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Last Updated: Nov, 2011

Another strong deer harvest at Camp Ripley

Mille Lacs walleye population lower than expected

Three cited for illegal hunting

Top 10 most common firearm deer season hunting violations

Deer hunters get convenience with phone, Internet game registration

Excellent weather benefits Camp Ripley’s first bow hunt

DNR expects good season for Minnesota deer hunters

Deer hunters encouraged to buy license early

eDNA tests indicate presence of invasive Asian carp in Mississippi

DNR test netting results show a strong walleye population in Leech Lake

Protect Minnesota’s hunting legacy by not trespassing on private property

CWD testing applies to youth deer season; one Zumbrota test station closes

DNR: Waterfowl hunting success still a good bet as cooler weather moves into Minnesota

Cass Lake opened to darkhouse spearing beginning in 2011

 

Another strong deer harvest at Camp Ripley

Cool, wet weather greeted hunters at the second two-day hunt held Oct. 29-30 at Camp Ripley near Little Falls, with archers harvesting 135 deer, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Those deer, coupled with the 287 taken during the Oct. 20-21 hunt, represent the eighth best harvest at Camp Ripley. Although the harvest during the second hunt is about 5 percent below average, the four-day total of 422 deer is 33 percent above the long-term average harvest of 316 deer for the two-hunts.                                          

“The excellent hunting conditions helped hunters achieve another strong harvest and to take about 10 bucks that weighed more than 200 pounds,” said Beau Liddell, DNR Little Falls Area wildlife manager. “The overall harvest is well above average, and administration of the hunt went well too.”

A total of 5,000 permits were issued for both two-day hunts, with 4,305 hunters participating. Hunter success was 13 percent during the first hunt (3 percent above average), and 6 percent during the second hunt (2 percent below average). That is a success rate of just above 6 percent for the two hunts combined (3 percent below the long-term average of 9 percent).

For the eighth year running, hunters at Camp Ripley were allowed to take up to two deer and to use bonus permits to increase harvest of antlerless deer.

“We’re very pleased with the results the past eight years,” Liddell said. “Although Ripley bow hunters are known to be selective for bucks, we have seen increasing proportions of does and fawns taken in recent years to help control the population.”

The proportion of antlerless deer taken at Camp Ripley was 1 percent higher than last year and much higher than the long-term average (55 percent), with about 64 percent of this year’s harvest comprised of does and fawns.

The largest buck taken on the second hunt, which weighed 215 pounds, was taken by Timothy Bilek of St. Paul.

Other hunters who harvested large bucks during the second hunt include: 

 

The archery hunt at Camp Ripley is an annual event. The DNR coordinates the hunt with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000 acre reservation.

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Mille Lacs walleye population lower than expected

A recent assessment of Lake Mille Lacs identified a smaller than anticipated walleye population, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Based on recent netting assessments, the lake’s walleye index dropped from 10.8 fish per net (22.9 pounds per net) in 2010 to 9.7 fish per net (16 pounds per net) in 2011. This represents the second lowest walleye abundance measured since the DNR large lake monitoring program began in 1983.

The long-term trend of walleye population assessments on Mille Lacs since the mid-1980s has been declining overall, but the trend for female walleyes has been stable. This may reflect the fact that the walleye harvest strategies employed by both the state and the Chippewa Bands are more selective for smaller, male walleyes.

The implications of the decline in males to the overall fishery are not clear. Fisheries biologists are evaluating the new data to better understand those implications and how they might influence future management options.

The new fish population information comes at a time when walleye fishing is good at Mille Lacs. DNR Fisheries managers believe good fishing may continue this winter and spring, even in the face of a decreasing walleye population. This may be due to relatively low numbers of young-of-the-year perch, the primary food sources for young walleye. The perch are also small in size, according to the new assessment data.

Fisheries managers understand that a smaller perch population typically results in hungry walleyes, especially of the sizes anglers prefer to keep. Looking to 2012, a resulting high harvest would be a concern if it is projected to reach or exceed the state’s allocation, which will be set in February in cooperation with Chippewa Band managers.

Northern pike abundance also went down, according to the recent assessment. This was expected given a regulation change in 2011. The former regulation was a 24- to 36-inch protected slot that allowed the keeping of one northern pike longer than 36 inches. In 2011, a new regulation protected northern from 27- to 40-inches and allowed the taking of one fish longer than 40 inches.

