Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

November 5, 2007

I already got my deer for the season

We finished the trip home with the tire jack wedged in between the front bumper and the frame of the truck.

It was about 5 a.m. on Saturday morning Oct. 27. My brother-in-law and I were on our way home from a great two days of pheasant hunting in North Dakota.

As we traveled down a lonely highway in northeast South Dakota I caught the flash off a nice buck bolting out of the cattails that lined the ditch of the highway and, before I could even get my foot on the brake, bam, the right front of my truck was smashed and there was one less deer roaming the fields and sloughs of northeast South Dakota.

After a few minutes to settle down, we got out into the darkness to investigate the damage.

We found a significantly smashed right front side, all kinds of deer hair, a ding farther down the right side of the truck from the animal’s antlers, a smashed right front headlight, and, worst of all, a bumper that was wedged against the right front tire, no traffic on the road and no cell phone service.

Upon this first investigation, and although the engine seemed to be running fine, we were pretty confident we wouldn’t be driving the vehicle home.

Without many choices and really no farm place to walk to (the guy at the closest farm place had already driven by and wasn’t willing or didn’t have time to stop) we started working on the truck in an attempt to get it back in good enough driving condition to at least make it to the next town.

To make a long story short, and my brother-in-law being a pretty good amateur mechanic, we made it home with the tire jack wedged between the front bumper and the frame to keep the bumper from rubbing on the front tire.

Every time we tried taking the jack out, the smashed bumper would spring back into the tire, so we just decided to leave it in there.

You should have seen the look on the insurance adjuster’s face when she noticed the tire jack wedged in there.

My wife and daughters also noted that I wouldn’t be heading to northern Minnesota to deer hunt this year because, according to them, I had already gotten my deer.

Hunters should ask for permission to hunt on private property
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters to always ask landowners for permission to hunt on their property.

According to DNR officials, it also important to remember that once hunters have obtained permission, they are an invited guest and should always respect the rights and property of their gracious host.

“A little respect and a sincere thank you will go a long way in obtaining permission to hunt there for years to come,” said Wayne Edgerton, DNR agricultural policy coordinator.

Any entry onto the private property of another without permission is considered trespass.

Landowners may be able to pursue court action against trespassers whether the property is posted or not.

People who are caught trespassing may be issued a citation and assessed a fine under civil penalties, and repeat violators can lose their license or registration.

If people are convicted of violating trespass laws under criminal procedures, they may lose their hunting privileges for up to two years, lose hunting equipment, and be subject to fines and possibly a jail sentence.

DNR conservation officers and all other licensed peace offers enforce trespass laws and may issue a citation to a person who trespasses in violation of the law or who removes a sign without authorization.

A brochure about hunting private land is available by contacting the DNR Information Center at info@dnr.state.mn.us, (651) 296-6157, or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

The brochure may also be downloaded from DNR Web site at www.dnr.state.mn.us.

Deer drive safety must be top priority
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging all hunters heading afield for the firearms deer season to hunt safely this fall, especially during deer drives.

During an incident last season, eight hunters were making a deer drive, some driving, others posting.

The shooter saw a deer exit from standing corn. He waited until the deer had passed known locations of other hunters.

The shooter did not know the victim had changed posting locations.

There was a slight rise preventing the shooter from seeing the victim.

The shooter fired once at the deer with a 12-gauge slug, striking the victim on the upper part of his left ear, severing the top one-half inch.

“Many times, the victim and offender know one another. In fact, they’re hunting together,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, Education Program coordinator, DNR Division of Enforcement. “But the excitement of the hunt can quickly cloud a hunter’s judgment and perception, and make him or her momentarily forget about surroundings, even hunting partners.”

To ensure safety, deer hunters should establish hunting plans that define who will shoot and when during drives.

Each hunting party member should have a predetermined zone of fire and always know where each member the hunting party is.

“Every hunter assumes an incredible responsibility when he or she picks up a sporting firearm and heads afield,” Hammer said. “It’s up to the hunter to make sound shooting decisions. If there’s even the slightest hint that something isn’t right, don’t shoot. There will be other opportunities. Wait for the next chance and take pride in knowing that you made the right choice.”

Hammer reminds hunters to hunt defensively, and to assume every movement or sound that they hear is another hunter until they can prove unquestionably that it isn’t.

They should also remember to scan the area behind the target, positively identify your target, and be absolutely sure it is a legal deer before taking the safety off and pulling the trigger, Hammer said.

In addition, he reminds hunters that wearing blaze orange clothing is required in areas open to deer hunting with firearms.

