Cost of Hunting & Fishing Licenses

I suppose you could call me a pack-rat, of sorts.   Truth is I still have EVERY hunting, fishing and trapping license I’ve purchased in my 25+ years of being a sportsman.   Why have I saved all of these licenses…I really don’t know.   When the season is done I throw them into a box and replace them with a new license in my billfold.

Several years back I added up all the expenditures I’ve had in my life for sporting licenses.   Of course they almost always include a Minnesota fishing, small-game and firearms deer license.   But over the years they have also included such things as Colorado Elk and Mule Deer, Montana Antelope, South Dakota Predator, Ontario Fishing, to name but a few of the licenses I’ve purchased.   The point is being a sportsman, especially a traveling sportsman, can be a costly proposition.

I recall when I last added the licenses up I had spent nearly $1,800…but when I think of what I have done since that time I’m sure the cost currently well exceeds $2,500.   I guess if you break it down that’s spending on average about $100 per year on outdoor fun over the course of my sporting lifetime.

Indeed, no matter what the cost of a hunting or a fishing license it is a good value.   When you break down the number of days you typically spend out hunting or fishing, it becomes an even better value.   Take for instance going to a movie at a theatre.   You can hardly go to a movie these days without spending $7 or $8 just to get in…you typically never go alone…so that cost doubles.   Once you get at the theater you almost certainly have to buy popcorn and refreshments.   It’s unlikely you can get by without spending $25 minimum just to see a 90-minute flick.

On the other hand, sportsmen plan their entire summer vacations around going to the lake fishing.   That $18 (Minnesota Resident) fishing license is a bargain considering the whole purpose for the week is to relax and wet a line.   Or maybe an extended weekend grouse hunting trip is your game.   Here again, a $20 (Minnesota Resident) small game license is a mere pittance to pay considering the pleasure you will get from the experience.

The truth is most sportsmen, whether you live in Minnesota or any other state, really get a good deal when it comes to enjoying the outdoors.   In most cases these monies go to fund critical fisheries and wildlife programs that only further attempt to enhance the quality of the resources enjoyed.   In many cases it is the American sportsman who has paid for the reestablishment of many wildlife species that might otherwise have become extinct.   This is done not only through license dollars, but also through taxes on the sporting goods we purchase for those respective activities (see Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Funds).

According to a 2001 Survey on Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation put out by the USFWS, the average Minnesota angler spent 19 days fishing and 14 days hunting in Minnesota during a typical year.   That breaks down to a cost well under a pack of cigarettes per day simply for the privilege to hunt and fish.   Moreover, the act of hunting or fishing is much more healthful to you that lighting up that pack of heaters.

Perhaps the biggest point I am trying to make is even though we grumble at the ever-increasing cost of hunting and fishing licenses it is truly one of the most reasonable expenditures we make in our lifetime.   What is truly out of line is the cost of the boats, the cabin property we must have, the over-under shotgun, the state-of-the-art camouflage coat, and all associated items we must purchase in order to justify the cost we made by investing in a sporting license.

Speaking of being a pack-rat…have I also told you that I’ve saved every hunting synopsis (rules and regulations book) that I’ve ever had? [pause]  Naah…I better save that topic for another blog sometime.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Question: How is John Kerry Much Like A Minnesota Lake?

Answer: They both like to flip flop, especially in the fall.

All political humor aside, there’s a phenomenon that is either taking place right now or has already taken place in many Minnesota lakes that few sportsmen really understand. It’s called lake “turnover” and it involves the transformation of most, if not all, lakes in Minnesota during the fall and spring seasons.

Here’s what the Minnesota DNR says about Lake Turnover:

• The key to this question is how water density varies with water temperature. Water is most dense (heaviest) at 39º F (4º C) and as temperature increases or decreases from 39º F, it becomes increasingly less dense (lighter). In summer and winter, lakes are maintained by climate in what is called a stratified condition. Less dense water is at the surface and more dense water is near the bottom.

• During late summer and autumn, air temperatures cool the surface water causing its density to increase. The heavier water sinks, forcing the lighter, less dense water to the surface. This continues until the water temperature at all depths reaches approximately 39º F. Because there is very little difference in density at this stage, the waters are easily mixed by the wind. The sinking action and mixing of the water by the wind results in the exchange of surface and bottom waters which is called “turnover.”

• During spring, the process reverses itself. This time ice melts, and surface waters warm and sink until the water temperature at all depths reaches approximately 39º F. The sinking combined with wind mixing causes spring “turnover.”

• This describes the general principle; however, other factors (including climate and lake depth variations) can cause certain lakes to act differently. A more detailed description of the physical characteristics of lakes, including temporal and density interactions, can be found at the Water on the Web site, sponsored by the University of Minnesota – Duluth and funded by the National Science Foundation.

