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Brad Dokken: Moose, deer camps and other random thoughts

A few random thoughts as we make the inevitable transition from fall to winter. o I saw something in northwest Minnesota last week that I hadn't seen in years: a moose. I'd been up in Hallock, Minn., and was driving back to Grand Forks last Frida...

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A few random thoughts as we make the inevitable transition from fall to winter.

• I saw something in northwest Minnesota last week that I hadn't seen in years: a moose. I'd been up in Hallock, Minn., and was driving back to Grand Forks last Friday afternoon when I noticed a bull moose on the west side of County Highway 1, about 2 miles north of the intersection with state Highway 11. The last moose I remember seeing in northwest Minnesota was in the spring of 1999 or 2000 on state Highway 32 north of Thief River Falls near the turnoff to Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge. I had to hit the brakes for that one. The night was rainy, dark and all I saw were the legs, which fortunately, were noticeably lighter than the rest of the moose.

• Speaking of moose, if you haven't already done so, check out the story elsewhere on this page-or website if you're reading online-on 16-year-old Hannah Laumb of Grand Forks and the cow moose she shot Sunday, Oct. 28, in Unit M10 of northwest North Dakota. As a longtime family friend, I had the opportunity to tag along, camera in hand, with Hannah; her dad, Jason; and grandpa, Tom Laumb, of Berthold, N.D., on the hunt. I had the chance to see some new country and experience a hunt that turned out to be considerably more challenging than expected. The steaks, by the way, are phenomenal.

• I didn't buy a tag for Minnesota's firearms deer season, but I spent the weekend in northwest Minnesota, and it seemed oddly quiet for an opening weekend. The weather was ideal, but I heard very few shots fired, and I didn't see the number of hunters I would have expected, either.

• Opening weekend numbers from the Department of Natural Resources confirmed the trend. According to the DNR, the overall harvest opening weekend-Nov. 3-4-was down 14.6 percent from last year. Hunters registered 62,957 deer this year, compared with 73,759 last year. The biggest drop was in the 100-series permit areas of northeast Minnesota, forested country where the harvest was down 21.5 percent from the 2017 opener. In 200-series permit areas, which include most of northwest Minnesota, the harvest was down 11 percent. The DNR had sold 392,056 licenses as of Nov. 2, the day before the opener, down 2 percent from last year.

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• From my perspective, one of the best parts of Minnesota's firearms deer season is the state's rich hunting camp tradition. Hunting cabins come in a variety of shapes and sizes and all have their own unique "flavor." I was fortunate to see a classic example of that opening day, when I visited the Aspen Acres hunting camp in Kittson County. The centerpiece of the camp is a 20- by 40-foot cabin the owners converted from an old granary they moved to the site. Quite simply, it's beautiful. A story about the cabin appeared in Friday's Herald and is available online at www.gfherald.com/outdoor .

• The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's fall advisory board meeting for District 4, which covers Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties, is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 27, at the American Legion in Fordville, N.D. Fordville is always a popular location for the meetings, which Game and Fish is mandated to hold twice a year, and the Dakota Prairie Wildlife Club will host. If history is any indication, deer hunting will be the dominant topic of discussion. During last year's fall meeting in Grand Forks, Game and Fish staff got an earful from a handful of hunters frustrated by their inability to draw a deer gun tag despite several years of trying. A complete listing of meetings in all eight of the state's advisory board districts is available in the Outdoor Calendar or on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.

Related Topics: HUNTING
Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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