Hutchinson resident named 2009 pheasant stamp contest winner

September 29, 2008

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

A painting of roosters in a cattail swamp by Dean Kegler of Hutchinson was chosen as the winning design from among 22 entries in the 2009 pheasant habitat stamp contest, sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Nine entries advanced to the second stage of judging, from which four finalists were selected Sept. 18 at DNR headquarters in St. Paul.

Laurence Huls of Avon took second place and George Sierakowski finished third.

“Outside is my office, or at least I’d like it to be,” Kegler said. “Being outside and observing wildlife is what I enjoy.”

Kegler, who grew up in Hutchinson, had entered paintings in the pheasant contest twice before being named this year’s winner.

He also participated once in the federal duck stamp contest, where his painting was one of 40 chosen for the semi-final round from among 785 entries.

Nova Scotia used one of Kegler’s paintings on its 1996-97 conservation stamp.

The five-member panel of judges this year included Garth Guyer, firearms safety instructor; Jay Johnson, DNR hunter recruitment and retention program supervisor; Brad Cobb, who chairs the DNR Budget Oversight Committee; Tabor Hoek from the Board of Water and Soil Resources; and Rick Reller, a conservation officer from Buffalo.

Kegler never had won a wildlife stamp competition until being named this year’s pheasant stamp winner. He’d like to someday pursue wildlife art as a full-time career.

He has donated many prints of his art to organizations such as Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited to help promote conservation.

The $7.50 pheasant stamp validation is required of all Minnesota pheasant hunters ages 18 through 64. Individuals who want the actual stamp pay an additional $2 to have it mailed.

Stamp validation sales generate money for habitat enhancement efforts on both public and private lands in the pheasant range of Minnesota.

The DNR offers no prizes for the stamp contest winner but the winning artist retains the right to reproduce the work, which is usually done as limited edition prints.

The 2009 Pheasant Stamp goes on sale in March.

Waverly Gun Club events coming up

The Waverly Gun Club will host a concealed carry class Monday, Oct. 20 and Tuesday, Oct. 21

For more information on the class, contact Les Johnson at (763) 675-3527.

Meanwhile, the doubles league will begin Thursday, Oct. 2 and continue Oct. 9, 16, and 23.

For more information about the club, call the office at (763) 658-4644, or visit the web site at www.waverlygunclub.org.

DNR issues duckboat safety reminder
From the DNR

With many duck hunters anxiously preparing for the Oct. 4 Minnesota opener, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds people to make sure they pack the one thing that could save their lives – their life jackets.

“The lack of flotation devices is still one of the most common law violations among waterfowl hunters and the most common cause of duck hunter deaths,” said Tim Smalley, DNR boating safety specialist. “It’s been that way ever since 1988, when life vests were first required on duck boats.”

Twelve hunters have drowned in boating accidents since life jackets were first required on duckboats 20 years ago.

“While 12 deaths is 12 too many, before life vests were mandated, three to six hunters died nearly every season,” Smalley said.

According to national statistics, more hunters die every year from cold water shock, hypothermia and drowning than firearms mishaps.

There have been no duck hunter drownings in Minnesota during the last two waterfowl seasons.

In 2005, two Minnesota hunters drowned in a single boat accident.

In that case, apparently the 12-foot boat they were in swamped and filled with water, but did not sink. Their guns were still cased and decoys were in the boat.

Minnesota law requires a readily accessible U.S. Coast Guard approved life vest for every person on duck boats.

Plus, for boats 16 feet and longer, there must be one U.S. Coast Guard approved flotation seat cushion on board, to throw to someone in distress.

Seat cushions are no longer approved as primary flotation devices.

Everyone on the boat needs a wearable personal flotation device of the proper size and type.

New life vests made with the waterfowler in mind are even available in camouflage colors.

“They have mesh in the upper body that allows you to shoulder a gun,” Smalley said. “That way, you don’t have to keep taking the vest off when you shoot.”

According to water safety experts, having a life jacket doesn’t matter if it’s stuffed in a decoy sack when the accident occurs.

