Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club to host firearm safety classes

Feb. 25, 2008

by Chris Schultz

There will be DNR firearms safety classes at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club Monday and Thursday nights starting March 31, and running through May 1.

The classes will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Class sizes are limited, so don’t wait to apply. To register, call Gary Godel at (320) 395-2561.

2008 firearms safety training course in Delano

Correction: In last week’s outdoors, it stated that parents needed to attend all March classes. Actually, parents only need to attend the March 4 class.

The registration date is Monday, March 3, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at the Delano Sportsman’s Club for the firearms safety training course.

There is a $7.50 registration fee. A parent or guardian is required to register each student.
Students must be 11 years old by March 3, 2008. Adults are welcome and encouraged to take this course.

Class hours are 7 to 9 p.m. each night.

Saturday, April 5 is the field/range day from 7 a.m. to about 1 p.m.

A parent or guardian is requested to attend the March 4 class.
Class dates are as follows:
• March 4, 6, 11, 13, 18, 20, 24, 27, April 1, and 3; April 5 will be field/range day.

The firearms safety training course will cover hunter responsibility, firearms handling, archery, marksmanship, wildlife identification, game management and game care, survival, water safety, and first aid.

If you have any questions, call John McClay at (763) 675-2397, after 6 p.m.

St. John’s fishing club hosts ice fishing event
News release

Saint John’s University and the CSB/SJU Fishing Club hosted a one-day ice fishing event Feb. 9 for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Minnesota community-based matches and fellow College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University students.

Saint John’s University provided food for the event and the CSB/SJU Fishing Club provided the necessary fishing equipment.

The free event took place on the SJU campus on Lake Sagatagan.

Tom Connelly, a senior at Saint John’s University, and president of the CSB/SJU Fishing Club, organized the one-day event with the help of other club members, especially Club Secretary Alex Gassner.

“It was great to work with BBBS, a charitable organization that helps children from our area,” said Connelly.

One of the main goals of the club is to get more young people involved in the sport of fishing.

Connelly also spoke to the importance of learning life lessons from fishing, by saying, “not only does introducing kids to the sport help them, but what they learn while fishing is truly most powerful.

Through fishing, kids learn patience, acceptance that things do not always go your way, and a deep appreciation for nature.”

With wind chills dropping well below zero, patience was certainly needed at the event.

Simplifying deer hunting regulations is topic of public meetings
From the DNR

Simplifying regulations governing Minnesota’s deer hunting seasons will be the topic of nine public meetings scheduled in March by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“This is an opportunity for hunters to provide input on proposals that would significantly simplify deer hunting regulations,” said Steve Merchant, DNR wildlife programs manager. “We encourage anyone with an interest in hunting issues to attend.”

Simplification proposals to be discussed include:

• eliminating the all-season deer license but still giving hunters the opportunity to participate in the firearms, archery and muzzleloader seasons

• consolidating the number of deer hunting zones from six to two

• eliminating license validation

• changing cartridge requirements.

The proposals are based on recommendations from a 13-member citizen committee assembled by the DNR.

Committee members represented a variety of backgrounds and interests including deer hunting groups, new hunters, outdoor media and individuals with local knowledge of deer hunting issues.

The committee’s complete report is available online at mndnr.gov/hunting/deer/simplify.

Meetings will be conducted so participants may attend any time during a meeting to discuss issues and offer comments.

The meeting in our area will take place Monday, March 10 in Hutchinson from 7 to 9 p.m. in room 141 of Ridgewater College, 2 Century Ave, SE.

Each year, the DNR conducts public meetings throughout the state to gauge hunter opinions about regulations, seasons and other wildlife management issues.

Those who cannot attend the meetings are urged to e-mail comments to wildlife@dnr.state.mn.us.

Letters from the farm
From Tom Conroy of the DNR

They’re handwritten and a little tough to read, what with the occasional misspelled word and scratchy penmanship.

Yet the passion and care that goes into each of these letters is plain.

They come to me from an older man who lives still on the Le Sueur County farm where he was born and raised.

Characteristically wistful and wondering, the letters also come sprinkled with accounts of his most recent wildlife observations and encounters.

In one he writes about the woodduck houses that have recently been occupied and how he looks forward to investigating the fruits of the hens’ labors. In another, he shares the enjoyment he’s had watching the birds at his feeders.

Another letter describes rising at 4 a.m. to go down to the marsh with field glasses to watch – well, to watch whatever might be there.

Always, the letters include a heartfelt lament about the passing of what once was and concern about tomorrow.