He said every accident is preventable. Following a few basic rules is all it takes to have a safe and successful hunt.

“Know where your partners and others are at, know your zones of fire, make your position known to other hunters, be sure of your target and what’s beyond it, and wear blaze orange clothing,” Hammer said. “It’s not only a common sense thing to do, it’s the law.”

Facts about Minnesota firearms deer hunting season
From the DNR

The 2007 Minnesota firearms deer hunting season opened Saturday, Nov. 3.

Here are some facts and figures about deer hunting in Minnesota.

DEER: THE ANIMAL

• Minnesota’s deer population, 1.2 million, ranks number 8 nationally. Texas is number 1 with 4.7 million deer.

• Adult female white-tailed deer weigh about 145 pounds, males 170 – the average weight of female and male humans.

• The biggest white-tailed deer ever recorded was a 500-pound Minnesota buck.

• A whitetail’s home range is about one square mile.

DEER HUNTING

• Last year, 43 percent of Minnesota hunters successfully harvested a deer; about 39 percent were antlered bucks.

• Seventy percent of Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest typically occurs during the first three or four days of the season

• The average hunter spends 4.79 days afield during Minnesota’s firearms deer season.

• Last year’s total deer harvest was 270,800, the second highest on record; 2003 was the record (290,525).

• There are 43 Intensive deer permit areas, covering roughly one-third of the state, where hunters may harvest up to five deer.

• Minnesota’s average deer harvest of 239,920 ranks number 12 nationally. Wisconsin is number 1 with an average harvest of 487,685.

• The largest typical whitetail buck ever taken in Minnesota had a Boone & Crockett score of 202; shot by John Breen in 1918 near Funkley, Minn.

• Minnesota’s number 1 nontypical whitetail buck had 43 points; shot by 17-year-old Mitch Vakoch in 1974.

DEER LICENSES

• Minnesota ranks number 6 nationally in number of deer licenses sold; Pennsylvania is number 1.

• In total, 692,037 Minnesota deer licenses (all types) were sold in 2006.

• Ninty-eight percent of deer licenses are sold to Minnesota residents.

• The DNR Information Center remained open two hours later on the day before last year’s deer opener to answer more than 2,000 telephone inquiries, most of them related to the firearms opener.

• Staff members from the DNR Information Center and License Center will work extended hours this past weekend to handle additional phone calls from deer hunters.

• The DNR Information Center phone number is (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

DEER: TOP 10 HUNTER VIOLATIONS

1-uncased/loaded firearm

2-tagging

3-license

4-baiting

5-shooting from road or motor vehicle

6-shining

7-no blaze orange

8-fail to register

9-ATV/snowmobile closed hours

10-closed season/hours

Wolves still protected
From the DNR

Hunters in the field for this weekend’s firearms deer opener are reminded that it remains illegal to shoot gray wolves, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Federal officials removed the gray wolf – commonly referred to as the timber wolf – from the endangered species list earlier this year, and the DNR assumed management authority.

While no longer endangered, State law classifies the gray wolf as a protected wild animal.

In the early 1970s, the extreme northeastern portion of Minnesota boasted the only population of gray wolves in the lower 48 states.

Through the protections of the federal Endangered Species Act as well as successful federal and state recovery programs, the winter population of gray wolves has increased to about 3,000.

The species now ranges throughout the forested portion of northern and central Minnesota.

“The recovery of wolves in Minnesota and the Great Lakes region is a conservation success story,” said Dan Stark, DNR wolf management specialist.

Shooting a wolf is illegal except in defense of human life and, under certain circumstances, to protect livestock or pets.

Illegally shooting a wolf is a gross misdemeanor with fines up to $3,000 and up to one year in county jail. People convicted also must pay $2,000 in restitution.

“The management goal for wolves in Minnesota is to ensure the long-term survival of the wolf while resolving conflicts between wolves and humans,” Stark said. “With more people in the woods, the potential for conflict increases - particularly for any wolves that have been habituated to humans.”

Wright County/West Metro Whitetails announce Hides-for-Habitat drop sites
Press Release

At the following locations you will find Wright County/West Metro Whitetails Hides-for-Habitat boxes.

• Annandale – Lampi Auction, Hwy 55.

• Buffalo – Wal-Mart, Hwy 25 North, Buffalo Gun Club, Hwy 55 East.

• Cokato – Cenex station, Hwy 12.

• Corcoran – Sur Station, Cty Rd 10 & 115.

• Delano – Ault Marine, Hwy 12, All Season Sports, Hwy 12.

