Sign up now for a firearms safety hunter education class

Sign up now for a firearms safety hunter education class

Now is the time for people to sign up for a hunter education firearms safety class offered by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Volunteer instructors from throughout the state are calling in right now to set up spring classes, so this is the time to get your son or daughter registered before the fall hunting seasons begin,” said Acting Capt. Jon Paurus, DNR hunter education coordinator.

Anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979 must take a DNR safety training course and receive a certificate of completion before purchasing a license for big or small game.

“Every year we have hopeful hunters who wait until the last minute to take a hunter safety class only to find out they have missed their opportunity to do so,” Paurus said. “The fall is when many of our volunteer instructors would like to be enjoying the outdoors as well, which means it can be more difficult to find a class.”

Also, hunters frequently encounter problems when they hunt in states with more stringent hunter education requirements. For example, Colorado requires a hunter education certificate for anyone born after Jan. 1, 1949, and neighboring states such as North Dakota and Iowa have requirements for those born after 1961 and 1967.

For a list of classes or to check requirements from other states, visit the safety/education Web page atwww.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/index.html.

Classes generally fill up quickly but check the listing often as more classes are being added daily. For more information, call 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367.

Women new to archery or bow hunting can learn basics in DNR class

Women new to archery or bow hunting can learn basics in DNR class

Women interested in becoming archers or learning how to bow hunt can sign up for a three-part class series on archery basics, equipment, target shooting and hunting skills in a class series starting Saturday, Feb. 28.

“Women can learn the basics of archery, and those with intermediate archery skills can learn how to bow hunt,” said Linda Bylander, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW) outreach program coordinator. “They will learn-by-doing in a supportive atmosphere.”

There are two options for these classes. In a beginner’s series, women new to archery or with limited experience will learn archery basics, equipment and target shooting. And a hunting archery series is designed for women with intermediate archery skills who are interested learning how to bow hunt.

Both classes start Feb. 28 in the Schwan Center at the National Sports Center in Blaine. Subsequent classes will beSunday, March 15, and Saturday, April 18. A bow hunter education certification class is Saturday, March 21.

Safari Club International North Country Bowhunters Chapter and the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program are teaming up to offer the archery series. Women enrolled in the beginners or hunting series are given priority for the mentored archery spring turkey hunt and mentored fall archery deer hunt.

For more information on classes or BOW, see www.mndnr.gov/bow or call DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367 and request a printed copy of the catalog. To register, contact Bylander at linda.bylander@state.mn.us or 218-833-8628.

DNR announces $1.7 million available for new trap shooting grants

Trap-shooting facilities open to the public have until Monday, March 2, to apply for matching grants that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will make available to develop and enhance trap shooting ranges.

“This statewide grant program will provide more opportunities for youth trap shooters, youth trap teams and adult shooters,” said Chuck Niska, DNR shooting range program coordinator. “We’d like to see as many applications submitted as possible.”

A total of $1.7 million is available and will be divided between two grant categories: $700,000 is available for small grants from $2,500 to $25,000; and $1 million is available for grants above $25,000. There is no limit on the request amount for grants larger than $25,000. The grants require a match of 50 percent nonstate funds to be considered.

“We look forward to helping trap clubs and other organizations put these dollars to good use,” Niska said. “Ideally, range work would be completed this spring, leading to more shooting opportunities around the state by next summer.”

Grant application packets for both small and large grants are available at  www.mndnr.gov/grants/recreation . Those selected for funding will be notified in March.

Grant background

The Minnesota Legislature last year authorized funding for matching grants to recreational shooting clubs for developing or rehabilitating trap shooting sports facilities for public use, with an emphasis on enhancing youth participation opportunities.

Nearly $400,000 was awarded to 41 trap shooting facilities last year as part of the small trap range grants program that provided matching grants of up to $25,000.

Development of the grants program follows a significant rise in youth trap shooting, especially by high school students who are part of a statewide league. Existing trap ranges sometimes struggle to meet demand.

“We funded a lot of worthy projects from the first round of grants,” Niska said. “We look forward to high interest in this next round of funding.”

New Regulations On Winnibigoshish, Saganaga and Over 30 other Lakes

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DNR announces new special angling regulations

Angling regulations will change on nearly three dozen waters this year, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Among the changes: Anglers will see more restrictive walleye regulations in and around Saganaga Lake in Cook County. Lake Winnibigoshish will have a relaxed, or narrower, protected slot limit for walleye. And northern pike special regulations will be removed on Big Birch Lake in Todd County.

Changed and new special and experimental regulations will be posted at public accesses on affected lakes and become effective March 1, except for those involving Sand Lake in Itasca County and connected waters, which will be effective in 2016.

New regulations

Saganaga, Sea Gull, and Gull lakes (Cook County) and connected waters – Walleye will have a 17-inch minimum length restriction and a bag limit of three established to protect small walleye to make the most of limited production of those fish from natural reproduction or stocking. Fish managers have been concerned for several years about low numbers of young walleye seen in these lakes, and the possibility that without some protection, those low numbers would result in even lower numbers of adult fish, with further reductions in spawning success. Effects of this regulation will be studied for the next 10 years, and will be reviewed with the public in 2024.

Sauk River chain of lakes (Stearns County) – Anglers will have an expanded opportunity to harvest channel catfish, which became established in the late 1970s and since have become very abundant. A bag limit of 10, but with only one of the 10 longer than 24 inches, is to provide the opportunity for more harvest yet still provide a healthy population of catfish.

