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Set your fall calendars now

August 9, 2010

by Chris Schultz

It’s August already, and if you haven’t been paying attention, there have been numerous changes to hunting regulations, season options, and license opportunities for the 2010 Minnesota hunting seasons.

The changes or new choices seem to have become relentless and it’s become hard to just sit back and expect to do things the same way you have for years, or even the same way you did it last year.

The 2010 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook was released a week ago and is a must-read for anyone that plans on hunting in Minnesota this fall.

Here are a few notable changes:

• In most deer hunting areas, hunters can now register their deer over the phone or using the Internet.
• Many of the traditional deer permit area boundaries in central and northern Minnesota have changed.
• There are greater restrictions on off-highway vehicles during the deer season.
•Youth age 15 and under are now required to obtain a free hunting license to hunt small game in Minnesota.

Those are just some of the changes, and please remember, there have been numerous changes of this type in the past few years.

With that said, now is the time to finalize plans for the fall hunting seasons, noting regulation changes, access to hunting lands, season dates, hunting partners, expected crop harvests, water conditions, and so, so much more.

For example, if you’re a Dakota pheasant hunter, many parts of South and North Dakota’s pheasant range have extremely high water levels – to the point that many gravel and field roads are under water. Making the phone calls to find out what conditions are like in the areas you hunt will be well worth the time.

Today, on the Web, you find just about every piece of hunting information you can imagine, or will need.

However, pay attention to dates on Web posts and if the site you are using is not a traditional media or official government site, don’t believe everything you read.

The Web is also not a replacement for those few phone calls to landowners’ or local people in the area you will be hunting, and there nothing that compares to preseason scouting when it comes to ensuring a safe and sucesful hunt.

Here are a few dates that will help in making your fall hunting plans:

• Aug. 20 – Camp Ripley archery hunt application deadline.
• Sept. 1 – Minnesota bear hunting season opens.
• Sept. 1 – Minnesota morning dove hunting season opens.
• Sept. 4 – Minnesota early Canada goose hunting season opens.
• Sept. 18 – Minnesota small game and archery deer seasons open.
• Sept. 18 – Minnesota youth waterfowl hunt day.
• Oct. 2 – Minnesota and North Dakota waterfowl hunting seasons open.
• Oct. 9 – North Dakota pheasant hunting season opens.
• Oct. 16 – Minnesota and South Dakota pheasant hunting seasons open.
• Oct. 21 and 22 – Education Minnesota, kids have two days off school.
• Nov. 6 – Minnesota firearms deer hunting season opens.
• Nov. 25 – Thanksgiving Day.
• Nov. 27 – Minnesota muzzleloader deer hunting season opens.

Good luck planning for the fall, and remember to take a kid hunting; he or she will have fun, and so will you.

Youth hunting the focus of DNR booth at Game Fair
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will showcase youth hunting opportunities at its informational booth during the 29th annual Game Fair.

The outdoor show was Aug. 6-8 and continues Aug. 13-15 at the Armstrong Kennels Ranch, six miles northwest of Anoka. Show hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

This fall the DNR is offering 15 special youth deer hunts.

The DNR is also coordinating several special youth waterfowl and pheasant hunting events.

The DNR booth at Game Fair will be in a tent in Area B along the lakeshore, near the dog trials area.

Outdoor enthusiasts will be able to buy hunting and fishing licenses and pick up informational brochures at the DNR’s booth.

DNR staff and conservation officers will be there to answer questions about a variety of topics, including:

• Fall youth hunting opportunities.
• Hunting rules and regulations.
• 2010 fall waterfowl season.
• Hunter education courses.
• Hunting and fishing licenses.
• Becoming an Outdoors Woman program.

Game Fair has more than 300 exhibitors, plus hunting, shooting and dog exhibitions that are expected to draw more than 50,000 people during this year’s run.

DNR announces bag limits, dates, and times for waterfowl season
From the DNR

Waterfowl season dates and limits, including significant changes designed to allow hunters to harvest more Canada geese, have been established for the fall season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Additional details on the duck, goose and migratory bird hunting seasons will be available in the 2010 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, which will be available at DNR license agents and online later this month.

Duck Season

The regular waterfowl season will open at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2, and continue through Tuesday, Nov. 30.

The daily bag limit remains at six ducks, which may include no more than one hen mallard, one black duck, one canvasback, two pintail, two wood ducks, two redheads and two scaup.

Possession limits remain at twice the daily bag limits.

Except for opening day, when shooting hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., shooting hours will be from one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday, Oct. 9, and from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset beginning Sunday, Oct. 10, through the end of duck season.

Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory birds may not be used from the opening day of duck season through Saturday, Oct. 9.

Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory birds may not be used at any time during the season on water bodies and lands fully contained within state wildlife management area (WMA) boundaries.

Youth Waterfowl Day

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be held Saturday, Sept. 18. Hunters younger than 16 may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a nonhunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required).

Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from one half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m.

