DNR Conservation Officer weekly report ending December 30

District 6 - Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely #1) reports angling activity continued to be slow in the Ely area. Snowmobiling continues to pick up as trail conditions improve. Violations included angling without a license in possession and driving after revocation.

CO John Velsvaag (Ely #2) checked anglers and a few trappers this past week. Slush is on more area lakes and fishing is slow. Marten trappers had nice weather but a fair amount of snow. Velsvaag also saw a few snowmobiles out on the newly groomed trails.

CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time on the snowmobile checking anglers and snowmobilers. Time was spent talking with snowmobile clubs about trail conditions and common violations. Area lakes are improving with the cold last week.


DNR releases snowmobile trail report

Taconite and Arrowhead State Trail Conditions Update

Taconite Trail: Arrowhead Trail:
Snow: 10-24” Snow: 5-15”
Base: 1-2” Base: 0-2”
Groomed: Partially Groomed: Partially
Condition: Poor - Fair Condition: Poor - Fair

This the latest trail report for the Taconite, Arrowhead, Putnam/Fishing Lakes, and State Park snowmobile trails. We have some of each of the State Trails groomed. A large portion of all the trails this year are having issues with a lot of water moving in the swamps and the ice not freezing thick enough to sustain grooming equipment.
Continue checking DNR website for trail condition updates as they may change daily: http://dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/index.html


Kids snowmobile oval racing on Fall Lake Jan. 4

Snowmobile oval ice racing returns to the area on Jan. 4 with races being held on Fall Lake at the Ely-Winton Rod and Gun Club’s Longbranch hosting.
The Kids Championship Power Racing Organization. races for kids ages four to 14. will start at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 4.
The event is free for spectators with 11 different classes of races starting at 10 a.m.
Registrations begin at 8 a.m. with hot laps at 9 a.m. and racing action set to begin at 10 a.m.
KCPRO East is a non- profit organization established in 1991. For more information check out kcproeast.com.


Hook and Bullet Club

Dave “Otto” Merhar and I were bound and determined to knock down a deer during the last weekend of muzzleloader season. First we had to shovel out our trucks after getting stuck in the deep snow.
Otto went first, attempting to turn around at the end of the Cloquet Line. But there were two Forest Service trucks and trailers parked there along with a cable for tying off sled dogs.
He tried to get around them but the deep snow sucked his truck in. Otto is nothing if not persistent and didn’t want to call for help. Finally he sent me a text.
“I’m a retired Army officer, bohunk. So this hard…Help!”
Little did I know I would be in his shoes an hour or so later.
It only took a few minutes to pull Dave’s truck back on to the plowed snow. From there we decided to consolidate into my truck and try our luck on the Fernberg.


Hook and Bullet Club

This is the final weekend to carry a firearm and hunt deer in Minnesota for 2019.
It’s muzzleloader season and I came in a bit unprepared. I didn’t hunt the first weekend and it wasn’t until Harold Langowski and I went for a ride to look at a trail issue that I was too excited to go out.
But when a huge buck was standing in a clear cut the urge to get back in the woods chasing whitetails returned in a hurry.
So, it was a last minute run to J&L to pick up ammunition since mine was at the shack.
Jay fetched powder pellets and bullets and I would’ve walked out the door if he hadn’t asked if I needed primers as well. Thanks Jay!
Since the law was changed I have been wanting to put the scope back on my muzzleloader.
Finally on Monday I was able to run down to Virginia Surplus where owner Doug Ellis stayed to help me out.


Final buck harvest down 21% in Tower area

The 2019 firearms deer season was not what the state was hoping for, at least in terms of harvest.
For the Tower area, the buck harvest was down 21% while the total harvest was down 42% compared to 2018.
The numbers are for northern St Louis and Lake counties including Permit Areas 117, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132 176, 177 and 178.
In the Tower area bucks comprised 82% of the harvest and antlerless deer just 18% as a result of a more conservative season structure in most permit areas to allow for population growth,” said area wildlife supervisor Tom Rusch.
The state-wide harvest was 169,869 deer including 93,384 (55%) bucks and 76,485 antlerless (45%).
Adult Buck Harvest by DPA (% Change)
117 +6.3%
118 -8.6%
119 -24.1%
130 -29.5%
131 -33.7%
132 -25.2%
176 -25.6%
177 -24.7%
178 -16.3%
Avg = -20.5%


Ely Field Naturalists celebrate year end and new year ahead including upcoming Ely Christmas Bird Count

by Bill Tefft
The Ely Field Naturalists will make a presentation in Classroom CL104 at Vermilion Community from 6:30 until 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4.
This meeting will provide a wrap-up to many of the 2019 field naturalist activities and will prepare for upcoming Christmas Bird Counts, winter solstice celebration and 2020 plans.
The Ely Christmas Bird Count will be conducted on Ely’s Winter Solstice date, Saturday, Dec. 21. The solstice occurs at 10:19 p.m. CST on the Dec. 21. Many calendars show the date of the solstice as Dec. 22 which is accurate using the Universal Time Clock.
Information on all of the Christmas Bird Counts in Minnesota can be found at the Minnesota Ornithologist’s Union website calendar of bird count locations at www.moumn.org/CBC/cal/calendar.php


DNR reports some areas up, overall deer harvest down in Tower area

After a bitter cold opening Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the 2019 firearms deer season has bounced back according to registration numbers.
The Minnesota DNR reports the harvest is down 30.5% compared to 2018 for northern St Louis and Lake Counties including Permit Areas 117, 118, 119, 130, 131, 132 176, 177 and 178.
When just the buck harvest is separated out, the numbers are down 12.8% from last year through the second Tuesday of the 16-day season.
“All things considered, the buck harvest is not down as much as I thought it would be,” said area wildlife supervisor Tom Rusch.
For the following permit areas, here’s what the harvest increase or decrease was:
117 + 8.8%
118 + 2.6%
178 - 8.8%
132 - 15.5%
130 - 15.9%
119 - 17.2%
176 - 19.5
177 - 19.7
131 - 25.4


DNR Conservation Officer weekly report ending November 12

District 6 - Two Harbors area
CO Sean Williams (Ely 1) reports: Snow and cold weather seemed to aid hunters for the opening weekend of the regular firearms seasons. Success was limited but most hunters he spoke to reported seeing a good amount of fresh deer sign and at least fleeting glimpses of deer. Violations included: Hunting deer over bait, and no license in possession.
CO John Velsvaag (Ely) checked deer hunters this past week. He also checked a few waterfowl hunters before freeze up at the end of the week. CO Velsvaag had several calls about party hunting and baiting deer.
CO Thomas Wahlstrom (Grand Marais) spent time checking deer hunters during the opening weekend. The officer responded to complaints and followed up bait cases. Enforcement action was taken for hunting over bait, transporting loaded firearms, no blaze orange, fail to tag deer, fail to validate tag and ATV violations.


Hunting shacks underwent changes for the Floyd family

by Rich Floyd
Deer hunting out of a shack has been a treasured tradition in our family since long before I was born. Though we have had our own place for nearly 60 years now, before that the shacks were opportunistic.
I can remember two of them. The first was an abandoned lumber camp somewhere around Skibo, outside of Hoyt Lakes. (We lived in Eveleth at the time.)
We called it the tar paper shack. Old timers will know why. It was around the mid ’50s when we used that shack.
I turned six years old in the fall of 1955, so of course, I didn’t deer hunt yet, but I remember my brother, Ted, and me shooting a BB gun at busted dishes left after a bear had broken into the place, making a big mess.


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