Make lifelong memories; take a kid small-game hunting

September 22, 2014

by Chris Schultz

By Mike Kurre of the DNR

Take a Kid Hunting Weekend was Saturday, Sept. 20, to Sunday, Sept. 21, and as mentoring program coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, I hope you took advantage of the opportunity to make some memories and pass on your outdoor passion.

During the weekend, adult residents, accompanied by a youth under age 16, could hunt small game without a license, but must comply with open seasons, limits and other regulations.

I’ve never seen a picture of a kid without a big smile while holding their first grouse, squirrel, rabbit or duck.

By introducing a young person to hunting, you can complete the circle – because at one time, someone probably introduced you to hunting.

In my own life, that person was Uncle Ed. He showed me the ropes to get ready for grouse hunting, and he changed my life forever.

I remember my first grouse like it was yesterday. I was sneaking down the Bass Lake Trail outside of Ely and looking around the bend like Uncle Ed taught me.

Lo and behold, there was a grouse picking at clover and grit alongside the trail.

I raised my trusty .22 rifle that showed plenty of wear from practicing, and checked to make sure of my target and what was beyond.

Bang, the shot was true. Grouse for dinner!

What a proud moment. The firearms training and the one-on-one practical experience my uncle shared with me really paid off.

My first ruffed grouse, and to be the provider for a family meal – well, maybe it was just a snack for everybody but it was a true high point in my short life.

I was lucky my uncle and parents were willing to provide the knowledge needed to make a successful adventure.

They made sure I had boots that didn’t leak, the proper ammunition to harvest the game, and they insisted I carry a compass and know how to use it.

Mom recommended dressing in layers for a day full of long walks and grandma provided plenty of snacks and a hearty lunch.

All were keys to keeping our energy up and experiencing a great day afield.

Even though I completed a firearms safety course, I did have to prove to my uncle that I could handle that old reliable .22 with the utmost safety and accuracy.

So before we even hit the trails, we took aim in an old gravel pit to prove I knew proper safety techniques and that I could hit the broad side of a barn.

A year later, I found a single shot 20-gauge shotgun under the Christmas tree and a few years later, Uncle Ed and I traded firearms – the single shot for his pump 20-gauge. I was on top of the world! Now I was a big-time hunter.

To this day, I cherish the time I spent with Uncle Ed.

All the good times of close encounters with wild game and wild places were amazing, and the knowledge he passed on to me has stuck.

Now I’m passing those same skills on to families, kids and adults. The circle is complete. How about you?

Take a step back with a youth or a family member. Try starting them out hunting small game, which can be a stepping stone toward oftentimes challenging big-game hunting.

Think about your fondest memories. I’m betting many of them took place in the outdoors. Make some life-long memories this fall. For if you don’t, who will?

ATV youth safety classes being hosted by the Wright County Sheriff’s office

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources youth all-terrain vehicle (ATV) safety education class will take place Saturday, Oct. 4 at the Wright County Sheriff’s Office, 3800 Braddock Ave. NE in Buffalo.

The class is open to youth age 11 to 15.

Registration must be done in person at the sheriff’s office prior to the class date. A registration fee of $10 is due at the time of registration.

This is a two-part training program.

A CD-ROM will be provided to participants at the time of registration. Students must complete the CD-ROM training course prior to the Oct. 4 field operating class.

Students are encouraged to wear appropriate clothing, including gloves, boots, jackets, and jeans.

The class will take place rain or shine.

Lunch will be provided for the students.

For more infomation, call the WCSO at (763) 682-7622, or visit the MN DNR website at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/vehicle/atv/index.html.

Islands in Pigeon Lake in Meeker County closed due to bird virus
From the DNR

Islands in Pigeon Lake in Meeker County have been closed to public access following the discovery of virulent Newcastle Disease Virus (vNDV) in double-crested cormorants.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources made the decision when about 30 cormorants and several pelicans were recently found dead at nesting colonies on those islands.

The National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, confirmed the virus late last week.

The islands will be closed until further notice.

The closure is intended to reduce potential disease spread among domestic and wild bird species.

Newcastle Disease rarely affects humans but when it does it generally causes conjunctivitis, which is a relatively mild inflammation of the inner eyelids.

