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Be sure to vote for clean water, land and legacy amendment

On Election Day, Minnesota will be asked to amend the constitution. Everyone agrees that we should protect, enhance, and restore the water quality in our lakes, rivers, and streams. Natural areas and wildlife habitat for fish and game needs protection, and we as sportsmen and lovers of our great outdoors is something that all of us should be concerned about.

This issue will be on the ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 4. You must be sure to fill in the oval provided by the "yes." If you don't bother to vote at all, it will count as a no vote. It will amend the constitution, and its cost will only be under five dollars for each household.

All of the organized hunting and fishing groups, like Izaak Walton League, Ducks Unlimited, and the Minnesota DNR are urging you to vote yes. It's important, so don't ignore it.

Pheasant season

Pheasant season is open in Minnesota, and fortunes have been good. Not spectacular, but most hunters on public or private land in our traditional pheasant range are reporting pretty fair luck. North Dakota's season is now open for both residents and out of staters. The western part of the state has a sifting of snow but it had little effect, and the small towns saw their motels and private homes filled, with few cancellations.

We have a very long season in Minnesota -- 86 days -- with a bonus of three roosters in the bag daily later on. When snow does come, a great many hunters no longer venture out, and that's a shame. Hunting changes then, pheasants flush at longer ranges, but high brass fours or fives will get the job done.

Olympic shooting

Olympic shooting receives little attention from the media. The category is seldom screened on television or in the written press. The competition crosses all varieties of gunning, including centerfire and rimfire rifles, air guns especially 17 caliber pneumatic, and trap and skeet.

The favorite is always California woman Kim Rhode, who took a silver medal in skeet. Vincent Hancock was the gold medal winner in trap shooting, and Walton Eller was the gold medal winner in doubles trap. Every one of the winners used American made Winchester AA shotgun shells. Competitors from other nations are very likely also users of the American brand. It is considered the most reliable of any available worldwide.

Local hunting

Local hunting has not been good. I visited with Dr. Don Steinmetz, whose party has traditionally hunted the Ulen-Hitterdahl area, and he reported very little action. And it's been even worse on the prairies north of Audubon and Lake Park. It's been much too dry, but goose hunters have reported Canadas visiting their spreads in the harvested fields. But even there, the hunting has been spotty. The Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge surprisingly has had fair to medium duck hunting. There have been large numbers of hunters from the Twin Cities area. Duck hunting in the close-in lakes surrounding Detroit Lakes was fair for the first few days, but this has diminished to little or nothing since then.

The opening of the pheasant season on Oct. 11 wasn't good -- the corn was standing tall. In November, when this is cut, the pheasants will be in the cattail sloughs, and if your dog works hard, he may put up some roosters for you. Minnesota's pheasant take this year will not equal the 655,000 birds that were bagged statewide. We'll have a very long season. You can argue whether this is a good thing or not.

But, in any case a hunter who's out there in the December days, with a good dog will find some birds.

Pheasants, not ducks

The Dakotas have few ducks. The sloughs dried up early, and the ducks, the locals, moved out early and haven't returned. In the matter of them, its a different proposition altogether. North Dakota has sold very few licenses to out of state hunters this year, because the ducks just aren't there. The traditionally good duck hunting areas north of Bismarck have not produced, and water is the problem.

Late October is a great time for Minnesota sportsmen

You may need to do some traveling to be in the right places. Ducks, well, this is a pretty iffy thing. If we get some migrants through here, it is still a salvageable season. Otherwise, the only other place nearby is probably the Wahpeton area. Pheasant hunting is going to get better as soon as the corn is down. Ruffed grouse are in the Chippewa National Forest. Drive Highway 34 through Nevis and Akely. The tote roads remaining from years ago logging are good places for walking. And the walleye fishing is picking up, too. Deer hunting of all styles and types will be good, perhaps about like last year, when we did break some records.

Our Brett can shoot!

As reported in the outdoorsman's magazine Shooting Sports, our own Brett Friesen took third place in the Budweiser Handicap match at the Grand American trap shoot. Brett's Krieghoff shotgun netted him a 100 x 100 score. Over 1,700 shooters participated in this particular event, with Brett coming in third. The pressure on a shooter in such an event is, of course, tremendous with thousands of spectators watching your every move. It is a wearying situation.