The shift from autumn to winter is creeping steadily closer to reality with the changing temperatures and the occasional threat of snow looming in the forecast. The onset of winter can have some good sides to it like the opportunity for some “hard water” fishing. This is something that many of us look forward to and for the most part the early ice-over can be the best time for ice fishing. The low water levels that are once again prevalent in our area lakes concern me when it comes to Pickeral and Albert Lea Lakes. With no water flowing over the dam between Fountain and Albert Lea Lakes this could signal another freeze out for that lake. Hopefully it doesn’t happen but it could be cause for concern.
The firearms deer hunting season is in full swing and there seems to be a fairly good number of deer in our area. Hopefully the area hunters do well and all of them have a safe hunt. Hunting is a great sport and whether you are a deer hunter, pheasant hunter or waterfowl hunter there is WMA land for hunters to use. We in Freeborn County are particularly lucky because there are 11 wildlife management areas for public use.
Small game hunting is a great way to introduce our youth to the sport of hunting, something that can last a lifetime. Our Minnesota outdoors heritage is based on hunting and fishing and without our youth involved these sports as we know them today may eventually change, and not for the better. We need to ensure that these sports will be there for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.
I have written many times about hunting the slough north of town with my trusty Red Ryder BB gun and although it wasn’t a “real” gun I treated it as one and when I finally moved on to a .22 and a .410 I already had safety awareness. My gun training was learned by hearing “never point a gun at anyone” or “always point your gun towards the ground when walking or when climbing over a fence”. Now the fence thing wasn’t fool proof so I learned to set the gun on the other side of the fence that I was climbing over.
While exercising hunting rights in the woods and fields appeals to many people, with it comes some responsibility, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. That includes ethical hunting practices, respecting the resource and passing on core values to preserve Minnesota’s hunting heritage for the next generation.
“The time shared between a youngster and a mentor is invaluable,” said Col. Ken Soring, DNR Enforcement Division director. “There simply is no better way to introduce a young person to safe, ethical and responsible aspects of hunting than with the close supervision of an adult mentor.”
A past president and current treasurer of the local Des Moines Valley chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, Cody Duroe, Jeffers, Minnesota, is a 47-year-old who has been hunting since he was a teen. His father was not a hunter so he learned through friends. He knows the importance of mentoring.
“My 12-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son take turns sitting with me with a 20-gauge shotgun in one of our deer blinds,” Duroe said. “It’s a great opportunity to teach hunter core values to preserve Minnesota’s hunting heritage for the next generation.”
Duroe’s children receive several lessons while taking in the sights, sounds and smells of fall.
Once the firearms deer season is over the public land will be a great place to hunt for rabbit or squirrel. You may hunt rabbit and squirrel right up until the 28th of February. This is a good way to start a youth out and it doesn’t require anything more than a .22 or .410 for a kid to enjoy the outdoors and learn about the sport of hunting. I am still curious as to why there is such a shortage of .22 ammo in the stores these days. You almost have to know someone that works in a sporting goods store in order to get your hands on a couple of boxes of shells.
Speaking of squirrels, as I sit here writing this column I am staring out the upstairs window at a squirrel sitting on a branch chewing on what looks like a walnut. We do have our share of squirrels in the neighborhood and each evening as I arrive home I manage to scare a pair of rabbits that seem to have taken up residence in our yard. To me this is a good thing because I have always enjoyed watching wildlife and even though these critters are “city dwellers” they are still entertaining to watch.
Until next time, get outdoors and enjoy the fall before the snow begins to fly.
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.