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memyself@I

MN WMAs open to grazing

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BobT

AND............................

Went fishing on Lake of the Woods yesterday. Between Williams and Long Point I saw 4 big piles of drain tile waiting to be installed.

The trashing continues.

Dan

And it will until the authority having jurisdiction steps in with laws and effective enforcement.

We are no different. Any one of us might like to fertilize our lawns and use herbicide to control unwanted plants but how many of us actually read and follow the label instructions to the letter so we avoid over application? We will often think more is better and so we won't hesitate to do so.

Another example. Take a look at the shoreline of your favorite lake and see how many lakeshore owners mow their lawn to the water's edge even when there's a significant grade.

Until the authority having jurisdiction steps in with laws and effective enforcement, we won't change what we have found to work for us, even when we know better.

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B. Amish

Sportsmen & Hunters & Shooters: Buy your own land and manage it the way you please.

lots of places require watershed district permits to restore wetlands on PRIVATE LAND. you apply for a permit, the watershed district notifies the adjacent neighbors. neighbors complain. permit denied.

the ag wins even on someone elses land.

hoe much sense does that make?

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LandDr

I keep seeing people post "grazing is good management"...for the people that think that, can you please explain how it is good management and what benefits come from it?

Thank you

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harvey lee

I am sure they will graze it all as they seem to be able to get what they want as they have a huge lobby.

Landr, I know that the DNR burns off many WMA's to get rid of all the weed from the Native grasses so they can grow better and have less weeds. Not sure that this works with the allowing of grazing cattle.

This land has been set aside for wildlife, not for farmer to try and make money off of it. Very, very sad that any farmer would do this to pulbic land but I am sure they will.

Graingrower, why do you not do what you suggest, buy your own land to run your farm and not use WMA's for your profit's.

Many WMA's have been bought and paid for by Sportsmen group to preserve land for wildlife, not for you to farm if you have an issue.

Do what is right and please stay off this land and take your farming operation to your land, if you do not have enough, buy more, I am sure there is another program to help you with the purchase of that.

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BobT

I keep seeing people post "grazing is good management"...for the people that think that, can you please explain how it is good management and what benefits come from it?

Thank you

It can be a fire prevention or reduction tool. Grazing animals, both by consuming the plants and by walking on the land, will help keep the fuel level lower reducing the severity and speed at which a rangeland fire will spread. It can also reduce the temperature of the fire. Hot fires can actually sterilize the land.

It can be helpful in controlling invasive plant species as the animals consume them preventing them from making a strong foothold and choking out native species.

Wildlife can also benefit by grazing. Bear in mind I'm not talking about grazing to the point of a manicured lawn here, which would be too much. Controlled grazing would thin the grasses and other plants, stir the top soil, and add nutrients in the form of feces and urine without being destructive.

Check out ebparks dot org slash stewardship slash grazing slash benefits.

Another source for some information I found is fws dot gov slash invasives slash stafftrainingmodule slash methods slash grazing slash introduction dot html

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LandDr

As we are traveling around the state working, it is amazing how many WMA|WPA sites are being grazed. There is literally nothing there for cover. If I hunted public lands, I would be very upset with what I would see this fall when I showed up to hunt. I have my private land that I have set up and it looks incredible for this year...but I feel sorry for the people that hunt public land.

Fire prevention...but we want the fuel in order to have a good prescribed burn.

A hot prescribed burn does not "scorch" the land...a fire pit where you have long sustained heat will do that however. Native prairie plants love fire and are stimulated by it. Some species like fire more than others. Big Blue and Indian LOVE fire and we burn those seed production sites every year. Swithgrass doesn't like fire as much so we burn those sites every 3 to 5 years. It's very interesting. ALSO...VERY IMPORTANT...weeds and invasive trees hate fire and did not evolve with fire like the native prairie did. Great way to get rid of thistle, invasive trees and other weeds is to have a good late fire...it will clean up a site lickity split...cleans out everything that doesn't like fire which is all the junk from Europe and Asia.

