Deer hunters encouraged to buy license early

October 27, 2008

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR
With more than 475,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and any system issues associated with the high sales volume.

The 2008 Minnesota firearms deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 8.

Deer licenses are available at approximately 1,800 license agents statewide or by phone at 1-888-MN-LICENSE (665-4236).

There is a $3.50 convenience fee for telephone service.

Hunters who purchase licenses by phone will receive their deer tags by mail, which can take three to five days.

Staff members from the DNR Information Center and License Center in St. Paul will work extended hours next weekend to handle additional phone calls from deer hunters and license agents.

Phone lines will be open on Friday, Nov. 7, until 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, Nov.8, from 8 a.m. to noon.

The DNR Information Center phone number is (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Vote Yes on Nov. 4
From Pheasants Forever

ST. PAUL, MN – The Minnesota pheasant hunting season opened Oct. 11.

While the prospects for this season are good, the outlook for future seasons – because of wildlife habitat losses – is murky.

That’s why Pheasants Forever strongly encourages Minnesota pheasant hunters and other voters to vote YES for The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment on the November 4th ballot.

Funding for wildlife habitat remains near historic lows, and over the next 25 years, over 1 million acres of farmland, wooded lands and other natural areas will be lost as Minnesota continues growing faster than any other state in the Midwest.

Voting YES will ensure $100 million for Minnesota’s Outdoor Heritage Fund, $100 million for the Clean Water Fund, $59 million for the Cultural Heritage Fund and $43 Million for the Parks and Trails Fund – all annually.

Choosing not to vote on this amendment when you go to the polls will result in a vote of NO.

The result of the November 4th voting will drastically impact Minnesota and Minnesotans far into the future.

To support the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, Minnesota Pheasants Forever has donated $20,000 to the Vote Yes Minnesota Campaign.

“While we’re extremely excited about the arrival of pheasant season, it’s important that we also think about future generations and the declining state of our natural resources. The ring-neck pheasant has brought colorful beauty and hunting opportunities to Minnesota’s farmland for decades. Voting YES this November 4th is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure our children and grandchildren continue to have those opportunities,” said Matt Holland, Senior Field Coordinator for Pheasants Forever.

Pheasants Forever has several public service announcements (PSAs) in support of voting YES for the Amendment critical to ensuring Minnesota’s outdoor future.

If you’d like to do more to support this Amendment, please ask your local radio station to play one of the 15, 30 or 60 second PSAs as often as possible before the November 4th vote.

If you’d like MP3 files of these PSAs, please email stpete@pheasantsforever.org with your request.

For more information on The Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment, log onto www.YesForMN.org.

Construction begins at Collinwood Park

The landscape is looking quite different at Collinwood Regional Park and Campground, as construction continues on a new beach, playground, and picnic area.

The project began in September, when volunteers helped to plant 7,400 native aquatic plants along 500 feet of shoreline, where the old beach was located.

The project was done to help with erosion and water quality, according to Wright County Park Administrator Marc Mattice.

Along with the plants, coconut rolls were placed at the shoreline to reduce wave action and protect the plants while they become established, Mattice explained.

The fishing pier will also be moved to this area.

“[The plants and shoreline restoration] will hopefully make for better fishing,” Mattice said.

Archery lessons at Prairie Archers in Lester Prairie

The Prairie Archers Club is offering archery lessons to beginners of all ages starting Tuesday, Oct. 28.

Classes will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. The cost is $30.

Equipment will be provided or you may bring your own.

For more information, contact Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721.

The range is located at 412 Central Ave., Lester Prairie – above Angvall’s Hardware Store.

Two million acres celebration set in Waconia

Waconia is a site chosen in Minnesota to observe a national celebration of two million acres of Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) land enrolled in the U.S. under the federal Farm Bill.

Minnesota is one of the two national commerative sites.

The event will take place Wednesday, Oct. 29 at a farm just north of Waconia from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

It will feature a keynote address from Chief Arlen Lancaster of the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Governor Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Senators Norm Coleman and Amy Klobuchar, Congressman John Kline and several additional partners and guests have been invited and are expected to participate and speak.

