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. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University.
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GRAND FORKS — Hunters fortunate enough to draw a North Dakota deer gun license won’t lack for opportunities when the season gets underway at noon Friday, Nov. 9. Similar to the past several years, the difficulty in drawing a tag remains the issue for hunters in many parts of the state, a trend that isn’t likely to reverse itself anytime soon.
FORT FRANCES, Ont.—Spend enough time outdoors, and you're going to get bit by bad weather eventually; it's pretty much unavoidable. Such was the case this past week, when I joined two others on a three-day fishing trip to northwestern Ontario. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give the weather a 3 and only because I'm feeling generous. The conditions we endured came as no surprise. The weather forecast in the days leading up to our trip called for clouds, wind, rain and perhaps even snow. The only thing missing was sun.
THOMPSON, N.D.—When Mike Olson placed fourth in the recent Cabela's National Walleye Tour championship on Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota, it erased any doubts the fishing fanatic might have had about competing against the top walleye pros in the country.
ROSEAU, Minn.—Bears are nosy critters by nature, and a 150-pound black bear last week found out the hard way what happens when it sticks its nose into a 10-gallon metal cream can. Fortunately, thanks to the MInnesota Department of Natural Resources and Roseau Fire Department and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, this story has a happy ending.
GRAND FORKS — It's not often that I get to write about my enjoyment of music and fishing in the same column, but the opportunity came along recently in the form of a songwriting contest sponsored by Half Brothers Brewing Company in Grand Forks. Local singer-songwriter Joe Greenwood has written, performed and videoed a collection of folk songs about the Red River as part of the 12-week contest, which just wrapped up and required contestants to submit a new song each week.
GRAND FORKS—Crossing a portage in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness one day more than 20 years ago, Steve Hawthorne decided he was done lugging his 84-pound fiberglass canoe between wilderness lakes. That was enough of that, he recalls. Hawthorne loves the northeast Minnesota wilderness area and taking canoe trips with his son, Matt, or daughter, Kara, both of whom now are in their mid 30s. But when your paddling partners gauge a successful canoe trip by how many miles they can portage, it's time to explore lighter options, he says.
GRAND FORKS—The Minnesota attorney general's race might not take center stage in the minds of hunters and anglers across the state, but this year's race bears watching in the days leading up to the Aug. 14 primary election. Bob Lessard, 87, the former Minnesota state senator nicknamed "The Old Trapper," has thrown his hat into the ring on a platform that largely focuses on protecting the dedicated funding package Minnesota voters approved in 2008, when they passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
So I went blueberry picking last weekend—and enjoyed it. The bucket of blueberries now in my freezer definitely made the few hours I spent in the woods worth the effort. Wild blueberries are smaller than the store-bought version, but taste-wise, there's no comparison; wild blueberries are that much better. Plus, I've found, there's a satisfaction that comes from leaving the woods with a full bucket of blueberries that's difficult to describe.
KAMATSI LAKE, Saskatchewan—We'd been exploring a new part of the lake, catching lake trout with just enough regularity to keep things interesting, when Peter Howard suggested we try a nearby shoreline point at the mouth of a narrows we'd been fishing for the past hour. Good plan, that. Shoreline points often mean dropoffs into deeper water, and dropoffs often mean lake trout, those spotted, grayish-blue packages of fins and power and beauty that head for the depths when surface water temperatures rise past 50 degrees.
CASS LAKE, Minn.—You play the cards you're dealt when picking a date on the calendar to go fishing, and Brian Brosdahl's hand on this June morning was stacked with ample doses of sun, high barometric pressure and light to variable winds. That's hardly a royal flush when the destination is gin-clear Cass Lake and the target is walleyes, a sometimes fickle fish known to favor low-light conditions and choppy waves. No worries, Brosdahl said; we'd get our fish. "They'll still bite," he said. "You just have to appeal to their animal instincts."