Controlling invasive species...cows don't eat thistle, chinese elm, green ash, or any other of the nasty things that move in. Just drive around and look at some of the pastures and you can view the thistles. Some of the better pasture managers will go out and cut or spray, but most have a lot of thistle.

Again, as I stated before, it depends on what wildlife you are managing for. If you want a lot of flowers, grazing can do that...but you sacrifice the cover for hunting, cover for escaping predators, getting wildlife thru the winter, etc. Great nesting and brooding cover...but what good is the nesting and brooding cover when there are no hens that made it through the winter..."Dead Hens Don't Lay Eggs".

The Native Americans knew it...did they hunt the areas where the buffalo grazed everything to the ground...or...did they hunt areas where either lighting started a prairie fire earlier that spring or even the Native Americans started the fire that spring and now there was tall thick cover?

It would be interesting to have one half of a WMA grazed and the other managed with fire. I know which side I would hunt on. :-)

Again...I think the people that actually use the WMA and WPAs need to contact their Reps and Senators.

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B. Amish

buffalo were nomadic grazers. they didn't graze anything to the ground.

prairie is a disturbance dependent ecosystem. i've seen grassland grazed as a management tool and they look great.

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BobT

As we are traveling around the state working, it is amazing how many WMA|WPA sites are being grazed. There is literally nothing there for cover. If I hunted public lands, I would be very upset with what I would see this fall when I showed up to hunt. I have my private land that I have set up and it looks incredible for this year...but I feel sorry for the people that hunt public land.

Fire prevention...but we want the fuel in order to have a good prescribed burn.

A hot prescribed burn does not "scorch" the land...a fire pit where you have long sustained heat will do that however. Native prairie plants love fire and are stimulated by it. Some species like fire more than others. Big Blue and Indian LOVE fire and we burn those seed production sites every year. Swithgrass doesn't like fire as much so we burn those sites every 3 to 5 years. It's very interesting. ALSO...VERY IMPORTANT...weeds and invasive trees hate fire and did not evolve with fire like the native prairie did. Great way to get rid of thistle, invasive trees and other weeds is to have a good late fire...it will clean up a site lickity split...cleans out everything that doesn't like fire which is all the junk from Europe and Asia.

Controlling invasive species...cows don't eat thistle, chinese elm, green ash, or any other of the nasty things that move in. Just drive around and look at some of the pastures and you can view the thistles. Some of the better pasture managers will go out and cut or spray, but most have a lot of thistle.

Again, as I stated before, it depends on what wildlife you are managing for. If you want a lot of flowers, grazing can do that...but you sacrifice the cover for hunting, cover for escaping predators, getting wildlife thru the winter, etc. Great nesting and brooding cover...but what good is the nesting and brooding cover when there are no hens that made it through the winter..."Dead Hens Don't Lay Eggs".

The Native Americans knew it...did they hunt the areas where the buffalo grazed everything to the ground...or...did they hunt areas where either lighting started a prairie fire earlier that spring or even the Native Americans started the fire that spring and now there was tall thick cover?

It would be interesting to have one half of a WMA grazed and the other managed with fire. I know which side I would hunt on. :-)

Again...I think the people that actually use the WMA and WPAs need to contact their Reps and Senators.

As I expected you would, you read my post with blinders on and have closed your mind to anything that would even remotely suggest that grazing is good for the land.

Do the research yourself if you want the answers to the questions you post. Otherwise don’t waste my time further.

I’m not going to fall into your troll any further. Sorry I tried to help you out.

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Scott M

At Sherburn refuge, Herefords help with upkeep

By ANN WESSEL, St. Cloud Times

ZIMMERMAN, Minn. (AP) -- Hybridized cattails homogenize waterfowl habitat. Invading shrubs overtake once-open oak savannas. Non-native grasses choke out nutrient-rich plants.

Enter the Herefords.

Big appetites and sharp hooves of the 250-head herd that started grazing segments of 1,300 fenced-off acres within Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge in mid-May are making fast work of what would otherwise require considerable manpower and money -- not to mention fire, fuel, chemicals and mowers, the St. Cloud Times reported.

