Pheasant season opens Saturday

October 11, 2010

by Chris Schultz

The Minnesota and South Dakota pheasant hunting seasons open Saturday, Oct. 16.

Many hunters will stick close to home in hopes of seeing a few birds and putting a couple in the bag.

More will head to the prairie and farm fields of south and western Minnesota and South Dakota in search of a pheasant hunting adventure.

They will hope for limits, great dog work, and most of all the chance to see big groups of birds moving from the corn into the grass they have access to hunt.

Of course, as always, the bird numbers in areas of South Dakota will be much greater than bird numbers close to home or in prime southwestern and far western areas of Minnesota.

Close to home, and according to reports from the Dakotas and western Minnesota, the crops are coming off the fields fast and by the time the opener comes around, most of the soybeans will be harvested and a big dent will be put into the corn crop.

One South Dakota farmer I spoke with noted that, as of Oct. 8, they had all the beans off and, if the weather stays dry, they will have half the corn harvested by the time the pheasant season opens at noon on the 16th.

That’s a big difference from last year, when the fields were wet and almost all the corn was still standing on the opening week of the pheasant season.

Last season many hunters came home from the opening weekend of hunting in South Dakota and parts of Minnesota disappointed, with very few birds in the bag.

With bird numbers across the pheasant range about the same as last year, because of the crop harvest, hunters should fare much better this opening weekend.

Although competition on public lands can be tough, and access to good private lands even harder, the ticket to bagging a few birds on the opener will be the crop harvest and the chance to hunt good grassland cover adjacent to a cornfield that was just harvested.

No matter the stage of the season, standing corn adjacent to good cover is a magnet for pheasants and when that corn is gone, the birds are easier to hunt.

If that opportunity isn’t there, be ready at sunset.

Near sunset, birds systematically move from the standing corn back to their roosting locations in grassy cover. Pick out a good spot and wait for the birds to come out.

You will hear the roosters cackling before you see them; and where one goes, more usually go.

Good luck hunting, remember to wear blaze orange, and that safety always comes first.

Shooting hour in Minnesota begins at 9 a.m. on the 16th, and in the South Dakota, shooting hours for the first week of hunting begin at noon.

Waverly Gun Club upcoming events

The Waverly Gun Club has a number of events coming up and running through October.

Below is what the gun club has going on. For additional information, go to www.waverlygunclub.org, or call Kevin at (763) 242-4553.

• Doubles league began Oct. 7 and runs for four weeks. Teams or individuals are welcome.

• Range site-ins will take place for three weekends starting Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17; Saturday, Oct. 23 and Sunday, Oct. 24; and concluding Saturday, Oct. 30 and Sunday, Oct. 31. Times are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

• Conceal and carry class will be Monday, Oct. 18 and Tuesday, Oct. 19.

Migration reports
From Avery Pro-Staff

• Name: Ben Cade
Date: October 6, 2010
Location: Buffalo, MN

Weather: The temperatures are above normal right now with seventies in the forecast for the weekend.
It has been sunny and nice with out rain recently.

Snow Cover: None.

Water Conditions: All area lakes and rivers are at least a foot above normal for this time of year.
The Crow River in Delano is very high.
Hunting most parts of the Crow will require a lot of boat work.
Many area fields are still flooded in low areas.

Feeding Conditions: Very good and getting better.
There is sheetwater in many area fields which is what the birds are keying on.
Beans are being harvested as soon as farmers can get into fields.

Species and Numbers: We have a good number of mallards in our area.
Canada goose numbers are good as well.

Migrations: There was a little bit of activity over the weekend but probably mostly due to hunting pressure from the waterfowl opener.
I watched numerous new flocks of geese enter the Buffalo area on Saturday and Sunday.

Season Stage: We are in our first full week of the general waterfowl season.

Hunting Report: Hunting has been excellent for those who have been able to obtain permission for flooded grain fields.
I have heard reports of many limits of mallards being taken over the weekend and into this week.
Now is the time to be looking for these sheetwater areas to fill your bag limit!

Gossip: Too much water is what I have been hearing from some hunters.
High water on the river as well as some lakes and ponds has made hunting more difficult for some hunters.
Seems like flooded fields is where it’s at for now.

