Firearms safety training courses filling fast

March 10, 2008

by Chris Schultz

Most of our area towns have firearms safety training courses that are hosted by various sportsmen’s clubs..

Most of these classes fill up fast, as only a limited number of people are accepted in each class.

For that reason, it is a good idea to not wait, and instead, register early.

A couple of firearms safety training courses have either already started, or have already had their sign-up date passed – Delano and Waverly.

For additional information on the courses in Delano, contact John McClay at (763) 675-2397 after 6 p.m.

As for Waverly, you can contact Jim Woitalla at (763) 658-4272.

However, several area communities are still accepting registrations for their courses. Below is the information for these communites, and any additional information.

• 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.

• The Howard Lake Sportsmen’s Club is offering a firearms safety training course starting Monday, March 24.

The other dates for the classes include Monday, March 31; Monday, April 7; Monday, April 14; Monday, April 14; Monday, April 21; and Thursday, April 24.

Adults are welcome, while students must be 12 years old by Sept. 1, 2008.

Parents must accompany students the first night to sign permission forms.

The classes will take place at the community room of the Howard Lake Public Library from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The cost is $7.50.

For further information, contact Dennis Decker at (320) 543-2992.

• The Watertown Rod and Gun Club will be hosting a firearms safety training class that starts Thursday, May 1, and runs through the month of May. Classes are Tuesday and Thursday nights.

For additional information, contact Patrick Cole at (952) 955-2911 or Tom Radde at (952) 446-1471.

Ducks Unlimited banquet April 8 at Blue Note

Ducks Unlimited will be hosting their 28th annual banquet and Crow River dinner Tuesday, April 8 at the Blue Note in Winsted.

For additional information on the banquet, call (612) 308-5275.

9th annual wood duck building day

The 9th annual wood duck building day will take place at the Watertown Rod and Gun Club Saturday, March 15.

It runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and they are looking at making another 100 wood duck boxes.

For additional information, contact Chip Hentges at (952) 200-3176 or Chris Trosen at (612) 750-1942.

Minnesota conservation officer tales – March
From the DNR

• He didn’t tell me

While checking anglers on Upper Red Lake, CO Paul Parthun (Blackduck) was invited into a large sleeper house.

Three men were inside. One of the two men playing cards said he was not angling. One angler said the house belonged to a friend who gave him instructions on the Upper Red Lake Intensive Management Regulations.

This angler proudly told the officer the proper slot length and limit for walleye on the lake.

Parthun observed eight baited lines in the water and asked the angler about them. The angler said his friend never told him how many lines he could use.

The angler said he saw eight holes and figured he should use them all.

Parthun provided the man with a copy of the fishing synopsis and a citation for angling with extra lines.

• You’re using what for bait?

CO Dan Malinowski (Fosston) observed a woman catching more fish using lemonade fruit chews for bait versus her mentor using minnows for bait.

• ‘Hank’ the entertainer

CO Tim Gray (Bagley) checked a fish house that had an unusual visitor.

A weasel moved in and was eating table scraps and mice. Several anglers from neighboring houses watched as “Hank” the weasel entertained them.

• I want to ‘read all about it’ in the co-weekly report

CO Jim Guida (Nisswa) came across two anglers that had five lines down.

When the citation was being issued, one angler asked, “Is this going to be good enough to make the next CO Weekly Report?” If you’re reading this, you made the cut.

• Deer disaster

CO Greg Salo (Mora) received a report of eight deer that were struck by a vehicle.

All eight deer were dead and several car parts were left on the roadway. The driver didn’t file a report.

• Lake Minnetonka nice

CO Aaron Kahre (Minnetonka) observed a man drill three holes through the 20-plus inches of lake ice with a hand auger.

After the man finished, he cleaned the slush out of them, picked up his tip-up, auger, and scoop, and drove away, leaving the freshly drilled holes for someone else.

• A story full of holes

CO Dan McBroom (Rochester) checked an angler that had seven holes drilled with floats in five of them.

Turns out four of the holes had artificial weeds and the fifth hole had a camera, but no extra lines.

• Coyote bait

CO Tyler Quandt (Red Wing) received report of an individual who had shot two deer illegally during a recent blizzard.

The suspect was caught in the act of taking the deer from the scene and faces several gross misdemeanor and misdemeanor charges, loss of hunting privileges and loss of the firearm.

The suspect was intended to use the deer for coyote bait.

• A lot of time to think

CO Tricia Plautz (Henning) assisted CO Gary Forsberg (Fergus Falls) locate and rescue a stranded fisherman on Ottertail Lake.

A cell phone call to 911 allowed dispatchers to locate the fisherman by satellite GPS coordinates.

The fishermen had spent 13 hours in his vehicle before being rescued by the officers.

• Dancing on ice

CO Jeff Johanson (Osakis) pulled up to an intoxicated angler who was reeling up an extra line.

