Howard Lake GND fishing contest winners

June 30, 2008

by Chris Schultz

A large crowd was on hand at the annual Howard Lake Good Neighbor Day’s fishing contest June 21 on Howard Lake.

The winners in the Good Neighbor Days fishing contest are as follows:

First place, $400 – Todd Peterson of Cokato, 8.79-pound
Second place, $250 – David Decker of Waverly, 7.69-pound
Third place, $100 – John Barth of Elk River, 6.15-pound

First place, $400 – Jeff Schultz of Waconia, 8.20-pound
Second place, $250 – Dave Oestreich of Howard Lake, 5.28-pound
Third place, $100 – Josh Christian of Hutchinson, 2.28-pound

First place, $400 – Denny Decker of Howard Lake, 5.28-pound
Second place, $250 – Craig Oestreich of Howard Lake, 5.14-pound
Third place, $100 – Kevin Forbes, 4.93-pound

First place, $150 – Daryn Hoof of Lester Prairie, .59-pound
Second place, $75 – Steve Bobrowske of Howard Lake, .59-pound

Applications for Camp Ridley archery hunt open July 1
From the DNR

Bow hunters can apply to participate in the 2008 regular archery deer hunt at Camp Ripley near Little Falls beginning July 1.

Hunters may pick from one of two Sunday-Monday hunting seasons, Oct. 19-20 (code 668) or Oct. 26-27 (code 669).

A total of 5,000 permits, 2,500 per two-day hunt, will be made available.

Because of conflicts with military training activities this fall, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) moved the hunting dates for season one three days later, and one day later for season two.

Hunters may choose from four options this year to apply for the Camp Ripley deer hunts:

• through the DNR’s computerized Electronic Licensing System at any one of 1,800 ELS agents located throughout Minnesota

• via telephone at 1-888-665-4236

• online using the DNR’s internet licensing link at www.mndnr.gov/licenses

• visiting the DNR License Center in St. Paul.

The application fee for the hunt is $8 per applicant. Application deadline is Aug. 15.

People who apply by phone or online will be charged an additional convenience fee of $3.50 per transaction.

This year, participants will be allowed to use bonus permits and take up to two deer during their hunt.

To apply, resident and nonresident hunters will need a valid state driver’s license or state issued identification card with current address; a firearms safety certificate number; or a DNR-issued ID number found on a recent Minnesota fishing or hunting license.

Any identification card used must list the applicant’s current mailing address so winner notification is sent to the proper address.

Applicants must be at least 12 years of age prior to the hunt for which they apply for.

In addition, anyone born on or after January 1, 1980, must have a firearms safety certificate, a previous hunting license or other evidence of successfully completing a hunter safety course.

Hunters applying for a permit will be asked a series of questions and should prepare for these questions by completing a worksheet prior to making an application.

Hunt application worksheets will be available at mndnr.gov/hunting.

Hunters may apply as individuals or as a group of up to four individuals. Group members may only apply for the same two-day season.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event.

The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.

MN elk hunt offers more permits in Grygla area, expands to Kittson County
From the DNR

In an effort to manage increasing elk populations, more elk hunting permits will be available in 2008 in the traditional primary elk zone near Grygla and new permits will be offered in Kittson County, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Elk populations have increased significantly and we’ve observed increasing conflict because of elk depredation, so the number of permits available near Grygla has been increased and a new hunt has been authorized in Kittson County,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator.

Hunters have until Friday, July 18, to apply for one of 23 elk permits. In total, 12 permits (two either-sex and 10 antlerless) will be offered in the Grygla Zone and 11 permits (one either-sex and 10 antlerless) will be offered in the Kittson County Zone in the Lancaster vicinity.

Maps of the two hunt zones can be found at http://mndnr.gov/hunting/elk.

A total of four licenses (two in Grygla and two in Kittson County) will be issued to qualified landowners in the respective elk zones in a landowner preference drawing for those who are owners or tenants of at least 160 acres of agricultural or grazing land in the zone.

Unsuccessful landowner applications will then be added to the general drawing, from which the remaining applicants will be selected.

Alternates will be selected in case successful parties opt not to purchase a permit.

In total, there will be three seasons in each zone and they are divided as follows:

Sept. 13 to 21: two either-sex licenses in Grygla, one either-sex and two antlerless licenses in Kittson County;

Nov. 22 to 30: five antlerless licenses in Grygla, four antlerless licenses in Kittson County;

Dec. 6 to 14: five antlerless licenses in Grygla, four antlerless licenses in Kittson County.

