Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. 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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Deer -- specifically the lack of them -- will be a prominent issue among wildlife managers on both sides of the Red River in the coming year. In North Dakota, the Game and Fish Department this past week announced the schedule for a series of eight statewide meetings planned for February to discuss deer management. The meetings come in the wake of the lowest number of deer licenses in 30 years. Game and Fish offered 59,500 licenses for last fall's deer gun season, the lowest since 1983, and a number that left 40,000 potential hunters on the sidelines.
Last weekend's first annual Wounded Warriors Guide Service Ice Tournament on Devils Lake drew 38 two-person teams who weighed in 81 perch, 51 walleyes and six northern pike. Woodland Resort served as headquarters for the Jan. 11 tournament, which was limited to Creel Bay. Despite the tournament's name, the competition was open to the public, and teams could weigh in their five largest perch, walleyes and northern pike.
Forty cow moose in northwest North Dakota will be sporting some pricey new neckwear later this winter when the state Game and Fish Department and the University of Mary in Bismarck team up to fit the animals with GPS collars. It's all about learning more about prairie moose and where they go, the habitat they prefer and the extent of their mortality.
A reader took me to task recently for using the word "harvest" in a blog post about the Minnesota wolf season that wrapped up in late December. I suspect she mostly was upset about its use in reference to wolves, without question the most emotionally charged animal to roam the wilds of Minnesota.
Q. With Minnesota's free ice fishing weekend set for Jan. 18-20, are there any clinics or kids' fishing derbies in the area? A. I ran your question by Mike "Cold Front" Kurre, coordinator of mentoring programs for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in St. Paul.
The Department of Natural Resources soon will be flying its annual aerial surveys for the Kittson County and Grygla, Minn., elk herds, the DNR reported. The DNR last winter tallied 28 elk near Grygla, down from 40 during the previous survey in 2010.
The heavy snow that has fallen in parts of Minnesota this winter is causing concerns about the potential for deer mortality. Mark Johnson executive director of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association in Grand Rapids, Minn., said the early onset of winter comes on the heels of two of the lowest deer harvests in several years. Preliminary numbers from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources show hunters killed about 144,000 deer during the firearms season, a 6 percent drop from 2012.
SOMEWHERE ON DEVILS LAKE -- Big John is really giving 'er now, bouncing across the frozen lake through drifts and occasional pockets of slush in his red Chevy four-wheel-drive. It's either that or risk getting stuck before we reach a fishing spot -- somewhere out there in the white expanse -- that has been producing the kind of jumbo perch for which Devils Lake is famous. "Are you nervous?" he asks Brad Durick, his front-seat passenger, with a laugh. "Nope," Durick, Grand Forks, replies.
Q. Walking through the grocery store last week, I saw a package of smelt. It reminded me of a neighbor in Wisconsin when I was a kid who always had a smelt fry after he got back from smelting. Does anybody smelt anymore and where do they do it at? A. I've never smelted myself, nor do I know anyone who does, but without question the North Shore of Lake Superior remains the most popular destination for smelting in this part of the world.
A decade ago, winter activity in the Greenway was limited to sledding, ice skating, a few cross-country ski trails and snowmobile access along the outskirts of town. Fast forward to today: The Greenway has 15 miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails just on the Grand Forks side of the river, fat bike enthusiasts have the best playground they could ask for right in their backyards, snowshoers have a vast array of places to tromp through the snow, there's snowboarding and skating, and hikers and dog-walkers can get out and enjoy what the Greenway has to offer. Even snowmobilers -- the bane