DNR encourages snowmobilers to drive safely this season

December 21, 2009

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

The recent snowfall over much of the state is a reminder that another snowmobile season is upon us.

The first snowfall of the year is often one of the most dangerous time for snowmobilers since many trails have not been groomed and ice conditions are very hazardous.

“Snowmobile operators need to contain their enthusiasm for that first ride and get this season off to a smooth, safe start,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR’s education program coordinator. “They should drive safely and drive smart when operating a snowmobile. Drivers should also be aware of potential hazards and use good judgment. Taking a Snowmobile Safety Course will reduce your chances of getting into trouble.”

Any resident born after Dec. 31, 1976, who operates a snowmobile in Minnesota, must possess a snowmobile certificate and may attend either a youth or adult training course.

Volunteer instructors who have been certified by the DNR Division of Enforcement offer classes throughout the state.

For more information on the dates and locations of these courses, visit the DNR Web site or call 800-366-8917.

In addition to training requirements, snowmobilers should follow these safety tips:

• Don’t Drink

Drinking and driving can be fatal. Drinking alcohol before or during snowmobiling can impair judgment and sow reaction time.

Snowmobilers who have been drinking may drive too fast or race across unsafe ice.

Alcohol also causes body temperature to drop at an accelerated rate, which increases the likelihood of hypothermia.

• Slow down and stay right

Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents.

Drivers should proceed at a pace that will allow ample reaction time for any situation.

Remember, when driving at night a speed of only 40 miles an hour may result in “overdriving” the headlight.

Stay to the right side of the trail, especially on curves.

• Be prepared

When traveling, be prepared for the unexpected by making sure to bring a first aid kit, a flashlight, waterproof matches, a compass and cell phone.

• Stay alert

Fatigue can reduce the driver’s coordination and judgment.

• Ice advice

Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and strength of ice on lakes and ponds.

Snow cover can act as a blanket and prevent safe ice from forming.

Never travel in a single file when crossing bodies of water.

• Dress for success

Wear a helmet, goggles or face shield to prevent injuries from twigs, stones, ice, and flying debris.

Clothing should be worn in layers and should be just snug enough so that no loose ends catch in the machine.

• Watch the weather

Rapid weather changes can produce dangerous conditions.

• Bring a buddy

Never travel alone. Most snowmobile accidents result in some personal injury.

The most dangerous situations can occur if a person is injured and alone.

If you must travel alone tell someone your destination, planned route, and when you will return.

• Report accidents

Snowmobile operators who are involved in an accident resulting in medical attention, hospitalization, death, or damage exceeding $500 must file a written report with the DNR.

If the operator is unable to file a report, any peace officer investigating the accident can do so within 10 business days

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner

Prairie Archers will be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Thursday, Dec. 31 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Call in your reservation prior to 6 p.m. Wed., Dec. 30 to either Jim Richardson (320) 395-2721 or to the Dodge House (320) 395-2877.

Prairie Archers to offer archery lessons

Archery lessons will be offered at Prairie Archers in Lester Prairie at their indoor range (412 Central Ave.).

The lessons will be Tuesday evenings starting Tuesday, Jan. 5, and will include six, 1-hour sessions.

For more information, contact Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721.

Migration reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

Name: Ben Cade

Date: December 15, 2009

Location: Buffalo, MN

Weather: Extreme cold. Temps have been below 0 during the over night hours. Today’s high is supposed to be 2 degrees. Wind chill values have been near negative 20 in some areas with northern Minnesota and the Dakotas approaching negative 50 wind chill!

Snow Cover: We just received an additional four inches of fresh snow around the Buffalo area. Much of the west metro area is blanketed with a good four to six inches of snow right now.

Water Conditions: All lakes and small rivers are frozen shut. Many guys have started ice fishing now. The only open water is near industrial areas, select deep lakes, and the Mississippi river. Look to those areas to find birds still hanging around.

Feeding Conditions: There is still food available as not all areas are completely snow packed and some fields have been blown clear of the snow. Birds have been feeding mostly just once per day during the last hour of daylight.

Species and Numbers: We are down about 50 to 75 percent of our peak migration numbers in primary late season staging areas. However, there are very good huntable numbers of birds still around. In fact, there continues to be very good numbers of mallards as well even though our duck season is closed.

Migrations: Not much arriving, but plenty moving out. The birds that we have still in the area should hang around unless very extreme cold and deep snow move them out.

Season Stage: The duck season is closed and the December late Canada goose season is under way.

Hunting Report: Hunting has been average as birds continue to be feeding only once per day during the last hour or so of shooting time. Look for clouds and warmer days for the best success. Guys that have been having success have only been shooting 10 to 20 birds per group per hunt.

Gossip: Many hunters have packed up the waterfowl hunting gear and are focused on ice fishing or predator hunting. There is talk that some guys would like to see a split duck season in Minnesota as there are plenty of ducks around to hunt during December.

Spring turkey hunting applications accepted through Jan. 8
From the DNR

Applications for the 2010 spring turkey hunt are being accepted through Friday, Jan. 8, 2010, wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Adult hunters may apply for one of nearly 57,000 permits to hunt a five- or seven-day season in one of 77 permit areas.

Youth 17 and younger no longer need to apply for the lottery.