Applications may be made at any of the 1,800 statewide locations where hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Applications are also available from the DNR License Center at 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

Paper applications will not be accepted.

Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two.

There is a non-refundable application fee of $10 per hunter.

Successful applicants will be notified by mail and must purchase an elk license for $250.

Each party will be authorized to harvest one elk.

If no qualified landowners apply, all licenses will be drawn from the general pool of applicants.

In Minnesota, elk hunts are considered once in a lifetime, which means parties that choose to purchase their license, will not be eligible to apply for future elk hunts.

Applicants interested in the Grygla hunt should select Area 10 while applicants choosing Kittson County should select Area 20.

“The early hunt is timed to coincide with the elk rut and hunters will have a good opportunity to try calling a bull,” Cornicelli said. “During the later seasons, elk should be congregated in larger groups with snow on the ground, making tracking and trailing easier.”

Because the majority of interest will be for the bull licenses, DNR is having hunters apply for only their preferred area and a second random drawing will determine licenses and seasons.

All successful applicants will be required to attend an orientation session at Thief Lake WMA headquarters prior to the hunt and will be required to register any elk harvested at this location.

Some biological information relative to elk physical condition will be collected at the check station and elk will be tested for chronic wasting disease and bovine tuberculosis as part of Minnesota’s wild cervid surveillance program.

Hunters should be aware that both zones are comprised mostly of private land and permission should be obtained prior to purchasing their permit.

DNR spring creel surveys confirm that fishing on Minnesota’s major lakes is very good
From the DNR

Preliminary catch, harvest, and pressure estimates obtained during spring creel surveys indicate that fishing is, and should continue to be, very good to exceptional throughout many of the state’s major fishing waters, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“Walleye catch rates for May on Leech Lake have been similar to those observed during the excellent fishing of the late 1990s,” said Henry Drewes, DNR regional fisheries manager. “We have received lots of very positive reports from anglers stating that this is the best fishing they’ve ever experienced.”

Catch rates of walleye across all anglers on Leech Lake during May averaged 0.36 walleye per angler-hour.

Catch rates of anglers specifically targeting walleye were considerably higher at 0.79 walleye/angler-hour.

“Fishing is considered very good any time walleye catch rates are 0.3 or greater,” said Drewes. He noted the Leech Lake rates compare favorably with other premier Minnesota walleye fisheries such as Mille Lacs and Lake of the Woods.

Fishing on Upper Red Lake has been exceptionally good this spring with preliminary catch rates of walleye across all anglers exceeding those observed when Upper Red Lake re-opened to walleye fishing in 2006.

Although spring fishing has been superb, the overall angling pressure has been below average.

This year’s late ice out and prolonged, cold spring have kept some anglers off the lake.

But, as many anglers know, a late spring and cool water temperatures usually means that good walleye fishing will extend later into the summer. As expected, angling activity is picking up.

“If you haven’t gotten your line wet yet this year, there is still plenty of time to get in on the excitement,” said Drewes. “Summer is just beginning and fishing licenses are good until next April,so grab your gear and go. Or, better yet, bring along a friend or neighbor kid and introduce someone new to fishing.”

For more information on fishing, fishing regulations or licenses, visit mndnr.gov.

MN state parks responds to studies that show camping does not come naturally
From the DNR

When focus group participants were asked to name some things that kept them from going camping, many said they simply didn’t know how to camp.

The focus group sessions were conducted last year by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Division of Parks and Recreation.

“This came as somewhat of a surprise for those of us who have been involved with camping and outdoor activities from childhood,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the Division of Parks and Recreation. “It stands to reason, if you haven’t had the experience or training, a new venture can be intimidating.”

To remove the barrier, Minnesota state parks sought to partner with an outdoor recreation organization that could help provide equipment, teach and train those with a desire to learn the basics of outdoor camping.

As a result, Minnesota state parks and its partner, REI, developed “I Can Camp” for individuals and families to learn the basics of camping.

As part of the program, REI staff will show participants how to put up a tent, choose and try out gear and how to cook a camp meal that they will get to eat.

Minnesota state park naturalists will also be on hand to present information, tips and tales to enhance the outdoor experience.

