Free hunting and fishing expo in Silver Lake

March 24, 2008

by Chris Schultz

The big little hunting and fishing expo and auction will be at the Silver Lake City Auditorium in Silver Lake (Main Street) Saturday, April 5 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There will be free admission, free parking, and free hunting and fishing seminars at the expo.

This is a family event with national and local organizations, door prizes, items for women, minnow races, and loads of games for kids.

Food will be served by the Silver Lake Lions Club and the Silver Lake Fire Department.

New this year will be a favorite buck mount and a favorite buck rack contest with prizes awarded.

Both first place winners will receive $100 in auction bucks, which can be used to purchase auction items during the silent, or live auctions. Contestants are asked to being their mount or rack between 9 and 10 a.m.

The general public will vote until 3:30 p.m., with the winners announced at 4 p.m.

For more information, call (320) 327-2266 or visit www.christianand deerhunters.org.

Winsted Sportsmen’s Club annual hog roast

The Winsted Sportsmen’s Club will host its annual hog roast Saturday, April 5 at the Winsted Legion.

The hog roast will run from 5 to 8 p.m. with a cost of $7 for advance tickets, and $8 at the door.

Advance tickets can be purchased at Winsted Co-op, Winsted Floral, Keg’s Bar, and from Winsted Sportsmen’s Club Members.

Area firearms safety training courses

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 communities, 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 today, 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.

Pheasants Forever banquet April 12

The McLeod County chapter of Pheasants Forever will host its 22nd annual spring banquet Saturday, April 12 at the McLeod County Fairgrounds in Hutchinson.

For additional information on the banquet or to register, call 888-462-6806 or (320) 587-0052.

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.

Man cited for shooting deer for coyote bait
From the DNR

A Lake City man is facing thousands of dollars in fines and restitution, jail time, loss of firearm and hunting privileges if convicted of deer poaching.

State Conservation Officer Tyler Quandt, of Red Wing, received a complaint on Jan. 29, that someone had illegally shot two deer in rural Goodhue County.

When the officer arrived at the scene, he saw an ATV, pulling a wagon, turn into a driveway.

The driver of the ATV, Michael D. Kutina, 20, of Lake City, then loaded two deer onto the wagon.

Kutina returned to the road and was followed by an SUV driven by a friend.

The officer followed the pair to a nearby residence where he interviewed Kutina.

According to the criminal complaint, Kutina told CO Quandt that the deer were road kills and he was picking them up to use as coyote bait.

The driver of the SUV was only there to help load the deer into his jeep.

“I told him his story didn’t sound very believable,” Quandt said. “Kutina eventually admitted to shooting the deer himself.”

The SUV driver was interviewed by Conservation Officer Kevin Prodzinski of Zumbrota, but was not charged.

Assistant Goodhue County Attorney David Grove said Kutina has been charged with three gross misdemeanor counts, including two counts of taking deer during closed season and transporting illegally taken big game, and a misdemeanor count of shooting big game from a road right-of-way.

Grove said that excluding court surcharges, each gross misdemeanor has a penalty of up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine, the misdemeanor carries a sentence of not more than 90 days in jail or fine of not more than $1,000, or both, and a $500 restitution for each deer if Kutina is convicted. A trial date has not been set.

Conservation officers rely on tips from the public to help catch poachers.

“We need the honest sportsmen and sportswomen to call us with more tips,” Quandt said. “A conservation officer has only one set of eyes. I cover 650 square miles. If the public out here is concerned about natural resources, they can help us catch those who are violating the law.”

People witnessing wildlife or fishing violations are encouraged to contact the nearest conservation officer or law enforcement agency or to call the toll-free Turn-In-Poachers hotline at 1-800-652-9093. Also, #TIP is available to most cell phone users in Minnesota.

Bull moose permit deadline May 2
From the DNR

Hunters seeking a permit for this fall’s bull-only moose hunt must apply by Friday, May 2, to be included in the lottery.

Only those who have not received a permit since 1990 are eligible.

Moose hunting, open only to Minnesota residents, became a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in 1991.

