Ice fishing continues without too many hassles in our area. Travel on the ice has been OK, and on several area lakes the fishing has been good.
Farther north, however, the story is a little bit different. Ice thickness is good at 14 to 18 inches, but on many lakes in the northern part of the state, slush on top of the ice, and deep snow, have made travel on lakes difficult and a real mess.
If you plan on heading north to fish, make sure you call the DNR or a bait shop in the area to check travel conditions.
The ice may be thick enough, but the slush may be six or more inches deep, making travel, even with a four-wheel drive truck, virtually impossible.
Locally, the sunfish are hitting on Black lake, while Winsted is giving up crappies and a few northern pike.
Anglers on Emma were catching good numbers of sunfish.
Pleasant was hot for walleye and northern in deep water and on Howard, the crappie bite has been best at about 2 a.m. in 20-plus feet of water.
Moving on, the application deadline for the 2009 Minnesota spring wild turkey hunt was Jan. 9, and there’s still great predator hunting opportunities this season.
Good luck fishing, and look out for slush if you’re heading north.
Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner Sat.
Prairie Archers will once again be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, Jan. 17 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Call in your reservations before 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 16 to Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721 or to the Dodge House at (320) 395-2877.
Watertown Rod & Gun Club to host annual sportsman banquet
The Watertown Rod & Gun Club will be hosting its 13th annual Family Sportsman Banquet Saturday, March 7.
Look for additional information in the weeks to come.
Free corn for pheasants available this Saturday
The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will host a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Jan. 17 from 8 to 11 a.m. at Lampi’s Auction, located at Highway 55 and Wright County Road 6.
Bring your own containers. Quantities may be limited due to demand.
For additional information, call (320) 274-CORN (2676).
To volunteer to assist with this event or any other events, contact Bruce Bartl at (763) 682-0653.
Minnesota Deer Hunter banquet
The Minnesota River Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association will be hosting their annual banquet Saturday, Feb. 7 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Shakopee.
Social hour begins at 5 p.m., and tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children 16 and under.
To purchase tickets, call Barb Breeggemann at (952) 445-4396.
Everyone is welcome to attend. Proceeds from this event are used for youth hunter education, deer habitat improvement, and maintaing the Shakopee Archery Range.
MDHA state habitat 22nd banquet
The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association is proud to announce their 22nd Annual State Habitat Banquet to take place Sat., Feb. 28, at the Minneapolis Gateway Hotel, formerly the Four Points Sheraton, in Minneapolis.
Designed specifically to raise matching grant dollars for state-wide wildlife habitat projects, festivities will begin with a social hour and raffle ticket sales at 4:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a program at 6 p.m.
MDHA will be giving away prizes to include the 2009 MDHA Gun of the Year, a Remington Model 700 30.06; the 2009 MDHA Print of the Year, “Something is in the Air” by Scot Storm; and many, many more.
Tickets to the State Habitat Banquet are available from the MDHA State Headquarters for $45.
To order your tickets, call 800-450-DEER ext. 12 or fax a ticket order form, found at www.mndeerhunters.com, to (218) 327-1349.
There will be no tickets sold at the door, so be sure to get yours early as there are a limited number of tickets available.
MDHA is a non-profit, non-partisan organization composed of approximately 20,000 members and 63 chapters throughout Minnesota “working for tomorrow’s wildlife and hunters today through education, habitat and legislation.”
Join the fun, attend the banquet and help us ensure a positive future for our outdoor heritage.
St. Cloud VA taking applications for 2009 physically disabled veterans turkey hunt
ST. CLOUD, MN Applications will be available beginning Monday, Jan. 19 for the fifth annual Physically Disabled Veterans Turkey Hunt, sponsored by the St. Cloud VA Medical Center, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and Minnesota National Guard, Camp Ripley.
This special hunt will take place April 21-23 at Camp Ripley in Little Falls.
The Physically Disabled Veterans Turkey Hunt is available to physically disabled veterans who receive outpatient treatment at a VA Medical Center, or veterans who are eligible for VA care and cannot hunt during the regular firearms season.
Limited space is available. Applications will be available beginning Monday, Jan. 19.
The deadline for applications to be returned is Friday, March 6.
