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Becker County Sportsman - Hunting seasons are here

Long awaited by many, the autumn hunting dates have arrived. Most of it looks good, with others just marginal. The bow hunting for whitetails has been in full swing, with the usual reports of some success. The use of tree stands is becoming more common, adding to the success of archers in our Becker-Hubbard County areas. Some go out at without a great deal of enthusiasm, really just waiting for the firearms seasons, but many are dedicated archers, with the specialized skills and equipment that is needed. And many people practice bow hunting.

After some bitter fighting to get the mourning dove seasons re-established in Minnesota, we find that only a few in our area have elected to participate in the hunting of this tiny game bird. It is an important quarry in much of the western and southwestern parts of the U.S.A., but not particularly thrilling to most hunters here. Nevertheless, they're now legal and you can get out after them if you choose to do so. I've not visited with but a few of the hunters who tried their luck. The weather has been cool and windy -- not the best conditions for the doves -- which elect to vacate and move southward when the first chilly evenings arrive.

The waterfowl season, well that's something else again. Goose hunting was not as good as expected, but it will quite likely improve. Duck season opened yesterday morning, with mallards, teal, gadwalls, and widgeon all to shoot at. There is a decided lack of bluebills again, and this is a condition that worries a lot of old time waterfowlers. Just where the scaup have gone is a mystery, and it is a concern for all of us who love this black and white duck.

The ruffed grouse hunting has been off to a slow start, due to the green leaves still on the trees. When they're gone, we look to a great season -- much better than we've seen in the past half-decade. The DNR drumming counts, taken last spring, indicated the upswing of ruffed grouse numbers, and flushes experienced in the past two weeks of the open season indicates they're right; there will be more grouse in the woods this fall than we've had in a long time. Do get out with a light shotgun and go after the grouse this fall. It is the best of all hunting. Believe me. And there isn't any better meal on the family's table either. The season is long, running all the way through December. Some of the best hunting will be after the deer season with snow on the ground. You'll not have to drive a great distance either. Although, there are locations around Minnesota where you'll find more ruffed grouse than hereabouts. Some of these are at Grand Rapids, Cloquet, Mora, Brainerd and Aitkin areas. One of the best fairly local areas will be in the Chippewa National Forest area, which is a bit southwest of Walker.

The goose season got off to a slow start this year. I fully expected that there would be better success, but from what I've heard, the kill wasn't as big as it has been in the past. I don't know any reason for this, but there will be some Canada's falling to hunters in the duck blinds, and to some of the specialists who prefer the stubble field hunting.

The firearms deer season is a few weeks away, but it is predicted that it will once again be a banner season.