Blaze orange safety requirement reduces hunting accidents

October 14, 2013

by Chris Schultz

From the DNR

With Minnesota’s small game hunting season underway and the firearm deer season set to begin Nov. 9, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says making a blaze orange fashion statement this fall might not get you on the best-dressed list, but it just might save your life.

“Wearing blaze orange clothing is a safety requirement to hunt or trap during Minnesota’s small game season or deer season,” said Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR enforcement education program coordinator. “It’s important to be seen by others.”

Small Game Seasons: At least one visible article of clothing above the waist must be blaze orange when taking small game, except when hunting wild turkeys, migratory birds, raccoons, predators, when hunting by falconry, trapping or while hunting deer by archery while stationary.

Deer Season: The visible portion of a cap and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves, must be blaze orange when hunting or trapping during any open season where deer may be taken by firearms (including special hunts, early antlerless, youth seasons and muzzleloader). Blaze orange includes a camouflage pattern of at least 50 percent blaze orange within each square foot. This restriction does not apply to migratory bird hunters on waters or in stationary shooting locations or to trappers on waters.

“The failure to wear to wear blaze orange puts a hunter in jeopardy of not being seen by someone who does not take the time to properly identify their target and what’s beyond it,” Hammer said.

Hammer recommends faded blaze orange garments be replaced.

“Blaze orange, more than any other color, is the most easily seen and recognized bright, unnatural color against a natural background,” Hammer said. “This shade of orange is the only satisfactory color for hunters to wear under all weather and light conditions. The color of the cap, vest, or coat should be plainly visible from all sides while it is being worn.”

From the standpoint of hunter safety, the wearing of this high-visibility color while deer hunting and while small game hunting in heavy cover, such as for grouse and pheasant, is a great communications tool.

“Blaze orange clothing is a tremendous aid in helping hunters maintain visual contact with one another, particularly when moving through dense cover or woods,” Hammer said. “Any hunter who has ever identified someone strictly by seeing blaze orange knows its value in keeping track of other hunters in the field.”

For those that use ground blinds, Hammer said to remember to place some blaze orange on the outside of the blind for others to see. Tent style blinds can fully conceal even the best dressed hunter.

Some safety tips for nonhunters:

• Wear bright clothing. Choose colors that stand out, like red, orange or green, and avoid white, blacks, browns, earth-toned greens and animal-colored clothing. Blaze orange vests and hats are advisable.

• Don’t forget to protect pets. Get an orange vest for an accompanying dog.

• Make noise. Whistle, sing or carry on a conversation when walking to alert hunters that someone is in the area. Sound carries well across woods and forests, and hunters should listen for any sounds of animal movement.

• Be courteous. Don’t make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife. Avoid confrontations.

• Make presence known. If a nonhunter hears shooting, the person should raise their voice and let hunters know they’re in vicinity.

• Know the dates of hunting seasons. Learn about where and when hunting is taking place.

• If hunting makes a nonhunter uneasy, the nonhunter should choose a hike in a location where hunting is not allowed.

Avoid deer-vehicle crashes while driving this fall
From the DNR

Nearly one-third of car-deer collisions each year occur between now and November, said the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), citing a national report.

Minnesota is ranked eighth when it comes to car-deer crash totals, according to State Farm Insurance, which tracks the trends nationwide. Most states, the company reports, are seeing a decline in their numbers. There are two exceptions: Wyoming and Minnesota.

Though most people would expect these crashes to be more likely in rural areas, motorists in urban regions of the state also need to watch out for these dangerous — and sometimes deadly — accidents involving deer. Minnesota has 3 million drivers and 136,000 miles of roadway.

More than 20,000 deer-vehicle accidents are reported annually, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

While trying to predict when and where a deer and motorist will meet is an impossible task, drivers who understand how deer behave are more likely to avoid a crash. The DNR advises motorists to use these driving tips to help avoid collisions with deer:

• See the signs. Deer-crossing signs are posted in high-risk areas. Drive with caution, especially in the posted areas.

• Deer don’t roam alone. Deer often run together. If one deer is near or crossing the road, expect that others will follow.

• Danger from dusk to dawn. Watch for deer especially at dawn and after sunset. About 20 percent of these crashes occur in early morning, while more than half occur between 5 p.m. and midnight.

• Safety begins behind the wheel. Always wear safety belts and drive at safe, sensible speeds for road conditions.

If a vehicle strikes a deer, motorists should report the crash by calling local law enforcement, the sheriff’s department, or the Minnesota State Patrol. By following these tips and maximizing one’s situational awareness, it becomes less likely to experience a deer-vehicle crash.

Prairie Archers steak/shrimp dinner Saturday

Prairie Archers will be hosting a steak/shrimp dinner at the Dodge House in Lester Prairie Saturday, Oct. 19 from 5 to 8 p.m.

Options for the dinner include steak and shrimp combo ($13), steak ($11), pork chop ($10), six shrimp ($9), and ribeye ($15).

Each meal includes, coffee or milk, baked potato, tossed salad, bread, and dessert.

