Firearms safety a way of life for Fosston woman

Ask Bridget Landsverk (pictured), of Fosston, when she started volunteering as a firearms safety instructor and there’s a brief pause.
She starts to count the years, then remembers: Last year she received a plaque for 10 years of service, which means 2019 marks the beginning of her second decade of instruction.
Now 35 years old, she’s been teaching firearms safety in Winger-Erskine-McIntosh for much of her adult life, a way to give back borne from a friendship struck with retired conservation officer Stuart Bensen.
And it’s a family affair, too, as her father – the person who nurtured her interest in hunting – helps her teach, and her kids often attend the classes she teaches. Her oldest son, in fact, has scored 100 percent on a firearms safety test, though he’s still too young to be certified.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if someday he teaches firearms safety as well,” Landsverk said. “His dream right now at 9 years old is to have his own hunting and fishing show.”
That was never Bridget Landsverk’s dream, though her father took her into the field as soon as she showed interest. She’s hunted deer and bear. And Canada geese are the species of choice when it comes to trips with her husband and sons.
She likes the idea of female students learning from a female instructor – Landsverk figures about half the students in her classes are girls and women – and enjoys teaching kids and then hearing about their successes in the field.
“They see you out in public and recognize you from class and they want to tell you all about their first deer-hunting experience that year – or whatever they hunted,” she said. “There are quite a few kids around here who get a nice deer during their first hunt. I tell them, ‘I’m happy for you, but I hope you don’t have this expectation every year!’”
While the majority of her students attend firearms safety with the intention of going hunting, some simply want to learn about firearms so they feel more comfortable when they’re around. Whatever the case, Landsverk believes anyone – of any age – will benefit from taking a firearms safety course.
Landsverk is among 4,000 volunteer instructors across the state who constitute the backbone of the DNR Enforcement Division’s firearms safety program. The dedication of these volunteers is instrumental to the program when you consider more than 1.3 million students have received firearms safety certification since the program began in 1955. The results of the program have been dramatic, with decreasing numbers of firearms-related hunting incidents since its inception. Firearms safety training is required for anyone born after Dec. 31, 1979, who wants to buy a hunting license.
For more information on firearms safety in Minnesota, including a list of available courses, see mndnr.gov/safety/firearms/index.html (for youths) or mndnr.gov/safety/firearms_isa/index.html (for adults). Note that courses fill up quickly.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Landowners sought for Minnesota Governor's Pheasant Hunting Opener

Minnesota landowners with grassland or wetlands within 20 miles of Austin are being sought to participate in the 2019 Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener (GPHO) in October.
Gov. Tim Walz will lead the event from Oct. 11-12, which showcases the many hunting, recreational, tourism and community opportunities that the Austin area has to offer visitors. Gov. Walz has participated in past years, however, it will be his first opener as Minnesota’s governor.
“I’m eager to celebrate this special tradition and am grateful that the people of Austin have offered to host the 2019 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener,” said Gov. Walz. “It’s an honor to carry this tradition forward, and I look forward to many fantastic memories being made in Austin this fall.”
The planning committee is reaching out to landowners who may be willing to grant access to hunters involved in the event.
The land will be hunted only on Oct. 12, as part of the Minnesota Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener. Invited hunters will be led by local hunter hosts, which may include local landowners. Ideal lands for the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener include grasslands or wetlands that support pheasant populations.
Landowners interested in promoting hunting, conservation and tourism in the area by allowing hunting access for the event or seeking additional information should contact Justin Hanson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 507-434-2603 ext. 5, or stop by the Mower County Soil and Water Conservation District office at 1408 21st Ave NW, Austin, MN.
Initiated by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2011, the Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener highlights the local hunting, recreational and tourism opportunities host communities have to offer visitors.
Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources are assisting Discover Austin and other local partners in planning the event.
Information and updates will be available at www.exploreminnesota.com/MNGPHO. Follow along for social media updates using the hashtags #MNGPHO2019 and #OnlyinMN.