DNR, ice fishing derby offers youth angling opportunities
From the DNR
Fifty young people will be chosen to learn ice fishing techniques at a special seminar taking place Saturday, Jan. 24 at the 34th Annual Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby.
The kids will also receive free gear and on-the-ice instruction from Bob Jensen, television host of Fishing the Midwest.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will select youth participants and their mentors from Big Brothers/Big Sisters programs and the department’s Southeast Asian and Hispanic community outreach efforts.
Cabela’s in Rogers sponsored a pre-derby seminar Saturday for the participants.
The Maple Lake Property Owners Association will donate fishing gear and waive derby entry fees.
Also, any youth in grades five through seven who has never ice fished before can register to attend the Knights of Columbus learn-to-fish program the same day as the derby.
The program will be conducted on the south end of Maple Lake at the beach exit off Minnesota Highway 55.
Equipment will be provided but space is limited. To register, contact Randy Gales at (612) 363-1535.
Complete ice derby details are available at www.maplelakeonline.com/icefishingderby.
Volunteers add $9.6 million in value to DNR
From the DNR
Nearly 35,000 citizens donated services valued at $9.6 million during 2008 to assist the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) with a variety of projects and programs. That’s the equivalent of an extra 238 full-time staff.
DNR managers, professionals and technicians work alongside volunteers to help manage the state’s diverse natural resources.
“We’re fortunate to have so many dedicated Minnesotans who are willing to donate their time and talents for conservation projects,” said Renee Vail, DNR volunteer programs administrator. “We’re extremely grateful for their efforts. Many of our projects would not be possible without their help.”
Volunteer positions can range from specialist jobs requiring extensive skill and experience to work requiring little or no previous experience.
For example, members of the Minnesota Sharp-Tailed Grouse Society (MSTGS) annually donate hundreds of hours of their time each spring by hosting a brush-cutting field day.
This year, 36 members hand-cut brush and trees to open up the landscape for wildlife, especially for sharp-tailed grouse, in the Aitkin area.
The group also fosters future resource managers by inviting participation by students taking natural resource classes as surrounding colleges and universities.
What are you interested in?
Volunteer opportunities are available at state parks, state forest campgrounds, WMAs, fisheries and hatcheries, as well as at DNR area, regional and headquarters offices.
Special event sites offer great volunteer experiences too.
More than 800 volunteers assisted the DNR at the Minnesota State Fair last August.
They acted as Smokey Bear, helped at the laser shot booth, dispensed lake data reports and provided entertainment and environmental education presentations on the DNR volunteer outdoor stage.
Elsewhere around the state, volunteers helped with firearms safety instruction, state park campground hosting, loon monitoring, snowmobile safety instruction, trail clearing, precipitation observing, river cleanups, issuing burning permits and doing wildlife research.
Volunteers work individually and in groups, and DNR staff provides all training.
The DNR volunteer programs office also works with the DNR Alumni Volunteer Association, a program that allows retired DNR employees to participate in special projects statewide.
For more information about DNR volunteering opportunities, visit the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov and click on the word “volunteering.”
Or contact the DNR Information Center toll free at 888-MINNDNR (646-6367) or (651) 296-6157 in the metropolitan area.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q Now is the time of year when Minnesota residents contribute to the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Checkoff Fund on their state tax forms.
What is this money used for and how does it help wildlife?
A: Donations made to this fund are used by the DNR’s Nongame Wildlife Program for a number of comprehensive statewide efforts to help protect and manage the state’s “nongame” wildlife species.
Those include more than 800 kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, butterflies and selected invertebrates that are not traditionally hunted or harvested.
The fund also finances conservation efforts for threatened and endangered species.
Specifically, the species that have benefited from these efforts are bald eagles, trumpeter swans, peregrine falcons, eastern bluebirds, Blanding’s turtles, bats, timber rattlesnakes, great blue herons, and other colonial water birds like egrets and grebes.
In addition, funds are used to acquire land and easements to protect habitat, manage prairies, forests and wetlands, create buffer zones along lakeshores, assist private landowners and local governments with habitat management, and support educational programs.
Contributions to the Nongame Wildlife Checkoff Fund can be made on your 2008 Minnesota tax form or online any time of the year at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/checkoff.html.