They will be able to purchase a spring turkey permit for any permit area and any time period directly from a license agent.
Applicants choose one of eight time periods in which to hunt.

“Turkey hunters can look forward to more great opportunities this spring,” said Bill Penning, farmland wildlife program leader for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “We have significantly increased permit numbers during the last two time periods, thereby allowing anyone who is not selected in the lottery or already purchased a 2010 spring turkey license for another time period to purchase a license for one of the last two time periods.”

Minnesota residents 18 and older by April 14, 2010, must apply for a spring turkey permit either in person, via the Internet or by telephone at 1-888-665-4236 by Friday, Jan. 8, 2010.

A nonrefundable $3 application fee must be paid at the time of application.

An additional nonrefundable $3.50 convenience fee will be charged for all applications made by telephone or the Internet.

Nonresident hunters may apply by mail or by telephone.

Penning said the permit application no longer asks hunters to indicate a second choice for the time period in which they want to hunt.

Hunters who are successful in the drawing and choose not to purchase a tag, will lose the current year’s preference point for future drawings

They will not lose accumulated preference from past years.

Spring turkey archery hunters have two options.

They can apply in the lottery or purchase a regular license over-the-counter for one of the last two time periods from the eight available, which allows them to hunt with a bow or firearm during the time period chosen.

A second option allows them to purchase a spring turkey archery license, which allows them to hunt with a bow during both of the season’s last two time periods.

Spring turkey archery licenses only are available in permit areas that offer 50 or more permits.

Applicants who are successful in the spring permit lottery are ineligible for a spring archery license.

Spring turkey hunt application information is available at DNR license agents and online at http://mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

The application booklet contains maps of open wild turkey permit areas, permit quotas, season dates and an application worksheet.

Hunters are encouraged to fill-out the application form prior to purchasing a license so the process goes smoothly at the license vendor.

DNR uses a preference system drawing to select spring turkey permit winners.

A special landowner-tenant preference drawing for up to 20 percent of the permits also is part of the drawing.

Successful applicants will be mailed the 2010 Spring Wild Turkey Hunt Book in February.

For more information, call the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367)..

2010 MN state parks permits now on sale
From the DNR

Just in time for holiday gift-giving, the 2010 Minnesota state park annual permit is now on sale.

The new permit showcases the birds and bluffs at Frontenac State Park, located about an hour from St. Paul off U.S. Highway 61 in southeastern Minnesota.

The purchase of a year-round Minnesota state park permit for $25 provides unlimited access to special events, scenic places, historic sites, a whole roster of outdoor activities and just plain fun at Minnesota’s 72 state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase.

“Visitors come to Frontenac State Park for many reasons,” said Park Manager Harry Roberts. “The reasons include the beautiful scenic vistas, birding in the spring and fall, unusual natural features like the In-Yan-Teopa rock, and the variety of trails for hiking, skiing and snowmobiling.”

The photo on the front of the permit shows an eagle soaring above Lake Pepin.

The text on the back notes that “Frontenac State Park, located on the Mississippi River Flyway, is a birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting 261 species of birds – the most of any Minnesota state park.”

Vehicle permits purchased as gifts come packaged in a Minnesota state parks mini-folder loaded with information to help the gift recipient plan their park visit.

Enclosures include the Minnesota State Park winter Programs & Special Events catalog, the Minnesota Parks Guide, and brochures about geocaching and camper cabins.

Vehicle permits can be purchased at any Minnesota state park, at REI stores in the Twin Cities metro area, at the DNR License Center (open 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at 500 Lafayette Rd., St. Paul, 888-665-4236), or by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

There is a Minnesota state park within 30 miles of almost every resident, and they are all open 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Where can I find information about snow depth and ski trail/snowmobile trail conditions?

A: The DNR provides a Web page that provides snow depth and ski/snowmobile trail condition reports for DNR-maintained trails around Minnesota.

Information is updated weekly or as conditions warrant.

For current conditions go to www.mndnr.gov/snow_depth.

Deadline approaching to nominate candidates for 17th annual MN Deer Hunter Ethics Award
From the DNR

The deadline is approaching to nominate Minnesota deer hunters for the 17th Annual Minnesota Deer Hunter Ethics Award.

The Minnesota Deer Hunters Association (MDHA) is accepting applications until Friday, Jan. 22.

The award, sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), MDHA and Turn In Poachers, honors deer hunters who have exhibited exemplary hunting behavior during the 2009 season and who can serve as a positive example to all hunters.

Awards for youth and adult divisions will be presented to the selected recipients at an upcoming MDHA event held in their vicinity.

“With recent deer hunting related news focused on baiting and poaching, it is time to highlight the true deer hunters in Minnesota, those who obey the law and exhibit outstanding hunter ethics,” said Wayne Edgerton, DNR coordinator for the award.

Anyone may nominate a hunter by writing a letter or e-mail explaining the actions of the nominee and why that person is worthy of this recognition.

Both youth and adults are eligible, but nominees must be Minnesota residents.

The incidents for which hunters are nominated must have occurred during any of the 2009 Minnesota deer hunting seasons (archery, firearm or muzzleloader).

Nomination letters should be sent to Ethical Hunter Award, MDHA, 460 Peterson Road, Grand Rapids, MN 55744-8413, or faxed to (218) 327-1349.