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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Following up on rumors goes with the territory in the news business. They might turn out to be much ado about nothing, but then again. ... Such was the case earlier this week, when I received an email from a reader in Devils Lake, N.D. Word was, the reader said, that four boats from Iowa were caught fishing Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge—which is closed to summer fishing—and had 63 walleyes over their limit.
BELTRAMI ISLAND STATE FOREST, Minn.—Rumbling down a road less traveled called the Bernard's Orchard Trail in a Polaris Ranger with just enough air conditioning to make the August heat bearable, Myles Hogenson talked about the work that went into making this 2-mile stretch of designated ATV route passable. Starting in the summer of 2017 and continuing after freeze-up, area contractors installed half a dozen culverts and put down some 200 yards of rock and gravel fill atop textile underlayment to stabilize the road grade.
Gary Johnson was teaching math and business in 1968 in his hometown of Humboldt, Minn., when the school superintendent asked if he could help teach firearms safety. Fifty years later, Johnson still teaches firearms safety—and has no plans of stopping anytime soon. Teaching the course has been a good fit, he says. "I've been in a family that hunts ever since I was born," Johnson, 79, said Thursday. "I love the outdoors. I've been raised on a farm so it just kind of comes naturally." Plus, he said, "I still can outwalk most of my family" during deer season.
GRAND FORKS—The Minnesota attorney general's race might not take center stage in the minds of hunters and anglers across the state, but this year's race bears watching in the days leading up to the Aug. 14 primary election. Bob Lessard, 87, the former Minnesota state senator nicknamed "The Old Trapper," has thrown his hat into the ring on a platform that largely focuses on protecting the dedicated funding package Minnesota voters approved in 2008, when they passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
GRAND FORKS—Crossing a portage in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness one day more than 20 years ago, Steve Hawthorne decided he was done lugging his 84-pound fiberglass canoe between wilderness lakes. That was enough of that, he recalls. Hawthorne loves the northeast Minnesota wilderness area and taking canoe trips with his son, Matt, or daughter, Kara, both of whom now are in their mid 30s. But when your paddling partners gauge a successful canoe trip by how many miles they can portage, it's time to explore lighter options, he says.
So I went blueberry picking last weekend—and enjoyed it. The bucket of blueberries now in my freezer definitely made the few hours I spent in the woods worth the effort. Wild blueberries are smaller than the store-bought version, but taste-wise, there's no comparison; wild blueberries are that much better. Plus, I've found, there's a satisfaction that comes from leaving the woods with a full bucket of blueberries that's difficult to describe.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — As a muskie fisherman with a knack for inventing things, developing a muskie lure came naturally for Jeff Sprecher. It appears the Grand Forks inventor and entrepreneur has landed the tackle equivalent of a whopper with his Airheads—bucktail-type fishing lures with double spinner blades and soft plastic heads and tails—and Power Tail replacement components that also can be used on spoons and other lures.
ST. PAUL — Efforts to build and maintain relationships with deer hunters and the general public, reducing chronic wasting disease in wild deer and tracking performance are key components of a new comprehensive statewide deer management plan the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday, July 25.
KAMATSI LAKE, Saskatchewan—We'd been exploring a new part of the lake, catching lake trout with just enough regularity to keep things interesting, when Peter Howard suggested we try a nearby shoreline point at the mouth of a narrows we'd been fishing for the past hour. Good plan, that. Shoreline points often mean dropoffs into deeper water, and dropoffs often mean lake trout, those spotted, grayish-blue packages of fins and power and beauty that head for the depths when surface water temperatures rise past 50 degrees.
KAMATSI LAKE, Sask.—We'd been told about the bear that occasionally wanders into this northern Saskatchewan outpost camp, and it made an appearance one morning during our recent weeklong fishing adventure. The bear didn't cause any trouble, and banging a couple of frying pans together made a racket loud enough to send it ambling back into the brush from whence it came.