Tullibee (cisco) abundance also dropped in 2011 from relatively high abundance levels in 2009 (34 fish per net) and 2010 (11 fish per net) to catches of less than two per net in 2011. The relatively warm late summer may have resulted in higher than usual mortality for this cold-water species.

Smallmouth bass have been increasing in abundance for many years, and although not at an all-time high as observed in 2009 (1.9 fish per net), they were above average in abundance at 1.1 fish per net.

Prior to setting the 2012 regulations, DNR managers will meet with the Mille Lacs Fisheries Input Group, an advisory group of anglers and local business interests, to discuss the status of the lake’s fish populations.

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Three cited for illegal hunting

Three individuals face multiple charges for allegedly illegally taking deer.

A conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and an 1854 Tribal Band game warden were contacted shortly after two men and a woman registered a deer at a convenience store in Virginia on Oct. 12. The caller noticed a large amount of blood in the back of a vehicle owned by one of the suspects. One of the individuals was overheard bragging about shooting the deer from the truck with a crossbow.

“The caller thought that the amount of blood in the truck’s box could not have possibly come from one deer, so we started our investigation,” said Conservation Officer Matt Frericks of Virginia.

The investigation uncovered illegal party hunting, lending/borrowing licenses, failure to register big game animals, and illegal taking of three deer. Fine and restitution amount total nearly $2,800 with other charges possible.

Formal changes will be filed against the three suspects shortly with the St. Louis County attorney’s office. The woman is an 1854 Tribal Band member that will face charges through the Band’s legal system.

Anyone witnessing wildlife or fishing law violations is encouraged to contact the nearest conservation officer, law enforcement agency or the toll-free Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Also, #TIP is available to most cell phone users in Minnesota.

Finding a Minnesota conservation officer is just a click away at www.mndnr.gov/officerpatrolareas. Click on the map, and a balloon will pop up that shows the officer phone number and State Patrol dispatch number.

MDHA

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Top 10 most common firearm deer season hunting violations

With Minnesota’s firearms deer season getting underway on Saturday, Nov. 5, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ approximately 200 conservation officers will be traveling the back roads, hiking through the woods, or spending endless hours on patrol ensuring that hunters hunt safely and ethically and abide by the state’s hunting rules and regulations.

“The vast majority of deer hunters in Minnesota abide by the rules and regulations, while a small percentage run afoul of the law,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement director.

“Hunters can best help us protect and preserve the resource by simply following the rules.”

Statistics show conservation officers wrote 1,110 citations or warnings during the 2010 firearms deer season. That compares to 1,035 citations or warnings in 2009.

A large number of citations are written each year for failure to validate a site tag.

Minnesota’s Deer License and Site Tag come as a 2-part form. The upper half is the Site Tag for tagging the deer in the field. The lower half is the Deer License and Registration Slip.

Konrad said that at the kill site a hunter must detach the site tag from the deer license/registration slip.

“Before moving the deer, validate the tag by using a knife or similar sharp object to cut out the appropriate notches indicating the month the deer was killed, date it was killed and the time of day it was killed. Mark carefully—if more than one month, date, or time is cut out or marked, the tag becomes invalid,” Konrad said.

Remember that the validated site tag must be attached to the deer when the deer is placed on a motor vehicle or an ATV, a vehicle or a trailer being towed by an ATV or brought into a camp, yard or other place of habitation.

Transporting a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle is another recurring deer hunting violation.

It is unlawful for any person to transport a firearm, including a handgun, in or on a motor vehicle unless the firearm is unloaded and in a case made expressly for that purpose; unloaded and in the closed trunk of a motor vehicle; or carried under a valid permit to carry a pistol or handgun.

However, there are circumstances when a person may transport unloaded, uncased firearms (excluding pistols) in a motor vehicle, including ATVs: while at a shooting range with permission; while lawfully hunting on private or public land or while travelling to or from a site the person intends to hunt or has lawfully hunted that day.

Firearms must be transported unloaded and cased: within Anoka, Hennepin, or Ramsey counties; within the boundaries of a home rule, charter, or statutory city with a population of 2,500 or more; on school grounds; as otherwise restricted in game refuges, shining or night vision laws.

Other common violations include hunting over bait, license not in possession, shooting from the road right of way at big game and hunting without permission on private property.

