Brute’s Bleat September 13, 2017

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It seems like turkeys are the birds to hunt this fall with the DNR’s latest dismal report on the pheasant numbers. The only problem with hunting turkeys is that it’s all over after you’ve harvested one. I saw a family out for their morning breakfast off the Silver Creek curve last Wednesday and two flew across Hwy. 55 just ahead of us Tuesday near Lake Sullivan when I was westbound. They weren’t this year’s hatch and I was glad they were high enough to avoid a collision. Mike Muller enjoyed the early goose season and has been e-mailing me the results of his hunts with Peter Flatten. After their initial 10 the numbers have gone down as the season progressed. They had five Canada geese one morning and his next hunt produced three biggies and one baby when I reviewed the photos he sent. I heard a little grumbling about missing some geese one morning and I suspect that’s why he teams up with Flatten. The early season ends Sept. 18th.
The ruffed grouse season opens Saturday and woodcock a week later for those who like to amble down the woodsy trails where those birds might be found. Their numbers are up, according to the DNR, who says they cycle over 10-year periods. That being the case, it’s best I give grouse and woodcock hunting my best shot this fall. . . My walks with Vanna in Ney Park this summer have been unusually quiet, but both her and my ears perked up when we had the rackus call of a rooster pheasant last week. The rooster was apparently proud of his cackling and kept it up more than the initial effort. The DNR didn’t paint a very pretty picture for pheasant hunters when they announced the bird population is down by 26%. They said in part, “A decrease in grassland habitat acres (primarily Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands) is likely linked to a decrease in Minnesota’s 2017 population indices for ring-necked pheasants and gray partridge. The 2017 range-wide pheasant index (38.1 birds/100 miles) was 26% below the 2016 index. Indices for pheasants and gray partridge were both below their 10-year and long-term averages. Range- wide indices for cottontail rabbits and white-tailed deer were similar to 2016.” . . .
About a month ago I got together for breakfast with Gary Porter, Ken Engel and Dale Welter, who were all members of the Maple Lake High School faculty in various capacities, but now are retired. Welter hasn’t let go entirely and remains as a consultant to the Chaska High School athletic program. I was publishing the newspaper and shared an apartment with Welter until Janis and I were married and he had to go! After an initial period of trading health information with one another, something that seems to be common-place with retired people, the conversation turned to reminiscing and incidents that happened over the years that brought smiles and downright laugher at times. For instance, did you know Engel maintains winter living quarters in Florida and drives straight through each fall and spring. Porter hung up umpiring baseball this year after a lifetime of coaching and playing a sport he dearly loves. Welter gave me a copy of this year’s 43rd Annual Minnesota High School Baseball All-Star Series book and program in which he is heavily involved. It included a photo of MLHS Irish pitching ace, Hunter Malachek. He was a member of the Metro West team and also pitched for the Maple Lake Lakers this summer. I’ll keep the book at the Messenger office for anyone who wants to page through it.

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