HUNTING & FISHING SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT TO THE WADENA PIONEER JOURNAL/INTERCOM
September 17, 2011
Grendahls share a passion for divers Brian Hansel
Robby Grendahl belongs to a vanishing breed called “diver hunters.” The Wadena teacher’s love is duck hunting for the northern birds that migrate through Minnesota in October and November – redheads, canvasbacks and bluebills. “The divers are willing to dance with the decoys and I guess that’s what drew me to it,” Grendahl said. There are tough men and then there are diver hunters. Given a choice a tough guy will probably step inside when the weather goes sour and have a cup of coffee. Not diver hunters. They will happily sit in a cold wind with a spray of water beating their bobbing decoys, stinging their faces and freezing their hands. They rise well before dawn to find good spots to hunt, they put out several dozen decoys in “J” hook patterns and with the first light they are peering into murky morning skies listening for the jet engine roar that announces diving ducks. The most popular symphony of all time can never compare with that roar. It is a sound that sends chills up and down a person’s spine – especially if they hunt divers. “If there is something I enjoy more in October I haven’t found it,” Grendahl said. Grendahl hunted with his dad, Bob, and some of his friends when he was a kid but their favorite bird was the mallard, a puddle duck, known much more for its caution.
After becoming a father Grendahl gave up duck hunting for several years until one day he lined up a golden retriever pup. That dog made him realize how much he still loved duck hunting. He had grown up without a hunting dog in the family. His dad’s friends owned the dogs they hunted over. Having a retriever of his own made Grendahl realize what a sin it would be not to use him on divers. Grendahl had grown up listening to Wadena duck hunter Wally Mueller’s stories about the glory days of diver hunting on “Tennis Shoe Pass,” a strip of land that separated Rush Lake from Buchanan. You had to be quick to get your ducks on that pass, which was frequented by many Wadena hunters. Bluebills are the daredevils of diver set. They will hit your decoys like a Banzai charge if conditions are right. The dog can be out retrieving a downed bird and a dozen more will barrel right into the set. These hunts can be over in five minutes. Grendahl is in the process of teaching his 11-year-old son to hunt ducks. “Duck hunting is a lot of work and part of that is having a good partner,” Grendahl said. Grendahl likes to set up on big water and put out a gang line of redhead, canvasback and bluebill decoys. There is a competition factor to be considered and Grendahl is an early riser when the divers are in. “My son, Ryan, understands that I want to be the first one on the
Robby helps his son put a new barrel on his 20-gauge Mossberg shotgun.
water,” Grendahl said. Ryan once walked up to a group of diving duck hunters and after listening to them for a couple minutes asked a question that broke them all up in laughter. “Are you guys addicted to this like I am?” he asked. Worried one time that his son was not having much fun on a slow duck morning, Grendahl asked him if he was OK with the lack of shooting action. “I don’t care,” said Ryan. “I just like to be out here.” A shared history of adventure is what Rob and Ryan Grendahl are See DIVERS on PAGE 12
Photos by Brian Hansel
Robby and Ryan Grendahl inspect their duck decoys for the 2011 Minnesota duck hunting season.
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Hunting & Fishing Guide
September 17, 2011
DNR predicts best fall color season in 10 years Minnesotans are encouraged to keep the of Minnesota, between late September and camera batteries charged and to not put the early October in the central third, and betent or the picnic basket away just yet, be- tween late September and mid-October in cause the upcoming fall color season could the southern third (which includes the Twin be the best it has been in 10 years, accord- Cities). ing to the Minnesota Department of Natural Many Minnesota state parks have Resources (DNR). planned programs and special events to coWondering when and where to schedule incide with peak color projections in their weekend getaways to catch the colors as area. Examples include: they peak? Visit the DNR website for fall ■Saturday, Sept. 24, a Harvest Festival color reports provided by staff at Minnesota featuring guided lantern-lit hikes, music state parks and recreation areas from across and a variety of children’s activities from the state. Starting this week, reports will 6 to 8:30 p.m., at Itasca State Park in Park include percent of color change, peak color Rapids. projections, flowers and grasses in bloom, ■Sept. 24-25 and Oct. 1-2, Leaf Days at and three state parks considered “hot picks” Maplewood State Park in Pelican Rapids. of the week. The reports are updated by ■Saturday, Oct. 1, autumn ATV ride and noon every Thursday. picnic lunch on the Moose Walk/Moose Thanks to a mobile website developed Run ATV Trail near Tettegouche State Park by the DNR last year, fall color information on the north shore of Lake Superior. also can be accessed from mobile phones. For more information about these and 101 SOUTH JEFFERSON ST Android and iPhone (also iPod Touch and many other free programs and special any gallon of EasyCare® Platinum, EasyCare® iPad) smart phones are both supported. Peo- events, visit ® the online calendar or call the WADENA, MN. paint Premium or WeatherAll ple can also useUltra any WebKit-based browser DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 Photo by Brian Hansel (Chrome or Safari) to view the website, or toll-free 888-646-6367 between 8 a.m. Fall beauty in Itasca State Park north of 218-631-2750 Park Rapids. which features real-time access to fall color and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. reports and integration with JEFFERSON Google maps. ST State park visitors are invited to upload WE DO COLOR MATCHING 101 SOUTH Colors typicallyWADENA, peak between mid-Septem- their photos to the DNR’s fall color website. MN. ber and early October in the northern third Remington • RugaR • mossbeRg • bRowning • savage • tikka • tauRus 218-631-2750
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Hunting & Fishing Guide
One for the Wall Who can explain the allure of a trophy deer? highest-scoring live buck, with a 30-inchwide rack and Boone and Crockett score of 3012/8. The buck’s semen was drawn and divided into 50 doses, which Barger sold for $1,500 apiece to breeders who hoped to produce new world-record bucks by artificially inseminating does. Some whitetail fans use a checkbook rather than a rifle to bag a trophy. Hunting magazines advertise replicas of famous mounts, such as the “Kansas King,” one of the largest trophy deer of all time. The replicas of the king sell for $995. Collectors such as Wisconsin businessman Larry Huffman spend tens of thousands for authentic top record-book racks. Huffman has amassed a collection of legendary mounts, including the Jordan (world’s second highest scoring) and Breen (world’s sixth highest scoring) bucks. An avid deer hunter who considers the whitetail “the greatest animal on this earth,” Huffman says he hopes to create a museum for his collection.