Understanding lake “turnover” is important for sportsmen because it will serve an indicator as to where you will find fish. In other words, late in the fall the cold temperatures found near the lake’s bottom will cause the water to be murky and denser. If you’re a fish, this is not a good thing because this cold water can have oxygen levels so low that it sometimes cannot sustain fish life. Therefore, immediately before the “turnover” period a savvy fisherman will look for a lake’s thermocline and focus fishing activity at depths near this zone or slightly higher than this level.

The thermocline can be explained simply as that level in the lake where there is a zone of rapid temperature change. In the fall, locating this zone can be often accomplished with a good depth finder capable of finding algae and protoplankton. Otherwise, you will need a thermometer allowing you to monitor temps at various depths.

Eventually when the lake turns over the complete lake is mixed of oxygen and it also tends to clarify itself. The bad thing is now the fish are no longer concentrated as they were just prior to the turnover period. For a period of several weeks fishing can be tough as they become difficult to pattern because the entire lake has taken on this new character. Eventually, however, the fish will fall back into their routine where fishermen can find them more predictable.

Certainly fall fishing can be a challenge no matter how you look at it. Then when you add the concept of lake “turnover” it only complicates matters for many fishermen. For this reason, if you want to be a successful fisherman during the month of October in Minnesota you need to understand what happens to their habitat. If you don’t consider turnover, you might just be wasting a whole lot of time wondering why you are not getting any bites.

Indeed, an informed sportsman can expect and deal with flip-flopping when it involves our lakes during the spring and fall seasons…but when flip-flopping involves our politicians it causes us great concern. Either way, when flip-flopping occurs it generally means we can anticipate very few positive results during the experience.

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Sportsmen, Don’t Leave Home without It

To most sportsmen there are a few items of gear that are considered absolutely essential. For instance, consider how popular the pocket knife or multi-tool has become with a growing number of outdoor folk. Then again think about how nifty the little hand-held GPS units have become for navigating in the big outdoors. Still, I contend there is one piece of often over-looked equipment that should be found in every sportsman’s pack and vehicle.

Any ideas what that equipment might be? It costs less than $5, yet it can save a trip and possibly save a life. The uses are endless and only limited by a sportsman’s creativity. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes, including camouflage. Give up? I’m talking about Duck Tape. There are literally thousands of uses for Duck Tape thus making it one of the most versatile pieces of essential equipment that any sportsman can carry. But is it called Duck Tape or Duct Tape? Actually, the tape was first developed during World War II to keep moisture out of ammunition cases (like water off a “duck’s” back—hence the name DUCK TAPE).

Consider a few of these modern day uses…then consider how a roll might have saved you some headaches during a past outdoor adventure:

In The Truck
1. Emergency repair to radiator hoses
2. Patch seat covers
3. Electrical repairs
4. Securing gear together to prevent rattling during transport
5. Removing dog hair from seats

In the Boat
1. Repair minor leaks in hull
2. Emergency repair of cracked and leaky gas lines
3. Hiding a spare key with tape to a secret location in boat
4. Hold boat navigation lights in place
5. Securing broken windshields

Around the Camp
1. Repair torn tarps
2. Securing tie-down ropes so they don’t slip
3. Securing coolers to keep critters from their thievery
4. Creating insect proof between tent walls and floor
5. Splint a broken leg
6. Use as a big band-aid to control bleeding

1. Temporary patching of torn clothing
2. Fixing broken decoys
3. Removing hair/feathers from game meat
4. Constructing and attaching blind material
5. Making fletching for an arrow
6. Waterproofing shot shell boxes
7. Field repair of a cracked gunstock
8. Covering muzzle to keep rain/dirt out of barrel
9. Emergency repair of hunting boots
10. Create non-slip grips on hunting knives

1. Repair broken fishing rod
2. Waterproof a hat
3. Fix leaky minnow bucket
4. Make a cut-resistant filleting glove
5. Secure removable dividers in tackle box
6. Emergency repair a hole in landing net
7. Repair punctured or torn waders/hip boots

Out-of-the-ordinary Uses
1. Cut a small piece and leave on a wart for several days. It will starve it of oxygen and is considered more effective than freezing to remove.
2. Homeland security. The government is urging all families to keep enough Duck Tape on hand to be used for protection against chemical or biological terror attacks in the future.

As you can see Duck Tape is no ordinary piece of equipment for the sportsman. Keep several rolls on hand and above all, be creative and don’t forget to grab it the next time you have a dilemma on your hands that requires a “sticky situation.”

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.