SOURCE: Minnesota DNR


Winter is time to prep for spring Learn to Hunt classes

MADISON - State hunting coordinators urge hunting enthusiasts eager to host a Learn to Hunt session to plan now for a spring turkey session.
The Learn to Hunt program is designed for hunting novices of all ages and backgrounds to experience and to enjoy the sport of hunting. It is part of the R3 program, coordinated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. R3 stands for Recruitment, Retention and Reactivation of hunters, anglers, trappers and shooting sports participants.
"Specifically, Learn to Hunt helps those people who do not have a hunting mentor," R3 staffer Ryan Serwe said. "The goal is to make hunting an accessible activity for anyone interested."
But first, Serwe says, a Learn to Hunt event needs a host.
Hosting or acting as a mentor in a Learn to Hunt event is a great way for experienced sportsmen and women to pass on their knowledge and ensure the future of a strong hunting heritage in Wisconsin. Whether your goal is locally sourced sustainable meat, a closer connection with the land or the thrilling pursuit of wild game, the Learn to Hunt program has something for everyone.
"We have received a ton of feedback that indicates a rewarding experience for both mentors and mentees of these events," Serwe said. "These hunting opportunities give the participants great memories and friendships."
The Learn to Hunt program has evolved much over the past 20 years, with a focus on recruiting more adults, women and families as participants in these programs.
"In the face of a declining hunting population, it is crucial that we take steps to nurture a new foundation of hunters, and the Learn to Hunt program aims to do just that," Serwe said.
To learn more about this program and how to get involved: visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "LTH."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Bonus spring turkey season permits available March 18

MADISON - Bonus turkey harvest authorizations, previously known as leftover permits, will go on sale the week of March 18, with a designated sales date for each zone.
The scheduled sales dates for the 2019 spring turkey season are:
* Zone 1 - Monday, March 18.
* Zone 2 - Tuesday, March 19.
* Zone 3 - Wednesday, March 20.
* Zone 4 - Thursday, March 21.
* Zones 5, 6 and 7 - Friday, March 22.
Bonus harvest authorizations can be purchased online through GoWild.Wi.Gov and at all license agents. Sales begin at 10 a.m., and run through midnight each day.
After zone-specific sales, all remaining turkey harvest authorizations for all zones will be made available for purchase Saturday, March 23, at 10 a.m.
Bonus harvest authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents. Both residents and non-residents will have equal opportunity for purchase. Bonus turkey harvest authorizations can be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone and time period is sold out or the season closes. Bonus harvest authorization purchases will not affect preference point status for future spring drawings.
A total of 109,771 bonus turkey harvest authorizations are available across all seven turkey zones for the 2019 spring season. Hunters are encouraged to check the turkey zone map and the spring turkey bonus harvest authorization availability to see if harvest authorizations are available for the time period and turkey zone in which they wish to hunt.
All spring turkey hunters are required to possess a valid spring turkey license, a 2019 wild turkey stamp and a valid turkey harvest authorization. If not already done, hunters will be required to purchase the spring turkey license and stamp authorization when they purchase a bonus harvest authorization.

Purchasing online
To purchase a bonus harvest authorization online through Go Wild, hunters need to log on to their personalized dashboard at GoWild.Wi.Gov and click the "Buy License" button. From there, "Spring Turkey Bonus Harvest Authorization" will be at the top of the list.
During the sale of spring bonus harvest authorizations through Go Wild, the system will use an online queue to assign random numbers to customers who enter the site between 9:45 and 10 a.m. It is important to note there is no advantage to entering the site before 9:45 a.m. Customers who enter after 10 a.m., will be added to the queue in order of arrival.
Department of Natural Resources customer service staff recommend that turkey hunters interested in purchasing a Conservation Patron license do so before March 18, to make the bonus harvest authorization process as quick and easy as possible.
Spring turkey season
The spring turkey season is comprised of six, seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. A total of seven zones will be open for hunting in 2019 - spring Turkey season dates are:
* Youth Hunt: April 13-14.
* Period A: April 17-23.
* Period B: April 24-30.
* Period C: May 1-7.
* Period D: May 8-14.
* Period E: May 15-21.
* Period F: May 22-18.
Spring turkey hunting regulations can be found within the 2018 Small Game Hunting Regulations, 2018 Fall Turkey Regulations and 2019 Spring Turkey Regulations.

