Duluth city deer hunt harvest up slightly so far

After the first two weeks of Duluth’s city bow hunt for deer, hunters had registered 107 deer, according to the Arrowhead Bowhunters Alliance. Of those, 103 were antlerless deer. Last year at the same time, hunters had taken a total of 101 deer.

Last fall’s total harvest of 399 deer was 30 percent below the 2012 harvest, according to the ABA.

“We’re doing better than I thought we’d be doing,” said Phillip Lockett, president of the ABA. “We pretty much expected to be down this year given last winter’s conditions. I figured if we got 350 deer this year, we’d be doing good.”

Duluth’s city deer hunting season opened Sept. 13 and continues through Dec. 31.


Duck hunting success above average in Grand Rapids area

Hunter success was above average on three Grand Rapids area waterfowl lakes for the 2014 duck hunting opener, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff reported. DNR officials checked hunters Saturday on Big White Oak Lake, Mud Lake (both near Deer River) and Big Rice Lake near Remer.

Hunter success in terms of ducks bagged per hunter varied from a low of 1.1 ducks per hunter at White Oak Lake, to 2.8 ducks per hunter at Big Rice, and 3.0 ducks per hunter at Mud Lake.

“Any time there is an average take of over 2.5 ducks per hunter, that’s good hunting,” said Perry Loegering, area wildlife manager at Grand Rapids.

Ring-necked ducks, wood ducks and mallards were the most common birds in the bag. Mallards were the most commonly bagged bird at White Oak Lake. Ring-necked ducks were the most commonly bagged bird at Big Rice Lake, and wood duck were most common at Mud Lake.

Based on car counts, hunter numbers were down about 5 percent from the five-year average.

Gov. Dayton announces first Minnesota ‘Pheasant Summit’

Following the lead of South Dakota, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton announced Thursday that Minnesota will hold the state’s first Minnesota Pheasant Summit to discuss the plight of the popular gamebird. The event will be held later this year. A location for the meeting has not been set.

A yellow Lab holds a rooster pheasant after making a tough retrieve. (Sam Cook photo)

Minnesota’s pheasant population has plummeted in recent years, largely as a result of a decreasing amount of grassland habitat. Many farmers have converted grasslands to cropland to take advantage of high commodity prices. In addition, federal farm programs that promote grasslands have not been able to keep pace with farmland rental rates, so farmers have lost some incentive to keep lands in grassy cover that pheasants require.

The summit will include hunters, farmers, policymakers, conservationists and other stakeholders, the governor’s office said in a news release.

Although Minnesota’s pheasant population is up slightly this fall from last year, it remains 58 percent below the 10-year average and 71 percent below the long-term average, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

South Dakota held its first Pheasant Summit in December 2013 after reports last fall that the state’s pheasant population index had dropped 64 percent.


DNR to chemically treat three Grand Marais area lakes, then restock trout

Three designated stream-trout lakes in Cook County will be chemically treated next week to remove undesirable fish species before the lakes are restocked with trout, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The lakes may be temporarily closed during treatment applications.

Treatment of Kimball, Mink and Boys lakes should be completed by Oct. 3. The rehabilitation is a joint project between the DNR and Trout Unlimited, a conservation group.

All three lakes will be treated with the fish toxicant Rotenone. Treatments will be done aerially and are expected to kill all fish in the three lakes. Rotenone kills fish, but is not toxic to birds or mammals at the concentrations used in these lakes, according to the DNR.

Rotenone detoxifies quickly, usually within two weeks. Swimming in or drinking treated water immediately after treatment is discouraged, and fish killed by Rotenone should not be consumed.

Stocking of trout in Kimball and Mink lakes will resume in the spring of 2015, while Boys Lake may not be restocked until the fall of 2015. Kimball Lake will be stocked with rainbow trout yearlings and brown trout fingerlings. Mink Lake will receive rainbow trout yearlings and splake fingerlings, and Boys Lake will be restocked with brook trout fingerlings.


DNR: Good duck opener expected in Minnesota

Duck hunters should have a good opening weekend across most of the state, said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.Bluewinged teal, wood ducks and mallards will dominate hunters’ bags in most areas, and ring-necked ducks should be fairly common in northern Minnesota, Cordts said in his first weekly migration report of the season.

The number of breeding mallards in Minnesota this spring was lower than last year but still above the long-term average. The number of breeding ducks based on continental surveys was extremely high for most duck species. Waterfowl production (number of young hatched) was thought to be good in Minnesota and elsewhere with good wetland conditions reported from most areas this spring and summer.

Water levels are good across most of the state.

The number of breeding Canada geese in the state this spring was similar to last year but goose production was improved. Canada goose abundance in the state will continue to increase in the coming weeks as molt-migrant birds continue moving back into the state and migrant geese move south from Canada

Temperatures are expected to be above average and in the 70s to low 80s across the state for opening weekend with southerly winds and no precipitation expected.


Fly fishing with Katherine Lansing on Wisconsin’s Brule River

Katherine Lansing of Duluth nets a brook trout she caught Wednesday on Wisconsin’s Brule River. Lansing is an avid fly fisher who also teaches fly fishing and fly casting. (Sam Cook photo)

I spent a good day on Wisconsin’s Brule River on Wednesday with Duluth’s Katherine Lansing, who was fly fishing for brook trout. She hooked several and caught a few. Lansing is a certified fly-fishing instructor and a member of the Arrowhead Fly Fishers club. Read the story I wrote about her in this Sunday’s Duluth News Tribune outdoors pages.

Katherine Lansing casts for brook trout while fishing Wisconsin’s Brule River on Wednesday. (Sam Cook photo)


Another big day at Hawk Ridge on Sunday

Another big flight of broad-winged hawks led an 8,508-raptor day at Hawk Ridge in Duluth on Sunday, according to Janelle Long, executive director of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

A total of 7,219 broadwings were counted on Sunday, along with 821 sharp-shinned hawks, 145 bald eagles, 126 American kestrels, 13 peregrine falcons and several other species.

That’s the biggest count so far this fall at Hawk Ridge and brings the season’s migration total to 35,630 raptors.

Steve Kolbe and Karl Bardon were counting on Sunday, with help from volunteers Dave Carman and Russ Edmonds.

Hawk-watching is free at Hawk Ridge. The main overlook is about one mile east of Glenwood Street on Skyline Parkway.


Early-morning walk in the woods is always worthwhile

A whitetail doe peers through the branches of pines at Duluth’s Hartley Park on Monday morning. (Sam Cook photo)

I took a short walk with the yellow dog at sunrise Monday morning at Duluth’s Hartley Park. I was expecting to see some Canada geese leaving the pond, but they must have departed earlier. But an early-morning walk at Hartley is always a pleasure. A pair of swans dabbled on the pond. They’ve been around for at least a couple of weeks, often at the far end of the pond. A whitetail doe and her two yearlings browsed in the shadows. And the sumac, already in full fall glory, was brilliant in the morning light.

A pair of swans feed in the shallows at Hartley Pond. They were too far away for me to identify, but I’m guessing they were tundra swans. (Sam Cook photo)

Sumac in fall colors look good in the morning light. (Sam Cook photo)

A yearling whitetail checks out a visitor in the woods Monday morning at Hartley Park. (Sam Cook photo)