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Warmer weather puts an extra spring in our step

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

The weather we have been experiencing lately is a welcome reminder that the first day of spring is looming on the horizon.

As true Minnesotans, we are allowed to be a little suspicious as if we were — like the old saying goes — waiting for the other shoe to drop. No matter what weather lies ahead, the important thing is that we savor the moment and enjoy it to the fullest.

Once we emerged from the doldrums of winter, everyone seemed to have that little extra spring in their step.

Folks are outside doing what they can in their yards as the sun slowly melts the snow and starts drying up the ground. People are once again able to enjoy walking in the outdoors and are already taking advantage of the nice trails that we have in our city by the lakes. Yes, spring, sunshine and warmer weather need to be credited with bringing a smile to almost everyone’s face.

This is the time of year that we need to be extra careful and make sure that we exercise caution when around our lakes and streams. Warmer weather brings runoff, and although the ice may look safe at first glance it may be eroding from beneath due to currents. This is what makes venturing out onto the ice at this time of year extremely dangerous. We need to warn our children about the ice and not only urge them to stay off but make sure that they do.

As a kid, I took my chances when venturing out onto thin or shaky ice, but I fared better than some because I had only a boot full of water, a wet pant leg and sometimes a sore bottom to show for it.

I was warned by my mother many times to stay off the ice on the slough in the spring, but what did she know anyway? There were many times when I proved her right, and even that long cold walk home wasn’t as bad as facing my folks when I got there. The conversation always included one or two “I told you so,” reminders. This was sometimes followed by my having to retrieve the yardstick and listening to mom tell me about her youth and having to fetch a willow branch from that big old willow on the farm. This was called picking your own punishment, and there was definitely a lesson to be learned in that method.

In today’s world, parents would be punished for disciplining their children in that manner, but back then it was just the way things were handled. Having respect for your parents and your elders was expected from the youth of those days. Although, at a certain age — can you say teenager? — you might have thought that your parents didn’t know what they were talking about, but you certainly didn’t tell them so. As I grew older and entered the service, I began to appreciate the life lessons Mom and Dad had taught me.

With the first day of spring just around the corner, I need to work the rust out of my casting arm and check the line on my reels. If this nice weather has you antsy to wet a line in open water, the stream trout season in Southeastern Minnesota is open for catch and release only until April 17th. Another fix for open water fishing is heading to the mighty Mississippi for some walleye fishing. With this warmup, the backwaters should be ready to produce.


Surplus spring turkey hunt licenses go on sale

If you applied for a spring wild turkey license and didn’t get drawn, you are eligible to purchase a surplus license on a first-come-first-serve basis beginning at 5 p.m. March 16. A total of 2,789 surplus licenses will be available.

People who did not participate in the lottery may purchase any remaining surplus licenses starting at noon March 18 when all remaining licenses will be made available to anyone. Unlimited over-the-counter licenses for time period D-H also go on sale at this time.

Surplus licenses will be available at any statewide Electronic License System agent or online. You will also find a list of hunting dates, permit areas and the number of surplus permits available in each area online.

I heard part of a news story on the radio that someone introduced a bill to legalize silencers for guns. Really? I am all for protecting our Second-Amendment rights and our right to bear arms, but I find it hard to believe that a silencer has any meaningful purpose to the average sportsman. Obviously there are legislators who have nothing better to do for their district, so they have come up with this. There have to be more important issues like education and our infrastructure that should be focused on. This reminds me of that guy — we all know one — who talks just to hear himself talk.

Until next time, get out and take a walk in the fresh spring air and also take a little time to enjoy the outdoors. Remember spring is just around the corner.

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

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