• Hamel – Hamel Lumber & Supply – Hwy 55.

• Howard Lake – Joe’s Sports Shop, Hwy 12.

• Maple Lake – H & H Sports, Hwy 55.

• Monticello – Red’s Marathon, Hwy 75, Monticello Sportsmen’s Club, Hwy 25 S.

• Rockford – Ace Hardware, Hwy 55 E.

• Rogers – Alford’s Station, Hwy 101, Cabela’s – 20200 Rogers Drive.

• St Michael – St Michael Hardware, Hwy 241.

Funds raised from the hides are used to purchase and upgrade public hunting land in Minnesota. As well as Youth Hunter Education.

‘Tis the season to build a wildlife area in Minnesota
From Pheasants Forever

Purchase a Raven Plush Pup at any of the 12 Minnesota Gander Mountain locations this holiday season, and you can help Pheasants Forever (PF) and Minnesota’s 2007 Build a Wildlife Area campaign.

Raven is the lovable real-life sidekick of Pheasants Forever Television’s Ron Schara.

Raven Plush Pups will be sold for $20 at Minnesota Gander Mountain locations through the Christmas season.

The goal of the holiday promotion is to raise $500,000 for Minnesota’s 2007 Build a Wildlife Area campaign.

Because all donations to the Build a Wildlife Area campaign are tripled through matching grants from the Environmental Trust Fund through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, these dollars could end up to being $1.5 million.

Once matched, those dollars will be used by Pheasants Forever to acquire land critical as wildlife habitat.

The land will then be turned over to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for management and opened to the public.

“Raven Plush Pups are truly gifts that keep on giving, helping to build public wildlife areas that all can enjoy forever,” said Joe Duggan, PF’s Vice President of Corporate Relations and Marketing, “We’d like to give a special thanks to Gander Mountain, Raven and all Build a Wildlife Area partners for their commitment to the 2007 campaign.”

Since its inception in 2003, the Minnesota Build a Wildlife Area partnership has generated over $760,000 and acquired six new Wildlife Management Areas in Minnesota totaling 1,553 acres, all of which have been transferred to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and are open to the public.

Accomplishments to date include the 159-acre Buck Family Memorial WMA in Goodhue County (2006), 126-acre Teal Lake WMA in Jackson County (2005), the 310-acre Winter WMA in Pipestone County (2005), the 240-acre Chetomba Creek WMA in Renville County (2005), the 400-acre Hunters’ Paradise WMA in Traverse County (2004) and the 318-acre Mud Lake WMA in Morrison County (2003).

To learn more about Minnesota’s Build a Wildlife Area, contact Pheasants Forever toll free at (877)773-2070 or on-line at: www.pheasantsforever.org/events/bawa/.

Gander Mountain’s Minnesota locations include Baxter, Bemidji, Blaine, Duluth/Hermantown, Eden Prairie, Forest Lake, Lakeville, Mankato, Maple Grove, Rochester, St. Cloud and Woodbury.

Outdoor notes

• Hope you had good luck deer hunting and look for a complete report on the local season and local registration numbers in this column in the upcoming weeks.

• The insurance company I work with noted they have had to deal with a much higher than average number of car deer collisions this year.

• Remember to wear blaze orange when you in field hunting or anytime when your outdoors during the firearms deer hunting season.

• Fall fishing on the Crow River and many of the lakes in our area as been excellent this fall.

A couple of weeks ago on the south fork of the Crow River in Watertown there were over 40 anglers on the river and they were all catching fish.

Plan to fish during the full moon phase in November, which should be around Nov. 27.

• The pheasant hunting in Minnesota and across the Dakota’s has been super this year.

Now is time to watch the remaining cornfields and hunt areas of good cover fright after that corn comes off the field. It’s a great tactic on heavily hunted public lands.

• Give your hunting dog a good check, looking hard at the paws, underbelly, ears, and eyes.

A dog can really take a beating during the season and untreated or unnoticed cuts and abrasions can have lasting health impacts for a dog.

• I’ve seen more bald eagles in our area than ever before this fall.

Take a good look on the north side of Howard Lake, or drive along the Crow River between Delano and Watertown, or between Lester Prairie and New Germany.

• Send a letter, or e-mail, to your congressman stating the importance of the Conservation Reserve Program to wildlife and our environment.

• Remember to keep your firearms and ammunition out of a child’s reach. The best practice is to always put your firearms and ammo away in locked, secure storage, and don’t leave them in the truck or the garage in wait of your next hunting adventure.

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

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