The trees that keep on giving

Published 7:27pm Sunday, November 6, 2011

Here we are moving farther and farther into fall and before we know it we will be shoveling the white stuff once again. As I get ready to embrace the winter season I have to wonder if the leaves will ever stop fluttering to the ground from the maples in my backyard. If I didn’t know that it was against nature’s plan I’d swear that those trees are growing more leaves each and every day. I’ve heard the phrase “the gift that keeps on giving” — well this is the tree that keeps on giving.

This is the time of year when the hunters take to the woods and fields in search of deer. This year the Department of Natural Resources predicted a very high deer population which should be good for those folks that hunt them. I have never been a deer hunter for whatever reason but I can definitely see why there are so many that do. For some it’s about a trophy buck, for others it’s all about the meat but I think that the majority of the deer hunters hunt because it is tradition.

Deer hunting is a big part of our outdoor heritage in Minnesota and for many families it has become a tradition that has been passed down for generations. I have witnessed first hand the camaraderie that exists among hunters in a deer camp. I don’t really think that there is another sport that bonds a group of sportsmen together like deer hunting.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to go on the first Governor’s Deer Hunting opener and witness this first hand. Although I didn’t hunt I rode along with some folks from the DNR when they checked deer camps to basically find out how hunters were faring. After talking to hunters of all ages I came away with a new respect for these folks and what they enjoy about the sport. One 15-year-old girl was walking out of the woods when we stopped to talk to her. She was pretty tired from walking but was so proud that her family had brought her to her first ever deer camp.

There was another group of four hunters that had bagged three deer that day and were in the process of dragging them out of the woods. They said that it was quite a thrill for the oldest member of the party because he was the father of the three other hunters and had shot all three deer that day. They said that in past years they had all shot deer but their Dad had never gotten one while hunting with them. They seemed happier for him than if they’d gotten them themselves.

Another sight that I witnessed was a young father with his two small sons walking a trail on the edge of a woods hoping for a deer to be scared out into the open. He was indeed in the process of starting his own family tradition.

Whether you hunt, fish or just enjoy spending time in the outdoors sharing the experience with our youth is important to the preservation of the future of our outdoors. Preserving our Minnesota heritage through wildlife management and creating more habitat is important to the future generations. We need to get our youth interested in the outdoors now because they are the future of our outdoors.

I am glad that my grandsons have a real interest in the outdoors whether it be hunting or fishing they just enjoy being part of it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the smile on each of their faces when they caught their first fish.

One of the most positive things that we as citizens of this state have done to help preserve our outdoors heritage is voting for the Lessard-Sams bill. This has done much to help assure that there will be public land for us to enjoy for years to come.

With good news comes some bad news. There are always some folks out there that feel it is their “right” to take game out of season or take more than their limit. This past summer I was fishing on a lake and noticed two guys casting which is not unusual but I also noticed that they had bobbers floating not too far from their boat. I went close enough to them to make them feel uncomfortable and they laid their casting poles down in the boat, I’m sure only long enough for me to go past them and out of sight.

There are seemingly more and more people getting fined for fishing without a license. Is this just a slap on the hand or are they denied fishing privileges for a period of time? Then there are the over the limit guys or the taking game out of season guys that get fined and lose privileges for a time. All this is good when they are caught but it doesn’t replace the game that they have taken. I would like to think that the money collected would be used for restocking or go to creating habitat.

The following news release from the Minnesota DNR is just one story of hunting infractions that occur in our state:

Three cited for illegal hunting

Three individuals face multiple charges for allegedly illegally taking deer, according to the Minnesota DNR.

A DNR conservation officer and an 1854 Tribal Band game warden were contacted shortly after two men and a woman registered a deer at a convenience store in Virginia Oct. 12. The caller noticed a large amount of blood in the back of a vehicle owned by one of the suspects. One of the individuals was overheard bragging about shooting the deer from the truck with a crossbow.

“The caller thought that the amount of blood in the truck’s box could not have possibly come from one deer, so we started our investigation,” said CO Matt Frericks of Virginia.

The investigation uncovered illegal party hunting, lending/borrowing licenses, failure to register big game animals, and illegal taking of three deer. Fine and restitution amount total nearly $2,800 with other charges possible.

Formal charges will be filed against the three suspects shortly with the St. Louis County Attorney’s Office. The woman is an 1854 Tribal Band member who will face charges through the Band’s legal system.

Anyone witnessing wildlife or fishing law violations is encouraged to contact the nearest conservation officer or law enforcement agency, or call the toll-free Turn-In-Poachers (TIP) hotline at 800-652-9093. Also, #TIP is available to most cell phone users in Minnesota.

Find a Minnesota conservation officer online. Click on the map, and a balloon will pop up that shows the officer’s phone number and the State Patrol dispatch number.

Until next time, hunt safe and don’t forget that there is still for that one more, one more last cast before the water turns hard.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the coming year. They are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

Musky Talk

The November meeting of Southern Crossroads Chapter 54 of Muskies Inc. will be Wednesday at Eagles Club in Owatonna at 7 p.m. We have a favorite trip night and share our fishing experiences of this past year. There will be updates, door prizes and raffle. Also plenty of musky talk.

Keep this date open. Our annual fundraiser, money for muskies banquet, will be Dec. 7 at the Eagles Club in Owatonna. Social hour is 6 p.m., with dinner at 7 pm. Our tentative speaker is musky fisherman, and outdoor writer Rob Kimm. There will be raffles, a silent auction and door prizes throughout the night. Tickets are $20, kids 12 and under free. Open to public, need not be a member to attend.

Our meetings are the second Wednesday of every month. Anyone interested in musky fishing is always welcome. Our meetings often include informative speakers, guides, lure manufactures. Also, updates, door prizes and raffles. Check our web sight at Bring a friend and check us out. Our goal is to improve musky fishing in southern Minnesota.

Dick Herfindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.