Sept. 9 Outdoor Notes
Staples’ Nelsen wins DNR Conservation Award
Jack Nelsen of Staples received the Future Farmers of America (FFA) award from DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr during a ceremony Aug. 31 at the Minnesota State Fair.
The DNR Commissioner’s Youth Award is given annually to an FFA student who has demonstrated initiative, leadership, creativity and achievement in the conservation and wise use of natural and agricultural resources. This is the 21st year of the award program.
Nelsen has worked on his wildlife production and management project for four years after starting with furbearer trapping and habitat improvement projects.
“Jack’s accomplishments and work in wildlife are truly a story of personal interest, setting goals and putting in a lot of time and hard work,” said Kerry Lindgren, Jack’s FFA advisor. “Jack has dedicated himself to the study of wildlife and its management by continuing to challenge himself with new experiences.”
He has worked in Alaska on a salmon fishing boat the last four summers. He started as a deck hand, but because of his excellent work ethic and responsible behavior, is now entrusted with driving the boat, running the nets and other key duties.
In the fall, he works as assistant manager at the 320-acre Moran Hunting Club near Staples, organizing and running hunts. Nelsen also volunteers at his church and is an officer for the Staples Motley FFA Chapter.
He graduated from Staples Motley High School in 2012 and will attend North Dakota State University or St. Cloud State University next spring, where he plans to major in natural resources and law enforcement. This year he plans to return to work in Alaska and participate in a semester at the International Wilderness Leadership School in Patagonia.
When he was 10 years old, Nelsen shot an Alaska-Yukon bull moose that was the second largest ever recorded in the world. He is the son of Vall Murray and Dean Nelsen. Also present at the award ceremony were Lindgren and state FFA advisors Joel Larsen and Jim Ertl.
Natural Resources Field
Day Sept. 22 at Camp Ripley
The Central Minnesota Small Woodlot Owners Association and Camp Ripley Environmental Office will hold a Natural Resources Field Day on Sept. 22 at the Camp Ripley Military Reservation near Little Falls.
Registration is at 8:30 a.m. and the public is welcome to attend. Cost is $10, which includes refreshments, lunch and busing.
The day will feature an afternoon field tour of the camp. Participants will be shuttled by bus to various stops and learn about forest management activities, wildlife research and habitat management, invasive species, prairie restoration and military training opportunities.
Preregistration is required and the deadline is Sept. 19. Contact Dean Makey at 218-833-8700 or email email@example.com to preregister and for more information.
Mille Lacs Kathio
The scheduled for the next two weekends at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park near Onamia:
Saturday, Sept. 8: 10:30 a.m. Digital Nature Photography for Beginners. Learn how to take photos of wildlife, plants or landscapes and bring home your best shot. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Bring your own digital camera or use one of the park’s. The instructional portion of the program will be 30 minutes long and the time length of an outdoor photography session will depend on how many people attend. Meet at the Interpretive Center. 2 p.m. Kids’ Activity: Makin’ Tracks. Learn about animal tracks and tracking and take home a “track souvenir” you make yourself. All ages welcome. Meet at the Interpretive Center for this 45-minute activity.
Sunday, Sept. 9: 10:30 a.m. Trail Walk: Woods, Wings & Wildlife. And short hike and discussion of the Kathio forest as well as the birds and other animals that make this place their home. Meet at the Interpretive Center for this one-hour hike.
Saturday, Sept. 15: 10:30 a.m. Wetland Wonders. This is a two-part program. It will begin with a talk and slideshow about wetlands and wildlife, followed by a short trail walk to see a spruce/tamarack bog. The talk will be 20 minutes and the hike about 40 minutes. Participants are welcome to attend either or both parts of the program. Meet at the Interpretive Center. 2 p.m. The Bear Necessities. A talk about the natural history and behavior of Minnesota’s (and Kathio’s) Black Bears will be followed by a nature film on bears around the world. Meet at the Interpretive Center for this 45-minute program.
Sunday, Sept. 16: 10:30 a.m. GPS & Geocaching for Beginners. Learn about GPS and get an introduction to Geocaching. This class is designed for beginners. Bring your own GPS unit or use one of the park’s. Meet at the Interpretive Center for this one-hour activity.
