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Cormorant Lakes Sportsman's Club is the right club to join

The premier conservation organization in northwestern Minnesota is the Cormorant Lakes Sportsmen's Club. This is a club with super-active members working for all phases of hunting and fishing. Their promotions are legendary and their involvement continues unabated. I've been a member since the early 70's, and I've never been more enthused over the wide range of betterments they seek for all species of game and fish, as well as habitat improvement.

The Cormorant Lakes Sportsmen's club has a charitable gambling division, which is obviously well run. It never seems to be tripped up by the state's regulations and has considerable money to plow into projects, which have nothing to do with the great outdoors. Consequently, memberships and the various fundraisers they sponsor bring in money for outdoor needs. CLSC is just the right outfit to be in with. The Cormorant Lakes Sportsmen own a patch of woods south of Audubon, which they've named the Wildlife Conservation Center. It is a dandy clubhouse, with cooking facilities, meeting rooms, a bar and dining areas. The slate of officers changes constantly, with everyone ready to accept the mantle of office, and get to work to exceed the efforts and achievements of past members who've served. It's a great organization and an individual membership costs but $20 annually, and the annual wild game dinner, staged each April at the Conservation Center, is worth the cost of membership alone.

Browning has a new auto-loading shotgun

I've used and owned the Browning Gold shotgun in both 12 and 20 gauge. I always thought well of it, and I was a bit surprised when I received word that the Gold is succeeded by a new lighter model, named the MAXUS. It is slimmer and weighs ounces less than the Gold. The new gun has the standard Browning Invector Plus system of insert choke tubes. It will accept all shell lengths including the 3 1/2 Roman candle. Action is the gas type and the gun will take any hard exotic loads of steel shot ammunition. With the 30" barrel, it weighs in at 6 3/4 pounds. Now, that's light. The receiver length is less than what we're accustomed to in gas semi-auto guns, and the fore end is a bit slimmer. Browning has always had a reputation of producing something that is good, and the outfit is innovative, providing sportsmen world-wide with a firearm that is ahead of the competition. The Maxus is not likely to be a low budget shotgun. The barrels are back-bored, lengthened forcing cone and will be available in camo of mossy oak, traditional walnut. A special feature is a trigger guard loop that's large enough to accommodate a gloved hand.

Governor Pawlenty failed to get his deer

When it comes to deer hunting, actually shooting a buck isn't very high a priority for Governor Tim Pawlenty. Tim's quest began at the DNR offices at Cambridge and he talked with the large crowd about hunting traditions, gun control and the outdoors in general. Hunting wasn't good. Conservation Officers speculated that the strong cold winds kept deer hunkered down, as few were seen moving about. Pawlenty shot a small four-point buck in 2004, but he hasn't had much luck in his annual quest for a deer.

Fewer bluebills die at Lake Winnibigosish this year

This is good news! Fewer scaup (bluebills) have died at Big Winnie this year. The birds eat an invasive snail, which results in ingesting a deadly intestinal parasite. There were some dead waterfowl here, and also on nearby Bowstring Lake. About 1,200 ducks, mostly bluebills, died this year, but in times past the DNR has counted six or seven thousand of them.

The non-native snails are very high on the food preference chain for the waterfowl. Heavily affected birds appear lethargic, have difficulty flying and eventually die, due to blood loss or shock. The culprit is the trematode, which is present in snail. The worms attach themselves to the duck's intestines and cause hemorrhages. How these non-native creatures got into the freshwater lakes of Minnesota isn't entirely clear. But I'd imagine that the marine biologists are looking into the practice of ocean going ships dumping ballasts in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Ducks? What ducks!

That's the response I received from two Twin Cities hunters who were working the Becker-Mahnomen area a full week from Halloween until the firearms deer season on Dec.8. They had expected to see ringbills migrating through the area, but not this year. Ringbills were always the mainstay for Harry Johnston and I when we hunted this area real hard.

Dr. Don Steinmetz told me that he had given up our local areas to produce any hunting. Going afar has resulted in a limited better fortune.


The deer hunters working the fields and woods in Minnesota's traditional pheasant areas reported that after the corn was down, pheasants were fleeing the deer hunters. From all reports, Minnesota's pheasants are here in good numbers in the southern and western areas of the state. When they get a snowfall down there, the pheasant hunting will be nothing short of sensational. It will take some work, and a good flushing/retrieving dog, but it is a good deal better than in the past decade, and it is looking better. No one is about to claim that it is better than the Dakotas, but it is satisfying.

George Van Dam's party did well in North Dakota's Mott area. Hunting has been great at Don Tietz's Red Rock Ranch near Richardton, ND. And a few additional tracts have been added where guest hunters can go for the wily ringnecks. Great hunting results are being produced here.

Louie Eidenschink and his party reported great numbers of pheasants in the fields around Dickinson.

Guns in the news

One Texas school district now permits teachers who are properly trained and licensed under concealed carry laws to have a gun handy in the classroom. Realizing that armed persons may be a long way from the classroom at times that there is a need for a gun to be readily at hand. Other school districts in Texas are watching to see if the permission to have a handgun where it is needed is going to work out. More teachers in Texas are expected to be trained, under the CCW laws and controls.

A sheriff in Orange County, Calif., says that her predecessor was too lenient in handing out concealed carry permits. Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said citizens were given permits for concealed carry when there was no real need for the citizens to get one. Those denied a concealed permit are now filing counter-claims.

Ohio, the Buckeye State, has adopted some user-friendly laws recently. Under the so-called "castle doctrine," a land owner cannot deny his tenants' right to have a handgun, with a permit on any of the land owners' properties, such as homes, apartments or other places of abode. Gun owners who are properly licensed may have guns, despite a landlord's opposition.

Laws in Philadelphia, the "City of brotherly love" have been too hastily enacted and must be rescinded, in view of the recent Supreme Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment. Attorneys from the National Rifle Association are in Philly and many eastern counties working to advise authorities as to how to get excessive gun laws changed to compliance limits.

Smith & Wesson, the giant manufacturer of handguns, is feeling the bite of economic recession. S&W has eliminated many upscale salaried positions. But nevertheless, the manufacturing production lines keep humming, tunneling guns to distributors and retailers.

The BATF is the Treasury Departments authority over gun dealers. Many times a gun in the store is list, misplaced, or stolen. In any such case, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms loses guns that they had confiscated. The FBI and the DEA, Drug Enforcement Agency, all lose a gun occasionally.

Far more often than a retailer does, so says the Department Of Justice. A thorough internal investigation, which is now looking into things, will increase the BATF control and accountability. Guns should not get lost when the actual pieces are within government control.