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Outdoor Notes for Oct. 7

Deer hunt by persons with disabilities at Rice Lake NWR will limit public access Oct. 11-14

The Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge in McGregor will be holding its annual deer hunt by persons with disabilities Oct. 11-14.

In order to accommodate this special hunt it will be necessary to close the Wildlife Drive to all other users at noon during each of the four days. The refuge will be open from sunrise until noon each day for all other refuge visitors. The only areas not affected by the afternoon closures and to remain open for hunting are the access points along Highway 65, the east edge of the refuge, as well as the access points off County Road 4 to the south. Small game and deer archery hunters will still be restricted to those areas designated as open to public hunting.

A great time of year to plan a visit is mid-October, considered the peak for waterfowl migration. During the third week of October 1994 there were more than 1 million ducks estimated at Rice Lake. Nowhere else or at any other time has there ever been such a large concentration of waterfowl observed in the state until October of 2017. During the Oct. 31, 2017 waterfowl survey, a similar number of waterfowl was once again observed on Rice Lake when slightly more than 965,000 ducks, geese and swans were counted. While those numbers may not be duplicated again in 2018, it is still fairly common to see around 200,000 waterfowl during mid-October. The refuge is closed to all waterfowl hunting.

Wild rice production this year was a little less than average and will likely translate into only average waterfowl counts this fall. A waterfowl survey completed on Oct. 2 resulted in a count of 90,000 total waterfowl, including 10,000 coot. Best viewing times for waterfowl/wildlife is generally early morning or late evening. Waterfowl viewing is best done from the observation platform overlooking Rice Lake. While observation scopes are located on the viewing platform, wildlife viewing is always more enjoyable with a pair of binoculars. Anyone wanting to borrow a pair of binoculars from the refuge office may do so with a picture ID. This is a great time of year to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature, including the fall colors!

In honor of National Wildlife Refuge Week, Rice Lake NWR will open the west gate for anyone wanting to enter or leave that way from Monday, Oct. 15, through Sunday, Oct. 21. Refuge officials ask that everyone adhere to the normal open hours of sunrise to sunset and the one-way traffic signs.

Anyone needing additional information should call the refuge at 218-768-2402.

Wickhams win Northern's Inc. Gull Lake contest

With an overall catch of 25 pounds, 3 ounces, the team of Ron and Paul Wickham took first place during the Northern's Inc. pike fishing contest held recently on Gull Lake.

Coming in second, with a total catch of 22 pounds, 2 ounces, was the team of Andrew Utter and Jake Rice. Third was Ron Barnum and Craig Klimek with a catch of 15 pounds, 13 ounces; fourth place went to Rob and Roberta Carper with a total catch of 14 pounds, 15 ounces; and coming in fifth was the team of Leroy Frosty and Burt Scripture with a catch of 13 pounds.

The Lunker of the Day was a 14-pound, 12-ounce northern pike caught by Paul Wickham.

Rifle and handgun site-in at Lakeshore Conservation Club

Lakeshore Conservation Club will be hosting rifle and handgun site-in events from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Oct. 20, Oct. 21, Oct. 27 and Oct. 28 at the club's facility on Cass County Road 77, across from Mount Ski Gull.

The event is free for members and $5 for non-members.

For more information call 218-851-8688, email or visit