“Hunters need to be aware of where they are at all times while hunting, to be sure they are not found trespassing on private property,” Konrad said.

And, blaze orange is required on your cap and outer clothing above the waist, excluding sleeves and gloves while hunting deer. Blaze orange includes a camouflage pattern of at least 50 percent blaze orange within each square foot.

While conservation officers are constantly working to protect Minnesota’s wildlife, they also depend upon the public to report any instances they might witness of unethical hunters or people who disobey state wildlife laws. Turn-In-Poachers is a non-profit organization also working to protect and preserve Minnesota’s natural resources. The program offers rewards to citizens who report poachers or other resources violations. Callers do not have to reveal their names. To report a violation, call 800-652-9093 or #TIP on most cell phones.

Top 10 list of firearm deer hunting violations:

Violation  Number of citations or warnings for 2010
Fail to validate tag     180 
Hunt over bait   150
Untagged   131  
Transport uncased/loaded firearm    127
Fail to register  110
Misdemeanor shining   92
License not in possession       89
Trespass   87
Shoot from road right of way at big game    81
No license     63

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Deer hunters get convenience with phone, Internet game registration

Minnesota hunters can register their deer by phone or Internet, a handy option that eliminates driving to a big game registration station. By calling 888-706-6367 or visiting www.mndnr.gov/gameregistration on the Internet and providing the nine-digit harvest registration number printed on the deer license, a hunter will be prompted for the information needed to complete registration.

People who use electronic registration need to have a pen and paper to write down the confirmation number generated by the registration system. This number must be written on the license in the appropriate area once electronic registration is complete.

Complete phone registration instructions are printed on licenses that allow electronic registration. Full instructions for all methods are available online at www.mndnr.gov/gameregistrationhelp.

In situations where phone or Internet registration is not possible or available, hunters must take their deer to a big game registration station. This process, which remains unchanged from previous years, requires the person whose name appears on the license to personally present their deer. Once registration is complete, they will receive a big game possession tag that must be attached to the hind leg, ear or antler where the site tag was attached.

A complete list of all stations, organized by city and county, is available at any DNR wildlife office or on the DNR website www.mndnr.gov/deer.

Electronic registration is not available for deer taken in some permit areas, including the Bovine Tuberculosis Management Zone (deer permit area 101) as well as the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone (deer permit area 602) and the surrounding permit areas of 233, 293, 341, 342, 343 and 344.

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Excellent weather benefits Camp Ripley’s first bow hunt

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Archers took a two-day total of 287 deer during the first bow hunt Oct. 20-21, at Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls.

“Excellent weather greeted hunters during the first hunt and made it possible for hunters to maximize their time in the field and resulted in a tie for the third-highest recorded harvest for the first two days of the hunt,” said Beau Liddell, Little Falls area wildlife supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

For the eighth year in a row, hunters were allowed to take up to two deer and use bonus permits to increase harvest on antlerless deer. Harvest was well above the long-term average with fawns and does comprising 67 percent of the harvest, an increase of 3 percent from last year.

Total harvest so far represents an identical harvest to the 2010 harvest and is 61 percent above the long-term average harvest of 179 deer for the first hunt.

“Unless we get another unexpected Halloween blizzard that shuts down the hunt like it did in 1991, at this point it’s basically a certainty that we’ll register another top-10 harvest. If weather cooperates this weekend, the total take for all four days could easily rival the record 516 deer taken for both hunts in 2008,” Liddell said.

There were 2,500 permits issued for the first hunt with 2,099 hunters participating, a participation rate of 85 percent. Hunter success was about 13 percent, which was identical to last year and 3 percent higher than the long-term average. Seven hunters took their bag limit of two deer.

Four adult bucks tipped the scales at or above 200 pounds. The largest buck taken weighed 210 pounds, taken by Dylan Laudenbach of Coon Rapids. Among the adult does weighed, the largest, taken by Richard Carlson of Maple Lake, weighed in at 123 pounds.

“With 13 consecutive mild winters in this part of the state and strong harvests since 2000, Camp Ripley’s deer herd is in good condition. Many hunters that provided comments indicated they saw numerous deer,” Liddell said.

The second two-day hunt is scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 29-30. DNR coordinates the hunts with the Department of Military Affairs, which manages the 53,000-acre military reservation.