It’s his grandchildren and all those kids yet to come that he worries about. Outdoors is where this elderly gentleman made his living.

But just as importantly – maybe more so – it is where he has found solace, pleasure and adventure.

He would like his grandchildren to have some of those same experiences – but fears they won’t.

I’ve never met this old-timer, he with the fond memories and diminishing hopes. But I know him. I know how he feels to stand expectantly along the marsh where he used to regularly watch a hundred squealing woodducks take wing at daybreak.

But now only a handful fly off. I know what he means when he bemoans the fact that an “outdoor experience” for many youngsters these days is confined to a lazy walk in a city park.

And, like him, I can remember when it used to be okay to bring your shotgun to school in the trunk of your car.

He wonders what has happened and I have no simple answers for him. The inexorable march of time, as always, leads to change – big and small, good and bad. Some things are simply out of our hands. But one thing is clear. As lovers of wild things and wild places, we could accomplish much on behalf of nature – but only if we work together.

There is a misconception that the DNR has great power and deep, deep pockets. Solve our problems, DNR!

Truth is, while the DNR has regulatory authority in a number of areas, it is limited in what it can do to affect real and lasting change on the land.

And funding for conservation in Minnesota, should anyone be interested in inspecting the books, is as low as its’ been in several decades.

Here in the prairie pothole region of the state, 97 percent of the land is privately owned. And of the approximate 3 percent that is owned and managed for public use, half of that is water.

What happens on the land determines what happens to our water. While the DNR does accomplish many good things, it is limited in what it can do. That’s not an excuse. It’s reality.

The DNR has no authority to tell someone to plant perennial grass instead of corn. It cannot stop people from selling their land to a developer, or order a lakeshore property owner to plant a buffer strip along the water’s edge.

What the DNR can do best is utilize its scientific knowledge, natural resource management skills, and the funding capacity it does have to work in partnership with citizens and organizations. Partnerships is where things happens.

There are countless examples of partnerships resulting in outstanding successes across Minnesota.

The potential for using perennial grass biomass as a bio-fuel is a just one example of where future collaborations could result in major land use changes that would benefit the private landowner as well as water quality and fish and wildlife habitat.

In the meantime, I can only urge the old-timer to not give up.

As someone once observed, the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.

Look no further than the constitutional amendment for dedicated funding in Minnesota for proof of that.

Poacher pays for his actions
From the DNR

A trophy size deer poached in 2006 is now on display at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park thanks to the Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) hotline.

Joshua R. Lincoln, 20, of Hillman, was recently ordered to pay $1,500 in fines and restitution for shooting an eight-point buck in the park in November 2006. He also served five days in jail and had his big game hunting privileges suspended for three years.

State Conservation Officer Paul Kuske of Pierz received a call from the TIP hotline that Lincoln had the poached deer in the back of his pickup.

Kruse discovered an untagged buck and the head of a tagged buck under some tires in the bed of Lincoln’s truck.

Lincoln initially told Kuske the tagged deer was being processed and the untagged deer belonged to a hunting partner who had forgotten to register the animal. He later changed his story.

“While returning home after work around 10:30 p.m., Lincoln said he saw what he described as ‘the biggest buck he had ever seen,’” Kuske said. “Using a spotlight and 30-30 rifle, Lincoln shot the deer, drove into the park and retrieved it. He tried to get a friend to tag the deer, but the friend wanted no part of any illegal activity.”

A portion of the restitution amount was used to mount the deer, which is now on display at the interpretive center.

“It was a beautiful buck that likely spent its days in the state park,” Kuske said. “It only seems appropriate that it be mounted and shared with those who visit Kathio. It’s about the only positive way to look at this poaching case.”

People who witness a game or fish violation in Minnesota can report the incident to the state’s TIP hotline at 1-800-652-9093.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Not every bird species migrates from Minnesota to warmer climates down south before winter sets in – some stay behind. Is there anything that can be done to help these birds survive winter?

A: A good way to provide the nutrition birds need in the winter is to provide three main choices of food – large seeds such as black oil sunflower, small seeds, and suet or peanut butter mixes.

Black-oil sunflower seeds have the greatest appeal to the broadest variety of winter birds and contain a high-energy content.

In addition, water is a critical ingredient of a winter-feeding program.

There are birdbaths with heating elements and thermostats available from bird feeding supply stores.

The heated water is primarily for drinking. People should not worry about birds freezing if they bathe on a cold winter day because native song birds are smart enough not to immerse themselves in the water when the wind chill is 40 below.

For more information on winter bird feeding, check out the DNR Web site at mndnr.gov.