Please RSVP to Helen Beeler at helen.beeler@mn.usda.gov as early as possible, but no later than Tuesday, Oct. 28th to verify your attendance at this historic event.

Waverly Gun Club events coming up

The Waverly Gun Club has also set dates for its rifle range. The range will be open for site-ins on the following Saturdays and Sundays: Nov. 1 and 2.

The hours will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hunters continue donating venison to food shelves
From the DNR

Hunters again can donate venison to food shelves at no cost this year because of changes to the venison donation program managed by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA), with assistance from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“MDA and DNR came together to support the program,’’ said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game program coordinator. “One change this year is that onlywhole muscle cuts will be available at food shelves and no ground venison products.”

Concerns about lead fragments surfaced earlier this year when tests conducted by MDA showed that some venison in food shelves contained some lead.

The discovery of those fragments resulted in the removal of all hunter-harvested venison from Minnesota food shelves.

MDA venison tests showed that lead fragments tended to be more prevalent in ground venison.

The results of a DNR bullet fragmentation study show that copper bullets (and lead bullets fully jacketed with copper) fragment less than lead bullets.

The venison donation program provides a sought-after food source to those in need.

Having the program available may also encourage hunters to harvest additional animals to help manage the deer herd.

Until 2007, hunters could donate deer to food shelves but had to pay processing costs.

Now hunters can bring surplus deer to registered processors at no cost and the state reimburses participating processors.

“DNR staff recognizes that ethically, hunters will not take more deer than they can consume,” Cornicelli said. “The program is there for them as a free, simple avenue for donation.”

Hunters may donate to the program when purchasing a deer license by voluntarily giving $1, $3, or $5 to the program.

Any interested individual also can give by visiting one of 1,800 Electronic License System (ELS) agents statewide.

To donate a deer, hunters must adhere to the following guidelines:

• Only whole carcasses with the hide on can be donated; processors will not accept cut and wrapped meat or portions of carcasses.

• Information such as permit area of harvest and Minnesota DNR number will be collected for tracking purposes.

Processors can only accept carcasses for donation that are:

Free from signs of illness.

• Free of visible decomposition or contamination.Properly identified with a Minnesota DNR registration tag.

• Processors will reject deer with extensive shot damage or that appear to have been mishandled in any way.

New regulations designed to reduce the frequency of lead fragments in meat and inform people that hunter-harvested may contain lead fragments include:

• All donated venison must be processed into whole cuts – no ground venison will be accepted.

• Participating processors and food shelves must attend a training seminar on preventing contamination.

• All product donated through the venison donation program must be labeled, and the labeling must include the identification number or name of the processing plant where the meat was processed.

• A lead advisory statement will be distributed along with the donated venison; in it, the Minnesota Department of Health will recommend that food shelf users not feed the venison to children under 6 or to pregnant women.

Hunters are strongly advised to contact the processor prior to donating the deer.

The list of processors accepting deer will be continually updated as more processors register.

More details on the venison donation program, as well as a list of participating meat processors, are available online at http://mndnr.gov/hunting/deer/donation.

Results of a study designed to give hunters information about bullet fragmentation tendencies is available at http://mndnr.gov/lead.

DNR to select first-ever walleye stamp winner Thursday
From the DNR

The winner of Minnesota’s first-ever Walleye Stamp Contest will be named on Thursday, Oct. 30, at Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) headquarters at 500 Lafayette Rd. in St. Paul.

A five-judge panel will conduct the public round of judging on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m. in the DNR’s sixth-floor conference room.

The first two rounds of judging are closed to the public. Judges will select a winner and runner-up.

The contest is open to Minnesota residents only and offers no prizes.

Participating artists grant the DNR the right to use the design for the stamp image and other promotional, educational and informational purposes related to walleye.

Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of artwork and retain the proceeds.

All paintings will be displayed the same day the winner is selected.

The public also can view each contest entry from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, Oct. 31, at DNR headquarters in St. Paul.

Legislation signed by Governor Pawlenty earlier this year called for the creation of a walleye stamp.
It adds $5 to the cost of a 2009 fishing license if an angler chooses to purchase the stamp.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to walleye stocking and directly related activities.

