Farmers have huge impact on wildlife quality
It has been a nice change this fall to see farmers busy bringing in their crops. There were soybean-laden semis chasing by our place on their way to the elevator all day last Saturday. There are a lot of brown cornfields ready to be combined as soon as the beans are done. Unless the Heavens open up and deluge us with rain the harvest could be done by the first week of November.
Sportsmen have more in common with the farming set than farmers might think. There are those of us who do not own a combine, a semi or an acre of land who root for the farmer to get his crops out. It is no secret that one farmer has more effect on wildlife by accident than a dozen sportsmen do on purpose. That is equally true when it comes to hunting.
I have a friend who put some of his marginal land into a government conservation program. His dad was aghast. Sure, they were being paid for the idle acres, but to own farmland and not farm it went against everything the old man believed.
What is wrong with putting marginal land into conservation programs? I know a farmer who used to live on his tractor. I think he used it as a mailing address. He did not hunt and he did not like hunters. All he cared about was farming. That is why my teeth fell on the ground a couple of years ago when he suddenly put some of his highly erodible farmland into a wildlife program. They planted native grasses and a windbreak. They plugged a drain tile and created a wetland. I counted seven muskrat huts on that wetland the other day. The native grasses are helping too. I was walking near it this summer with the dog and we flushed 10 young pheasants in a spot I had never more than one. All of this was thanks to the farmer.
The other great factor that determines hunting success is the weather. Even farmers with thousands of acres of land have to bow to Mother Nature.
On a cold, cloudy, misty October morning last year my dog and I were road hunting and came upon a family of water-logged pheasants that had come up to the gravel road to find some high ground. I knocked one down and then, as the dog watched from the back seat, I slogged after it through the mud. That is what hunting conditions were like for the first three weeks of the pheasant hunting season.
Hunting conditions, like harvest conditions, were never great in 2009 but gradually pheasant hunters began to bag a few birds. When Old Man Winter arrived and the ponds froze, the advantage swung to the hunters for the first time in the 2 1/2 month season. The cold, snowy month of December was 10 times better for pheasant hunters than the wet month of October.
According to DNR roadside counts taken in August, Minnesota pheasant hunters can expect to take about the same number of birds, 400,000, that they took last year. The reason numbers did not increase is that we had a very wet summer. When you are still mowing grass in October you know it has been a wet year.
Getting the corn out is going to be great for deer hunting as well. The most common complaint of deer hunters during the first weekend of the firearms season last year was "too much standing corn." Those unpicked cornfields are refuges. A lot of deer hunters hardly saw any whitetails last year. That should not be the case this fall. For a switch, it might be advantage hunters.
Roberts posts impressive finish in T-C Marathon
Brittin Roberts of Bluffton placed first among 17-year-old runners Oct. 2 in the 2010 Twin Cities Marathon.
Roberts was 18th in a field of 137 in the 21 and under group with a time of 3:27.50.
Roberts was a photography and news intern at the Pioneer Journal this summer.
Dykhoff secures $10,000 grant from Twins
Kyle Dykhoff has secured a $10,000 "Fields for Kids" grant from the Minnesota Twins baseball organization.
The funds will be used to rebuild a youth baseball field in Wadena which was destroyed by the June 17 tornado. Dykhoff also hopes to build a new field on some nearby property which belongs to the city of Wadena.
Dykhoff's goal is to officially open the new fields in early June with a Minnesota Twins baseball clinic. A Twins clinic scheduled to be held in Wadena last summer had to be cancelled due to storm damage.
Boxing program starts Oct. 25 at Armory
Bob Tubandt's 2010-11 Wadena Boxing Club will begin work-outs Oct. 25 at the Wadena National Guard Armory.
Practice nights are Monday and Wednesday from 6-8 p.m.
Boxers are asked to bring work-out clothing and a $60 fee.
For more information contact Tubandt at (218) 631-3066 (work) or (218) 367-2462 (home).