Columnists

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.

Fri
15
Nov

Trout Whisperer - A big tom…turkey

The big turkey day is a few weeks away, but on his head is his turkey hunting hat with the single big wing feather from a turkey he shot over 20 years ago. It was, and is, the only one to date.
And his sense of humor about all of it, is wonderful. He was invited to a turkey hunt in southern Minnesota. They scoured the landscape that fall for days never seeing a bird. Then the morning he is leaving, walking through the farmyard was a big ole tom bird that he shot. Turns out it was a neighbor’s bird out for a stroll.
But hunting, we’re going to do. It will be ruffed grouse or maybe a spruce or two, perhaps a stray mallard out of a pond we shoreline stroll. I always hope for at least one mallard, and a wood duck, my personal favorite, is like a present from Mother Nature if I’m lucky enough to get one.
He looks outside, says to his wife, “I think it’s a Filson day.”

Thu
07
Nov

Hook and Bullet Club

A new Minnesota law this year allow hunters to use a dog to retrieve a wounded deer or bear.
Avid hunter Ben Thomas of Ely used his dog Tilli to locate a 10-point buck on Oct. 28.
Bow hunting at the end of the day from a tree stand, Thomas watched the buck come in from 90 yards away, rubbing and scraping his way along the ridge.
“I didn’t even climb down for 15 minutes after I shot and when I walked over to the spot 20 yards away I found some blood.”
But there wasn’t a lot of blood and it was starting to get dark on a cloudy afternoon so Thomas decided not to track the deer.
He talked to a friend in Wisconsin who had used a dog to track deer and bear. The advice was simple, use your dog to find the deer.
Thomas reviewed the new regulations, which includes making sure your dog is on a leash that is up to 30 feet long, and decided to give his German short hair Tilli a try.

Fri
01
Nov

Jeanette Mattson, 90, of Virginia

Jeanette Mattson, 90, of Virginia died October 30, 2019 at the Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely, Minnesota.
She was born Nov 14, 1928, to Henry and Hilma Sipola, in Embarrass, Minnesota. On June 1, 1946, Jeanette married Robert Mattson and was happily married for 64 years. They lived in Embarrass, Grand Rapids, Virginia and Ely. They enjoyed their lake home at Eagles Nest Lake for over 35 years entertaining family, youth and friends before retiring to Virginia. An important part of Jean’s life was her family, cooking, serving, caretaking, hosting missionaries and prayer meetings. She was a wonderful homemaker, an avid reader and had a love for the Word.

Fri
01
Nov

Hook and Bullet Club

Jon Prijatel posted one morning how he loves early mornings at the shack. His photos showed a hot fire burning in the wood stove and breakfast cooking on the gas stove.
At the same time at Camp Cholesterol I was watching the darkness start to fade away through the Norway pines. But there was an incredible light show taking place.
Through the window of my front door I could see the moon peaking up from the horizon. But not much of a moon, just a thin sliver. Boy was it bright.
My SkyView app is great to have when looking up at the stars. The moon may be easy to figure out but I didn’t know Mars was right next to the moon or that Uranus was the bright star out the window behind me. And did you know Mars appears reddish in color due to the iron oxide (rust) in its terrain and dusty atmosphere? Me either.

Mon
28
Oct

Touring the power of coal in North Dakota

by Nancy McReady
Each year Lake Country Power invites its co-op members on the three days/two nights Coal Creek Bus Tour to Bismarck, North Dakota.
Members from the Mountain Iron, Kettle River and Grand Rapids service areas all meet at Lake Country Power in Grand Rapids to board the coach bus. This year from Ely, Doug and Nancy McReady made their second trip to Coal Creek, and Andrew and Suzi Jackson had their first trip. There were rest stops and a lunch stop along the way to Bismarck, and even trivia and bingo games with prizes to pass the time.
Upon arrival at our hotel destination of Staybridge Suites Bismarck, members had a short period of time to freshen up before boarding the bus again and going to the Bismarck Municipal Country Club for a group dinner. This dinner was included in the price of the tour package of $170/person.

Fri
25
Oct

Hook and Bullet Club

Shack time is running very low with deer season now just two weeks away. At Camp Cholesterol we’re rebuilding a small woodshed and fixing deer stands as fast as we can.
This past weekend we had a boatload of helpers including Megan’s college roommate Sidney, Evan and his girlfriend Nella, Uncle Mike and his youngest, Hunter joining Mary and I in moving a deer stand.
The move has been in the planning stages for over a year. We considered bringing in a crane or maybe a large helicopter to make it happen. Then we realized this wasn’t a big deal and we just needed brave souls to climb up the stand, undo the ratchet straps and help us lower it to the ground.
That part went really well thanks to Hunter and when it went back up Evan was able to attach it to the tree again without any problems.

Fri
18
Oct

Trout Whisperer - Keeping warm…

His muck boots are earning their keep. He leads as we slop, stroll to the edge of his yard. My jacket collar, with the colder air, feels good, and odd. Been many months since I’ve had this many layers on, and I’m seriously thinking I may be one layer short.
But the beehives, all top bar, are getting another new layer of straw, because when he phoned the other day, he said he wanted some help and he wasn’t taking any chances. So, this morning in the cold gray overcast, I’m a hay Sherpa.
His lawn is dotted with snowy patches, some green grass lays flat, seriously soaked from everything above white, or droplet deciding it needed to fall, and I’m about as ready as the bees for what’s really coming.
We move the side straw bales, to get closer to the hives. Not a single bee stirred or seemed to care. I start stacking in the new layer, and then he piles back the older straw to bank against the impending.

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