Small game hunting big opportunity for new hunters

September 17, 2012

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

Minnesota small game hunting seasons are an ideal way for friends and families to get outdoors and discover the opportunities Minnesota has to offer, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Small game hunting starts on Saturday, Sept. 15, when the seasons for ruffed grouse, rabbit and squirrel begin.

“Small game season is a forgotten pleasure,” said Mike Kurre, DNR mentoring program coordinator. “With nothing more than a small caliber rifle or shotgun, a bit of patience and some blaze orange, Minnesota’s fields and forests are there to be explored and enjoyed.”

Small game hunting is inexpensive. Youth licenses (age 15 and under) are free and those for 16 and 17 year olds are just $12.50, a discount from the standard license price of $19.

Hunters must meet firearms safety requirements or obtain an apprentice hunter validation and go afield with a licensed hunter.

Minnesota’s apprentice hunter validation program enables those who need but have not completed firearms safety training to hunt under prescribed conditions designed to ensure a safe hunt.

“Once you’re in the field, careful observation of wildlife habits and a bit of stealth will begin to give small game hunters the experience they need,” Kurre said.

Minnesota offers public hunting on more than 1.4 million acres of wildlife management areas, 15,000 acres of Walk-In Access lands in southern Minnesota, and millions of acres of state forests.

Grouse hunters have access to 528 designated hunting areas in the ruffed grouse range covering nearly 1 million acres, 43 designated ruffed grouse management areas and 600 miles of hunter walking trails.

Lingering summer foliage early in the season makes harvesting grouse challenging, said Ted Dick, DNR grouse coordinator. But, he said, learning where and when grouse can be flushed is beneficial knowledge that hunters can use as colors change in the woods and leaves drop.

“Flush rates and total harvest probably will decline because we’re on the downward side of the 10-year grouse population cycle,” Dick said. “But Minnesota offers some of the best grouse hunting in the country and, even in down years, has flush rates that hunters in other states envy.”

In northwestern Minnesota, the sandhill crane season also begins Sept. 15.

Waterfowl season opens statewide on Saturday, Sept. 22, as does the season on woodcock, a woodland migratory bird.

Pheasant season opens Saturday, Oct. 13.

Complete information about Minnesota hunting seasons is available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting.

Farmers can take steps to help avoid fall harvest farm fires
From the DNR

As the fall harvest progresses, the risk of farm fires increase, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). These fires can spread rapidly and cause significant losses in crops and machinery.

The DNR offers the following tips to help avoid farm fires:

1. Prepare machinery. An overheated bearing or spark from an improperly lubricated fitting can instantaneously ignite dry plants and field debris.

Make sure fire extinguishers are fully charged and the right size and type for the area. Fire extinguishers are divided into four categories, based on different types of fires.

Each fire extinguisher also has a numerical rating that serves as a guide for the amount of fire the extinguisher can handle.

The higher the number, the more firefighting power.

2. Keep equipment clean. Throughout the day, remove chaff, leaves and other combustibles from motors, exhausts and moving parts.

A gas-powered leaf blower is great for blowing debris from machinery.

3. Service grain storage and drying equipment. Inspect all bearings, belts and motors.

Keep weeds mowed around the facilities to discourage a fire from spreading.

Be sure extinguishers are fully charged and the proper size and type for the area.

4. Turn off interior lighting in filled bins.

A grain fire can start if grain surrounds the bulb.

Turn off the light’s breaker to avoid accidentally turning the light on. This also applies to hay storage facilities.

5. Till a 30-foot break around building sites, remote bin sites and outside storage facilities to minimize the potential spread of fire.

Remove weeds and other combustibles around structures and stored equipment.

6. Handle hay properly. Store hay away from combustibles such as gasoline, fertilizers and pesticides, and away from open burning areas.

Arrange round bales in groups of 10 or fewer and place at least 100 feet away from structures.

Leave 30 feet of mowed grass, bare ground, or rock between bale groups to create a solid fire break.

Check stored hay frequently for hot spots. Be aware of a caramel or strong burning odor, a strong musty smell, and/or hay that is hot when touched.

If any of these occur, call the fire department immediately and do not move the hay.

Moving it exposes overheated or smoldering hay to oxygen, speeding the fire.

If a fire occurs, remain calm and call 911 immediately. Do not wait until all your means of fighting the fire are exhausted.

Every minute impacts losses.

Many field and bin sites do not have 911 addresses, so be prepared to identify an intersection or landmark to direct responders.

To help control field fires until firefighters arrive, quickly disk a fire break around the fire.

Be cautious when doing this as smoke will starve and stall a motor, and will make hazards and bystanders hard to see.

To assist with a structural fire, make sure there are no flammable objects nearby.

If the circuit panel is safely accessible, turn off the building’s electricity.