Lake George (Hubbard County) – Bass will have a protected slot limit of 14-to 20-inches, with one longer than 20 inches allowed in a possession limit of six. The lake has a healthy population of bass shorter than 15 inches but fewer larger bass compared to other nearby lakes and the regulation is designed to boost numbers of larger bass.

Sand Lake (Itasca County) and connected waters (Birdseye, Portage and Little Sand lakes) –Starting in May of 2016, walleye will have a 17- to 26-inch protected slot limit with one fish longer than 26 inches allowed in a possession limit of six. This experimental regulation is intended to increase abundance of spawning-age walleye, stabilize reproduction, and end boom-and-bust cycles of fishing success for walleye. The regulation will be monitored for 10 years and its effect on walleye and fishing will be reviewed with the public in 2025.

Modified regulations

Lake Winnibigoshish – Walleye will have an 18- to 23-inch protected slot, with only one longer than 23 inches, relaxed from the previous 17- to 26-inch protected slot. This is to allow for more harvest opportunities while still maintaining protection to spawning-age fish. In recent years the slot limit on Winnibigoshish has consistently met objectives established for the regulation.

Clitherall and Sewell lakes (Otter Tail County) – On Clitherall Lake, smallmouth bass will have 14- to 20-inch protected slot limit with one longer than 20 inches allowed in a possession of six. This regulation replaces the catch and release regulation that has been in place for the last 10 years. The regulation for largemouth and smallmouth bass on Sewell Lake has also been changed to a 14- to 20-inch protected slot limit.  This replaces the 12- to 20-inch protected slot limit. Both lakes have quality populations of bass but managers believe these lakes can sustain quality fish while allowing additional harvest for bass shorter than 14 inches.

Big Mantrap (Hubbard County) – Black crappie will no longer have a 10-inch minimum length restriction but will continue to have a restricted bag limit of five. The minimum length limit was determined to be ineffective at increasing the size of crappie in Big Mantrap Lake.

Dropped regulations

Special or experimental regulations will be dropped on four waters and return to statewide or border waters regulations.

Regulation objectives for improving northern pike in Big Birch Lake in Todd County; walleye and sunfish in Cottonwood Lake in Grant County; and sunfish in Mississippi River navigation pools 5, 5a, and 8 on Minnesota-Wisconsin border waters were not achieved, so special or experimental restrictions will be lifted.

For similar reasons, on Jewett and Pickerel lakes in Otter Tail County, bass regulations will return to statewide limits.

Regulations turning permanent

Three lakes that have had experimental or temporary emergency regulations will become permanent special regulations. Reduced bag limits of five sunfish on Pimushe Lake in Beltrami County and 10 sunfish on Star Lake in Otter Tail County were shown to have effectively maintained quality populations of sunfish.

The temporary catch-and-release regulation for a genetically unique population of lake trout in Mukooda Lake in St. Louis County was made a special regulation to conserve these fish for further study. On nearby Little Trout Lake, which also has a unique genetic population, there will be a new catch-and-release regulation for lake trout. Both lakes are accessible in Voyageurs National Park and anglers may travel through these lakes with lake trout legally harvested on other waters.

In most years, the DNR reviews the effectiveness of some existing regulations and also considers proposals for new regulations. After evaluating information collected from lake and angler surveys, the department takes public input before making decisions based on management goals. For more information, see www.mndnr.gov/fishmn.

DNR TO SURVEY DEER AND ELK BY HELICOPTER

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Low-flying helicopters will be used for white-tailed deer population surveys planned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for January through March in central and southeastern Minnesota, if suitable snow conditions develop.

“We use aerial surveys to help monitor deer populations in portions of Minnesota,” said Gino D’Angelo, DNR farmland deer project leader. “These flights provide data to improve our understanding of how deer populations respond to management, which helps us to make decisions about future deer hunting season regulations.”

Deer will be counted during daylight hours at an altitude of about 200 feet. These counts are used to estimate deer numbers in deer permit areas. A representative sampling of 1 square mile areas within the permit areas are flown that allows for a statistically valid representation of the population in a given area.

“The goal is to complete deer permit areas 214, 215, 218, 219, 221, 223, 224, 229, 241, and 248 in Becker, Benton, Cass, Hubbard, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pope, Sherburne, Stearns, Todd, Wadena, Wilkin, and Wright counties; and deer permit areas 341, 343, 345, 347, and 348 in Dodge, Fillmore, Goodhue, Mower, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties,” D’Angelo said. “Successful completion of the surveys requires continuous snow conditions over the survey areas in order to complete them all.”

Aerial elk surveys are also planned for the Kittson County and Grygla elk ranges in northwestern Minnesota.

Spring Turkey Permit Deadline is Friday – Application Information Is Here

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From the DNR:

Reminder: Spring wild turkey permit application deadline is Friday

The deadline to apply for early season spring wild turkey hunting permits is Friday, Jan. 9, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The spring season, which runs from April 15 to May 28, is divided into eight time periods. Only people age 18 and older who want to hunt during the first three time periods (A-C) need to apply for a spring turkey permit. Permits for the remaining time periods (D-H) can be purchased over-the-counter.

Permits for the last five time periods and youth licenses for any time period are sold over-the-counter starting March 1. Surplus adult licenses from the first three time periods, if available, are sold starting around mid-March.

For more information, see www.mndnr.gov/hunting/turkey.