The angler said his friend had left the fish house earlier, had been outside dancing on the ice, and he had just now remembered to reel up the line.

• 1999

CO Matt Frericks (Virginia) stopped a snowmobiler for operating a snowmobile that hadn’t been registered since 1999.

The operator asked Frericks, “You’re not going to give me a ticket are you?”

When CO Frericks returned with a citation for operating an unregistered snowmobile, the operator seemed surprised he was cited.

• Generations deep and one asleep

CO Brandon McGaw (Babbitt) checked an icehouse that had three generations enjoying the fishing, including a one-week old angler who was sound asleep.

• Things that go bang in the the night

CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) reported a homeowner woke up to loud banging on their deck that may have been two wolves either attacking another wolf or a dog.

After the lights were turned on and the homeowner banged on the window, the wolves and what they were attacking ran off.

A check in the morning found lots of blood was left behind. There were no reports of any dogs missing in the area.

• Harassing a 13-year old

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) found an individual harassing and intimidating a 13-year-old boy who was lawfully trapping red squirrels on his family’s private property.

The violator, who apparently did not like the site of a red squirrel caught in a trap, was charged with trapper harassment, possession of marijuana and driving after suspension.
• Deer beds down on front porch

CO Dustie Heaton (Willow River) responded to a call of an injured deer that had been bedding down on her neighbor’s front porch.

Seems the young buck would leave during the day and come back at night to sleep on the porch rug.

Unfortunately, the deer had to be put down due to its poor health.

• It wasn’t us, it was the dog, officer!

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) found a group of anglers with the heads and tails of some rainbow trout removed, which is a violation.

The anglers told Grundmeier to issue tickets to the dog that came by and chewed them off.

• Driving in circles

CO Mike Martin (St. Cloud) witnessed a small pickup driving in circles on an area lake for about 30 minutes.

Martin approached the truck and escorted it back to the public access where the driver stated he was having trouble finding the access because he didn’t have his glasses on.

The man also said he consumed about one-third of a 1.75 liter bottle of whisky and “a couple” of beers while fishing (in four hours).

The driver was arrested for DWI after field sobriety tests.

• A citation and a ride for your troubles

CO Aaron Kahre (Minnetonka) and CO Thor Nelson (Bloomington) were observing a car parked on the lake with the engine running.

After about 10 minutes the driver’s side door came open and the driver got out and angrily started throwing garbage onto the ice.

When the intoxicated driver was asked why, he stated that he was mad at his girlfriend. The man was given a citation for littering.

The local sheriff’s office gave him a ride to jail.

• Bribing walleye doesn’t work

CO Thor Nelson (Bloomington) was standing in a larger, permanent, fish house while the owner of the house was retrieving his angling license from a pocket.

A loose quarter came out of the man’s pocket along with the fishing license.

The quarter fell and made a perfect roll across the wooden fish house floor into a fishing hole on the other side of the house and sank to the bottom of the lake. No fish responded.

This proves the cardinal ice fishing rule and/or Murphy’s Law is still in effect: “Anything dropped in a fish house will invariably fall into a hole,” and it also shows that a 25-cent bribe doesn’t go far with Lake Minnetonka walleyes.

• With a little help from friends

CO Jeremy Woinarowicz (Thief River Falls) recognized a fisherman from a summer contact two years ago on the Red River where the man was charged with an angling violation.

Woinarowicz also remembered the violator neglected to pay his fine.

A warrant check resulted in not only a warrant for that violation, but also an additional warrant for bad checks.

The angler, after borrowing money from four friends, posted bond for the two warrants.

• Wanton waste of big game

CO Karl Hadrits (Crosby) found a rotten buck deer that had been hanging in an attached garage since last fall.

All the doors to the garage had been nailed shut, and the rotten deer had to be carried out through the kitchen and living room of the house.

The person possessing the deer faces charges for wanton waste of big game.

• Angler line doesn’t work

CO Bret Grundmeier (Hinckley) cited an angler for using too many lines.

The man said one of his poles wasn’t really catching fish; he was just using it to attract crappies.

The pole was baited with a hook and minnow.

• The irony of his excuse

CO Paul Kuske (Pierz) found a Little Falls man burning railroad ties in his outdoor wood stove.

Black smoke and toxic fumes filled the neighborhood.

The owner stated that he was burning the ties because, “How else was he supposed to get rid of them, the landfill won’t take them because they are hazardous waste.”

The case was referred to MPCA for enforcement.

• Caught you

CO David Schottenbauer (Princeton) was checking an angler when he noticed another man going to check on his tip-up.

When the man noticed the officer, he turned and ran back to his fish house.

Schottenbauer caught up to him as he jumped into the house and reeled in his extra line.

The man then looked up at the officer and said, “I guess I’m caught?”

• Don’t dig too deep

An angler asked CO Adam Block (Prior Lake) if he knew the status of his previous hunting violation from last fall, when he was arrested for hunting while intoxicated.