A total of 247 permits are available and moose hunters must apply in parties of two to four individuals.

An application fee of $3 per individual must be included with the application.

Only Minnesota residents 16 and older are eligible for the moose hunt, and no moose hunting is allowed in northwestern Minnesota.

The license fee is $310 per party for hunters who are successful in the lottery. Attendance at orientation sessions is mandatory.

The hunt, which begins Oct. 4 and ends Oct. 19, is conducted in 30 management zones located in northeastern Minnesota.

Estimates taken this winter indicate that about 7,600 moose live in Minnesota.

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

“The few bulls that are taken each year do not contribute to moose population decline,” said Lou Cornicelli, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) big game program coordinator. “Many calves are born each spring, cows are successfully mating in the fall and the state’s bull-to-cow ratio is high. That’s why we continue to offer a limited bull moose hunting season.”

All moose zones are now either completely in or completely out of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Cornicelli said hunters should closely study the application and map, which will be available at Electronic License System (ELS) agents in late March, to determine their area of interest before submitting an application.

Hunters can apply at any of the 1,800 statewide ELS and from the DNR License Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul.

Applicants who have been unsuccessful at least 10 times since 1985 will be placed in a separate drawing for up to 20 percent of the available licenses.

If not selected in the separate drawing, they will be included in the regular drawing.

People who received a moose permit prior to 1991 but none since can apply.

In 2007, the DNR issued 233 state bull moose permits, Cornicelli said.

State licensed hunters harvested 155 bull moose, creating a party success rate of 50 percent.

Trip to cabin
From Tom Conroy of the DNR

Tire tracks in the snow say someone else has been here recently. Boot and dog tracks leading up to the cabin tell me who. I have no reason to wonder why. He and his dog came here for the same reason my dog and I are now here.

It’s March and time to greet the spring, even if it’s only coming in bits and spurts. And no better place, in my mind, to do that than at the cabin that three old friends and I own on one of Minnesota’s most historic waterfowl lakes.

It’s quiet out here. The ducks and geese have not yet returned but there are plenty of other wild critters around to appreciate.

This will be our 22nd spring at what we affectionately call the “Coot Shack.”

It’s in constant use during the waterfowl-hunting season, understandably, but we also visit often during spring and summer.

Even when there is snow on the ground and you can see your breath inside, the cabin still receives occasional company.

I’ve come here ostensibly to prepare the wood duck houses for new arrivals. But more than that, I’ve come in search of something that seems so elusive elsewhere but is found so easily here.

The tracks of George and his dog lead first to the cabin door, then down toward the frozen lake.

My dog and I take much the same path but where their tracks go to the right along the cattails, we veer to the left along a deer trail.

While it’s a meaningless decision, I find myself wondering why I decided to go left. At that moment I realize I’m already finding what I came looking for on this murky day.

The utility bill, the hallway that needs to be painted, work deadlines – thinking about none of that.

I’m pondering nothing more momentous than why I’ve decided to turn left. It feels good. Liberating.

Snowflakes are falling gently as we finally return to the cabin to build a fire. The easy chair has been moved so that it faces the wood stove, confirmation that George took a nap while he was here.

George, it seems, always takes a nap at the “Coot Shack.” So do I, sometimes. When we were younger we never took naps. But then, we’re no longer young.

As the fire crackles and the dog stretches out on the floor, I wander around inside the cabin and study old photos on the walls. At one point I place a photo of me taken almost two decades ago alongside one taken in the duck boat last fall. It’s the same person in both pictures but one of them no longer exists. And that’s okay.

Sitting at the table and gazing out the window, I think more about the aging process. I find it a fascinating process. We look in the mirror each morning and look exactly as we did the day before.

And the day before that. But then we come across an old photograph and it hits us square between the eyes, eyes that didn’t used to have crows feet around them but do now. It happens.

Glancing toward the kitchen I notice the mousetraps on the floor that were set in place last November. None have been triggered. Well, one did snap shut the day my lab Charlie stuck his nose into it. He let out a quick yip and then sat on his haunches staring at the trap for a long while, looking both ticked off and puzzled. I chuckle remembering it.