“You just don’t have time,” Smalley said. “Trying to put on a life jacket during a boating accident would be like trying to buckle a seat belt during a car crash.”

The DNR discourages hunters from wearing hip boots or waders in the boat due to safety concerns.
Hunters have drowned while trying to take their waders off after they have fallen into the water or their boat has capsized.

“That releases any trapped air in the boots and at the same time binds the victim’s feet together so they can’t kick to stay afloat,” Smalley said. “However, if you do wear that sort of foot gear and suddenly enter the water, by pulling your knees up to your chest, air trapped in the waders or hip boots can act as a flotation device. You should practice that maneuver in warm shallow water before you need to do it in an emergency.”

The DNR offers these safety tips:

• wear a life jacket to and from the blind; there are now life vests available for around $35 with mesh in the upper body that allow hunters to shoulder a gun but still offer protection from cold water

• don't overload the boat; take two trips if necessary

• learn how to float in waders and hip boats or don't wear them in the boat

• stay near shore and avoid crossing large expanses of open water, especially in bad weather

• let someone know where you are going and when to expect your return; tell them to call the authorities if you don't return on schedule

• in case of capsizing or swamping, stay with your boat; even when filled with water, it will provide some flotation and is easier to see by potential rescuers.

“If you are near enough to a cell phone tower, it's not a bad idea to bring your cell phone along in a waterproof, reclosable bag to call for help if you get into trouble,” Smalley advised. “You can use the phone without removing it from the bag.”

The DNR has a free publication about waterfowl hunting boat safety called “Prescription for Duck Hunters.”

It is available by calling the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll free 1-888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Or download a copy from the DNR's Web site at www.mndnr.gov/safety/boatwater/publications.html.

Watershed tour is set for Thursday, Oct. 2
From the CROW

The Crow River Organization of Water (CROW) will be hosting a watershed bus tour Thursday, Oct. 2.

The tour will showcase water quality improvement projects funded in the Buffalo Creek Watershed management area through the CROW’s 319 grant, as well as projects completed by the Buffalo Creek Watershed District, City of Hutchinson, and Prairie Country RC&C.

The tour will start at 9:30 a.m., after the regular joint powers board meeting, and is expected to be over at 1:30 p.m.

Contact Dan Nadeau at (763) 682-1933 ext. 122. Space is limited to 45 participants.

Migration Reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

• Canada

Name: Ray St. John

Date: September 7, 2008

Location: London, Ontario

Weather: Low of 10C in the evenings. High of 28C in the day. There have been a couple days of with winds out of the North.

Snow Cover: No snow at this time.

Water Conditions: Very wet summer. Water levels are up. Wetlands are for the most part full.

Feeding Conditions: With rainy weather harvested wheat fields have re-seeded themselves. Waterfowl favoring the tender greens over silage corn fields.

Species and Numbers: Local resident Canada geese gathering in larger groups. There are good numbers of resident geese. Wood duck, teal and Mallards seem to have had and excellent breeding season. There are more local ducks than I have seen in many seasons.

Migrations: Very little migration at this point in our area. There has been very little significant increase in the number of geese or ducks.

Season Stage: Early goose season started on Sept 04 and continues until the 15th. Duck and goose re-opens Sept 27.

Hunting Report: Hunting has been typical. Resident geese are “uneducated” and decoy nicely.

Gossip: Many hunters in several counties talking about the large numbers of ducks. Everyone is very hopeful that this will be a great duck season. Six hours North of this location reporting that the migration is in full swing.

• Central:

Name: Martin Hesby

Date: 09/08/2008

Location: Brookings, South Dakota

Weather: Highs in the 60’s with lows in the 50’s currently.

Snow Cover: None

Water Conditions: Water conditions are favorable across eastern South Dakota this year, as snow melt and early spring rains seemed to fill our pot hole wetlands and lakes to the rim this year. Summer heat in late July and August really decreased the water levels, but most wetlands still have water in them and are in good shape.

