Bill Klein

Bill Klein is a lifelong lover of the outdoors. He's passionate about mentoring children in a wide array of outdoor activities and teaching respect for the land and landowners. He lives on a small farm in northern Washington County and has never met a dog he didn’t like.

Posts about Fishing

Some Historical Perspective on the "New" DNR Duck Plan

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: January 10, 2010 - 10:55 AM

The “new” DNR duck plan, calling for river-basin feeding and resting habitat, is as old as the rivers themselves.  Before the Army Corp of Engineers and the well-funded barge industry came onto the scene river bottoms were duck havens.


But when the Corp dredged, diked and wing-dammed the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, they blessed the grain barges but doomed the ducks.  Hundreds of thousands of acres of swamp, slough and backwater were drained as the river flow was contained into the all-important navigation channels.  Wide river valleys, once intricate laces of waterfowl habitat, shrunk to a single deep trough.  Areas that used to hold aquatic food and ducks were plowed flat and black after the soybean harvest.


Pull out your atlas and a ruler.  Put one end of the ruler at the Delta Marsh, west of Winnipeg and the other end of the ruler near St. Louis where the Missouri joins the Mississippi.  Those old time river bottoms, now gone, were the straight line destination for much of the mass migration of waterfowl across Minnesota.


Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find good duck hunting at any of the old, legendary Southern Illinois duck clubs.  Those clubs dried up with the backwaters.


The “new” river bottom plan is certainly worth consideration.  But a word of warning for the DNR  -- beware the Corp of Engineers.  They are used to getting their way.

Ice Fishing? What Am I Missing Here?

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: January 3, 2010 - 12:40 PM

The ice fishing proposition says this:  you walk or drive out onto a several hundred (or thousand) square-acre lake, punch a hole through the ice and that ten square foot area beneath your hole will be swarming with crappies, or blue gills or, better yet, walleyes.


This dog won’t hunt for me.  The odds of fish being under your chosen hole are just too long for this novice.  Plus, moving to a different hole becomes a Mark X production because of a canvas or wood shelter.  So you wait, doubling down that the fish will come.


Waiting pretty much describes my ice fishing experiences.  Sometimes in horror.  Several years ago a buddy talked me into ice fishing on the St. Croix.  We drove through North Hudson and down a small gravel road to the river.  The outer edge of the St. Croix was marked with a foot-wide margin of open water.  “No problem,” said my buddy as he gunned his Suburban over the gap.  He howled with laughter as I discreetly held the passenger door slightly open while we motored to the middle of the river.


After proving to me there was two feet of ice with his auger I felt some relief.  But when I dropped my line into the water and my bobber slammed against the down river side of the hole, all I could think about was that same current carrying my body away under the ice.  I’d float out from under ice somewhere in Missouri.  A long time to hold your breath.  All these thoughts went through my mind as we waited for the crappie bite to begin.  It didn’t.


One highlight of my ice fishing career happened on Mille Lacs.  Another buddy showed me how to carve up an empty beer can just so.  When the can was hooked on the line of a third buddy, who was out checking with ice fishing neighbors, it put up a remarkably walleye-like fight when that guy was alerted he had a bite.  It was our only catch of the trip.

Outdoor New Year's Resolutions

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: December 27, 2009 - 10:55 AM

Here are my 2010 Outdoor New Year’s Resolutions.  In the new year I resolve to…


Introduce a kid to the joys of turkey hunting.


Quit whining about the lack of ducks in Minnesota.


Take that pheasant hunting trip even if the weather looks iffy.


Do less gardening and more fishing on the St. Croix.


Plant an apple tree to replace the aging Haralson left by an earlier caretaker of this farm.


Learn to do more than the “yelp” on my turkey box call.


Become a subject matter expert on the duck food known as fresh water shrimp.


Know the rules of every hunting and fishing season before they start.


Obey those rules even when no one is watching.


Thank land owners more for the privilege of hunting on their property.


Learn to identify birds of prey and shore birds and pass that knowledge along.


Talk to more X-Box addicts about the high def joys of the out of doors.


Take my camera with me every time I go outdoors.

Train Doc at least 10 minutes every day. 

Hunting Partner Christmas Gifts

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: December 19, 2009 - 10:34 AM

For your wing-shooting-challenged duck hunting partner who insists on banging away at downwind teal…A Shotgun With Built-In Lead.  (see photo)  Hard to find but well worth the search.


For your fellow waterfowler who wears a necklace of five duck calls and can flare ducks with each of them…The Sound of Silence Necklace.  You can make this gift yourself.  Cut a two-foot long piece of decoy string; save five corks from wine bottles; whittle them down to fit the loud end of the duck calls; then string them on the cord.


For the claimer among your bird hunting buddies…The Claimer T-shirt.  Features 100% cotton Mossy Oak camouflage background and large, bold, Dayglo letters proclaiming My Bird!.  Comes in XXL only to fit your buddy’s ego.  Imported from China.


For your pheasant hunting partner who empties his Remington at every flushing rooster but never pulls a feather... Frozen Capons.  To replace the pheasants that capon flying.


For your hunting pal who bought a new Benelli 12 gauge because “it really reaches out.”…A Box of Omaha Steaks.  Not exactly game, but it beats going hungry.



Saying Thanks To Landowners

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: December 13, 2009 - 10:50 AM

For 22 years I’ve been granting or denying hunters access to my small farm in northern Washington County.  And for many more years, I’ve been asking for permission to hunt all across the Midwest.  In a long hunting career I’ve seen hunters who do and hunters who don’t get the direct connection between their behavior and their access to private land. 


Let’s assume you played by all the rules, enjoyed the hunt and now it’s time to say thanks.  If you’ve been successful, ask if the landowner would enjoy a share of the harvest.  And I’m not talking the minced bluewing teal or the neck meat from your buck.  Deliver cleaned, wrapped and labeled game.  The best you’ve got.


A follow up thank you note to your hosts is another good idea.  I once sent a photograph of my daughter to a farm couple who hosted her first pheasant hunt.  When we returned a year later, I was pleased to see the picture still posted on their refrigerator.


At Christmas time I send poinsettias to the landowners who hosted me during the past fall.  Expensive?  Yes, but consider the money you have invested in your hunting equipment, dogs, licenses and gas to get to your hunting grounds.  A gift to thank the people who provided you a place to hunt is a small part of your overall investment in the sport.


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