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. — There's no official opening day of ice fishing season — that's up to Mother Nature — but for the crew at Ballard's Resort on Lake of the Woods, the winter season officially started Tuesday morning, Dec. 12, when they shuttled their first anglers out to rental houses set up on the ice north of Pine Island. Start slow. Play it safe. Ramp it up. There's plenty of winter up here in the border country, after all.
He had the buck in his sights—"dead to rights," as he put it later—and everything was lining up for a perfect shot. The deer was standing broadside no more than 50 yards away, and the moment deer hunters wait for was at hand. He pulled the trigger. Click. ... And that was it. No loud boom. No cloud of smoke. No deer. We weren't there to witness this incident firsthand, but we could envision the cry of anguish that likely interrupted the silence of a northern Minnesota evening.
PULASKI TOWNSHIP, N.D. — Things are hopping on this crisp November afternoon as members of the Duray and Kasprick hunting clan get together to mark a seasonal rite of work and pleasure. It's sausage-making time, and this 24-by-24-foot heated shop east of Warsaw, N.D. — an area rich in Polish heritage and tradition — is absolutely bustling with activity.
GRAND FORKS — As a parent with a passion for sharing the outdoors with his kids, Cal Helgeson is frustrated. Given the potential challenges young deer hunters in North Dakota face after drawing their two youth deer hunting tags, he's probably not alone.
GRAND FORKS—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."
September is Tree Stand Safety Awareness Month, and while September days are numbered, the importance of being safe in a tree stand doesn't end Sept. 30. If anything, tree stand safety becomes even more important as deer gun and muzzleloader seasons approach. Every fall, it seems, hunters make news for all the wrong reasons after falling out of tree stands in accidents that could have been prevented.
Hunter Dosch knows he's fortunate to only have 10 stitches in his right index finger and some cuts on his arms and a gash on one knee. It could have been worse. ... "I had a muzzleloader blow up in my hands," Dosch said, offering a short and sweet explanation of what happened. "Too much gunpowder. I'm about 100 percent sure of that."
It was a beautiful late-summer evening, and we were grilling up some venison brats and sitting down to enjoy a cookout on the deck washed down with a couple of cold Samuel Adams Octoberfests. The arrival of Sam's Octoberfest is an anticipated event on the calendar because it's yet another sign that fall—the most anticipated time of year for many outdoors-lovers—is just around the corner.
MIDDLE RIVER, Minn.—Joel Huener says he's always been "kind of a rabid do-it-yourselfer," a trait that also rubbed off on his hunting and fishing. "I tie flies, I make rods and I load my own ammo," says Huener, 61, a wildlife biologist and manager of Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area. "I see something and think, 'Well, I could do that.' And sometimes I can and sometimes more successfully than others."
NARCISSE SNAKE DENS, Man.—The snakes—dozens, perhaps even hundreds—resembled a giant undulating blob of spaghetti as they twisted and rolled in their apparent attempt to scale the side of the rocky pit. Like Medusa—the snake-haired goddess of Greek mythology—brushing her reptilian locks, the mass of red-sided garter snakes would slither a foot or two up the side of the pit before sliding back to the bottom. Over and over they did this, producing a sound similar to white noise as they twisted and slithered at the bottom of the pit.