Weather Forecast


Minnesota's birds and the Gulf oil spill

The Minnesota DNR and Ducks Unlimited are greatly concerned over the welfare of bluebills, loons and other waterfowl species that call the Gulf of Mexico home for a large part of the year. It is known that loons, our state bird, spend its first three years on the ocean. According to Ducks Unlimited, as many as 13 million ducks and geese winter on the Gulf Coast. The birds are in brackish or fresh water. The bluebills aren't particular. A hurricane could mix up the waters even more, affecting a larger area. But even now, it is plenty bad.

Loons dive in the shallow water where the crabs are -- waters that have been severely inundated by the oil washing into shore lands. They become flightless, oil coated, just like you've seen the struggling pelicans on television.

Scaup are using the open water areas, but they're diminishing too. What's this going to do to the food chain down there? Minnesota has an estimated 12,000 pairs of loons, which makes it the most populous in the lower 48, for loons.

It is unclear just how many loons winter in the gulf or how many juvenile loons live there, but the oil spill certainly is going to have a detrimental effect on many. And on wintering waterfowl.

Our teal will go to the Gulf in mid September. What's their fate? Not good! The brown pelicans have been the poster bird for oil-affected wildlife, but soon the full effect on wild birds will turn to our game birds.

Littering on private property

In mid-June, local Conservation Officer Joe Stattleman reported that a landowner had restricted access to a popular fishing spot because of the littering and damage to his property. The private land surrounding Bucks Mill was posted due to the actions of some irresponsible people. Local anglers were upset because a few ruined things for everyone.

Tim Kjos, Dakota cattleman

When I'm around about town these summer mornings at Perkins, Holiday Inn, McDonald's or wherever, people regularly ask me if I've heard from Tim Kjos. Yes, I have, fairly often. Tim is very happy at his Kulm, ND, ranch, selling a large herd of Angus cattle last spring, at good prices. The cowboy is rebuilding his herd now, enjoying the rugged life. Tim will work at the Jokela rodeo over the Fourth of July period. Go see him; he'll be happy to see an old friend.

Western North Dakota is very green. Oil is big and jobs are there. Anyone around Dakota is in for trouble if they've stated they're Democrat. Tim has predicted Hoven succeeding Dorgan with Pomeroy out.

Remington's gun catalog

Computers have changed the manner in which many products are sold today. Gone, for the most part, are the elaborate, complete descriptions and photographs of the product lines. Remington, for instance, is out with a 119 page catalogue that fits into a #10 business envelope. Photos of only the actions, a short piece of the stock will have to do for the gun photos. Small photos of boxed cartridges, they'll have to do; however the performance data and specifications are fully covered.

In addition to shotguns and rifles, Remington ammunition and knives, the big green company lists two dozen "licensees" making products from the Arctic Cat to gun wiping cloths. Remington has become a part of a giant conglomerate based in South Carolina, but firearms are still made in Ilion, NY.

Winchester, it's different

The big red W isn't dead yet -- not by any means! In bold red and black colors, Winchester wares are shown aggressively. The new line of Model 101 over-unders and the Super X semi-autos are extensive. Winchester's main office is in Morgan, Utah -- the same place as Browning, which has a giant catalogue. A postal card will bring you these. Prices will surprise you.

Faucet snails kill bluebills and coots

A species of snails has been killing diver waterfowl, for the past three years in the Crow Wing River Chain and Lake Wiiniebigoshish. In Wadena, Cass, Todd, Morrison and Hubbard Counties. The invasive snail species infects the ducks when they're ingested. They are intestinal parasites. Tens of thousands of ducks are gone. The invasion wasn't a surprise. The DNR has been in there fighting it for about three years now, first noticed in the Mississippi River near Winona. This snail was noted in Upper and Lower Twin Lakes, and in Wadena County last fall. Restrictions will be coming. This is yet another hard hit for scaup, which are diminishing in numbers nationwide.

Women are buying guns

Women are buying guns for self-protection at home, work or when traveling in between. There is a preference for handguns, although some short barrel shotguns -- often 20 gauge are preferred by some. There is a preference also, for a revolver over semi-automatic, as some women are unable to grasp or accept the idea that a pistol will reload itself and be ready again. There is no question that a revolver affords better safety control than a pistol does.

Gun salespersons say that women will accept their instructions on operational features more readily than men and follow them better. Women are less likely to "fool around" with handguns once they've bought them.

The sleek Smith & Wesson revolver, the Model 340 is popular. In all styles, the smaller bores seem to be preferred, 22 long rifle sometimes but 380, 38 special or 357 Magnum are chosen. The "frightful noise" by big bores and the recoil turn many away.

Women need the protection of "concealed carry." There are more women working away from home today. Guns are bought left home. Children come home from school, find guns unrestricted and there are often tragic results. Guns are attractive, dangerous and lethal, and the choice whether you should have one for home or self-protection is a serious decision. Many of us are now buying them. Others don't need or want them. The decision is yours and it is an important one.

Advice -- don't buy the smallest 22 caliber or the Colt 45.