Reservations need to be made by Friday, Oct. 18 before 6 p.m., and be called in to the Dodge House at (320) 395-2877 or to Jim Richardson at (320) 395-2721 or (612) 636-7214.

Events added to Waverly Gun Club calendar

Rifle sight-ins are planned for three consecutive weeks: Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 19 and 20, Oct. 26 and 27, and Nov. 2 and 3, at the Waverly Gun Club. More information available on the club website at www.waverlygunclub.org.

MN hunters fuel local economies with $725 million in spending
From the DNR

When thousands of pheasant hunters wade into cattails and grasslands for the Minnesota pheasant opener this past Saturday, they will be contributing to the economic health of the state’s economy.

More than a half-million Minnesotans and nonresidents hunt in Minnesota each year.

Collectively they spend an estimated $725 million per year, according to the 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.

“Minnesota ranks ninth in the nation for resident hunter numbers,” said C.B. Bylander, outreach chief for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Fish and Wildlife Division. “This strong tradition of hunting has long helped fuel local economies throughout the farmland and forested portions of the state.”

According the 2011 national survey direct expenditures by hunters in Minnesota include:

• $400 million on equipment such as guns, ammunition and special clothes.

• $235 million on trip related expenses such as food, lodging and transportation.

• $90 million on other expenses such as land leasing, hunting land ownership, magazines, etc.

Bylander said the average amount spent per hunter in 2011 was $1,412, up from $889 in 2006 when the previous survey was taken.

Direct retail sales related to upland bird hunting totaled about $121 million.

When combined with angling, Minnesota hunters and anglers support nearly 48,000 Minnesota jobs.

Bylander said about 84,000 people hunted pheasants in Minnesota last year.

Gear up for pheasant hunting
By Scott Roemhildt, of the DNR

Pheasant hunting doesn’t require a lot of specialized or expensive equipment, but there are some basic items that will make your time in the field more enjoyable and productive.

License/Hunting Regulations Handbook. The trail to good hunting starts with a license. You can get handbooks and licenses at any of the more than 1,500 DNR electronic license vendors or online at www.mndnr.gov.

(http://licenses.dnr.state.mn.us/). Hunting licenses are also available by mobile application or by dialing 888-665-4236.

Maps. Scouting an area will increase your odds of finding pheasants and good maps will help your efforts. Go to www.mndnr.gov (www.mndnr.gov/wmas/index.html) for free online, interactive maps that identify wildlife management areas and Walk-In Access areas. Combined, these programs provide 1.3 million acres of public hunting on 1,550 parcels.

A local plat book may also come in handy to identify specific parcels of land.

Shotgun and shells. The best shotgun is one that you have used and are comfortable with. The style or gauge of the shotgun is not nearly as important as your proficiency with it. Since pheasants are fairly tough birds, you will want to choose a heavier load such as 4 or 5 shot and limit your shooting distances to less than 50 yards. This will result in fewer wounded birds. Nontoxic shot is required on federal land, but many hunters prefer to use it anytime they’re in the field.

Blaze orange. Minnesota pheasant hunters are required to wear at least one visible article of clothing above the waist that is blaze orange. This could be a hat, jacket or hunting vest. The more blaze orange you wear, the more visible you will be to other hunters.

Good boots. Pheasant hunting involves lots of walking on uneven terrain. Good quality, above-the-ankle boots or shoes will provide the comfort and support you need for a day in the field. Since crossing creeks and marshy areas is common, waterproof boots are preferred by many hunters.

Layered clothing. Cool fall mornings often turn into sunny, warm afternoons. Layered clothing will prepare you for a variety of weather conditions. Long sleeves and gloves will help keep you from getting scratched up when moving through tall grass, cattails or woody cover. Hunting chaps or brush pants will protect your legs and keep you dry on mornings when the grass is wet.

Eye and ear protection. Anytime you use a firearm, you should protect your eyes and ears. A pair of sunglasses and foam ear plugs will provide basic protection. More expensive options included coated, colored, high impact lenses and digital hearing aids that enhance some sounds while protecting ears from loud noises.

A good dog. A dog is not required to hunt pheasants, but a good hunting dog will increase the opportunities you have to harvest birds and provide you with a companion in the field. A hunting dog is a year-round commitment. Be sure you are willing to invest significant time and energy before purchasing a dog.

Hydration. Be sure to carry at least two bottles of water in the field and have jugs of water at your vehicle. Water your dog and yourself, often. Bring snacks to keep your energy level up and consider canine energy bars for your dog.

The right equipment and a little preparation will greatly enhance your hunting experience. Have fun, be safe, and good luck hunting!

Government shutdown not expected to impact the Camp Ripley archery hunt
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Minnesota Department of Military Affairs (DMA) are still planning to hold the 2013 Camp Ripley archery hunts scheduled for Oct. 26-27, and Nov. 2-3.