Block said he would check into it, the angler said, “Don’t dig too deep.”

A quick computer check revealed an arrest warrant was active for the angler regarding the hunting arrest.

The angler was transported to the local jail.

• I’m not fast enough

CO Bob Gorecki (Baudette) checked an angler in a house on Red Lake had seven lines down for eight holes drilled.

When asked why he had seven lines down and not eight, the angler said he wasn’t fast enough to reel the rest of the lines up.

• Meat for my dog and me

CO Dan Malinowski (Fosston) investigated a complaint of a person on a bicycle carrying a rifle and a deer.

The person was predator hunting and said he found the deer, which appeared to have been hit by a train.

The person said he felt fortunate to have meat for himself and his dog.

• Two eagles soar again

CO Greg Oldakowski (Wadena) received a call from an individual who stated he caught two bald eagles in traps and needed help removing them.

When the officer arrived, he saw a deer carcass in the middle of a field with an eagle on either side, each caught in a leg-hold trap.

Both eagles were successfully released from the traps unharmed. The trapper was cited for trapping over bait.

• A one way ticket

CO Don Bozovsky (Hibbing) and several other conservation officers were working a snowmobile safety patrol when an obviously intoxicated snowmobiler pulled up to the officers asking for directions. The snowmobiler was arrested.

• It won’t let me out

CO Nikki Shoutz (Pine River) handled a call from an 11-year-old who said a deer outside his door charged at him and “wouldn’t let him out of the house.”

The sick, crippled deer was dispatched.

• Happy to oblige, officer

CO Eric Schettler (Fairmont) came across a small game hunter happy to see him.

It turned out it was the first time the 67-year-old man and avid hunter had been checked by a conservation officer.

Northeastern Minnesota’s moose population continues to decline
From the DNR

An aerial survey conducted in January estimates that the number of moose in northeastern Minnesota increased from 6,600 in 2007 to 7,600 in 2008, but the long-term trend suggests that Minnesota’s moose herd remains in decline, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“At first glance, the raw numbers appear to suggest that the population has increased,” said Dr. Mark Lenarz, DNR wildlife researcher. “The margin of error, however, overlapped between years, which means that there was no significant change in the number of moose this year.”

“Based solely on the survey results, I would be hesitant to infer a declining population,” he said. “But the long-term population trend suggests otherwise, and there are other factors that significantly impact moose population.”

Aerial surveys to estimate the moose population have been conducted every year since 1960.

But wildlife researchers implemented a new methodology in 2005. Lenarz said statistical comparisons of data collected from 2005 to 2008 indicate that the population increase was not as significant as it appears.

When nonhunting factors such as disease, bull and cow pairings, cow pregnancy rates, calf survival and predation are considered, indexes used to estimate herd viability drop below the levels at which researchers would like to see them.

Lenarz said a study of radio-collared moose in northeastern Minnesota shows that non-hunting mortality has averaged 21 percent during the last six years.

Elsewhere in North America, that rate generally falls between 8 and 12 percent.

“Biologically, issuing 200-250 permits a year for a bull-only hunt doesn’t negatively impact Minnesota’s moose population,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. “What directly impacts moose population is the cow and calf survival rates.”

Minnesota is the only state in the central region of the lower 48 states with a significant moose population. The moose is the largest member of the deer family.

A copy of the aerial survey report, which was funded and staffed in part by the Fond du Lac Band and 1854 Treaty Authority, is available online at mndnr.gov.

Lake Mille Lacs walleye slot set for 2008
From the DNR

Anglers who fish Lake Mille Lacs during the 2008 fishing season will be able to keep four walleye up to 18 inches in length.

The bag limit of four may include one trophy more than 28 inches.

The regulation, which begins May 10 and requires anglers to release all walleye from 18-to 28-inches, was set by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources following input from Mille Lacs area resort, angling and related interests.

The regulation aims to ensure that the state angler harvest falls within the state’s 2008 allocation of 307,500 pounds of walleye.

Eight Chippewa Indian bands from Minnesota and Wisconsin may take 122,500 pounds of walleye.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Some homeowners have found a bat, or a number of bats, while remodeling rooms or making other home improvements this winter.

What should they do with the little winged creatures?

A: If the bat is awake and flying when first noticed, close doors to confine the bat in one room.

Then, in that room, open the doors and windows to the outside and allow the bat to fly out of the building. It is best to do this at or after dusk.

If this does not work, capture the bat (wear leather gloves to protect your hands) in a towel, or use a container such as a small trashcan or bowl to place over the bat when it lands.

Take the container outside and shake the bat out onto a tree branch or surface from which it can fly away.

Do not drop it onto the ground or into the snow, as it will have difficulty flying from such a cold, low spot.

If the weather is severely cold, release the bat in a sheltered area or contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.

A list of current wildlife rehabilitators can be found at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/rehabilitation/index.html.