This program is designed for families with kids ages five and up and includes an overnight stay in the campground at either William O’Brien State Park, north of Marine on St. Croix, on June 28 or Lake Maria State Park, near Monticello, on Aug. 16.

The program costs $7 for adults and $5 for children and includes meals.

Participants can bring their own tents and sleeping bags or these are available at no cost upon request.

The programs begin at 1:30 p.m. on the first day and end at 11:30 a.m. the following day.

Registration is required. Space is limited, so people are encouraged to register early by calling REI Roseville customer service at (651) 635-0211 for the program at William O’Brien State Park.

To register for the program at Lake Maria State Park, people should call REI Maple Grove customer service at (763) 493-7861.

Minnesota state park vehicle permits are required to enter the park.

Ruffed grouse counts up after uncertain fall hunt
From the DNR

Ruffed grouse spring drumming counts are slightly higher than last year despite the concern of some hunters that last fall’s harvest didn’t meet their expectations.

“Some people thought last fall’s grouse population may have been lower than expected given drumming counts from the spring of 2007,” said Mike Larson, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife research scientist. “This year’s counts suggest that any potential problems probably haven’t had a substantial effect on this spring’s breeding population.”

Drumming counts increased 9 percent in the northeast survey region, the core of grouse range in Minnesota, to 1.6 drums per stop.

Grouse counts increased most in the central hardwoods region, from 0.7 to 1.0 drum per stop. There were slight increases to 0.9 drums per stop in the northwest and 0.6 drums per stop in the southeast.

Minnesota frequently is the nation’s top ruffed grouse producer.

On average, 115,000 hunters harvest 545,000 ruffed grouse in Minnesota each year, also making it the state’s most popular upland game bird.

During the peak years of 1971 and 1989, hunters harvested more than 1 million ruffed grouse.

Michigan and Wisconsin, which frequently field more hunters than Minnesota, round out the top three states in ruffed grouse harvest.

“Higher drumming counts are good news,” said Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife section chief. “Minnesota offers some of the best ruffed grouse hunting in the nation and we want to maintain and enhance those opportunities.”

One reason for Minnesota’s status as a top grouse producer is an abundance of aspen and other ruffed grouse habitat, much of it located on county, state and national forests, where public hunting is allowed.

According to the DNR’s draft ruffed grouse management plan, 11.5 million of the state’s 16.3 million acres of forest are grouse habitat.

Maintaining public hunting access to large blocks of private lands through the Forest Legacy Program also is a key strategy.

“Maintaining prime grouse habitat is important,” Simon said. “Wildlife managers are working closely with forest managers to find ways for timber harvests to benefit habitat that can provide ample thermal cover for grouse in winter.”

Ruffed grouse populations are surveyed by counting the number of male ruffed grouse heard drumming on established routes throughout the state’s ruffed grouse range.

This year, observers recorded 1.4 drums per stop statewide. Last year’s average was 1.3 drums per stop.

Counts vary from about 0.8 drums per stop during years of low grouse abundance to about 1.9 during years of high abundance.

Ruffed grouse populations tend to rise and fall on a 10-year cycle, Larson said. Counts have increased each year since the last low in 2005.

For the past 59 years, DNR biologists have monitored ruffed grouse populations.

This year, DNR staff and cooperators from 13 organizations surveyed 132 routes across the state.

The DNR’s grouse survey report, which contains information on sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens, will be available soon online at mndnr.gov/hunting.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: There are a large variety of bird species that either call Minnesota home or pass through every fall and spring.

Where can a person go to watch these birds in action?

A: 430 species of birds have been documented in Minnesota. Of those, 312 are either resident or migrant birds that can be expected to be seen annually in appropriate habitat.

Of all 50 states, Minnesota ranks second in the number of people who participate in bird and wildlife watching.

Bird watching can be done nearly anywhere, but some great places include Blue Mounds State Park in the southwest, Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge in the northwest, Sax-Zim Bog (St. Louis County) in the northeast and Frontenac State Park in the southeast.

With the help of ornithologists Bob Janssen and Jerry Bonkoski the Minnesota DNR recently completed an inventory of the bird species which have been documented in state parks.

Checklists of bird species are currently available for 70 Minnesota state parks, and can be picked up at park offices or downloaded from the DNR’s Web site at www.dnr.state.mnu.us/state_parks/birdchecklists.html.