Unseasonably warm weather, cold water can be dangerous to late season boaters

November 26, 2012

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With unusually warm weather this month, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is warning boaters and waterfowl hunters to not to let their guard down.

So far this fall, four people have died during the late boating season.

“All boaters need to remember they must wear a personal floatation device,” said DNR Conservation Officer Capt. Greg Salo. “Low water levels are exposing several hazards – rocks, low wing dams, stumps, etc. Operators and passengers can be easily thrown overboard after coming into contact with one of these hazards.”

While air temperatures are mild, the cold water can prove dangerous, or even deadly, especially if people don’t consider the consequences of cold water shock and hypothermia that can result from falling into water at this time of year, Salo said.

Waterfowl hunters must also wear a personal floating device (PFD).

While some hunters find it uncomfortable to wear PFDs while hunting, Salo said, “camo float coats are a good option for hunters but they must be properly worn and zipped to count as a PFD.”

The DNR recommends these safety tips for late season boaters:

• Wear a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket; even good swimmers need to wear one.

• Don’t go out in any boat after drinking alcohol; the effects of alcohol are more dramatic while balancing in a boat than while standing on dry land.

• Don’t go boating alone; boating safety increases with numbers.

• Don’t overload the boat.

• Keep an eye on the weather and go to shore if the wind picks up.

• Tell someone about trip plans and when to call 911 if not back at a certain time.

• If boat becomes swamped or capsizes, stay with it if possible and await rescue, because most boats will continue to float, even after capsizing and filling with water. Drowning often occurs when the victim tries to swim to shore rather than face the embarrassment of being rescued.

For more information on boating and water safety, visit the DNR website, http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/boatwater/index.html.

Snowmobile safety class to be offered by the Winsted Sportsmen’s Club

The Winsted Sportsman’s Club will be giving a snowmobile safety class Sunday, Jan. 6 – the location is still to be determined.

This is a four-hour CD course, and the CD will need to be completed before the class.

For additional information, contact Harvey at (952) 393-5933 and leave a message, or e-mail him at hnowak3738@hotmail.com.

Preliminary 2012 firearm deer harvest numbers released
From the DNR

Minnesota hunters harvested 151,400 deer so far during the 2012 early firearm season, according to preliminary numbers announced today by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The late 3B season in southeastern Minnesota remains open through Sunday, Nov. 25.

Overall, antlered buck harvest increased 9 percent and antlerless deer harvest decreased 21 percent compared to 2011.

In total, firearm harvest was off 7 percent, which was expected given the conservative allocation of antlerless deer permits.

“The increase in buck harvest and decrease in antlerless deer harvest is a reflection of slightly higher deer populations statewide, yet a more conservative harvest philosophy this year,” said Lou Cornicelli, DNR wildlife research manager. “What drives total harvest is how we manage antlerless deer.”

This year, DNR increased the number of lottery areas where hunters could only take an antlerless deer by permit.

Opening weekend weather, which drives much of the statewide deer harvest, was nearly ideal with clear skies, cool temperatures, and a near total crop harvest.

Ample hunting opportunities remain as the statewide muzzleloader season runs from Saturday, Nov. 24 through Sunday, Dec. 9. The archery season closes on Monday, Dec. 31.

The deer harvest number is calculated using data provided by hunters when they register a deer.

A final report, which includes more detailed harvest information, will be available on the DNR website at the end of January.

Early wolf season concludes; late season begins Nov. 24
From the DNR

Hunters registered 147 wolves during the early portion of Minnesota’s first wolf season that ended Nov. 18; 53 fewer than the statewide harvest target, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The wolf harvest trend closely mirrored the deer harvest trend.

“The harvest was highest at the beginning of the season then declined as fewer hunters returned afield,” said Dan Stark, DNR large carnivore specialist. “It’s been a smooth start to the state’s first regulated wolf season. Interest was strong. Harvest is well within expectations.”

Wolf hunting in the east-central zone closed Nov. 5 with hunters registering eight wolves.

The northeast zone closed Nov. 15, with hunters registering 61 wolves.

Hunting in the northwest zone closed with the season on Nov. 18, with hunters registering 78 wolves.

Hunters registered three more wolves in the northeast zone than the target of 58.

In the east-central zone, hunters registered one fewer wolf than the target harvest of nine.

The agency anticipated slight overages or underages in its management planning.

Stark said targets were established as guidelines not absolute quotas and that late season targets will be adjusted based on the early season harvest.

He said that actual zone harvest numbers may change slightly as exact harvest location data is verified during wolf inspection.

Minnesota’s late hunting and trapping season begins Saturday, Nov. 24.

