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Here they came, down the snow-packed trail toward us on Wednesday night in Duluth. Two of them. Young boys, it appeared from a distance. Each wearing a pair of chest waders. Each carrying a fly rod. Nothing could have looked more out of context. Every lake in Duluth and beyond is still ice-covered, and a foot of snow had fallen just two days earlier. We were in a Duluth city park where there happens to be a good-sized pond. My first thought was, maybe they were just practicing their fly-casting over the ice. Nope.
I look out the window on this April afternoon and see sheets of snow knifing past, north to south. It's been falling — falling, heck, it's been slashing down on cruel northeast winds — since early this morning. This isn't right, of course. Or fair to a people who have endured five or six months of winter already. Smugly, we chuckled and clucked with delight when storms in recent days nailed the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota. "Yes!" we gloated. "Not us! Not this time!"
Last fall, a Bemidji-area deer hunter's video was widely circulated on Facebook among Minnesota hunters. In the video, it appeared that about a dozen gray wolves emerged from the right side of the screen, one or two at a time, and made their way across the scene. The video was shot from the hunter's elevated stand. A couple of wolf pups romped at one point. The adults moved through single-file at intervals, over a period of a minute or more. The video seemed to support the impression that many Minnesota deer hunters have about wolves, namely that too many of them roam the woods.
As reported in Tuesday's News Tribune, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources will hold informational meetings across the state to gather feedback on its new deer management plan, which was unveiled Monday. Here's a schedule of those meetings across Northeastern Minnesota. All meetings will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., with people welcome to arrive anytime in that two-hour window • Aitkin, Tuesday, Aitkin Area DNR Office, 1200 Minnesota Avenue South • Brainerd, Wednesday, Brainerd Area DNR Office, 1601 Minnesota Drive, lower conference room.
• Now through May 4 — Wisconsin early inland catch-and-release trout season. • May 5 — Wisconsin general fishing opener; Wisconsin largemouth bass season opener, north zone; Wisconsin inland trout opener. • May 5 to June 15 — Wisconsin smallmouth bass catch-and-release season opener (northern zone). • May 12 — Minnesota general fishing opener (walleye, northern pike, lake trout; also smallmouth and largemouth bass north and east of U.S. Highway 53 from Duluth to International Falls). Minnesota stream trout in lakes opener.
ON THE GUNFLINT TRAIL — She came to the north woods in 1965 from a little farm town on the prairies of western Minnesota. She was a college kid, and she had taken a job at a resort on Hungry Jack Lake north of Grand Marais. Luana Brandt remembers the lanky Swede, Carl Brandt, who came by that summer from his parents' resort on nearby Poplar Lake. "I think Carl came over to check out the summer help," Luana Brandt said with a grin. Carl didn't deny that. "That's what you gotta do up here," he said.
Duluth's Gary Siverson is a bit worried. He loves his steelhead fishing, and in a typical year he would be on the rivers by now. But North Shore streams, including the popular Knife River, remain sealed beneath the ice with little prospect for opening soon. "I don't know if God's gonna let us do it this year," Siverson said this past week. While the spring-fed Brule River in Wisconsin is providing decent steelhead action, North Shore anglers will have to be patient, it appears. Forecasts are for daily highs just above freezing and overnight lows below that threshold.
The manila file folder was stuck in alongside some of my old trip journals on a bookshelf. "What's this?" I thought. I pulled it out and opened it up the other day. Inside were, among other things, a couple of sheets of notebook paper with my handwriting on them. "Exercise No. 9," the page was entitled. "Before I die, I want to..."
A new Minnesota deer management plan, long-awaited by many deer hunters, is due out early this week from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The plan, if ultimately adopted, will guide deer management strategies and communication between the agency and its deer-hunting public. The draft plan is a culmination of 12 public input sessions held around the state and a dozen meetings between DNR wildlife officials and a 20-member citizens' Deer Management Plan Advisory Committee over the past year.
Applications for Minnesota bear hunting licenses are being accepted now through May 4 wherever Minnesota hunting and fishing licenses are sold. A total of 3,350 licenses — the same as last year — are available in 13 permit areas. Bear licenses cost $44 for residents and $230 for nonresidents, and a $5 application fee is added. The season is open from Sept. 1 to Oct. 14.