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Donate some of your venison to the local food bank

If you donate some venison to the local food bank, all or most of your deer processing costs may be paid. A new program, expected to be in force for the next two years, has been set up and is functioning now. If you make arrangements with your deer processing professional, your venison costs will be less. Arrangements can be worked out if you elect to retain some of the meat. The local food banks are very much in need of the protein from wild game. These local banks are located in every community and county, and the need is great.

It will give you a very good feeling, knowing that some needy persons -- often big families -- will be treated to the tastes of great wild game that you personally love so much. You didn't really need all of that meat that you stocked in the freezer, now did you? This year, an adjustment might be in order. You will be glad that you did.

Don't down that deer with your Dodge

Or with any other truck or motor vehicle. It is a disastrous thing. Hitting a deer on the highway is commonplace, especially in the autumn season of the rut. The forested areas of our county abound with white tailed deer, and they're on the move in the breeding season. The deer are less cautious and crossing the roads in quest of a doe is something that the bucks do with regularity.

Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan follow West Virginia in the number of deer-auto collisions. These rankings are based upon claims data received from State Farm Insurance Company, one of the nations leading car insurance carriers. Minnesota and the Dakotas are all in the top ten of the claimant areas. November, through December are the prime times for collisions with deer. In the past ten years, Minnesota has averaged about 5,100 collisions per year. This is probably fewer than the actual number, as many aren't reported. About 400 collisions result in physical injury. And every one of them results in serious vehicle damage, costly repair, anguish and the loss of your car or truck for a period of time.

Please be alert in the likely locations. When one deer is seen in your vision, other deer may be following. Last year in Minnesota, there were 4,138 deer-car collisions, with 486 people injured. Take care when driving.

Early review of the season

We are mid season on many of the species which we hunt here in Becker County. It is too early to make a final assessment as to our general or even partial success, with the firearms season on deer scarcely opened.

But in most instances, sportsmen I've talked with are very happy with the days spent afield this season.

No, the mourning dove wasn't a prime target here. It never has been and will probably not be a big thing with most locals. The early deer season saw a lot of hunters in the woods, and their success was minimal, but it did give some the opportunity to do some scouting for the gun season.

The ruffed grouse season was anticipated as being markedly improved over the past three years. But it wasn't all that good. Improved, yes, but fewer flushes than many of us expected, as the DNR had predicted some better hunting. The authorities probably did have their drumming counts taken in the spring, down pat, but this didn't result in birds awing in the hunting season. There was some better luck in the Brainerd, Crosby-Ironton and Grand Rapids areas, but hereabouts, ruffed grouse hunting was only so-so.

Ringneck ducks were here in sufficient numbers to make waterfowling worthwhile. We took a number of blue winged teal, some mallards, and the cool wet days of October resulted in continuing success in the duck blinds since opening day. Duck hunting here was good, and I enjoyed the days with birds in the area. Goose hunting was an iffy affair this year. Hunting wasn't as good on the local Canadas as it has been in the past few seasons. The migrants, which will arrive when the weather worsens, may change things.

The ringneck pheasant hunting in Minnesota has shown improvement. The hunters who made their move toward the western edges of the state, or towards the mid-south did very well. Better than last year, with improved outlooks for the remainder of the season, ending December 31st. We've heard of pheasant success in the Canby area, and near Benson. Now that's not a great distance to travel, just a two-hour drive, on the average. Our daily limit is but two cocks, but we've got to cooperate and get this grand game bird reestablished here.

The whitetail season has just opened, and we have a lot of deer in the County. Many will take a doe with the special license, returning to the woods later with muzzle-loader or archery tackle for a second or third deer. Not many other locations in the Continental U.S.A. where hunters have that option. Consider yourself lucky!