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Tom7227

Would this work?

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I've been spending a lot of time on the FM threads and my first reaction is that there's a lot of folks who've been affected by a full moon or something. Lots of accusations, name calling, foolish bickering. I actually turned it off and went and watch the shopping channel.

Assuming that people are being serious about some of the topics is there a way to solve the 'too many people in the WMA' problem?

Short of some sort of reservation system how about a simple signing board? You work an area and then mark that you hunted it at 4 p.m. Nov. 24. Someone can see that and decide if it's worth the effort to follow you up and see what you've missed or what's moved back in.

Yes, there would be people who wouldn't sign it, some may even destroy it (no FM'ers I'm sure.)

Next one could be a reservation thing like you get with camping spots at some state parks. You want to hunt this particular area you have to reserve it and pay a $5 fee or something.

Would these ideas help with the problem or just create more issues?

Please don't respond by arguing that WMA's are public and everyone has a right to use them - so are the camping sites. It's a question of how many pounds of S--- can you fit into a 5 lb bag.

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Tom, I sure wish things like this could work, but as you stated, it only takes on bad apple to ruin a bunch and that effects everyone. Love the concept, but management and oversight would pose great problems.

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ONE public hunting area that I have been to in MN has had a notebook located inside a mailbox (the mailbox is located well off of the actual road.) There is only one public way to access this landlocked WMA and it's a looooong walk down a narrow strip of land. You pretty much have to walk by this mailbox to go hunt. With the notebook in the mailbox were a few pencils. On the page of the notebook were notes of initials of who hunted, birds seen, birds shot/missed, other game seen, and day/time hunted. Maybe a few other things on there, too. It was pretty neat and something I would like to see more of.

Please no reserving public hunting land. First come, first hunt.

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Interesting thoughts on the sign-up/reserve system. IF a person could monitor it and get it to work, that would be cool. Seems like too many logistics that may get in the way however. You also have the people that sign up and don't show.

I personally steer clear of areas that are occupied and potentially hard hunted and try to hunt the public land during times of less pressure, such as later in the season or during the week.

I went to an obviously good looking WPA today. Finding not a soul there to my surprise, I banged my 2 birds just by going back into the tough stuff. Didn't look like anyone had hunted it for quite some time.

Placing limits on anything public immediately creates more politics and the problems that go with them. People tend to rebel against too many limitations when the idea of something "public" is intended for all taxpaying people who initially supported/didn't support the purchase of it. This is not to argue your "please don't respond by saying everyone has a right to use public land" statement, just to back up my political statement of why people may find it distasteful.

Maybe someday MN will somehow get a program in place similar to the PLOTs

program in ND or the walk-in's you see in SD.

Keep working on ideas though. That is how the seeds of change start... Good thoughts/ideas if we can work together to get them to work... I'm on your side.

One idea would be to just plain buy more land??? Not easy, not cheap, but necessary in my opinion...

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I was out today with my daughter, a new friend and his son and a friend of the son. They all work or are in school so the weekend holiday was the only chance we had to get out. We went to some WMA's down by Nicollet. First one had a guy and his son, we worked the second one and it was mostly trees and swamp. They flushed one bird but it flew into the sun and so no shot was possible. We moved a bit and had a great looking spot. We worked may a mile and a half along the perimeter and then through some tough switch grass cat tails. Two hens. Two more spots, no birds. As we were starting the last spot we heard two shots. There was no one else in the parking area, but as we were moving across the front of it a guy and his son came walking down the road. They had gotten a bird in some tough cover and didn't even have a dog. I chatted with them and they were happy for their success and wished us well - we had three dogs and were covering the same ground but the guy said maybe we'd move something. We didn't.

It was a beautiful day. None of our party fired a shot but we all enjoyed it anyway.

Now if I just hadn't hit that deer on the way down there.

So, no conflicts. Plenty of ground, we just couldn't find any birds. As we worked the areas I wondered if others had covered them before but there was no obvious answers. A good day in the field beats any day at the office.

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I found it to be a very busy day on the public grounds today. Good to see people out, but deep down inside I kind of wish it would get in the single digit temps.

As far as ideas, what about a private land access program that is funded directly by the users and only accessible by those that decide to fund it. Have something like a $50 or $100 fee for the program and that money is used to pay landowners to allow access, but it will not be wide open access. When paying your $50 or $100 fee, you would be issued an additional license of some sort to present to the land owners who have been identified as participants in a booklet issued upon purchasing your private land access permit. The private land would not be signed as part of the program. I know there are issues with this idea, but I do not see a PLOTS program working in MN. I wish it would, but the way our WMAs and WPAs get trashed. Private land owners would never get paid enough to allow wide open public access to their land in MN.

Who knows - maybe the dedicated funding will actually make a significant impact on things in MN. I guess I will not hold my breath, but I will hold out hope.

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I like the idea and would w/o question pay the $50 or $100.

It really is to bad that we don't have private walk in areas similiar to SODAK.

I try not to hunt on the weekends since the closest area for me to hunt pheasants is about 50 miles.. It's not worth the drive to arrive and find another party on the WMA that I had planned to hunt. Not a complaint just a fact of life in MN.

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Since we are kicking ideas around, what about a lottery for opener? Too many hunters and not enough land opening weekend.

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The lottery thing was something I had thought about as well, but when it came down to it too many people would be against it. If I am not gone to another state for the pheasant opener, I skip it. Sad to say, but MN opener is no fun if all you have access to is public land. I am not whining either, just stating how I feel.