Grazing is new to the refuge but not to Steve Karel. The refuge manager who joined Sherburne in August, Karel ran similar U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service grazing programs in Kansas and Nebraska. He describes it as one more tool in the management arsenal.

It's especially important since sequestration cut into the 30,700-acre refuge's ability to fund controlled burns, which require a lot of manpower and can run $3,000 to $5,000 per fire.

This arrangement costs taxpayers nothing.

Larger view

Hereford helpers

"They gain weight on cows and we're getting habitat management done," Karel said.

The project required 6 miles of fencing, at a cost of $10,000 a mile. A Legacy Amendment grant paid for 4 miles; revenue from the grazier offset staff costs to fence 2 miles.

The grazier is responsible for the cattle and the electric fencing within the perimeter.

The grazier pays about $11 per animal unit per month after deductions. A cow-calf pair is 1.2 animal units. Graziers receive deductions for efforts such as fencing, hauling water and rotating the cattle frequently. That revenue helps pay for infrastructure such as the fencing and contributes to revenue sharing.

Jason McDonald, the Kimball-based purebred beef producer who raises about 250 cow-calf pairs in Minnesota and another 150 in Montana, said the option is less expensive than buying land -- and land is getting harder to come by in Minnesota.

"It's worked really well for us and for the cattle," said McDonald, whose initial questions about predators, gate locks and water supply were satisfied.

On a recent tour, Karel and wildlife biologist Tony Hewitt showed early effects of grazing on the site chosen in part because it contains elements of three habitats targeted for preservation -- wetlands, oak savanna and upland prairie.

"Cattle really do a great job of managing the ground. They keep the brush down, they keep the weeds down, they keep the ground maintained," McDonald said. "I thought it was a neat opportunity to work with them to try to help manage their property."

Despite a delay brought on by a lingering winter followed by a wet spring that found cattle belly-deep in water -- and therefore confined to the edges of cattail-choked pools -- progress was evident two months in to a grazing season that will run through August.

Ideally, the cattle would have gotten farther into the cattails during the two weeks they were confined to the plot in late May. Karel would like the wetland to resemble a closely trimmed golf course.

By mid-July, cattails on the periphery were a foot or two shorter than those in the center. The animals cut into the duff layer, which can extend 12 inches deep and keeps other plants from taking hold. Forced to draw upon reserves, the cattails will be weaker when the next round of grazing starts on the regrowth.

"They slice open vegetation. The hoof action is probably just as important as the actual grazing," Karel said.

The goal is to open up 50 percent of the water.

Cattails do provide muskrat habitat. The plants also take up agricultural nutrients and prevent soil erosion. But Hewitt said these are a hybrid of the native broadleaf cattail and the narrowleaf cattail native to Southern states. The more dense hybrid shades out other beneficial plants such as arrowleaf, bull rush and smartweed.

"That diversity is key for habitat," Hewitt said.

Deeper into the refuge, one scene unfolds like a storyboard illustration.

Burned and grazed, to the left lies a slice of oak savanna on its way to restoration. Free of competing shrubs, prairie grasses grow under oaks' shade as far back as you can see.

Burned but ungrazed, straight ahead lie the skeletons of leafless shrubs standing among the trees. It's possible to see into, but not pass under the trees without some serious maneuvering.

Untouched by cattle and fire, to the right rises a seemingly impenetrable wall of green. Leafy shrubs, including the ubiquitous American hazel, make a dense understory.

In presettlement days, oak savanna habitat was managed by wildfires and the bison, elk and deer that followed in fire's wake. On this particular day, a pair of sandhill cranes blended in to a recently burned, rust-colored 40-acre plot just down the road from the refuge office as they foraged for insects.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refers to a 1985 study that estimated the globally imperiled oak savanna covered only 0.02 percent of its historic range in the Midwest.

The refuge contains 1,100 acres of oak savanna. The long-term goal would expand it to 13,000 acres.

