Minnesota Outdoorsman - Minnesota Fishing and Hunting Reports
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Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan recommend $131 million for the 2019 Department of Natural Resources (DNR) capital budget. The DNR operates in every single county and serves Minnesotans where they live, work, and play. Camping, snowmobiling, trail riding, hunting, fishing, timber harvest, and minerals development all require the DNR to keep trails and bridges, state parks, water access sites, buildings and other assets maintained, safe, and accessible to all.This capital budget funding will contribute to One Minnesota by targeting investments that maintain strong and safe infrastructure, promote community prosperity by supporting jobs across thestate, connect people from all communities with the outdoors, and protect our natural resources across our various geographical regions.


Natural Resources Asset Preservation

The DNR’s top priority is taking care of the $3 billion of capital assets we have by preserving and, when needed, replacing existing facilities. The DNR manages over 2,800 buildings, of which nearly 1 in 3 is over 50 years old, 1 in 4 is in unacceptable orpoor condition, and only 1 in 4 meet today’s design and building standards. The Natural Resources Asset Preservation (NRAP) (M.S. 84.946) recommendation of $71.5 million includes funding for buildings, water and wastewater systems, energy improvement projects, roads and bridges, trails and trail bridges, water access sites, and water control structures. Our goal is to bring all capital assets up to good or better condition within 10 years. The current annual NRAP need is $168 million, including $44 millionfor deferred maintenance and $111 million for renewal and replacement.

Betterment of Buildings

DNR buildings must be safe, ADA accessible, energy efficient, and strategically located. $14 million for betterment of buildings would enable the DNR to makesignificant improvements and renovations to buildings to meet these goals. Priorities include the Hibbing drill core library, offices, state park shower buildings, fish hatcheries, and storage facilities in order to bring them up to current standards and ensure work places are safe.

Betterment and Acquisition of Public Lands

$20 million in funding for betterment and acquisition of public lands is needed to manage and conserve the natural resources and recreational opportunities of the state. These fundswould provide for reforestation of state lands, groundwater monitoring wells, state trail connections, prairie restoration in parks and along trails, stream restoration, water access improvements, and shade tree program grants. Additionally, the funds would be used to acquire strategic in-holdings and critical needs.


Fire Operation Airport Infrastructure

Airport infrastructure that can accommodate specialty firefighting aircraft is crucial to DNR’s ability to prevent and suppress wildland fire. $2 million is needed to replace aircraft staging and access areas (ramps) at air tanker bases. The top priority is the Range Regional Airport in Hibbing, which is decaying and almost inoperable, threatening both aircraft and pilot safety.

Dam Safety Repair, Reconstruction and Removal

Minnesota’s aging dams require ongoing repairs to protect public safety and maintain water levels on recreational lakes. $2 million supports the design, engineering, reconstruction, or modification of publicly owned dams.


Improving Accessibility to State Parks and Rec Areas

Many buildings at state parks are over 50 years old and are not compliant with current ADA standards. $19.5 million will improve accessibility at strategic facilities. This work will include renovations of existing park facilities and trails as well as developing new accessible amenities to meet the growing demand of a diverse user base and people of all abilities.

Parks and Trails Local and Regional Grant Program

The Parks and Trails Local and Regional Grant Program delivers outdoor recreation opportunities to the public and maintains the health and economic vitality of Minnesota’s communities by ensuring public access to a high-quality system of local and regional parks and trails. $2 million would provide competitive grants to local governments for acquisition and development of local and regional parks and trails across the state.

5 Things to Consider When Deciding How to Hunt Spring Snows

Two experts weigh in on how to decide between freelancing or hiring a guide for spring snows

Photo © John Hoffman

By John Pollmann

The spring Light Goose Conservation Order (LGCO) provides hunters with a great way to extend their season and witness the miracle of the spring migration, but the gear-intensive nature of the hunt coupled with wary birds can provide many challenges. Among the difficulties to hunting light geese is deciding whether to tackle the experience on your own or hire a guide. In the following, a pair of snow goose gurus who have been on both sides of that coin share their thoughts to help you decide how to hunt spring snows.

Team Effort

Before Mike Bard began guiding snow goose hunters in New York, he partnered with several friends to freelance hunt during the LGCO – a decision he says was made out of necessity due to the massive costs associated with hunting these difficult birds.

