Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz

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

December 8, 1997

Late season pheasants

It seems no matter where you head to, late season pheasant hunting has been tough.

Quite a bit of CRP lands are gone in prime areas, birds are jumpy and well-educated to hunters, and hunting pressure - especially in Iowa and northeastern Nebraska has been immense.

I spent the weekend after Thanksgiving in northeastern Nebraska chasing pheasants with six other hard core bird hunters and found the hunting in that part of the midwest is considerably tougher than it has been in the past few years.

CRP acres were down and more was giving way to flame or plow as we hunted. Spring ice storms had definitely reduced the bird population, and hunting pressure from both Nebraska residents and non-resident hunters was tremendous.

Myself and the six other fellows have hunted northeastern Nebraska on a pretty consistent basis for four to five years now and have never run into as few birds and as many hunters as we did on this trip.

In fact, crowds of hunters on that Saturday reminded me of an opening weekend pheasant hunt in Iowa. Although hunting was tough, we did see a fair number of birds, and coming from Minnesota, the weather seemed like something a snowbird would head to to beat a miserable winter.

Local hunters going to different parts of Iowa were saying the same things: piles of hunters, fewer birds, and less CRP.

One hunter stated he traveled through quite a bit of northcentral Iowa just after Thanksgiving and didn't see hide nor hair of a CRP field. He also stated getting permission to hunt on private land was also very difficult.

This season, there is still a good chunk of late season pheasant hunting to be done. Minnesota's season ends on Sunday, Dec. 14 and seasons in Nebraska and Iowa are open well into January.

Hunting, especially in Iowa will be very tough for the remainder of the season and Nebraska my not be much better.

In South Dakota, reports have been mixed, but many Minnesota hunters opted to hunt Iowa or Nebraska this year because South Dakota increased the cost of its non-resident hunting license to $95.

If your wondering why hunting pressure in Iowa and Nebraska has increased, there's your answer. Compared to 1996, the number of non-resident pheasant hunters in South Dakota fell by more than 50 percent this year.

Late season pheasant hunting is never easy, but it sure is fun. Remember to be sneaky, quiet, and persistent.

Also, every rooster you take in the late season should be treated like a trophy, because that is exactly what it is.

New bait shop open in Winsted area

Radtke's Bait and Tackle, owned by Dan and Char Radtke of Winsted, opened this past week.

The bait shop is located in a building at their residence just a few miles south of Winsted on McLeod Co. Rd. 1 (old 261) and offers the basics any angler needs. Wax worms, suckers, fatheads, and crappie minnows, along with a small line of tackle - including Maynard's - and a propane exchange are available.

Co-owner Dan Radtke stated: "We're starting out on a small scale, but we're hoping to meet the basic needs of anglers in our area."

The Radtkes started the process of opening a bait shop this summer and are happy to be open in time for the ice fishing season.

"It feels good to be under way and we'll be looking for any advice we can get from area anglers," Dan said.

The shop will be open in all seasons and current hours are 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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