As the price for trophy heads has gone up, so has the number of periodicals and products touting images of big bucks. Until the late 1970s, newsstands only occasionally displayed deer-hunting specialty magazines. Today, hunters can find a dozen different deer-hunting publications. The covers of North American Whitetail, Buckmasters, Bowmasters, and others feature huge whitetails with massive antlers--deer that few hunters will ever see, much less kill. Inside, sandwiched between how-to articles and profiles of lucky hunters, are pages festooned with ads for electronic deer-monitoring devices, human-scent eliminators, doe-urine attractors, and other potions and gadgets promising to deliver a “wall-hanger.”
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(The following article is re-printed with in ungulate biology. European nobles lined the permission of the Minnesota Conserva- their manor halls with mounts of huge red deer. They viewed the massive animals, tion Volunteer) says Geist, as an “expression of the quality of their land, the ability of a lord to produce By Tom Dickson something exceptional.” Unfortunately for peasant farmers, this Most deer hunters dream of doing just once what Bill Lewno of Forest Lake has ac- antler obsession led to widespread destruccomplished seven times: kill a trophy-sized tion. According to Geist, hunting parties of whitetail buck. On the walls of Lewno’s tidy 30 to 40 drunken nobles on horseback tramtwo-story home, set in an oak grove near pled standing crops, orchards, and vineyards Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, as they followed their hounds in pursuit of hang magnificent mounts of massive deer, stags. Often they forced peasants to abandon including some of the highest-scoring bucks their harvest and help with the hunts. Geist ever taken by bow in Anoka County. One is says it was “an abuse so prevalent that it a thick-necked buck with a “typical” (left eventually led to a major eruption in social and right antlers mirror each other) rack of order.” The ensuing Peasant War of 1524-25, three 1-foot-long tines on each main beam. he explains, set off a chain of revolts that disAnother buck is crowned with a massive rupted Europe for 300 years and eventually “non-typical” (asymmetrical antlers) rack led to the French Revolution. sprouting a total of 16 tines. Lewno, 57, has also shot a huge 8-pointer, Today’s big chase a 9-pointer, and three 10-pointers. Admiring As was the case in Europe, trophy hunta 10-pointer mounted above his fireplace, ing in the early United States was undertakLewno says, “That’s about as perfect a rack en primarily by rich sportsmen. After World as you’ll ever find.” War II, hunting for food became less imporSuch remarkable mounts are showing up tant to an increasingly affluent middle class, more frequently over mantles throughout and interest in trophy hunting picked up. Minnesota. As deer populations have in- Then in the 1970s and ‘80s, as deer populacreased and hunting success rates have risen tions mushroomed because of improved deer during the past two decades, many hunters management, a trophy boom began. DNR have set their sights on big bucks. The num- wildlife biologists estimate that roughly one ber of record-book entries is soaring; pay-to- deer in 100 qualifies as a trophy — a subjechunt ranches are doing a brisk business; and tive term that roughly translates into a rack hunting magazines adorned with monster with at least four 7-inch-long tines on each buck covers crowd newsstand racks. main beam. To trophy hunters, this big-buck boom The Montana-based Boone and Crockett reflects strong interest in deer hunting and Club, which keeps North American records recognition of the whitetail’s many admi- of big game taken in the wild, has seen a rable qualities. Some other hunters fret about surge of entries as more hunters shoot trothe possibility that antler mania could hurt phy-sized animals. For example, more than hunting by making it more exclusively for one-fourth of Minnesota’s entries into the the rich and less palatable to the non-hunting club’s 150 years of whitetail records have public. Meanwhile, Department of Natural come during the past 10 years. Resources deer managers search for ways to Though deer shot in fenced game farms appease a small but vocal number of hunters don’t qualify as Boone and Crockett records, clamoring for more big bucks. bucks hunted in unfenced preserves do, if taken according to the club’s fair-chase ethic. And some hunters will pay top dollar Bonkers for antlers Interest in large deer stretches back thou- for the chance to hunt private preserves mansands of years. The Lascaux cave of south- aged for big bucks. For example, one huntern France contains images of large-antlered ing ranch advertises that for $4,800, “trophy deer painted by Stone Age hunters 12,000 to hunters will have the opportunity to harvest the buck of their choice.” 40,000 years ago. Deer breeders have begun mating and From the 14th to 16th centuries, European nobles “went bonkers for huge antlers,” even artificially inseminating whitetails according to Valerius Geist, retired professor to produce super bucks with gargantuan of environmental science at the University antlers. In 1996, Louisiana game breeder of Calgary and a world-renowned expert Larry Barger paid $150,000 for the world’s