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The DNR HSOforum indicates that there are 1,380 WMA's in Minn. I suppose if you added in the other WPA's and federal areas there may be 2,000 - probably at most. If you're looking for pheasants you're going to eliminate at least a third of the total. So lets say there are 1,200 - 1,500 areas. On opening weekend it's easy to figure out that they're going to be covered early. If you target one and get there and someone's already there you probably are SOL. Sure gas is down but still you don't want to drive for a hour and not have a place to work.

As for paying an annual fee I saw an ad in Outdoor News for some outfit that claimed to have thousands of acres private lands. I sent for the brochure but it hasn't come. I suspect that the annual fee would be pretty high for that.

I've read some comments from some folks about the additional payment owners will be offered in some states to open up their CRP lands. Most landowners don't think the amount is enough if they have to put up with the litter, gate etc. issues.

Given the price of land even the new money isn't going to solve the problem. There has to be solutions - keep the ideas rolling.

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There is the part of me that wonders if leasing is the best option or if purchasing is the way to go. The good thing about leasing is that you get more for the money short term.

I thought I just read that MN sells an average of 130,000 pheasant stamps each year. To be safe, let's assume that 30% of the hunters would pay a $50 access fee. That is 39,000 hunters and at $50 per person it equates to $1,950,000.

I have no idea what would be an acceptable rate per acre for allowing access, so I will break it out several ways:

$10 / acre = 195,000 acres

$15 / acre = 130,000 acres

$20 / acre = 97,500 acres

$30 / acre = 65,000 acres

If you would bump that to $75 per hunter at 39,000 hunters it comes out to $2,925,000. Just typing out these numbers makes me realize how critical it is to continue to give to the conservation organization in my county / state.

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You guys talkin about walkin programs,If ya check the Mn. farm bill? Theres talk of CRP land getting enrolled with the walkin access at a small payment extra to land owners who enroll with the walkin clause.

Start hittin Collin Peterson with some emails if ya want to be heard!

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Minnesota is not a state that can participate in the USDA program - from their HSOforum:

The CRP public access incentive will be limited to CRP participants in the 21 states that already have public access programs. These 21 states are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.

The public access incentive will pay $3 per acre, per year, for the life of the CRP contract, provided the contract acres remain enrolled in the state public access program. CRP contracts are between 10 and 15 years. This incentive will be available to CRP participants with new or existing CRP contracts. This public access incentive is available to CRP participants that voluntarily agree to open CRP land to public hunting, recreation, wildlife viewing and other recreational activities.

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So, we have missed the boat on that one?

What does everyone think? Would a walk-in program work in MN? Would enough land owners be interested? Would the private land in the program get abused and land owners would pull out of the program? I hate to seem so negative, but I just think it would be difficult to pull off in MN with so many users.

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The other thing that would really help the management areas and CRP land that would be designated "Walk In" would be the addition of food plots including both corn and sorgum... Many of the WMA's in our state have very little in the way of food for pheasants. This would really help increase the population of birds. 40 to 60 yard strips of sorgum in the middle of many of our management areas would do wonders for our bird population.

I would have no problem paying more for the pheasant stamp to produce enough revenue to make this happen..

On another note I did go out late this afternoon... Made my 50+ mile drive south... First WMA which is only about 80 acres had hunters. 2nd area also had hunters so I am thinking why did I come out on a Saturday... So when I arrived at my 3rd and last area (it was 3:45 pm) I felt good that no one was there. Also this area has some nice cattails and a corn field that has not been picked across the gravel road from the WMA...

Belle and I made our way out into the catails... After about 10 minutes a nice rooster flushed in front of her and I dropped it about 40 yards out... She made the retrieve right back to me. About 20 minutes later she must have gone on point in the thick cattails bucause I could not hear her in front of me... As I walked up another rooster came up and I dropped it also... She made that retrieve and we had out daily limit in 30 minutes of hunting... Nice tune up for SoDak this coming week...

It sure is nice to have a really good dog!

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I just got back from Iowa, and I cant say enough about the state land down there. At first I thought the $92 license was a little steep. But when I got down there I couldnt believe it. They have food plots on almost every piece of land. Also we never ran into another hunter the whole weekend. I have never hunted outside of MN, but all I can say is those Iowegians know how to create some great pheasant habitat....

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The biggest problem with state sponsered walk in areas, is that it is unlikely that the payment made to the farmer will ever be more than hunters are willing to pay on their own.

Rental rates run 100-200 and acre for crp. I know many hunters who would pool with their buddies to lease a chunk at that rate, and most land owners would much rather have a small group of leasers rather than the general public on their property.

Hunters are willing to pay 100 dollars per gun per day in the Dakotas, and here in Mn. hunters are already leasing Potlatch land at a rate more than any proposed walk in rate.

The hunters will contact farmers directly and always out bid the state for the right to hunt.

My second objection, is that any money spent is gone forever. Whereas, in our WMA system the land is purchased outright, theoretically, to be set aside for ever. Land is as cheap now as it will ever be and it makes sense to use these dollars now to buy land for the future.

If urban sprawl is allowed to continue and most hunting in the future is relegated to private pay preserves (I'm not giving up yet)I could be convinced that walk in areas are a good use of the money today-but that does nothing to alleviate my fears of the future of hunting for my kids and their kids.

I don't want to steal a thread but it's worth revisiting my thoughts on allowing public hunting in ditches adjacent to cropland (enrolled in State or federal programs like crop ensurance and away from homesteads and crp) and enhancing those ditches for pheasant habitat through incentives and enforcement of crop setbacks. Hans

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