It is spread to humans by close contact with sick birds.

Wild birds can be a potential source of the disease if they come into contact with domestic poultry.

Owners of domestic poultry (including small flocks) should not come in contact with birds believed to have vNDV.

Area farmers should practice sound biosecurity procedures, including monitoring their poultry flock for signs of illness and taking steps to prevent wild birds from having contact with their domestic birds.

If domestic birds show sign of sickness, producers should contact their veterinarian or the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at (320) 231-5170.

Newcastle Disease is a viral disease that most commonly infects cormorants, but can also affect gulls and pelicans.

Clinical signs of infection in wild birds are often neurologic and include droopy head or twisted neck, lack of coordination, inability to fly or dive and complete or partial paralysis. Juveniles are most commonly affected.

This is not the first time vNDV has occurred on Pigeon Lake.

The last outbreaks were in 2010 and 2012 and also involved multiple sites throughout the state.

Public access to islands with nesting colonies was closed during those events as well.

‘Cabin close-up’ a time to inspect boats and water equipment for invasive species
From the DNR

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources asks every cabin and lakeshore owner to watch for aquatic invasive species (AIS) when removing docks, boat lifts, swim rafts and other equipment from the water.

“Since those items have been in the water for several months, now is the ideal time to spot invasive species that may be attached to them,” said Heidi Wolf, DNR invasive species unit supervisor. “Carefully inspect everything you remove from the water to see if there are invasive species attached. Your observations will provide invaluable information to the DNR in tracking the distribution of AIS – and give us a chance to rapidly respond if new infestations are found.”

People should look on the posts, wheels and underwater support bars of docks and lifts, as well as any parts of boats, pontoons and rafts that may have been submerged in water for an extended period.

In newly infested waters, adult zebra mussels may not be abundant and there may only be a few mussels on a piece of equipment.

On a smooth surface, juvenile mussels feel gritty, like sandpaper.

If a new infestation of zebra mussels, faucet snails or other aquatic invasive species is suspected, the exact location should be noted, a photo taken and a specimen should be kept for positive identification.

Call 888-646-6367 or contact a local DNR AIS specialist or a fisheries office. Responding quickly to new AIS infestations is critical to help curb the spread into other water bodies.

There are also specific legal requirements for cabin owners and boaters when removing and storing watercraft and equipment for the winter – or hiring someone to handle it:

Transporting and storing watercraft

When hauling boats or other watercraft to a storage facility away from the shoreline property, make sure there are no invasive species attached.

It is illegal to transport watercraft with invasive species attached.

A list of permitted lake services providers is on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/lakeserviceproviders.

The form should be downloaded, completed, signed and kept in possession during transport. Zebra mussels and other invasive plants and animals must be removed before transporting the watercraft back to a lake or other water body.

Transporting and storing docks, lifts and equipment

It is legal to remove a dock, boat lift, dock, weed roller, swim raft, or irrigation equipment from infested waters and place it on the adjacent shoreline property – even if there are zebra mussels or other prohibited invasive species attached.

A permit is not required to place equipment on the shoreline.

Contact a DNR AIS specialist if an invasive plant or animal is found that has not been sighted on the lake before.

However, if someone wants to transport equipment from infested waters to another location for storage, cleaning or repair, they must have an authorization form to transport equipment to legally move it to another location.

If equipment is to be installed in another water body, all aquatic plants and animals such as zebra mussels and Eurasian watermilfoil, must be removed – and equipment must be dried for 21 days before placing in other waters.

Hiring a business or individual to remove boats and equipment from any water body

Any business or individual in Minnesota paid to decontaminate, install, or remove boats, docks or water-related equipment is legally required to complete AIS training and obtain a permit before working in state waters.

Anyone hired to remove a boat or dock must have a current DNR permitted service provider sticker on their windshield.

If they work for a lake service provider business, ask to see an employee certificate.

A list of permitted lake services providers is on the DNR website at www.mndnr.gov/lakeserviceproviders.

Learn more about Minnesota’s aquatic invasive species rules and regulations, and the DNR’s lake service provider program at www.mndnr.gov/AIS.

