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The federal duck stamp prices going up this fall

Introduced in the fall of 1935 by the U.S. Department Of Agriculture at $1, the federal duck stamp has been a major source for the acquisition of wetlands. In those depression days with little money and even fewer ducks, hunters have been eagerly faithful in buying them. Designed by outdoor writer J. N. "Ding" Darling, sales of the stamp has raised $700 million, and has acquired 5.2 million acres of wetlands. But land prices and inflation have made it necessary to hike the price. Ducks Unlimited strongly endorses an increase. Representatives John Dingell of Michigan and Robert Whitman of Virginia have proposed a $25 fee. The U.S. Department of the Interior and the new director Ken Salazar now directs the duck stamp program.

Duck hunters aren't the only purchasers of the stamps. Philatelists worldwide have traditionally been eager to buy them.

A hunter activates the stamp by endorsing it with his name in ink on the face of the stamp, then the purchase a second stamp for their stamp collections. Very little opposition is seen, and the $25 duck stamp will become a reality this fall.

Water will attract ducks to the Dakotas

Record snowfalls received during the last winter months in the prime prairie pothole region of North Dakota is sure to attract good duck numbers when flocks migrate through the state this year. I can remember the record year when North Dakota's western farm and ranch lands were mostly inundated by water. Farmers couldn't get combines onto many lands that were softened, and the ducks were everywhere. It was a banner year for my hunting partners, Dr. John Arouni and Bob Putnam to hunt Nelson County east of Grand Forks.

The mallards were there by the millions, along with every other pond duck.

If we don't experience extremely hot weather early in the year after the spring snow melt, there'll be water and there'll be ducks.

Minnesota will not see such a large boom in waterfowl numbers, as we don't have the countless shallow depressions that collect water and are the preferred habitat of dabbler ducks.

Get it before Obama does!

Are you hoarding ammunition? Or guns? I toured two of the local big box stores recently and found their stocks of 9mm, 223 (5.56mm military), Colt 45 and 38 Special bare. Apparently, the California frenzy has spread over into other western states, to the populous northeastern areas, in anticipation of Federal restrictions on ammo purchases.

California's legislature has received bills that would enact very restrictive control on how much stuff a gun owner could keep in his home. Seemingly, such controls would be an infringement on personal liberties, but California has seen other goofy schemes, most of which would not be constitutional if enacted into law.

But, an ammunition frenzy seems to be here. Handguns too, they're in short supply and aren't in the showcases of many of the big stores, such as Cabalas, Brass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain, Sportsmen's Warehouse and all the others. Trap and skeet shooters traditionally buy up ten cases or so, in order to have an uninterrupted supply of shotgun shells in their favorite loads. I've done that myself, but never more than a season's needs. You can usually get a discounted price too, when you buy in quantity.

But now it seems to be perceived notion that the Obama administration is about to restrict purchase of more than a couple boxes of ammo that is used in many handguns. The hoarding of ammunition and semi-automatic firearms is a knee-jerk reaction to something that somebody started, probability again at a California gun shop or shooting range, that isn't at all reasonable to consider as reasonable.

Guns with high capacity are another target of these hoardings. Gun bans will always come and go, but the lessons learned in 1994 when the buying public went nuts with an assumed tactical weapons ban. Supply and demand takes care of things. All gun owners together couldn't ever shoot up as much ammunition that Winchester-Olin with its 57 plants worldwide can crank out.

Obama may or may not be on the side of gun control zealots, but so far, there's nothing to indicate that. So, sit back and relax, and use what guns and ammo you have. Buy some more or reload. But hoarding the ammo for tactical weapons or the popular handguns is just paranoia.

Conservation Officers aid in the flood

Minnesota DNR COs, whose home stations were near towns such as Moorhead, Breckenridge, Comstock and Kent, and more than fifty others, served to aid police and sheriff's deputies during this spring's flood. No, they didn't fill sandbags, but they put in 12-hour days performing essential services in areas in which they were trained. They included our own Joe Stattleman and Perham's Chris Vinton.

Minnesota's wild turkey season

Beginning on Wednesday, April 15, we have wild turkey hunters in the woods and fields in eight segmented periods. Turkeys are pretty big birds and can rough it out in our severe winters. The DNR hasn't reported any dead birds throughout the bird's range, which extends pretty far north, way down to the extreme southeast tip, beyond Rochester.

Turkey is a very specialized style of hunting, techniques and tactics for taking a big tom are different from upland bird or duck hunting, as we know it. Calls and decoys are used, and you'd best become acquainted with their use before you venture forth. Best to go with a seasoned practitioner and learn some of the basics.

Shotguns are the norm, and these can be as small as a 20 gauge, but most veterans will opt for a closely choked 12 gauge. The range is often relatively short, but 40-yard shots are common. Some of the range may be due to your concealment, decoys, calling, or just luck.

Taking a big tom is a real achievement, what with the storied, wary nature of the bird. The wild turkey is a transplant, which began near the town of Madelia in south central Minnesota. Now they're endeavoring to release toms and hens in the northern parts. They should do well in cold and snowy places, as they are famous for their lives in northeastern New England, where it gets wintry, same as here. The success rate last year was an astounding 43 percent and it should be at that level again this year.

BCSC Trap league

Members of the Becker County Sportsmen's Club are busy organizing for their 37th season of trap shooting. With their state of the art site 3 1/2 miles southeast of town, equipment is in A#l shape. Eight squads of eager young shooters were on the line for the opening Thursday's shooting, on April 25, and will run for 16 weeks. There are two junior squads so far, and they'll operate independently of the adult league. Many teams aren't up to full strength and many are searching for additional members. If you want to participate in something that requires skill, determination, but provides lots of fun and camaraderie, well trapshooting locally is your game.

Practice sessions are held Tuesdays; league shooting on Thursdays. Component prices, shot, powder, and primers have been appearing at better prices of late, so reloading is again a good move.