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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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.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—A peregrine falcon hatched in 2016 atop the University of North Dakota water tower and named after Grand Forks birding authority Dave Lambeth has a new permanent home. In Winnipeg. David, as the peregrine chick was dubbed in June 2016 when he was banded by local raptor expert Tim Driscoll, now is a resident of Parkland Mews Falconry and Bird of Prey Education Centre, a facility on the outskirts of Winnipeg that runs a breeding and education program using birds of prey that recover from injury but can't be released back to the wild.
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.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — Authorities in Devils Lake say they haven't actually seen the mountain lion captured on a landowner's trail cameras three weeks ago on the west side of Six-Mile Bay, but there's no question the photos are legit as rumors about the cat continue to fly. "I'm pretty sure we have a cat here—or had," said Paul Freeman, northeast district enforcement supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Devils Lake. "It has been quite some time. Is it still around? It's certainly possible."
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—As a Coast Guard-licensed catfish guide, Brad Durick of Grand Forks uses technology to locate the whiskery denizens of the Red River's murky depths. These days, Durick runs a Humminbird Helix 10 G2N (which stands for "Generation 2 Networkable") depthfinder with MEGA Imaging on his guide boat. That's a big name for a unit with an abundance of bells and whistles, but suffice to say it does more than show water depth and blips on the screen that represent fish.
A fisheries input group is set to begin meeting this month to provide feedback to the Department of Natural Resources on the next five-year fisheries management plan being drafted for the Minnesota side of Lake of the Woods. Nearly 30 people applied to serve on the 14-person volunteer committee, which includes representatives from county government, area businesses, resorts on the Minnesota side of Lake of the Woods and anglers from outside the area, said Phil Talmage, area fisheries supervisor for the DNR in Baudette, Minn.
With his trademark red beard, contagious enthusiasm and gift for gab, Brian Brosdahl is one of the most recognized, sought-after personalities in the ice fishing industry. "Bro," as he's known to all, is a frequent seminar speaker, fishing guide and product promoter at ice shows, sports shows and promotional events throughout the Ice Belt, including the St. Paul Ice Show, which began Friday, Dec. 1, and winds down today at the St. Paul RiverCentre.
We could see the ice was safe—at least 6 inches thick—judging by the depth of the tiny fissures that spidered across the crystal-clear surface of the frozen pond. Still, the sound of the ice groaning and popping as we took our first tentative steps, checking with a spud bar every few feet to make sure it was safe, was just as unsettling as I remembered it. The ice was in a talkative mood that afternoon. I've spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours on the ice over the years, but I'll never get used to that sound.
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.
Turkey will take center stage at dinner tables across the country Thursday when Americans sit down for their Thanksgiving feasts, but many hunters will be giving thanks for the wild birds, which provide hunting opportunities in both North Dakota and Minnesota. "I used to love elk hunting, and then I got a taste of turkey hunting," said Kristi Coughlon, an information officer for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji and—you guessed it—an avid turkey hunter.