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 months
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.
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.