www.herald-journal.com
Youth deer hunts offer exciting opportunities for new hunters

July 6, 2009

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

More than 500 young hunters will have access to high-quality deer hunting this fall at six state parks, one state recreation area, two military reservations, two refuges and a nature preserve.

“Special youth hunts are a great way to provide a safe, structured and fun opportunity for a youngster and their parent or guardian to spend some quality time outdoors,” said Mike Kurre, mentor program coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The DNR is offering 13 special youth deer hunts in 2009 at locations with high deer populations that need to be managed.
Last year, the DNR offered 11 special youth deer hunts.

Applications for the special youth deer hunts will be accepted beginning July 1 at any DNR Electronic License System (ELS) vendor or at the DNR License Center in St. Paul.

The deadline for applications is Friday, Aug. 14. Successful applicants will be notified in early September.

There is no fee to apply, although successful applicants will have to purchase the appropriate deer-hunting license prior to their hunt.

The youth individual firearms and youth individual archery licenses cost $13 each and are available to residents ages 12 to 17.

The DNR will offer five archery and eight firearms special youth hunts in October.

Eligible youth may apply for one archery hunt and one firearms hunt.

Youths ages 12 to 15 are eligible for both hunts; archery hunts are extended to include those ages 15-17.

Youths who applied unsuccessfully in previous years will have preference.

There is a mandatory orientation session for each hunt, and hunters must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or an adult authorized by the parent.

All youth hunters must possess a valid Firearms Safety certificate.

Camp Ripley and The Nature Conservancy will host archery hunts in Morrison County Oct. 9-11.

The Arden Hills Army Training Site will host two bow hunts during the Education Minnesota school break on Oct. 15-16 and Oct. 17-18.

The Minnesota State Archery Association and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association help sponsor the hunts.

The Whitewater Wildlife Management Area Refuge and Greenleaf State Recreation Area will allow youth to hunt deer during the entire Education Minnesota school break, Oct. 15-18.

Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, Itasca State Park, Lake Bemidji State Park, and Tettegouche State Park will host youth deer hunts October 17-18.

Buffalo River State Park, Savanna Portage State Park and St. Croix State Park will host youth hunts Oct. 24-25.

The Bluffland Whitetails Association and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association are sponsoring the hunts.

More information and specific details about the special youth deer hunts is available online at http://mndnr.gov/youthhunts.

Waverly Lake fishing contest July 11

Waverly Lake will host a fishing contest Saturday, July 11.

Registration will take place from 7 to 8 a.m. on the day of the event, with a shotgun start at 8 a.m.

For more information call (612) 759-8284.

Fishing, hunting law changes now in effective, July 1
From the DNR

Hunters and anglers should be aware of a number of law changes that took effect July 1 (as opposed to the usual Aug. 1 date) as a result of legislation passed this year.

Changes to fishing regulations are listed online at www.mndnr.gov/fishregs.

Changes to hunting regulations will be listed in the 2009 Hunting and Trapping Regulations booklet, which will be available in August.

FISHING

The new fishing rules are:

• Night bowfishing is allowed statewide from May 1 to the last Sunday in February, with limitations on noise and distance from structures.

• A resident is now allowed to take fish by angling in a state park without an angling license under certain conditions, except in waters where a trout stamp is required.

• Residents age 90 or older may take fish without a license.

• New fishing contest rules now include:

– A 25 boat minimum for the event to require a fishing contest permit (currently 30 participants).

– Rough fish contests and contests with total prize value of $500 or less do not require permits

– The fee waiver for charitable organizations is no longer available.

– The current maximum contest fees are cut in half.

– The commissioner must develop best practices certification for fishing contests to assure proper handling and release of fish.

– The commissioner must develop an online web-based fishing contest permit application process.

– The commissioner may allow for live release weigh-ins at public accesses.

HUNTING

The new hunting rules are:

• Modify the electric motor restriction while in waterfowl feeding and resting areas from one with 30 pounds of thrust or less to one that is 12 volts or less.

• Allow a person with a valid bear license, prior to the Saturday on or nearest to Sept. 16, to leave a portable stand in a wildlife management area within 100 yards of a legally tagged and registered bear bait site. They also require a person leaving such a stand to affix their name and address to the stand so that it can be seen from the ground.

