Smith Lake designated as wildlife management lake

September 21, 2009

by Chris Schultz

Press Release

A local lake has been designated as a Wildlife Management Lake by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Smith Lake, a 330-acre lake just west of Howard Lake is considered an important waterfowl production lake because of its shallow nature and coverage size.

Habitat improvement projects are among the first year of projects recommended for funding by the Lessard-Sams Outdoors Heritage Council.

Ducks Unlimited, working closely with the DNR will oversee projects on Smith Lake as a part of its effort to structurally enhance some 18 shallow lakes totaling about 12 thousand acres of wetlands.

Smith Lake is considered to currently have poor water quality, and poor waterfowl habitat as a result of altered watersheds, intensive agriculture and the introduction of exotic species.

In the years ahead, project partners will install new water control structures at the lake outlets, allowing for lake levels to be temporarily lowered.

These draw-downs mimic past natural drought cycles which increase the likelihood of winterkill of undesirable fish and promote the re-establishment of aquatic vegetation, with hopes of greatly enhancing wildlife and waterfowl habitat.

The designation of Smith Lake, along with Jennie Lake in Douglas County boosts the total number of designated Wildlife Management Lakes in the state to 42.

Firearms sight-in day at Delano

Persons who are not members of the Delano Sportsmens Club will be allowed to use the range to sight in their firearms for the upcoming hunting season. This will be the only opportunity this fall for non-members to use the range. The date is Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The range is located at 4505 County Road 50 SE.

The fee is $15 per gun. Targets will be provided.

All guns must be cased and unloaded, and magazines empty.

No alcohol, or persons under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be permitted on site.

Bring your own hearing and eye protection.

Members of the club will be on hand to assist.

Visit the web site, www.delanosportsmensclub.com for directions and more information.

Mary’s Wish pheasant hunt Sept. 26

The first ever Mary’s Wish Pheasant Hunt will take place Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Major Avenue Hunt Club in Glencoe.

The hunt will consist of teams of three to six hunters with a minimum cost of $400 per team, or $100 per hunter.

All the proceeds go to benefit Mary’s Wish.

On-site check-in begins at 8:30 a.m., with orientation to start at 9 a.m.

The day will consist of two hours on the field with 16 birds – feel free to bring your hunting dogs.

There will also be one round of clay pigions (25 pigeons), and a luncheon.

If you participate, you will need to provide your own gun and ammunition.

For additional information, go to www.majoravehunt.com.

If you are interested in sponsoring the event, call (612) 328-4292.

Migration reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

• Name: Ben Cade Avery® Pro-Staff

Date: 09/15/09

Location: Annandale, MN

Weather: The weather has been very warm with highs in the mid eighties.

Snow Cover: None.

Water Conditions: Water levels are fair. We had a period of rainy weather in August, but it has been dry nearly all of September. We could use some more rain before the start of the duck season.

Feeding Conditions: A few harvested small grain fields are providing some feeding opportunities for geese. I have not seen any silage fields down as of yet.

Species and Numbers: There are very few hunt-able numbers of geese to be found. While scouting on a Saturday evening, I witnessed one very good feeding flock of geese in the area. I would estimate the total number of geese I saw during one scouting trip to be about 250. I have witnessed only a few small flocks of puddle ducks in the past several days.

Migrations: No major migrations recently.

Season Stage: The early season has been open since September 5 and closes September 22.

Hunting Report: Many hunters have been reporting that this has been one of the slowest every early season. The combination of heavy hunting pressure and very warm weather has made for some difficult hunting conditions.

Gossip: Warm weather has hunters frustrated with the numbers of geese available to hunt in the area. Most are anxiously awaiting cooler weather and good migrating winds.

Take advantage of take a kid hunting weekend Sept. 26-27
From C.B. Bylander of the DNR

Let me tell you what’s going to happen on a Saturday morning in October, a day when the air is crisp, the aspens gold, and the sky as blue as a robin’s egg.

Somewhere, not far from your home, a kid is going to awake, look out the window, and then – since there’s nothing better to do – shuffle into the living room to begin the daily search for the remote control.

Next, he or she will click on the TV and possibly a Wii. If it’s the latter, the child will be able to play world golf class courses, participate in homerun derbies, or race speedy little carts against competitors from around the globe.

But really, the child is just clutching a brilliant piece of plastic.

The youngster dash here for all of his or her illusions of achievement – will not have taken breath of fresh air.

