Bring rubber boots, and be careful.
That’s the advice to anyone heading out into the woods soon. And if you haven't been out to your deer camp or favorite grouse trail in recent weeks, be ready to be surprised by how much water is on the landscape.
A historic autumn wet spell has soaked most of northerm Minnesota, flooding back roads, filling rivers to their banks and overflowing swamps and beaver ponds. Once the current storm system moves out of the region, Duluth could have as much as 9 inches of rain since Sept. 1, nearly four inches more than normal. The problem is made worse this time of year because there’s little evaporation with lower temperatures and because no water being sucked up by plants and trees, which are shutting down for winter.
It’s going to be a major headache for some deer camps as families with young hunters head into the woods starting Thursday for Minnesota’s annual four-day school break and the first statewide firearms youth deer season.
Be prepared to ford through or over more and wider water. Creeks that you could jump across in August are now 15 or 20 feet wide. The rain has made some low, muddy holes impassable on some back roads, including places where beaver dams have blown out or been overtopped.
Some of the grouse trails we walked in Cass County last week seemed to have more water puddles than solid land, and that was before the latest storm.
The state’s pheasant fields also are very wet, some too wet to hunt on and most too wet to harvest, meaning early season pheasant hunting will be difficult with so many crops still in the field. North Dakota had received so much rain and snow by Thursday that state officials said travel on many rural roads for the Oct. 12 pheasant hunting opener would be "nearly impossible."