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For a second year, Lac qui Parle, Minn., wildlife refuge playing host to goose hunting

The Lac qui Parle refuge will allow goose hunting to continue in the state blinds that line the refuge perimeter through Dec. 22. Tribune file photo

WATSON -- Part two in a new era in goose hunting at the Lac qui Parle wildlife refuge gets underway today.

Goose hunting will continue to be allowed in the state blinds for only the second December in the more than 40-year history of the controlled goose hunt at the refuge. A December hunt was offered for the first time last year, but this year will likely provide a much better test of how things will work, according to Dave Truaba, wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Last year's early arrival of snow and consecutive weekends of stormy, wintry weather pushed the birds out and kept hunters away.

This December promises a much better start. Trauba said he witnessed one of the most spectacular in-migration of geese to the refuge on Nov. 25, when it seemed all of Canada emptied of geese. The official count for the refuge as of Monday was 75,000 birds, but Trauba considers that a minimal count.

Trauba believes that the future of goose hunting at Lac qui Parle belongs to November and December, as those months have become the prime period for goose migration there.

The state blinds can be occupied beginning at 5 a.m. each day, but a December hunt is unlike that of the early season. The birds don't usually begin to leave the refuge until mid- to- late morning. On cold, clear days they may not fly until the afternoon, said Trauba.

Today is also the first day that pheasant hunting will be allowed within the refuge. Wildlife officials will be watching to see how the increased activity affects goose hunting, and whether there are conflicts between the different groups of hunters.

The first come, first served policy on state blinds also means that it's up to goose hunters to be responsible and avoid interfering with others.

Hunters do not need to register at the wildlife headquarters for a blind. Nor is it necessary to report harvested birds there.

Hunters are still welcome to stop at the headquarters for maps of blind locations and to get the latest information on bird activity.

Hunters are reminded that they must abide by all of the other regulations for the controlled hunt area. There is a 12-shell limit per hunter, and only three hunters are allowed per blind. Hunters must keep shotguns cased while going to and from the blinds.

Hunters must also wear blaze orange while going to and from blinds during the muzzle loader deer season, which is underway and continues through Dec. 11.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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