Hunting & Fishing Guide
September 17, 2011
Duck season offers more options, opens one week earlier A season of change is coming for Minnesota waterfowl hunters. Opening day, opening day shooting hours and the annual youth waterfowl hunt all will be earlier than in the past. Bag limits for wood ducks and hen mallards will be higher than last year. And north and south hunting zones have been added to provide additional hunting opportunity. “We needed a change,” said Tom Landwehr, commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). “We heard from waterfowl hunters that they supported these changes, and with waterfowl hunter numbers at record lows, we don’t expect season changes to negatively affect breeding populations.” The 60-day, six-duck limit waterfowl season will open Saturday, Sept. 24. Opening day shooting will start one-half hour before sunrise. Duck bag limits are consistent with most other states in the Mississippi Flyway. “The changes are designed to maintain Minnesota’s waterfowl hunting tradition by increasing opportunity and better utilizing the federal regulatory framework set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under which we operate,” Landwehr said. The changes reflect input from a recently formed citizen waterfowl hunting focus group. This year’s earlier-than-usual opener will allow hunting when greater numbers of migrating wood ducks and blue-winged teal are around, yet maintains late-season opportunities. Hunting north of Minnesota Highway 210 – the North Duck Zone – will be allowed continuously through Tuesday, Nov. 22. Hunters in the South Duck Zone – anywhere south of Highway 210 – will have a split season. Hunting will be allowed Sept. 24-25 to take advantage of early migrations then close for five days. The season in the south will resume on Saturday, Oct. 1, and
continue through Sunday, Nov. 27, Thanksgiving holiday weekend. “As we set this year’s season, we looked hard for ways to improve hunter opportunities and satisfaction while maintaining healthy waterfowl populations,” said Landwehr. “I believe this framework strikes that balance.” Legal shooting hours on Sept. 24 will be one-half hour before sunrise rather than the 9 a.m. start that has been in place for the past seven years. Shooting hours end at 4 p.m. daily statewide until Saturday, Oct. 8, when hunting will be allowed until sunset. Hunters will be able to keep up to four mallards, two of which may be hens, and three wood ducks. The hen mallard and wood duck limits increased by one compared with recent years. Daily limits for pintail, scaup and redhead remain at two. Hunters may still take one canvasback and black duck. The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit. Minnesota’s 2011 mallard breeding population is estimated at 283,000, which is 17 percent higher than last year’s estimate of 242,000 breeding mallards, 3 percent above the recent 10-year average and 26 percent above the long-term average. The continental population is 9 percent above 2010 and 22 percent above the long-term average. “While we are very concerned waterfowl hunter numbers have been in decline in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Canada,” said Landwehr, “fewer hunters has resulted in lower duck harvests. In Minnesota, we are confident our mallard population is strong enough to absorb an increase in harvest, given the reduced pressure.” The special September Canada goose season will remain similar to last year. September Canada goose season opens Saturday, Sept. 3, and runs until Thursday, Sept. 22 statewide, with a bag limit of five Canada geese per day. The opening of the 85-day regular Cana-
Hunters will be going after waterfowl one week earlier. da goose season coincides with the opening of duck season on Saturday, Sept. 24, and retains a daily bag limit of three. Hunters north of Minnesota Highway 210 may hunt continuously through Saturday, Dec. 17. Hunters in the south zone may hunt Sept. 2425 and resume on Saturday, Oct. 1, continuously through Thursday, Dec. 22. Another goose zone near Rochester will provide additional late hunting opportunity. Minnesota’s traditional Youth Waterfowl Day will be conducted Saturday, Sept. 10, two weeks before the regular duck opener. It is timed to provide youth with an opportunity to hunt abundant early migrating teal. To participate, youth 15 and younger must obtain a free small game hunting license, a Harvest Information Program (HIP) certifi-
Photo by Brian Hansel
cation, and be accompanied by a non-hunting adult. Duck limits will be the same as the regular season and youth will be able to take five Canada geese. “I’m really looking forward to this waterfowl season, and I hope Minnesota’s duck hunters are, too,” said Landwehr. “Given favorable weather conditions, Minnesota hunters should see more birds in the sky and more in their bag. And if that happens – and the entire conservation community continues to work together on providing the food, cover, nesting and refuges areas that waterfowl need – it will be a good thing for hunters, waterfowl, and the businesses whose livelihoods are linked to hunting.”
