Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake Herald, Minn.

October 27, 1997

Prairie potholes

Oceans of prairie and grain fields cut by ridges, indented by coulees, and dotted by pothole after pothole.

A week ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few days with good friends hunting waterfowl on the prairies of central North Dakota and found that the massive grasslands and wetlands with in are just as amazing and awesome as the wildlife they produces.

Small wetland marshes hidden from the horizon by a slight roll in the prairie surrounded by a ring of cattails and acres and acres of grass. That's the standard on the central North Dakota prairie.

The small potholes or marshes held an average of six inches to three feet of water, and with the grasslands that surround them, they are a massive and well-tuned wildlife and waterfowl manufacturing plant that no biologist or engineer on earth could ever create of duplicate.

These marshes, which have taken the name "prairie potholes" have not been destroyed by runoff and development. Their bottoms are firm because the grassland cover around them has not allowed the soil on the adjoining hills to wash in, gorging them with feet of silt and mud. When ample rain and snowfall fills them with water, nature takes its course and wildlife blooms in huge numbers.

Late this summer and in early fall, many of you read and heard that waterfowl numbers were up and at or above 20-year highs. From my experience of last week on the North Dakota prairie, biologists and wildlife managers were right. Numbers are up and at amazing levels.

The only thing more amazing than the great number of ducks, is the land that produces them.

Regarding the trip and the hunting, it was excellent by all accounts and I'll fill you in on the details sometime this fall.

Minnesota's pheasant opener

Minnesota's pheasant hunting season opened Oct. 11 and reports from across the pheasant range were exactly what everybody expected - not good.

Actually, some of the best reports about birds flushed and roosters in the bag came from our area.

Myself and two other bird chasers spent the day hunting near Ortonville in far western Minnesota. Hot weather, strong winds, a stinky skunk, and a sick dog hampered our hunting.

With little competition from other hunters, we didn't bag one bird, flushed no hens, and saw only one rooster. To make things even worse and the outlook for the rest of season even more bleak, a good chunk of the crops were out at that time.

Bagging a rooster anywhere in Minnesota this fall will be hard work.

Firearms deer hunt just around the corner

The firearms deer hunting season in our state opens on Saturday, Nov. 8.

Hunters receiving doe permits should have them by now. Rifles and shotguns should be sighted in and ready to go. Scouting completed and all details ironed out.

Hunting prospects in northern Minnesota aren't good. But, the outlook in our area seems to be bright and local hunters should expect modest success and a good season.

For more information and a few tips on the upcoming deer season, read next week's column.

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