It will conclude Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013, provided late season harvest targets in each of Minnesota’s three wolf zones are not met.

Hunters and trappers are encouraged to monitor the DNR website www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/wolf/index.html daily to ensure their season is open.

Spring turkey hunting applications accepted through Jan. 11
From the DNR

Hunters older than 17 who want to hunt during the first four seasons of Minnesota’s 2013 spring wild turkey hunt have until Friday, Jan. 11, 2013, to apply for a permit, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Youth hunters 17 and younger can purchase a permit for any season over-the-counter.

The hunt will consist of six five-day and two seven-day seasons.

All adult resident and nonresident wild turkey hunters interested in hunting during one of the first four seasons must apply online, in-person or by phone.

Permits for each of the last four seasons will be sold over-the-counter only and no applications will be taken.

A total of 5,781 permits are available for the spring turkey hunt. Dates for 2013 are:
• Season A – Wednesday, April 17, to Sunday, April 21.
• Season B – Monday, April 22, to Friday, April 26.
• Season C – Saturday, April 27, to Wednesday, May 1.
• Season D – Thursday, May 2, to Monday, May 6.
• Season E – Tuesday, May 7, to Saturday, May 11.
• Season F – Sunday, May 12, to Thursday, May 16.
• Season G – Friday, May 17, to Thursday, May 23.
• Season H – Friday, May 24, to Thursday, May 30.

Permit areas were consolidated from 77 to 12 last year, providing wild turkey hunters more flexibility and opportunity in larger geographic areas.

One slight change alters the boundary between permit areas 501 and 503. Check the map at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey for details.

All hunters must pay a nonrefundable $4 application fee at the time of application.

Nonresident hunters may apply online or telephone at 888-665-4236 (MNLICENSE).

A nonrefundable $3.50 transaction fee will be charged for online and telephone applications.

Hunters who are not successful in the drawing may purchase surplus turkey permits, which are sold on a first-come, first-served basis, in mid-March.

They also may choose to purchase a license over-the-counter for any of the last four time periods.

Hunters who are successful in the drawing for one of the first four hunts and choose not to purchase a tag will lose the current year’s preference point for future drawings but not accumulated preference from past years.

The availability of archery resident and nonresident spring turkey licenses includes the last four seasons.

Archery licenses may be purchased for the last four hunts only in any permit area with 50 or more applicants.

Licensed archers may hunt each and all of the entire last four time periods.

An application information sheet is available from any DNR license agent and online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.

Hunt information materials include a map of wild turkey permit areas, permit quotas and season dates.

Information also is available by calling the DNR Information Center at (651) 296-6157 or toll-free -888-646-6367.

Give the gift of the great outdoors this holiday season
From the DNR

Need a unique holiday gift for an outdoor enthusiast?

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a suggestion: Give the gift of the great outdoors with a Minnesota state parks gift card.

The cards can be redeemed for camping, overnight getaways at camper cabins or modern suites, vehicle permits, snowshoe and kayak rentals and more.

They can also be redeemed for Minnesota state parks apparel, outdoor-related books and many other items sold at Minnesota state park gift stores.

“The gift card is an easy way to connect friends and family to Minnesota’s outdoors,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Parks and Trails Division. “We recommend giving Minnesota state parks gift cards to children or grandchildren with a promise to take them snowshoeing this winter or fishing next spring. In addition to creating memories that will last a lifetime, the experiences will help hook that next generation on the fun of outdoor recreation.”

As of Nov. 15, the DNR has sold more than 7,000 gift cards since launching them in 2009.

Revenue generated by gift card sales stays right here in Minnesota and helps support interpretive programs and resource management projects at state parks.

The gift card – which features a photo of the state’s highest waterfall, the main attraction at Grand Portage State Park in northeastern Minnesota – can be purchased in three ways:

• By phone (651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.).
• Online (mndnr.gov/giftcard).
• In person at any Minnesota state park with office hours or at the DNR Information Center, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul.

DNR officers in the right place, at the right time, with the right equipment
From the DNR

Two conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently helped rescue a lost hunter in Mille Lacs County.

Regional Training Officer (RTO) Alex Gutierrez was heading home on Nov. 7 when Minnesota State Patrol dispatch in Brainerd mentioned there was a lost hunter.

While on his way to assist with the search, Gutierrez came across what he thought was a car/deer accident near Hillman, Minn.

It turned out to be Kenneth Dziewczynski of Garrison, the distraught, elderly father of the missing hunter, Brian Dziewczynski, 54, of Inver Grove Heights.

