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The colorful wood duck

Plentiful in the wooded areas adjacent to sloughs and marshes, we do enjoy our wood ducks. Most people will name the male wood duck as the handsomest of all wild birds. Yes, the greenhead mallard drake is colorful too, but it doesn't have the display of colors that a wood duck drake has.

There has been a great resurgence of woodie numbers in Minnesota. As a rescue program developed about 30 years ago, Minnesotans began providing wood duck houses. Made usually of scrap lumber, with an entrance oval and a roof, portable wood duck houses have been scattered across the state. The result has been a resurgence in woodie numbers, and they became a mainstay in hunters' bags. Not always abundant in all areas, wood duck houses have been a boon for their survival. And these inexpensive dens produce birds at locations where non-hunters get to see them.

Many sportsmen's clubs have furnished lumber and plans, with high school industrial arts classes making the houses, and getting them installed. In our area, the Cormorant Lakes Sportsmen's Club has been a successful leader in their annual cooperation in getting houses built.

If you're successful in coaxing a hen wood duck into your house, you're in for a treat watching game. The young never eat in the nest. She feeds them when perched outside the entry cavity. The day after they hatch, the ducklings live off the remainder of the egg sac attached to them.

When she decides its time, the mother duck flies to the ground, and coaxes the ducklings to bail out of the nest and join her. Their fall is cushioned by their springy, cartilaginous bones, puffy down, and stubby wings. Sometimes the fall is 50 feet, sometimes to hard surfaces. The shock of the fall is necessary because it activates the wood duck feeding response. The little guys follow their mother to water, where they will have their first meal of seeds and aquatic invertebrates.

Wood duck females are sometimes "dump nesters." This means that several hens will deposit their eggs in the same nest and allow one female to hatch them all. Where an average clutch size is 12 eggs, a dump nest will have twice that.

When a wounded woodie is taken to a lab, it will recover and can be released, but while at the lab, the duck will not eat anything. They are flocking birds, often appearing in bunches of twenty or more, and they have voices which produce varied vocalizations.

Listing your guns on

the 1040

It hasn't been acted on yet, but it could come at any tine. Senate Bill SB2099 was introduced on Feb. 24, 2009. If passed, it would require your fingerprints and a tax of $50 per gun. All of the firearms you own are to be on the registration.

The full text of the IRS amendment is on the U.S. Senate homepage using the above named bill. A new bill will be introduced into the House of Representatives, HR 45.

The U.S. Congress, in control of President Obama and his Democratic counterparts, will soon consider this bill, which is gun confiscation. It is just the tip of the iceberg. Such Democratic stalwarts as Senators Charles Schurmer of New York, and Diane Feinstein of California, are very delighted to have this come up for discussion and future vote.

To find more about this, go to any government website and type in HR45 Blair Holt Firearms Licensing & Record Sales Act of 2009. You will get all of the information there.

Basically, this bill would make it illegal to own a firearm -- any rifle with a clip magazine and any pistol unless you've been fingerprinted. You supply your social security number and drivers license. And they would be able to demand physical or mental evaluations at any time.

Locking up your guns in a safe at home would be required, and the IRS would be able to come to your residence at any time.

These proposals are the most widespread yet. Gun owners' rights are being chipped at a little here and a little there, until the goals of gun control advocates have been met. Are you in favor of gun control, or do you support the right to bear arms?

Super shells are not


A waterfowler in Minnesota and the Dakotas doesn't need to pay $32 a box for non-toxic shot. That's the going price for Bismuth, Black Cloud, Hevi-Shot and the other tungsten combinations. I've been successful with 3-inch 12 gauge steel shot ammo at about $9 to $13 when on sale at gun stores. They'll kill ducks, decoyed or pass shooting up to a full 40-45 yards out. And that's really the limit of almost all shooting opportunities.

Further than that, hold your fire. Few of us can hit a duck or goose at more than 40 yards anyway. There has been a recent push by writers in the sporting columns that the higher priced exotics were necessary. Stock up on 3-inch 12 gauge steel, when it is closed out now in the off-season. The larger sizes of steel shot, like 2-3-4 will do it.

Sportsmen's Club retains same officers

The Becker County Sportsmen's Club had a reelection of Brett Friesen, president, Perry Nodsle, secretary, and Arland Wisted, treasurer -- the same officers that have successfully managed the affairs of the local club for about four years now.

Scope sights on muzzle loaders

After many of them have taken a deer by using a rifle and another with archery tackle, many Minnesota deer hunters are in the woods in the late season with a muzzle loader. There are arguments in favor of placing the modern scope sight on this old firearm. And there are many who say that the glassware has no place on a muzzleloader, and this old firearm should have iron sights only. The proponents of the scope are usually the middle aged group who can use the magnification and finer sighting a scope provides.

The younger shooters claim that the added muzzle loader season was intended from the start to provide a more challenging hunt, and adding the scope destroys or minimizes that challenge.

Some states are permitting scopes on muzzle loader arms. Younger hunters say that if you don't think you can make the shot, don't try.

The original primitive weapon hunt is modeled after similar regulations in Colorado, which permits no added sighting equipment. It makes for more challenging hunting. Modern muzzle loader firearms can hurl a bullet a good 200 yards accurately. But your eyesight and your skill must be acute to get satisfactory results with a muzzle loader. Best bets by those who know say that the DNR isn't about to modify existing rules and permit scopes.