Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Herald Journal

November 26, 2007

The hunting season is not over just yet

Although the duck hunting and firearms deer hunting season are pretty much over for another year, there’s still a few excellent hunting opportunities left before a majority of our outdoor pursuits turn to ice fishing.

The duck hunting season in Minnesota officially closes Nov. 27.

The muzzle loader deer hunting season opened Nov. 24 and runs through Sunday, Dec. 9.

For some, the best pheasant hunting of the year is just starting.

The crops are off the fields, many of the hunters have put their boots away, and it becomes a significant challenge to bag a rooster – it’s late season pheasant hunting, and some of us are addicted to it no matter how hard the north wind blows.

As winter inches closer, predator hunting opportunities increase.

In our area, with an increase in the coyote population, hunting for them has become much more popular.

Now, and as soon as the first significant snow covers the ground, more hunters will be out in our wood lots and sloughs calling and stalking for coyote.

The number of hunters still isn’t big, but it’s growing.

Finally, pheasant numbers in parts of North Dakota and much of South Dakota were tremendous this year and it’s not too late to plan an out-of-state pheasant hunting trip.

It also could be the last year, in potentially many years, that birds like we have this year, exist.

Economic changes in the farm landscape and the loss of thousands of Conservation Reserve Program acres across the Dakotas will, without question, impact pheasant numbers.

I have had the opportunity to hunt ducks and pheasants in North Dakota a few times this year and just being able to see and watch the sheer numbers of wildlife has been worth every minute of it.

To see thousands of mallards circle a cornfield in one section, and drive another couple of miles and see the same in another section is incredible.

Then, to watch hundreds of pheasants move from their feeding areas to their evening roost, while a dozen whitetailed deer are standing in a field watching you, are outdoor experiences I will never forget.

With the pending changes in the farm landscape, those same experiences will be fewer and farther between.

Good luck hunting and remember, the season isn’t over yet.

Ducks Unlimited sponsor banquet Friday

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited’s sponsor banquet will take place Friday, Nov. 30 at the Blue Note in Winsted.

For additional information on the banquet, contact Marc Linder at (320) 543-2339.

Youth snowmobile training hosted by Winsted Sportsman club

The Winsted Sportsman Club will be sponsoring a youth snowmobile training class starting Monday, Dec. 3.

The three classes will be Monday, Dec. 3; Wednesday, Dec. 5; and Monday, Dec. 10 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each night.

The course will be at the Holy Trinity High School cafeteria in Winsted – enter on the south side of the building.

A driving test will follow later, when it snows.

For additional information, or to sign up, contact Harvey at (952) 393-5933 and leave a message.

Fish house and dark house licensing changes greet ice anglers
From the DNR

Changes to fish house rules during the close of the 2007 Legislative session will greet anglers in Minnesota this ice fishing season, particularly those leaving such structures unattended on the ice overnight.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) expects the changes to generate some questions since the 2007 Fishing Regulations Handbook does not reflect the new statute language.

Col. Mike Hamm, DNR’s chief conservation officer, said the changes are pretty straightforward.

“If you haul a fish house out and leave it unattended on the ice overnight, it needs a fish house license,” Hamm said.

The rule change applies to both dark houses and fish houses.

The legal definition for a “fish house” means a structure set on the ice of state waters to provide shelter while taking fish by angling.

For a fish house or a dark house to require a shelter license, it has to be left unattended on the ice overnight and used for taking fish.

“Overnight” is defined as the hours between sunset and sunrise outlined in the DNR’s sunrise/sunset tables in the 2007 Fishing Regulations Handbook.

Also under new provisions of the statute, residents and nonresidents are treated the same.

This means in most cases a nonresident using a fish house during daylight hours will not need a fish house license.

Likewise, if a nonresident angler is found occupying a fish house during the night, no fish house license will be required.

However, if a nonresident places a fish house on a lake and leaves it unattended overnight, a nonresident shelter license will be required.

“For the 2007-2008 winter season, residents and nonresidents will need the appropriate fish house license only if the fish house is left unattended on the ice overnight,” Hamm said.

Frequently asked Questions

• Question: Resident or nonresident is angling with a fish house for five hours during the day. Person leaves ice with the fish house. Does angler need a fish house license?

Answer: No. A fish house license is not required in this instance.

• Question: Resident or nonresident angler stays overnight in a fish house. Does person need a fish house license?

Answer: No. A fish house license is not required in this instance, as long as the fish house is occupied.

• Question: Resident or nonresident angler leaves fish house unoccupied on an area lake overnight in front of the resort angler is staying at. Does the fish house require a fish house license?

Answer: Yes. A fish house license would be required in this instance.

Anytime the fish house is left unattended overnight, a fish house license is required.

• Question: A group of (resident or nonresident) anglers pulls a fish house on the ice for a weekend of ice fishing. The fish house is designed with a wheel system that allows for easy access and removal from the lake. The anglers stay in the house and never leave it unoccupied during the course of the weekend. Does the fish house require a license?

Answer: No. A fish house license is not required as long as the fish house is attended. This includes daylight, as well as nighttime use.

• Question: A group of anglers (resident or nonresident) anglers constructs an 8- by - 8- by 12-foot fish house on a local lake. Regularly the group, or members of the group, will meet at the fish house after work to fish. By 9 p.m. they’ve all left and return the following day at 5 p.m. for more fun. Does this fish house require a license?

Answer: Yes. Depending on who owns the fish house, a resident or a nonresident fish house license would be required.

The following regulations apply to fish houses, dark houses and portable shelters used on all Minnesota waters, unless noted in the 2007 Minnesota Fishing Regulations Handbook.

• A person may not take fish from a dark house or fish house that is left unattended on the ice overnight unless the house is licensed and has a license tag attached to the exterior in a readily visible location.