If time allows, evacuate any livestock to a distant pasture. Do not take risks.

After using any equipment to fight a fire, check air filters, ledges, nooks and crannies for burning debris.

For more information, contact Tom Romaine, DNR fire supervisor for southern Minnesota, at (507) 359-6048 or Bill Glesener, northwest region Firewise communities specialist, at (218) 308-2364.

CWD restrictions limit import of deer harvested in WI
From the DNR

Minnesota deer hunters who plan on hunting in Wisconsin this year need to remember that a new chronic wasting disease (CWD) endemic area has been established in northwestern Wisconsin, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said.

Northwestern Wisconsin counties affected are Barron, Burnett, Polk and Washburn. Import restrictions established by the Minnesota Board of Animal Health (BAH) do not allow whole, field-dressed deer to be brought into Minnesota from these counties.

Hunters may only return to Minnesota with:

• Cut and wrapped meat, quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached; and

• Antlers, hides, teeth, finished taxidermy mounts and antlers attached to skull caps that are cleaned of all brain tissue.

Deer harvested in CWD endemic areas outside northwestern Wisconsin also are subject to the restrictions.

Those Wisconsin counties are Adams, Columbia, Crawford, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Green Lake, Iowa, Jefferson, Juneau, Kenosha, Lafayette, Marquette, Racine, Richland, Rock, Sauk, Vernon, Walworth and Waukesha.

More detailed information on carcass import restrictions is available on page 58 of the 2012 Minnesota Hunting & Trapping Regulations Handbook.

For a map and information on CWD endemic areas established by BAH, visit www.bah.state.mn.us/bah/rules/import-regulations.html and click the cervidae link.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: It seems like there are fewer songbirds around now. When do they start to migrate?

A: Many songbirds disperse from their home range in late summer.

They are “branching out” and searching for different types of food that will increase their fat reserves to help them on their long migration.

Lack of abundant food supplies cause most songbirds to leave in late August through mid-October, though some Minnesota birds begin their fall migration as early as mid-July.

Warmer winters and open areas of water keep some songbirds such as robins and bluebirds, around all winter.

DNR seeks designs for MN’s 2013 Pheasant Stamp
From the DNR

Wildlife artists can submit entries for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) 2013 Pheasant Stamp through 4 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 21.

Artists are prohibited from using any photographic product as part of their finished entries.

Any entry that contains photographic products will be disqualified.

Entries will be accepted via mail and in person at DNR Headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

Mailed entries should be addressed to 2013 Pheasant Stamp Contest, DNR Fish and Wildlife Division, Box 20, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155-4020.

Designs should be securely wrapped and enclosed in an envelope or other container.

The words “Pheasant Stamp” should be clearly marked on outside of the container.

Late entries will not be accepted.

The contest, which offers no prizes, is open to Minnesota residents only.

Winning artists usually issue limited edition prints of the artwork and retain proceeds.

Revenue from stamp sales is dedicated to pheasant management-related activities.

A contest entry form and reproduction rights agreement, which grants the DNR the right to use the design for the stamp image and other promotional, educational and informational purposes related to pheasant, must be signed and submitted with the design.

Judging will take place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, at the DNR Headquarters in St. Paul.

Complete contest criteria and information are available from the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155, or by calling (651) 296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367.

Information is also available online at www.mndnr.gov/contests.

CO weekley reports
From the DNR

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) and COC Mueller worked the Labor Day weekend checking early goose and dove hunters.
Time was also spent working area lakes.
A boat was seen with no registration. Upon further investigation, the operator was found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Enforcement action was taken.
A passenger in the boat was also cited for fishing without a license.
Officers checked multiple kids on the Youth Waterfowl day.
While hunting was slow, a couple of ducks were shot and it looked like the kids were having a good time.
Parents keep in mind, youth under the age of 16 need to get their free small game license and HIP certification before hunting.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) worked a boat and water safety detail on the Mississippi River in Hastings as work was done on the new bridge.
Youth waterfowl day was a success for many young hunters all having pretty good luck.
Goose hunters were checked but with the warm weather success has been poor.
Telephone calls were returned all week on hunting questions.

• CO Wayne Hatlestad (Litchfield) checked early goose and dove hunting activity.
Additional time was spent checking angling, boating, and AIS activity.
Hatlestad also handled beaver complaints, and enforced state forestry fire and ATV laws.
Time was also spent speaking at a FAS class in Cedar Mills and attending a regional meeting.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) reports working the early goose and dove seasons as well as youth waterfowl day.
CO Oberg also spent time answering questions at the McLeod County Ducks Unlimited banquet and worked the Wall of Shame trailer at the Minnesota Waterfowl Associations Prairie Pothole event.
Time was also spent doing AIS and ATV enforcement in the area.