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Hunting & Fishing Guide
September 17, 2011
Sandhill cranes will continue to expand range in Minnesota Early records suggest that sandhill cranes habitats are dominated by agriculture. The (Grus canadensis) were common residents current population size within the state is south and west of Minnesota’s forested unknown, and a monitoring program is region until the mid-1870s. Ecologically needed to track long-term population trends. speaking, cranes employ a “slow” lifeEastern population cranes that breed in history strategy: they are long-lived, defer Minnesota winter in north and central Florbreeding for several years ida, and mid-continent after fledging, exhibit very cranes from northwestlow reproductive rates and ern Minnesota winter experience high annual along the Gulf-coast of survival. As a result, crane Texas. Cranes generally populations are more vulreturn to their breeding nerable to exploitation than areas from late-March species exhibiting “faster” through mid-April, life histories. Therefore, and depart on their fall it’s not surprising that rapid migration in early-Sephuman expansion in the tember through mid-No1880s and settlement of vember. Resident cranes Minnesota’s prairie region are impossible to differresulted in the extirpation entiate from non-resident of cranes in much of their cranes during migration former range. Once comperiods. In central and Photo by Brian Hansel mon, the sandhill crane Sandhill cranes are not hunted east-central Minnesota, was considered rare by yet locally but their numbers nesting habitat consists 1900 and it has been esti- are good. Some compare their of lowland emergent mated that only 10-25 pairs meat to steak. marshes and meadows were nesting in Minnesota dominated by sedges in the mid-1940s. Since and grasses, often with then sandhill crane populations have made a stands of phragmites, cattails, bulrush, and steady, if not rapid, recovery. wild rice occurring in deeper water in larger basins. These lowland areas are interspersed with upland wooded ridges, open prairie Distribution and population The recent distribution of sandhill cranes knolls, oak savannahs and agricultural fields. in the state consists of two separate popula- Suitable breeding habitat can include any tions, both of the greater subspecies: cranes shallow, flow-through or isolated wetland in northwest Minnesota belong to the mid- adjacent to open, upland foraging areas. In continent population while those in central areas with healthy crane populations and and east-central Minnesota belong to the low availability of breeding territories, large eastern population. Crane populations will non-breeding flocks (50-200 individuals) continue to expand throughout the state over seek out large, disturbance-free shallow wetthe coming decades. The highest densities lands with soft bottoms and open shorelines are expected along the transition zone be- as roosting sites. These non-breeding flocks tween Minnesota’s forest and prairie regions often remain in the local area throughout the where wetland densities are high and upland growing season.
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Once common, the sandhill crane was considered rare by 1900 and it has been estimated that only 1025 pairs were nesting in Minnesota in the mid-1940s. Controlling property damage
Staging fall migrants feed in agricultural fields, primarily small grains and waste corn. Concentrations of fall migrants in the northwest can cause severe depredation problems, especially during wet autumns when farmers are unable to harvest swaths before September. Principal crops affected are wheat, oats, barley and rye. Spring damage to emergent small grains has also been reported. In central and east-central Minnesota most depredation by cranes occurs on sprouting corn, and has been documented around the Little
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Falls area since the late-1980s. This damage is limited to the first 14-17 days of growth, when gymnosperm is available in the seed, and usually involves minor losses of up to 1 acre adjacent to individual crane breeding territories. However, more severe losses (up to 40 acres) to non-breeding flocks of 25-100 cranes have been documented up to 15 miles from roosting sites. As the crane population continues to expand, prevalence and severity of damage, and increased demand for depredation control should be expected. Various measures have been utilized to reduce agricultural damage with limited success. Propane exploders, helium kites, flagging, scarecrows, scare balloons, and pyrotechnic scare devices, if successful, tend to relocate feeding cranes to another location. A combination of scare and harassment techniques along with lure crops may provide some temporary relief, and success often requires significant effort (sometimes annually if cropping patterns remain unchanged) since cranes become easily habituated to hazing. However, hazing is essentially the only practical option for growers in emergency situations.
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Hunting & Fishing Guide
September 17, 2011
Brutal winter, wet spring hurt pheasant numbers in Minnesota A severe winter followed by a wet spring contributed to a significant decline in Minnesota’s pheasant counts. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the pheasant population index declined 64 percent from 2010 and is 71 percent below the 10-year average. Contributing factors include: • A second consecutive severe winter, resulting in hen counts 72 percent below the 10-year average. • Cold, wet weather during the April through June nesting period, resulting in brood counts 75 percent below the 10-year average. • Loss of nearly 120,000 acres of grass habitat enrolled in farm programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) since 2007. Severe winters combined with cold, wet springs are doubly hard on pheasant populations. That’s because fewer hens survive the winter and those that do are less successful in producing broods. Pheasant hunters are expected to harvest about 250,000 roosters this fall, the lowest harvest since 1997. This compares to harvests that have exceeded 500,000 roosters five of the past eight years. The 500,000 bird harvests correspond with a string of mild winters and high CRP enrollment. “We expect hunters to harvest a similar number of birds in 2011 as they did in 2001, which was another year with a severe winter followed by a cold, wet spring” said Kurt Haroldson, a wildlife biologist for the DNR’s Farmland Wildlife Population and Research Group in Madelia. Haroldson noted survey results indicated an unusually low ratio of hens to roosters. This suggests hen mortality was high or hens were nesting or caring for young broods during the survey. If the late nesting effort was greater than normal, the 2011 pheasant population and the fall harvest may be higher than forecast. Pheasant popula-
Photo by Brian Hansel
Pheasants dig down for corn in deep snow.
tions can rebound quickly given good habitat, mild winter weather and favorable spring nesting conditions. Minnesota is not the only state to see pheasant index declines. Wildlife officials in South Dakota reported a 46 percent population index decline. North Dakota’s spring population survey showed a decline, too. The pheasant population estimate is part of the DNR’s annual roadside wildlife survey. The survey summarizes roadside counts of pheasants, gray (Hungarian) partridge, cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits and other wildlife observed in the early morning hours during the first half of August throughout the farmland region of Minnesota. The highest pheasant counts were in the east central region, where observers reported 51 birds per 100 miles of survey driven. Hunters will find fair harvest opportunities in pockets of south central and southwest Minnesota, but harvest opportunities in most of Minnesota’s pheasant range are rated poor to very poor. This year’s statewide pheasant index was 23 birds per 100 miles driven, the lowest index since 1986. The pheasant index in southwest Minnesota, typically the state’s best pheasant range, fell 82 percent from last
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year to 19 birds per 100 miles driven. Haroldson said the most important habitat for pheasants is grassland that remains undisturbed during the nesting season. Protected grasslands account for about six percent of the state’s pheasant range. Farmland retirement programs such as CRP, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, Reinvest in Minnesota and Wetlands Reserve Program make up the largest portion of protected grasslands in the state. High land rental rates and competing uses for farmland diminish the economic attractiveness of farmland conservation programs. During the next three years, contracts for 550,000 acres of CRP lands are scheduled to expire. If not re-enrolled, this would reduce CRP acres in Minnesota by 36 percent. To help offset continued habitat losses caused by reductions in conservation setaside acreage, DNR has accelerated acquisition of Wildlife Management Areas in the farmland region of Minnesota. DNR also supports habitat conservation on private lands by working with a variety of partners in the Farm Bill Assistance Partnership and Working Lands Initiative. Also, nearly 10,000 acres of private property will be open to public hunting through the state’s new Walk-In Access program.
