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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National Park Week begins Saturday and continues through April 23, and the annual event offers an opportunity to learn more about these recreational jewels and what they have to offer. Summer is peak season for national parks, but the outdoor opportunities are available year-round.
GRAND FORKS—Barring a miracle of Lazarus-like proportions, the Grand Forks County Wildlife Federation appears to be dead, the victim of changing times and an aging membership. If an obituary of the club was to be written, it would include a lengthy list of accomplishments on behalf of wildlife and habitat. Formed in 1947, the Grand Forks County Wildlife Federation was 70 years old.
There are lots of signs of spring. No one of them is definitive, but taken together they are completely convincing. Probably the most familiar of these signs is the arrival of the western meadowlark, the state bird of North Dakota and five other states. The meadowlark is instantly recognizable and its song is loud and distinctive. The sound brought relief and joy to winter weary settlers on the wide open prairie.
DENHOFF, N.D.—Duck eggs might not be a deer's favorite food, but at least one small whitetail buck found them to his liking last summer. A video camera strategically placed next to a duck nest caught the burglarizing buck in the act; he devoured the eggs—shells and all. Seeing is believing, as the old saying goes. "I've never heard of anything like that before," said Nick Conrad, a UND senior who will be graduating this spring with a bachelor's degree in fisheries and wildlife biology. "That's something I never knew."
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department continues to take comment on a plan to implement a limited otter trapping season in November, and barring something drastic, the season will be part of the small game and furbearer proclamation the department sends to Gov. Doug Burgum in mid-July. "That's when we would finalize it, but with the way it's looking right now, it doesn't appear there's a lot of concerns," said Jeb Williams, wildlife chief for Game and Fish in Bismarck. "We plan on moving forward with it unless we hear differently."
WASHINGTON—Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., is among a bipartisan group of senators to reintroduce the Sportsmen's Act, which aims to promote hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation. Heitkamp, who is vice-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus, introduced the Sportsmen's Act of 2017 along with other caucus leaders. Heitkamp and others introduced similar legislation in 2015.
Scott Forbes is a professor of biology at the University of Winnipeg who has been following changes in Lake Winnipeg's walleye population, the "greenbacks" that attract ice fishing enthusiasts north by the thousands every winter.
It's funny how people drift in and out of our lives sometimes. That's also true with hunting and fishing partners. I can think of a half-dozen people with whom I shared numerous trips afield, only to gradually lose contact. Some of them live within walking distance. That is nobody's fault, and it didn't happen because of disputes or disagreements; it just happened. For whatever reason, it works that way sometimes.
GRAND FORKS, N.D.—It's official: The peregrine falcon that flew into town last week is Marv, the patriarch of Grand Forks' peregrine clan the past couple of years. Named after Marv Bossart, a Fargo TV personality who died in 2013, Marv was hatched that same year in Fargo and showed up in Grand Forks to mate the next spring. Tim Driscoll, Grand Forks raptor expert and licensed bander, said avid birder Dave Lambeth got a photo of the peregrine perched on the UND water tower. The photo shows the bird's leg bands, Driscoll said: black over red, and H over 72.
I spent only one day fishing Lake Winnipeg this winter and have gotten my fix of the big lake vicariously through the experiences of others. If there's a common theme, it's the scarcity of larger walleyes, the giant "greenbacks" that have drawn anglers to Lake Winnipeg by the thousands in recent years. Catching walleyes this winter on Lake Winnipeg hasn't been a problem most days, from what I've been told, but those big "Master Angler"-size walleyes measuring 28 inches or longer have been conspicuous by their absence.