Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 | OUTDOORS
And so it all begins
There was no booming wake-up call to remind me of the early Canada goose season that began Monday, Sept. 1. In previous years a small group of hunters would gather near the center of the field behind my house to hunt geese flying to and from some of the neighboring ponds or to enter the field to feed.
This year, the field is wrapped in corn but as I stepped outside in the early morning hours with a cup of coffee, the distant popping sounds from the scatter guns of successful hunters across the area were enough to signal the start of a fresh new season. There was even a slight chill in the air to let me know that it won’t be much longer, and I, too, will get an opportunity to get outside, whether sitting under a canopy of dove decoys or searching out squirrels when that season begins Sept. 13, along with archery deer, turkey and grouse hunting in Zone A.
For hunters, the seasons can’t come soon enough and for many bear hunters, Wednesday, Sept. 3, marks the start of their season, including my uncles, whose efforts in baiting for the past month might finally pay off. By the time this column hits the newsstand, I’m hoping to get a text or phone call to report for bear-tracking, dragging or field-dressing duties.
For more than 30 years my uncle has been waiting, applying or trying to hunt bear, without success. With more bear in the area than ever before, this could be his year, but he’s no doubt, run into snags along the way. Many times, the ripening corn or falling acorns are the culprit, pulling bears away to a more natural food source as opposed to cookie dough or bread. This year, heavy rains caused flooding in a river bottom where he’d been baiting for over a month.
Fortunately, he has two other baits that can be hunted, and one, despite sporadic results, is still being visited. Here’s to hoping he needs help dragging and skinning his first bear in the next few days. He certainly deserves it, and it’s always fun to see success for someone who has been waiting so long; and once that season is over, it’s time to move on to other things, like fall fishing, which doesn’t often get the attention in the fall that it deserves.
Give sturgeon a try
Hunting is king in the fall but throughout the month of September, so is the sturgeon, and people living near Yellow Lake in Webster have a unique opportunity to join in the hook-and-line season when it begins this Saturday, Sept. 6, through Sept. 30. Anglers who wish to keep their catch must first purchase a harvest tag, and the fish must exceed 60 inches. But many anglers, like Rick Melby, choose to release their fish.
For the sixth year in a row, Melby is once again hosting his sturgeon tournament on Yellow Lake Saturday, Sept. 20. Since 2009, tournament anglers have caught and released 150 sturgeon, with 46 fish being caught in 2010. There’s a first-place prize of $1,000 for the largest fish as well as cash prizes for second through fifth place. The second-place prize is $300, and there’s even a $50 prize for the first fish. Last year there were 40 fish caught, and many believe the state record is still lurking in Yellow Lake. The state record weight still holds strong at 170 pounds, 10 ounces, caught in 1979.
The number of anglers who can participate is limited. Only 39 anglers and 19 boats can participate on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Melby at 715-497-6355 for more information. The tournament begins at 7:30 a.m. and lasts until 5 p.m.
Don’t forget the meetings
On Tuesday, Sept. 16, the County Deer Advisory Council will host its first of three meetings this fall to discuss the local deer herd. Meetings in both Polk and Burnett County will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Polk County meeting will be in the east conference room of the Polk County Government Center, and will be held at Crex Meadows Education and Visitor Center in Burnett County.
All CDAC meetings are open to the public. Agenda items include call to order, roll call, agenda approval or repair and review of council mission statement. Information items include a presentation of county deer herd information by DNR staff, agenda for the upcoming October meetings and CDAC calendar, as well as council member matters and public comments.
Those who wish to speak or submit written comments at one of the meetings must first contact the CDAC chair. In Polk County contact Wally Trudeau at 715-268-2304, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Burnett County chair is Wayne Norling, at 608-335-5418, or email email@example.com.