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Field reports for Sept. 27, 2009

Lingering summer yields mixed grouse results Last weekend's warm weather was tough on dogs and hunters alike, but some hunters still managed to bag a few grouse. Minnesota conservation officers reported mixed results and likely limited hunter act...

Lingering summer yields mixed grouse results

Last weekend's warm weather was tough on dogs and hunters alike, but some hunters still managed to bag a few grouse.

Minnesota conservation officers reported mixed results and likely limited hunter activity because the weather was more suitable for fishing than walking through the woods. As usual in September, even hunters who managed to find and flush grouse had a hard time seeing and shooting them because of the thick foliage still on trees.

Conservation Officer Troy Ter Meer in the Duluth area said he and hunters saw lots of grouse and reported that most hunters had at least one. Officer Brad Schultz of Cook said grouse hunters killed a few birds over the weekend but that "leaves on the trees prevented more from being shot, or even seen.'' Conservation Officer John Velsvaag of Ely reported "limited success.''

Officer Jon Paurus of Hill City said grouse hunters "were not having too much success.'' Officer Thomas Sutherland of Grand Rapids said the grouse success rate was "moderate'' with most all the trees still full of leaves. Officer Dan Thomasen of Two Harbors said hunters reported seeing "decent numbers'' of birds but that not many were shot.

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The true test of whether this year's rosy grouse population reports will mean a good season for hunters will come when leaves drop in October.

Trails mowed for easy grouse access

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has mowed a network of walking trails in Cook County to offer access for grouse and woodcock hunters in an area managed for grouse habitat.

The trails, which are open only to foot traffic and not ATVs, are near Caribou, Wills and Devil Track lakes. The trail system, established in the 1990s, was a joint effort of the DNR, U.S. Forest Service and the Ruffed Grouse Society.

The trails are on state and federal land. The DNR and Forest Service have worked to improve grouse and woodcock habitat by managing for several different age classes of aspen/birch forest in close proximity.

"These areas are a good place for those new to hunting to give it a try," said Dave Ingebrigtsen, DNR Grand Marais area wildlife manager.

"The trails provide easy access to areas where new hunters can see grouse and learn what habitat to look for when hunting grouse."

Maps of the trail systems are available online at www.dnr.state.mn.us and at DNR and Forest Service offices in Grand Marais and Tofte.

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Changes to Wisconsin deer hunt on agenda

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board last week approved hearing dates and locations for proposed changes to Wisconsin's 2010 and 2011 deer hunting season structures. The changes are based on recommendations developed by a public panel created by the Natural Resources Board and charged with finding effective and hunter-supported alternatives to earn-a-buck.

The changes include moving to a 16-day firearms deer season that starts two Saturdays before Thanksgiving; an October youth firearms deer hunt; an October muzzleloader deer hunt; and a Christmastime holiday deer hunt in central woodland and agricultural areas of the state.

The panel's complete report is available on the advisory committee Web site at deerherd.editme.com.

The following hearing locations and dates are scheduled:

In the Northland, meetings are set for Oct. 21 in the Ashland AmericInn Conference Center, 3009 Lakeshore Drive E., and Oct. 28 in the Spooner High School Auditorium, 801 County A.

The public hearings will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an informational presentation and overview of the proposed rule. Public comments and statements will be accepted beginning at 7 p.m.

DNR urges tree-stand safety

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Minnesota DNR officials say the recent death of a Wisconsin man after falling out of a tree stand while bear hunting is a reminder to be careful as deer hunting seasons get under way.

Falls from tree stands have become among the most common injuries for deer hunters in Minnesota.

A 2007 study of more than 850 Minnesota hunters who use tree stands indicated that 60 percent know someone who was injured in a tree stand fall. Some 84 percent of those who fell required medical attention.

Since most falls occur while climbing or descending, DNR officials suggest having a safety harness on from the time you leave the ground until you return.

In Minnesota no person may take deer from a constructed platform or other structure that is higher than 16 feet on either public or private lands. But that rule doesn't apply to portable stands chained, belted, clamped or tied with rope. Portable stands should be checked for loose nuts and bolts, etc. Permanent stands should be checked for rotting supports and platforms.

Always use a haul line to raise your gun or bow, and only lift them after you have secured yourself in the stand. Tie a nylon cord to a belt loop and to your gun or bow the first time up a tree. The gun or bow should conversely be lowered before beginning to descend from a tree stand. Broadheads must be covered with a quiver and guns unloaded at all times except when in the act of hunting.

The DNR reminds hunters to let others know where they are and when they should return so that if something does happen they know to send help.

Bright Star Road closed most days

Bright Star Road, a 3.5-mile forest access road off of County Road 129 near the Ash River Trail, is under construction and will be closed from Monday through Saturday for the next year or so.

The DNR and Forest Capital Partners use the road for forest management. It has also been used for recreational purposes, especially by hunters. The Bright Star Road also provides access to the University of Minnesota neutrino experiment site. Construction of the site and the road began in June with completion scheduled for November 2010.

The University is rebuilding the Bright Star Road to a 9-ton class road, a major construction project. The road will be open to the public on Sundays only during reconstruction.

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