Remnants in the best shape today were grazed before the land became a refuge in 1965.

"Our biggest issue biologically is dealing with the woody components -- mostly American hazel and red oaks," Hewitt said. "If we can have cattle, they can knock back that woody vegetation."

Karel turned down a bumpy road leading into the refuge's best example of oak savanna. Wildflowers bloomed amid native grasses shaded in spots by bur oaks. Bushy, young bur oaks stood about 5 feet tall.

This is the restoration goal.

Because the refuge lies within the transition zone between prairie and hardwood forest, the battle to curb shrubs never ends.

In the upland prairie areas, where Karel is happy to see plants such as big bluestem making a comeback, cattle crush some of the shrubby plants they do not eat.

The cattle will help to control cool-season grasses such as bromegrass and Kentucky bluegrass. Grazing will allow warm-season grasses such as big and little bluestem, Indian grass, sideoats grama and switchgrass to take hold.

Hoof action also helps to control invasive species such as reed canary grass that spread by rhizomes. Reed canary grass rings most wetlands and ponds in the refuge.

"Really, it's not a battle of what we see above ground. It's a battle of what's below ground," Hewitt said.

Even with a management plan accelerated by grazing, Karel said the work he and his staff accomplish will be just one part of a bigger picture.

"We're here to put a piece or two in the puzzle. It's way beyond me being here," he said. "These habitat improvements, these are all things that are going to take time. But if we don't do something, we're going to lose it."

Bison are out.

Goats are a possibility.

When Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge looks to the future of grazing that might one day expand beyond cattle and cover more acres, staff has more to consider than would the average landowner.

The refuge's fencing requirements are more strict.

While a neighboring landowner's property provides an excellent example of how efficiently bison have cleared out the brushy understory, bison would require more extensive fencing.

Goats, on the other hand, eat just about everything and are a bit easier to contain.

The four-strand barbed-wire fence is a bit lower than standard to allow deer to clear the top wire. The bottom wire is smooth, which allows animals to wiggle underneath unharmed.

The refuge also must consider public perception and interaction.

Karel, the project leader at the refuge, is keenly aware that if cattle manage to get loose and wander onto a road, the refuge -- not the owner -- will get the blame.

The initial grazing plots are within the wildlife sanctuary, which is closed to the public March through August, reducing the chance that someone might leave a gate open.

Because the idea was new here, staff visited neighboring property owners to explain plans. (The process also required a public comment period.)

"We're not here to try to make money. We're not here for the agricultural purpose. We're here for the habitat," Karel said.

That means refuge staff, not the grazier, determines when the cattle should move from one plot to the next.

Under a traditional grazing arrangement, the cattle would be allowed to eat the grass down to the ground. Here, they might trim it to a certain length.

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LandDr

Some pioneer diaries describe the prairie as almost looking tilled after a large herd of buffalo went through. Yes they moved, but the intense numbers of the herd would often give that result.

Whatever the buffalo did, the WMA\WPAs that I am seeing resemble a pasture...not pheasant and deer habitat.

My eyes are always open and I am always taking it all in...I am wondering who really has the blinders on. Research? I live it...I do this every day...hands on research constantly testing and trying. I "do" the research...constantly. I average around a pheasant per acre and around a deer per a little under 3 acres. If I grazed my habitat...I wouldn't even have close to those numbers.

I never said grazing wasn't good for the land, I agree with you that it can be "good for the land"...what I did say is that it is not good for pheasant and deer habitat...I said grazing is good if you want flowers but that pheasants and deer don't make it through the Minnesota winters living in flowers and eating flowers.

The question I keep asking is what are we managing the WMA\WPAs for? Is it for making the prairie look like it once did and flowers...or for pheasants and deer and for the people that primarily use the land (hunters)?

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Snag

So that's $60,000 in fencing which would be the equivalent of 12 to 15 burns. They should have the farmer give the 60k and use the Legacy money for something else.

I'm sure there are advantages to grazing, but shouldn't the farmer pay something to rent our public land. What would his normal expense be for the summer?

