Columnists

Fri
17
Jan

Trout Whisperer - Needing some fluff

It’s an extremely pastoral setting. Snow is falling outside, the big floaty flake kind. We have nowhere to go because we‘re there. The fire inside is glowing red orange warm coals. A very snoozy golden retriever is lying prone in front of the hearth.
He is at one side of the bench, I’m on the other, we’re not racing, but it’s a competition to see who can tie up the most flies before the other guy.
We started out with a really easy one, muddler minnows, with whitetail deer hair, a blob of deer hair, wind, wind, wind, tie-off, a drop of glue, trim, and on to the next one. I stomped him on the muddlers.
Next up, we did one of my personal favorites the “Mcginty.” When you’re done it looks just like a bumblebee and the dual lacing of the black and yellow chenille is fun to me, and having done them many years now, I just don’t think he stood a chance. Round two went solidly to me.

Fri
10
Jan

Hook and Bullet Club

There’s a logging operation taking place near Camp Cholesterol this winter. Evan and I have been out there to check it out and see what the “new” hunting grounds look like.
We agree there will definitely be opportunities for longer shots. Going to need to dial up the scopes.
After 20 years of hunting in that area we were ready for a change. A forest needs logging to renew periodically (and a lot better than fire).
When we started there was an area we called the “Christmas trees.” It was a stand of planted Norway where the trees were maybe five feet tall. Now they are closer to 20 feet up.
There have been several logging operations and each has provided new opportunities. We’ve relocated deer stands and adapted to the changes.
Seeing the large cut this year closes a 20-year chapter and opens a new one. Will the deer use this area as they did in the past? Only time will tell.

Fri
03
Jan

Trout Whisperer - Small bobber season

He saves things, like wine corks, and he dabbles them with high gloss paints, making, shaping, carving, creating his own floats. We call them bobbers, and he says, its small bobber season, but once he makes one, it’s a float.
Chunks of sponges, any color imaginable, driftwood chips, all sorts of insulating foam board pieces and sliced up plastic pop bottles are in bins and pails and buckets heaped to overflowing as well as half empty which are his warehouse of choosing choices.
He has a row of glue bottles, glue tubes and glue sticks and glue guns and its an oozy looking gobble of goop, like glue lava gone wild. But it all works once he re-warms it up.

Tue
31
Dec

From the miscellaneous drawer by Anne Swenson

The views of the holidays doesn’t vary much among the elderly. Well in the past is the hustle and bustle of gift giving. Even the meals are in the past. The Saturday before Christmas is when the day was celebrated. Mary cooked up a delicious brunch, we shared gifts and it was peaceful and pleasant.

Fri
27
Dec

Hook and Bullet Club

My son Evan and I took a ride last Sunday to check out a logging operation near our hunting shack.
After selling my sled at Hay Days I used Megan’s to make the trip. We hopped on the trails and were surprised by two things.
One, the trails are in really good condition for this early in the season. Despite some of the worst swamp conditions you can imagine, the local snowmobile clubs and the DNR have been able to now get groomers out after the swamps were packed.
Two, there was hardly anybody out on the trails. We didn’t meet a sled on the trail during our trip, other than two small groups stopped along the Taconite, including our friend Steve Groteboer out for a quick ride.
We pulled up near the shack to survey the changes. The logger had neatly stacked the trees in piles based on species, with some already cut to length.

Fri
20
Dec

From the miscellaneous drawer

Did you ever have to take an aptitude test when you were in school? Mine came back stating I should become a mechanic as an adult.
That wasn’t too surprising given that I repaired my bike when needed and changed car tires for my parents. I also took apart a small table top fan in the heat of the summer to fix it.
The only problem was that when I re-assembled it, the fan ran backwards, pushing the blades so they revolved over the motor which heated up easily.
Nobody had air conditioning back then, and I was stumped and hot. I was again working for my dad that summer and knew there were men in the plant who were handy.
I brought the small fan into work and convinced a worker to see what I had done wrong and to fix it.
Before long he came back to me and asked where the rest of the fan parts were. Somewhat embarrassed, I handed them over.
He returned with a working fan.
So much for my mechanic’s aptitude!

Fri
13
Dec

From the miscellaneous drawer

As winter cold arrives in the northland, folks reach out to friends and acquaintances to share the settling early darkness.
In 2002 a group of musicians gathered to light up an evening with music. Some listeners joined the evening affair to provide the audience.
Musicians in Ely can change with the seasons, as snowbirds come and go. Fortunately, there are a number of Ely musicians around.
Many years ago, Bob Cary’s Starlighters band practiced at my home for its summer appearances at Burntside Lodge at the time.
Over time, the music room had also hosted a reggae group, Canadian and Russian performers, and others.
This particular evening was by request of a spouse. He had been ailing and his piano playing wife, Carol Brude prescribed the evening. That night Dan Erzar was on drums and Byron Moren fulfilled the role for stand up bass. The year that followed was not kind to all, with health issues hitting two of them.

Fri
06
Dec

Trout Whisperer - A place called north…

It’s an anthem of mine, the phrase, “off the beaten path”,and I wish I would have been the one to say it first, be the initiator of such thinking. I would have loved knowing the coined words fell from me, it’s such a clever turn a phrase, but, alas, I am not.
My wife and I do that more often than most could possibly imagine and in so doing we’ve found in our footfalls a further place than, “off the beaten path” where the majority have not traveled. It could be a wanderer’s way, for me, it’s like a shooting star only earthen bound, or maybe from a stellar poem. It’s simply, the road less travelled.

Mon
02
Dec

Hook and Bullet Club: Visiting Camp Shack

Camp Cholesterol finished the 2019 rifle season with two bucks in the freezer.
Daughter Megan and son Evan joined me for the final weekend but we couldn’t put another deer on the meat pole. Megan saw four does Sunday so there were some deer around, just not the kind we could shoot.
Earlier in the week I made a trip down Highway 1 and Lake County Highway 2, ending up just north of Gooseberry State Park.
My friend Forrest Johnson has a shack there and it had been over 20 years since I was there last.
Forrie owns the shack with two other guys, one of whom, Mark Smith, was there as well on Monday.
Camp Shack had changed quite a bit in those 21 years. A bunk room was added on the back and a sauna was built by the creek.
The biggest change was the forest around the shack. What had been clearcut just prior to my arrival two decades back had grown into a thick popple stand.

Wed
20
Nov

Hook and Bullet Club

Sitting in a deer stand during this year’s opening weekend grew tougher by the hour. As the mercury dropped and the wind speed increased, going back to the shack becomes an easier decision.
There were four hunters at Camp Cholesterol and we were spread out on Sunday afternoon. My two youngest, Evan and Megan, had hopped on a wheeler and headed for stands where they would sit until the end of the day due to the rules on wheeler travel.
My son Jacob and I decided to take his truck around the swamp and climb up into two ladder stands, creatively named Two Old and Two New.
The drive gave us a chance to talk, about hunting, about life, about work and about vehicles (we are guys). Soon we reached our destination and switched to hunting mode.
We walked down a trail until we reached a logging site that has been a good spot to hunt for 20 years now. I dropped some doe scent as we walked toward the Two Old stand.

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