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The closest I ever got to Vietnam was a make-believe village in a grove of trees outside Fort Sill, Okla. It was 1970, and I was a jeep driver for a captain during my training as an artilleryman. Many nights, I'd drive him to "Vietnam Village," a supposed representation of an Army command post in the jungle of Vietnam. It was mostly darkened pathways among the thickets, lit only by red safety lights.
Sometimes, less walleye stocking is better than too much walleye stocking, at least when it comes to fingerlings, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources fisheries officials say. After evaluating the stocking of walleye fingerlings on 254 lakes in the state's Accelerated Walleye Program, the agency has announced it will cease stocking fingerlings on 44 lakes and change fingerling stocking densities or frequency on 95 other lakes. Fingerling stocking will continue at current rates on 115 other lakes.
• Saturday — Minnesota waterfowl opener; Minnesota and Wisconsin woodcock hunting opener; Wisconsin waterfowl opener in north zone. • Sept. 30 — Minnesota fall turkey season opener and prairie chicken season. • Oct. 4-10 — Wisconsin bear season in all zones other than Zone C with bait and other legal methods not using dogs. • Oct. 7-8 — Wisconsin youth deer hunt. • Oct. 14 — Minnesota pheasant opener. • Nov. 4-19 — Minnesota firearms deer season in Series 100 units. • Nov. 18-26 — Wisconsin gun deer season.
The number of anglers in America has increased 8 percent since 2011, but the number of hunters has dropped by about 2 million participants to around 11.5 million, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The news is part of a survey conducted about every five years by the agency. Angling participation increased from 33.1 million anglers in 2011 to 35.8 million in 2016, according to the report.
It's a big challenge — crafting a formal plan to manage Minnesota's diverse deer herd. That's what wildlife officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are doing, with the help of a 20-member Deer Management Plan Advisory Committee that's been meeting almost monthly since last December. The committee is scheduled to meet four more times, finishing its work in December.
Jerry Kern used to hunt deer at a camp north of Island Lake. But after what happened 40 years ago Sunday, Kern no longer hunts deer. Or any other kind of game. Now 82, Kern still makes the drive up to the camp from his St. Paul home each fall, in the weeks before deer season. Often, he brings along some of his grandchildren. He cuts and splits some wood, sits by the campfire and stays overnight in the shack his dad and friends built in 1940. But he doesn't come up during deer season. And he doesn't poke along the camp's trails hunting grouse during September and October.
The blaze-orange telegraph lines are humming. Hunters, talking to hunters. The first call the other day came in at 7:25 a.m. Two hunting buddies, headed out for a morning of sharptail hunting in western North Dakota. When the call came, I was in the woods with my dog here in Duluth. When I got home, I punched up the message they had left. "Hey, Sam... Just wondering if you've gotten any updates on what's going on out there..."
If you don't see me around town anymore, don't be surprised. I am onto something that is going to make me rich, and I'll probably be living on the Mediterranean coast sometime soon. Why didn't I think of this sooner? It was so obvious. I thought of it washing my hands the other day with one of those foo-foo soaps called "Sunshine and Lemons." (We had just run out of Peach Bellini.)
Business was good on a recent September morning at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. At the banding station, tucked in the woods away from the main overlook, warblers and other songbirds were on the move, headed south. American redstarts, chestnut-sided warblers, Swainson's thrushes. The tiny birds were moving ahead of an incoming front, said Margie Menzies, education program manager at the bird observatory in eastern Duluth. "You know — boogie while you can," Menzies said.
Grouse hunters in both Minnesota and Wisconsin have reasons to be optimistic about this fall's seasons, which open Saturday in both states. Spring drumming counts were up 57 percent statewide in Minnesota and up 30 percent in Wisconsin's northern region. If nesting success was good, hunters could see one of the best seasons in several years. "I'm going out on a limb and saying the harvest will be up," said Ted Dick, upland game bird coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Grand Rapids. "I'm not saying it's going up 57 percent, but it will be up."