The commissioner must issue a tag with a dark house or fish house license, marked with a number to correspond with the license and the years of issue.

A dark house or fishing house is not required of a resident on boundary waters where the adjacent state does not charge a fee for the same activity.

• Nonresidents may obtain a license for a fish shelter.

• All shelters (including dark houses, fish houses and portable shelters) placed on the ice of Minnesota waters must have either the complete name and address, driver’s license number, or the nine-digit Minnesota DNR number on the license of the owner plainly and legibly displayed on the outside in letters, and figures at least two inches in height.

• A tag, furnished with the license, must be attached to the exterior in a readily visible location.

• Dark houses, fish houses and portable shelters must have a door that can be opened from the outside at any time when in use.

• Fish houses left on the ice overnight need to have at least two square inches of reflective material on each side of the house.

• Fish houses must comply with the identification requirements of the state for which the angler is licensed.

• No person may erect a dark house, fish house or shelter within 10 feet of an existing dark house, fish house or shelter.

Portable dark houses, fish houses and shelters may be used for fishing within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), but must be removed from the ice each night.

The structure must be removed from the BWCAW each time the occupant leaves the BWCAW.

Spring turkey hunting applications available
From the DNR

Applications for the 2008 Minnesota spring turkey hunt now are being accepted wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Spring turkey hunters may apply for one of 37,992 permits to hunt a five- or seven-day season in one of 67 permit areas.

Last year, spring turkey hunters harvested 9,412 birds.

“Turkey hunters can look forward to more great opportunities this spring,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader. “Turkey numbers remain strong and their range continues to expand into parts of northern Minnesota.”

The 2008 spring hunt will include eight new permit areas. They are:

• Area 152, Mille Lacs Wildlife Management Area

• Area 156, which includes portions of Aitkin, Pine and Carlton counties

• Area 183, which includes portions of Pine and Carlton counties

• Area 241, which includes portions of Otter Tail, Becker, and Wadena counties

• Area 243, which includes a portion of Wadena County

• Area 262, which includes portions of Clay and Norman counties

• Area 421, which includes portions of Wilkin, Otter Tail, and Grant counties

• Area 423, which includes portions of Grant and Stevens counties.
Hunters also should note that areas 228 and 337, which comprise much of the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area, have been combined into a single area now known as area 601.

The same number of permits are being offered in area 601 this year as the combined totals in areas 228 and 337 last year.

A map of permit areas for the 2008 spring turkey hunt is available at mndnr.gov.

Click on “hunting and then on “turkey.”

This spring’s hunt will consist of six five-day and two seven-day seasons.

All Minnesota residents must apply no later than Friday, Dec. 7, at any of 1,800 locations where hunting and fishing licenses are sold or by telephone at 888-665-4236.

A nonrefundable $3 application fee must be paid at the time of application.

An additional nonrefundable $3.50 convenience fee will be charged for all applications made by telephone or the Internet.

Nonresident hunters may apply by mail or by telephone.

Hunters also will be asked to state a second choice from the three latest spring seasons (May 11-15, May 16-22 and May 23-29). In the event they aren’t successful in the lottery for their first choice of spring season, their second choice will be used.

If hunters are successful in the lottery for their second choice and purchase a license, they will lose their preference points for future drawings.

Hunters should not specify a second choice if they do not intend to hunt there.

Hunters who are successful for either the first or second choice drawing and choose not to purchase a tag, will lose the current year’s preference point for future drawings but not accumulated preference from past years.

Hunters who were not successful in either the first or second choice drawing will be eligible to purchase surplus turkey permits, which are sold on a first-come, first-served basis in mid March.

Archery spring turkey licenses will once again be available to residents and nonresidents.

Archery spring turkey licenses may be purchased for the last two time periods (May 16-22, May 23-29) only for any permit area with 50 or more applicants.

Applicants who are successful in the spring permit lottery are ineligible for the spring archery license.

All wild turkey hunters seeking to hunt in spring 2008 must obtain an application booklet at one of the ELS agents or an application worksheet on the DNR Web site under wild turkey hunting at mndnr.gov.

The application booklet contains maps of open wild turkey permit areas, permit quotas, dates and an application worksheet.

The application worksheet should be filled out in advance to ease completion of the application process at an ELS agent.

Turkey hunting licenses are made available by a preference system drawing.

A special landowner-tenant preference drawing for up to 20 percent of the permits is also a part of this system.

Successful applicants in the drawing will be mailed the 2008 Spring Wild Turkey Hunt Book in February. For more information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Outdoor notes

• Walleye fishing on many parts of the both forks of the Crow River has been excellent this fall.

Right now, the river is low, clear, and easy to fish.

Find a good hole near a township road bridge, make sure you are not trespassing, and hook a fat head minnow to a floating jig head with a good-sized sinker about two feet up from the jig head.

Keep trying the spot from one side of the bank to the other and if you catch one or get a bite, fish that spot hard.

There will be a full moon this week, and if the skies are clear and the weather cooperates, a November evening under a full moon is the best time of the year to fish the river.

• If you haven’t noticed, the days are getting shorter and shorter.

• The DNR will have total firearms deer harvest numbers for our area out very soon.

• Remember to wear blaze orange when you’re outside during the muzzleloader deer hunting season.

• Don’t slam your doors, don’t yell at your dog, and be as quiet as possible when you’re hunting late season pheasants.

• I got my truck back in one piece last week, and it’s just like new.

If you haven’t been reading this column, back in October, on the way home from one of those North Dakota hunting trips, I hit a good-sized buck that did a number on my truck.

• Last year, Howard Lake froze over on Dec. 5, and the lake has been ice free since April 7.

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

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