'Tis the season for car-deer collisions
October and November are the prime months for deer to collide with automobiles. Most occur when you're driving at or near the speed limit. Now, more than ever, is the time to be using your seat belts -- driver as well as all passengers.
The average cost for repairs to a vehicle is about $2,500 and the loss of your car for a few days. The yellow deer crossing signs help somewhat in making a driver aware that the highway he is on has this danger potential.
It is probably a sensible idea to slow down a bit after you see a deer crossing sign. Many accidents are intensified when a driver employs avoidance activity and steers into the ditch. Experts say it is best to proceed on the road. Each of us is going to react in a way that seems best at the time.
When we hunted bluebills and ringbills
The photograph on this page shows me looking over a two-day limit of diver ducks. Our party included Harry L. Johnston, his sons Mike and Patrick, his cousins and one or two other licensed hunters. The location was the south shore of Brandy Lake, not far from the present location of the J & K marine lot.
We didn't have decoys set out, as we usually did. The birds were feeding on lake weeds and were migrating through the area. We had the natural concealment of the wooded shoreline, and the ducks came in, just a foot or two above the lapping waves. It was one of the best shoots, and the situation isn't likely to be repeated in Brandy Lake or any other Becker County location.
The similar situation, however, does or did exist, this fall in and around Devils Lake, Minnewaukan, and at Rugby. The year of our hunt was Nov. 1967 and the daily limit was ten birds. These were bluebills, (scaup) or ringbills.
The ruffed grouse season
Annually, the ruffed grouse kill in Minnesota is more than a million birds. Yes, our state is the leader, in spite of the great amount of writing that's always coming from New England. The best area in Minnesota is near the town of Grand Rapids. Again this year, the national shoot was held in that vicinity. It consists of a pair of hunters, one or two dogs, and the referee, who goes along and observes the handling and conduct of the dogs, the shots taken by the hunters, the retrieve and general conduct of all.
The participating hunters pay a substantial fee for the privilege of participation in the national hunt. The hunters measure the day by the numbers they flush, not by the number of birds killed. The woods are cut into 20-acre tracts and the hunters keep inside these areas. At noon, there is a break in the action, where the hunters meet at the Sawmill Inn, with prime rib served, washed down with Leinenkugel's beer. The hunt averages a return of $100,000, which goes toe the Ruffed Grouse Society. On a good day, there are about 30 to 40 flushes and the average take is about six birds. There is a lot of state forest lands in the vicinity where many hunters come to pursue this grand game bird. To be sure, ruffed grouse is the acme of all game bird hunting. It is much more challenging than pheasant hunting and a great delight at the dinner table, to be sure.
There was a time, a couple decades ago, when ruffed grouse hunting was the ultimate challenge in the Detroit Lakes area. We had a lot of birds in many a season. I don't know why this hasn't returned. Grouse are now on the upswing of its mysterious cycle, and this has been evident in Grand Rapids, in Pennsylvania and some of the New England hunting area. Perhaps next year it will be better here. Hunters hereabouts have reported improved hunting, but the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge continues to be a disappointment.
In the national hunt at Grand Rapids, the 20 gauge over-under has been the choice in armament, but there are side by sides and semi-automatics also. The 28 gauge, the sporting gun, has not been as popular as the 16 and 20 gauge guns. Open chokes are the rule, with improved cylinder being best.
The National Rifle Association at work
High on the agenda of the NRA in its work to help gun owner rights, is its opposition to a Defense Department bill concerning the destruction of surplus military firearms that are stored in the armories of the U.S. Army. Among the arms proposed for destruction are a few Springfield .30-06 bolt-action rifles left over from World War I, millions of Colt 45 caliber M1911 pistols, which were replaced by the Beretta M-92, some M 14 semi autos, and the M1 Garand, used in World War II. So far, a long-standing rider has prevented the destruction of these perfectly usable retired arms. Stopped also is the destruction of empty army brass from rifle ranges, which many gun shops would like to acquire, and sell to reloaders.
The local deer season
The deer season opened yesterday and runs for nine days. The firearms portion is the prominent and popular part of the deer seasons, with archery coming into popularity more each year.
What kind of a season will we have in Becker County and our surrounding area? There's no reason to think that it wouldn't be good around here. We're not going to set any records, but the usual number of successful hunts are pretty sure to come about.
Our estimated statewide deer population is at about 1.2 million animals.
The early antlered season has come and gone. About 2,600 deer were taken, which is about the yearly average. This is the season in whish a lot of dads take their kids out, and they have fun at it.
The DNR made a survey of hunters in zone 3 and more than 60 percent responded. Mostly they had positive remarks about state deer management. Some of the suggestions were too far out to even be considered, but many suggestions that were received will get careful study. All in all, it looks like a pretty average season here, and statewide.
Hunting from the road
The new Minnesota law that allows a hunter to transport a firearm uncased may lead to illegal road hunting. Its great that now we can jump out of the vehicle, gun uncased, slam a cartridge into the rifle's chamber and be ready for hunting. Road hunting is already a pervasive activity in much of the north where the forest provides privacy for poaching. Shooting rifles from roadways was already a problem before the Legislature relaxed the law on uncased guns in transport. Stepping out of the truck and to begin by shooting from the road -- that's not legal, and it's happening.