Outside, a wedge of geese will wing by unseen.

A hen pheasant will duck into a ditch and disappear.

Two deer, startled by an unexpected presence, will bound from a thicket and flee, their haunches rippling with power.

I like Wii. It’s fun. I play it with my nine-year-old. But the out of doors offers even more.

So, if you get the chance, invite a kid to go hunting with you this autumn.

Grouse numbers are up. Pheasant numbers are strong. There’s no shortage of places to hunt. No shortage of kids, either.

Heck, you can probably find a partner just down the street.

That’s the rationale behind Take A Kid Hunting Weekend, which is Sept. 26-27.

Those are the days when adult residents accompanied by a youth under age 16 may hunt small game without a license but must comply with seasons, limits and other regulations.

A few thoughts on hunting. First, it’s as much about discovery as pulling a trigger.

Hunting is an ideal way for children to learn about the outdoors and develop a conservation ethic.

They can touch, smell, hear and see the building blocks of our natural world.

Second, you don’t need to be the sage of the forest or prairie. Just be safe and be yourself. Follow the rules.

Take breaks. Go home when it feels right. Don’t push it.

Oddly, when I think of hunting, I rarely hear the bark of a gun.

Instead, my thoughts turn to red dawns over cattail swamps, geese honking in the distance, and dogs casting across the prairie, their noses buried in the brush and tails a-wagging.

I’ve learned many things from hunting, and one of them is that coffee never tastes better than when drank in a duck blind. I suspect the same is true for a kid’s hot chocolate.

For most of today’s hunters, the “natural path” to becoming a hunter began when they were invited to go hunting.

That will be true for most of tomorrow’s hunters, too.

When current hunters share their knowledge with someone else the hunting tradition is passed along and stays strong.

Fall wild turkey leftover landowner licenses, surplus permits available today
From the DNR

Fall wild turkey hunting licenses that remain after the landowner and regular lottery drawings will be offered at noon (today) Monday, Sept. 21.

Leftover landowner licenses and surplus hunting permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis anywhere that Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) licenses are sold and online at www3.wildlifelicense.com/mn/.

“If you applied for a permit and weren’t selected or you’ve never experienced turkey hunting before, it’s not too late to get a permit,” said Bill Penning, DNR farmland wildlife program leader.

Landowners who qualify may purchase a leftover landowner permit.

Hunters can purchase a surplus permit.

Because hunting access in many zones is limited, hunters should obtain landowner permission before obtaining a permit.
The fall turkey hunt consists of two five-day seasons – Oct. 14-18 and Oct. 21-25.

Zone 601 has a single season running from Oct. 14 to Nov. 12.

Hunters may check the availability of leftover licenses or the status of their lottery applications on the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

Time for black bear hunters to bear down on some of the rules
From the DNR

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers are asking hunters to review the rules as the black bear hunting season gets underway.

“During my initial inspections, I found bear baiting stations that had not been registered with the DNR within 24 hours of being established, or lacking a bear bait sign within 20 feet of the bait,” said Conservation Officer Paul Parthun of Lake George.

Bear bait signs must contain the full name, Minnesota DNR number, and Minnesota driver’s license number ( or the full name, address, and telephone number) of the person placing the bait.

“Bait” is anything placed for the purpose of attracting or attempting to attract bears.

A bear “bait station” is any location where bait is placed for the purpose of hunting.

Other conservation officers have noticed the following:

• CO Mike Lee of Isle found most bear baiting activity to be in compliance with the law, but urges bear baiters to remove all plastic, garbage, and items used to carry in bait.

“Litter in forests is unsightly, destroys wildlife habitats and ruins many opportunities for recreation,” Lee said. He also noted that litter is a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000.

• CO Brent Speldrich of McGregor noticed some “illegal off-highway vehicle (OHV) use by some bear hunters in ‘closed’ state forests” in Aitkin County.

OHVs include all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles and off-road vehicles such as four-wheel-drive trucks.

State forests in Minnesota are classified as “managed”, “limited” or “closed” for purposes of OHV use.

No OHV use is allowed in closed forests.

The only exception is when hunting or constructing hunting stands during October or retrieving harvested bears during September and October.

• CO Jim Guida of Brainerd. He reminds bear baiters and hunters to get permission before crossing or accessing private lands to place bait.

