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Birdshot and backlashes

Serious business lies ahead starting today. Deer season is not something taken lightly in Minnesota. Hunting begins at exactly one half hour before sunrise and ends one half hour after sunset. Conservation officers are precise on this. Indeed, they are precise on all regulations for taking big game such as deer.There will be over 300,000 blaze orange resident hunters in the field and several thousand non-residents. If luck holds, hunter success, statewide will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 50%. Half of the hunters will get a deer. Maybe. Add to this over 50,000 archery hunters. We called the DNR information office and they did not have a figure on the archery kill, which is a whole lot less, percentage-wise, but still significant.Most hunters will have a good time in the woods and enjoy the comradeship of deer camp. A few will be grouchy because they didn’t get a deer and a very few will be angry because they got picked up by a conservation officer for some violation. Most of the tickets issued will be for some minor infraction that is the result of carelessness. Deer hunters crossing a lake in a boat may not have the right number of life jackets. Hunters will be picked up with an uncased gun in the car. Some may get nailed for not wearing the correct blaze orange garment. Some will get caught dragging a deer out of the woods without having a tag on it because they forgot to bring along a piece of string or wire. The old tags were simple to snap on or stick on a deer’s antlers. Now, hunters have to bring their own wire or string.It doesn’t make any difference how many seasons a hunter goes in the woods, rules can change. That little booklet issued with the license should be read carefully. HOW TO GET A BUCKThere is all manner of lore involving deer hunting and an infinite number of items one can use in an attempt to attract a buck. Some hunters get a deer every year. Some seldom get one. The lucky hunters usually go where there are a lot of deer. They have scouted the woods ahead of the season and have some idea where deer are congregated. Some hunters understand that there are certain trails deer travel. Some hunters are careful stalkers. Some are patient sitters. Some are just plain lucky.If you get a choice, take the luck.FISHING AINT DEAD YETWhile most attention is focused on hunting, fall fishermen are ringing up some exceptional catches. Trout season ended with a bang but walleyes and northern pike are still very active. The key ingredient is live minnows, available at some local bait shops. A few fishermen we know put out minnow traps and catch their own, which is OK. But minnows are not really that expensive in the stores.There are anglers who pooh-pooh northern pike, mostly because of the bones, but there are ways (see illustration below) to de-bone pike and the meat is every bit as good as walleye. Indeed, if the idea to to make a mojakka (Finn fish chowder) northerns are better than anything else.How to make mojakka? Here’s a quick recipe: In a large pot simmer chopped up onions in oil until the onions are transparent. Add layers of fish cut into one-inch squares, interspersed with potatoes cut into one-inch squares. Salt and pepper each layer. Add water to just cover the ingredients. Place a gauze bag of pickling spice in the pot. Bring the water to a boil, cut back the heat to simmer and let cook for an hour. Take the pot off the fire, add a can of condensed milk, a good-sized hunk of margarine or butter, remove the bag of spice, stir gently and serve hot. No matter how big the pot or how few the diners, there will be no left-overs. Guaranteed.

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