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Low Water Will Challenge Hunters

Sept. 12, 2003

For additional information, contact: Tom Conroy, Information Officer, New Ulm; 507-359-6014 LOW WATER WILL CHALLENGE HUNTERS Check it out! That is the first suggestion from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to hunters who plan on being in a duck blind this fall. With drought conditions prevalent throughout much of Minnesota, last year's favorite marsh may be this year's mud flat. With the special youth waterfowl hunting day set for Saturday, Sept. 20 and the regular waterfowl season beginning the following Saturday (Sept. 27), hunters "should really get out soon to check the location they are expecting to hunt this fall," said Jon Cole, DNR Whitewater Area Wildlife Manager.

"For example, Dorer pool #1 near Weaver is very low compared to last year and could get even lower," Cole said. "There are numerous examples of similar situations throughout the area."

Many of the shallow wetlands in southern and western Minnesota have gone dry and will remain so barring an unusually high amount of precipitation soon. However, the months of September and October are normally dry months so the prospects for water returning to dry basins are poor.

Cole suggests that with the youth waterfowl hunt fast approaching, now would be a good time for adults and their youth hunting companions to do some scouting for a suitable location to hunt. "Imagine how disappointed a youngster would be to show up for the youth day hunt only to find the wetland they were going to hunt to be dry," Cole noted.

Randy Evans, DNR Southern Region Enforcement Supervisor at New Ulm, said conservation officers are also concerned about other potential problems that this year's low water conditions could cause.

Trespassing could be a problem in some places, Evans said. Hunters who traditionally have used a road or stream to access a lake or wetland, for instance, could find that access source dried up this fall. As the water recedes, the exposed bottom becomes the property of the riparian landowner. "If there is now land between the road and the water, even if it's only five or ten feet, you need to obtain permission from the landowner to cross it, if it's posted. The same is true for a dry creek or ditch bottom."

ATV users are also reminded that it is illegal to operate a vehicle anywhere below the ordinary high water mark of unfrozen lakes and rivers listed in the state's Public Water Inventory, as well as types 3, 4, 5, and 8 wetlands. "That bascially covers most of the state's water bodies and the adjacent shorelines," Evans explained.

(The ordinary high water mark is evident by the change in habitat between the area typically under water and that which is seldom under water.)

Hunter versus hunter conflicts might also arise, Evans said. "As ducks congregate in areas where there is sufficient water, hunters will also congregate there," Evans said. "It's important to understand that hunting pressure is likely to be up in many of these areas."Evans encourages hunters to heed the following suggestions to make their hunt safer and more enjoyable:

Always know where other hunters are and do not take foolish shots in their direction. Don't crowd others. If someone is already in the location you were hoping to hunt, move on to another place. Avoid sky-busting. Take only good shots that you are reasonably certain have a chance of making a clean kill. Sky-busters ruin hunting for others and lead to more cripples. Keep your cool. Getting angry usually accomplishes only one thing " it raises your blood pressure. Respect the traditions and ethics of waterfowl hunting that go back generations in time. Over-bagging, causing needless cripples, shooting at birds that are working someone else's spread, or setting up too close to other hunters are all examples of how not to be a good waterfowler.

Finally, Evans has one other suggestion - know your limits and take it easy. "Anyone who has tried to slog their way through knee-deep muck in waders, or spent time push-poling through cattails, knows it can be pretty darn hard work," Evans stated. "The last thing we want is for someone to have a heart attack out there!" -30-




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