“Hunts at Camp Ripley are important to our archers, and many plan for this event a year in advance,” said Beau Liddell, area wildlife supervisor at Little Falls. “In addition, hunter harvest is the only means available to efficiently manage deer populations on the installation. However, effects of the federal government shutdown have made it challenging for our partners at Camp to meet their military training mission. We are sympathetic to those needs which take precedent over hunting at Camp.”

In recent days many hunters have contacted the DNR to inquire about impacts of the shutdown on the hunt.

While the National Guard is impacted by the shutdown, it appears there will be sufficient military resources available to assist with managing the hunts, and as of today no significant impacts to the timing of the hunt are anticipated.

The current situation may change if the shutdown continues for a significant period of time and results in additional major impacts to military training.

The DMA and the DNR are monitoring the situation and will release information as soon as it appears that changes to the timing of the hunts may occur.

Hunters should remain vigilant for statewide news releases, public service announcements, and should monitor the DNR’s deer hunting Web page frequently in case changes to this year’s events become necessary.

If major changes are needed, the DNR will attempt to contact hunters via letter regarding such changes at least a week prior to the first hunt.

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event.

The DNR coordinates the hunt with the DMA, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.

More MN businesses now required to take aquatic invasive species training
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering additional aquatic invasive species (AIS) training to owners of lake service provider businesses this fall so they can legally work in the state’s waters.

Businesses that rent, lease or decontaminate boats or other water-related equipment are now required to attend AIS training and acquire a permit under a state law change that took effect in July.

“Before this change, the law applied only to businesses such as marinas, dock haulers, boat clubs and others who install or remove equipment from state waters,” said April Rust, DNR AIS training coordinator.

Several AIS training sessions for lake service providers are scheduled around the state: Rochester, Oct. 15; Bemidji; Oct. 16; Duluth, Oct. 27; Blaine, Nov. 6.

After completing the required three-hour training, lake service providers must pass an exam, apply for a permit online, and pay a $50 application fee before a permit is issued.

The training sessions provide details about AIS and information needed to pass the test.

They also cover how to integrate AIS prevention strategies into business practices. The permit is valid for 3 years.

Lake service providers must have the permits while providing services.

Employees of lake service provider businesses also need to complete a short training course offered free online – unless they work for a business with boats, equipment or structures that remain on the property in the same body of water.

Nearly 1,000 lake service businesses in Minnesota have attended AIS training since January 2012 and are now included on the DNR’s list of permitted service providers.

To register for training, find out if a business needs a permit, or for more information, visit the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/lsp.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) worked on tip calls on duck hunters hunting when season was closed.
CO Mies spent two days at camp training.
CO Mies checked archery deer hunters.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) spent the week checking hunters and anglers in the Wright County area.
Several hunters were found to be hunting waterfowl during the closed season in the central zone.
Reller also followed up on several deer hunting and trespass complaints.
Enforcement action was taken for taking waterfowl out of season, unplugged shotgun, transport loaded firearm in motorboat, no PFD in watercraft, no small game license, angling with extra lines and felony drug possession.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) responded to calls all week including hunter harassment, trespassing and shooting within 500 feet of a home.
Waterfowl hunters were checked all week finding illegal shooting of ducks and geese in closed zones every day.
Anglers were checked on the Minnesota and Crow rivers.
Multiple citations and warnings were issued for shooting ducks and geese during closed season, unplugged guns, no HIP certification, no small game license, no personal flotation devices, shooting several grebes and angling with extra lines.

• CO Jackie Glaser (Mound) assisted with the conservation officer candidate written exam in Minneapolis.
She received several hunting complaints about people hunting in closed areas.
She participated in several AIS hearings regarding drain plug violations and attended a meeting in St. Paul.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked the opening of the Central Waterfowl Zone.
Rain seemed to keep many hunters at home; however, hunters that made the best of it were able to harvest some ducks and geese.
Officer Oberg responded to a call of hunters in the State Game Refuge along with the Hutchinson Police Department.
Enforcement action was taken for hunting in a State Game Refuge.
A TIP call was also worked and several hunters were cited for hunting in the still closed Southern Waterfowl Zone.
Enforcement action was also taken for no license in possession.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) noticed a rainy start to the second waterfowl season north of Hwy 212 in her area.
Eight ducks were seized and citations written to a group that was unaware the season was still closed south of Hwy 212.
Unplugged guns and license issues were also noted.
During the week, she investigated two trespass cases involving archery hunters.
She attended training in Willmar during the week and assisted with fall in-service training at Camp Ripley.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: What does the DNR do with animals that are taken illegally (poached)?

A: For those animals that are taken illegally, the DNR tries to ensure that the animal poached is not wasted.

Meat from illegally harvested wild game such as deer is often donated to food shelves and other groups that serve those less fortunate.

However, sometimes meat must be thrown away or destroyed.

This has been especially true for fish.

The DNR has an agreement with the Minnesota Department of Health to dispose of meat, such as pre-packaged fish fillets, because it is often hard to tell whether or not the packaging was done properly.

In some cases, the animal or bird, or parts of the animal, such as deer antlers, are turned over to schools and other educational institutions for study.