Youth turkey hunt set for April 13-14
Youth hunters under the age of 16 may hunt during the youth turkey hunt April 13-14.
Hunters under the age of 12 and youth hunters without hunter safety certification can participate in the youth turkey hunt through the Mentored Hunting Program. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a qualified adult and follow all youth turkey hunting and mentored hunting program rules.
Spring turkey youth hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp and harvest authorization. A harvest authorization for any time period can be used during the youth hunt weekend, but youth hunters must hunt within the turkey management zone indicated on their harvest authorization.
For more information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "turkey."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Preliminary 2019 deer antlerless quotas up for review

MADISON - County Deer Advisory Councils throughout Wisconsin will hold meetings the week of March 11, or March 18, to start the antlerless harvest quota and permit setting process for the 2019 deer seasons.
Final CDAC meetings are the week of April 15. Deer hunting season structure options for each county will also be discussed by the Councils. Those options may include extended antlerless deer hunting seasons necessary to reach county deer population objectives.
All council meetings are open to the public and include an opportunity to provide feedback as each Council develops their preliminary recommendations. Those interested in attending can find a schedule of CDAC meetings and their locations in the searchable CDAC database.
In addition to attending CDAC meetings, the public can review and comment on preliminary recommendations through an online survey, found by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "CDAC" from April 1-10.
Public feedback is considered alongside trends in metrics relative to deer management, winter impacts, and historical season structure and harvest data provided by Department of Natural Resources biologists, foresters and law enforcement.
DNR staff will review CDAC recommendations following the April meetings and provide recommendations to the Natural Resources Board for approval in May. Following Natural Resources Board approval, final recommendations will be in effect for the 2019 deer seasons.
Additional information pertaining to CDAC population objective recommendations, agendas and membership is available at keyword "CDAC." Additional questions can also be sent via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


Hunters register 3,782 birds during 2018 fall turkey hunt

MADISON - Hunters registered 3,782 birds during the fall 2018 wild turkey season, very similar to the 3,971 turkeys registered during the 2017 fall season.
In total, 73,915 harvest authorizations were issued for the 2018 fall season, an increase of 7,099 from 2017. Of the 73,915 harvest authorizations issued, 70,420 were awarded with a fall turkey license and 3,495 were sold over the counter as bonus harvest authorizations.
The fall 2018 season marked an important change - rather than a draw, anyone with a fall turkey license and stamp was awarded one harvest authorization for the zone of their choice. In addition to the harvest authorization included with a fall turkey license, a total of 13,000 bonus harvest authorizations were available for purchase in zones 1-4.
Although a higher number of harvest authorizations were issued, the number of birds registered declined compared to last year. This resulted in a harvest success rate of 5.1 percent, a decrease from 5.9 percent in 2017. Success rate is calculated based on the number of harvest authorizations sold and is not corrected for non-participation.
"We have seen a steady decline in the number of turkeys harvested in the fall over the past decade," said Mark Witecha, Department of Natural Resources upland wildlife ecologist. "Recent reductions in harvest are largely due to a decline in hunter effort - the annual fall hunter survey shows that more and more hunters are pursuing turkeys secondary to other species."
The DNR first initiated a fall turkey season in 1989 after an increase and expansion of turkeys throughout the state. Since then, hunters have been able to pursue turkeys during both fall and spring seasons.
To learn more about wild turkey management in Wisconsin, be sure to check out an episode of the Wild Wisconsin: Off the Record podcast featuring Mark Witecha. Podcasts are available on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher and PodBean.

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR


La Crosse County Conservation Alliance waterfowl meeting set

The annual La Crosse County Conservation Alliance waterfowl meeting is scheduled Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7 p.m., at the State Office Building on La Crosse's south side.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources waterfowl specialist Taylor Finger will provide information and collect input on the upcoming seasons, and results of last year's seasons. He will also answer questions.
The meeting will be held at the State Office Building, Rooms B-19 and B-20, 3550 Mormon Coulee Rd., La Crosse, WI.
For more information, contact Marc Schultz, Chair La Crosse County Conservation Alliance (608-792-1445) or John Wetzel (608-526-4238).
Be sure to check out the DNR's Off the Record podcast for more information on hunting waterfowl in Wisconsin.