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LightningBG

Who says the farmer isn't paying?

Nothing like a public hunting land thread to bring out the whiners in the group.

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LandDr

Sign me up...I will burn the WMA\WPAs for FREE and put in a food plot on each one if I can harvest the seed.

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harvey lee

But it's for the farmers Landdr, that makes it all ok.

Are there any here who are not farmers who are for this? The people I have seen post that are for this are all farmers I believe except for 1 farmer who is against this practice.

Not that it would make any difference.

My understanding was that these WMA's were for wildlife and not farming operations to use for grazing.

We have 1,100 acres of wooded land in North Dakota. Some of these acres are rented out for pastures as there are some grassy areas. Some of the grazed areas are kind of void of deer as they are more like parks than deer areas, espeically for bedding deer.

The deer herd does seem to stay in the more heavily wooded acres.

I know in the Sheyenne National Grasslands, the Federal Gov does allow grazing in portions of the grasslands. You can rent blocks of acres for grazing according by the acres you have abutting the Grasslands. The ranchers do have to pay rent per acre though, it is not for free and they do watch the blocks of grazing areas so they are not over grazed. They are not aloowed to let the cattle graze it to the ground.

Most of this area is open range with very little woods.

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LandDr

Harvey, I am a farmer...I just grow a different crop. I do have about 100ac of corn on my best ground with everything else in buffers and seed production. The crop fields are also strategically placed to provide my firebreaks for burning to make sure I get that done quickly and safely. And you should see all of the pheasants and deer!

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harvey lee

I agree with you 100% Landdr. The WMA's I highly doubt were ever created for farming operations but for the Mgmt of wildlife.

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Eric Wettschreck

There are a lot of WPA/WMA acres around where I live. I have not seen a cow in any of them yet.

Not saying it isn't happening, just saying I have not seen any.

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Count me as a whiner then. Really? I think the point made as to what the public agencies are managing for is legitimate. It appears to me it isn't hunting species. I have seen WMAs and WPAs in W and SW MN as well as Big Stone NWR cut down blocks of trees to the point its hard to recognize where one is. Was it for the Prairie Chickens, which by the way has been largely unsuccessful in W central MN. Last year I saw 2 farmstead woodlots dozed into a pile at Slaughter Slough WPA. In the big scheme of the grassland management in the ag areas its impact is nano. I lost a place to get out of the wind and in the shade and more importantly a piece of history when there was a farmstead on every 1/4 section.

Whiner? You bet. Upland hunting cover is disappearing and now its happening on public land. Pheasants Forever, DNR, The Nature Conservancy can spin it all they want but AG GETS ITS WAY. Its a dereliction of management by public agencies and if you want to see all the benefits ag has done to the landscape, let me show you drain tile going into WMAs and narrow leaf cattail sloughs and drainage ditches and all its polluted runoff going into WMAs and WPAs.

A whiner? You bet. Now public land is going to get trashed more for the "poor farmer" Pretty nice to have your back covered no matter how the chips fall.

Dan

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waxworm09

I would like to know how every farmer that wants more tax breaks, and whines how tough it is, almost all of them around here anyways, have a truck worth 40 thousand dollars??? A farmer down the road from me has now claimed bankruptcy twice, yet has a brand new truck and a house worth around 300K . He is the same farmer that had cattle out on the 200 acres of public land down the road from my house! I love the "thank a farmer" commercials!

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harvey lee

The POOR farmer. crazy

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LandDr

I think this thread is going the wrong way.

The "farmer" did not make the decision to start grazing WMA\WPAs. There were not big lobbyist that pushed for WMA\WPAs to be opened for grazing...pretty sure of that.

The decision makers within the govt and non-profits right now are largely "preservationists" as I would call them. They want to "restore the prairie and wildlife to the way it was". There is a huge push towards more diversity, more non-game species, more management "like it was", etc. That is why you see the destruction of wooded areas and trees on these WMA\WPAs...the "prairie chicken initiative" really got it going. Seriously...how much money does prairie chicken hunting bring into the community? They don't care. How much money does deer and pheasant hunting bring into the community? They don't care about that either. They just want their prairie to be as diverse as possible with lots of flowers and no woody cover or food plots.

