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The thunder and lightning Monday morning as I headed out for a cup of coffee was enough of a reminder to put on a rain jacket. Unfortunately for this area, there was only a brief sprinkle which wasn’t enough to settle the dust. This part of Wright County remains dry, but there was a slight prospect of rain for Monday night which won’t make it into this column because it is composed early on Monday. . . I still haven’t been out on the lakes, but hopefully, that will change this week. On the way back from St. Cloud last Thursday a red fox was out in a hay field by the George Ludenia farm, apparently looking for a meal, probably a field mouse or two. It looked healthy so I ruled out the possible rabies threat. On Saturday morning I was greeted with the sound of shotgun blasts and then realized it was from the early Youth Waterfowl Hunt which the DNR has implemented to encourage today’s youth to get into hunting. Judging from the number of shots, I’d say the program is working.
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I had the opportunity to visit Sunday with Jim Baker, a friend of Mike Muller, who lives in Manitoba and was in Minnesota for the Hay Days event near Cambridge. I got acquainted with him when Muller and I were enroute on a fishing trip in the Northwest Territories a while back. He guided us fishing Northerns and Walleyes on the Warpath River which is connected to Lake Manitoba where we all had a great day of fishing. Hay Days attracts thousands and thousands of people and features row after row of vendors on the 160-acre grounds, selling everything from ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, skis, etc. for the outdoors person. I’ve never been there, but the event includes demonstrations and on Saturday there was a military plane fly-over to add to the day’s entertainment. Baker said their area of Manitoba has had too much rain and consequently he wasn’t able to plant any small grain last spring. He said it was so wet when he attempted to cut the weeds on the grain fields he got stuck with his mower this summer. A friend pulled him out and the wheel ruts immediately filled with water. The lack of grain stubble in that area is expected to have an adverse effect on goose and duck hunting, although Jim said he has seen several flocks of 20-30 Canada geese migrating into the area. He would like to see more wheat fields. I asked about ruffed grouse, a bird they refer to as chickens. He commented there are some, but not like back in the late 1980s when over 300 were harvested off of an old farm trail one fall. Muller got in on that bonanza which he still has etched in his mind as well as the exact number of chickens he came home with (85) for two adults, he and the late Jim Segner, and four kids. That was in addition to 65 Canada geese, 40 Sharptail grouse and numerous Snow geese. He’ll be going to Manitoba later this month for their early goose season. Baker is an interesting fellow to visit with and he has a wealth of knowledge about Manitoba’s water issues which are creating problems on his property. To illustrate, he said they cut cattails on their grain fields, but they came back again the next year. Baker commented about their government’s drainage program as part of the problem which includes funnelling water from Saskatchewan through their area. It sounded like their government, like ours, isn’t immune to making some poor choices. Besides being a farmer and a big-game guide he maintains 300 miles of snowmobile trails in the winter. The trails have five shelters which add to the comfort of those who use them.
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This next paragraph probably doesn’t apply to any of this column’s law-abiding readers, but in case there is an exception or two the DNR will be having an auction of confiscated hunting and fishing equipment on Saturday, September 28, 2013. The auction is open to the public. Items being offered for sale include, but are not limited to: firearms, bows, tree stands, fishing rods and reels, tip-ups, traps, trail cameras, spotlights, ground blinds and a hand ice auger. There are more than 200 firearms and 40 bows. In addition, there are 200 hunting and fishing items including deer antlers (sold in lots), an ATV, a jet ski, snowmobiles and a boat/motor/trailer combination. The auction is being held at Hiller Auction Service, 10785 261st Avenue, Zimmerman, MN.
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