The firearms deer hunting season is now underway in our area and, just judging by the number of deer I have seen around the area, it should be a successful one for local hunters. I hope everyone has had or is having a safe hunt.
Minnesota has 1,440 public wildlife areas with 1.29 million acres of habitat, from prairies and wetlands to forests and swamps, for Minnesota's wildlife species. There are recreation areas for upland, waterfowl, and deer hunters. Wildlife watching opportunities including: sandhill cranes, herons, prairie chickens, shore birds, waterfowl, and more. There are 13 WMAs in Freeborn County alone and you can find out more by going to the DNR Web site.
A few years ago I did a story and in it I mentioned there seemed to be fewer trappers in this area than there were years ago. I found out soon after that there are still a few folks who do trapping in this part of the state. A gentleman named Lloyd Kaplan who lived northwest of Ellendale at the time told me that although he was in his 70s, he still trapped. Lloyd said his season starts the last week in October for land trapping and a week later for water. He said the season actually starts a little too early for mink because their pelts aren’t prime until about the second week of November. After talking to Lloyd for just a short time I could already that he wasn’t in it for the money. I asked Lloyd, who was 72 at the time, why he still continued to trap. He said he was a heart patient and he felt there was no better exercise than trapping. He also said that walking through the water carrying a coon is no easy task. That is only one of the many reasons he does it, because he feels that by trapping skunks, possum, coon, fox and coyote, he is protecting the pheasant population which he felt was on the verge of a very strong comeback in the area at the time.
I don’t actually believe that most folks who are avid trappers are in it to get rich, but do it more so for the sport and the chance to be outdoors and close to nature. I’m not sure where the cost of furs is at these days, but the Minnesota Trappers Association can furnish you with a list of folks who buy furs. The price of a raccoon may vary depending on what part of the state you are trapping. For example a Northern Minnesota raccoon will bring a higher market price than one from Southern Minnesota.
The trapping season for raccoon, red fox, gray fox, badger and opossum runs until the 15th of March in both the North and South Regions. Trapping for beaver runs until May 15 in both zones while mink and muskrat run until February 29 in both.
In 2013 about 10,000 fur trapping licenses were purchased statewide. After a downturn in the market caused mostly by anti-fur campaigns it seems like there has not been as much publicity about trapping in recent years. It seems as if a lot of the celebrities that hopped on the anti-fur bandwagon a few years ago have moved on to other causes. That is not to say that the animal rights groups have given up; quite to the contrary they continue to protest.
In Minnesota owners of hunting dogs are up in arms, so to speak, about the use of traps called body grippers because they can trap and kill a full grown hunting dog. I wrote a column a while back about the push by sportsmen’s groups to change the law that allows this type of trap. The old standard foot traps can still trap a dog, but the foot can usually be removed without much damage to the animal.
My brother-in-law Lynn was home from Nome, Alaska this past month and although he was home to do a little deer archery hunting, he still had trapping on his mind. We drove to Runnings in Austin one day so he could pick up a few hunting necessities. While there he found some traps he said would be ideal for trapping wolves back in Nome. Although I know practically nothing about trapping, I could see that these things would hold a pretty good sized animal. I usually have trouble setting a mouse trap so these babies were way out of my league.
Plan safe backyard campfires this fall
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reminds everyone to be safe with backyard campfires this fall.
All campfires should be:
• Clear of any combustible material five feet in all directions around the fire. Contained within a designated fire ring. To build one, scoop out a depression in the center of a cleared area and arrange a ring of rocks around it.
• Three feet or less in diameter and 3 feet or less in height. Legal—check if the local municipality requires a permit.
Additionally, it’s important to select a safe place for a campfire. Choose a level area not near dry grass, shrubs or logs, and free of overhanging branches. Always have a shovel and water available to extinguish a fire. Watch the fire at all times — even a light breeze can cause the it to spread. Finally, extinguish fires with water or dirt, and stir the embers repeatedly until every ember is out cold.
Until next time, winter is just around the corner so take advantage of the weather and get outdoors to enjoy what nature has to offer.
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.