• Allow free deer licenses to be issued to residents with qualifying military service. The licenses allow the taking of deer of either sex.

• Remove the restriction on possessing crossbows outdoors, and removes casing requirements in a motor vehicle during open seasons for game.

• Establish new gun casing exceptions that apply when hunting and transporting a firearm; removes casing requirements for bows provided they are not armed.

• Allow the commissioner to issue permits to disabled persons to hunt from a vehicle that is valid for the life of the person, if the disability is irreversible.

• Modify the definition of bait for the purposes of restrictions while hunting deer.

• Extend the hours for placing decoys when hunting waterfowl to two hours before lawful shooting (it is one hour currently). Hunters may not leave decoys unattended during shooting hours for more than three hours.

• Prohibit importation or exportation of live coyotes

• Establishes by law the dates and restrictions for the Zone 3 (southeastern Minnesota) deer season for 2009

GENERAL

In other new rules:

• A person may harvest ripe wild rice on or after Aug. 15 (was July 15) to Sept. 30. In 2009, the commissioner may, by posting, restrict or prohibit the harvesting of wild rice on public waters based on the stage of ripeness of the wild rice stands in the waters.

This provides interim authority while wild rice stakeholder workgroups develop comprehensive recommendations for wild rice harvest and management prior to the 2010 Legislative session.

DNR fishing grant helps educators “Pay It Forward”
From the DNR

Making a fishing pole part of a youth’s outdoor learning experience became a reality this summer for 33 successful applicants in a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) program that provides educators with equipment kits that help introduce youth to fishing.

Any teacher, scout leader, 4-H leader or fishing enthusiast already familiar with the DNR MinnAqua program’s Fishing: Get in the Habitat! leader’s guide – a national award-winning angling and aquatic education curriculum – was eligible to apply for the DNR’s Pay It Forward program.

Equipment distributed through the program put 976 new rods and reels in the capable hands of energetic youth educators throughout the state.

But it also means groups that receive equipment will implement 33 creative ways of putting it to use in communities across Minnesota.

“The intent of this initiative is to keep empowering educators,” said Jenifer Matthees, MinnAqua program coordinator. “In addition to giving them the curriculum resources they need through the Fishing: Get in the Habitat! leader’s guide, applicants submitted an online description of how they intended to make use of the equipment through additional fishing education or community outreach projects – to ‘pay it forward.’”

MinnAqua, the DNR’s angling and aquatic education program, created the leader’s guide and administers the program.

Recipients receive rod bags filled with complete rod-and-reel combos, a tackle box with starter tackle, a pair of leader’s fishing vests and a safety bag complete with personal floatation devices, rescue bag and first aid kit.

Among the projects selected this year were:

• A partnership bringing together Vermilion Community College students, Bear Head Lake State Park, Ely field naturalists, Ely-area citizens and local schools to provide introductions to aquatic habitats, freshwater plants and animals, precautions for invasive species and recreational opportunities.

The fishing kit supplements binoculars and bird guides from the Minnesota Ornithological Union in programs for kids to enhance their outdoor experiences.

• A proposal from McLeod County 4-H volunteers to use the fishing kit as part of their programs and share the equipment with other groups offering outdoor education opportunities in McLeod, Sibley, Nicollet, Renville, Meeker, and Carver counties.

• A Minneapolis-based effort that creates a Fishing Club at Volunteers of America-Minnesota Service Adventure Leadership Team (VOA-SALT) High School as part of the science curriculum in conservation biology and freshwater ecology and exposes students to an important aspect of Minnesota culture.

Students at VOA-SALT will work to expand the Fishing Club to Opportunity High School, which primarily serves east African youth who are working toward a high school diploma, learning a new language and acclimating to a new culture.

Other ideas that applicants proposed this year included involving students in the construction of new fishing piers and other lake access projects; developing youth fishing day camps; matching retired seniors with youngsters on fishing excursions; training 4-H and scout leaders; and making the rods and reels available to underserved community members.

Invest in memories and discover free fishing at many MN state parks
From the DNR

Minnesota residents can fish without a license in most state parks beginning July 1.

The new program is the latest lure in the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) tackle box of ideas to sustain the state’s storied fishing tradition.