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DNR expects good season for Minnesota deer hunters

Hunters who venture into fields and forests for Minnesota’s firearms deer season can expect a good deer season and ample hunting opportunities, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“We can’t guarantee harvest success,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife programs manager. “But we can assure hunters that good deer hunting opportunities exist throughout Minnesota.”

Nearly 500,000 people are expected to participate in the firearms deer season, which opens Saturday, Nov. 5, throughout Minnesota.

Minnesota’s whitetail deer population is about 1 million. The DNR, which manages the herd based on population goals established with public input, expects this year’s harvest to be similar to the 207,000 deer harvested in 2010.

During the late 1990s, deer populations were at high levels in many areas due to a succession of mild winters. DNR enacted liberal hunting regulations to reduce the population, resulting in Minnesota’s deer harvest peaking in 2003 at 290,000.

“Throughout most of Minnesota, deer populations are now at goal levels,” Merchant said. “Bag limits have been reduced in some areas, but the deer population remains strong.”

Most corn, which provides ample standing cover and can significantly impact deer harvest, likely will have been harvested, and last winter wasn’t so severe that deer populations were significantly affected.

The firearms deer season concludes in the northern Minnesota on Sunday, Nov. 20, and Sunday, Nov. 13, in all other parts of the state. A late season in southeastern Minnesota that stretches from Watertown in the north to Caledonia in the south opens Saturday, Nov. 19, and closes Sunday, Nov. 27.

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Deer hunters encouraged to buy license early

With nearly 500,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and any system issues associated with the high sales volume.

Minnesota’s 2011 firearms deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 5.

Deer licenses can be purchased for $27 at DNR license agents across Minnesota, by phone at 888-665-4236 or online at www.mndnr.gov/buyalicense. There are additional fees for telephone and Internet transactions, which individuals should check prior to buying their license. Hunters who purchase licenses by phone and Internet will receive their deer tags by mail, which can take five to 10 business days to arrive.

The Information Center and License Center at DNR headquarters, 500 Lafayette Road in St. Paul, will work extended hours on opening weekend to handle additional phone calls from deer hunters. Phone lines will be open on Friday, Nov. 4, until 8 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 5, from 8 a.m. to noon.

License questions should be directed to the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free at 888-646-6367.

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eDNA tests indicate presence of invasive Asian carp in Mississippi

Water samples from the Mississippi River downstream from the Ford Dam in Minneapolis have tested positive for genetic material from silver carp, indicating the invasive Asian species may be present in the Twin Cities stretch of the river, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Known as environmental DNA (eDNA) testing, the results are a chemical indication that some silver carp are in the river, but they do not provide any information on the possible number of fish present, their size or whether they are breeding.

The Mississippi River eDNA testing was conducted in September by the National Park Service and the DNR after similar testing in June indicated the presence of silver carp in the St. Croix River.

The DNR will immediately hire a commercial fisherman to begin netting and searching for Asian carp below the Ford Dam, also known as Lock and Dam 1. No Asian carp were discovered this summer in the St. Croix River after a nine-day search by DNR biologists and a commercial fisherman, but that doesn’t necessarily mean some fish aren’t present. 

“The eDNA tests are very sensitive, but they can only tell us that DNA is present in the water,” said Tim Schlagenhaft, Mississippi River biologist. “In other states where DNA testing has resulted in positive samples, the fish have proven very difficult to subsequently capture, and we expect this to the case in the Mississippi River if the fish are in present in low numbers.”

In the most recent round of Mississippi River eDNA testing, 14 of 49 samples were positive for silver carp. The samples were among 275 that were collected in September from the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix rivers. The rivers are being tested for two species of Asian carp: bighead and silver. The DNR is awaiting test results from the other river locations.

National Park Service officials said these new results could mean Asian carp are present in a reach of the river that includes the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the National Park System that runs along 72 miles of the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities.

“These eDNA results are like a smoke alarm blaring. Until we find the source, we have to assume there is a fire. We have to assume Asian carp are here,” said park superintendent Paul Labovitz.

Labovitz said the park officials may discontinue using Mississippi River locks when conducting NPS-sponsored canoe and boat programs that introduce school kids to the river. When trips involve opening river locks, Asian carp may be able to move freely up and down the river.  “We must explore every option to slow down these fish,” Labovitz said.

