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Earlier duck season opener? Maybe...

The proposal by the Minnesota DNR to open this fall's duck hunting season went down the drain, along with the entire game and fish bill. The Governor vetoed it. The agency and many sportsmen seek Sept. 25, instead of Oct. 2. The bill didn't ensure an early opening date but it gave the DNR the legislative approval it needed to consider it.

An earlier date would provide opportunity for Minnesota's waterfowlers to take teal and wood ducks, which are always early migrants. And many of these species are born and raised here.

Hunters who hunt large ducks have mild opposition as they say it would subtract late season dates when bluebills, canvasback, ringbills and others are coming through here in their migration. It's sort of a standoff. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sets up the framework of available dates. Individual states choose between them.

The remainder of the game and fish bill contained setting up a hunter walk-in program similar to the successful plans in both Dakotas, an increase in hunting license costs, cost of teenage licensing and two line fishing for an additional $10.

Minnesota is in poor financial shape and the veto by Pawlenty is just one of the cost-cutting proposals that were expected.

Minnesota has aided the muskies

Minnesota has earned a well-deserved reputation as a muskie Mecca during the past decade. Our DNR's stocking program in selected lakes has created a muskie fishery that is second to none. Leech Lake, Cass, Mille Lacs, Miltona, and Vermillion are lakes that can now boast muskellunge in good numbers.

States like Wisconsin and Michigan and the Province of Ontario have all patterned their stocking to match Minnesota's, seeking to find their local lakes that are similar to some of ours. Wisconsin's Chippewa Flowage and Michigan's Lake St. Clair are among these, and are the lakes that Minnesota's muskie specialists will head for when they trailer a boat out of state.

Iowa, Kentucky, New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Indiana are some of the states across America, where muskies are now an important game fish.

Minnesota's program of research, stocking, and development are carefully watched and monitored. On a fairly dependable basis, nice muskies are regularly being taken locally, Detroit Lake, being our local hotspot.


Each week, on the third page of the Record, I try in these columns to report the news of what's of interest to local sportsmen who pursue the game and fish of our northwestern Minnesota's counties. What's new in equipment, news of the activities of the Minnesota DNR and the legislature, sportsmen's clubs and fishing and shooting. I am gratified when I learn, from contacts on the street, of the people, including women, who keep informed as to what's new and different.

There was a time when I possessed a quixotic ambition to hunt every species of game, catch fish of all types, and generally bring home a limit allowed.

Nowadays, it is the quality of the hunt and the taking of a few fish that is far more important than a limit. I have liked the philosophy of a number of my hunting and fishing partners to take a few less birds or fish on the stringer or in the game bag. Those ambitions mellow into satisfaction of being with someone who shares a pleasure of being in the great out of doors, benefiting that place with our presence, giving more, taking less.

Many of you share with me this outlook, for it is you the sportsmen who have built the levels of game and fish that now exist in our lakes, streams and woodland.

Minnesota has a rising population of pheasants, ruffed grouse, fewer wildfowl than in former years, but nature's water has had something to do with that. Our lakes abound in walleye, pike, crappies and sunfish and muskellunge.

You and I have learned to trust our DNR, the regulator of all things having to do with hunting and fishing. The "game warden" is the man who is not a man or woman to be feared, but who is a worker, toiling in the field in our behalf. Perhaps a few readers will wonder whether they can trust a writer who has not personally hunted every species of game or fish that he writes of.

I appreciate the knowledge and findings of others whom I have learned to trust and admire. These persons may have had more personal experiences afield than I but I do not give them full acceptance.

For it is you, the American sportsman and woman who have built, through buying licenses, and other supports of our game and fish professionals and built the once threatened numbers of our game and fish.

Another Lake Christina renovation

The waters received large doses of rotenone, attempting to kill all aquatic life. It killed game fish, yes, but more importantly, it rid Lake Christina of its overpowering numbers of buffalo fish, carp, bullheads, dogfish, eel and other less desirables. The DNR sought to restore the lake to the clear blue tone of years ago when tens of thousands of canvasback and redheads were prominent. Dr. John Arouni would trail our boats and decoys, setting up blinds and a lot of decoys. We brought lots of Super X duck loads, an ounce and a quarter of #4s -- no 3" magnums were available then, and we were always rewarded with good shooting. But with the rough fish hunting declined. Fish traps and an electrical shocking system have been built and they're working. There has been experimental lake drawdowns to expose the bottom sediment.

Lake Christina is a shallow body anyway, and reducing it three feet will expose desirable aquatic plants. After water level reduction, visiting ducks weren't far behind. Fish barriers have been installed.

What we're dealing with here is primarily with nutrients. When foods that canvasbacks like are there, the migrants will return. It has been in Christina's great years, perhaps three decades ago, 20 percent of the continent's can population will have made a stop at Christina. The ongoing program of fish, nitrate control and water level control will have its desired combined effect and restore canvasback hunting in Christina. Ducks Unlimited has been a long-time partner with our DNR on improvements to Lake Christina's canvasback restoration.