The August roadside survey, which began in the late 1940s, was standardized in 1955. DNR conservation officers and wildlife managers in the farmland region of Minnesota conduct the survey during the first half of August. This year’s survey consisted of 166 routes, each 25 miles long, with 148 routes located in the ring-necked pheasant range. Observers drive each route in early morning and record the number and species of wildlife they see. The data provide an index of relative abundance and are used to monitor annual changes and long term trends in populations of ring-necked pheasants, gray partridge, eastern cottontail rabbits, whitetailed jackrabbits and other select wildlife species. The gray partridge index was similar to last year but 75 percent below the 10-year average. The cottontail rabbit index was also below the 10-year and long-term average. The jackrabbit index was 96 percent below the long-term average. Finally, the mourning dove index was 26 percent below last year and 29 percent below the 10-year average. The 2011 August Roadside Report and pheasant hunting prospects map is available online.
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Hunting & Fishing Guide
A celebration of Labrador Retrievers
They are clumsy, fun-loving A drunk shot him one night after and irascible. They are also one of he slipped his leash. the best hunting partners on four When I got married and legs. started a family in Fergus Falls Labrador retrievers are the most a married co-worker convinced popular breed of dog in the United me to take a purebred lab off States, according to the American their hands. The pup had a broKennel Club. Their popularity is ken leg and was in a cast. When also high in Canada and the United he did not improve my wife orKingdom. dered the vet to take the cast off. What makes them so popular? It was like letting a bird out of a Having owned six labs and two cage. Pretty soon he was one of lab crosses I would like to know if Brian Hansel those labs that will play Frisbee there is a better dog. with you all day. He was also Staff Reporter Where do you fault them? The known to chew through a onetypical lab loves attention, they love people quarter inch steel leash to gain his freedom. and they love to hunt anything. The lab we had the longest was Kip. He There are few hunting breeds that are so had an unfortunate hatred for raccoons and he versatile. was afraid of cracking ice, but what a friend! A good lab will go after pheasants or The kids could shake a rope tied to a plastic grouse with the same gusto they show in go- saucer sled in his face and he would chomp ing after a duck that has just gone down in the onto it and spin them around on the snow. decoys. One of my current dogs is a yellow pureMy latest lab cross hunts butterflies, frogs, bred lab. He will not let my other dog do any mice and even water bugs. It is easy to see retrieving. I took him to Canada duckhuntPhoto by Brian Hansel that the skillet will never get rusty with her ing last year and he received a first-class A chocolate lab retrieve a pheasant dummy. Labs are extremely versatile and intelaround. education in the marshes. One night we were ligent gun dogs. Labs are considered great drug-busters invited to a big party and King came along because their sense of smell is so keen. They (probably for the food). He had done the work are also a favorite guide for the blind. For in- of 10 dogs that day and before too long there telligence there is only one hunting breed that he was, fighting to keep his eyes open in the beats them – the Golden Retriever. middle of a noisy crowd. Each August dog-loving hunters hold a We worked King hard in Canada and he two-week party at the Armstrong Ranch in was always ready to hit the hay at night. He Ramsey called the Game Fair. Dogs are invit- slept next to my bunk in the bus we stayed in Privately Owned & Operated ed. Thousands and thousands of hunters and and after we had gone to bed one night he let — Whitman & Amanda Briard their families attend the Game Fair. You can out a long howl in his sleep. The guy across find every sporting breed under the sun at the the aisle bumped his head when he sat up and Game Fair – pointers, setters, retrievers and exclaimed “what the hell was that!” The guy spaniels. There are even many non-sporting in the bunk above him laughed so hard that he breeds to be found. But of all the breeds the started to choke. one that stands out the greatest in number is King’s popularity rose quickly despite his the Labrador. Chocolate, black, yellow and midnight serenades. On one of the last mornwhite, they are all there. Hollywood has its ings we hunted we were heading out to a spot red carpet, but when was the last time you and I was driving. I put King in the back seat saw Angelina Jolie retrieve a rubber dummy of my car and then had to wait while a couple from a pond? of my two-legged hunting companions debatFrom Labs have a tolerance for kids that parents ed who would ride in the back seat with him. Tri-State Registering really go for. Some dogs will bite if they are I like pointing dogs for grouse and pheasSausage pestered by a child. I have never seen or heard ant hunting because they will hold a bird for Game to Champions of a lab hurting a tot no matter how much you until you are ready. There is a breed of lab Professionally Skinned, Boneless Cut, Ground, Wrapped & Frozen Ready to Serve wrestling or ear-pulling they have to put up called a “pointing lab” but the natural instinct with. of this breed is to put the bird in the air right Also Custom Processing All Your Choice Cuts Available Our first lab would not let a 4-year-old now. They are the same way about food. They Hogs, Sheep & Beef at our Retail Counter boy cross the street because she was afraid he know what to do when it is offered. would be hit by a car. My mother always apPerhaps the greatest lesson labs teach us is preciated her for that. to love life and not take it too seriously. You M-F 7:30 am to 5 pm Our second one did not like the city so we can bawl a lab out for some mistake and a Sat. 8 am to Noon gave him to a friend of mine. It was the only minute later there they are, licking your hand Extended hours for the dog my pal’s mother ever let into the house. or doing something else that makes you mad hunting season The third one was professionally trained – or makes you laugh. Centennial 84 Drive, New York Mills, Minnesota and would only bark if extremely provoked.
