If there’s one thing that impacts the quality of hunting across the farmland regions of Minnesota and the Midwest, it’s the speed and timing of the crop harvest.
For example, last fall was wet and field conditions prevented farmers from harvesting a majority of the corn crop until well into November.
Because of that, deer hunting in the farmland regions was difficult and the best pheasant hunting of the season didn’t occur until Thanksgiving or later. Standing corn is like a magnet for pheasants and deer.
Even in South Dakota, many opening-weekend pheasant hunters came home with no birds because of the amount corn still standing in the fields.
This year, the crop harvest looks to be shaping up much different and is set to start much earlier than it did a year ago.
Soybean fields are brown and drying fast and in many areas, the corn looks like it could be harvested in just a few weeks.
If the weather stays dry and field conditions are good, a majority of the crops could be off the fields by the Oct. 16 Minnesota and South Dakota pheasant hunting openers, and fields could be all black by the time the Minnesota firearms deer hunting season opens Saturday, Nov. 6.
Last week I spent some time in the Clara City area scouting for ducks, and area farmers were already harvesting sugar beets and moving equipment to fields in preparation to harvest soybeans.
With an early crop harvest likely, plan to hunt more in the earlier parts of the season and pay great attention to remaining fields of standing corn that are adjacent to good cover or public hunting areas.
The small game and archery deer hunting seasons in Minnesota opened Saturday, Sept. 18, the Minnesota waterfowl hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 2. The pheasant hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 16.
Conservation officer reports from area
From the DNR
• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers and boaters in Stearns and Wright counties. CO Mies checked goose and dove hunters. CO Mies attended some training.
• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) checked dove and goose hunters who were having fair success.
Boaters were observed at access sites for illegal transportation of invasive species.
Telephone calls were returned all week most of them deer hunting questions.
• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) continued to check early goose hunters in Carver and Hennepin counties.
Violations included hunting geese over bait, unplugged guns and no duck stamps.
She also patrolled Lake Minnetonka for fishing activity.
She answered numerous deer hunting questions by phone and responded to an injured loon call on Lake Minnetonka.
• CO Angela Graham (Hutchinson West) checked dove and goose hunters, ATVs, and anglers.
Calls were taken on shooting from the road, burning prohibited materials, and nuisance animals.
Officer Graham also attended EVOC training at Camp Ripley, and followed up on a possible wetland violation.
Enforcement action was taken on: no federal stamp, no burn permit, and failure to display registration.
• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling, boating, and PWC activity.
Additional time was spent checking and advising boaters of invasive species.
Hatlestad also checked goose and dove hunting activity, and attended required training.
• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) continues working early goose and dove enforcement in the area.
CO Oberg also spent time checking area anglers that are starting to find walleye and crappie.
Enforcement action continues for ATV and OHM issues, most related to youth operation.
CO Oberg encourages parents to read through the recreational vehicle law book so they understand youth operation requirements.
DNR offers 38 parcels of land for sale
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will offer a total of 38 parcels of land for sale at public auctions scheduled for October.
The first “oral auction” will be held Thursday, Oct. 21, at the DNR Central Office (500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, Minn.) at 10 a.m., with registration to begin at 9:45 a.m.
There are a variety of parcels being offered in Aitkin, Cook, Hennepin, Lake, Martin, Nobles, Pipestone, St. Louis, and Washington counties.
The second oral auction will be held Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Bemidji City Hall (317 4th Street NW, Council Chambers Room, Bemidji, Minn.) at 11 a.m., with registration beginning at 10:45 a.m.
Parcels in Beltrami, Hubbard, Itasca, Polk, Red Lake, Roseau, and Wadena counties will be up for sale.
These sales include parcels with a mix of potential uses, from residential to recreational to riparian.
Additional information regarding the land sales and terms and conditions may be found at: www.dnr.state.mn.us/lands_minerals/landsale.
DNR, outdoor groups offer free program on Upland Bird Day
From the DNR
learning how to hunt upland game birds such as pheasant and grouse are invited to Upland Bird Day.
This hands-on clinic runs from 1-5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Dakota County Gun Club.
This is a joint event of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Dakota County Gun Club and Pheasants Forever.
The event is open to men, women and children ages 10 and older. Youth younger than 18 must be accompanied by a guardian.