DNR officials said the positive eDNA tests highlight the importance of taking further actions to protect upper reaches of the Mississippi River from Asian carp. Gov. Dayton recently endorsed a seven-step action plan to address an invasion of Asian carp.

The plan supports immediate congressional action to give the Army Corps of Engineers emergency authority to close the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock, and Lock and Dam #1, if Asian carp are detected nearby. It also asks for immediate congressional action to fund a feasibility study examining the economic, ecological, recreational, legal, and operational impacts of making Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock a permanent fish barrier.

“We are committed to getting all government agencies and elected officials engaged in this effort to address Asian carp in our rivers before we have a large, reproducing population,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr.

To date, no silver carp have been caught in the St. Croix or Mississippi rivers above Lake Pepin, though some have been caught further downstream near Iowa. Only two bighead carp have been caught in this area – one in 1996 and another on April 18 of this year – both in the St. Croix River.

DNR fisheries experts say silver and big head carp are extremely skittish and difficult to catch with traditional netting and electroshocking equipment. The two species of carp could cause serious damage to Minnesota’s native fish and aquatic systems by filter-feeding vast amounts of plankton, a key foundation of a river’s ecosystem and food chain.

eDNA testing is a new but scientifically accepted method of screening water samples for genetic material originating from an aquatic animal’s mucus or excrement.

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DNR test netting results show a strong walleye population in Leech Lake

The walleye population remains strong in Leech Lake so anglers should enjoy more quality fishing in the coming years, according to results of fall test netting conducted on the lake by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The lake’s walleye population is above the long-term average and similar to the 2009 and 2010 averages.

“September gill nets showed an abundance of walleye from 14 to 26 inches,” said Doug Schultz, large lake specialist in Walker. “There is a nice distribution of walleye within and outside of the protected slot limit of 18 and 26 inches.”

The number of young-of-the-year walleye (those hatched in the current year) that were sampled by electrofishing was well above average since sampling with electrofishing began in 2005. The good growth exhibited by these fish usually results in higher winter survival. As a result, this could turn out to be a year class of moderate abundance. Netting results for yellow perch and northern pike showed a modest drop in yellow perch abundance and a slight increase in northern pike abundance.

Lake-wide walleye counts in DNR test nets averaged 8.08 walleye per net lift, which was similar to 2009 and 2010 results and above the long-term average of 7.5 walleye per net lift.

The numbers indicate that actions implemented under the current management plan are succeeding, noted Schultz. Key elements of the plan include special fishing regulations, walleye fry stocking, cormorant control and an increased emphasis on aquatic habitat protection.

“Still unclear,” Schultz added, “is which management actions are having the strongest influence on maintaining a stable walleye population. This is a question we will continue to address in the coming years.”

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Protect Minnesota’s hunting legacy by not trespassing on private property

With Minnesota’s small game, waterfowl, and archery deer seasons underway, and the firearm deer season set to begin Nov. 5, conservation officers with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources report an increase in trespass calls from landowners.

Hunters are reminded that there is one sure way to avoid problems associated with trespassing: “Always Ask First.”

“Trespass is the biggest problem landowners have with hunters,” said Col. Jim Konrad, DNR Enforcement director. “It is critical for hunters to have good relationships with landowners, especially when you consider that in some parts of the state such as southwestern Minnesota about 95 percent of the land is privately owned,” Konrad said. 

“If hunters and other outdoor recreationists would just make it a standard practice to always ask for permission before entering any private land, those relationships would improve a lot.”

Konrad encourages all hunters and landowners to obtain a copy of the 2011 Hunting and Trapping booklet and review the trespass information on pages 6-7.  “I can’t stress enough how important it is to be very familiar with the trespass law.”

Trespass penalties range from a $50 civil fine to a criminal penalty of a several thousand dollars, confiscation of vehicles and hunting equipment, and revocation of hunting privileges for two or more years.

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CWD testing applies to youth deer season; one Zumbrota test station closes

The youth deer season opens throughout southeastern Minnesota Thursday, Oct. 20, and there are mandatory testing requirements for hunters in deer area 602, the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management zone, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Successful youth hunters in deer area 602 are encouraged to register their deer at the Greenway Cooperative in Pine Island so DNRstaff can collect a tissue sample for CWD surveillance.

