Hook and bullet club - Moose season

by Nick Wognum

Moose season is set to get underway soon, putting the second wave of firearm-equipped big game hunters in the woods.<BR><BR>Bear hunters have been at it for two weeks now and it looks like a similar harvest of bears as last year.<BR><BR>Lucky Seven was at 36 bears for the first reporting period, equal to the number registered last year in Ely. For the Tower area, the DNR reported 136 bears taken, up from 117 a year before.<BR><BR>The state bear population is estimated at up to 25,000 with the vast majority in the northern one-third of the state. <BR><BR>DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch of Tower said the hope is for a statewide harvest of up to 4,000 bears.<BR><BR>Interestingly, the bear harvest follows the berry crop. The fewer berries on the vine, the more bears taken by hunters. <BR><BR>This year the DNR expected the bear numbers to be down since we had raspberries and even blueberries on the vine as late as the first part of September. <BR><BR>However, now the bear take should be higher, despite the good crop of berries out there for bears to eat. So, you can make an assumption on your own on that one. I'm torn between better hunters and dumber bears. Sorry. <BR><BR>Moose season starts October 2 and runs through Oct. 18. This is still a once-in-a-lifetime hunt in Minnesota with a lottery system to get licenses. <BR><BR>Rusch said that despite fears a year ago that the numbers were dropping, the DNR feels the moose population is stable.<BR><BR>"Moose are dying naturally," said Rusch. "In August we found a 16-year-old bull dead that had been collared. But by the time we got there the wolves and eagles had eaten quite a bit of the moose."<BR><BR>The DNR is concerned that the number of applications for moose permits is dropping, perhaps in relation to the once-in-a-lifetime rule.<BR><BR>The more likely culprit is the goofy time period when applications are due, usually around the second week of the summer fishing season. <BR><BR>"The other thing we see at the orientation sessions are the average age of the hunters. There are more that are senior citizens, we just don't see 21 year-olds looking for moose tags," said Rusch.<BR><BR>The moose population in Minnesota is estimated at 5,000 and the DNR put out five percent (250) licenses this year. <BR><BR>There will be changes made next year on the borders for zones for moose permits. Rusch has come up with changes that make permits good for either a water or paddle-based hunt or a road-accessible hunt in the Ely area.<BR><BR>This makes a lot of sense and should help clear up confusion that existed in the past where one side of a road is in one zone and the other side in another. That doesn't work when the moose runs across the road. Unless, of course, we can get a moose to read a map.<BR><BR>For those of us who haven't used up our one-time chance, these changes are good for the future - even if that future is a ways away yet.<BR><BR>I decided long ago I would wait to apply for a Minnesota moose license until my kids were old enough to go along. With Evan at five years old, I've got another seven years to wait. <BR><BR>Of course, we could fall through the lottery system and not get a license for years and years. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men. They often go to heck in a handbasket.