DNR Conservation Officer weekly reports

District 6 - Two Harbors
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports: The Echo trail had nearly double the deer hunting activity and hunting camps compared to recent years over this mild opener. Although the volume of hunters was very high success remained extremely low with the majority of camps reporting no success or even a sighting of a buck. Violations included: Taking deer over bait.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked anglers, whitefish netters and deer hunters this past week. Several calls came in about deer permit areas and deer baiting. CO Velsvaag also followed up on big game complaints and netting complaints.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked deer hunters over the opening weekend and followed up on complaints. The officer spent time at Camp Ripley for training. Enforcement action was taken for hunting over bait, shoot big game from a road, take antlerless deer without permit and hunting license violations.


Firearms deer season in Minnesota starts today

by Nick Wognum
Newly retired DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch took a look ahead at this year’s firearm deer season before he cleaned out his desk.
“When I look at deer, you have to look at the last series of tough winters. We still have not recovered since those winters. Why? There’s the same number of wolves. And we do not have the winter cover we had in the 90s. These two winter, 2013 and 2014, were as historically bad as those two in the 90s,” said Rusch.
“We do not have the ability to carry deer we once had. Winters in 2015, 2016 and 2017 were mild so we should’ve come storming out of that. We should’ve started stacking up fawn crops. As wildlife managers we decided to go conservative with a low lottery and we still have not seen that response.
The other factor is how our forests are being managed today.


Help available in Ely to remove woody invasive species like buckthorn

The North St. Louis SWCD will be working with a Conservation Corps crew to treat and remove invasive plants in Ely on Nov. 8-11 through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA).
The work can be completed on public or private lands at the request of landowners. This project is in partnership with the Ely Field Naturalists/Ely Area Invasives Team for volunteer effort and the City of Ely to dispose of materials with additional support from the 1854 Treaty Authority and the Duluth Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.
Woody invasive plants including Common buckthorn, Glossy Buckthorn, Siberian Peashrub, and non-native honeysuckles are the targets of this effort.
These plants have been introduced as ornamental plantings or unintentionally, but now are considered invasive species and noxious weeds by the MDA.


Rusch unveils 2021 deer season forecast

Retiring DNR area wildlife manager Tom Rusch unveiled his 2021 deer season forecast. The 16-day firearms deer season will begin Saturday Nov. 6 and end Sunday Nov. 21.
Rusch is forecasting a deer population that is below population goals across the area. Populations continue to rebound from the severe winters of 2013, 2014 and 2018, 2019 and 2020 in northern St. Louis and Lake Counties.
Wildlife managers are reporting the deer herd is below established population goals in all nine local permit areas (109, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132, 176, 177, 178).
The opening weekend of the 2021 firearms season should catch the “chasing phase” of the rut as bucks seek out receptive does during the first week.
Breeding activity generally peaks in mid-November when the annual rutting season transitions into the reproductive phase and deer movement typically slows down.


Statewide youth deer season returns Oct. 21-24

Minnesota’s youth deer season will continue statewide for its third year, starting Thursday, Oct. 21, through Sunday, Oct. 24. The season coincides with statewide teacher workshops, so many Minnesota students don’t have school during the youth season.
To participate, youth must be 10-17 years old and have a deer license. Participant numbers are not limited and there is no special permit, so parents should obtain a regular deer hunting license for the youth who will be hunting.
An adult parent, guardian, or mentor must accompany youth ages 10-13. All youth hunters and mentors must follow blaze orange/pink clothing requirements. Adults may not hunt, unless they are in an area open during the early antlerless season and have the corresponding license. Complete youth season details are available on the DNR youth deer hunting page.


DNR Conservation Officer weekly reports

District 6 - Two Harbors
CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports a weekend of clouds and rain did not deter small-game hunters in the Ely area from searching trails for grouse. Success was again low, but most hunters checked said it was as much about enjoying the fall colors as shooting a bird. Waterfowl hunters reported still seeing a good amount of geese north of Ely but reported very few ducks.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) checked small-game hunters and anglers on area lakes. ATV trails were monitored. He handled wildlife-related complaints and assisted other agencies.
CO Mary Manning (Hovland) patrolled forest roads and trails checking small-game hunters and ATV operators. Manning also checked end-of-season trout anglers on inland lakes and worked the salmon run on Lake Superior tributaries.


Hunters encouraged to submit spruce grouse feathers for genetics study

Spruce grouse hunters in northern Minnesota’s boreal forests can voluntarily submit samples for the final year of a genetics research project being conducted by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in partnership with the University of Minnesota.
Spruce grouse are a climate-sensitive species that rely on boreal forest habitats containing black spruce, jack pine and tamarack – all of which are expected to shift northward on the landscape as temperatures increase. This study will use grouse genetics to form a baseline of data to establish how spruce grouse currently use the landscape and identify changes in habitat connectivity over time. When habitat becomes fragmented and a species loses connectivity to its former range, the species can form smaller distinct genetic groups over time.


ATVers were everywhere during convention

For a weekend and then some there were ATVs everywhere you looked in Ely, Babbitt, Tower and Embarrass.
The ATV Minnesota Ride and Rally was hosted by the Prospector ATV Club Sept. 17-19 weekend and the turnout was higher than it has been in decades, according to organizers.
“We were really happy with how it all went. There was a lot of things going on and a lot of volunteers and businesses that made it happen,” said Prospector President Nick Wognum.
The event included a Friday line up of a pancake breakfast at Timber Hall, a guided VIP Ride to the Lake Vermilion Soudan Underground Mine State Park, the ATV Big Air Tour in Babbitt, followed by more guided ATV rides on Saturday and a banquet Saturday night at Miners Dry in Ely.


DNR certifies new catch-and-release state record northern out of Basswood Lake

Anglers over the summer caught and released a new Minnesota state record northern pike and tied the record for muskellunge.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources certified the state catch-and-release record northern pike, a 46 1/4 fish caught June 19 on Basswood Lake by Brecken Kobylecky, a 15-year-old from Geneva, Illinois. The previous record was a 45 1/4 inch northern pike caught on the Rainy River in 2018.
The record pike was the biggest fish Kobylecky had ever caught. He was fishing with an Ely-based fishing guide and with about 10 minutes left of their final day fishing, they were trolling for pike.
“We hooked onto a huge pike that was barely hooked, and could hardly land it due to the sheer size and weight of the fish,” Kobylecky said.
Once the fish was in the boat they carefully took a few photos and measured the pike before releasing the fish back to the open water.


Pink Ribbon ATV Ride raises funds

Last Saturday was the Pink Ribbon ATV Ride from Ely to Babbitt and back on the Prospector Loop Trail System. It was a fundraiser to benefit Pink Ribbon Riders and the group raised $2,049. “We had a great group of people along for the ride and we had a fun time,” said organizer Penny Reedy. “Thank you to Prospector Loop ATV Trail System for your help planning and guiding, Babbitt ATV and Snowmobile Club for the use of your building, setting up and a donation, Zup’s of Ely for the cookies, Lindsey Keen for prizes, Nyman Excavating for the donation and everyone who participated!”


Subscribe to RSS - Outdoors