Lance Ness: On a mission for turkeys ... and conservation

  • Article by: DOUG SMITH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 16, 2014 - 1:23 AM
hide

Lance Ness of Golden Valley with a southeastern Minnesota turkey.

 

When Lance Ness hears the gobble of a wild turkey, his heart pounds. And watch out if that big tom comes strutting in front of his hunting blind this spring.

“Your heart almost leaps out of your chest, it’s that exciting,” he said.

The 58-year-old Ness, of Golden Valley, will continue a tradition this month when he and his buddies set up camp near La Crescent in southeast Minnesota, where they have hunted for more than 30 years. They will pitch tents in a farmyard, spin yarns and traipse the rugged coulees in search of wild turkeys.

“It’s a very addicting sport,” he said.

Ness has been at it since shortly after Minnesota launched modern turkey hunting in 1978, following successful reintroduction of wild turkeys in the state. Already an avid hunter, angler and conservationist, he was intrigued when the state opened a very limited turkey season.

“I thought this is cool, it’s new, let’s give it a try,” he said.

He did and was hooked — as are about 40,000 Minnesotans who will pursue turkeys during the spring season, which begins Wednesday.

“In the spring, you literally watch the woods come alive,” Ness said. “There’s the whippoorwills singing; the flowers blooming; all the critters in the woods. And you’re actually talking to the turkeys. It’s just a wonderful time to be out there. The whole experience was life-changing.”

As with most of his pursuits, he went all-in. He bagged his first bird in 1984 — an 18-pound jake, or young male. He soon became a turkey-hunting instructor. In the early years of turkey hunting, when few Minnesotans knew how to hunt turkeys, the clinics sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources were mandatory. Later they became optional, and Ness continues to teach them.

“It still helps folks get an understanding of how to hunt turkeys,” he said.

Dedicated conservationist

Turkey’s aren’t Ness’ only passion.

For more than 30 years, he has been a major player in Minnesota conservation circles. He is well-known at the State Capitol, where he lobbies on behalf of outdoor interests.

His conservation résumé is long: He is the president of the Fish and Wildlife Legislative Alliance and Anglers for Habitat.

Ness was an organizer of the Ducks, Wetlands and Clean Water rallies at the Capitol in 2005 and 2006, pushed hard for passage of the 2008 Legacy Amendment, is former president and vice president of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association, has been active with the National Wild Turkey Federation and has served on a host of conservation-related committees and groups.

Outdoor News named him its Person of the Year in 2006.

“There’s probably no conservation issue that he hasn’t been involved with in the last 30 years,” said Gary Botzek of the Minnesota Conservation Federation, who has worked with Ness on outdoor issues. “Hunters and anglers owe him a large debt for all that he has done. He’s a great advocate for the outdoors. We need more like him.”

  • related content

  • Huge fish: Minnesota angler lands possible 100-pound sturgeon

    Wednesday April 16, 2014

    When Andy Fronek went sturgeon fishing on the Rainy River for the first time last weekend, he thought it would be cool to catch a fish bigger than his kids,...

  • Chart: The spring turkey hunt

    Tuesday April 15, 2014

    turkey statsMinnesota’s spring turkey season opened Wednesday and runs through May 29, with eight separate hunting periods. About 40,000 hunters...

  • Lance Ness (above), a longtime Minnesota conservation activist, with a gobbler he bagged in the snow in 2011. Ness has been hunting Minnesota turkeys since 1981, three years after modern hunting began. Ness (left) is shown as a young man in southeastern Minnesota.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close