“If you’re looking to do this on your own, it is really helpful to have a group of friends to pool resources, and there are a few ways you can save some money,” Bard says. “Sock-type decoys are a much more affordable way to start off and you can make an e-caller relatively inexpensively by using your phone or an old MP3 player to play snow goose tracks that you can buy online for less than $20. You can also use $25 snow goose flags rather than buying the more expensive wind- or battery-powered motion decoys.”

Most hunters have layout blinds, but Bard says if someone in the group doesn’t, a white Tyveck suit is a cheap alternative. The one piece of equipment every do-it-yourself group of snow goose hunters should have, though, is a four-wheeler to get the gear in and out fields where access by truck and trailer simply isn’t possible, which happens more often than not.

“Before you buy your own snow goose gear, I still recommend trying a guide at least once to see if it’s really something you’re up for and maybe pick his or her brain a bit on why things are done a certain way,” Bard says.

Timing Constraints

Veteran snow goose hunter Tony Vandemore is a big fan of DIY hunts and the rewards that come from putting together a successful experience with a group of good friends. The key ingredient to this approach is time.

“A do-it-yourself trip is probably going to take a week. You are likely going to drive at least a day to an area pulling a trailer before having to scout for a day or two, get permission, set the rig up, hunt for three or four days, pick the rig up and drive another day back home,” Vandemore says. “If you only have three or four days to work with, you’re probably better off hiring an outfitter to maximize your time in the field.”

Bard adds that for both DIY and guided hunters, when you go can have an impact on your success.

“There are certainly historical times of the season that are best, but no one can control the weather and the migration,” Bard says. “It pays to talk to other hunters who have spent time in a certain area or talk to the outfitter and try to make the trip during what they consider is the ‘prime time’. I always try to avoid scheduling a hunt during a full moon, as if it’s clear the birds may move and night and rest during the day. And for snow geese, it can be a lot of fun to hunt after the main migration has passed through, when the non-breeding birds typically move north. You will likely see fewer geese, but you will likely decoy more of what you see.”

Do Your Research

One area that Bard and Vandemore both emphasize is the need to ask questions of an outfitter if you plan to take that approach.

“Before you book a hunt, go over all of the details,” Vandemore says. “What kind of set up will you be using? Will you be in layout blinds, in Tyvek suits in the decoys or in a heated pit? What things are provided and what things do you need to bring yourself and so on. A good outfitter is going to go through this with you and answer all questions so there aren’t any miscommunications.”

Bard adds that he likes to talk with hunters who have used a particular outfitter before booking a hunt.

“In this day of social media, it’s pretty easy to do your homework and connect with others,” he says. “I like to cover a lot of topics and leave nothing to question. There are a lot of great guides out there who will do their best for you, but there are some who are not properly equipped and are in it to try and make a quick buck.”

Preset Expectations

Regardless of whether you hunt on your own or with a guide, Bard says that having clear expectations is a must.

“I think improper or uninformed expectations cause more issues than poor hunting,” Bard says. “As a guide myself, I like to have a good conversation with hunters so the expectations are set and there are no surprises.”

And as a hunter, Bard says he has to remind himself to keep things fun, avoid comparing himself to other groups and celebrate the little successes.

Vandemore agrees, adding that for those who choose to hire a guide, it’s important to remember that there are no guarantees when it comes to spring snows.

“I typically tell my guys when they book that we’re looking to have one good day out of three. We might hit three days of sunshine or we might hit three days of clouds and no wind,” Vandemore says. “My job is to put them in the best possible area, with the best possible equipment, so we have the best chance of having a good hunt. So much of the rest is up to the weather.”

Broaden Your Horizons

In the end, the LGCO often provides hunters the opportunity to experience and learn something new about one of the toughest targets in the waterfowl world.

“There is a learning curve in any kind of waterfowl hunting – you don’t just buy decoys and go out and have the hunt of a lifetime – and with snow geese, I think the learning curve is longer and more extensive,” says Vandemore. “They are like tarpon of the waterfowl world and the hardest to consistently find success. Doing this on your own will absolutely make you a better hunter. That said, if you’re just starting out, hunting with others that have more experience – whether it is an outfitter or a friend – is going to speed up the learning curve for you.”

