The pheasant hunting opener set for Saturday, Oct. 10, 2010, may mark the end of an era, an era many of us wish would last forever.
Sadly, the excellent pheasant hunting and bird numbers we have experienced in many parts of Minnesota and the Midwest pheasant range since approximately the late 90s, and specifically 2003 through 2008, has seen a turn for the worse.
Maybe, not so much in how many birds will be put in the bag by a die-hard hunter with a good dog, but by the vastness, quality, and shape of a mixed prairie landscape that will have less grassland, shelterbelts, old farm sites, and cattail ringed potholes then it had before.
Hunters of the last five years will only understand how good the hunting was in that landscape until they have spent a few years chasing birds in a landscape that has changed.
A landscape that has less quality habitat for pheasants and other wildlife and specifically thousands of acres no longer enrolled in the Federal Conservation Reserve Program.
The quality of that landscape and, in turn, the amount of pheasants in today’s world is impacted by the lack of a Federal farm program that features a strong set-aside component like Soil Bank of the 1960’s or The Conservation Reserve Program of today.
The years of the Conservation Reserve Program are slowly going by the wayside for many of the same reasons Soil Bank did, and with it will go the amount and quality habitat that is needed to support the kind of pheasant numbers we have recently experienced.
Which, by the way, were the highest numbers experienced by my generation and those after me.
From the grass roots up, a new conservation program that is a better match for tomorrow’s farmer will have to emerge, or as another outdoor columnist put it, “CRP needs CPR.”
Moving on, wet fields and standing crops will be the norm for most Minnesota pheasant hunters during this year’s opening weekend.
Across the range, a few soy beans have been harvested and almost no corn.
Locally, access will be tough because of standing crops and the best bet will be to hit public areas late in the day or just before sunset.
If you feel like a drive, head southwest, without question the most birds Minnesota has to offer are in the far southwestern part of the state.
Grab a public lands or PRIM map and head to, let’s say Marshall, Windom, Worthington, or Ivanhoe, and you’ll find birds.
Remember to buy a 2009 pheasant stamp.
Shooting hours are from 9 a.m. to sunset, bag limits are two roosters per day and six in possession. The season ends Jan. 3, 2010.
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.
Waverly Gun Club upcoming events
The Waverly Gun Club will be hosting several events coming up.
The final ladies night will take place Tuesday, Oct. 13 from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
The club will also offer rifle sight-ins over three weekends Oct. 17-18; Oct. 24-25; Oct. 31-Nov. 1 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
From Avery Pro-Staff
Name: Ben Cade
Date: Sept. 29
Location: Buffalo, MN
Weather: Windy and very cool after our first major cold front of the fall has swept through the area.
Snow Cover: None.
Water Conditions: Improving as we did receive some rainfall as the front came through over the past several days. We could still use more rain.
Feeding Conditions: Silage fields are coming down and we are awaiting the soybean harvest. We need some more fields to come down to open up some more hunting opportunities.
Species and Numbers: I have been seeing a few scattered flocks of Canada geese which have just arrived in the area after the cold front. It is shaping up to be a good opening weekend of our waterfowl season for geese. However, duck numbers look low in most areas.
Migrations: We just had our first major cold front of the season roll through the upper Midwest. Many new flocks of geese have arrived in areas all across the state of Minnesota. This is great news considering we had an early goose season completely void of good water fowling weather.
Season Stage: Our regular waterfowl season opens up Saturday, Oct. 3.
Hunting Report: The early Canada goose season was very slow for most groups. Hopes are high for us to turn that around starting this weekend with the opener of our regular waterfowl season.
Gossip: Hunters across the state are gearing up for our waterfowl opener this coming weekend. Hunter success might be spotty in our area.
Deer hunters encouraged to participate in disease surveillance testing
From the DNR
Hunters who register deer in northwestern and southeastern Minnesota this fall are encouraged to allow Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff to remove small tissue samples from their animals as part of a disease surveillance effort.
The DNR will have staff at selected deer registration stations to conduct bovine tuberculosis (TB) sampling in portions of the northwest and chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling in portions of the southeast.
“It takes five minutes or less to collect a sample,” said Dr. Michelle Carstensen, DNR wildlife health program coordinator. “This small voluntary time commitment is important because it provides the big picture of what’s happening with the health of our deer herd.”
Hunters who provide samples will be given a DNR cooperator’s patch and will also be eligible to enter a Minnesota Deer Hunters Association raffle for a firearm.
• Northwest early antlerless season
The DNR will start its surveillance by collecting samples from hunter-harvested deer in northwestern Minnesota during the October early antlerless season.
Lymph nodes, collected from the deer’s head, will be tested for bovine tuberculosis (TB) during the two- day hunt, Oct. 10-11.
DNR personnel will staff four deer registrations stations within and near Permit Area 101, including Grygla Co-op (Grygla), Riverfront Station (Wannaska), Olson’s Skime Store (Skime), and Fourtown Store (Fourtown), from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on both days of the hunt.
Bovine TB, a bacterial disease that primarily affects cattle, was first detected in northwest Minnesota in 2005.
