Outdoors

Sun
26
Dec

Birdshot and backlashes

Echo readers are well aware that we have excellent snow on this part of the Iron Range. The boys and girls ski teams are setting new records and the Hidden Valley recreation trails are excellent. This is due to the efforts of super-groomer Fred Rayman who packs the trails and sets the tracks. Once again, Ely is the place to go for cross country skiing. <BR><BR>Indeed, Ely skiers have been on snow for over a month. The first couple of weeks were confined to the golf course where a couple inches of snow on the grass was sufficient. But with real snow, Hidden Valley is simply superb. Looks like great skiing right through Christmas.<BR><BR>Snowmobiles are tooling around on the lakes and on some of the trails. Another foot of snow and the woodland trails will be excellent. In spite of snow cover, most of he lakes have pretty good ice, just in time for the Jan. 1 winter trout season in lakes totally within the BWCAW.

Mon
20
Dec

Hook and bullet club

“You finally got a deer, Dad?” Evan asked incredulously. <BR><BR>With that kind of confidence from a five year-old in your hunting skills it’s no wonder it took 31 days of legal hunting time to knock one down.<BR><BR>I saw a doe on the first day of the firearms season and nothing for the next 15 days of that season. Then there was a short break before the 16-day muzzleloader season. <BR><BR>Heading into the final weekend of that season, my luck was still holding true. But I had a hot tip and a full-day kitchen pass to go out in the field on a Saturday.<BR><BR>My plans included getting in the woods before legal shooting time, sitting on the edge of the cutover for a few hours and crossing a frozen lake to hunt a reported hot spot. <BR><BR>Of course those plans were going to fall into the “best laid plans of mice and men” category. But this time they went right instead of awry.

Mon
20
Dec

Birdshot and backlashes

The thing about ice fishing, at least right now, is to make sure the ice is safe. Some lakes, like Burntside, still had some open water last week. Moose Lake, which had frozen over, opened up again with the high wind. Most of the smaller lakes have pretty good ice, but the snow came before it was real thick. But poor ice never stopped dedicated ice fishermen. Some carry a long popple pole under one arm so if they fall through, the pole will catch on the ice and they can crawl out. <BR><BR>Some carry ice spikes - two six-inch sections of broom handle with nails embedded in them and sharpened. These spike are hung around the neck on a thong. If the fisherman falls in, he can grab a spike in each hand and pull himself out of the hole. Of course that means the fisherman has to let go of his bucket with his fishing tackle.

Sun
19
Dec

Deadlines announced for BWCAW permit lottery

The Superior National Forest has announced the deadlines for submission of applications for the lottery for Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) 2005 permits.<BR><BR>To be included in the lottery, applications submitted by mail or fax must be received by 5 p.m. Central Standard Time (CST) on January 10, 2005.<BR><BR>This deadline has been set so that there is sufficient time for the accurate manual entry of applications received by fax and mail without causing a delay to the running of the lottery. <BR><BR>Applications submitted online at www.bwcaw.org must be received by 5 p.m. CST on January 15, as in previous years.<BR><BR>All applications submitted by these deadlines, regardless of the method sent, will be processed by the lottery. Those who submit lottery applications online will be able to view results online immediately following the lottery.

Mon
13
Dec

Hook and Bullet Club

The thick snow covered every branch, making a world of white with the evergreens poking their needles through nature’s winter blanket. <BR><BR>This was last Wednesday when even a nippy north wind couldn’t change the scenery. A slate gray sky kept the shadows away in the fading afternoon light.<BR><BR>The location was a logging site off the Echo Trail. The area had been cut recently enough that the popple had yet to take hold and the jackpine were only starting their climb toward the sky.<BR><BR>The attraction was several sets of fresh deer tracks heading this way off the main path. The day felt right for a good hunt and the area was known to hold deer this time of year.<BR><BR>And there was the bonus of being able to sneak out of work for a few hours during the waning days of the muzzleloader season.<BR><BR>But it felt good to be outside, if only for a few hours.

