Opening weekend of grouse season

Sarah Jonas was one of the successful bird hunters out on opening weekend in the Ely area. She bagged a nice grouse.


Minnesota DNR invites deer hunters to share wildlife observations this season

An online questionnaire will make it easier for Minnesota deer hunters to report wildlife they see during their hunts this year.
Using a mobile device or desktop computer, hunters can enter information on the DNR website about wildlife they see each day of hunting, including deer, turkeys, bears, fishers and other species. They’ll also be able to report specific information about any deer they harvest, including antler size.
Hunters are encouraged to fill out a report after each hunt even if they don’t see any deer that day. The questionnaire will be available when archery deer season begins Saturday, Sept. 19, and remain open through the end of the year.
Data from the observation survey will provide a helpful comparison to the DNR’s population estimates for various species.


Hunting season is upon us, Rusch gives outlook

by Nick Wognum
The leaves are turning, the temperatures are dropping and DNR wildlife manager Tom Rusch out of Tower gave his outlook on the fall hunting seasons in the Ely area.
The bear season started on Sept. 1 and the DNR expects it to be a good year.
“The bottom line is St. Louis, Lake and Cook counties were in a severe drought all of May and June and it wiped out all the summer bear foods. No blueberries, raspberries or pin cherries,” said Rusch.
“That’s why when you have a drought, you lose your summer foods and that correlates with extreme bear complaints and that’s what I have all summer. And since I’m short staffed we don’t have the response time.”
Rusch said the DNR has had to authorize shooting two bears that were entering houses.
“Cabin and house break ins happen when you have nuisance bears and generally that’s August, this year it’s been all summer.


Prospector ATV Club offers 12 guided rides at fall “Ride & Rally”

On Sept. 19, hundreds of ATV riders from across Minnesota will be squeezing the throttle on their ATVs as they venture out on area trails.
The rides, with starting points in Ely, Babbitt, Embarrass and Tower, are part of the annual convention of the ATV Association of Minnesota (ATVAM), hosted this year by the Prospector Loop ATV Club.
This is the second year in a row that the 3-day event, also known as the ATV Minnesota ‘Ride & Rally’, has been held in the area.
Last year the gathering was in Crane Lake, hosted by the Voyageur Country ATV club and featured the dedication of a $1.26 million bridge over the Vermilion River.
COVID-19 forced the Prospector Club to scale back on some event activities, cancelling the annual banquet and moving the group’s fund-raising auction from a live, standing-room-only event to an online auction on eBay.


DNR sets two confiscated hunting, fishing equipment auctions this fall

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has scheduled two public auctions of confiscated fishing, hunting and trapping equipment.
The auctions, which will be held online at www.hillerauction.com, include 501 firearms, 71 bows and a variety of other equipment. All of the equipment was confiscated following serious game and fish violations. A tentative list of the equipment included in the first auction is available.
Key dates are:
• Sept. 15 and Oct. 20 – this is when the bidding catalog for each auction will be available. The catalog includes a written description and photo(s) of each item.
• Sept. 18 and Oct. 23 – this is when onsite inspection is available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hiller Auction Service in Zimmerman.
• Sept. 19 and Oct. 24 – these are the auction dates.


DNR urges precautions to keep bears away

A shortage of natural foods is causing more bear-human conflicts in northeastern and north-central Minnesota as bears gravitate toward food sources at homes, cabins and campsites.
“We’re asking people to remove food sources that could attract bears from their properties or campsites,” said Andrew Tri, a bear biologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “It’s important that folks be extra vigilant in keeping trash and birdseed away from bears to ensure they don’t get an easy meal from what people leave out.”
Dry conditions in the northeast and north-central part of the state have caused the natural food shortage. Human-bear conflicts are amplified in these areas when attractants (such as garbage, birdseed or coolers of food) are abundant and not protected from bears.


Ruffed grouse counts similar to last year

Minnesota’s ruffed grouse spring population counts are similar to last year and likely are following the 10-year cycle of rise and fall—a predictable pattern recorded for 71 years.
Due to COVID-related restrictions, this past spring’s drumming counts in southeastern Minnesota were not conducted as planned. As the DNR was able to resume more field operations in May, there was still time to conduct drumming counts in more northerly portions of the state, where the peak in drumming activity occurs later.
While spring drumming counts that were conducted produced similar results as last year, only having counts from the northern region—which has more forest and holds more grouse—likely means the statewide index is higher than it would be if the southeastern region was included.


Wild rice season opens soon

Wild rice conditions are looking good this year in many areas of Minnesota and the Department of Natural Resources is offering tips and a reminder of important regulations restricting harvest to rice stands that are ripe.
wild rice stands
“Favorable weather without too much heavy rain early in the season has been a positive for wild rice,” said Ricky Lien, DNR wetland habitat team supervisor. “As people consider harvesting, they need to know the regulations that help protect wild rice stands for future years.”
Minnesota has more acres of natural wild rice than any other state in the country. Wild rice and its harvesting are profoundly important to Minnesota’s tribal nations, for cultural, spiritual, and social reasons. Many other Minnesotans also enjoy harvesting wild rice, an all-natural and nutritious grain.


COVID wipes out burnout

by Tom Coombe
Add an October event to those that have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Jake Forsman Memorial Car Show and Burnout Competition will not occur as scheduled this fall, organizers announced two weeks ago.
It joins a growing list of local events, from the Blueberry/Art and Harvest Moon festivals to the Ely Marathon, that have been cancelled for 2020 because of the pandemic and various state restrictions on public gatherings.
The decision to cancel was not an easy one, according to city council member and organizer Al Forsman, but one that he felt was necessary.
He said it was in part “because of a combination of mandates getting more strict (and) the government response, the Walz Administration response to the stampede in Effie.”


Prospector ATV event still on, now with 12 rides on Sept. 19

ATV Minnesota will hold its annual membership event on the Prospector Loop trail system Sept. 18-19, 2020.
“We’re heavy on the ride part and light on the rally,” said Prospector President Nick Wognum. “With the pandemic this year we’re going to focus on having 12 different rides to choose from on Saturday. And we hope people return for a full Ride and Rally in 2021.”
The traditional VIP Ride will take place on Friday, Sept. 18 with everything being held outside. Participants will start from the fairgrounds at Timber Hall in Embarrass, ride to Tower for a lakeside catered lunch and then take the trails back afterward.
“Luckily we were able to find outdoor areas with plenty of room for people to spread out. Both Timber Hall and McKinley Park have plenty of space for social distancing,” said Wognum.


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