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Anti-dove hunting legislation shot down early

There are passionate souls in Minnesota who aren't happy with the return of opportunities to hunt doves. Some folks really have a feeling for them, unequaled when compared to other wildlife. Consequently, very soon in the current legislative session, an anti-dove bill immediately surfaced.

But a House game and fish panel took rapid action, and the proposal to close the season set for next fall has been tabled. It isn't likely that any further consideration will occur, as the chairman of the panel said that it was being set aside.

Minnesota's dove hunting season begins on the first day of September, before Labor Day, and runs until the end of October. But the bird, being an early migrant, is usually long gone before the end of September.

How could it happen?

I've been handling loaded small arms ammunition for a lot of years. Until I read of a 45 caliber pistol round exploding while being handled, I had never believed that such a thing could happen. Loaded cartridges are very stable, and don't explode outside the chambering of rifles or any other firearm. I phoned a friend of mine at Federal Cartridge in Anoka and he too was astounded. What got into the news was an occurrence in Grand Forks where a dropped round of pistol ammunition fired when being readied for the assembly into clips, and wasn't loaded into a firearm. When all of the shotgun shells that are loaded for trap shooting are considered, the probability of this occurring is possible. But a factory round, exploding when merely dropped, well the chances must be in the many millions. Yet, it did happen at a pistol range in Grand Forks, N.D., about a month ago.

The wild turkey transplant

Back in the early 1980's, the DNR's popular and prominent Orville Nordsletten retired. We were in communication often and did some fishing. When the Wild Turkey Foundation arrived with a few crates of captive wild birds, Orville and I were on hand to watch their release into a small lake, half a mile southwest of the headquarters of Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Other successful releases followed, and groups of wild turkey can be seen this winter at several locations in Becker County. Among these is at the kitchen of Milton Swedberg. I recently walked into the sunny room, only to be startled by the seven hen turkeys strutting twenty feet away, out in the winter sunshine. Of course I'd walked toward them, unaware of their presence, and they fluttered away a few yards, but remained in our view.

Milton said that he enjoys seeing the turkeys, roaming free on his spacious acres of the Two By Four Ranch, west of town along County Highway 6.

The release of the wild birds has been a spectacular success for the Federation and our DNR. The release observed by CO Nordsletten and others in the 1980's was the most northerly attempt up to that time. Now, releases have been successful in other parts of northern Minnesota. Hunting success has been satisfying also. I've seen wild birds along Highway 34 in the Misty Meadows area, on County Highway 6 and in the Cormorant Lakes area. They're in the wild areas southwest of Callaway, when one travels the more rural roads. There's but one problem: the birds aren't sufficiently wild to be entirely certain of their continued future. Yet, if sportsmen give them a chance, the wild turkey may yet become a prominent part of our county's hunting heritage.

Moose decline continues

Three decades ago, Minnesota hunters made an application to the DNR for a license to take one moose. The party was to consist of four hunters.

Bud Larson and I were successful in our very first application. Our quartet was to consist of Bud, myself and our spouses. Bud and I made a contact with a landowner in Middle River. On the following Saturday, I was successful in taking an 800 pound animal with my .270 Winchester. It was quite easy and moose were a prominent mainstay in the region. Not any more!

Moose are practically non-existent now in northwestern Minnesota, and they continue to decline in their prime range in the northeastern part.

Non-hunting factors like disease, calf survival and predation are some of the factors involved. The herd vitality is far below levels that DNR biologists would like to see them. Currently there are about 250 hunting permits given out yearly, and this doesn't seem to have a negative effect.

Acquiring a hand gun

Acquiring a handgun begins with completing a four page application at the office of Becker County sheriff Tim Gordon. A substantial number of private citizens make the decision to become armed -- a few getting into the "concealed carry" category. Others simply wish to feel the security of a handgun being at the ready in their homes. You need the permit in order to proceed with selection of your handgun at the store of a federally licensed gun dealer.

If the background check that is thorough and complete indicates any history of deviant conduct on your part, the sheriff's office is going to deny issue. A colored, recent photograph of the head and shoulders of the applicant is required.

Once a permit application is approved, then it's time for a citizen to get to the gun dealer. The selection available is probably going to surprise you. There are a lot of handguns available. Many are foreign made and all are expensive. The choice of a revolver or a semi automatic is one that you must make. One should take practice and familiarization courses, long before contemplating acquisition. A very good practice would be that of becoming active in the handgun programs of the Becker County Sportsmen's Club. Here you will meet with skilled persons who take handgunning seriously. There is the available range, nearby on Highway 10 southeast of town, where safe and sane rifle and pistol shooting will be available for novice or seasoned shooter alike. One doesn't simply wander off onto some remote area of the countryside and begin handgun shooting.

There are strong advocates of both revolver and semi-automatic arms. For the intention of carrying the gun on one's person, the semi-auto has probably advantage over a wheel gun, due to its slimness and compact dimensions. The Lakes Sport Shop in downtown Detroit Lakes has a large selection to choose from, and there are other big dealers in the vicinity.

The decision to become armed daily when about town does have obligations and responsibilities. Keeping a handgun at the bedside table is perhaps a bit less demanding, but nevertheless, should be a practice only for the citizen who has absolutely no ulterior motives or intent. Chances are that you'll never have your house entered by a felon. Getting held up on the street is even more remote.

Yet, there are those among us who do need the assurance that concealed carry provides. The choice is yours, due to the Second Amendment of the Constitution.

Using and enjoying a handgun is a part of our sporting heritage. The ownership of a handgun for protection purposes is something else again.