Mon
13
Dec

Birdshot and backlashes

The first thing a person needs to know about feeding wildlife is to never let them know what you are up to. Wild birds and animals are very independent and do not like being coerced.<BR><BR> Thus it was several weeks ago when we built our Blue Jay feeder. We announced to all and sundry that it was deer feeder. The fact is, it looks like a deer feeder. That is, it consists of a V-shaped wooden trough five feet long, sitting on legs three feet above the ground. Indeed, it looks a lot like the deer feeders other north country folks have in their backyards.<BR><BR>Anyway, the components were carefully sawed and nailed together. Then the feeder was placed where a deer trail passes near the backyard and filled with shelled corn. Anyone who knows anything about deer is aware that they like whole corn. Most song birds prefer sunflower seeds.

Mon
06
Dec

Conservation Officer’s report

Conservation Officer Marty Stage (Babbitt) worked on deer season case follow up and vehicle maintenance. He helped South Dakota officers with a fraud hunting license case and worked trapping enforcement. Calls were received about roadkill deer, ATV violations, and trespass violations. Trappers are reminded to wear orange as the muzzleloader deer season is now open. <BR><BR>CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked local trappers and trapping activity this past week. Trappers are gearing up for the fisher/marten season. He also checked up on an illegal burning complaint. CO Velsvaag continues to get calls on deer dumped with only portions of useable meat taken.<BR><BR>CO Mike Lekatz (Ely) worked checks throughout the week on small game hunting and trapping activity, and over the weekend on muzzleloader deer hunting activity and fisher/pine marten trapping activity.

Sun
05
Dec

Birdshot and backlashes

Bre’r Fox did not come by his reputation for slyness by accident. This crafty hunter is one mammal the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has no worries concerning its becoming an endangered species. The fox has the ability to adapt to almost any environment. It does quite well here in the northern forest .<BR><BR>The living history of our forest was starkly revealed last week with the first tracking snowfall of the winter. It was there for anyone with legs to walk and eyes to see. And the small, doglike, pointed tracks of the red fox were evident, along with deer, moose, rabbit, wolf and marten tracks. But fox were the most numerous.<BR><BR>Because fox furs do not bring much of a price these days, trappers are not seeking them. Foxes seem to understand this and are quick to take up abode near those humans who seek them no harm.

Sun
05
Dec

Hook and bullet club

The 2004 deer harvest was down in the Ely area, especially in Babbitt. You can blame the weather, the deer population or whatever you want, but I’ll give you another one: time.<BR><BR>Hunters are suffering from an immense lack of time to spend out in the woods. That is why more deer weren’t shot this year, I’m sure of it. This is a problem the DNR needs to look into right away.<BR><BR>At a basketball game last week I talked to a retired coach and school teacher who told me he spent 40 hours sitting in his stand during the 2004 season.<BR><BR>Plus he spent additional time out still-hunting, travelling around the woods and he even wemt out to a friend’s shack to hunt there. <BR><BR>This guy is a model hunter for no other reason than he has the time to put in trying to kill the elusive whitetail. <BR><BR>I know this was my problem this year.

Wed
01
Dec

Letter from the hunting shack

Never have so many hunted for so long for so little. That’s the story of the season this year. <BR><BR>The list of excuses I could use is so long, Nick would have to rename this paper. Too warm, no snow, the wolves came through and on and on. <BR><BR>What can I tell you, I certainly tried hard enough. I was out of the shack at pitch black and back in the shack at pitch black every day. I tried sitting for long periods, I tried walking, hell I even tried looking out the shack window. <BR><BR>I got a headache one day from squinting so hard, trying to make a deer materialize out of nothing, that I thought my head was going to explode. I tried grunting, rattling, scents and I even took a little snooze a couple of times, unintentional of course. <BR><BR>This is the first time that I ever got seriously discouraged and downright impatient while hunting. But you know what, that’s the way it goes with hunting.

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