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Hoffman's venison is 100 percent lead free

The Minnesota Department Of Agriculture embarked on an extensive program of sample testing the donated venison that hunters had given to the food banks. A total of 1,239 samples from 39 different meat processors, and 87 percent of these had radiographic evidence of lead in the samples. Hoffman's venison samples scored 100 percent in purity, with no lead contamination at all. The ground burger is where most of the lead contamination was found in the statewide tests.

X-ray screening of the donated venison meat found evidence of lead in 32 percent of the samples with the presence of lead in 77 percent of the individual meat processors product. Laboratory testing confirmed that the contaminant was indeed lead. Some samples tested indicated a presence of 100 ppm (parts per million). The amount of lead in the samples was highly variable, from zero to 77 percent.

Hoffman's Meat Market in Detroit Lakes is, naturally, very pleased to learn that their processed venison has received the 100 percent rating.

An analysis to determine the potential impact of ammunition type may be prudent. In certain hunting zones where the deer were harvested, shotgun versus rifle bullets are factors. Processor location was used, and this showed that levels of metal contamination were 29 percent for rifle hunting zones and 19 percent for shotgun zones. However, this wasn't considered to be particularly significant.

Testing results continue with meat at or around the place where the contaminants were taken being digested .

Clay pigeons

The Becker County Sportsmen's club is having a great year! The Memorial week trap shoot wasn't spectacular, but there were enough squads of visiting shooters to make a profit.

And the league trap shooting has improved over the past few seasons. With ten active adult squads and three squads of junior shooters, there is an enthusiastic competition every week. Nearing the mid-week of the sixteen week schedule, the B&M Electric squad and the Jokela Auction are a bit ahead of perennial winner Hotel Shoreham. Mike Eidenschink, Archie and Linda Wiedewidewitch, along with Tom Lynch, represent a number of red 25's are stamped on the scoreboard, indicating perfect scores.

Sporting clays activity is down a bit, perhaps due to the cost of gasoline to get to the shoots. Competition matches are held at Viking Valley, in Ashby, and at Perham, with a monthly shoot at a range near Brandon.

Some changes in hunting fishing laws

Hunters and anglers will have a few changes to be aware of in the pursuit of their sports. The omnibus game & fish bill, which the legislators passed in the closing minutes of their session, affect everyone from deer hunters, fishermen, pheasant hunters and our younger sportsmen.

For deer hunters, there's a separate muzzleloader license. There may be changes in the kill zones, as a committee recommended zone consolidation; reducing the six zones down to two and eliminating zone four.

There are changes in the legal centerfire cartridges that may be used by Minnesota deer hunters. I can't say that I agree with the liberalization, which permits the use of 22 caliber center fire cartridges. Your average 55 grain high-speed spitzer bullet spit out by a .220 Swift or the .22-250 doesn't have the sectional density and certainly not the impact that the heavier bullets we have been using for years. Yes, there has been some amount of success in hunting deer in the wide-open spaces in our great American west, but there have been abject failures too. Often the high-speed light bullets result in a surface wound, without enough penetration and shock to put down a deer size animal. I'm frankly quite surprised that our DNR didn't take a firmer stand. I still contend that we're better off with the former minimums, which had bullet weights of 117 grains or more. Cartridges like the .257 Roberts 7x57 or the .243 Winchester.

Anglers will have the option next year of purchasing a $5 walleye stamp, the proceeds from which would go only to stocking walleyes in the waters of our state. The bill also directs the DNR to stock 22.5 million additional fry in 2009 and again in 2010. Cormorant control in certain walleye lakes, such as Leech Lake in Walker, is up for further study.

Late season pheasant hunters, the guys who are well aware that the late, snowy weeks of the season can be the best days to be afield with a shotgun, will be happy with an extension of the daily bag limit, beginning on the Dec. 1, and continuing until the end of the season.

Turkey hunters will be able to use crossbows, and a four-week fall turkey season will be available in the metro area. The minimum bow draw weight is now 30 pounds. Our DNR is also asking the National Wild Turkey Federation to provide the legislature with recommendations for future management of this hunting in Minnesota.

Firearms hunting safety certificates are now valid for hunting during the year when a person turns 12 years old, as are big game licenses. A person who is 11 years old and has a firearms safety certificate may buy a license to take big game that will be valid for hunting during the entire regular season for which the license is valid if that person will get to be 12 during that calendar year.

Residents under the age of l6 years can still obtain a small game license at no cost, but its best to hunt under adult supervision, always.

Bear hunters can also use crossbows. They'll need to be licensed in advance of doing any baiting. No more of this baiting up to the bear season and then decide whether to buy a license. There are other changes in game and fish laws, and sportsmen are urged to acquaint themselves with the new regulations.

Conservation Officer academy

Would you enjoy a job that would keep you in constant roamings in the great out-of-doors? A DNR job as a Conservation Officer may be just what you're looking for. Periodically, classes begin at Camp Ripley, north of Little Falls. This is a 12 week training program, which reviews the game and fish laws and how to go about enforcing them. The interview process is a rigid one, but once you're selected, training will be thorough and very extensive. Upon successful completion of the courses, at the academy, the men and women will spend an additional l6 weeks working in the field with a CO, who is a veteran. Only after that will a new Conservation Officer will be assigned an area of their own.