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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GRAND FORKS — During last year's North Dakota pheasant opener, Scott Lindgren of Grand Forks and his hunting partners headed west to hunt an area that produced easy, three-bird limits not that many years ago. "Typically, you'd walk in and make one walk, and you'd shoot your three birds," Lindgren said. Different story last year. "We jumped into one of those pieces on opening morning — we shot one and saw four," he said. "It went from hundreds (of pheasants) to a handful."
FORT FRANCES, Ont.—Spend enough time outdoors, and you're going to get bit by bad weather eventually; it's pretty much unavoidable. Such was the case this past week, when I joined two others on a three-day fishing trip to northwestern Ontario. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give the weather a 3 and only because I'm feeling generous. The conditions we endured came as no surprise. The weather forecast in the days leading up to our trip called for clouds, wind, rain and perhaps even snow. The only thing missing was sun.
DEVILS LAKE—At first glance, the image on the depth finder screen looks more like the surface of the moon than the bottom of Devils Lake. To Bruce "Doc" Samson and Warren Parsons, both experts in the ways of sonar, mapping and imaging technology, the picture tells the story of a battle lost in trying to stave off the advance of a rising lake. The image, captured as a screen shot and stored on a tiny chip, shows an extensive row of rocks and what once was a swimming pool now submerged under more than 12 feet of water at the bottom of Creel Bay.
THOMPSON, N.D.—When Mike Olson placed fourth in the recent Cabela's National Walleye Tour championship on Lake of the Woods in northern Minnesota, it erased any doubts the fishing fanatic might have had about competing against the top walleye pros in the country.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D. — There's been a change in the guiding landscape on Devils Lake with the sale of Mitchell's Guide Service, founded by North Dakota Fishing Hall of Fame angler Jason Mitchell, to the Perch Patrol Guide Service. Steve "Zippy" Dahl, a founder and owner of the Perch Patrol, announced the sale Tuesday, Sept. 18, in a news release. Both guide services are institutions on Devils Lake, dating back more than 20 years.
GRAND FORKS — There was a welcome development on the conservation front Thursday, Sept. 13, with news that the House Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed a measure to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually. This is a big deal for anyone who cares about public lands and outdoor recreation because the LWCF is set to sunset Sept. 30 unless Congress acts to reauthorize the fund. There's still work to be done, but the House committee's action looks to be a significant step to ensuring the conservation funding continues.
With the regular waterfowl season on the horizon in North Dakota and Minnesota, hunters could be excused for worrying about the impact of this year's dry conditions on their hunting prospects. By most accounts, such worries would be unfounded—at least in northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota. Waterfowl season opens Saturday, Sept. 22, in Minnesota and in North Dakota.
ROSEAU, Minn.—Bears are nosy critters by nature, and a 150-pound black bear last week found out the hard way what happens when it sticks its nose into a 10-gallon metal cream can. Fortunately, thanks to the MInnesota Department of Natural Resources and Roseau Fire Department and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, this story has a happy ending.
The Poweshiek skipperling is a bland-colored butterfly that likely didn't create much of a stir when it was listed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as an endangered species in 2014. But in the big picture, the listing of any native species — whether a high-profile animal or an obscure pollinator such as the Poweshiek skipperling — is cause for concern, officials say.
GRAND FORKS — It's not often that I get to write about my enjoyment of music and fishing in the same column, but the opportunity came along recently in the form of a songwriting contest sponsored by Half Brothers Brewing Company in Grand Forks. Local singer-songwriter Joe Greenwood has written, performed and videoed a collection of folk songs about the Red River as part of the 12-week contest, which just wrapped up and required contestants to submit a new song each week.