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Minnesota. Down. South Dakota. Down. North Dakota. Down. Iowa. Down. The numbers don't lie. By the numbers, hunters are looking at a challenging pheasant season this fall, no matter where they hunt. Preseason counts were down in Minnesota and virtually every nearby state. Minnesota's pheasant season opens Saturday, and despite the gloomy forecast, thousands of pheasant hunters are expected to be tromping through grasslands hoping a mature ringneck vaults into the sky in front of them.
• Saturday — Minnesota pheasant opener. • Nov. 4-19 — Minnesota firearms deer season in Series 100 units. • Nov. 18-26 — Wisconsin gun deer season. • Nov. 25-Dec. 10 — Minnesota muzzleloader deer season. • Nov. 27-Dec. 6 — Wisconsin muzzleloader deer season. • Dec. 30 — Opening of lake trout and stream trout seasons in lakes entirely within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
Meadow Kouffeld remembers when she discovered she wanted to be a wildlife biologist. "I found out there was such a thing when I was a senior in high school," Kouffeld said. After a rich and varied background in wildlife-related jobs, Kouffeld became regional wildlife biologist for the Ruffed Grouse Society in 2015. Based in Grand Rapids, she covers Minnesota and the western half of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Somewhere in a tangle of chest-high cover, Meine locked up in a statuesque point. The Deutsch Drahthaar, a pointer owned by Meadow Kouffeld, was telling her that a pheasant was right under her scruffy muzzle. "We have a point here," hollered Kouffeld, an instructor in the Ruffed Grouse Society's "Women's Intro to Wingshooting" class.
The U.S. Forest Service has announced that its lottery system for issuing Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness permits for a few highly sought entry points near Ely no longer will be used after the 2018 season. The system will be replaced by the first-come, first-served system now in use at other entry points for the Boundary Waters, said Kris Reichenbach, public affairs officer for Superior National Forest.
Despite reducing the number of permits available to bear hunters this fall, wildlife officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources say the bear harvest will be higher than expected. That makes two years in a row, at a time when the DNR is trying to hold harvests down in order to increase the state's bear population. Currently, the state has an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 bears, said Dave Garshelis, leader of the DNR's bear project.
As reported last week, Minnesota's wolf population is up 25 percent from last year at an estimated 2,856 wolves distributed among about 500 packs, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. DNR officials said the wolf numbers are up because there are more deer in northern Minnesota for them to eat. Higher deer densities allow for more wolves, biologists said. Deer numbers in the wolf range are up about 22 percent over last year.
• Oct. 4-10 — Wisconsin bear season in all zones other than Zone C with bait and other legal methods not using dogs. • Oct. 7-8 — Wisconsin youth deer hunt. • Oct. 14 — Minnesota pheasant opener. • Nov. 4-19 — Minnesota firearms deer season in Series 100 units. • Nov. 18-26 — Wisconsin gun deer season. • Nov. 25-Dec. 10 — Minnesota muzzleloader deer season. • Nov. 27-Dec. 6 — Wisconsin muzzleloader deer season.
ON WISCONSIN'S BRULE RIVER — It was almost as if the ancient white pines knew. As sure as their spent needles were piling up beneath outreached boughs, anglers would be coming. It was a glorious September morning, finally almost crisp after several days of rain and thick air. Yes, the river was running a little high from that spate of precipitation. And, yeah, it might be carrying a little more color than a trout or salmon angler really would have liked.
Grouse hunting is, by its nature, a walk in the woods. A couple of recent lost-hunter incidents, one in Pine County and another near Remer, serve as reminders that hunters can sometimes find themselves turned around. Both of those incidents involved hunters being lost for multiple days and requiring rescue. With that in mind, here are some tips on how not to get lost grouse hunting, from David "Swede" Johnson, a regional director for the Ruffed Grouse Society from River Falls, Wis.