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Hunting & Fishing Guide
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The New Fall Fishing Fall fishing is fine—just don’t disturb the ducks By Chris Niskanen Deer River fishing guide Jeff Sundin says he can no longer count on his favorite lakes to be empty of anglers in the fall, when the grouse season opens and the Minnesota Vikings play the Packers. He has noticed that today’s wellequipped and tech-savvy anglers are more likely to push their fishing seasons past Labor Day—sometimes past Halloween—in pursuit of walleye, bass, pike, and muskies. “The popularity of fall fishing has definitely increased,” says Sundin. “These days my clients and I will fish until just before ice-up, which usually coincides with the deer-hunting opener.” Fishing guides and resort owners say fall anglers mean extra business. “I have one customer who comes up each fall just to fish big pike,” says Don Beans of Ely, who guides many fall fishing trips into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. “Last year we landed 12 pike that were between 12 and 16 pounds.” Department of Natural Resources fisheries managers are keenly aware of the growing popularity of angling in the fall. Though they haven’t studied the phenomenon, DNR fisheries managers say they have noticed a new breed of anglers launching boats once the leaves turn colors. “I’ve lived in Bemidji 15 years, and around 1990 you’d see the occasional boat on Lake Bemidji in mid-September,” says Henry
Drewes, DNR northwest regional fisheries manager. “Now on a late September day, it’s not uncommon to see 15 boats or more on the lake.” From a fisheries management perspective, Drewes doesn’t see a downside to fall angling—there still aren’t enough anglers on the water to hurt fish populations, he says. However, increased fall fishing can have a negative impact on waterfowl on some lakes. “I don’t think there is any doubt that fall fishing is increasing the disturbance of migrating waterfowl,” says Ray Norrgard, DNR wetland program leader. “I think it’s a real issue for our north-central lakes such as Bowstring, Winnibigoshish, and Leech Lake. While we don’t have hard evidence, there is little doubt [fall angling] use on those lakes has gone up.” No single factor is contributing to the growth in fall anglers, observers say. Rather, the boost is the byproduct of some major shifts in Fall fishing is becoming more and more popular with anglers angling, including the widespread availability of better equipment and a better understanding of fish behav- fortably on chilly fall days because the fall. ior. they stay warmer and drier in highAlso, Drewes speculates that extech clothing made of materials pensive boats are likely to spend less The Comfortable Angler such as Gore-Tex. time in the garage and more time on When Sundin began guiding in Sophisticated depthfinders and the water. “It’s nothing for folks to the 1980s, fishing boats were not as navigation tools, such as GPS, have spend $35,000 on a boat, motor, and big or powerful as they are today. “made it easier to find both the fish trailer,” he says. “And with that kind “It was common to get wet from and fishing spots,” Sundin says. of investment, they’re going to want the splashing waves on a breezy An angler himself, Drewes to use it more.” October day,” Sundin says. Today’s agrees. He adds that sophisticated larger boats offer a dry and comfort- boats and motors don’t require as The Savvy Angler able ride to a favorite fishing hole. much skill and time to winterize, so With a vast fishing media to Anglers can also fish more com- anglers are using them longer into educate them, anglers have become
Photo by Brian Hansel
smarter about lake ecology and fish behavior in the fall. Drewes says anglers today better understand the ecological mechanics of lake turnover between late August and late September. Turnover occurs when the surface-water temperature cools and becomes denser. Water becomes heaviest at 39 F and sinks, forcing lighter water to the surface. This continuing shift, along with wind See FISHING on PAGE 9
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FISHING CONTINUED FROM PAGE 8
action, causes the lake water to mix from top to bottom. The topsy-turvy change makes the lake one temperature and causes fish to scatter and become harder to catch. Once the water cools, says Sundin, fish begin to congregate in deep water and feed aggressively—making them easier to catch. Pike and muskies begin to feed heavily on tullibees and whitefish—oily and fat-laden prey that are schooling and preparing to spawn. Walleyes, which in the summer are caught on leeches and night crawlers, seek out minnows that they find near 18- to 30foot drop-offs and points. “It’s a time when anglers should concentrate on lakes with water temperatures of 57 to 65 degrees,” he says. “Minnows become more important; and by season’s end, we’re fishing entirely with minnows as bait.” Muskie anglers, in particular, have taken
notice of fall baitfish habits and the fact that muskies are on the prowl for prey. “I was at a meeting of the Fargo-Moorhead chapter of Muskies Inc., and I met a gentleman there who caught 30 legal muskies after Halloween,” Drewes says. “I know that muskie fishing is a part of our fishing business that has certainly grown into October and November.” Fall anglers have also been lured to the water by Minnesota’s more frequently mild and dry fall weather, which some see as a sign of climate warming. “These mild falls are extending our openwater season into December,” Drewes says. “You have to factor climate change into the equation.”