To date, this disease has been confirmed in 12 cattle herds and 26 free-ranging white-tailed deer.
“While we are still finding a few deer with bovine TB, the prevalence of the disease in deer is decreasing,” Carstensen said.
Last fall, nearly 1,250 hunter-harvested deer were sampled for bovine TB in northwestern Minnesota and none of the animals were found infected with the disease.
Two deer were found infected this past winter within the 164-square mile bovine TB core area near Skime during deer removal efforts, which removed approximately 750 animals.
“That was good news,” Carstensen said. “Both deer found infected last winter were seven years old, adding further support to the theory that bovine TB is not being spread efficiently in the deer herd.”
• Northwest regular firearms season
The DNR intends to staff 23 registration stations during the Nov. 7-8 opening weekend of the firearms season, with select stations continuing to collect samples during the entire first week and second weekend of the hunt.
“Our sampling goal is to collect a total of 1,800 samples,” Carstensen said. “The only way to achieve that number is for hunters to participate in the program.”
Hunters should not be concerned about eating venison from deer harvested in the northwest.
The TB bacterium is very rarely found in meat (muscle tissue). Since bovine TB is primarily spread through respiration, the bacterium is generally found in lung tissue.
As a precaution, all meats should be thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F for 15 seconds.
This effectively kills all known bacteria, including bovine TB and E. coli.
• Southeast firearms season
DNR staff will collect lymph node tissue samples at 24 deer registration stations and three meat processors in counties along the Wisconsin border and around the Rochester area.
These tissues will be tested for CWD, an animal disease that was discovered in Wisconsin in 2002 and was recently discovered in a captive elk herd north of Rochester.
The DNR aims to collect 3,000 samples by staffing registration stations during four weekends in November.
The DNR’s surveillance efforts will be assisted by University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine students.
The agency also will continue targeted surveillance, meaning it will investigate reports of live deer that appear to be sick and obtain samples if possible.
The public is encouraged to report sick deer to their area wildlife office.
To date, CWD has not been found in a wild deer in Minnesota.
Since 2002, more than 30,000 deer have been tested for CWD statewide.
CWD is an infectious neurological disease that occurs in deer, elk and moose and belongs to a group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs).
Chronic wasting disease is progressively fatal and has no known immunity, vaccine or treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other public health officials have concluded there is no link between CWD and any neurological disease in humans.
The DNR is undertaking this year’s effort because of its presence within the captive elk herd and the proximity of southeastern Minnesota to free-ranging deer in Wisconsin.
MN’s list of impaired waters updated
From the MPCA
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today (Tuesday) announced it will hold a series of public meetings throughout the state in September and October to discuss the nearly 400 impairments added to the draft list of the state’s impaired lakes and stream segments.
The meetings schedule is as follows:
• Monday, Oct. 5, 2 to 4 p.m. Marshall-MPCA Office 1420 E. College Dr.
• Tuesday, Oct. 6, 1 to 3 p.m. Blue Earth County Library, Mankato
• Wednesday, Oct. 7, 1 to 3 p.m. Rochester-MPCA Office 18 Wood Lake Drive SE
Updated every two years, the draft 2010 list brings the current total of impaired waters to 3,049 statewide on 1,205 lakes and 436 rivers.
Water bodies can be listed for more than one pollutant or reach.
The draft list is developed by the MPCA, and then sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval following an extensive public comment process.
Only a fraction of Minnesota’s waters have been monitored and assessed so far for impairments.
The MPCA has initiated or completed water monitoring in 21 percent of the state’s 81 major watersheds.
The state is on track to monitor all of the state’s watersheds on a 10-year schedule.
“Monitoring the state’s waters and determining their health is an involved process,” Shannon Lotthammer, MPCA manager said. “We first gather at least two years of monitoring data, then analyze that data to determine if the waters meet state and federal standards for swimming, boating and fishing. If they don’t, the waters are listed as impaired and undergo further study to determine how they can be restored to a healthy condition.”
Of the 3,049 impairments on the list, the MPCA has already intensively studied and initiated restoration plans for 1,158.
Many of the studies were completed with the active involvement and leadership of local partners.
A water body is removed from the list only after it has been restored and meets all state and federal water quality standards.
Nearly two-thirds of the new funding appropriated from the constitutional amendment passed last year will be used on water quality restoration and protection activities for the current two year budget period.
The proposed 2010 Impaired Waters list and methodology for listing are available on the MPCA’s Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us/water/tmdl/tmdl-303dlist.html.
The list is formally on public notice from Oct. 19 to Nov. 19, 2009.
Submit questions, comments or requests for additional information to Howard Markus at MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN, 55155, by phone at 651-757-2551 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TIP organized to catch poachers
Turn In Poachers (TIP) is an organization of private citizens and outdoorsmen who are working towards the elimination of the illegal taking of any game, non-game, or fish species in Minnesota.
The Central Conservation Association’s annual meeting in September 1979 in Perham marked the first major sportsmen organization to pass a resolution in which the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Central Conservation Association, and other sportsmen organizations set up a program to help curtail poaching of game and fish in Minnesota.
