Outdoors notes: Turkey hunters shooting for record - again
By John Weiss
The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
Mostly superb weather, more turkeys, more places to hunt those turkeys and a change in the law combined to increase by 18.8 percent the number of turkeys registered through Tuesday.
Eric Dunton, a Department of Natural Resources wild turkey researcher in Madelia, Minn. said the number registered went from 5,422 at this time last year to 6,446 so far this year. "I think we're going to end up with a real strong harvest this year," he said.
A big part was the first two seasons had great weather, so hunters were more comfortable, he said. The number of turkeys has been steadily increasing, so there were more of them for the hunters.
The amount of land where hunters can pursue the birds is up, too.
Finally, the law changed this year so that hunters 17 and younger could get a permit over the counter for any time slot they want. Many adults choose to hunt earlier seasons, and took the youths in the early time slots, so maybe early success numbers reflected more youths in the blinds and woods, Dunton said.
He isn't sure the higher success rate will continue. Maybe weather will change, maybe not as many youths will buy the over-the-counter permits for later seasons. But then, at the end of the seasons, any hunter who wants one and didn't get a regular permit, can get one for the final two time slots. That's another first this year.
If the harvest continues at its present pace, it would be a record. The record is 12,210, set last year, he said.
How high that number can go isn't known because some areas with turkeys, especially in the northwest, haven't been opened to hunting yet, he said. Minnesota is still several years away from hitting its peak in number of birds registered. Once it hits that, the number should stabilize, he said.
WHITEWATER TROUT:Winners of the first two weeks of the Whitewater Valley trout fishing contest at Mauer Brothers in Elba are: Kyle Fuller of St. Charles, 3-pound 2-ounce brown taken with a jig in the Main Branch; week 2, Charlotte Ferguson of Onalaska, Wis., 4-pound 1-ounce brown taken with a nightcrawler on the Main Branch.
DNR CONSERVATION OFFICER REPORTS:One DNR conservation officers said turkey hunters shot mature toms, but he also saw a few jakes. Another added that the birds didn't seem to want to respond to calling, and birds often moved to new places. Once out of trees, birds were quiet.
The Mississippi River continues to produce a lot of fish and a lot of variety.
FISHING REPORTS:Crappie and bluegill fishing are great on Lake Zumbro, according to Tom Allen of Hooked on Fishing. They are mostly in 3 to 4 feet on breaklines or in 10-12 feet. Many are 12 inches long or longer.
Lake City's harbor is producing crappies on the riprap and the walleyes are hitting at Maiden Rock and toward the bottom of Lake Pepin.
Camp LaCupolis, Reads Landing: Walleyes are biting from the buoy nearest the camp at the base of Pepin and down the Mississippi River near the willows on the Wisconsin side and across the river in Minnesota. Bea Koch added she ate fresh walleye cooked in olive oil. "The fishing is good and the eating wonderful," she said. "It's hard to beat fresh spring walleye."
Mike Pierce of River Valley Outfitters in Wabasha said anglers are indeed heading for Pepin but the backwaters don't seem to be producing bass or panfish. Maybe it's been so warm that spawning and movement are ahead of schedule, he said.
The Mississippi is still up about a foot.
John Weiss covers the outdoors for the Post-Bulletin. He can be reached at email@example.com or (507) 285-7749.