“Minnows become more important; and by season’s ende, we’re fishing entirely with minnows as bait.” - Jeff Sundin
Bowstring, Winnibigoshish, and Leech are not only popular fishing lakes, but also important waterfowl-hunting lakes. Norrgard says duck hunters are increasingly worried about fall anglers and their boats disturbing late-migrating ducks such as scaup (bluebills), ringnecks, and goldeneyes. To avoid disturbing ducks, Norrgard suggests, “Anglers could take a lot more care when they see a large flock of ducks on the water by going way around them.” To resolve potential angler/duck hunter conflicts, he suggests, “The obvious solution would be for anglers and hunters to show courteous behavior to other lake users.” Fishing guide Beans offers fall anglers another precaution: Beware of cold water and
rapidly changing weather before venturing into the wilderness. An unexpected plunge into a remote lake in October could spell hypothermia and death. “You should put a lot of care and thought into your fall trips,” he says. Still, one of his best recent memories is an October journey into the Boundary Waters for brook trout with his son. They encountered three bull moose courting a cow. They also caught a limit of trout. “It’s just a great time of year to be out,” Beans says. “I guide all summer, but when fall fishing comes around, it’s just a real treat.” (Article reprinted from the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine).
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Hunting & Fishing Guide
September 17, 2011
BUCKS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 3 cosmetics and other products to help female readers achieve that elusive image on the cover, deerhunting magazines sell an ideal to their mostly male audience. A link between antlers and male fertility has long been believed in some Asian cultures, in which many men still ingest powdered horn or antler to cure impotence. Some North American hunters acknowledge that showing off large antlers can be a metaphor for displaying male virility. “I think [trophy deer interest] has much to do with the male fascination with nature’s most extravagant and beautiful secondary sex characteristics,” says Steve Grooms, an outdoor writer and past editor of the Minnesota Deer Classic Record Book, a compilation of trophy whitetail records and hunting stories. Another explanation for killing large deer: It advertises a hunter’s talents in the field. “Today, we no longer measure our abilities as outdoorsmen by the weight of the game bag,” says Hugh Price, coordinator of the Minnesota Deer Classic, an annual exposition of trophy deer mounts. “A trophy deer is a way for someone to say, ‘I’m a skilled hunter who’s able to take the most elusive of big-game animals. I’ve put in my time. I’ve acquired a certain level of craftsmanship.’” Some hunters believe that killing and then displaying a bigracked whitetail pays homage to the species’ exceptional qualities. Jay McAninch, a DNR deer expert who once viewed trophy mounts with disdain, has changed his outlook in recent years. “After meeting with many big-game trophy hunters, who have an almost reverence for the animals they’ve killed, I now look at [the mounts] as a way of honoring the best nature has to offer,” he says. But others question the value of pursuing trophy deer. Rob Wegner, a deer-hunting historian and past publisher of Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, fears that emphasis on trophies could erode public acceptance of hunting. “Most people don’t approve of killing an animal just to put it on
the wall,” says Wegner. He cites the research done by Stephen Kellert of Yale University, who found in the late 1970s that 82 percent of non-hunters disapproved of hunting for trophies. A 1992 DNR survey found a similar response, with 78 percent of Minnesotans surveyed saying they disapproved of hunting for a trophy or a mount. An increase in trophy hunting also could lead to less private land available to most hunters, says Keith McCaffery, a senior deer research biologist with the Wisconsin DNR. He points to southwestern Wisconsin, where hunters lease more than 25 percent of private land. Each hunter pays as much as $1,000 per season to hunt private land in a part of the state nationally renowned for bigantlered deer. “We have a tradition of access to private land in this country,” McCaffery says, “and I see [the leasing of land to trophy hunters] as a loss of hunting opportunities for the average hunter.”
Regardless of their views of trophy hunting, no hunter can dispute that Minnesota and other upper Midwest states produce the most big deer in the nation. The combination of northern latitudes, fertile land, and wooded farmlands and river bottoms makes this the nation’s top trophy-producing region. Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin rank, in that order, as the top four states for whitetail entries in the Boone and Crockett record book since 1984. Minnesota is number one in entries dating back to 1830. Despite these impressive statistics, some hunters are urging deer managers to refashion deer herds to produce even more big bucks. Advocates of what is called “quality deer management” believe that Minnesota and other states could produce more trophy deer if natural resource agencies would restrict the kill of smaller bucks. The theory, similar to that behind increasing the size of walleyes and other game fish, is biologically sound. Because most hunters want to shoot a buck, even
a small one, they crop off the 2and 4-pointers that would have eventually grown up to be 8- to 12-pointers. “We could have some incredible trophy whitetail hunting down here if only the DNR would do something to restrict the harvest of small bucks,” says Michael Sieve, a wildlife artist and big-buck management proponent who lives in Houston County.
Hunter success rates
But the price of producing more big deer would be fewer deer to hunt, say DNR deer managers. “We’d have to limit the number of buck hunters, have a minimum antler size, or limit the number of days that hunters could harvest bucks,” says Dave Schad, DNR forest wildlife program leader. In other words, to produce more large-antlered deer, many hunters would have to forgo killing a deer some seasons. “We strongly believe that most hunters wouldn’t go for that,” Schad says. As a result, the DNR plans to stay its current course, which is to manage deer to provide the highest hunter success rates possible while keeping the deer populations at goal levels. “We’ve got success rates of over 40 percent, equal to those of the so-called golden years of the 1960s,” says Schad. “Most hunters appear to be happy with that.” Schad points out that landowners and groups of hunters can increase the percent of trophy deer in their hunting areas by agreeing among themselves to kill fewer small bucks. He also notes that the DNR has discussed developing a pilot project to see if managing for trophy deer would work in Minnesota as it has in other states such as South Carolina. Such an experiment would be conducted at a federal refuge or other large public area where hunter access and harvest could be closely controlled. But Schad says that the DNR doesn’t have money enough to do the experiment right now. Perhaps that’s not such a terrible loss for deer hunting. After all, a trophy can be any deer significant to a hunter, whether it’s a
Photo by Brian Hansel
Robby Grendahl of Wadena bagged this trophy buck while hunting near Sebeka.