“The father said his son had called him at approximately 5:30 p.m. saying he had shot a deer and was going to recover it with his ATV,” said Gutierrez. “When the father had not heard from his son by 10 p.m., he drove to his son’s deer camp only to find it empty. So the father called 911.”

RTO Bruce Lawrence was also on his way home when he heard the call about a lost hunter. He joined the search and had two ATVs with him.

A state trooper and Mille Lacs County deputy arrived at the scene and were advised they were actually in Morrison County. Several Morrison County deputies joined the group.

State Patrol dispatch was able to approximate the missing hunter’s location by “pinging” his cell phone.
When cell phones are turned on, they emit a signal.

Cell phone companies can “ping” a cell phone and discover the nearest tower the signal is coming from.

Police and law enforcement use this method regularly to track down missing persons.

A ping was picked up seven miles northwest of the responders’ location.

Gutierrez and Lawrence unloaded the ATVs and began searching the 200-acre property where the deer camp was located.

After two hours, they came across the mud covered hunter who was heading back to camp on his ATV.

“Mr. Dziewczynski had recovered his deer and said he had rolled his ATV while heading back to camp, pinning a leg and an arm under the weight of the ATV,” Gutierrez said. “He was glad to see us.”

Dziewczynski said it took him nearly three hours to dig himself out from underneath the ATV, only suffering some minor injuries.

The average ATV weighs 500 to 800 pounds.

“Bottom line, if Mr. Dziewczynski had rolled the ATV on a hard, packed trail he would have been up against extreme odds of survival,” said Lawrence. “The swampy, muddy area where he ended up allowed him to dig his way out from under a large ATV. He’s a very lucky man.”

Gutierrez and Lawrence said there are a number of lessons to be learned from the incident:

• Always wear ATV safety gear – helmet, goggles, gloves, boots, etc.
• Leave a hunting trip plan or note, or notify someone of location when hunting/recovering an animal.
• Carry a reliable mode of communication, i.e., cell phone, walkie talkie, etc.
• Be prepared for the unexpected by carrying a survival kit including food, water, matches, compass, flashlight, first aid kit, shelter, etc. If lost, don’t panic; stay calm, collect thoughts.
• Safety is always the priority when operating an ATV – hunting, trail riding, working/chores.
• Take an ATV safety course that covers this life saving information and much more at www.mndnr.gov.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: Now is the time of year when most property owners are considering pruning their trees.

Removing unwanted branches improperly and at the wrong time of the year can stress and damage the tree.

When and how should trees be trimmed?

A: The best time of the year to prune trees is in the fall after the leaves have fallen from the tree.

Most of the energy that the tree has produced over the year has been sent down to the roots for storage, so removal of unwanted branches will have a lesser impact on the health of the tree.

When removing a branch, make sure not to cut into the branch collar (tissues where the branch meets the trunk), and don’t remove more than one-third of the live crown of the tree.

The USDA Forest Service has a pamphlet that describes proper pruning techniques.

It is available on their website at http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/howtos/ht_prune/prun001.htm.

CO weekley reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) worked on deer investigations.
CO Mies checked trappers and worked on complaints.
CO Mies checked waterfowl hunters.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) had numerous calls on trumpeter swans that were either injured or thought to be stuck on the new formed ice.
Reller also checked area waterfowl hunters with some good reports on several area lakes.
Trappers were also doing well with an increase again with the number of trappers out this year.
Enforcement action was taking unplugged shotgun and minor trapping violations.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) responded to calls all week on hunters dumping butchered deer in ditches, private property and parking lots, it sure leaves a bad impression of hunters.
With ice forming on smaller lakes and ponds several calls were responded to on injured geese that are unable to fly.
Waterfowl hunters who were out had great success on divers, mostly Blue Bills and Golden Eyes.
Trespass calls were responded to all week, most calls were archery deer hunters trespassing.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) spent the week following up on possible wetland violations.
Two cease and desist orders were issued in an area being worked, so that a determination of the type of wetland could be made.
Duck hunters had good luck on area lakes early in the week, but by the weekend activity had slowed.
The warm front that came in didn’t help what was left of the migration.
Enforcement action was taken on hunters not having their Federal Duck Stamp in possession, unsigned duck stamp, no license in possession and no small game license.
Remember, the electronically-issued federal duck stamp is only valid for 45 days.
Pictorial stamps, once received in the mail must be signed and in the possession of the hunter.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) was able to rescue two deer, a buck and a doe that broke through the ice on a Meeker County lake.
Officer Oberg also spent time instructing at the CO Academy.
ATV and trail enforcement was worked on the Luce Line State Trail.
Follow up investigations continue on cases from the firearms deer season.