Hunting News

High hopes for ‘05 gun deer opener

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Grand Rapids, Minn. – For all the deer hunters who find themselves shrouded in a sea of change, this Saturday’s firearms deer opener offers a sense of stability. Some areas have more permits available than previous years, and some hunters already have harvested a deer with a firearm, but, at its core, it’s still the…

Two trumpeters shot dead

By Tim Spielmant Associate Editor Bagley, Minn. – Despite the increasing number of trumpeter swans in the state, officials say the instances of illegal killings of the species have remained stable the past few years. Still, two waterfowlers face stiff fines and other penalties for allegedly killing two trumpeters in northern Minnesota. Ryan Robert Bjorstrom and Shane Leo Corrow, part…

Rice Lake ‘zeebs’ could affect Mississippi River

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor St. Paul – Routine fall lakeshore duties recently resulted in the ‘extremely serious’ discovery of the invasive zebra mussel in Rice Lake near Brainerd. Rice, an impoundment of the Mississippi River, is the fourth inland lake in the state where zeebs have been found. State DNR officials say Gil Millette found a zebra mussel on…

Early season hunters kill 1,000-plus deer

By Joe Albert Staff Writer North Branch, Minn. — The state’s first foray into alternative deer management is in the bag. In some instances the early season for antlerless deer, held last weekend in eight north metro and northwest permit areas, was more popular and more successful than DNR officials expected. A total of 5,526 hunters bought 6,761 permits (each…

CPR saves waterfowling pup

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Winnebago, Minn. — State conservation officers Todd VanderWeyst and Mitch Boyum stop short of calling what happened in their duck hunting boat last week a miracle. But still, a bit of divine intervention may have helped the two preserve the life of a young yellow Lab named Dutch. Boyum, a Rochester CO, and VanderWeyst, who…

The ‘lakes’ area: Can we grow more wisely?

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Brainerd, Minn. — When it comes to population growth in the state of Minnesota, the ’90s definitely were roaring. The population grew by more than half a million during the decade. Conservationists now are monitoring the effects of more newcomers on the environment, and how the environmentally recluse might learn to better care for the…

Standing crops could slow pheasant action

But birds are ‘just all over the place’ By Joe Albert Staff Writer Madelia, Minn. — It’s a double-edged sword for hunters heading out this weekend for pheasants: Bird counts are up from last year, but rain has hindered crop harvest in many places. Most expect hunters will enjoy an exceptional season, but it may not begin until after Saturday’s…

DNR pondering record bass transport issues

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor St. Paul — Mark Raveling, a pro bass anglers and the proud owner of the record for biggest largemouth caught in the state, has little but praise for the DNR and its fisheries management. DNR officials are quick to congratulate Raveling, and say now’s the time to “celebrate” the state’s natural resources. So, what’s diverting…

‘Legendary’ conservation officer dies

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Duluth, Minn. — When Don Polovina was a game warden at the Floodwood station in the 1960s, he arrested a would-be poacher who was shining deer, and brought him before the justice of the peace. The man, down on his luck, needed the meat to feed his family, and couldn’t afford the $50 fine. “Don…

Oct. 15 and 16: an early shot at whitetails

By Joe Albert Staff Writer St. Paul – As the DNR’s big-game program coordinator, Lou Cornicelli was instrumental in creating this fall’s early antlerless deer season, the first of its kind in the state. But he’s not just going to sit on the sidelines and wait to see how it turns out. &#8221I’ve got a new flintlock and I want…

2005 duck opener hot and cold; mostly warm

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Nicollet, Minn. – The air was cool, the skies gray; it was weather most duck hunters relish. Unfortunately for waterfowlers, that was the weekend prior to the duck opener. This past weekend brought mostly sunny skies, unseasonably warm weather, wind, and in some areas, decent duck hunting. However, Swan Lake in Nicollet County wasn’t one…

Turkeys headed northwest, into ‘uncharted territory’

