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Birdshot and backlashes

As the aspen leaf shower descends and the tamaracks start turning gold, it is readily clear that winter is closing in fast. The tamarack is the only evergreen that doesn’t stay ever green. Tamaracks don’t seem to know what they are. They have a short growing season, which means they grow slowly and they grow tough. Early on, I learned that tamarack is not the kind of tree you seek for firewood or construction. It is miserable stuff to drive a nail into. But they look pretty this time of year when their needles turn gold.Deer are out at night now, browsing on frost nipped clover in roadside ditches. It pays to drive very carefully in the evening or after dark. The state put out a bulletin advising drivers that if a deer is in the road, don’t swerve to miss it, hit it square on. The idea is that if a driver swerves, he may go off the road or hit another car head-on. Those of us who do lot of driving around the north country know this just ain’t the case. There is no single way to handle a deer getting into traffic. All of us have swerved to miss deer and if we were alert, we didn’t get a fender bender. This is usually accompanied by riding the brakes, but not always. When a deer appears, sometimes it is in the ditch instead of on the road. Sometimes it is just the eyes that appear. Sometimes just a shape. But we know what that shape is and we know it can bolt in front of the headlights in a split second. And we also know that if we hit the deer with just a fender, it may bounce off without too much damage to the car or the deer. And we know if we hit it dead center, it may crunch the grill and the radiator. And there we sit. Another bad feature of hitting a deer squarely in today’s cars is that it will often slide up over the hood and come through the front window. We have all seen the results of a deer coming through the windshield into the front seat. It ain’t pretty. There is simply no substitute for good driving, quick reflexes and quick thinking. And there is no hard and fast rule for a reaction which will work in every case.AND THEN THERE ARE THE FISHJimmy Orcutt, Ely’s local walleye tournament rep, reports good action on Shagawa Lake. Other fishermen are doing quite well, but some are having a tough time finding walleyes. Northern pike anglers are picking up some biggies. Shagawa Inn anglers have scored on some lunkers using big suckers for bait. Smallmouth bass are also hitting, but the season is closed on them. A few stream trout fishermen have been taking advantage of the Oct. 31 closing on those fish. We checked two anglers who picked up six trout on Tofte Lake using gang troll spinners. Those are weird lures with a half dozen spinners strung along a section of wire with a small hook at the terminal end on which is a worm or a frozen minnow. The thing looks nuts, but it works. We used one once for rainbow trout and it hooked trout. But when the rainbows jumped all those spinners went clattering through the air like a mess of Christmas tree ornaments. The gang troll impeded the fight of the rainbows so we didn’t use it any more.We had four Fall Lake crappies for supper one night last week. Where on Fall Lake did they come from? Hah. I wouldn’t tell that on my death bed. Indeed, it would be my death bed if I told because my fishing partner would assassinate me.AND ABOUT GROUSE HUNTING?Forget it.

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