Bard agrees, noting that he often chooses to hire a guide when he is traveling to a new area or hunting a new species of waterfowl.

“I really enjoy seeing how other hunters or guides find success. I will often learn something new, which provides me value for years down the road,” Bard says. “But there is a different satisfaction you get when you did it yourself and with friends – it’s your gear, you set it, and you fooled them. When you decide to go without a guide, it can be easy to get knocked down by all the punches that spring snow geese can throw your way. Those days you get to punch back are what keep you going.”

CCI Releases New Quiet & Clean Semi-Auto Ammo

The list includes:

  • VNT 17 Mach 2 17-gr.
  • VNT 22 WMR 30-gr.
  • Quiet-22 Semi-Auto 22 LR 45-gr. lead round nose
  • Clean-22 Standard Velocity 22 LR 40-gr. poly-coated lead round nose
  • Clean-22 High Velocity 22 LR 40-gr. poly-coated lead round nose

Last year, CCI extended the range and devastation of magnum rimfire with the VNT bullet design. Now varmint hunters and target shooters can get the same performance and precision in 17 Mach 2 and 22 WMR. The new loads feature a Speer bullet with an extremely thin jacket and polymer tip that team up to offer flat trajectories, superb long-range accuracy and explosive terminal performance on impact.

New Quiet-22 Semi-Auto drastically reduces the volume of standard 22 LR rounds, while cycling flawlessly through semi-automatic rifles and handguns. The accurate, low-velocity loads provide the sensation of shooting through a suppressor—without the suppressor—and are perfect for new shooters.

New Clean-22 uses an exclusive polymer bullet coating to greatly reduce copper and lead fouling in the barrel—without leaving a residue. It also cuts lead buildup in suppressors 60 to 80 percent. Both the Sub-Sonic and High Velocity loads feature a 40-grain round nose lead bullet with geometry that’s been optimized for accuracy. With dependable CCI priming and consistent propellant, Clean-22 provides flawless cycling through semi-automatics and all 22 LR firearms.

For more information, go to cci-ammunition.com.

DU National Scholarship Program

Click here to view the 2018 DU National Scholarship Winners.

Ducks Unlimited (DU) will award college scholarships to graduating high school seniors who are members of DU. The scholarship program is open to all students; however, it is targeted to volunteers who have shown an exceptional level of commitment to wetlands conservation through participation in their high school club or chapter. In addition, students must maintain a 3.0 or higher cumulative high school GPA. 

Each year, DU will award 61 one time scholarships to eligible applicants at the following levels:

  • 50 Varsity Scholarships at $500 each
  • 10 Conservation Scholarships at $1,000 each
  • 1 National Scholarship of $10,000

The online application process will be open October 15, 2018 through March 1, 2019. Applicants will provide their high school transcript, DU member/volunteer history, a list of any service or academic awards received and a letter of recommendation highlighting their DU involvement and commitment to conservation. In addition, each applicant will write a 500-word essay describing how his or her outdoor experiences have contributed to their understanding of the importance of wetlands and wetlands conservation, and the ways in which he or she have acted and/or intend ot act on this knowledge.   

A volunteer panel appointed for a two-year term by DU's Senior Vice President and Advisory to the President for the National Youth & Education Committee will review applications. Applications will be graded on a weighted scale emphasizing volunteer history/leadership and academic excellence. 

The list of scholarship recipients will be sent to all applicants in April 2019 with awarded checks released to the student's college or university prior to registration. Recipients will be recognized in Ducks Unlimited magazine, and the national scholarship winner will be announced at the DU National Convention. 


For more information on the Ducks Unlimited National Scholarship Program, please contact Mark Horobetz, at 901-758-3892, mhorobetz@ducks.org, or Logan Nevins, at 901-758-3894, lnevins@ducks.org.

3 Things To Try With Smoked Fish


Smoked fish is delicious alone, or can be used in a wide variety of recipes

1. Smoked Fish Dip

  • 1-1/2 cups crumbled smoked fish
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 3 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • Cayenne, salt and pepper to taste

Put the smoked fish in a medium bowl and add the milk. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to an hour. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours until flavors have blended. Serve with your favorite crackers.



2. Smoked Fish Cakes