Deer hunters should get their licenses early this year

Published 9:23 am Friday, October 24, 2008

With the high winds and below normal temperatures we have been having this past week the leaves are disappearing rapidly from the trees. In case anyone is missing some I may know where they are – my backyard. I guess you can call that job opportunity.

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that the smoke and smell of burning leaves would be in the air. I know that it’s against the law to burn but I still kind of miss those days. With everything else costing us more and more money it only makes sense that we should now have to pay someone to dispose of our leaves. You don’t suppose that the same people that initiated the burning ban would ever complain about having to pay a composting fee do you? Just a thought.

I’ve heard some mixed reports from duck hunters so far this fall and I really haven’t heard much about the pheasant season. Once the corn starts to come out it should pick up.

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The archery season for deer is already going full throttle and from what I’ve heard it’s gotten off to a pretty fair start. The firearms season is fast approaching and there seem to be plenty of deer in all parts of the state. I’ve seen my share of deer in our area the past few weeks and this time of year it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for them while driving. I have also seen plenty of deer in northern Minnesota. On more that one occasion I have driven past an open clearing and there would be deer just grazing like cattle. I guess if this were a fish story it’d be like saying “they were stacked up like cordwood”.

With more than 475,000 firearms deer hunters in the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourages hunters to purchase their licenses early to avoid long lines and any system issues associated with the high sales volume. The 2008 Minnesota firearms deer season begins Saturday, Nov. 8.

Deer licenses are available at approximately 1,800 license agents statewide or by phone at 1-888-MN-LICENSE (665-4236). There is a $3.50 convenience fee for telephone service.

Hunters who purchase licenses by phone will receive their deer tags by mail, which can take three to five days.

Staff members from the DNR Information Center and License Center in St. Paul will work extended hours to handle additional phone calls from deer hunters and license agents. Phone lines will be open on Friday, Nov. 7, until 6:30 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 8, from 8 a.m. to noon.

The DNR Information Center phone number is 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-MINNDNR (646-6367).

There have been some pretty decent fish being caught in our area lakes in the past couple of weeks. This tells me that there are still some good days ahead as long as the weather holds.

Here are a few outdoors reports from around the state:

LAKE MILLE LACS — East-side bays are producing perch, but there are quite a few small fish mixed in. Crankbaits are the best walleye option on the east side along shallow rock reefs. On the west side, crankbaits are triggering a few walleyes at night on the 10- to 12-foot shoreline breaks. Work the weedline in St. Alban’s Bay for northern pike.

LEECH LAKE — Trolling crankbaits after dark has produced a lot of big walleyes. Most have come from less than 12 feet off Sand Point, Otter Tail Point, Goose Island, and Bear Island. Walleyes also can be had with a jig and minnow during the day in these locations and on the Walker Bay humps in 30 feet. Perch action has dwindled, mainly because most anglers are focused on walleyes. There doesn’t seem to be much for new ducks in the area, but shooting remains good and grouse hunting has improved from last week.

BLACKDUCK — Blackduck Lake is giving up limits of eating-sized walleyes in 10 to 14 feet. Blackduck also has produced perch and crappies in slightly deeper water. Look to lakes Rabideau and Gilstead for panfish in 12 to 18 feet. Grouse hunting has improved and duck hunters are reporting a decent number of birds in the area.

BATTLE LAKE — Walleyes are hitting minnows during the day on Otter Tail Lake in 25 to 30 feet and on Walker Lake in 20 to 25 feet. At night, troll crankbaits in 10 to 15 feet. Sucker minnows dragged along the weed tops on West Battle Lake are triggering muskies. Large minnows also are the ticket for pike on West Battle and Clitherall Lake. Panfish action is limited and hunting reports are poor.

BRAINERD/NISSWA AREA — Walleyes continue to be caught on jigs and minnows in 15 to 32 feet on Gull Lake, North Long Lake, and Pelican Lake. Look for crappies and sunfish in 12 to 14 feet on most small lakes, while bass and pike are an easy catch with minnows or crankbaits on the weedlines of all lakes.

LAKE KABETOGAMA — A jig and minnow is providing steady walleye action in 30 to 35 feet near Martin Islands and Graves Island. Work sucker minnows tight to the bottom in Lost Bay, Nebraska Bay, and Daily Bay for pike. Grouse hunting has improved but is below expectations. Deer are starting to be seen along the roads, signaling better movement.

MANKATO AREA — Look for crappies and sunfish in the narrows of Madison Lake over 11 feet. Lake Washington is producing good-sized sunfish in eight to 10 feet. Walleye action is slow, but Little Jefferson Lake is a safe bet for northern pike. Pheasant hunting has been difficult due to standing crops and duck numbers are poor.

HACKENSACK — A gold jig and minnow is producing walleyes on Woman Lake in eight to 14 feet. On Ten Mile Lake, you’ll hit walleyes during the evenings on crankbaits in 12 feet or less. Hunting reports are limited to a few ducks and grouse, but nothing consistent.

RAINY LAKE — On the Rainy River, walleye action has picked up from the golf course to the dam. On the main lake, look to the American Narrows in 34 to 38 feet, Sand Bay in 26 to 32 feet, and the reefs in 30 feet or more. Bigger pike have shown up on top of the reefs. Duck hunting is poor, but grouse hunting has improved.

Until next time, play safe, good hunting and enjoy the outdoors.

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