Walk-in-access program grows, adds more hunting land in Minn.

Published 6:18pm Saturday, October 20, 2012

Looking back over the summer months I have to ask one question – where did it go? It seems like only yesterday we were flirting with temperatures in the 90s and even on lakes that I fished the most; in northern Minnesota the surface temperature of many of those lakes was in the high 70s. I am sure that this may have had a lot to do with the observation of most fishermen often that fishing was totally out of whack.

If you were a walleye fisherman it maybe wasn’t the ideal year, but for many bass and northern fishermen, like myself, fishing was pretty darn good. I can truthfully (fishermen don’t exaggerate) say that I probably caught as many or more bass this season than in any other. No I’m not going to go out and buy a jumpsuit with imaginary sponsors plastered all over it but I did feel pretty good about the season.

Fishing is a fun sport, and to me it is all about keeping it simple. I like fishing the way I have always fished with just a little tweak here and there to make me think I’m keeping up with the times. Probably some of the most enjoyable times this year were when I fished with that little 12-foot. Lund with the old 5.5 horse power Evinrude. No ph levels or water temperatures to check, no locator to go by, just go to where a person thinks fish will be and wet a line whether it be trolling the shoreline or casting weed edges. With all the little lakes in the area of Minnesota that we frequently fish there is very little boat traffic and a lot of times you will have the lake to yourself. This, to me, is what it is really all about.

This past week while my son Brian and I were at the cabin on our annual October trip we were able to see a variety of wildlife. The deer were really on the move and they were pretty much everywhere we went. A couple of grouse were spotted hanging out at the end of our driveway, and once again there were eagles soaring over our small lake. One particular golden eagle has taken a liking to the dead tree that still stands just a little ways from our dock.

On one trip to town we spotted about four ravens feasting on a deer carcass; they were joined by two bald eagles and between them they had that carcass just about picked clean. This is the cycle of nature at work, and in this area of the state it’s obvious that nothing goes to waste.

Going up north isn’t always about fishing for me anymore; just spending time in the north woods observing nature at work can sometimes be enough.

There was one day last week that we toyed with the idea of dropping the boat in and trying a little fishing. The wind however was pretty strong, and we decided that it would be a lot colder on the lake so we opted for Plan B.

That plan involves throwing a fishing pole in the truck and driving around to different lakes just checking out the accesses and doing a little shore fishing. Both Brian and I enjoy doing that, and each year we try to explore at least one lake that we’ve never visited before. We never really do expect to catch much doing this, but we sure do enjoy exploring new territories.

Last year in one of my columns I mentioned the lack of WMA land in some southwestern Minnesota counties. The DNR has released the following information that will surely be welcome news to those folks that hunt in that area of the state.

 

Walk-In Access program grows in second year, adding more hunting land in southwestern Minnesota

Hunters in southwestern Minnesota will have access to additional land this fall as the state’s Walk-In Access program continues to grow in its second year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.

The walk-in program provides public hunting access to private land across 21 counties. Nearly 60 more sites were added this year, growing the program to more than 15,000 acres.

Last year, 86 sites totaling 9,000 acres were available to hunters. Five counties have more than 1,000 acres enrolled: Kandiyohi, Lincoln, Murray, Pipestone and Yellow Medicine.

“When we’ve done surveys in the past, one of the most frequently-cited reasons that hunters quit hunting is a lack of quality places to hunt,” said Marybeth Block, DNR program coordinator “Walk-ins help address that and offer some very nice new ground for people to hunt.”

Hunters can use walk-in parcels during any open hunting season, including spring turkey, with no landowner contacts necessary. Locations are clearly marked with signs, plus all parcels are mapped on a printed atlas and on the DNR website.

Walk-in land is for public hunting only. No target practice, trapping, dog training, camping, horseback riding or fires are allowed. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on WIA land. Parking is along roads or in designated parking areas.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture funded the first two years of the program and the Minnesota State Legislature has approved additional funding that will allow it to continue for at least two more years. Also, resident hunters have the opportunity to donate $1, $3 or $5 to the program when purchasing a small game or deer license.

“Hunter support is key to this program,” Block said. “Using the land, respecting the land and donating to the program will help build walk-in lands for future hunters.”

Walk-in land is open to hunting from Sept. 1 to May 31 each year.

Until next time, take a little time to enjoy the outdoors experience and the world of nature that surrounds us.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.

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