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Ice out is finally here

April 18, 2011

by Chris Schultz

Joe’s Sport Shop and Hardware in Howard Lake reported that Howard Lake became officially ice free Tuesday, April 12.

Howard Lake became ice covered within a day or two of Dec. 2; by historical standards, a very normal season for ice over and ice out.

For many reasons, it just seemed like it was a lot longer this year.

The earliest ice-over date recorded was Nov. 7, in 1991, and the latest ice-over date recorded was Dec. 20, which occurred in 1998 and 2001.

The earliest ice-out date recorded was March 15, in 2000, and the latest ice-out date was May 2, 1950.

Enjoy the open water. Hopefully, it will be around until mid-December.

LP firearms safety classes coming up

Firearm Safety Class will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Tuesday, April 26 in Lester Prairie.

The class is open to ages 11 and up and will take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club.

If you have any questions or want to sign up, call Doug Minnick at (320) 395-2143 or (320) 224-5942.

Crow River/Winsted Ducks Unlimited banquet tonight

The Crow River/Winsted Ducks Unlimited Chapters will host its 31st annual banquet Monday, April 18 at the Blue Note Ballroom in Winsted.

Space is limited for the event, so to get your tickets, contact Scott Schmidt at (320) 543-2498.

No tickets will be sold at the door; you must purchase your tickets in advance.

Youth trapshooting registration at the Buffalo Gun Club

The Buffalo Gun Club Youth Trapshooting Program (BGCYP) is getting ready to start.

BGCYP registration will take place Tuesday, April 19 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Buffalo Gun Club (located on Hwy 55 E just past Target).

A limited number of spots are available for youth shooters, and attendance at the registration night is mandatory.

Minimum age to participate is 11 years old.

The cost to participate is only $150/youth shooter.

This includes 10 weeks of instruction with two rounds of trap per week, 20 boxes of shotgun shells, instruction both in and out of the classroom, and more.

The program takes place each Tuesday, beginning April 26, with a mandatory gun safety and trapshooting education class.

For more information, check out the website at www.buffalogunclubyouth.org or call Coach Stevens at (612) 703-6155.

Wavery Gun Club upcoming events

The Waverly Gun Club will be hosting Ladies Night along with a conceal and carry training.

For more information or to register, call Kevin at (763) 242-4553.

The Waverly Gub Club is at 4465 DeSota Ave. SW, Waverly.

• Ladies Night begins Tuesday, May 10, and will continue the second Tuesday of every month.

It runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and will go on rain or shine. You may shoot from the comfort of a shelter.

You may bring your own center fire handgun and ammunition, if you prefer, otherwise .22 cal. pistols, rifles, targets, and ammuntion are provided at no charge.

A NRA-Certified Range Safety Officer will be present on the shooting line, with instruction available upon request.

Targets for hanguns will be from 7 to 25 yards out, with rifle targets at 50 yards.

• Conceal and carry training will be Monday, April 18 and Wednesday, April 20.

Both nights will run from 6 to 10 p.m., with the class taking a total of eight hours.

This course fulfills the required training to apply for a Minnesota handgun “permit to carry.”

The cost of the class is $100 for the eight total hours, and will conclude with a range instruction/practice/skills test, and a written test.

The course will go over firearm safety, firearms and the law, an introduction to defensive shooting, and basic defensive handgun skills.

MN Conservation Volunteer magazine launches iPad app
From the DNR

For more than 70 years, the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer (MCV) magazine produced by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has provided entertaining and informative articles about Minnesota’s woods, waters, and wildlife. Now there’s a new, free iPad app that brings those MCV pages to life.

“The app includes interactive images, slideshows, bird calls, and other audio segments and features that aren’t available anywhere else,” explained MCV Art Director Lynn Phelps, who designed the app.

Available through the iTunes store, iPad users can find a link to the app at www.mndnr.gov/magazine.

• About the magazine

The then-Department of Conservation first published the Conservation Volunteer in October 1940.

The target audience was the citizens of Minnesota – in particular, a group dubbed the Conservation Volunteers.

Early issues asked readers to take a pledge “to support by word and deed all aspects of conservation.”

Budget shortfalls in 1980 prompted the magazine staff to ask readers for financial support.

Since 2003, readers’ contributions have covered the entire cost of publishing.

The magazine receives no funding from state taxes, the state lottery, or fishing, hunting, or boating license fees.

The circulation, originally limited to 5,000 copies, has grown to about 145,000 subscribers.

For more information about MCV visit mndnr.gov/magazine.

Wildfire Prevention Week in Minnesota is April 17-23
From the DNR

In an effort to increase awareness about outdoor fire hazards, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has declared April 17-23 as Wildfire Prevention Week.

“We want to encourage people to make a special effort to control their fires not only this week, but all year long,” said Larry Himanga, DNR wildfire prevention coordinator.

Spring wildfire activity in Minnesota normally begins in the southern portion of the state and moves northward as the snow disappears.

Most wildfires occur in the spring, between the time when snow melts and the vegetation turns green.

On average, DNR personnel respond to more than 1,500 wildfires each year.

Although the current fire hazard in Minnesota is low to moderate, it quickly can change without adequate spring rain.

Visit mndnr.gov/forestry/fire/firerating_restrictions.html for current statewide fire danger information and burning restrictions.

The number one cause of wildfires in Minnesota is escaped debris-burning fires.

Himanga encourages landowners to find alternatives to burning, such as chipping or composting.