“Trespass is the biggest problem landowners have with hunters so it is critical for hunters to have good relationships with landowners,” Guida said. “If hunters and other outdoor recreationists would just make it a standard practice to always ask for permission before entering any private land, those relationships would improve a lot.”

Tips for bear hunting include:

• Bears taken may be of either sex or any age except that bear cubs may not be taken. Cub bears are defined as bears less than one year old.

• Anyone who takes a bear must tag it using the site tag that comes with their bear hunting license.

• Hunters are required to validate the site tag by punching out or marking with a pen the date of the kill, the sex of the bear, and whether taken by firearms or archery.

• Anyone who takes a bear must present it for registration at a bear registration station within 48 hours after taking, and they must obtain a Big Game Possession Tag.

• Every person who kills a bear must submit a tooth sample to the DNR. The information from bear teeth is used to monitor bear populations.

• Legal shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: The fall firearms deer season is fast approaching.

Although it is illegal for hunters to shoot and kill any wild animal from a motor vehicle, there are exceptions for those with certain disabilities. What are they?

A: Certain disabled persons may obtain a permit to hunt from a stationary motor vehicle, including a truck, car or all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

The permit may only be issued to a person who obtains the appropriate hunting licenses and has a permanent physical disability that makes them unable to get out of a vehicle without the aid of crutches, wheelchair or similar device.

Disabled persons who require supplemental oxygen to walk any distance because of a permanent lung, heart, or other internal disease may also be eligible for this permit.

A physician must verify the disability in writing for individuals to obtain this permit, which is available at DNR regional offices.

Please note that when hunting big game from a motor vehicle with this permit – including deer – the vehicle cannot be within a road right-of-way.

Disabled persons hunting deer with this permit may not take antlerless deer in the “yellow” youth only antlerless lottery permit areas.

In addition, local conservation officers may issue a special permit for hunters to operate motor vehicles on public lands during the firearms deer hunting hours.

This permit is available to hunters who, due to health, medical or other reasons, cannot stay outside for extended periods of time.

It would not, however, allow the hunter to shoot from the motor vehicle or to operate vehicles where they are otherwise prohibited.

This permit is not required to hunt on private lands, but landowner authorization is required.

Outdoor notes

• Pheasant survey data from Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa was released to the public last week, and as many expected, the numbers weren’t good.

Iowa and North Dakota took the biggest blows, a 50 percent statewide reduction, a drop to the second lowest number of birds on record.

The total harvest in Iowa may be as low as 350,000 birds.

Not too long ago, Iowa challenged South Dakota for the most birds, and hunters would harvest closer to 1 million birds.

A tough winter, poor nesting conditions this spring, and massive losses of Conservation Reserve Program acres all were major factors in the decline.

The most birds, again this year, without even a close second, will be in the central and south-central regions of South Dakota.

In Minnesota, hunters will find the most birds from approximately Windom to Worthington in the southwest.

• Pheasant, deer, and duck hunters can expect a later than normal crop harvest across much of the Midwest this fall.

Reports indicate a good portion of the total corn acres, especially in areas farther north, will still be in the fields well into November.

Reports, right now, are saying in the Sleepy Eye area, all the leaves are off the soybeans and the corn is beginning to dry, while corn and beans in the Alexandria area are still lush and green.

• Heavy rains in late August and warm weather in early September created the largest crop of mosquitos we’ve had in quite a few years.

The bugs have been horrible and they have made early season goose and mourning dove hunting miserable.

Hopefully, there will be an early frost this year.

• The duck hunting season in Minnesota opens at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3.

• The archery deer season in Minnesota opened Saturday, Sept. 19.

• Although pheasant numbers are down, ruffed grouse numbers in Minnesota are up and prospects for hunting are the best they’ve been in years.

• A work-in-progress for 34 years, the Luce Line State Trail running through our area from Wayzata all the way out to Cedar Mills is, sorry to say, mostly still a work-in-progress.

Last week a group of local elected officials and concerned citizens urged a group of state senators to finish the project and get a two-tiered trail from Winsted to Hutchinson completed, including paving the main surface of the trail and creating a parallel horse trail.

Objectively, the benefits far outway the estimated $2.5 million cost, and it’s not an issue of spending $2.5 million on trails in the next state bonding bill, it’s an issue of which trail project in the state will get a share.

Hopefully, it will be the Luce Line’s turn.

• Take a kid hunting or fishing; he or she will have fun, and so will you.