Board meeting changed
The next monthly meeting of the Mississippi Headwaters Board will be at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 at Itasca State Park’s Douglas Lodge meeting room.
This is a change in location from the regularly scheduled meetings on the third Friday of each month.
The Mississippi Headwaters Board is an eight-county joint powers board mandated to the protect and preserve the first 400 miles of the Mississippi River through land-use regulation, water-quality monitoring and stewardship activities. For more information or a copy of the Agenda, contact the MHB office at 218-824-1307.
Minnesota’s pheasant, gray partridge index up
A mild winter followed by a warm spring contributed to a significant increase in Minnesota’s pheasant count, according to the DNR.
The pheasant population index increased 68 percent from 2011. Pheasant hunters are expected to harvest about 290,000 roosters this fall. That’s up from last year’s estimated harvest of 204,000 but roughly half the number taken during the 2005-2008 seasons when hunting was exceptionally good.
It was part of the DNR’s annual roadside wildlife survey. The survey summarizes roadside counts of pheasants, gray (Hungarian) partridge, cottontail rabbits, white-tailed jackrabbits and other wildlife observed in the early morning hours during the first half of August throughout the farmland region of Minnesota.
The gray partridge index also increased from last year and is similar to the 10-year average. The cottontail rabbit index remains below the 10-year and long-term average. The jackrabbit index was 96 percent below the long-term average. Finally, the mourning dove index was 36 percent above last year but similar to the 10-year average.
The highest pheasant counts were in the west central region, where observers reported 58 birds per 100 miles of survey driven. Hunters will find good harvest opportunities in portions of west central, east central and southwest Minnesota.
The August roadside survey, which began in the late 1940s, was standardized in 1955. DNR conservation officers and wildlife managers in the farmland region of Minnesota conduct the survey during the first half of August. This year’s survey consisted of 171 routes, each 25 miles long, with 152 routes located in the ring-necked pheasant range. The complete report is available online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/pheasants.
Observers drive each route in early morning and record the number and species of wildlife they see. The data provide an index of relative abundance and are used to monitor annual changes and long term trends in populations of ring-necked pheasants, gray partridge, eastern cottontail rabbits, white tailed jackrabbits and other select wildlife species.
DNR welcomes 12
conservation officer candidates
Twelve conservation officer candidates, including two with ties to the greater Brainerd lakes area, selected from 800 applicants are spending the next 12 weeks at the DNR Enforcement Conservation Officer Academy at Camp Ripley.
The candidates are receiving instruction on fish and wildlife laws, rules of evidence, patrol procedures, search and rescue, and fish and wildlife investigation. Upon graduation, the new conservation officers will spend 16 weeks in field training with a veteran conservation officer before receiving their initial assignment.
The officer candidates represent the 14th academy class of Minnesota conservation officers, celebrating 125 years of service to the people of Minnesota. Among this year’s candidates are Staci Beto, security specialist, Central Lakes College; and Caleb Silgjord, who worked for Mille Lacs Tribal Police Department.
for upland bird hunt is Monday
Inexperienced youth and women hunters have until Monday to apply for a chance to step into the field with an experienced upland bird hunter at locations across much of Minnesota on Oct. 20.
Co-sponsored by the DNR, hunt participants are paired with mentors from Pheasants Forever, Woodcock Minnesota and the Ruffed Grouse Society. After discussing safety, habitat, ethics, scouting for places to hunt and securing landowner permission when necessary, mentors take participants into the field.
Parents and guardians must accompany youth at all times and at all events.
To participate in the lottery, youth must be 12-17 years old as of Oct. 20, have earned a valid firearms safety certificate, possess a small game license and have a parent, guardian or adult authorized as a non-firearms carrying mentor to join the youth at a pre-hunt orientation as well as the hunt.
Women need a valid firearms safety certificate or an apprentice hunter validation certification, pheasant stamp (if pheasant hunting) and small game license.
Applications are available online at mndnr.gov/discover or by contacting the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or 888-646-6367. Successful applicants will be notified via mail or email by the end of September.
— Compiled by Brian S. Peterson, contributing writer