Feeding Conditions: Most geese are feeding in wheat and oat fields. Our corn silage harvest is currently behind schedule and very few fields are out. With crop conditions this year, it seems that most crops are behind schedule about two weeks.

Species and Numbers: Resident Canada goose numbers seem to be very favorable this year, with decent production and numbers heading into last weekend’s season opener. Local duck production seemed excellent due to good water levels heading into the nesting season, along with good weather throughout June and July. Duck and goose numbers on a local level are excellent.

Migrations: No migration as of yet, with the exception of Blue-winged teal that are heading south in good numbers.

Season Stage: Resident early Canada goose season is the only waterfowl season currently open in our area.

Hunting Report: Hunting this past weekend seemed to be a little hot and cold for hunters in the area. There were many reports of limits being harvested, although a far larger number of reports of hunters struggling and having poor success.

Gossip: Resident Canada geese seem to be vacant in many of the traditional areas, and have moved into areas off the beaten path. We had excellent production, however the geese really started mixing it up early last week and many moved out of fields they where using leaving hunters with fields with no birds two days before the season. This was pretty typical from what they have been doing the past several years. Overall we should have excellent goose hunting on resident geese, however you will need to get out and scout to pin down a good hunt.

• Mississippi:

Name: Ben Cade

Date: September 10, 2008

Location: Buffalo, MN

Weather: Cool nights with frost north of us. Highs are reaching 70 during the day.

Snow Cover: None

Water Conditions: Some recent rains have added some water to low areas, however we could use more.

Feeding Conditions: Most birds are feeding in small grain, sweet corn or silage fields.

Species and Numbers: Many of our local Canada geese have left the area due to the hunting pressure from the opening weekend. A few scattered flocks of geese are still in the area. Strong populations of Wood ducks and teal have been observed in our area.

Migrations: Some minor movement of birds has been observed. With frost occurring up north, I would expect some teal to begin migration.

Season Stage: Early Canada goose season opened September sixth.

Hunting Report: Many groups of hunters who were able to obtain fields that were being hit with birds prior to the opener have done really well. For those without hot fields, action has been very limited with not much for traffic flocks in our area.

Gossip: Hunters who have been willing to do their scouting prior to the hunt are being rewarded with limits of geese. No pressure over water in the metro zone has birds relocating towards the cities.

Name: Richard Shamla

Date: 09-08-08

Location: Grand Rapids, MN.

Weather: Mid 60’s to 70’s (calling for early frost tonight)

Snow Cover: None

Water Conditions: The creeks, sloughs and Lac Qui Parle Lake are lower than normal and open.

Feeding Conditions: Wheat fields are about the only food source available. Very few silage fields harvested yet.

Species and Numbers: Canada geese are scattered after the early season opened this weekend. I would estimate about a thousand geese in the whole county right know. The duck numbers do not look good in this area. I have seen very few flocks while scouting and hunting.

Migrations: No migration yet, just relocation of displaced flocks to protected roosts.

Season Stage: Early season open for resident geese.

Hunting Report: Hunting was very poor this weekend, in two days my group only harvested six geese.

Gossip: The dove numbers look very good this year. Most hunters in this area did not shoot many geese yet this early season. The past two years it appears that geese hatched and then flew out of the county prior to season opening.

Ducks Unlimited celebrates Duck Stamp
From Ducks Unlimited

To get the most out of the celebration of the Federal Duck Stamp contest coming to Minnesota in October, you may have to go from walking shoes to hunting boots to dress shoes.

A number of events, including a walk and a gala banquet, are planned to commemorate the success of the Federal Duck Stamp program, which has raised more than $700 million to purchase and protect more than 5.2 million acres of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge system.

In the world’s oldest and most prestigious wildlife art contest, five judges will select the art to grace the 2009-2010 Federal Duck Stamp. The contest takes place in Bloomington on October 17 and 18.

Start off Duck Stamp Week on Sunday, October 12, with the Walk for Wetlands through the beautiful Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, hosted by Ducks Unlimited and Minnesota Audubon.

