The weather has settled into a more seasonal pattern with the cool-down we have now. Being a fan of more traditional fall weather, I found the record breaking temperatures we had this past Sunday a little hard to take. The weather now is what I consider ideal fall weather with the cool crisp sunny days and a teasing of frost in the overnight hours.
I enjoy looking back over the past few years and thinking about the times that my son Brian and I spent at the cabin in October. There were days when the temperatures never got out of the 30s and there were a few 60-degree days, but no matter the weather they were always enjoyable. I will be heading north to the cabin for one more time this season with my wife Jean, son Brad and his girls Emma and Ava. Jean and I are looking forward to spending time at the cabin with Brad and our granddaughters. I am sure I will share the experience in a future column.
The one thing that always stands out in my mind about fall is the heat of the sun. It can be 45 degrees, but if the sun is out it may seem 20 degrees warmer. I almost start to shiver just thinking about the times I’ve been on a lake in late fall with the sun beating down when a cloud suddenly appears, seemingly out of nowhere and covers the sun, bringing on an almost instant chill. Looking at the other side of the spectrum; when the sun comes out on a cool cloudy day it almost seems like a gift from the heavens.
Fishing in the late fall can be feast or famine and much of your fishing success depends on finding the baitfish. I did hear a good tip about fall fishing that seems to make good sense; when you see seagulls congregating in one area of a body of water, you will find the baitfish. The gamefish follow the baitfish, especially this time of year when they are bulking up for winter. I can’t think of a much more enjoyable experience than spending time on the lake fishing on a cool, crisp, sunny fall day.
With the waterfowl season going full tilt the DNR is reminding hunters of the dangers of hunting from a boat.
Late season waterfowl hunters are reminded that with water temperatures rapidly dropping across the state, wearing a life jacket is the best defense against the dangers posed by cold water, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources said.
In Minnesota, one-third of all boating fatalities occur during the cold water season, when water temperatures are below 70 degrees. Cold water shock can cause even the strongest swimmers to drown in a matter of seconds if they fall in while not wearing a life jacket.
“If you ask the average duck hunter for safety advice, they will most likely recite firearm safety rules,” said Debbie Munson Badini, Minnesota DNR boat and water safety education coordinator. “But year after year, more waterfowl hunters die from drowning, cold water shock and hypothermia than from firearm accidents.
“The importance of water safety and life jacket use needs to be impressed upon waterfowlers in the same manner as the tenets of firearm safety,” Munson Badini said. “Duck hunters are boaters, too, and they are often boating on dangerously cold water.”
Since 2010, five Minnesotans have died in duck hunting-related boating accidents, including two minors. Last year, two drownings occurred; neither victim was wearing a life jacket.
Common causes of these fatal accidents included falling overboard, capsizing, or swamping due to overloading of passengers and/or gear, but in nearly all cases the accident would not have been deadly if the victim had worn a life jacket.
“The message is clear: Cold water kills, and life jackets save lives,” Munson Badini said. “Waterfowl hunters can hit two birds with one shot by simply wearing their life jackets.”
At the very least, all boats must carry one U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each passenger, and boats longer than 16 feet must also have a throwable flotation device immediately available. Children under 10 must wear a life jacket. Other water safety tips for duck hunters include:
Don’t overload the boat; take two trips if necessary. If wearing hip boots or waders, learn how to float with them on. Stay near shore and avoid crossing large expanses of open water, especially in bad weather. Share trip plans with someone and advise them to call for help if traveling party does not return on schedule. Use a headlamp, spotlight or navigation lights to alert other boaters to your presence in dark and/or foggy conditions.
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Speaking of safety; this past Sunday we had some of the steadiest strong winds that I can remember in recent years. On this day a person west of town was seen burning a brush pile when the winds were gusting to 40 at times. He may or may not have had a permit, but as dry as the fields are right now a little common sense would have been useful.
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Until next time, it’s a great time to be outside enjoying the fall days and enjoying our great Minnesota outdoors.
Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.