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 — The email arrived nearly three weeks ago, hinting at the prospect of a Minnesota walleye opener four of us who got together in 1996 will never forget. "Ice fishing on Lake of the Woods for the opener?" the subject line read. "I'd say the odds are 50/50 right now," the sender said in his email. "We should plan on re-convening our 'Opener Ice Team' for 2018, conditions allowing. "Just saying. ..."
GRAND FORKS — Larry Gadaire was paddling his homemade cedar strip canoe on Lake Renwick near Cavalier, N.D., one day about 25 years ago when he saw someone cruising the lake in a kayak. A cabinet maker by trade, Gadaire did what cabinet makers by trade do when when they see something they'd like build. He built a kayak. And he's been building them ever since. "The worst thing about cedar strip is you never finish sanding," Gadaire said. "So, I started with these, and I've been modifying and changing things" along the way.
GRAND FORKS — Not that many years ago, it was relatively common practice for anglers fishing sturgeon on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River to hoist big fish up by the gill plates and hold them vertically for photos. However well intentioned those anglers might have been, chances are many sturgeon died after being handled that way, even if the fish were released. Fish aren't made to be held out of the water vertically, especially large fish, because the weight of their bodies tears the connective tissue holding their internal organs in place.
North Dakota doesn't have a resident gray wolf population, but the eastern half of the state falls within the boundaries of what's known as the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment, which includes gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Fringe states that partially fall within the boundary are North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and far northern Illinois.
When Jeremy Woinarowicz joined the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a conservation officer in 2004, most of the wolf depredation complaints he handled came from farmers in the eastern edge of his work area near Grygla, Skime and Fourtown, Minn. That gradually has changed over time, and complaints have expanded from forested, more traditional wolf habitat to open farm country to the south and west, said Woinarowicz, of Warren, Minn.
Love them or hate them, few animals evoke stronger emotions than the gray wolf. Iconic without question, a symbol of wild places and revered by people who want them protected at all costs. But also a top-level predator, scorned by ag producers when wolves raid their livestock and despised by the hunters who believe wolves kill too many deer. There's no middle ground on wolves, it seems.
PARK RIVER, N.D. — There might not have been any controversial issues or proposals on the table Monday night, but that didn't keep sportsmen from packing the American Legion club here for the spring meeting of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department's Advisory Board. Game and Fish is mandated to hold the meetings twice a year in each of the state's eight Advisory Board districts. Hosted by the Walsh County Gun Club, the Park River meeting was for District 4, which covers Grand Forks, Nelson, Pembina and Walsh counties.
GRAND FORKS—Archery deer hunters in Grand Forks County will have more access to bowhunting opportunities on public land this fall, thanks to a new five-year memorandum of understanding between the University of North Dakota and the state Game and Fish Department. As part of the agreement, an unlimited number of archery deer hunters will be able to access the Forest River Biology Station and Wildlife Management Area along the Forest River northwest of Inkster. UND and Game and Fish jointly manage Forest River Biology Station and WMA.
GRAND FORKS — Spring continues to be little more than a promise on the seasonal horizon, but outdoors lovers shouldn't let the gloomy weather put a chill on their plans for summer. What better way to weather the storm, after all, than planning a trip? When it comes to the great outdoors, planning and anticipation is half the fun.
In April 1997, as Blizzard Hannah roared into the Red River Valley and brought the region to a screeching halt, I was on the Rainy River with a couple of friends trying to catch walleyes in water the color of chocolate milk. As happens every spring, tributary streams feeding the Rainy had opened, unleashing a barrage of ice and debris and muddying up the river. Anyone who's ever fished the Rainy in the spring knows what that does to walleye fishing. The bite pretty much dies until the debris from the tributaries works its way through the system and water clarity improves.