As of this year, all youth hunters are now required to obtain a free hunting license, including youth participating in the youth waterfowl hunt.

Regular Canada Goose Seasons

Minnesota goose hunters will note some significant changes in goose hunting regulations this year.

The daily bag limit has been raised to three Canada geese statewide this year; the season length has been extended throughout the state; most goose hunting zones have been eliminated and there will no longer be a special December season.

“We’re attempting to provide additional hunting opportunity aimed at resident giant Canada geese,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.

Historically, Minnesota goose hunters were very dependent on the Eastern Prairie Population (EPP) of Canada geese.

These geese nest along the west shores of Hudson Bay and migrate into western Minnesota, especially around Lac qui Parle WMA.

Minnesota has a long history of using special regulations, including goose zones, quotas, smaller bag limits and shorter seasons, to minimize harvest of EPP Canada geese in western Minnesota.

But EPP goose numbers are as high as they’ve ever been and more than 90 percent of the state’s Canada goose harvest now is comprised of giant Canada geese.

“Since our resident giant Canada goose population remains high, this is a good time to expand hunting opportunity,” Cordts said. “Minnesota has not had a Canada goose bag limit of three during the regular waterfowl season since 1941 so this is fairly exciting and should be well-received by goose hunters.”

As a result of these changes, the West Central and West goose zones have been eliminated so goose seasons in those areas will be the same as the rest of the state.

At Lac qui Parle WMA, waterfowl hunters still will be required to obtain a daily permit for a blind (via reservation or daily drawing) from Oct. 21 to Nov. 30.

From Dec. 1 until the end of goose season, hunters still can use designated hunting blinds but access will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hunters should consult the 2010 Waterfowl Regulations for additional information or contact Lac qui Parle WMA for further details.

Minnesota’s regular goose season will open statewide in conjunction with duck season on Saturday, Oct. 2, and close on Saturday, Dec. 25, except for the Rochester goose zone.

Canada goose season dates in the Rochester zone will be Saturday, Oct. 2, through Tuesday, Dec. 7. The season will reopen Thursday, Dec. 16, and conclude Sunday, Jan. 2.

“The Rochester goose zone will use the same boundaries as deer permit area 343 so hunters should be familiar with that,” Cordts said. “During our public input meetings, goose hunters around Rochester wanted to maintain some sort of split in the goose season but also extend the season a little later so this should accommodate those desires.”

Early Canada Goose Season

The early Canada goose season will open statewide on Saturday, Sept. 4, and conclude on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

Bag limits for Canada geese will be five per day.

A $4 permit is required for goose hunters during the September season.

Permits are available wherever hunting and angling licenses are sold and online.

The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the northwestern Minnesota, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County.

Early season goose hunters should consult the 2010 Waterfowl Hunting Regulations Supplement for details.

Sandhill Crane Season

A sandhill crane hunting season will open in northwestern Minnesota on Saturday, Sept. 4, and conclude Sunday, Oct. 10.

All hunters are required to obtain a mandatory sandhill crane hunting permit, available from any DNR license agent or online for $3.50.

No other licenses, permits or stamps are required.

No crane hunting is allowed within 100 yards of surface water through Wednesday, Sept. 22.

This same restriction applies to Canada goose hunters in this zone.

Bag limits are two sandhill cranes per day.

Shooting hours are one half hour before sunrise until sunset until duck season opens, when shooting hours for sandhill cranes are the same as for waterfowl.

Plugged shotguns and non-toxic shot are required for sandhill crane hunting.

Sandhill crane hunters should consult the 2010 Waterfowl Hunting Regulations for additional details.

Youth have until Aug. 16 to apply for Sept. waterfowl hunt
From the DNR

Youth 12-15 who want to experience waterfowl hunting can apply to be one of 65 participants in this year’s youth waterfowl hunt on Saturday, Sept. 18.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has teamed up with Ducks Unlimited, the national wildlife refuge system, and the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club to provide youth with hands-on education and outdoors experiences in northwestern and western Minnesota as well as the southern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

The hunt occurs on Youth Waterfowl Day, a specially designated day during which any adult can take any youth 15 and younger waterfowl hunting. Only youth may hunt.

Youth 12-15 who have earned a firearms safety certificate have until Monday, Aug. 16 to apply for the one-day hunt, which requires that a parent or guardian accompany the youth at all times during orientation, education and field sessions.

Participants will be selected by lottery.

Paired mentors will do more than take a youth and a guardian into the field for a Saturday morning hunt.

They’ll take time before hand to sit down with youth and the guardian to discuss the importance and necessity of habitat as well as explain and demonstrate waterfowl hunting safety, techniques and skills.

Youth and guardians will connect with mentors on Friday to prepare for hunts at Hamden Slough near Detroit Lakes, Morris Wildlife Production Area near Morris, Agassiz/Thief Lake Refuge near Thief River Falls and several locations south of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

“Youth gain so much from this weekend experience,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “Walking out to the blind early Saturday morning to hunt is the final activity that lets a youth practice all that’s been learned along the way.”