Outdoors

Sun
27
Mar

Hook and bullet club - Snowmobile season over?

The end of the 2004-2005 snowmobile season is now upon us. At least for trails, anyway. <BR><BR>Officially Minnesota snowmobile trails are open from December 1 until March 31 each year since that’s the timeline most landowner permits allow for trail usage. <BR><BR>With all the snow we had this winter, there’s no doubt some of the trails will continue to be rideable past March 31, but as far as grooming goes, it’s time to pull the plug.<BR><BR>As the Ely Igloo Club’s trail administrator for the Tomahawk Trail, I thought the past season was one of the better ones with a good group of operators and mechanics keeping our equipment on the trails. <BR><BR>Like any club, we have our moments when old equipment breaks down and we struggle to make things happen with what we have left. <BR><BR>But just because the grooming work is done for the year doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels.

Sat
26
Mar

Winter severity index up but deer herd hanging in there

The Department of Natural Resources annual “winter severity index” for white-tailed deer in Northeastern Minnesota indicates 2004-2005 is above the long-term average. <BR><BR> Temperatures have been about average, but snow depth is above normal. This was a return to the old fashion “real” winters the north woods are well known for.<BR><BR>The DNR has conducted the “Winter Severity Index” (WSI) for the past 40 years to give us a statistical comparison between winters. <BR><BR>The winter severity index (WSI) is measured by combining the number of days below zero with the number of days with 15" or more of snow. <BR><BR>The WSI is recorded at DNR Wildlife offices throughout northern Minnesota. <BR><BR>A “normal winter” in the Tower-Ely Area would end up around 125 WSI points.

Sun
20
Mar

Birdshot and backlashes

We simply had to go use one. An underwater video camera. These things have been around for months. We have read about them and we have talked to people who used them; but we never before got to use one. Until last Sunday. Edie’s son-in-law, Joe, has one. He talks incessantly about watching the lake bottom, watching fish and watching the fish bite. We simply had to see what all this was about.<BR><BR>We can recall a few years ago when various electronic depth sounders and fish locators came into existence. We have had several, including Bottom Line, Lowrance and Hummingbird.

Sun
20
Mar

Hook and Bullet Club

Nothing is safe when the legislature is in session. Not even your venison sausage. <BR><BR>A call last week alerted me to a bill pending in St. Paul that could be interpreted to mean the state would include sausage made in Minnesota would be subject to sales tax.<BR><BR>Yep. Someone came up with a sausage tax.<BR><BR>Now there are plenty of goofy bills introduced each session and we can only hope this is one of those bills that has no future. <BR><BR>Both of our guys in St. Paul were made aware of this issue and with Rep. David Dill on the House tax committee, the so-called sausage tax will be dead on arrival. <BR><BR>For those who don’t pay attention to such details, in Minnesota most food is exempt from sales tax. Candy is a different story as are a number of prepared foods. And of course, marshmallows are taxable, but that’s a law the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man is still fighting. <BR><BR>But a tax on sausage?

Thu
17
Mar

Comments sought on area Lake Management Plans

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has drafted revised individual fisheries lake management plans for several lakes in the Tower Fisheries Area. Lake management plans are used by fisheries managers to describe the past, present, and future conditions of the lake. The plans identify specific management activities planned for that lake in the next five to ten years.

Sun
13
Mar

Birdshot and backlashes

Just about anyone who has spent some time along the streams and lakeshores of Minnesota has seen a number of those rectangular wooden structures mounted on tree trunks, known as “wood duck nesting boxes.” <BR><BR>Some folks have even built them and erected them with the hope that a pair of ducks would move in and rear a brood. Not only the nesting boxes, but wood ducks have become more numerous over the past 60 years due considerably to the efforts of an Illinois biologist named Frank Bellrose.<BR><BR>Frank made a study of wood ducks back in he late 1930s at a time when they were very nearly extinct. He was a new waterfowl researcher for the Illinois Natural History Survey with a laboratory at Lake Chautauqua near Havana, IL. Frank determined that the low wood population was due to a lack of hollow trees along waterways, preferred nesting sites of the birds. He built some boxes with entry holes the exact diameter of a wood duck, and put them up.

Sun
13
Mar

Hook and Bullet Club

Edgar Allen Poe may forever be tied to ravens, but there are some people in Ely who have heard enough of the black birds and would like to see them “nevermore.”<BR><BR>DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch received a phone call last week from a homeowner in Ely who wanted to know if the DNR provides roof repairs.<BR><BR>It seems that this person’s neighbors has been feeding birds, and ravens in particular. The ravens have become a nuisance of sorts, picking apart garbage and tearing off shingles on rooftops. <BR><BR>We’ve all heard the calls of ravens in town and seen them swooping through, always on the search for food. Problems arise when people feed them on a regular basis.<BR><BR>“It’s the same deal with deer.

Fri
11
Mar

Conservation officers report

Kipp Duncan (Two Harbors) worked snowmobile enforcement and fishing enforcement along the North Shore. Shore fishing on Lake Superior near tributaries was very busy over the weekend. Snowmobile activity continues to be very busy. Three separate serious snowmobile accidents occurred in Lake County, which resulted in one death, one serious head injury, and one severely broken leg. Please remember to drive within your ability, and always be in control of your snowmobile. Slow down! <BR><BR>CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) worked snowmobile trail enforcement for most of the week. He picked up a kestrel and took it to a rehabilitator. Winter sports enthusiasts are enjoying their sports in full force in Cook County. Snow conditions are still good for snowmobile and ski trails. The local snowmobile club had their annual trout derby on Gunflint Lake. The weather was great and everyone seemed to have had a great time. Some nice lake trout came in for the contest.

Fri
11
Mar

Conservation officers report

Kipp Duncan (Two Harbors) worked snowmobile enforcement and fishing enforcement along the North Shore. Shore fishing on Lake Superior near tributaries was very busy over the weekend. Snowmobile activity continues to be very busy. Three separate serious snowmobile accidents occurred in Lake County, which resulted in one death, one serious head injury, and one severely broken leg. Please remember to drive within your ability, and always be in control of your snowmobile. Slow down! <BR><BR>CO Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) worked snowmobile trail enforcement for most of the week. He picked up a kestrel and took it to a rehabilitator. Winter sports enthusiasts are enjoying their sports in full force in Cook County. Snow conditions are still good for snowmobile and ski trails. The local snowmobile club had their annual trout derby on Gunflint Lake. The weather was great and everyone seemed to have had a great time. Some nice lake trout came in for the contest.

Sun
06
Mar

Birdshot and backlashes

Where in the world did the fish go? Ice anglers, other than a few very lucky crappie fisherfolk, have reported dreary news from the ice fishing front. It has gotten so bad that anglers say they not only got no bites, they saw no fish. Like looking at the screen of a fish locator and seeing no blips. Or even seeing anything swim by on one of those new video devices that sends up a picture of what is below.<BR><BR>Son-in-law by marriage Joe Baltich spent four hours on the frozen surface of Snowbank Lake last week with one of those video devices in play. “The lake was absolutely clear,” Joe reported. “As I lowered the electronic device to the bottom, it showed acres of clear water.”<BR><BR>And empty water, we might add. When it got to the bottom, it revealed every rock and sunken stick within view, but no fish, other than some little, wide-finned, bug-eyed sculpins.

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