Conservation officer reports from area
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked boaters and anglers.
CO Mies also checked waterfowl hunters, along with small game hunters.
CO Mies also worked on a wetland complaint.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) assisted a neighboring officer with a waterfowl identification presentation in St. Cloud.
Reller also gave a presentation to approximately 150 individuals at a snowmobile class in St. Michael.
The waterfowl season opener was worked and hunters were having a good harvest of wood ducks still in the area.
Enforcement action was taken for numerous waterfowl violations.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) followed up on several deer hunting and trespass complaints.
She checked fishing activity on area lakes and checked boaters for invasive species.
She also monitored the fall flooding along the Minnesota River in Carver County.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) prepared equipment for waterfowl season.
Many telephone calls were returned all week on hunting questions.
Officer Walter worked the duck opener on the Crow River with CO Kahre, while checking duck hunters they came across a large spread of decoys and found a tipped over submerged duck boat with gun cases, clothing and much equipment floating in the water.
The water was too deep to turn over the boat so local fire departments arrived to assist with a larger boat.
The hunters then showed up after going home to change clothes and hearing all of the sirens.
Lucky for them they made it to shore but all their equipment including their guns went under.
Duck hunting success was the best seen in years with several hunters shooting their limit.
Every hunter checked had ducks and very few violations observed.

• CO Angela Graham (Hutchinson) checked waterfowl hunters over the weekend, numbers of wood ducks and mallards were good.
TIP calls came in of over limits and early shooting, enforcement action was taken on PFD and burning violations.
Officer Graham also reports checking anglers that were catching limits of walleyes and crappies over the past week.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked angling, boating, and ATV activity.
Additional time was spent checking archery deer and small game hunting activity.
Hatlestad also worked the waterfowl opener, and investigated big game violations.
Time was also spent checking possible waters and WCA violations, and patrolling WMAs/WPAs.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) spent time checking small game and archery deer hunters.
CO Oberg also checked anglers out chasing the fall walleye bite in the area.
Deer and waterfowl complaints were also investigated.

Leftover either-sex deer permits on sale today (Monday)
From the DNR

Firearm and muzzleloader hunters who were unsuccessful in this year’s lottery for an either-sex deer permit or did not apply can obtain free leftover permits beginning at 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 11, from any Electronic License System agent or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense, according to the Minnesota Department of Resources (DNR).

To pick up a permit, a hunter must either currently possess or purchase a license valid for either the firearm season (option A or B) or the muzzleloader season.

Individuals can only have one permit, which is valid for the area they select.

The permit will allow an individual to take one antlerless deer in that deer area only.

Hunters who were selected in the lottery cannot obtain a leftover permit.

A leftover permit allows an individual to take a deer of either sex in that permit area. It is not a permit for an extra deer.
In lottery deer areas, firearm and muzzleloader license holders who intend to take an antlerless deer must possess an either-sex permit; otherwise, they are restricted to hunting bucks.

The total bag limit for deer in lottery areas is one deer per year.

Broken bat promotion with Twins a big hit
From the DNR

At the beginning of the major league baseball season, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) teamed up with the Minnesota Twins to launch “Break a Bat, Plant a Tree,” an innovative partnership that has given both sports fans and outdoors enthusiasts good reasons to cheer.

According to the agreement, every time a Twins’ pitcher broke the bat of an opposing player during the 2010 season, 100 trees would be planted in one of the 73 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas or along one of the 21 Minnesota state trails.

When the regular season ended Sunday, Oct. 3, Minnesota pitchers had broken a total of 180 bats, which will result in the planting of 18,000 trees.

“The Break a Bat, Plant a Tree partnership has been a big hit, and we’re grateful to the Twins for coming up with the idea,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “It added an element of excitement to every at-bat, and our parks and trails will benefit greatly.”

Nelson noted that the National Association of State Park Directors recognized the Minnesota Twins “Break at, Plant a Tree” partnership with Minnesota State Parks and Trails at their annual conference in September.

“The partnership was a natural fit,” said Patrick Klinger, vice president of marketing for the Minnesota Twins. “The DNR wants to get people outdoors, and now that we have a new outdoor stadium, so do we. The state parks and trails contribute significantly to the quality of life we enjoy here in Minnesota, and we’re glad we could help draw some attention to that during the Twins’ season.”

On Friday, Aug. 13, former Twins pitcher and Fox Sports North television analyst Bert Blyleven and Forrest Boe, deputy director of the DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails, planted the first ceremonial tree on the Luce Line State Trail, a 63-mile trail that runs from Plymouth to Hutchinson.

The rest of the trees will be planted next spring at park and trail sites yet to be determined.

Based on the success of “Break a Bat, Plant a Tree” in 2010, the DNR and the Twins plan to continue the partnership next year.

Zebra mussels found in Gull Lake
From the DNR

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologists have confirmed a report that zebra mussels are now in Gull Lake near Brainerd.

