Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University.
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Something funny is going on with Minnesota ruffed grouse hunting this fall, and even the experts are at a loss to fully explain it. A whopping 57 percent increase in spring drumming counts hasn't translated into more birds in the woods. Nowhere close, by most accounts. That begs the question why.
A new regulation is in effect this fall in northwest Minnesota that allows deer hunters to leave as many as two portable deer stands unattended in wildlife management areas throughout the hunting season, providing they follow certain guidelines. That could create conflicts between hunters because portable stands are considered public once they're left on WMA lands.
To get an event in the Outdoors calendar, contact Brad Dokken at (701) 780-1148, (800) 477-6572 ext. 148 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Deadline is 5 p.m. Thursdays. Banquets
Walleye released 25-inch minimum • 30 inches and 26¼ inches—LeRoy Sparks, Michigan, N.D., Red River, Man. • 30 inches—Don Rodgers, West Fargo, N.D., Devils Lake. • 28 inches—Lee Murdock, Grand Forks, Devils Lake. • 27½, 26½ and 25¼ inches—Tanner Flom, Fargo, Red River, Man. • 25 inches—Dennis Flom, Fort Myers, Fla., Red River, Man. White bass released 16-inch minimum • 16 inches—Lee Murdock, Grand Forks, Devils Lake.
A bear hit and killed by a vehicle Friday morning on Grand Forks County Road 33 between Manvel and Gilby, N.D., wasn't as big as authorities estimated, but the animal definitely had been living well, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department said. The bear was a male and weighed "only" 300 pounds, said Stephanie Tucker, furbearer biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a land exchange that would allow ATVs to travel a short length of trail in Beltrami Island State Forest that currently is federally owned and off-limits to the vehicles. Opening up the .7-mile length of trail, which is bordered on both ends by DNR land, to motorized use would provide a connection between northern parts of the forest and areas farther south near Fourtown, Minn.
Jan Johnson knew the bear was in the area, and he knew it was big. He was right; it was. Johnson, of rural Roseau, Minn., toughed out a gloomy, rainy afternoon of bear hunting Oct. 1 and came home with a black bear that unofficially weighed 721 pounds live weight. Bears are scored by skull size rather than body weight, but Johnson's bear definitely is one of the heaviest bears to be taken in Minnesota in quite some time. Photos of the bear have been making the rounds in texts, emails and social media.
They'll be there this week, just like they have every October for the past 50 years. They'll camp, and they'll hunt—ruffed grouse, mostly, and deer for those who have an archery tag—but mainly, they'll converge on a campground in Beltrami Island State Forest to be together as a family. The Gerdes Nation, they call themselves, and they've been coming as a family to this remote part of northwest Minnesota near Norris Camp, headquarters of Red Lake Wildlife Management Area, since 1967.
Rick Acker of Grand Forks and Gary Jones of East Grand Forks had a smallmouth bass fishing trip to remember Oct. 6-8 in northeast South Dakota, boating more than 40 smallmouths during three days on the water. At least 35 of the smallies they caught were big enough to qualify for South Dakota whopper status, Acker said, and at least 15 of those fish weighed more than 5 pounds. Acker and Jones both caught their personal-best smallmouths at 21 inches. All of the fish were released.
Andy Schoneich isn't a duck hunter, but he loves wildlife and does the occasional woodcarving when he gets the time. Developing a passion for the old wooden decoys that duck hunters used before the days of molded plastic was a natural progression. "There's a large number of collectors of the old wooden hunting decoys," Schoneich said. "Some of these decoys have exceeded $1 million and sit in some pretty prestigious collections."