Time is passing too quickly this afternoon, I think, as Charlie picks up his training dummy and drops it into my lap. Again we walk down to the lake’s edge and I begin flinging the dummy into the cattails. He’s 8-years old now but seems to have all the gusto he had as a pup. A great companion, so many memorable times afield together. How many more?

Twilight is settling in as we head back to the cabin. The fire in the wood stove has died but the red coals still give off warmth. I sweep up the snow I’ve tracked in and give the place a final walk-through. Standing outside on the deck I watch as Charlie lifts a leg to bless the old oak tree. His way, I suppose, of saying he’ll be back. So will I.

What would the world be like, I wonder, bereft of wild places and wild things? A lot more people with cluttered, worried minds, no doubt. More medicine cabinets over-flowing with the latest remedies for relieving stress and anxiety.

I’ve found what I came here for and I’m sure George did, as well. When all that’s on your mind is questioning why you turned left instead of right, you know nature’s medicine is at work. Any worries I brought along have melted away like spring snow.

Black bear permit applications due May 2
From the DNR

Hunters have until May 2 to apply for a black bear license for the 2008 fall hunt.

A total of 11,850 licenses in 11 permit areas are available, said Lou Cornicelli, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) big game program coordinator. The season begins Sept. 1 and ends Oct. 12.

Licenses for the no-quota area, which is outside of the 11 permit areas, can be purchased directly at any ELS agent beginning July 1. No previous application is necessary to buy a no-quota area license.

Bear licenses cost $39 for residents and $196 for non-residents.

The bag limit will remain at two bears in the no-quota area and one bear in all quota permit areas.

Hunters who want to increase their chances to be selected in future years now can select bear area 99 on their application.

They will not receive a permit but will earn a preference point, increasing their chances of being selected in future years.

Individuals must apply for a permit at one of the nearly 1,800 Electronic License System (ELS) agents throughout the state or the DNR License Center in St. Paul. You may also apply by calling 1-888-MNLicense or online at mndnr.gov.

In 2007, there were 16,345 applicants for the available 13,200 permit area licenses.

Three of the 11 permit areas were under-subscribed, Cornicelli said.

Hunters harvested a total of 3,172 bears, 2,625 in the permit areas and 547 in the no-quota area.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: One of the sure signs of spring is when tree sap begins to run and the tradition of maple syrup-making begins.

What determines when and how tree sap runs and what is the process that turns sap into syrup?

A: Maple sap runs best when daytime temperatures are in the high 30s to mid-40s and overnight temperatures are below freezing.

This cycle of above-freezing days and below-freezing nights needs to continue for several days, although nature has been known to occasionally provide a good run under less perfect conditions.

Some sap may flow as early as January or as late as May, but the typical time for a “good” sap run in Minnesota is March 15 to April 20.

Sap is converted to syrup by boiling off most of the water content of the sap, which leaves the sugar and flavor behind.

It usually takes 30-40 gallons of sap from a sugar maple to produce one gallon of pure maple syrup.

Outdoor notes

• Members of the Winsted Sportsmen’s Club recently completed their annual lake clean up project and noted that most anglers did a good job this winter of keeping our area lakes clean and free of garbage.

• The Winsted Sportsmen’s Club also recently sponsored a youth archery program at Holy Trinity Schools in Winsted and donated materials for wood duck house building.

• Now is the time to get new wood duck houses put out, and clean and repair houses that were installed in previous years.

Wood ducks should be arriving back in our area very soon.

• Spring came in like a lion, with six-plus inches of snow falling on our area Friday, March 21, the second official day of spring.

• The trapshooting season at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club kicks off Wed., April 16 with a practice shoot.

For more information, go to www.lpscmn.com.

• Now is a great time to change the line on your fishing reels.

• Take the time to enjoy spring and watch it happen.

• Today, Monday, March 24, the sun will rise at 7:08 a.m. and set at 7:31 p.m.