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On April 2nd Rep. Rich Murray from Dist. 27A met with a group of area sportsmen to discuss some of the issues that concerned them. Murray told the group that he was there to listen to their ideas and learn, leaving plenty to talk about.

As of late, Murray has been meeting with various sportsmen's groups from throughout his district to hear what their concerns are. This particular session was very productive with a lot of important issues brought up, including some very good ideas on improving habitat. The sportsmen in attendance were from various outdoors organizations like Minnesota Deer Hunters, Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Minnesota Waterfowl Association, Fountain Lake Sportsmen's Club, Muskies Inc. and others.

Jack Adams of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association’s local chapter arranged the meeting and went over the topics the sportsmen wanted to address. Representative Murray listened intently to the many concerns and ideas, and assured the group he would follow up on a number of these issues.

This group of sportsmen was not there to complain about how things were. Instead, their mission was to find out how to get things done. One of the big concerns was land acquisition, which is a hot topic in the legislature right now. With the Lessard SAMS bill now in place, there is money available to purchase Wildlife Management land.

However, the argument in the legislature is that the DNR cannot take care of the land they already have. Jack Adams called it a two part problem, "no net gain" or "no net loss," which basically does nothing to improve wildlife habitat in our part of the state.

Discussion also centered on the land available in the southern part of the state. It was decided that action needs to be taken as quickly as possible, as there is just not that much land that becomes available in our part of the state. A question was also raised regarding how receptive the DNR acts towards volunteers from the area working on wildlife management areas such as Grass Lake.

Their efforts would in fact make it a viable and healthy WMA. Rep. Murray said he would check into that, on the thought that it was a good idea. There seemed to be a general consensus that finding volunteers to do the work would be no problem.

The group then brought up the possible increase in license fees. All present felt that if this change would help ease the crunch on the DNR budget, they were all for it. They also concurred that because the cost of an out of state license in Minnesota is much lower than in the surrounding states, they felt the cost should also be raised, in accordance to the state the resident is from. 

Of course, the counterpoint to this is that the legislature believes we need the tourist business. It was pointed out that if someone is willing to spend the money to travel up north to hunt deer, they will be willing to spend the money for a license.

One member of the group stated that he hunts deer in our area during the season, in the public land that is available. Although there are quite a few other hunters hunting the same area, he doesn't really mind because he is still able to hunt. He said he actually buys an Iowa license and also hunts during their deer season.

The out of state license costs him $500, which seems pretty spendy when compared to the $141 for a non-resident firearms license in Minnesota.  This makes a pretty good argument for raising the non-resident license fees proportionately.

Another area of concern voiced by Ray Hangge, a member of Southern Crossroads Chapter 54 of Muskies Inc., was the Minnesota DNR's decision to indefinitely postpone the stocking of muskies in Lake Tetonka in the Waterville area, due to local issues pending resolution. The main reason for opposition to this is dark house spearing, which is banned on most muskie lakes, but it’s pretty hard to practice catch and release with a spear.

The bottom line in all the issues was the preserving and improving of our habitat for future generations. The days of finding a friendly farmer who will let you hunt his land are pretty much gone. Today, there are fewer farmers, who then own more land, but the hunting land is usually spoken for well in advance. This is why WMA's are so important to the future of the outdoors. We need to make sure that our future sportsmen have a place to hunt and fish.

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The April meeting of Southern Crossroads Chapter 54 of Muskies, Inc. was Wednesday April 13, at the Eagles Club in Owatonna at 7 p.m.

April 16 and 17 is the Cabela's kids casting event. Volunteers needed.

Our meetings are the second Wednesday of each month. Our goal is to improve muskie fishing and more opportunities in Southern Minnesota. Check out our website at Anyone interested in muskie fishing is always welcome.

Until next time; think spring, camping and fishing and enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors!

Remember our brothers and sisters who are proudly serving our country so that we can keep enjoying the freedoms we have today.

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