Migration reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

• Name: Richard Shamla

Date: October 22, 2008

Location: Montevideo, MN

Weather: Rainy in the mid fifties.

Snow Cover: None.

Water Conditions: All still open and at moderate levels.

Feeding Conditions: A good percent of the corn is out and seem to be the fields of choice.

Species and Numbers: About five thousand Canada geese are in the area. Some pockets of puddle duck are present, but no sign of any migrating birds. Saw several migratory flocks of geese on Sunday and Monday.

Migrations: Early stages.

Season Stage: Mid season.

Hunting Report: Moderate numbers of ducks and geese have been shot in the area.

Gossip: Shot a limit of Geese on Monday. Ducks are very scattered.

• Name: Ben Cade

Date: October 22, 2008

Location: Buffalo, MN

Weather: The temps have been in the fifties with lows near freezing. Most areas have had the first frost of the season already. There is rain in the forecast for today through tonight.

Snow Cover: None.

Water Conditions: Water conditions on rivers and sloughs are still low.

Feeding Conditions: The soybeans are mostly picked and some have now been worked under. The corn is just starting to come off.

Species and Numbers: We have a few Canada geese around, especially in the urban areas. Duck numbers are low, with only a few small bunches scattered around the area.

Migrations: We are in the slow part of the season as far as migrations go. Look for north winds and colder temps to generate a new migration.

Season Stage: We are in our third week of the regular waterfowl season.

Hunting Report: Hunters targeting the urban areas have been having success. At this time, a lot of scouting is required in order to find hunt-able numbers of birds in the rural areas.

Gossip: Many mixed bags have been taken recently. It is a good time of year to target wood ducks in fields or look to water for Canada geese.

Dogs get the hunter and not the bird
From the DNR

Whether flushing a pheasant or grouse from the bush or retrieving a duck from a slough, few things are as enjoyable as watching a hunting dog at work.

These are the moments that truly reveal a dog’s training and character Unfortunately, dogs can also sometimes cause safety concerns.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials said dogs caused three non-fatal hunting accidents last fall.

They recommend hunters never leave or set down a loaded gun around man’s best friend.

“Many times the dog is so excited about the hunt or game they have just retrieved that they start jumping all around and accidentally step on the safety and then, jumping again, they discharge the firearm,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Education Program coordinator. “Unfortunately, the dog got the hunter and not the bird.”

The three non-fatal accidents were:

• A grouse hunter was admiring his success when his excited dog jumped on the shotgun discharging shotgun pellets into the hunter’s legs.

• A hunter was shot in the thigh when his dog stepped on the trigger while the man was pulling his boat up on shore after duck hunting.

• After a pheasant hunter put his gun down, the dog stepped on the trigger discharging some pellets into the man’s legs.

“Every hunter assumes an incredible responsibility when he or she picks up a sporting firearm and heads afield. That applies to those hunting with dogs as well,” Hammer emphasized.

Hammer said basic obedience should be an integral part of dog training before going afield. Heel, sit, stay, whistle, and steadying drills should all be addressed.

Hammer also had these hunting safety tips:

• always point the muzzle of the firearm in a safe direction

• treat every firearm with the same respect you would show a loaded gun

• be sure of your target and what is in front of and behind your target

• unload and safely store firearms when not in use handle firearms and ammunition carefully

• never climb a fence or tree, or jump a ditch or log with a loaded firearm

• carry the firearm safely, keeping the safety on until ready to shoot

• never point a firearm at anything you do not want to shoot

• don’t drink alcohol or take mood-altering drugs before or while handling firearms

• be aware of other circumstances that require added caution or safety awareness, such as poor weather, hunting from a boat or blind, or when handling firearms around others, including your dog.

DNR dock removals underway
From the DNR

All across Minnesota, lakeshore owners have been busily removing docks in anticipation of freezing temperatures.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is doing the same at public water accesses.

Craig Mitchell, DNR Southern Region Trails and Waterways manager at New Ulm, said the DNR tries to leave docks out as long as reasonably possible.

