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Bernie Revering column: The wild turkey hunt hits Becker County

By permit only, lucky Minnesota hunters are afield, seeking the wild turkeys. Detroit Lakes is at the extreme northern range of good hunting for this transplanted bird. With the snow gone, six hunting periods of five days each began on the April 16 and continues as late as May 29.

Hunters who secured the valued permit have been out scouting for the flocks that are scattered about Becker County. Their presence is well known to those who are active in this limited sport. The cooperation of the National Wild Turkey Foundation and the Minnesota DNR has resulted in a satisfactory number of the birds that have established themselves hereabouts in the past three decades. If you have a permit, good hunting! A big Tom is a spectacular trophy indeed. In the 2007 season, hunters took nearly 9,400 Toms. Becker County isn't in the best range for success, but hunters are enthusiastic, and there has been surprising success in the earlier part of hunting season. Detroit Lakes is on the edge of good turkey hunting,

Turkey numbers hereabouts are satisfactory, but not outstanding. Deep snow in the southeastern part of the state made capturing a number of birds and these were transplanted in the northwestern part. Techniques vary widely, with calling ability a definite asset. Archers have been on the turkey hunting scene for some time now, but shotgunning with the specially capable shotgun loads are the most popular, and successful method.

Once more, on the lead in the venison

A North Dakota dermatologist, Dr. William Cornatzer of Bismarck, found traces of lead in some venison. Dr. Cornatzer chose to blow the whistle, which resulted in sportsman donated venison to food shelves sweeping their food lockers of remaining stocks. The Detroit Lakes food pantry had about 380 pounds remaining. The concern of sportsmen was accurately outlined in an editorial in the Tribune on Sunday, April 13.

Some have noted that Dr. Cornatzer is on the board of directors of The Peregrine Fund, an organization that would like to see the elimination of lead bullets in big game hunting. Dr. Cornatzer is a falconer, and these birds of prey find carrion afield, which can contain some lead fragments left from the killing. The Peregrine Fund wants to aid the California condor and protect its environment.

The donated venison program was a great one, providing much needed protein to many families that would not get it in any other way. It is difficult to believe that commercially processed wild game meat presents the hazards that were recited by Minnesota's Department Of Agriculture in its notice to all food banks to cease distribution of their remaining stocks.

Federal Cartridge aids pheasants

The Anoka based ammunition maker has long been known for its aid to Pheasants Forever, with its line of upland game shotgun shells providing funds. The specially marked boxes of Federal shells declare that some money from the sale of the ammo goes to PF and its conservation programs.

Pheasants Forever chapters in North Dakota have been successful in habitat restoration. Federal's program is targeted for the next ten years and is already showing results. Federal's Ultra Shok loads are heavy weight waterfowl loads as well, and Federal continues to show the rest of the industry that it is serious about aiding the Prairie Pothole region of the Dakotas and Montana.

Winchester in Canada

Few American sportsmen are aware that Winchester Repeating Arms Company was prominent in Canada. The great hunting nation north of us was, and is, a great source of elk, moose, bears, whitetails and mule deer on the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the forested areas. And on the central prairies, waterfowling is second to none. There has been less participation in all of this by Canadian hunters however, due to invasive arms controls, ownership of arms, and regulations.

In Canada, the Model 94 Winchester carbine, usually the .30-30, the Winchester Model 70 bolt action, and the Model 12 slide action shotgun were always prominently carried by Canadian hunters. A Canadian company, Imperial Cartridge, sold most of the ammunition, however. It was imported by the Holiday gasoline stations, and was also sold by Montgomery-Ward.

But Winchester saw the Canadian market as a good one. In 1961 Olin-Winchester acquired the arms, inventory, plant and equipment of the H. W. Cooey Company of Cobourg, Ontario. This was 95 miles northeast of Toronto and was near enough to the New Haven, Conn., headquarters of Winchester.

The Cooey arms company made a comprehensive line of lower cost guns, and with Winchester's take-over, a line of new, low cost lines appeared. They sold well in the USA and abroad, although they were never stamped that they'd originated in Canada. There were 450 employees at Cooey and it expanded. The plant over two decades produced many popular Winchester models. The slide and semi-auto shotguns, the 1200 and the 1400 were made here, along with a copy of the Japanese 101, named the Xpert Model 96 over under were made in Canada. Things were rolling fairly smoothly, but the competitive nature of the arms industry came to the fore. Remington had scrapped most of its line, and had redesigned their guns to reflect something of a family nature. Many of the main receivers of shotguns and rifles were similar or identical, and manufacturing ease and economies resulted.

The popular pump shotgun, the 870 and the 1100 semi-auto, the rifles 760 and 740 were such examples. Winchester was forced into making a change!

The result was the sale of the Winchester arms making being sold to a group of employees. This was the U.S. Repeating Arms Company. Of course, the Cooey works in Canada went with it. In fact, the plant and its production was moved to New Haven. Winchester-Olin concentrated on the manufacture of ammunition exclusively, and gun manufacture was left to a new company.

Winchester's venture into Canada was a profitable one, but was relatively short lived -- only about two decades -- but it did become profitable.

Today, the Remington line is prominent in Canada, and Winchester's brief adventure is gone and forgotten, even in Canada. For many Americans, there was never an awareness of it. The Winchester line is mingled with Browning these days, and both are owned by a French holding company, based in Belgium.

Prominent is a newly resurrected Model 70 bolt-action rifle, of the same high quality that it enjoyed prior to 1964 when it saw a reduction in the quality, in order to make it cheaper and sell for less money to compete with Remington and many imports. For 150 years, Winchester was prominent on the sporting and military scene, including some in Canada, but things are a great deal different in the 21st century.

Trap shooting season begins

The Becker County Sportsmen's Club has launched its 2008 season. The field has six teams so far, and is looking for others. The standings are still meaningless, with all teams bunched up with nearly equal points earned. We will continue to report standings as the season develops.

Rifle and pistol men

Club members who prefer this gunnery are also active. To date, they have not organized leagues or teams for competition, but fun shoots are developing and this faction of shooting invites you to come out to the gun range with your handguns or rifles.