This is a great opportunity to help support wildlife habitat conservation programs on national wildlife refuges by gathering pledges from friends and family to support your walk experience.

Volunteers from Minnesota Audubon will be on hand to help ID birds as you stroll through the refuge.

Register online at www.walkforwetlands.org for a wonderful learning experience for everyone.

Kids 12 and under will receive a free pair of DU binoculars when they check in.

Walk for Wetlands will include a special guest appearance from wildlife photographer and author Stan Tekiela.

The walk is hosted by Ducks Unlimited and Minnesota Audubon, in partnership with KARE 11, Eagle Optics and Bird Conservation Minnesota. For more information visit www.walkforwetlands.org

Hardcore waterfowlers will not want to miss the special Waterfowl Hunters Party on October 16 at the Bloomington Center for the Arts.

Hosted by Ducks Unlimited and Sportsmans Warehouse, the event will feature decoys, gear and guns for the waterfowler in a fund-raising event built around a display of all of the entries in this year’s Federal Duck Stamp competition.

Avery Outdoors, the event sponsor, is providing over 50 dozen of its most popular decoys, blinds and bags for a great give-away of the best in waterfowling gear.

Other raffle prizes will include duck and goose calls, camo clothing and of course – waterfowling guns.

Participants can even meet Scot Storm, 2004 Federal Duck Stamp winner, the event chair.

Tickets for the event are limited to 150 and can be purchased at metro-area Sportsman’s Warehouse locations and online.

This event will sell out and no tickets will be held or sold at the door.

Wear your colors since every attendee wearing a camo shirt will be eligible to be fitted for a full camo waterfowlers outfit, including waders and parka.

All attendees will receive a special Ducks Unlimited/Federal Duck Stamp shirt as they leave the event.

Information and registration can be found at www.ducksevents.org.

Ducks Unlimited caps off the week of honoring the Federal Duck Stamp program with the Duck Stamp Gala Friday, October 17, at the Bloomington Holiday Inn Select.

An evening begins at 5:30 p.m. with cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres, featuring an auction of original art by many past winners of the federal stamp contest and an opportunity to meet many well known wildlife artists including Bob, Jim and Joe Hautman, Jim Killen and Scot Storm.

Master of ceremonies Jared Brown, host of the DUTV show, will introduce the many national dignitaries and artists on hand, including honorary gala chairman David Maas, multiple winner of the federal stamp contest and three-time Ducks Unlimited International Artist of the Year. For more information on the gala, visit www.duckstampgala.org.

For more information on all of these events call the MNDU state office at (952) 820-8174 or email kmoore@ducks.org.

Anyone 16 years of age or older must be in possession of a Federal Duck Stamp when hunting migratory waterfowl.

Funds from the sale of Federal duck stamps provide financial support for the National Wildlife Refuge System program.

All proceeds from events hosted by Ducks Unlimited celebrating the success of the Federal Duck Stamp program will be channeled through DU conservation programs to support the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service’s efforts to expand and enhance the National Wildlife Refuge System.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Technology has improved hunting and fishing. But some pieces of equipment, such as cell phones and two-way radios, can be illegal if misused.

What is the state law on the use of such communications devices?

A: In addition to their blaze orange clothing, guns and other hunting gear, hunters are increasingly becoming technology-savvy.

This includes the use of cellular phones and two-way radios. These devices can save lives, help people find lost hunters and even allow hunters to chat with their spouses as they sit around a campfire at night.

But just because they’re readily available doesn’t mean they are necessarily legal when used as an aid in hunting or fishing in Minnesota, or any other state.

According to Minnesota hunting regulations, it is illegal to use radio communications to aid in the taking of game.

For example, hunters cannot communicate the locations of wild game or use the devices while driving animals to other hunters.

Conservation officers do occasionally encounter hunters using some form of radio communications to assist others in the taking of game animals, and do write citations for this violation.

Additional information about the use of radios while hunting can be found under general hunting information in the Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

Outdoor notes

• The 2008 Minnesota waterfowl hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 4.