There is no cost for the program, but registration is required due to limited availability.
“Upland bird day is a new a new outreach effort,” said Linda Bylander, an outreach program coordinator for the DNR. “It is tailored to those who have not yet hunted uplands birds or who have limited experience.”
Participants will learn about upland bird biology and management before rotating through hands-on learning stations.
They will learn how to hunt a field with or without a dog; find hunting land; shoot and pattern a shotgun; observe a field hunt; and care for hunting dogs.
To register, contact Bylander via phone at (218) 833-8628, or e-mail her at email@example.com.
Information on other programs for women and families is available online at mndnr.gov/bow or by requesting a brochure from the DNR Information Center, (651) 296-6157. or toll-free 888-646-6367.
DNR promotes two conservation officers
From the DNR
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources recently named a new Division of Enforcement regional manager and a new district supervisor.
Conservation Officer Greg Salo was promoted to captain and named Region 3 Enforcement manager in the Metro area, while Regional Training Officer Todd Manley was promoted to first lieutenant and named the District 8 Duluth area supervisor.
“This is a very special time for two men who’ve dedicated their lives to public service,” Colonel Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement director said. “They each bring a lot to the table. We expect great things from both of them.”
Manley, a 19-year veteran with the DNR, began his law enforcement career in 1979 in Kandiyohi County before spending 11 years as a Wright County deputy.
He initiated the DNR’s first snowmobile taskforce in 1997 to enhance operator safety and education.
Lessons learned from the initiative are taught to conservation officers today.
In 1998 he assisted Colonel Konrad with the establishment of the Waterfowl Taskforce, which stresses compliance of state and federal waterfowl laws, firearms safety, and waterfowl identification.
The Minnesota Waterfowl Association named Manley their 1994 law enforcement officer of the year for his use DNR aircraft in the detection of wetlands and waters violations.
He has also served as a field officer in the St. Cloud station, Use of Force instructor, and Field Training Officer.
His most recent assignments were Wetlands Enforcement Officer (1993-2007) and Regional Training Officer in Bemidji (2007-present).
CO Salo joined the DNR in 2007 after spending 13 years with the Fridley Police Department, including over three years as a sergeant.
He was initially assigned to the DNR’s Mora Station before moving to the Cambridge Station.
For the past two years he’s worked the East Metro area. Salo is also a DNR Enforcement use of force instructor and firearms instructor.
During this tenure with the Fridley Police Department, Salo was in charge of the use of force program, predatory offender program, liquor, gambling, and tobacco compliance, and ‘Safe and Sober’ grant.
He also spent time at Fridley PD as the Field Training Coordinator, worked undercover with the drug task force, and worked with pawn shops and the Automated Pawn System.
Both men say they are looking forward to the challenge of their new duties.
Question of the week
From the DNR
Q: The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works with the University of Minnesota Extension Service in conducting the Master Naturalist Program.
What is the program and how does a person become a master naturalist?
A: The Master Naturalist Program is a community-based natural resource volunteer program that is open to any adult who is interested in learning more about the natural world.
This program is different than the Master Gardener Program because it offers participants a broader based understanding of the state’s natural environments.
Those who sign up for the program will have the opportunity to be trained in any one, or all, of Minnesota’s biomes prairie, deciduous forest, and coniferous forest.
To be certified as a master naturalist, volunteers must complete 40 hours of training and a supervised, sponsored project. Certified Master Naturalists assist the DNR, the Extension Service and other partners with public outreach and management of the state’s diverse natural environments.
Additional information is available at http://www.MinnesotaMasterNaturalist.org.
• The Carver County Chapter of Pheasants Forever will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2011.
• Take some time for pre-season shooting to get comfortable with your firearms again, before you head to the field for a day of hunting.
Review the 10 commandments of firearms safety and make sure your firearms and ammunition is securely locked and out of the reach of children.
• Get your dog in shape for the upcoming seasons.
• I’m so sick of mosquitoes, I’m hoping for early frost.
• The best fishing of the year lunker walleye, northern pike and muskie on our area lakes is here, or will be here in the next few weeks.
• Pay attention to the sunset; at this time of year you can actually notice the sun setting in a spot farther south on the horizon every evening.
• Take a kid hunting or fishing; he or she will have fun and so will you.