Hook and Bullet Club - SNOW

by Nick Wognum

Snow. More snow. Too much snow?<BR><BR>By Friday even the hardiest winter enthusiasts were asking the question of when will the snow stop? <BR><BR>After not having regular snowfall amounts for seven years, the Ely area has been inundated with snow so far this year. And that was not expected.<BR><BR>We went through the 2004 firearms deer season with hardly a flake in the air. Even into December there was rain where there should have been snow.<BR><BR>But within the last month we’ve been dumped on repeatedly. Last week Finland (the village down Highway 1, not the country) received 20 inches of lake effect snow. <BR><BR>When you can measure snowfall in feet, that’s a lot of snow. We have two plus feet of snow on the ground around here, meaning our winter severity index could be through the roof by the end of the winter. <BR><BR>Signs of wolf-killed deer are already beginning to show up in some areas and that is just the start. As deer struggle to find food, they will expend more energy than the fat reserves they have built up. <BR><BR>If the wolves don’t get the deer, some will likely starve or freeze to death.<BR><BR>That’s not to say we should panic. For those who have some faith in Mother Nature, this is all part of the process. Our deer herd has grown to a size where it needs to be trimmed. This winter may provide the trimming.<BR><BR>I live on the south side of town, not quite on the edge of the woods line, but not really in the heart of the residential area. Several nights ago I could have shot a six-point buck that had ventured in. <BR><BR>During the holidays I was coming down Pioneer Road from the Grand Ely Lodge and at the intersection with West Shagawa Road, two does ran out in front of me. Luckily we all escaped unharmed, but it wasn’t something I expected to see.<BR><BR>Out on Van Vac Road, a pair of turkeys had been making their way from house to house, looking for handouts and likely trying to keep from being wolf food.<BR><BR>When the temps fell to 50 below, one of the turkeys disappeared, likely freezing to death up in a tree. Turkeys may be a tough bird to hunt, but they’re not really built for northern Minnesota winters.<BR><BR>On the other hand, grouse survive the winters better when there is lots of snow on the ground. Instead of sitting up in a tree where it’s cold, a grouse will plunge into the snow and bury itself in winter’s white blanket to stay warm. <BR><BR>They are still a bit dumb at the start of hunting season, but no bird is perfect.<BR><BR>As the snow continues to pile up in your yard on your roof (and can the snowbanks get any higher on Sheridan Street?) let’s keep an eye out for how the wildlife handle a normal winter.<BR><BR>Remember, this generation of deer, moose, wolves, grouse and even turkeys haven’t likely seen snow measured by the foot and cold temperatures that make national news.<BR><BR>Of course, our six year-old son hasn’t either and we can’t keep him inside. Maybe that’s a good thing.