Otherwise, landowners should check burning restrictions in their area, obtain a burning permit, be careful with their debris fires and remember that piled debris can hold hot coals for several days to several months.

Wildfire prevention in Minnesota began after the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894, which killed 418 people and destroyed the town of Hinckley and other small communities.

As a result, the 1895 Legislature created the Office of the Chief Fire Warden to organize a statewide system for forest fire suppression.

Then, following the 1908 Chisholm Fire, the Legislature authorized the appointment of forest rangers to provide a more effective means of enforcing the fire prevention laws.

The ranger corps was laid off due to lack of funds on Oct. 7, 1910.

Six weeks later, a wind-driven fire raged through a landscape littered with logging slash and destroyed the towns of Baudette and Spooner. At least 42 people died.

The 1911 Legislature established the Minnesota Forest Service, a precursor to the DNR Division of Forestry, to fireproof Minnesota.

The division has dedicated 100 years to protecting, managing, and educating its citizens about Minnesota’s forests.

To obtain a burning permit, visit mndnr.gov/forestry/fire/questions.html or call a local, state or federal forestry office for more information.

To learn more about the Division of Forestry’s 100th anniversary, visit mndnr.gov/forestry/anniversary/index.html.

DNR announces temporary, seasonal fishing closures
From the DNR

To protect fish spawning areas, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has begun to close certain portions of a number of Minnesota waters to fishing.

The closings are routine and based on local conditions.

Closings occur each year as ice-out begins and waters begin to warm.

Areas closed to fishing are listed on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/fishingclosures.

Portions of waters closed to fishing also are posted at access sites and in other visible areas.

Anglers may fish in areas that are not posted.

Spring fire restrictions begin April 15 in 19 MN counties
From the DNR

Restrictions on open burning in 19 counties in central Minnesota go into effect on April 15, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today.

Rapid snowmelt across much of the state has increased the risk of wildfires, particularly in grassy areas. These fine fuels can ignite easily and spread quickly.

This is a cause for concern, according to DNR Fire Prevention Specialist Larry Himanga.

“The lack of snow on the ground allows the vegetation to dry out much faster, which increases the likelihood that a fire will start,” Himanga said. “The rapid snow melt this past week has increased drastically the risk for wildfires.”

Burning restrictions started April 15 in the following counties: Anoka, Benton, Cass south of the border of the Chippewa National Forest, Crow Wing, Chisago, Dakota, Douglas, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Pine, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Washington, and Wright.

The DNR will add counties as the snow cover recedes northward.

For those who plan to burn in counties that still allow open burning with a permit, the window of opportunity will be brief.

Most of Minnesota will be under restrictions soon, Himanga said.

Once restrictions are in place, special permits will be written for extenuating circumstances only.

Such circumstances might include burning permits for time-sensitive construction projects, and prescribed burning conducted by professional firefighters.

The DNR encourages the use of composting, recycling, and chipping as alternatives to burning.

While debris burning will be curtailed, the use of campfires – if smaller than 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet in height – will continue to be allowed.

Permits are not required for this type of fire if it meets the above conditions and is monitored until the coals are dead out.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: National Volunteer Week is April 10-16. Each year, thousands of people volunteer their time to help the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and other organizations, with a variety of projects.

What sort of volunteer opportunities does the DNR have to offer?

A: The DNR offers a range of volunteer opportunities across the state that include assisting with wildlife research to cleaning rivers to playing Smokey Bear at the State Fair, just to name a few.

Right now, the DNR is looking for volunteers to help count loons; monitor bluebird trails; plant trees at selected state parks; transcribe historical research; bait hooks at fishing clinics; repair snowshoes; and assist Lake Superior boaters as a marina host.

Volunteer positions are listed on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov or by calling (651) 259-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

Opportunities vary on a seasonal basis.

Outdoor notes

• Take some time to learn about firearms safety, hunting, and conservation this spring by enrolling in one the many DNR certified Firearms Safety Training courses that are being offered in our area.

The local volunteer instructors are great, and the course teaches much more then firearms safety.

Two years ago, my now 13-year-old daughter Abbi took the course and from it, developed a conservation ethic for Minnesota’s great outdoors that will last a lifetime and hopefully, be shared many times over.

In this week’s column, I included a short poem Abbi recently penned about hunting and the outdoors.

• Good luck to all the spring turkey hunters.

• A reminder to all those Winsted Ducks Unlimited members – the Winsted Chapter as now teamed up with the Crow River Chapter and the banquet is Monday, April 18 at the Blue Note.

• The Lake Minnetonka crappie fishing contest has been cancelled for this season.

The group promoting the tournament is in search of a new major sponsor.

• Look for great spring crappie action on many of our area lakes to start in the next few days.

Big Waverly, Dutch, Swan, Winsted, and Collinwood are great lakes to try.

Fish the shallow bays where the water is warmer and move slow, using a small tube jig tipped with a minnow.

If the action picks up and the fish are aggressive, switch to a small spinner bait, like a Beetle Spin.

• Take some time to watch spring happen.

Very soon, the grass will be green, the trees will be full of leaves, and summer will be just around the corner.

• It’s time to start thinking about morel mushrooms again.

Expect the hunt to start sometime in early May. The best time to hunt for morels is when the lilacs are blooming.

• The Lester Prairie Sportsmen’s Club started its trapshooting season last week and there is still plenty of time to enter a team into the league.

The club is open to league and practice shooting every Wednesday evening from mid-April to August.

For more information, call (320) 395-2258 or visit the club’s website at www.lpscmn.com.

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