and southeastern areas of the state normally have good color through the third week in October.

“The fall color season always brings visitors out to enjoy the scenic beauty of our state parks,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR Division of Parks and Recreation. “Since all 66 state parks and six state recreation areas are open to the public year-round, people have the opportunity for recreation and relaxation in all seasons. Our outdoor education programs and the opportunity to witness seasonal events such as bird migration, fall colors and wildlife activity also help bring visitors out to enjoy picnicking, camping and other recreational activities.”

Nelson cited another major factor that helps boost visitation – fewer bugs and mosquitoes.

“Campers especially appreciate the lower bug levels in fall,” Nelson said. “If we experience a string of good weather this fall, I expect our campgrounds will continue to see good business.”

Nelson also recommends a midweek visit to state parks this fall.

“On weekends, our parks are usually pretty busy in the fall,” said Nelson. “If you want to spend a more quiet time in the park, come during the week if you can. During the week, camping is more available and you likely will not need a reservation.”

Individuals who do not have access to the fall color reports online can call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free at 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

For an audio report of fall color status, call Explore Minnesota Tourism toll-free at 1-888-868-7476.

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