DNR officer accepts promotion
From the DNR

Nearly a year after being named an acting enforcement district supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Conservation Officer (CO) Jackie Glaser has accepted the position permanently and been promoted to first lieutenant effective September 10.

Her metro based enforcement district includes Carver, Hennepin, and Scott counties.

“As an acting district supervisor she did a great job,” said Colonel Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement director. “She’s proved herself an effective leader of programs, processes, and people. She is an excellent addition to our leadership team.”

Prior to joining the DNR in 2001, Glaser was a Recreational Services deputy with the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.

Since then she has served DNR as a field officer in the Mound station, Water Resource Enforcement Officer and Acting District Supervisor.

Lieutenant Glaser is presently a Field Training Officer, Background Investigator, Emergency Medical Technician, and has instructed at the DNR CO Academy at Camp Ripley.

She also has completed a Supervisory Management Certificate program through Century College.

A graduate of the St. Cloud State University criminal justice program, Glaser’s professional honors include: the DNR’s Willard Munger Wetland Achievement Award, 2014; Department of Public Safety, DUI Hat Trick Award, 2012; DNR Boat and Water Officer of the Year, 2011; National Association of State Boating Law Administrators – Minnesota Officer of the Year award, 2011; and the DNR’s Meritorious Service Award, 2008.

Question of the week
From the DNR

Q: How does prescribed burning benefit prairies and grasslands?

A: When properly planned and managed, fire can rejuvenate prairies and grasslands while helping to prevent brush and trees from taking over.

Historically, periodic wildfires swept across Minnesota’s prairies, killing or suppressing woody plants and encouraging deep-rooted grasses and flowers.

Today, the Department of Natural Resources uses prescribed burning to improve wildlife habitat, control weed species and enhance native plant communities.

Using a carefully-devised burn plan, fire crews ignite a specific plot of land and monitor the fire from start to finish.

The burn planning also includes leaving a portion of the land as undisturbed habitat.

After a burn, sun-loving native prairie plants will quickly emerge from the warmed black soil and develop lush regrowth.

For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/rxfire.

CO weekly reports
From the DNR

• CO Brian Mies (Annandale) checked anglers this past week.
CO Mies assisted Wright County SO with a pursuit.
CO Mies worked archery deer hunters along with small game hunters.
CO Mies finished up on a litter dumping case and checked goose hunters.

• CO Mitch Sladek (Big Lake) investigated a large dumping on a Wildlife Management Area.
After three hours of digging through the garbage he found a name and after four interviews and five residence visits and a number of phone calls he located the violator.
Summons was issued and the dumping was cleaned up by the violator and taken to the land fill.
He issued a summons for hunting deer over a baited area, no license in possession, trespassing and hunting deer without a crossbow permit.
He took enforcement action in the Sand Dunes State Forest for illegal operation of ATVs, operating without a helmet, no registration displayed and no registration.

• CO Rick Reller (Buffalo) attended annual training and gave a presentation to a Firearms Safety Class in Monticello.
Reller also checked goose hunters and anglers in the Wright County area.
The youth waterfowl hunt on Saturday had a good turnout with the youth finding a lot of shooting action with the Blue Wing Teal migrating through the area.
Many life time memories made from harvesting their first duck.

• CO Steve Walter (Waconia) spent much of the week following up on zebra mussel violations.
He attended a district qualification shoot.
The archery deer, small game and youth waterfowl openers were worked.
More kids were seen hunting the youth waterfowl day than any other year and all had very good luck.
Enforcement action was taken for transporting zebra mussels, no personal flotation devices onboard watercraft and no federal duck stamp.

• CO Jen Mueller (Hutchinson) took a report of dogs chasing deer near the Winthrop area.
She checked goose hunters during the week and young duck hunters during the youth duck hunt.
Missing required stamps and plugs where found with some of the hunters.
A minnow trapper was checked, and a report of trespassing and road hunting was investigated.

• CO Brett Oberg (Hutchinson) worked a near perfect archery and small game opener in southern Minnesota.
Bow hunters checked had not harvested any deer but several reported seeing deer on stand.
A few youth waterfowl hunters were also out enjoying the special waterfowl hunt.
Oberg also checked goose hunters that continue having success around Hutchinson.
Oberg also spoke at the Gopher Campfire FAS class this week.