Dan Guida  Danielle Ince

Dan Guida of Aitkin is one of the volunteers who make the special hunt memorable for hunters with disabilities. Here Guida is shown with his hunting buddy, Danielle Ince of Aitkin after hunting last year.

Deer hunt by persons with disabilities at Rice Lake National Wildlife Refuge will limit public access Oct. 10-13

In order to accommodate this special hunt it will be necessary to close the wildlife drive to all other users at 12 p.m. during each of the four days. The refuge will be open from sunrise until noon each day for all other refuge visitors. The only areas not affected by the afternoon closures and to remain open for small game and deer archery hunters are the access points along Hwy. 65, the east edge of the refuge, as well as the access points off Cty. Rd. 4 to the south. Hunters will still be restricted to those areas designated as open to public hunting.

A great time of year to plan a visit is mid-October, considered the peak for waterfowl migration. During the Oct. 31, 2017 waterfowl survey, a similar number of waterfowl was once again observed on Rice Lake when slightly more than 965,000 ducks, geese and swans were counted. An important note, the refuge is closed to all waterfowl hunting.

The amount of wild rice this year on Rice Lake was the best in many years and will likely translate into above average waterfowl counts this fall. A waterfowl survey completed on Oct. 1 resulted in a count of nearly 200,000 total waterfowl, of which 172,000 were ring-necked ducks. However, due to all of the recent rains, the lake’s water level is higher than planned and will likely result in fewer dabbling ducks, the mallard being the most common dabbling duck. The high water should not deter the diving ducks too much, like ring-necks, as they are still capable of feeding in the deeper water.

Best viewing times for waterfowl and most wildlife is generally early morning or late evening. Waterfowl viewing is best done from the observation platform overlooking Rice Lake. While observation scopes are located on the viewing platform, wildlife viewing is always more enjoyable with a pair of binoculars. Anyone wanting to borrow a pair of binoculars from the refuge office may do so with a picture ID.

In honor of National Wildlife Refuge Week, Rice Lake NWR will open the west gate for anyone wanting to enter or leave that way from Monday, Oct. 14-Sunday, Oct. 20. They ask that everyone adhere to the normal open hours of sunrise to sunset and the one-way traffic signs. The refuge office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. each day.

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