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First hunt – a Thanksgiving Day to remember

November 30, 2009

by Chris Schultz

I don’t exactly remember the very first time I went hunting anymore and as time goes, our annual Thanksgiving Day celebrations seem to blend together.

The hunts and Thanksgiving celebrations I have the strongest memories of are those from my youth.

At 7 or 8 years old, I remember tromping back to the field behind our farm with my dad.

He was going to site in his deer rifle for the upcoming deer season.

He didn’t have a scope, so I was the kid running back and forth letting him know where his bullet hit the big plywood target.

When we got done, we saw a few pheasants fly into a nearby fenceline.

Up to the house we went, he traded the deer rifle for the 16 gauge, and I grabbed my bb gun, our farm dog at that time was gun shy, and a few minutes later we had one dandy rooster in hand.

That adventure, along with a dairy cow staring us all in the face through the farm-house picture window during Thanksgiving dinner when I was near the same age of 7 or 8, are things I will never forget.

Yes, most of Thanksgiving Day that year was spent chasing cows back into the yard.

Some kid forgot to shut a gate that morning.

Those are hunting and Thanksgiving memories. This year, although it was uneventful, my 5-year-old son Ethan and I, along with our dogs Angus and Copper, made a new one.

With unloaded bb gun in hand, the same one I used, it was Ethan’s first adventure at hunting.

An hour affair of walking and watching the dogs work that he seemed to enjoy just as much as I did.

Mom overdressed him, so we had to do some peeling.

We flushed one bird, he handled his gun by all the rules, and best of all, when we got back home, he asked when we’re going again.

At 5 years old, and as time goes on, he will probably forget his first hunting adventure Thanksgiving Day 2009, but I never will.

Migration reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

Name: Ben Cade

Date: Nov. 24, 2009

Location: Buffalo, MN

Weather: Upper forties for highs with some rain.

Snow Cover: None

Water Conditions: All the area lakes and wetlands are open and are filled above average.

Feeding Conditions: Geese are still hitting area corn fields. More fields have come down with the past several weeks of fair weather.

Species and Numbers: We have a few hundred geese holding in the urban areas. Very few ducks are in our area.

Migrations: Nothing major for weeks. We are in desperate need of cold weather to the north before we see any big push of new birds into our area.

Season Stage: Heading into the final week of our duck season. Late season goose hunting will open up Saturday, Dec. 12.

Hunting Report: Hunting has really slowed for most groups. The warm weather has had birds loafing most of the day. Birds are becoming difficult to decoy for even the savviest hunters.

Gossip: Many hunters are frustrated with the warm weather. Our bird numbers have been way down this year because of the lack of migration activity. It looks like we won’t see a big push of ducks until after the season is closed. Many have turned to pheasant hunting and bow hunting with the slow duck season.

Hunters take fewer deer, but harvest is on track
From the DNR

Minnesota’s firearms deer harvest is down 11.6 percent from 2008 but on track with expectations, according to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Since the season opened Nov. 7, preliminary results show that hunters have harvested 151,000 animals, 20,000 fewer than last year following the third weekend of hunting.

The decrease reflects fewer opportunities for hunters to harvest antlerless deer in about half of the state’s deer management areas.

“The strategy for 2009 is to allow deer populations to build and stabilize by reducing opportunities to take antlerless deer,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator. “We expect hunters to harvest about 200,000 deer, or one-fifth of the state’s wild deer population. We’re on track to do just that once the final numbers are in and counted for all deer seasons.”

Hunters have harvested about 19,000 fewer antlerless deer than last year, accounting for the majority of the decline.

Harvest of bucks is only about 1,200 animals behind last year.

Hunter numbers are nearly identical to last year.

“The harvest of bucks is the most stable indicator of deer population,” Cornicelli said. “Nearly the same number of bucks has been harvested, which suggests that deer are still there to be taken. Since fewer hunters have the option of harvesting an antlerless deer, the overall numbers have decreased.”

Cornicelli said hunters also have been especially cooperative in the DNR’s efforts to sample deer for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in southeastern Minnesota and Bovine Tuberculosis (TB) in northwestern Minnesota.

DNR-staffed stations in southeastern Minnesota have sampled 2,350 deer for CWD.

In northwestern Minnesota, 1,468 deer have been sampled for Bovine TB.

Minnesota hunters harvested about 222,000 deer last year.

The highest recorded harvest was 290,000 deer in 2003.

“Hunters are harvesting more deer than we did historically but not as many as when the deer population reached its peak in the early 2000s,” said Cornicelli. “With population goals being met in many areas, harvest numbers are showing that we’re beginning to level out to where we want to be.”

It’s illegal to operate OHV on unfrozen public waters
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds off-highway vehicle (OHV) owners that it is illegal to operate OHVs on unfrozen public waters.

That includes off-highway motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, off-road vehicles, and recreational vehicles capable of cross-country travel on natural terrain without the benefit of a road.

This includes motor vehicles licensed for highway operation which are being used for off-road recreational purposes.

Operating an OHV in wetlands or public waters in a manner that carelessly upsets the natural and ecological balance of a wetland or public water and/or exceeds minimal limits on wetland destruction can be misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors and lead to civil citation, fines, restitution and/or forfeiture of the vehicle.

The DNR encourages anyone operating an OHV to review the laws prior to recreation.

For more information, contact Steve Enger, Aquatic Plant Management Program, (651) 259-5092, or your nearest regional fisheries office.

Phone numbers are available online or by calling (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

For more information on OHV regulations, contact the DNR Information Center (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

Outdoor notes

• The 2009 muzzleloader deer hunting season in Minnesota opened Saturday, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 13.
Remember to wear blaze orange when you in the outdoors during the deer season.

• With great weather and the corn finally coming off the fields, late season pheasant hunting has been excellent in many parts of the Midwest pheasant range.

The season in Minnesota closes Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010.

• The duck hunting season in Minnesota closes Tuesday, Dec. 1. As of Friday, Nov. 27, many of the northern ducks had not arrived in our area.

The peak of the fall migration may occur well after the season closes.

• With ice fishing at least a few weeks away because of a very warm November, don’t forget about some great open water fishing, especially on the north and south forks of the Crow River.

Water levels have dropped in the past few weeks and fishing on the river could be great right now.

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