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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GRAND FORKS—It was a falcon frenzy Monday afternoon as an estimated 150 people showed up to watch peregrine chicks being banded below the University of North Dakota water tower. Between the three chicks, who loudly voiced their displeasure at being removed from their nest box high atop the tower, and more than 60 kids from various Grand Forks YMCA programs who came to watch, this year's banding effort was even more boisterous than usual.
The carp were there, sucking up seeds or bugs or whatever else might have been floating down the surface of the Red River. Fly casting below Riverside Dam in Grand Forks, Steve Ficocello could see the fish as their orange lips broke the surface of the river. With the precision of an experienced fly caster, Ficocello routinely placed his fly within lipping distance of the carp. More than once, his 7-weight fly rod loaded up, heightening the anticipation of a potential strike.
If you've never been to Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, here's the perfect excuse for a last-minute road trip. The Friends of Rydell and Glacial Ridge Refuges group is hosting an event marking Rydell's 25th anniversary from 1 to 4 p.m. today—Sunday, June 11—at the refuge, located at 17788 349th St. SE between Mentor and Erskine, Minn.. The refuge is about 55 miles southeast of Grand Forks, and getting there is as simple as heading east on U.S. Highway 2, turning south on Polk County Road 210 between Mentor and Erskine and following the signs to the refuge.
ROSEAU, Minn. — There will be no celebrations today to mark the 15th anniversary of the worst flood this northwest Minnesota community has ever seen or the recovery that's taken place since that fateful summer day. The Roseau River spilled out of its banks and topped makeshift dikes on June 11, 2002, after up to 20 inches of rain swamped the area for miles in every direction. The water came from the river, it came overland from higher ground to the west and it came through the storm sewers. There was too much, and it came too fast.
GRAND FORKS—The annual peregrine banding event at the University of North Dakota Water Tower is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday, June 12.. Licensed bander and raptor expert Tim Driscoll of Grand Forks, who closely follows the comings and goings of peregrine parents Marv and Terminator, said he's been able to count three peregrine falcon chicks in the nest. Also Monday, Driscoll plans to band peregrine chicks in Crookston at 9 a.m..
OAK HAMMOCK MARSH, Man. — The morning was absolutely miserable — cold, cloudy and windy — and banding birds or getting into the heart of the marsh by canoe wasn't going to be an option. "The wind is quite strong this morning," Jacques Bourgeois wrote in an email. "Can you postpone your visit to tomorrow?"
Muzzleloader hunters in Minnesota will be able to use magnifying scopes on their guns, blaze pink will be allowed for hunters in the field, and anglers and deer hunters will pay a few dollars more for their licenses beginning in 2018 under legislation Gov. Mark Dayton signed Tuesday.
BAUDETTE, Minn.—The land—and the critters that live there—was just waiting to be studied and explored. That's exactly what students at Lake of the Woods School have been doing in the school forest and pond near this school along state Highway 11 on the outskirts of Baudette. They're learning about phenology, which Webster's New World Dictionary defines as "the study of natural phenomena that recur periodically, such as migration or blossoming, and of their relation to climate and changes in season."
GRAHAMS ISLAND STATE PARK, N.D.—The Visitor Center at Grahams Island State Park used to be hidden in the maintenance shop, an inconspicuous building that wasn't exactly easy to find. Not so anymore. The newly opened Grahams Island State Park Visitor Center is a can't-miss building situated smack-dab in the middle of the 1,122-acre park on Devils Lake. "We're highly visible—we're easy to see, easy to get to, and we can staff it much easier," park Manager Henry Duray said.
There are many things to like about May, and as the month enters the homestretch, I'd have to say it's been a good one. From spending a morning in a blind watching a ruffed grouse drum to a Minnesota walleye opener that was as enjoyable as any I've ever had, May delivered an abundance of good times outdoors.