“We decide when to remove docks based on historical weather patterns and anticipated freeze-up of different lakes,” Mitchell said. “Fall fishing in Minnesota has increased quite a bit in recent years so we also try to accommodate those anglers as best we can. But we need to make sure that we remove all docks in time to avoid risking expensive ice damage.”

Anglers and others who intend to use a public water access this fall are encouraged to either check to make sure the dock is still available or bring waders or hip boots along to facilitate launching in the event the dock has been removed.

You also may learn more about the status of local docks by visiting the Trails and Waterways office nearest you.

Go to ‘office locater’ on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov to find a convenient office.

DNR reminds hunters of tree stand safety following five accidents
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges hunters to follow safety rules when using tree stands, following five accidents this fall during the early antlerless deer season.

In one incident, CO Todd Langevin of Center City responded to an emergency call of a deer hunter who had been shot in the leg.

The hunter had shot himself after climbing into a poorly constructed permanent deer stand.

“The hunter did not unload his firearm before climbing into the tree,” Langevin said. “He also did not use a haul line but rather a belt looped through the trigger guard. The hunter was transported to a local hospital where he’s being treated for his injuries.”

“Nationwide, one in three hunting accidents involves a tree stand,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, education program coordinator. “As with most hunting accidents, tree stand accidents can be avoided by following a few simple safety rules, including the Three Point Rule.”

The Three Point Rule recommends that hunters always have three points of contact to the steps or ladder before moving.

This could be two arms and one leg holding and stepping on the ladder or one arm and two legs in contact with the ladder before moving.

Be cautious when rain, frost, ice or snow cause steps to become slippery, and always check the security of the step before placing your weight on it.

The DNR also encourages hunters to practice the following tree stand safety tips:

• never carry equipment with you while you are climbing. Use haul lines to raise or lower gear – and make sure guns are unloaded and broadheads covered before moving

• always wear a safety harness, also known as a fall arrest system, when you are in a tree stand, as well as when climbing into or out of a tree stand

• a safety strap should be attached to the tree to prevent you from falling more than a foot

• always inspect the safety harness for signs of wear or damage before each use

• check permanent tree stands every year before hunting from them, and replace any worn or weak lumber

• inspect portable stands for loose nuts and bolts before each use.

DNR cracks down on spread of invasive species
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds individuals that they will be cited if they violate invasive species restrictions.

Recently, visitors from Illinois and Iowa were each fined $485 for illegally trapping and netting minnows from the Rainy River.

The groups’ nets were seized and destroyed to prevent the spread of Spiny Water Fleas to other bodies of waters in both Minnesota and their respective states.

A call to the Turn-In-Poachers hotline (800-652-9093) on Oct. 6 tipped conservation officers near Clementson.

“I spoke with local resort owners, who stated they told the groups several times to stop taking minnows from the waters, but they continued to do it anyway and even became rude to the resort owners,” said CO Robert Gorecki of Baudette. During the investigation, each group admitted to illegally taking minnows.

Spiny Water Fleas can disrupt the food chain by eating small animals (zooplankton), including Daphnia, which are an important food for native fishes.

In some lakes, they caused the decline or elimination of some species of native zooplankton, causing a reduction of food for fish in the lake.

They can be a nuisance and foul fishing tackle by collecting on fishing line, eyelets of fishing rods and downrigger equipment.

DNR staff is continuing prevention efforts for Spiny Water Fleas by vigorously inspecting commercial minnow dealers in Minnesota to ensure they’re complying with storage and sale standards and possess the required licenses and permits for such operations.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Why should we plant native trees and other vegetation in an urban area? What sort of benefits do they offer?

A: One major benefit to planting native species in urban areas is that they are adapted to the local climate and soil conditions.

They generally thrive with very little attention and can survive extreme weather conditions very well.
Native plants are also important to wildlife because they provide food and shelter.

Because native plants are found throughout Minnesota, they’re a better alternative than non-native species, which can cause ecological damage to our natural environments.

Some non-natives, such as buckthorn, are known to invade our prairies, forests and water bodies, spread quickly and crowd out native plants.

So when we see a native oak or dogwood growing in an urban setting we maintain our connection to the natural world and protect Minnesota’s natural resources.