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Thief River Falls, Minn. – One time extirpated from Minnesota, wild turkeys now are found over a wide swath from the southeast to the northwest. And the beat goes on. The DNR this winter plans to release 60 to 70 turkeys in two northwest counties, Marshall and Red Lake, which will be the farthest north…

DNR set to release list of ‘at-risk’ flora, fauna

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor St. Paul – For the past several years, Minnesota – along with every other state in the nation – has received funding meant to benefit species that needed a boost. The funding of slightly more than $1 million annually from the federal government came with a caveat when it began in 2001: come up with…

Rice Lake filling back up

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Hugo, Minn. – Rice Lake once again will be full of water. That’s the good news. The bad: It might not be in time for Saturday’s waterfowl opener. A judge in Washington County District Court last Thursday ordered the Rice Creek Watershed District to install a dam by Oct. 1 that will catch water and…

New director of forestry takes hands-on approach

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Duluth, Minn. – If there’s one thing Minnesota’s DNR Forestry director in waiting knows about his new position, it’s that he’ll spend as much time as possible in the field, amid those carrying out the division’s missions. “I want to get out in the woods with the rest of the crew,” said Dave Epperly, 49,…

Duck hunting 2005: tempered optimism

By Joe Albert Staff Writer Middle River, Minn. – Joel Huener, manager of the Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area, has done what he can to ensure this year’s waterfowl opener will be better than last year. The water on Thief Lake, an important stopover point for migrating ducks, is a little below its normal level. And the cover and submerged…

CO contingent returns from Louisiana mission

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor St. Paul – Twenty Minnesota conservation officers returned from a mission in New Orleans this week with new experiences under their belts, and a greater appreciation of the destruction in the city. What was to be a 13-day venture turned out to be slightly less than a week (officers returned to the state on Saturday,…

Mysterious songbird kill may be weather-related

DNR Reports Grand Marais, Minn. – The Minnesota DNR recently collected 50 dead birds that were floating 200 to 800 yards from shore in an eight-mile stretch of Lake Superior between Grand Marais and the Brule River mouth. The birds were migrating passerines (songbirds), primarily Swainson’s thrushes, white-throated sparrows, and various warbler species. Record numbers of passerines were reported at…

Game warden testifies in Vang trial

By Robert Imrie Associated Press Hayward, Wis. (AP) – A man in a blaze orange jacket frantically waved to the first law enforcement officers to arrive at the scene where six deer hunters were fatally shot last fall, a state conservation warden testified Monday in the trial of a Minnesota man accused in the Wisconsin killings. The man told the…

COs head to Louisiana flood zone

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor Enforcement airplane crashes St. Paul – The Minnesota DNR’s Enforcement Division announced this week that 20 of its officers have been deployed to a hurricane-ravaged area of Louisiana to do “anything and everything that can be done,” said Rich Sprouse, public information officer. Ten squads (two officers each) and 10 boats headed for Baton Rouge,…

Jury picking began last week in Wisconsin hunter shootings case

By Robert Imrie Associated Press Hayward, Wis. (AP) – In the northwestern Wisconsin town that was home to six deer hunters killed during a confrontation over trespassing, many folks wonder why the murder trial for a Hmong immigrant is needed and whether they will get justice. “The guy admitted he shot people in the back,” Rice Lake Mayor Larry Jarvela…

Report: Vang may claim self-defense in hunter shootings

Hayward, Wis. (AP) – Attorneys for a Minnesota man accused of killing six hunters in northwestern Wisconsin filed court papers suggesting he may claim self-defense in his trial, a newspaper reported. Chai Soua Vang also won’t pursue a plea bargain to avoid trial, his attorneys told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis last week. Vang, a 36-year-old truck driver from St….

DNR: ATV law change manageable

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor St. Paul – Brad Moore, DNR assistant commissioner for operations, last week delivered a sort of “stay the course” message in a memo to those staffers inventorying state forests regarding future and present trail use. He also took the opportunity to state that legislation from this year doesn’t weaken (as some opponents have charged), but…