It is these decision makers that have created this...the farmer is just there because the decision makers invited them as a means to their cause. Could the farmer say "no"...sure...but that is not reality.

Again...the best way to address this is to contact your Rep and Senator and let them know the points.

I will be at Game Fair this weekend and give a seminar daily on "Small Property Management for Whitetails". Stop on by...it is an eye opening seminar! I assure you there is no grazing discussed in my seminar as a management tool. :-)

Good Day...and Fish On...and On...and On!

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Snag

I just sent an email to the DNR to see if they pay anything.

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B. Amish

grazing opens up a lot of cattail choked type 1 and 2 wetlands which is great for waterfowl in the spring.

again i'll say, grazing as a management tool, i'm all for it.

grazing/haying as an emergency helping hand to the ag, no.

is that all we want our remaining prairie to produce is chineese chickens and whitetails? i think there's a bigger picture out there.

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creepworm

This will fall on deaf ears but I will throw it out there anyway. What happened to the alfalfa crop this winter in the great lakes states was extraordinary. It has been many decades since a widespread winter kill like this has occurred. Just about every seed company that deals in alfalfa had record sales this year because of replanting winter killed alfalfa. A newly seeded alfalfa stand will produce s third of an established stand on a good year, a year like this, considerably less. Not to mention the rain making it nearly impossible to get quality hay put up. There was no way a farmer could have planned for this.

Farmers plant enough forages for their cattle plus some extra in case of a bad year, there is no sense on having tons of extra to go to waste. I am saying this because there is a poor farmer part to this that seems to not be understood.

I will step aside now and let you guys continue to complain about farmers growing food and then you can go to silly town and complain about the price of food, somehow expecting to have it both ways.

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candiru

I will step aside now and let you guys continue to complain about farmers growing food and then you can go to silly town and complain about the price of food, somehow expecting to have it both ways.

It is not about growing food, it is about gov't mandating ethanol that is taking up more and more farmland and forcing it into my gas tank. I get to pay higher food and gas prices with that money being used to turn the great plains into an agricultural desert.

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Snag

Here is the response from the DNR.

"Yes they pay a fee, or sometimes in bartered services. For example they could agree to plant a farm field or control weeds in exchange for the grazing."

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harvey lee

I will step aside now and let you guys continue to complain about farmers growing food and then you can go to silly town and complain about the price of food, somehow expecting to have it both ways.

Creep, I saw noone in this thread complaining about the price of food, just the fact that they open up WMA's for grazing.

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123fish

Eric we have about forty head in an eighty acre WMA just five miles from me. They are grazing probably fifty acres of it. Kind of sad to see when you know how many roosters have been shot out of there and what it looks like now. They burned it once a number of years ago with great results. I'll take a match over a cow any day. Maybe I'll get out there and take a couple of pics and post them.

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Eric Wettschreck

123 that sucks.

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      Well, I made it out for a little bit today.  Still was a fair size sheet of ice floating around on the main lake yet, not too bad considering 90% of this lake was still covered this last thursday.Water temp was 39 out there. I headed back into a small bay out of the wind.  Water temp was 48 in the furthest back corner, this is where I found a few bluegill hiding.  Size definitely was not what I was looking for, but sometimes it isn't always about catching the big'uns😊 I found myself content just to be back out casting the long rod...a few fish pulling on the line was an added bonus😏 Better days of catching are right around the corner
    • IceHawk
      Austin small minnow traps baited with some small dogfood or bread pieces. Toss in creeks deeper pools in backwaters especially off rivers. Leeches crushed coffee cans baited with beef spleens or liver,  pull real early before first light before leeches escape. Just make sure there not blood suckers and good leeches  Crawlers I get most of mine after a good hard rain on a couple back blacktop roads that are loaded doesn't take long. Be setup for bait for a while even if bait stores are closed . 
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