Should we feed the pheasants?

January 11, 2010

by Chris Schultz

From Pheasants Forever

The phones at Pheasants Forever have been ringing constantly with one question over the past week, “Should we be feeding the pheasants?”

The early snow cover and extreme cold weather has folks worried about the birds being able to survive.

Unfortunately, many good-intentioned people who set out corn actually harm the pheasants more than they help them.

Carefully consider the following:

• Feeding must take place close to high-quality winter cover of at least 10 acres, such as cattail sloughs and willow thickets.

It is extremely rare for a pheasant to starve, but death by freezing is common. Poorly placed feeders actually draw the pheasants out and away from their protective winter cover. They cause birds to congregate and expend energy competing for the food.

Instead of saving birds, poorly-placed feeders will actually add to freezing deaths.

• Feeders attract predators and expose pheasants to death by predation. Many more pheasants are lost to predators each winter, than to starvation.

Feeders give predators a focus point, not unlike a bait pile.

• Once feeding starts, it must be continued. If pheasants are fed for a period of time and then the food supply disappears, the birds may become more stressed than if they had not been fed at all.

• A poorly-designed feeder may make an easy meal for more efficient foragers, such as deer and turkey, taking away any benefits for pheasants.

• Proper winter feeding may help the birds temporarily, but it is not an effective long-term plan.

The key to saving pheasants in the winter is habitat. Resources spent on establishing high quality winter cover will yield far greater results and the best winter survival rates.

The lesson to be learned from a tough winter is that we need to plant more, high-quality thermal cover in the spring.

Do all you can to educate friends and family on proper winter feeding. By doing so, you will help save birds.

Area lakes fishing report

Cold weather with below zero temperatures accomplished two things in the past few weeks.

It froze and hardened all the slop, slush and water that was on top of the ice on many of our area lakes improving travel and making it relatively easy to get out and fish. It also slowed down the pace of fishing activity to a crawl.

As of late last week there were no great or even good reports of fish being caught on any of the lakes in our area.

Before the big freeze and when travel on the lakes was difficult the fishing on lakes like Black, Ida, Waconia, and Washington was pretty good.

As the weather warms up look for the fishing to get better and expect the best action to be at dawn and dusk.

A several anglers have reported good ice conditions, with near 20 inches on most lakes.

They also noted they are driving right on top of the hard snow pack with little or no problems.

A few lakes including Waconia and Buffalo do have plowed roads.

Ice fishing tourney at Dutch Lake

The first annual ice fishing contest sponsored by Dutch and Mallard Pass Lake Association will take place Saturday, Jan. 16 at Dutch Lake.

The tournament will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with registration taking place at the public boat landing at Dutch Lake.

Registration cost is $10. There will be a $100 first-place prize, with additional drawings.

To see the official rules of the tournament, go to www.dmpla.org.

Carver County PF annual banquet

The annual Carver County chapter of Pheasants Forever is Saturday, Jan. 23 at the Hamburg Community Hall.

Social hour starts at 5 p.m. with the dinner to follow at 7 p.m.

Ticket information can be obtained by contacting Randy Wendland at (612) 270-8583.

Information also can be obtained by viewing the chapters website at http://carvercounty.pheasantsforever.org/

64th annual HL Fishing Derby is Feb. 13

The 64th annual fishing derby on Howard Lake is set for Saturday, Feb. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m.

There are plenty of chances for extra cash and prizes.

In addition to cash awards for the biggest northern, walleye, bass, and panfish; other awards include the grand prize of an Ice Castle fish house (6-1/2 foot by 12 foot V front, on wheels), first prize of FL-8 Vexilar Depth Finder, and framed prints for second and third prizes.

Raffle tickets are $2 each, and can be purchased at Joe’s Sport Shop or The Country Store in Howard Lake.

Tickets are now available by Ducks Unlimited Crow River Chapter for their pre-event ice fishing raffle.

Drawing to take place Saturday, Feb. 13, 3 p.m. on Howard Lake. Tickets are $10 a chance, with only 200 chances sold.

Contact Ken Durdahl (320) 543-3372.

Tickets for the Sportsman’s Fishing Derby raffles are $2 each, and can be purchased at Joe’s Sport Shop or The Country Store.

Next meeting for Carver County PF

The next meeting for the Carver County chapter of Pheasants Forever is today (Monday) at the Waconia American Legion Post starting at 6:30 p.m.

Wright County PF corn giveaway Jan. 23

The Wright County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will have a corn giveaway for pheasants and wildlife Saturday, Jan. 23, from 8 to 11 a.m. at Lampi’s Auction located at Hwy. 55 and Wright Cty. 6.