It marks the second time in four months that zebra mussels have been discovered in a popular Minnesota lake.

In July, the DNR found zebra mussels in Lake Minnetonka.

A Brainerd area dock removal service discovered the zebra mussels attached to a boat lift pulled from the lake and reported its findings to the DNR.

The DNR surveyed additional docks and boat lifts recently removed from the lake and found zebra mussels attached to several boat lifts and to some aquatic vegetation.

In response to this new infestation, the DNR will:

• Designate Gull Lake as infested waters, which prohibits the transport of water and requires draining of all water including bait containers, and also prohibits harvest of bait.

• Place new signs at water accesses on Gull Lake to indicate the presence of zebra mussels.

• Increase enforcement and watercraft inspections efforts.

• Inform residents and business of what they can do to help prevent their spread.

It is not known how widespread zebra mussels are in the lake.

The young age of the zebra mussels suggest a reproducing population has likely been in the lake for a least a year.

The DNR will continue to survey docks and boat lifts being removed, as well as survey portions of the lake this week.

Anyone who finds zebra mussels in the lake should contact the DNR.

Prior to the discovery of zebra mussels in Gull Lake, the DNR worked with the Gull Lake Association and others in the Brainerd area to inspect boats and educate lake users in an effort to prevent the further spread of invasive species into Gull Lake and other Brainerd area lakes.

“It is very disappointing that zebra mussels found their way to Gull Lake,” said Dan Swanson, invasive species specialist in Brainerd. “Being such a popular recreational lake and near other zebra mussel infested waters likely increased the chances that this invasive species might show up.”

A nonnative invasive species, zebra mussels pose serious ecological and economic threats to Minnesota’s lakes and streams.

Heavy infestations can kill native mussels, impact fish populations, interfere with recreation, and increase costs for industry, including power and water supply facilities.

Native to Eastern Europe and Western Russia, zebra mussels were first discovered in Minnesota in 1989 in the Duluth harbor.

They subsequently have spread to 30 inland lakes including Gull, Lake Minnetonka, Mille Lacs, Prior, and Le Homme Dieu and to portions of the Mississippi, St. Croix and Zumbro rivers.

Boaters and anglers need to continue to take extra precautions when using this popular lake as zebra mussels could pose risks for other waters.

Boaters are required by law to:

• Remove aquatic plants and zebra mussels from boats and trailers.

• Drain all water, including pulling the drain plug, open water draining devises, and draining bilges and live wells.

The drain plug has to be removed or open when transporting your boat on public roads.

• Drain bait buckets when exiting lakes that have been designated as infested with spiny water flea or zebra mussels.

Anglers can keep unused bait when leaving infested waters if they replace the water with tap or spring.

It is also recommended that people spray or rinse boats with high pressure and/or hot water, or let them dry thoroughly for five days before transporting to another body of water.

DNR urges hunters to use caution on wet roads and trails
From the DNR

Following recent rains and flooding in some areas, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging hunters to check road and trail conditions before venturing out this fall.

Many state forest roads and trails are likely wet and some may be temporarily closed.

The DNR also reminds hunters to use caution when traveling on state forest roads and trails to ensure that motor vehicle use does not violate state law by causing erosion or rutting.

“Use good judgment,” said Paul Maurer, Northeast regional manager for the DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails. “If it’s wet, don’t drive there.”

For latest trail conditions, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/trailconditions/index.html.

Although traveling off roads and trails (cross-country travel) is generally prohibited in state forests, there are exceptions for hunters and trappers.

For example, hunters can travel cross-country on Class 1 ATVs (960 cc and under 1,000 pounds) to retrieve big game between September and December, except in areas signed and mapped to indicate “no motorized travel,” in state forests classified as “closed to OHVs,” or in the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood Forest.

The DNR urges hunters who exercise the option to go off-trail on an all-terrain vehicle to be extremely careful this fall, due to the amount of standing water and saturated soil that they are likely to encounter.

For more information on OHV riding see the 2010 Minnesota OHV Regulations handbook or visit the DNR website at dnr.state.mn.us/ohv/index.html.

For more information on hunting, see the 2010 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations or visit the DNR website at dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/index.html.

Information is also available by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Outdoor notes

• Even with all the water and blue bird weather, local duck hunters have reported better success than expected over the first week of the Minnesota duck hunting season.

Reports from the area just west of here, like Atwater, were very good.

• Remember to safely store and lock your firearms and ammunition when not in use.

• Fall fishing is at its peek, and now is the best time of the year to hit the water in search of lunker northern pike and walleye on our local lakes.

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