Outdoors

Sun
17
Apr

Birdshot and backlashes

Black ice. It showed up everywhere last week and indicated that spring was pretty much on schedule. In most years, ice goes off Shagawa Lake (where the ice-out contest is held) and most of the other shallow water lakes somewhere around the 20th of April. Ice on some of the smaller ponds and lakes is already clear. So are the streams where the trout season got underway last Saturday. That’s for brook, rainbow, brown trout and splake in streams. Not for trout on lakes. That season opens May 14 along with walleye, bass, northern pike and lake trout.<BR><BR>Nobody seems to know why it is that trout in streams become legal in April but the same fish in lakes cannot be caught until mid-May. Other freshwater fish like walleyes are spring spawners and thus there is a good reason for not opening the season too early. <BR><BR>But the stream trout in lakes don’t spawn at all. That fishery is strictly stock and catch.

Thu
14
Apr

Conservation officers’ tales – April 2005

THE PENALTY FOR GETTING CAUGHT UP IN THE MOMENT<BR><BR>Conservation Officer (CO) Karl Hadrits, Crosby, reported a speeding snowmobile operator, who was signaled to stop, decided to turn around and flee the officer. The individual was tracked for more than eight miles down roads, through wooded areas, residential areas, yards, and across lakes and fields. The individual was located at a residence where he had hidden and covered up the snowmobile. He was arrested and the snowmobile was seized. The individual had no outstanding arrest warrants, wasn’t intoxicated, and had no other apparent reason to try to get away other than to avoid a speeding ticket.

Mon
11
Apr

Birdshot and backlashes

They stuck up motionless like two small stumps on top of the ice, only we knew there were no stumps on that part of the lake. As we skied ever closer, they began to take shape - the shape of two large otters. When we were within 50 feet, each dove down a hole in the ice and vanished. But as we arrived at the holes, suddenly both emerged, saw us almost at their feet and immediately plunged back down out of sight.<BR><BR>There is a lot to see in the woods these days as spring shakes off the frigid blanket of winter. Until last week, skiing was still good on the lakes, at least in the afternoon when the lake surfaces would soften up. Now? Well, who knows? There are soft spots developing, air holes appearing and the ice is getting spooky. Besides, it is only 34 days now until walleye season.<BR><BR>PANFISH WILD<BR><BR>Crappies, perch and bluegills are going great right now.

Sat
09
Apr

Hook and bullet club - Pushing spring

We sat in the truck and stared at the snow in front of us. Evan peered over the dash and said maybe it was a little too deep to keep going. Jake and I reluctantly agreed and I slid the truck into reverse and backed up.<BR><BR>The shack had been our goal but the snow was still too deep to make it out there yet. We had managed to get pretty far down the road thanks to a winter logging operation. But where the logging ended, the deep snow started.<BR><BR>A new plan was to drive into one of the logging areas where a swamp was packed down and crossed to access woods on the other side. <BR><BR>There was water on the top of the swamp but underneath the muck was still frozen. That time of year is fleeting at best. Maybe a few days but usually no longer than that. But during that time period, travel opportunities abound.<BR><BR>We drove to the edge of the swamp and I hopped out in my 16-inch LaCrosse rubber boots to go have a look.

Sun
03
Apr

Birdshot & Backlashes - Pete Zebich

Our western field correspondent, Pete Zebich, sent in his final report for the season from his winter base at Lake Havasu, Arizona. Pete keeps up on western wolf doings, currently around the Jackson Hole area. <BR><BR>According to published reports, ranchers continue to be irate over free-running wolves that they claim are dining largely on livestock and elk. There is a very vocal number of folks out that way clamoring for reestablishing a wolf bounty, which they believe was highly effective in reducing wolf numbers a century ago. <BR><BR>Since we have neither the livestock nor the elk problem around these parts, what goes on out in the Tetons is beyond our ken. <BR><BR>Around Ely, there was near civil war when the Legislature ended the Minnesota wolf bounty in the mid-1960s. Dire predictions were rampant that wolves would exterminate the deer. What happened? Not much.

Fri
01
Apr

Hook and Bullet Club

The story of the trophy deer shot in the dark by a poacher may finally be reaching its end.<BR><BR>The photo of a guy holding the head of a monster buck flew around the internet a year ago. <BR><BR>Two hunters were charged with six counts of illegal hunting, including night hunting and trespassing, for killing a trophy white-tailed deer.<BR><BR>Gary W. Stroughter, 54, of Baton Rouge, and Samuel F. Stroughter, 74, of Prairieville, both of Louisiana, were charged with the crimes.<BR><BR>The deer was killed north of Dryden, Canada on November 10, 2003.<BR><BR>The animal that was killed has been the subject of considerable media interest due to the size of its antlers.

Fri
01
Apr

Conservation officers report

Conservation Officer Darin Fagerman (Grand Marais) took a call in the Schroeder area of dogs chasing deer. He also worked trout anglers in the BWCA and walleye anglers along the Canadian border. The fish did not seem to be cooperating, although the walleye caught were nicer in size. He also spent time reviewing firearm safety materials for an upcoming class. Enforcement action was taken for no fishing licenses in possession, no trout stamp, and improper display of snowmobile registration.<BR><BR>CO Brad Johnson (Silver Bay) checked snowmobiles throughout the week. Snow on the North Shore is beginning to melt. A few anglers were fishing from the shore on Lake Superior when ice was not jamming the rivers along the shore. CO Johnson found a dead wolf on Kitigan Lake during his patrols. Investigation revealed that the wolf was radio collared and tagged.

Sun
27
Mar

Birdshot and backlashes

The Department of Natural Resources is holding a number of hearings to determine how to revitalize declining duck populations. There is not a whole lot of concern over geese, which are not only at peak numbers but have become a problem in some areas. But ducks are another story.<BR><BR>For at least 70 years that this writer can recall, various wildlife agencies have been concerned with declining duck populations, loss of habitat, lead poisoning and other factors impacting migratory game birds. We have been involved not only with government wildlife agencies but also private sportsmen’s associations such as Ducks Unlimited which have collected and spent millions of dollars in restoring duck habitat.<BR><BR>Much has been accomplished. There are numerous state and federal waterfowl refuges aimed at protecting ducks during migrations. Some of the better marsh areas have been converted to government ownership to preserve them in a natural state.

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.

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