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A great pheasant season at Red Rock Ranch

Each break in the cold weather provides all of us senior citizens the opportunity to circulate into the morning coffee meetings. One pleasant such occurrence happened this week when I visited with Bob and Linda Silseth, who reside in Dent. These two are major players at the scent at Richardton North Dakota, where Don Tietz welcomes pheasant hunter guests. Bob's role is chief guide during hunting season, but he's there many times during the off-season, seeing to the wild birds, their habitat and keep. Linda has a key role in the kitchen, and is famous for some great meals. One in particular is at noon, when hunters come in for a break. It is common for the ten or 12 men to consume two whole roasting hens, which Linda buys at the Hitterdahl ranch north of Hawley, when provisioning the kitchen pantry.

Bob's report was an encouraging one. While telling about the harvest of a lot of big roosters this past fall, Bob emphasized the enormous flock of hens that are there to nest in the spring.

"Things have never looked more promising for a great season come next October," Bob said.

It is good to hear, and if heavy winter snows don't close off ground food supplies, or a wet, late spring we'll be out there again at Don Tietz's unique place.

BCSC shooting range meets qualifications, provides unique shooting place.

According to Becker County Sportsmen's Club president Brett Friesen's remarks at the recent winter meeting of the organization, the local range is again ready to launch spring rifle and pistol shooting, along with the usual dozen or so teams of trap shooters this year. Designed with the aid and specifications of the National Rifle Association, our local facility is really unique for small town in northern Minnesota. But where else can one name a municipality that can boast a range equal to this? Townspeople are not aware, and have little appreciation as to what sportsmen and shooting enthusiasts enjoy in the warmer months of the year. Most sportsmen do recognize the importance. BCSC is in the midst of its spring membership drive. You should be a member if you have any interest at all in guns and hunting.

Get the lead out

Lead is a very useful metal, abundant, available world wide, relatively inexpensive, and adaptable. Lead is being phased out for its many traditional uses, including the finishing decoration on children's toys, in paint, in the formerly important use as a projectile in shogun shells. The manufacturers were wailing thirty years ago, but the federal government was adamant and sportsmen were worried whether their waterfowling would end. But a solution to the lethality of pellets was solved by the combination of tungsten with other metals such as soft iron, bismuth, tin, zinc, and copper. The big three in the ammo business, along with much smaller Kent has produced lethal ammo but it costs something near $2 per shell. Yet, cheaper steel shot can be satisfactory if you shorten the range. California, in an attempt to protect condors, wants lead in rifle projectiles to be non-toxic. Seems the big vultures eat on the carcass remains that riflemen leave on the hunting areas.

Lead may be out on many trap, skeet and sporting clays ranges as well. In the case of our own BCSC shooting complex, there shouldn't be any real challenge. The trap range is discharging lead with a good distance shy of our lake, into a sand pit -- unproductive as far as crops are concerned. We are surrounded by the right of way of a public highway, two lakes, and a high bank with little or no potential for residential development potential. But there are real challenges being put forth in many situations across America. In one situation in California, a club was shooting at its location for 30 years. Homes were being built nearby. The complaints were from johnny-come-latelies who were aware, or should have been cognizant, of the gun club's existence, with noise, commotion, lead shot, and other associated "evils."

This gun club was forced to shut down. It can happen if club members get complacent. We're not trying to create a situation, just letting one another know that you can't be too ready to accept past operations as a guarantee to continuous, uninterrupted use of the lands. Should BCSC continue to be aware of possible changes in zoning? Nah! There's no need to worry.

Financial bonanza for Minnesota Waterfowlers

Bennett Johnson of rural St. Cloud was never a member of the Minnesota Waterfowlers Association. No one ever knew who he was. The MWA now knows and reveres the name, as Mr. Johnson's estate willed his entire 401K to the hunting habitat group. All of $400,000 mind you.

Bennett Johnson wasn't even a hunter. He just lived in the out-of-doors, appreciated nature, and enjoyed life without hunting. How he discovered the Minnesota Waterfowl Association or when he decided to bankroll the group is not known. Relatives in Elk River, Maple Grove and other locations in Minnesota stated that Bennett lived in and loved the out of doors. He did hunt pheasants and ruffed grouse years ago, they told the Waterfowlers.

The Minnesota Waterfowlers, as a habitat enhancement group, nearly collapsed a decade ago, with huge debts and obligations outstanding. The MWA did right itself, and things have become considerably better in the past five years, but this new infusion of $400,000 is going to do a great deal for the organization. A committee has been formed to make decisions as to how Bennett Johnson's gift will be programmed into the future operations. It is a new beginning for the Minnesota Waterfowlers, which aims its objectives towards Minnesota's ducks and geese.

Youth fishing derby

The Cormorant Pub and the Cormorant Lakes Sportsmen's Club will again sponsor its annual youth fishing derby. This event will take place on the ice of Leaf Lake, just north of the Landing Supper Club. The dads will be on the ice with all tackle bait, pop and sandwiches provided. The youth will attract about 125 kids this year, all under the age of 15. There will be some great prizes, as the competition runs from 9 a.m. until noon. A portable fishing house may be used if desired.

The club's regular monthly meeting will be held on Thursday, Feb. 14, with its usual great meal being served beginning at 6 p.m.