doe, a forkhorn, or a 16-pointer. Ultimately, most hunters cherish the memory of the hunt more than the reminder hanging on the wall. Whatever satisfaction hunters take in acquiring trophies, they could learn something from the deer themselves, which are apparently less attached to their bony crowns. Each winter, after putting much energy into producing these splendid accessories, male deer “jettison their debt,” writes Rick Bass in his essay “Antlers.” With breeding season over, battleweary bucks need not carry the
heavy antlers during the difficult winter months. And so the antlers drop off, like leaves from a tree. Bass writes, “The richness of the antlers, the extravagance of them, cannot be sustained.” (Article reprinted from the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine).
Hunting & Fishing Guide
Safety Prevents Hunting Accidents Although game animals and hunting gear needs vary across the country, there is one aspect of hunting that is universal — the topic of safety. The combination of powerful weapons and the thrill of the hunt can lead to injury or death if safety precautions aren’t taken or mistakes are made. Before you grab your gun or bow, take a refresher course in hunting safety and follow these tips: • First and foremost, always treat your disarmed bow or gun as if it were loaded. Never assume that the weapon is completely safe. • Never point your weapon in anyone’s direction, even if it is unloaded. And don’t rest a weapon on your toe or foot, or up against a fence or tree. • Know your safe zone-of-fire and stick to it. Your safe zone-of-fire is the area or direction in which you can safely fire a shot. (It is called the “down range” at a shooting facility.) Be sure you know where your companions are at all times. Never swing your gun or bow out of your safe zone-offire. • Keep the safety engaged at all times until the time when you are ready to shoot. • Clearly identify your target before shooting. Every year, people are shot because they are mistaken for deer or other animals. Until your target is fully visible and in good light, do not even raise the scope of your rifle to see it, but use binoculars, instead, to clarify the target. Know what is in front of and behind your target. Never take a shot at any animals on top of ridges or hillsides since you don’t know what is behind it. It is a good idea to scout out your proposed hunting area to make sure there aren’t homes or roads close by.
camouflaged, bush-like object that prevent ducks from spotting you in the water) or into or out of a tree stand with a loaded weapon. • Practice ear and eye safety. Many hunters damage their ears by repeatedly firing a weapon without proper ear protection. If you must listen for game approaching, put a soft earplug in the ear closest to the weapon to acquire some protection. Wear protective eye goggles as well. • Keep your weapon clean and well maintained. The smallest amount of debris lodged in your weapon (even a small amount of snow in a rifle barrel) can cause a misfire and potential injury. Always dismantle and check the weapon carefully after each use, and any time it is dropped. • Wear conspicuous-colored clothing, like bright fluorescent orange, so you’ll stand out in thick foliage and not be mistaken for an animal. If you live in a rural area, during hunting seasons (which vary by state and weapon), have family members protect themselves by dressing in bright colors as well. • Clean your gun. Guns should be cleaned after every time they are used, and a gun brought out from prolonged storage should be cleaned prior to shooting. Accumulated moisture, dirt, grease or oil can prevent the gun from operating properly. Before cleaning ALWAYS make sure the gun is unloaded. • Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
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• When hunting from a tree stand, use fall restraints, like a shoulder harness or safety belt, to prevent you from falling.
Open 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
• Keep your emotions in check. No trophy buck or pheasant is worth risking making a mistake.
• Hunt only during the state-allowed hours, usually from dawn until dusk. Never hunt at night or in weather where visibility is compromised.
• Always unload your weapon after use. In addition, don’t climb over a fence, duck blind (a
• Never drink alcohol or use drugs before or during a hunting trip.
• Know the range of your weapon: how far it will shoot, what loads you have in the chamber and how accurate you are with a bow or gun. (It’s a good idea to visit a gun range prior to hunting season and fire your weapon to gauge accuracy.)
• Make sure you are hunting on state-approved land. Avoid areas that are “Posted” as private property.
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Conservation officer Greg Oldakowski addresses a trapping class at Dewey’s Taxidermy near Wadena. Members of the 2011 class include Trent Hagen, Dakotah Revering, Luke Schmitz, Isaac Schmitz, Sean Jager, Ryan Grendahl, Matt Goeden, Cody Wegscheid and Joey Schmitz.
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CONTINUED FROM FRONT PAGE
building. “You get to see some neat things,” Grendahl said. The Grendahls ran into an old-timer once that was with two younger men. When Grendahl told the old man he was a teacher he was thrilled. “I was a teacher for 35 years,” said the old man. What Grendahl got a kick out of was that the old man’s companions were not his relatives, they were a couple of his former students. Grendahl also likes the history of duck hunting and has collected some fine books on the subject penned by men like Nash Buckingham, Jimmy Robinson and Gordon MacQuarrie. Those precious days of late October and early November when the northern flight wings into Minnesota are coming and the Grendahls will be out there rain, sleet, snow or shine. If a good wind is blowing all the better. Robby and Ryan Grendahl have read many books on duck hunting by wellknown outdoorsmen.
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Page 12 Hunting & Fishing Guide