“Minnesota has amazing state parks, most of which are located on lakes and rivers,” said Dave Schad, DNR Fish and Wildlife director. “By eliminating the license requirement, it is our hope that those who have never fished before will try it during their state park visit.”

Under Minnesota law, anyone age 16 or older is required to have a state fishing license unless fishing during the free Take A Kid Fishing weekends or some other exemption, including the new Minnesota state park fishing license exemption.

While DNR officials do not believe the cost of a fishing license is a significant barrier to fishing, they also believe that it is good business to create the social environment that encourages fishing.

“Studies have shown that most people would gladly go fishing if someone simply asked them,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s parks and trails division. “It’s our hope that while friends and families are together in a park someone who fishes will share their rod and reel with someone who hasn’t. That’s how traditions are passed on. That’s how connections to nature are made. And that’s the start of fishing friendships that last a lifetime.”

Specifically, the Minnesota state parks fishing license exemption allows park visitors to take fish without a license when shore fishing or wading on state-owned land within a state park.

All limits and special regulations in effect for the body of water being fished apply.

When angling from a boat or float, the law applies only to those water bodies that are completely encompassed within the statutory boundary of the state park.

Anglers must possess a valid license when fishing in Minnesota’s six state recreation areas; on waters where a trout stamp is required; and when fishing in any city, county, regional or federal park.

The exemption is one of several new laws the DNR proposed and the Legislature enacted during the last session.

DNR officials do not believe the license waiver will have a significant effect on license revenue, as most angling takes place on some 5,400 fishing lakes located outside of state parks.

“We see this as a great opportunity to try the lifetime sport of fishing without needing a license,” Schad said. “If people catch the fishing bug in a Minnesota state park, we ultimately see them purchasing an angling license and traveling to other fishing destinations where they will stay at the local resorts, campgrounds and parks in those areas.”

For a list of Minnesota state parks and the water bodies where the new law applies, visit the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division online information at www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/fishing.html.

New move-over law for boaters effective July 1
From the DNR

A new Minnesota law requiring boaters to stay clear of enforcement watercraft with their emergency lights flashing went into effect July 1.

The so-called move-over law is intended to provide the same protection for watercraft enforcement officers as similar laws do for police, State Patrol and other emergency response personnel.

The new law states, “When approaching and passing a law enforcement watercraft with its emergency lights activated, the operator of a watercraft must safely move the watercraft away from the law enforcement watercraft and maintain a slow-no wake speed while within 150 feet of the law enforcement watercraft.”

“Waves generated by other boats speeding nearby makes it difficult and dangerous for emergency responders in watercraft. They must be able to render aid safely to an injured victim in the water and perform their other enforcement duties,” said DNR Enforcement Chief, Col. Jim Konrad. “The move-over law will help ensure the safety of officers and the boaters they contact.”

Question of the Week
From the DNR

Q: The DNR uses sound rather than sight to survey the ruffed grouse population.

How accurate is this in estimating whether the population is up or down?

A: Ruffed grouse are much easier to detect by sound than by sight during the spring.

The method of detection, however, is not a major factor affecting the accuracy of the average drum count, which we use as an index of population size.

Accuracy refers to how certain we are that observed differences in average drum counts among years reflect real differences in grouse abundance.

The level of certainty depends mostly upon the size of the difference in drum counts.

That is because there is uncertainty about what the true but unknown average drum counts are.

The average drum count varies from about 0.8 at the low end of the 10-year population cycle to about 2.0 at the high end of the cycle.

During a given year, however, the average drum count may have been up to 0.2 higher or lower than we recorded if we had selected a different sample of locations to survey.

So when average drum counts differ by at least 0.4 we can be fairly certain that grouse abundance was different, too.

This year the average drum count was 2.0, which was an increase of 0.6 since last year, so it is very likely that the population increased significantly, too.

Usually it takes two to four years for drum counts to change that much.

Finally, the number of birds available to hunters in the fall is highly correlated with changes in drumming counts.

On average, about once every four years, (usually at the low end of the cycle)the change in fall harvest is not in the same direction as the change in drum counts.

That is because the size of fall populations are also affected by the success of nesting and brood-rearing, which occur after spring drum counts.