Not very much was happening for a “game thief” type of program, so the Central Conservation Association decided to have a program at its next annual meeting, Sept. 14, 1980, in Wadena, on the merits of a program for Minnesota.
Paul Hansen, citizen coordinator for the Minnesota DNR, was asked to be the main speaker.
Ed Boggess, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division, spoke on this subject for the DNR, and Conservation Officer Brian Gray of Park Rapids spoke for the conservation officers. Commissioner Joe Alexander was also in attendance at the meeting in Wadena.
Things began to happen after this meeting in Wadena. The first board of directors was established, including Burnett Dahl, president; Dave Vesall of Stillwater, vice-president; Robert P. Larson of Minneapolis, attorney-secretary; Milo “Mike” Casey of Forest Lake; Gordon Mikkelson from WCCO radio; Herman Wisneski of Fort Ripley; John W. Clark of Wayzata; retired enforcement chief Fran W. Johnson of Minneapolis; Glenn Nyquist of Bloomington; Howard Hansen of Eagan; Dave Shaw of Grand Rapids; Dr. Keith Blake of Long Prairie from the Central Conservation Association; Mike Gau of St. Paul; John McKane of Hastings; Rodney Sando of Chisago City; Howard Munson of St. Paul, first treasurer; Bob Cooper of Rochester; Gill Hamm of St. Paul; Vic Vail of Lewiston; Gerald Boe of Edina; Bruce Reichert of Red Wing; and Clayton Erickson of Edina.
Gary Bomfleth of Rochester won the statewide contest to name the organization. The Turn In Poachers (TIP) was officially formed Sept. 1, 1981, and the work really got started to make TIP the best anti-poaching organization possible.
The long-range planning committee was appointed, and included Glenn Nyquist as chairman, as well as Gordon Mikkelson, Jerry Boe, Howard Hansen, Dave Shaw, and Burnett Dahl.
After many hours of meetings, the long-range planning committee report was presented to the board of directors with its recommendations for its operation.
1. Turn in Poachers (TIP) is a non-profit statewide organization.
2. It has a full-time executive director to run the corporation, travel the state, and handle public exposure. The present executive director is Al Thomas.
3. It has a board of directors.
4. It gets its funds from banquets, prints, donations, and membership fees.
5. It pays rewards for tips on illegal poaching of game and fish.
6. It has a toll free number for reporting illegal poaching of game and fish, 800-652-9093, or dial #TIP on a cell phone.
Organizers encourage all sportsmen to be members of Turn In Poachers. The program has been very successful in Minnesota.
The Central Conservation Association greatly appreciates all of the sportsmen who have helped make this program such a great success.
Fish, wildlife grant program up and running
From the DNR
With a Tuesday, Nov. 3 deadline for submitting applications for the new Conservation Partners Legacy (CPL), interested organizations should start working now on project details.
Grants ranging from $5,000 to $400,000 will be awarded for projects that restore, enhance or protect fish and wildlife habitat on lands permanently protected by conservation easements or public ownership.
Local, state, and federal non-profit organizations, along with governmental entities, are eligible to apply.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) administers the CPL grant program for the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSHOC).
Grant applicants are encouraged to work with a public land manager to complete the online project planning form and then begin to prepare the actual grant application. Complete details can be found at .
The CPL grant program is a direct result of the decision by voters during the November 2008 election to increase the state sales tax by 3/8 of one percent with one-third of the receipts earmarked for fish and wildlife habitat projects.
Question of the Week
From the DNR
Q: It is well documented that less than 1 percent of Minnesota’s native prairies remain intact.
What is the significance of those that remain and of prairie landscapes as a whole?
A: Nearly half of all of Minnesota’s rare and endangered species live on prairies, which make preserving these complex ecosystems critical to protecting the state’s natural heritage.
Prairies also supply habitat for a wide variety of wildlife species, reduce soil erosion, and provide important pastureland for cattle and other livestock.
The challenge is keeping these few remaining prairie remnants healthy and vibrant.
In their natural state, prairies were maintained by climate, fire and grazing by bison.
This allowed native plants to regenerate annually by removing dead grasses and keeping the landscape free from becoming shrubby and overgrown with tree species such as red cedar, box elder, elm, oak and aspen.
Today, controlled burns, haying and grazing can mimic these natural processes.
Of course, too much disturbance can also be a problem.
Season-long overgrazing, for example, can slowly convert a native prairie pasture to one dominated by exotic cool season grasses such as Kentucky bluegrass, and noxious weeds such as Canada thistle and leafy spurge.
Although it is not possible to recover all 18 million acres of prairies that covered Minnesota prior to European settlement, preserving what is left will protect a small piece of the state’s history.
10 rules for gun safety
With hunting season upon us, it is important to remember these 10 simple rules for gun safety.
1) Always keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.
2) Treat every gun as if it were loaded.
3) Only load or cock a gun when you are shooting.
4) Check your target and beyond your target.
5) Anyone shooting or near a shooter should wear shooting glasses.
6) Never climb or jump with a gun.
7) Avoid ricochet.
8) Keep the muzzle clear.
9) Guns not in use should always be unloaded.
10) Respect other people’s property.