Canoe festival proposed to be Ely’s newest event

by Tom Coombe


Wet swamps, trees down slow snowmobile season

The snowmobile season in northeast Minnesota is off to a slow start.
Area clubs and the DNR have been out trying to get swamps to freeze and remove thousands of bent over trees and brush.
A wet and heavy snow stuck to branches and has caused major havoc for trail clearing forces.
Compounding the problem is not being able to access areas because the swamps are not frozen.
Ely Igloo Snowmobile Club President Rico Mondati said sections of the Tomahawk Trail may need heavy equipment to open.
“Just the section from the softball fields to Silver Rapids is a mess. We may have to bring a bulldozer in there to clean it up,” said Mondati.
Club Trail Administrator Roger Skraba was out in the Isabella area Wednesday. He said clearing the trail has been a slow process and that some swamps have open water in them.
“We just need some cold weather to get these swamps to freeze,” said Skraba.


Kids snowmobile oval racing in Winton Jan. 9

Oval ice racing returns to Fall Lake Jan. 9 for kids ages four to 14.
After successful race last February, the KCPRO Ice Racing circuit will make a stop at the Longbranch on Fall Lake.
The event is free for spectators with 11 different classes of races starting at 10 a.m.
This year there will again be at least one Ely connection with Brant Gruba, age 7, who’s in his third year of racing.
Brant is the grandson of Rod and Sheila Gruba of Ely.
The race date was moved up six weeks from last year, mainly due to poor ice conditions elsewhere.
“We’re the only place that has good ice right now,” said Rod Gruba. “We were able to get out over a week ago and plow the area off with four wheelers so it could freeze.”
With areas in the south part of the state still having open water, Gruba expects a good turnout here.
“It looks like we could have a lot of racers from the south coming up here that weekend,” said Gruba.


Conservation Officer weekly report December 21

District 5 - Eveleth area
CO Darrin Kittelson (International Falls) reports most of time was spent following up on cases from deer hunting and trapping seasons. Ice conditions remain poor on Rainy Lake and Lake Kabetogama; people have been patient so far and are reminded not to push their luck as moderate temperatures have not been conducive to making ice. A report of a deer falling through the ice on Rainy Lake was successfully rescued with the help of the Int’l Falls Fire Department. A few more snowmobiles have been observed with recent snow fall.
CO Jimmy Van Asch (Ray) reports monitoring angling, small game, and snowmobile activities throughout the area. For most of the snowmobilers, these were the first rides of the season. Few trails are open and grooming parties have been seen on the trail system. The ice conditions on area lakes still remain poor. Time was also spent on ongoing investigations and nuisance animal complaints.


- Closing the shackHook and Bullet Club

At the end of muzzleloader season, every hunter fires their gun. Some shoot at deer, others an unsuspecting tree branch, but everyone shoots.
Your only other option is to unload the gun by pushing the bullet back out. That’s no fun at all.
Sunday at dark my gun was still loaded even though I had every intention of knocking down a deer that day.
Hunting in the state park I had seen at least one deer every trip I made there. Except Sunday. Not only did I not see a deer, I didn’t see a deer track.
So much for whipping up a batch of deer track soup for supper.
We were supposed to get four to eight inches of snow on Sunday and of course that didn’t happen.
But knowing that could happen, it was time to go the shack and close everything down while we could still drive in.
Stands were dismantled out in the woods, canned goods were packed up in the shack and for good measure the sauna was fired up one more time.


County residents urged to take steps to protect septic tanks from freezing

The unusual mix of weather conditions affecting St. Louis County could cause a new sort of problem for rural residents. The St. Louis County Environmental Services staff is warning that low snowfall amounts and approaching winter temperatures could lead to potential freezing problems for septic systems.
Some common reasons septic systems freeze include: a lack of snow cover during cold weather, cold air entering the system, compacted soil, compacted snow on top of the system and irregular use of the system.
Residents are encouraged to protect their septic systems from freezing through proper homeowner or commercial owner maintenance. Recommended precautions to take now:
• Add a layer of mulch (eight to 12 inches of hay or straw) over the pipes, tank and soil treatment area. Keep the mulch loose to form air pockets, which act as insulation. This is particularly important if a system is new and vegetative cover has not been well established.


Final deer harvest up 19.4%

by Nick Wognum
The final numbers are in and the result is an increase in the harvest after two years where numbers dropped each year by more than 25 percent.
In 2013, the harvest was down 25 percent and in 2014 the numbers were down 30 percent for the firearms season.
Compared to 2010, the buck harvest in 2015 was still down over 37 percent (8,697 compared to 5,471).
But the DNR believes the area deer herd is on the road to recovery after some tough winters.
“When you get two tough winters in a row, that’s the kiss of death because you get a bad fawn crop,” said DNR area wildlife manager Tom Rusch.
“But last year was decent and the year before wasn’t too bad. Now if this winter is predicted as very mild we should get a very good fawn crop.


Hook and Bullet Club - The Hunt

On the last day of the 2015 firearms deer season, the crew from Camp Cholesterol gathered in the woods to celebrate. Finally we had a buck on the ground and venison for the winter.
For many deer camps in the Ely area this was a tough season. Some saw more wolves than deer. Many camps were only able to harvest one small buck. And some didn’t shoot any deer.
The last day of the season is often more about packing up camp than shooting a buck. But it’s not over til it’s over, even in the woods.
Sitting in a stand Sunday morning I wasn’t expecting to see much. Both Evan and I had sat in that stand during the season and each of us saw the same thing: squirrels.
The quickest way to get to that stand is to cross a swamp that has two streams running through it. This can be anywhere from tricky to muddy to easy once everything freezes.


DNR: Hunters register 68,401 deer during first weekend

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 68,401 deer during the first three days of firearms deer season, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

“Hunters are seeing more deer this year as we continue to build deer populations across much of the state,” said Steve Merchant, wildlife populations and regulations program manager. “We’ve issued a conservative number of antlerless deer permits, and because of this, many hunters are seeing deer they can’t shoot. However, patience this year should translate to more harvest opportunities in the future.”

Final numbers from the first three days show that the number of deer registered rose 6.3 percent from 2014. Buck harvest during the first three days of the fireams season was up 8.5 percent from last year.

Zone 1 total firearms harvest was up 8.2 percent, Zone 2 was up 5.9 percent and Zone 3 was up 3.2 percent.


New mobile app available for County Land Explorer

Just in time for hunting season, a new mobile app is available for the popular St. Louis County Land Explorer.
The Land Explorer is an interactive map application that has proven popular for business, personal and recreational uses.
It combines information from several County databases to provide the most up-to-date property details.
The Land Explorer allows users to view and search land records data by address, parcel identification number (PIN) and other methods.
Since its launch in 2013, the St. Louis County Land Explorer (stlouiscountymn.gov/explorer) has been one of the most used features on the County’s website.
The mobile app version of the County Land Explorer is free, and is available for anyone with an Apple or Android smart phone or tablet.
To download the new app, people should go to the appropriate app store and search for “Explorer for ArcGIS” by Esri.


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