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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BAUDETTE, Minn. — This is a rant — about those new-style gas containers equipped with safety features that make it impossible for most of us to dispense the gasoline they're designed to hold. How do I hate them? Let me count the ways. Someday, I'd like to find the people who developed these safety features and turn them loose on a remote northern Minnesota highway. Then, I'd like to see them try to pour fuel from one of their devil cans into a car that has run out of gas.
ON THE RAINY RIVER, Minn. — For people who fish, there's something about getting in a boat again after a long winter that's difficult to put into words. Excitement is part of it. So is anticipation. Anticipation for the sound of an outboard motor rumbling to life for the first time in months. Anticipation for the sound of water lapping against the hull of the boat, a sound as soothing as it is hypnotic.
GRAND FORKS — The email arrived nearly three weeks ago, hinting at the prospect of a Minnesota walleye opener four of us who got together in 1996 will never forget. "Ice fishing on Lake of the Woods for the opener?" the subject line read. "I'd say the odds are 50/50 right now," the sender said in his email. "We should plan on re-convening our 'Opener Ice Team' for 2018, conditions allowing. "Just saying. ..."
GRAND FORKS — Larry Gadaire was paddling his homemade cedar strip canoe on Lake Renwick near Cavalier, N.D., one day about 25 years ago when he saw someone cruising the lake in a kayak. A cabinet maker by trade, Gadaire did what cabinet makers by trade do when when they see something they'd like build. He built a kayak. And he's been building them ever since. "The worst thing about cedar strip is you never finish sanding," Gadaire said. "So, I started with these, and I've been modifying and changing things" along the way.
GRAND FORKS — Not that many years ago, it was relatively common practice for anglers fishing sturgeon on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River to hoist big fish up by the gill plates and hold them vertically for photos. However well intentioned those anglers might have been, chances are many sturgeon died after being handled that way, even if the fish were released. Fish aren't made to be held out of the water vertically, especially large fish, because the weight of their bodies tears the connective tissue holding their internal organs in place.
When Jeremy Woinarowicz joined the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a conservation officer in 2004, most of the wolf depredation complaints he handled came from farmers in the eastern edge of his work area near Grygla, Skime and Fourtown, Minn. That gradually has changed over time, and complaints have expanded from forested, more traditional wolf habitat to open farm country to the south and west, said Woinarowicz, of Warren, Minn.
Love them or hate them, few animals evoke stronger emotions than the gray wolf. Iconic without question, a symbol of wild places and revered by people who want them protected at all costs. But also a top-level predator, scorned by ag producers when wolves raid their livestock and despised by the hunters who believe wolves kill too many deer. There's no middle ground on wolves, it seems.
GRAND FORKS — Spring continues to be little more than a promise on the seasonal horizon, but outdoors lovers shouldn't let the gloomy weather put a chill on their plans for summer. What better way to weather the storm, after all, than planning a trip? When it comes to the great outdoors, planning and anticipation is half the fun.
ROSEAU, Minn. -- Debbie Kujava says she stopped at Holiday Stationstores in Roseau, Minn., to get some pop after work one day early last week when she decided to pick up a few lottery tickets for the March 14 drawing. She bought the Jackpot Bundle, a package of lottery tickets that includes Powerball, Mega Millions, Gopher 5 and Lotto America. “I thought ‘What the heck, just give me the Jackpot Bundle,’ ” she said. “I put them in my coat pocket and forgot about them.” The morning after the drawing, Kujava says she decided to check the numbers.
GRAND FORKS — In late January, a friend and his son were leaving the ice of Devils Lake after a day of tip-up fishing when they came across five pike laying beside the outline of what appeared to be a wheeled fish house, judging by the imprint on the ice. The pike hadn't been frozen very long so my friend picked them up and took them home. He's well-schooled in the procedure for taking out the pesky Y-bones that give pike a bad rap, and pike either deep fried or grilled with a spicy seasoning are a family favorite. In other words, the pike were put to good use.