This will be the only registration station that DNR will staff for CWD sample collection during the four-day youth season, which concludes Sunday, Oct. 23. The station will be open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday through Sunday.

Bow hunters, who may be in the field at the same time, should be aware that deer taken on an archery license in deer area 602 only can be registered at the following locations:

The registration station at Pellicci Hardware in Zumbrota has been closed for all deer seasons.

Detailed information regarding registration, sample submission, and carcass requirements can be found on the DNR website at mndnr.gov/cwd. Hunters are strongly encouraged to monitor this site as new information is added as it becomes available.

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DNR: Waterfowl hunting success still a good bet as cooler weather moves into Minnesota

Those who have not yet hunted waterfowl this fall shouldn’t fear that the ducks have passed them by, according to Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The season’s best waterfowl hunting could be on its way, with conditions becoming “ducky” as cooler, wetter weather moves in.

Cordts noted that while clear skies and warm weather have kept some local ducks around, they also have kept migrant ducks hanging farther to the north than usual.

“The warm weather delayed duck migrations early in the season,” Cordts said. “But with the colder weather, hunting should improve as the number of migrating ducks grows. There are some good hunting opportunities now; hunters just need to scout a little more or look in nontraditional areas.”

So far, duck hunting success has been fair across the state, Cordts said. Blue-winged teal, wood ducks, mallards and ring-necked ducks have dominated hunters’ bags, but that will begin to change. Additional migrant ducks are starting to move in, Cordts noted. Green-winged teal, wigeon, gadwall, shoveler, pintail and a few scaup are now present. Most early migrants, such as blue-winged teal and wood ducks, have moved south, but hunters can look for ring-necked duck numbers to peak soon.

Canada goose numbers remain good in many locations. A few snow geese are present in northwestern Minnesota.

HOTSPOTS IDENTIFIED

As for state hotspots, Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area in extreme northwestern Minnesota is always a good bet later in October, especially for diving ducks, according to Cordts. Areas in and around Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes can be good in October, especially for ring-necked ducks. Otter Tail County is always a good bet for diving ducks.

Farther south, Big Stone County features a mixed bag of mallards, other puddle ducks and geese. Southwestern and southern Minnesota can provide good late hunting for mallards and Canada geese, especially in fields. Mallard numbers are highest near the North Dakota and South Dakota borders. The Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge in extreme southeastern Minnesota is often a good choice in late November for a mix of diving and puddle ducks. Canvasbacks typically peak in this area during the first week of November.

GOOD OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD

With the teachers’ convention weekend approaching, Cordts said hunting opportunities abound.

“There is great opportunity in the mid to latter part of the season for hunters to see good duck numbers,” said Cordts. “I encourage those who haven’t been out yet or have been discouraged with the warm weather to grab the gun, load up the dog and hit the water. Or try some field hunting for ducks and Canada geese. Crop harvest is progressing rapidly and many of these fields are attractive to field-feeding waterfowl.”

The North Duck Zone (north of Highway 210) is open through Nov. 22 for ducks and through Dec. 17 for geese. The South Duck Zone (south of Highway 210) is open through Nov. 27 for ducks and through Dec. 22 for geese. As of Oct. 9, legal shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. Hunters should refer to the waterfowl hunting regulations booklet or visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/hunting/waterfowl for more information.

Licenses and stamps are available at about 1,500 electronic license agents throughout the state, including sporting goods stores, hunting and fishing supply stores, and some discount chains. They can also be purchased online at www.mndnr.gov or by phone at 888-665-4236.

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Cass Lake opened to darkhouse spearing beginning in 2011

Cass Lake will be open to darkhouse spearing this winter as a result of legislation passed during the 2011 Legislative session directing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to reopen the lake to spearing.

DNR recently completed the rule authorizing the change.

The darkhouse spearing season officially opens Tuesday, Nov. 15, but the activity is determined by the formation of safe ice conditions, which usually occurs in early December. Anglers are encouraged to check local conditions and take safety precautions when venturing on ice.

Spearers and anglers are reminded that the possession limit for northern pike, the most common target of darkhouse spearing, is three with only one allowed longer than 30 inches.  Residents ages 16 to 64 and all nonresidents must have a darkhouse spearing license and an angling license.

DNR fisheries will conduct a creel survey on Cass Lake this winter to estimate angling and spearing pressure and collect harvest information.

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