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

Dogs and Traps

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: December 5, 2009 - 10:45 AM

I don’t know much about trapping but this much I do know:  whoever wrote the ad appearing in the DNR’s Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook teaching “how to release a domestic animal from a trap” has never actually faced that situation.


Unfortunately, I have.  Thanksgiving Day, when the trap pictured in this post grabbed my Labrador and wouldn’t let go.  No matter what I did. The Minnesota Trappers Association ad in the rule book says: Step One: Remain calm and speak soothingly to the dog.  There’s our first clue that the ad writer is clueless.


My Lab was completely out of control with fear, pain and anxiety.  All the soothing talk on the planet wouldn’t have stopped him from tearing up his mouth trying to bite the trap open.  Nor would all the stepping on the traps flanges by me open it.  I ultimately had to leave my dog trapped, run home, get a bolt cutter and my tractor, cut the trap chain and carry Doc, with trap still attached, home in the bucket of my tractor.  A crow bar finally freed him.


Next day I found the trapper and determined he had no license, no ID on his traps, was setting his snare traps far above 16” off the ground, was setting traps in deer trails and, finally, gave me a false name.


But the bigger issue here is whether dry land snare and spring loaded traps should be allowed at all in the Twin City seven-county area.  Certainly trapping has its place.  But is that place where people and dogs are likely to confront them?

The 2009 Duck Season -- A Retrospective

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: November 29, 2009 - 11:38 AM

The requiem for the 2009 duck season will be held with cheers or jeers resounding from the choir loft.  Which of those sounds you are singing will depend on your perspective.  Younger hunters may look back and say it was fair to good.  Middle-aged waterfowlers might describe the results as spotty.  But if you’ve been tromping to the swamps as long as I have you’ll be harmonizing with my assessment:  duck hunting in Minnesota continues to be a cruel joke.


I saw 21 Minnesota sunrises from behind the cattails this season and, were it not for a trip to North Dakota, I couldn’t invite you over for much of a duck dinner.  Would you like some hamburger helper with that teal breast?


You can tell me about the day you were lucky enough to be in the right picked corn field.You can tell me about all the canvasbacks there were in the river bottoms. I hope you plucked with care the one bull can you were allowed to take.  And you can tell me about all the woodies your kid shot during the youth weekend in September.


I’m long enough in tooth to remember when you actually saw plenty of ducks during a Minnesota season.  Every weekend.  In the 60’s and 70’s you could take a possession limit of ten ducks most weekends if you cared to.  I find it puzzling that our limit now when we have no ducks is twelve.  But when we had ducks the limit was ten.


So when you ask me how my duck season was, I answer “compared to what?”

Pheasant Magic

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: November 22, 2009 - 11:00 AM

I have come to know that pheasants have magical survival powers.  To wit:

When I walk my dogs around my own place in the late fall we’ll often be granted two or three from-your-feet rooster flushes.  However, should the yearning for pheasant cacciatore be on my mind, and a 12 gauge in my hands on these walks, there are never, ever any roosters around.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.


A few years back I was hunting pheasants in southern Iowa.  Just me and my Setter.  Well ahead of us a rooster flushed and flew right up into a huge oak tree.  Aha! I thought, even I can make this shot.  But as we approached the tree the bird would hop around on its branches using the main trunk to hide from us.  When I’d walk around to the far side the bird, like a squirrel, would disappear on the opposite side.  Onto his game, I sent my dog to the far side.  Nope, the dog isn’t carrying a gun so I’ll just stay on this side and scold him, said Mr. Cock.  After a half hour of this frustration, Prince and I congratulated the wily old bird and just walked away.


Many years ago in Kansas a buddy and I got a classy point out of his bird dog.  When five roosters flushed there was a pure white one in their midst.  Our jaws dropped and our guns never got shouldered.  Were the four multi-colored roosters using their albino pal for protection?  You decide.


On a hunt in southwestern Minnesota I made a typical shot for me – just winged him.  The merry chase was on with my English Setter running a close second.  Round and round on the picked corn they ran.  Each  running of the circular path brought Mr. Rooster closer to a gravel road.  On about the fifth pass he took a hard right and ducked into a culvert just small enough to preclude my dog.  I looked in one end of the tube and Prince looked in the other.  He was staying put and I swear I could hear that pheasant chuckling.

Northern Washington County Deer Report

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: November 15, 2009 - 9:13 AM

Deer hunting on my place in northern Washington County, smack dab in the middle of the “intensive harvest area”, has been less than intense this gun season.  A total of four deer, none of them noteworthy, have been harvested out of the same stands that produced seventeen deer last year.  My gardens are groaning in disappointment.


I do not hunt deer but I have pals who get after them with bows, shotguns, even muzzle loaders.  I applaud each deer taken as do my sweet corn, green beans, beets and broccoli.


Many acres of field corn still standing tall and unseasonably warm weather are the best guesses for the lack of success.  The hunters are dubious about the rut which should be in full swing by now.  No chasing of does has been noted.  No bucks running brainless with tongues hanging out.


Barb and Charles Kannegaard, hunting together in the same stand, mistook an odd spike buck for a large doe.  The deer had a big body, a mature head, thick fur yet carried only pencil-sized antlers.  And since one of the antlers was over three inches long they had to tag it with a buck tag.


Many, many yearlings have been sighted and passed on.  This points to an even-sorrier spring for my vegetables.  It might be time to put up that 10-foot fence I’ve been threatening to build.

Go Outside and Look at the Horizon

Posted by: Bill Klein Updated: November 8, 2009 - 5:26 PM
 Before retiring I worked for a Fortune 100 company in the telecommunications industry.  This was in the days of the so-called long distance wars.  We were in mortal combat with Sprint, MCI and a host of smaller competitors for the hearts and wallets of clients.  To say it was stressful was an understatement.  Our "Performance Culture" was a euphemism for sell or die.

The company used to import corporate shrinks to keep us from ending up in padded rooms.  Among them, one Dr. Robert K. Cooper, who wrote the bible on beating stress and winning in the marketplace.  Dr. Cooper, a Minnesota native, always urged people to get to a place where they could see the horizon on daytime breaks.  You could find that advice in his book The Performance Edge.  Something about seeing the horizon that mellows you out.

This is not an original thought.  Thoreau told us "the soul demands a horizon."

I'm constantly urging kids to drop their X box games and go outside.  But the same advice applies to us as adults.  I find my horizons on duck hunts.  Because you read Club Outdoors on the Star Tribune's website, you likely hunt or fish too.  So you are shoring up your mental health with frequent views of the horizon.  Maybe without knowing it.

Share this mellowing-out tip with people you know who are couch potatoes.  Who only see the horizon on nature television programs.  And if you know more about why viewing the horizon benefits us, share that knowledge in the comment section of this blog.