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Sight-in your deer rifle at BCSC

Time was when many a deer hunter took things for granted. It shot okay last November; I guess it'll be right on this year. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every center-fire deer rifle should be range proven. That is, the sights, iron or scope, should be adjusted to hit at the point of aim. The process is called sighting-in, and dedicated expert riflemen who are members of the Becker County Sportsmen's Club will be at the local range to assist you in getting things right.

On Saturday October 31 and Sunday November 1, you can bring your rifle (cased) and some ammunition. They'll have targets, accurate ranges and spotting scopes. Adjustments in the sights will be made as needed. Cost to non-members is $5 per gun, free to paid up members of BCSC. Putting a coffee can out fifty yards and firing off a few shots -- that's no longer the way to do it. Come to the rifle range on the dates stated. Do it right this year!

Gun show in Fergus Falls

The National Rifle Association will stage a gun show at the National Guard Armory at Fergus Falls next Saturday and Sunday, October 10 and 11.

Local black bear hunting

"It's been excellent!" That's the word of those who've been hunting them hereabouts. The Steinmetz camp on Highway 113 filled in two days. Others have reported indications of lots of blacks hereabouts. Most of them have been small, young animals. We average about 2,600 animals taken annually. This year, 2,100 bears were taken in the first two weeks. Prime location for hunter success: the Aitkin area. It usually leads in the tally of black bears. The bears are all reported healthy critters.

Wild rice harvesting

Another success this autumn has been the wild rice harvesting. In some areas, the plants hung so heavy with seeds that experienced crews were getting 100 pounds per hour into the canoes. It is quite a contrast from the past few seasons, where rice was relatively scarce. Prices jumped to $7.50 per pound retail, from a long-standing rate of $5 a pound. This may be the year to stock up on the family's supply of this delicious grain.

Cautious optimism on ruffed grouse

The season on ruffed grouse has been open for a month now. Hunting has been so-so, partly because there's been no frost at night, to knock down the dense green foliage on the forest floor. Fewer broods than expected.

The spring drumming - counts have always been the basis of forecast as to the fall numbers. It isn't always a reliable measure, but it is the best system known.

Canada geese

When scouting the area previous to opening day, I was pleased to see good flocks of Canada geese. Especially east of Hamden Slough on the few lakes that the area has. More so in the Cormorant Lakes chain, and on the open prairie farmlands south east of Mahnomen. Some birds can be found northeast of Audubon. The weather hasn't deteriorated, and these geese should provide some opportunities the full season, when they're legal. Not many snows or blues in our area, either.

You must have both State and Federal waterfowl stamps. Yes, they cost more than they formerly did, but look at the prices they're asking for the better grades of non-toxic shotgun shells.

Motorized decoys are permitted on certain dates, and places. Best to familiarize yourself by reading the regulations on page nine of the booklet on waterfowl, available where you get your license.

Pheasant profile

Pheasant season opens on Saturday, October 10, and runs until January 3. Long season, the best of which may be in December with snow on the ground, the cover down, and fewer hunters in the fields. Limit of two cocks, again this year.

Pheasants existed in Asia and in parts of Europe long before the first successful transplant in North America in about 1881, in Oregon.

This gamebird has been introduced in so many places that he can be found in forested British Columbia, abundant in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. The most spectacular density, however, remains the prairie plains and grasslands of South Dakota. Go to South Dakota and you'll find locals who will aid you in finding hunting lands. See the bar and cafe owners, or where you fill up the tank. They're proud of their pheasants, as they now exist. The elaborate hunting palaces, well, they're expensive, with a lot of flourish and promotion. Very good area, not too far away: Aberdeen. Pheasants are not as great on the dinner table as the ruffed grouse, but pretty good, nevertheless. The pheasant provides many good dinners for a lot of hunter families. Minnesota's traditionally good areas are good again this year.

The magnum myth

Is the 3 ½" 12 gauge magnum load worth it? It costs more money than the long established 3" shells and the recoil is severe, more than some hunters can handle. The long shell has 37 more steel #2 pellets than the 3" load. Will that make a difference in bringing down a mallard or a Canada goose? Many think so, and the 3 ½" shells have caught on better than I believed it would when first introduced. The 3 ½" ten gauge magnum is a much better ballistic combination, but that means acquiring an additional firearm.

Practical hitting range is probably 40-45 yards. Not a great deal longer than the generally accepted 35 yards accredited to the 3" shells, most of which have 1 7/8 ounces of shot. The 3 ½" shell will handle very large non-toxic shot with more efficiency than the standard load does.

Tungsten alloyed ammunition is credited with making kills out to 60 yards. Stuff like Hevi Shot, Winchester's Supreme, Federal's Black Cloud, or Remington's load cost may be up to $4 a shot. If you're good enough to down a waterfowl at 60 yards, these may be your thing.