Please bring your own containers. Quantities may be limited due to demand.

For additional information call (320) 274-CORN (2676).

If you would like to volunteer to assist with this event or any other events contact Bruce Bartl at (763) 682-0653.

Da Shiver ice fishing tourney

The Da Shiver Ice Fishing Tournament is back again to raise money for the Crow River Youth Hockey Association.

The day, which includes the ice fishing tournament, games, giveaways and more, is Saturday, Feb. 6, from noon to 3 p.m. on the west end of Lake Sarah.

The earlybird cost for ice fishing is $35 until Jan. 23. After Jan. 23, the cost is $40.

The day’s activities include a bonfire, ice skating, and games, such as minnow races, musical buckets, and a hole-drilling race.

The prize list includes a Polaris Sportsman 500, a portable fish-house, ice auger, ice rod combos, gift certificates, hockey gear, clothing, a signed Gophers jersey, Minnesota Timberwolves tickets, YakTrak, fishing gear, hunting gear, cash, hats, a Mr. Heater, and more. Music will be provided by Dean-o-mite Entertainment.

There will also be a raffle drawing for an Ice Castle fishhouse. Go to www.crtiger.com for raffle tickets.

For more information on Da Shiver, contact Doug Lawman at dashiver@yahoo.com or by phone at (763) 479-1206 or (612) 991-5159.

Turkey hunt permits now available
From the DNR

Hunters who want to get in the field early for the 2010 spring turkey hunt must apply by Friday, Jan. 8, wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

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. A new rule effective in 2010 allows hunters not selected in the permit lottery to purchase a permit in any area for one of the hunt’s last two time periods.

Rough trail conditions reminder to ride safely
From the DNR

Minnesota snowmobilers are reminded to ride safely and check conditions frequently in light of the current challenging trail conditions.

“We encourage snowmobilers to get out there and enjoy the weather, but this sudden blanket of new snow is both a blessing and a curse,” said Les Ollila, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Northeast trails manager.  “In some areas, there is barely enough snow to groom.  In other areas, there is too much snow, which insulates the frozen ground and thaws out the swamps and creeks.”

Also, the first grooming runs are very slow and don’t set a firm base, Ollila, adds, and heavy grooming equipment is difficult to navigate in the current wet conditions. 

To check current snow depths and state snowmobile (and ski) trail conditions, visit the DNR Web site at www.mndnr.gov. 

At the bottom of the left column, click on Snow Conditions.

Trail data is updated as conditions change.

The majority of snowmobile trails are local club trails and this trail information is not on the DNR website. 

Local contact information is available at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snowmobiling/trailcontacts.html, or on the back of the DNR Snowmobile Trails maps (one for each quadrant of the state – Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest). 

Quad maps are available at DNR regional and area offices, the DNR headquarters in St. Paul, or by calling the DNR Information Center at 1-888-MINNDNR.

Reminder: Safety Recommendations

• Don’t drink.

• Slow down (particularly at night, on rough or icy surfaces, and when approaching high snow banks) and stay right.

• Be prepared for emergencies.

• Stay alert – heed caution and hazard signs.

• Avoid traveling across bodies of water when uncertain of ice thickness and strength.

• Dress in layers, wear a helmet and face covering, avoid loose scarves.

• Watch the weather and check conditions before riding.

• Bring a buddy.

• Report accidents right away.

DNR releases baiting numbers
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has finalized information related to baiting violations that were investigated by Minnesota conservation officers during the 2009 deer seasons.

• Conservation officers received 545 baiting complaints during the 2009 deer seasons (archery, firearms, muzzleloader), resulting in 129 citations being issued and 140 firearms seized.

• Half of the conservation officers encountered other hunting violations while conducting baiting investigations, including tagging/validation violations, 52 percent; no license, 27 percent; and trespass, 25 percent.

• Apples, corn and sugar beets dispersed in open areas figured in 87 percent of deer baiting cases this season.

• Officers reported that nearly 60 percent of the hunters who were cited for violations admitted to conservation officers that they knew baiting was illegal, but chose to do it anyway.

• Nearly 50 percent of the persons cited offered that they were aware of baiting regulations through DNR Enforcement Division news releases, media reports, or the Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook.

Deer baiting is strategically placing a pile of food near deer stands or clearings in hopes of luring a deer into close range.

Nationally, 28 states ban the practice in any form, while 22 allow it (eight with significant restrictions).