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OUTDOORS NOTEBOOK: Cats Incredible sets '05 date

Tournament will be Aug. 13-14; officials explore possible Outdoor Channel production

Herald Staff and Wire Reports

The East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce has set next year's Cats Incredible Catfish Tournament for Aug. 13-14, 2005 - two weekends later than this year's competition.

According to Diane Blair, president of the East Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce, organizers schedule the tournament so it doesn't conflict with the WE Fest country music festival in Detroit Lakes, Minn. That's why this year's tournament was scheduled for July 31-Aug. 1, Blair said, earlier than the past few years; WE Fest fell on the next weekend.

"We like to be that second weekend in August if we can," Blair said. "We can't compete with WE Fest; we lose too many of our volunteers."

Blair said this year's tournament went well, overall, and organizers will meet in early September to evaluate any possible changes for next year.

Nothing's official at this point, Blair says, but there's been talk of the Outdoor Channel producing some type of programming for next year's tournament. The Outdoor Channel was one of this year's corporate sponsors, and Blair says Midcontinent, the local cable provider, has been in contact with Outdoor Channel about possible filming.

That kind of publicity, she said, would only benefit the tournament.

"We'll keep our fingers crossed," Blair said.

N.D. pheasant population healthy

Wildlife officials say results of a spring crowing count indicate a healthy population of ring-necked pheasants in North Dakota.

The survey involves counts of crowing pheasants. It is not a measure of the entire population but indicates population trends, said Stan Kohn, upland game biologist with the state Game and Fish Department.

"Crow count numbers are up slightly in the central portion of the state and are up more than 35 percent in the south," Kohn said.

"At this point, it appears that with average reproduction, our prehunt pheasant population will show an increase over 2003," he said.

Kohn said upcoming data on pheasant broods should provide a good outlook for fall pheasant hunting.

Dove hunters asked to report banded birds

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is asking dove hunters in the state to report any banded birds they shoot when the season opens Sept. 1.

According to Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist for Game and Fish in Bismarck, more than 750 mourning doves were banded in North Dakota in 2003 as part of a three-year study involving 26 states. From 2003 to 2005, researchers in the participating states expect to trap and band more than 85,000 mourning doves.

The metal leg bands each are inscribed with a bird identification number and a toll-free telephone number to report the band. In return, wildlife managers will receive important information on the number of banded doves harvested, and location and date of the harvest.

The three-year study is designed to determine mourning dove harvest rates, estimate annual survival, provide information on geographical distribution of harvest, and to develop and refine techniques for a future larger scale dove banding program.

To report a banded bird, call (800) 327-BAND (2263) or go online at Participating hunters will receive a certificate of appreciation that identifies who banded the bird, the age of the bird and the date and location of where the bird was banded.

Minnesota also will offer a dove season beginning Sept. 1.

• Info:;

YOUTH program aids young N.D. hunters

A North Dakota Game and Fish Department program that aims to give young hunters more confidence in dealing with private landowners when seeking access appears to be working.

As part of Young Outdoorsmen Understanding The hunting Heritage, or YOUTH, participating private landowners place a YOUTH sticker on a "No Hunting" sign. The sticker is not a guarantee that a landowner will allow access on a particular day, but it provides positive encouragement for young hunters to ask, according to Jeb Williams, outreach biologist for Game and Fish in Bismarck.

"We are pleased with the number of stickers that have been distributed statewide," Williams said. "Our goal was to instill confidence in the young hunter by seeking and obtaining permission to get on the land, therefore learning proper landowner-hunter relations."

Private landowners interested in finding out more about the program or to receive free YOUTH stickers should contact a local Game and Fish office or the main office in Bismarck at (701) 328-6300.

Did you know?

• The North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department reports that state park visitation dropped slightly in July, compared to the same month last year. An estimated 230,088 people visited North Dakota's 12 major state parks during the month, compared to 240,465 people last year, a decrease of about 4 percent.

• The North Dakota Landowner-Sportsman Council will meet at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's main office at 100 N. Bismarck Expressway in Bismarck. Info: Doug Howie, (701) 328-6333.

• The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is giving its next series of guide and outfitter examinations at 1 p.m. Sept. 11 in Game and Fish offices in Devils Lake, (701) 662-3617; Dickinson, (701) 227-7431; Bismarck, (701) 328-6604; Williston, (701) 774-4320; Jamestown, (701) 253-6480; and Riverdale, (701) 654-7475. Preregistration is required by calling any of the participating offices.

• The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has hired Bill Penning as the Division of Fish and Wildlife's farmland wildlife coordinator. Penning has worked in several capacities at the DNR, as well as the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Scott County. He will oversee programs and activities that affect farmland wildlife habitat, including wild turkey, pheasant, prairie chicken and mourning doves. Penning replaces Lloyd Knudson, who retired as farmland wildlife program leader earlier this year.

• The DNR will accept applications for 2005 fishing tournaments starting Sept. 1. Applications received before Oct. 29 will be given preference under rules adopted to redistribute tournament traffic on busy lakes. Info: (888) MINNDNR or on the Web at


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