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I-94 closed between Fargo, Valley City; I-29 closed between Fargo, Canadian border

Bluebill duck numbers on the rise

Recently released findings in an annual survey conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service has indicated a rebound in the numbers of scaup. The increase isn't great -- only about eight percent, but the overall duck numbers are down about nine percent. But still, it is about 11 percent above the long-term average. What all of this means in relation to the numbers of ducks in the various species to be legally taken by Minnesota hunters this fall isn't known yet. Mallard numbers decreased -- about a seven percent decline. This species is common to Minnesota hunters and have always been a sought-out type, because of its excellence at the dinner table. The increase in scaup numbers probably does indicate that there will be no reduced scaup bag limit this season, as was generally expected.

Minnesota's duck hunting last fall wasn't great, and it isn't expected to improve to any great extent this year. Canvasbacks and pintails are in decline, but redheads and green-wing teal, are well above their previous averages.

The meetings of the various flyway officials and the Fish & Wildlife Service will occur later this month, with the duck hunting frameworks to be announced in August. Minnesota DNR waterfowl specialists attend these meetings and traditionally advocate less generous limits, and more restrictive measures than state officials in the southern part of the Mississippi flyway.

The right to keep and bear arms

Now that the Supreme Court has made its decision, it is easy to see that the private ownership and use of guns was right all along. The Founding Fathers had a healthy distrust of a large standing army. With the new constitution they were being asked to ratify, there was concern about authority they were placing in a Federal government.

It is obvious that citizens, for self-defense, may own guns. Of course, they came into common use for hunting, the gun games and general recreational use.

The Court's five to four decision, led by Chief Justice Roberts and conservative Antonio Scalia struck down the District of Columbia's unreasonable gun laws, and will have an effect on laws now in force in such gun-control cities as Chicago and San Francisco. They will likely be challenged soon, and they will be amended extensively.

Gun rights advocates praised the decision. The decision isn't likely to have much effect to gun control legislation in Minnesota. Minnesotans have an independent streak, value the right to privacy, and have a long standing support of gun use in the out of doors for hunting. The ruling is consistent with those beliefs in Minnesota. The National Rifle Association is happy!

l8th annual country music fest

Today, Sunday, July 27, the Cormorant Lakes Sportsmen's Club will stage its annual music fest. This outdoor event will take place at the club's Wildlife Conservation Center. These grounds are located along County Road 11, about 5 1/2 miles south of Audubon. The Cormorant Lakes Sportsmen's Club will sell food and beverages. So, bring lawn chairs and have a good time with a great afternoon of country music and entertainment. The public is invited and there's free admission.

Hay prices are high

And that means mowing is being done right now, when upland birds have small chicks. Late pheasant nesting hens may have lost some nests. In most cases, it is perfectly legal, although the DNR has asked farmers to hold off until mid-August so that pheasant hens can bring off a brood. In the case of the county, township, and state roadsides, the ditches remain unmowed, as the road authorities and the DNR have had agreements for delayed mowing, for some years now. This year hay is bringing up to and beyond $100 a bale in some places. And this is the time of the year when hay quality is at its best.

While most hens would rather nest in a large block of grass -- say the alfalfa -- many will opt for the smaller, long rows of grass, which is available in the roadside ditches. The early mowing is a loss of habitat that hasn't been lost by the habitat organization. Pheasants Forever and local chapters are talking to owners of hayland, doing what they can to convince the landowners to be just a little more patient. Perhaps high prices that are available for hay right now, will still exist when the nesting season is over.

Anglers are staying closer to home

Minnesota fishermen are aware of the high prices of gasoline. Consequently, they're not venturing as far from home base as in past seasons. Even the cost of fuel for the big outboards is becoming a significant factor. Resorting has suffered with-out-of state anglers, those from dependable home stations as Minneapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis. The operators on such places as Lake of the Woods and other southern Canada hot spots have felt the pinch.

With the family budget challenged for food and fuel, adjustments are being made, and long distance fishing trips are being curtailed. There's been no organized effort to find out just how much the fuel and food costs have affected summertime angling, but it is regarded as a serious threat.

North Dakota harvested a lot of pheasants

The good North Dakota harvest has attracted a large number of Minnesota hunters. Statistics released by the North Dakota Game & Fish Department listed 107,574 roosters taken last year. And the number of non-resident hunters was 35,704. Many of them were from Minnesota. Although Minnesota has a very good number of pheasants, there are a lot more areas available out west, due to their PLOTS system.

The visitors headed for Hettinger County, with Mott as a headquarters. My own favorite has always been Stark County's Red Rock Ranch, owned and operated by Detroit Lakes' own Don Tietz. Here you don't compete with a big horde of hunters, and there are lots of birds. Based on reports I've heard, the upcoming season is going to be a great one. This is the time to make plans and get reservations. Yes, it will cost a bit of money to traverse the state to get to the great hunting, but it'll be worth it. The spring counts indicated a 36 percent increase statewide in the number of crowing counts compared to last year.

Minnesota's pheasant situation hasn't been released yet, but we expect it will be equally promising.

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