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.
- Member for
- 5 years 2 weeks
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.
GRAND FORKS — Mark Pegg needed 10 catfish from the Grand Fork stretch of the Red River. And he'd budgeted two days to catch them. Yeah, right. ... Turns out he needed less than four hours. A fish ecologist and instructor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Pegg was working with UNL grad student Henry Hansen, undergraduate senior McKenzie Hauger and local catfish guide Brad Durick to catch, tag and implant radio-transmitters in 10 catfish near Grand Forks.
NARCISSE SNAKE DENS, Man.—The snakes—dozens, perhaps even hundreds—resembled a giant undulating blob of spaghetti as they twisted and rolled in their apparent attempt to scale the side of the rocky pit. Like Medusa—the snake-haired goddess of Greek mythology—brushing her reptilian locks, the mass of red-sided garter snakes would slither a foot or two up the side of the pit before sliding back to the bottom. Over and over they did this, producing a sound similar to white noise as they twisted and slithered at the bottom of the pit.
GRAND FORKS — Now that he's had a few days to look back on the 2017 North Dakota legislative session, the director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department says he'd probably give the session a B+ in terms of its impact on hunters and anglers. If not for a few contentious issues, Terry Steinwand says he'd be tempted to give the legislative session an A. Game and Fish tracked 28 outdoors-related bills during the session, 11 of which passed both chambers and were signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum.
RED LAKE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA, Minn.—Traffic noise isn't a problem, but a forest full of sounds competes for Gretchen Mehmel's ears on this crisp Monday morning. Pileated woodpeckers hammer away with a percussive cadence as they bore into trees for a morning snack. Hermit thrushes, white-throated sparrows and swamp sparrows offer melodic contrasts with their trills and calls. Not to be outdone, spring peepers and chorus frogs are in full voice, as well.
ROOSEVELT, Minn. — I'd come to Norris Camp, headquarters of Red Lake Wildlife Management Area, to spend a few hours in a ruffed grouse blind and tag along on an early morning drumming count survey. Little did I know I'd experience another spectacle of nature in the process.
The ice went out early, walleyes have spawned, and the stage is set for a great Minnesota fishing opener. Come 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 13, walleyes take center stage. Henry Drewes, northwest regional fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji, said the early spring means anglers might not find as many walleyes in traditional current areas, where the fish stage to spawn, as they would in a normal opener.
GRAND FORKS—Dave Lambeth, often called the "dean of Grand Forks birdwatchers," can be excused for feeling like he just won the birding equivalent of the lottery. Tuesday afternoon, Lambeth was looking out the kitchen window of his house when he noticed something in his backyard wood duck box. That something turned out to be a baby Northern saw-whet owl, one of four juveniles nestled inside the box. It's the first documented record of the tiny, secretive owls nesting in Grand Forks County and only the second in eastern North Dakota, Lambeth says.
DEVILS LAKE, N.D.—Devils Lake is projected to be about 2 feet higher this summer than last year, but the lake won't rise 4 feet like forecasters had predicted in January. That has resort owners and fishing guides gearing up with optimism for the open water tourism season that's about to hit full swing and water managers breathing a sigh of relief.
I'll never forget the first time I fished the Rainy River. The fishing was unlike anything I'd ever experienced. And while I've had the privilege of wetting a line in remote, far north waters of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario, I'm not sure any of them surpassed the walleye action we encountered those two days in April 1987. The fish were big, they bit readily and they were abundant. For a couple of guys in a 12-foot boat with a 4-horse Evinrude who had absolutely no idea how to fish the river, the action was nothing short of amazing.