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Issue 4 • Edition 5

Featured in this issue


PLUS MORE! • Craving for Coyotes • Mr. Ice Fishing: Dave Genz

By: Tim Anderson

By: Sheila Helmberger

• Kick … Glide through Winter

By: Melody Banks

• Attracting Cardinals

By: Judd Brink

• Your Best Shot

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Many people equate the warm weather with outdoor fun. After all, winter is for huddling inside by the fire sipping hot cocoa, right? Not In the Brainerd Lakes Area. Although there may be the tendency to want to hibernate when it’s cold, it’s actually beneficial to get out of the house and stay active. Enjoying the outdoors year-round provides exercise, may alleviate seasonal blues, and can offer new perspectives on natural landscapes. The cold weather shouldn’t hinder your outdoor activities. Here are some fun pursuits anyone can enjoy. Best of all in this economy, most are free. Get moving: Running and walking enthusiasts are generally out rain or shine. Just because it’s cold doesn’t

mean you have to put these activities on hiatus. Enjoy winter sports: Skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and sledding are just some of the winter sports that you can enjoy. What’s more, they can often be a family affair and tailored to all different skill levels. Explore new activities: Some people think that activities such as hiking, horseback riding, and cycling are just for the warm weather. In fact, with the right gear these pastimes can be enjoyed any time of year. Camping outdoors at a state park may take on an entirely new perspective when there is a chill in the air. Hiking during the colder months could open you up to opportunities to see animals that delight in cold weather. There are even those who enjoy a cold-weather swim. “Arctic” or “polar bear” clubs abound. If you think creatively, there are plenty of fun ways to be active when it is cold outside.



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Welcome ...................................... 3 Kick...Glide Through Winter ....... 5 Ice Fishing In Style........................ 8 Attracting Cardinals ................. 10 Craving for Coyotes.................. 13 Ice Fishing Gear .......................... 17 Let It Snow!.................................. 20 Hard Water, Soft Plastics ............. 24 Photos of 2010 ............................ 27


Brainerd, MN 56401 (218) 829-4705 4

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Ice Safety Tips ............................. 30


506 James Street • P.O. Box 974

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Mr. Ice Fishing: Dave Genz......... 28 Winter Is Here .............................. 32 Service Directory/Calendar ....... 33 Your Best Shot ............................ 34

STAFF: Publisher .................................. Terry McCollough Advertising Director ................... Tim Bogenschutz Copy Editor ............................................Roy Miller Marketing / Special Projects Coordinator ... Nikki Lyter Magazine Layout ..... Andy Goble and Tyler Nelson Ad Design .......................................... Jeff Dummer, Andy Goble, Jennifer Fuchs, Lisa Henry, Angie Hoefs, Tyler Nelson and Cindy Spilman Sales.................................................. Dave Wentzel Online Sales Manager .........................Beth Lehner Outdoor Traditions is a trademarked magazine published by the Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 976, Brainerd, MN 56401. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. ®2010 On the cover: Pat Galdonik with daughter Sarah on her first turkey hunt.


by Melody Banks


We were a bit apprehensive. Our Minnesota

friends grew up cross-country skiing; both of us were 50 years old and had lived most of our lives in Iowa farm country. We’d never really had the opportunity to try it before. I was up for a new adventure but Hubby declined.“You go then let me know how you like it,” he offered. So I went… I was amazed at how much fun it was. It was easier than I could ever have imagined. I was toasty warm in 10-degree weather! Even falling down wasn’t too bad. Getting up, how-

from Boyd’s Lodge and skied at their resort near Crosslake. Rentals are also available from Martin’s in Nisswa, Easy Riders in Brainerd or Cycle Path and Paddle in Crosby. Once you make a commitment to continue skiing any of these shops usually offers package deals and their staff can personally outfit you with equipment best suited for your weight and height. One of the first lessons we took was offered at the Northland Arboretum in Brainerd and taught by Brainerd Nordic Ski Club member Tom Beaver. Beaver has taught the class for the past several years. Before retiring he coached winter sports in Edina from 1969-1997.

ever, was a challenge. The next time I went Hubby to come along. Now five years later, we each have our own equipment and he

Today Beaver skis for pure pleasure. He has even developed a short two-mile trail just off the Wilderness Road near

has cut trails through our woods so we can slip

his home north of Nisswa. He

into our gear, break a trail and go out whenenever we want. We have become converts. I am convinced that everyone who is able ble should give cross-country skiing a try. It offers a wonderful way to get outside in the he fresh air and beauty of nature. It makes thee long winter months more tolerable and it iss a great way to get or stay fit. Central Minnesota is fortunate to have some of the best cross-country skiing opportunities our state has to offer. Anyone interested in trying the sport can do it without making a huge investment. Several shops, and some resorts, offer

The author’s friend, John Plein, p auses for a break fr om skiing along the trail at Boyd’s Lo dge near Crosslake.

rental equipment. During our first trips out, we rented the skis, boots and poles Photo Provided by Melody Banks

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take a knowledgeable person along. “If a person buys skies

called it “Pequot’s Best Kept Secret” He maintains the trail for walking during the warm months

that don’t fit, they won’t get the traction they need to kick and glide,” he says. “Without traction, skiing will take a lot

and skiing during winter. “It’s an easy trail so it is a great place for beginners to learn,” Beaver said.“Anyone is welcome to use the trail at no

more effort and it won’t be nearly as fun.” The ski club will offer another class this season for those who are interested in learning more about cross-country

cost.” A ski pass is not needed. Beaver grooms a separate track

skiing. It is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, Jan.15 at the Northland Arboretum.

off to the side for people who prefer to snowshoe. Beaver believes the oldest person who attended his class

According to club president Mark Stadem, this year, the

was 67 years old. He says the main thing people find out

Brainerd Ski Club intends to add a couple more classes too.

when they take a class is that they have overdressed.

One will be on skate style skiing and another on waxing

“I suggest dressing in loose layers.The outer layer of pants and jacket should be made of windbreaker material,” he rec-

skies. “There will be a nominal charge for nonmembers; members can attend at no cost,” Mark says.“We encourage people

ommended. Beaver also advised that those buying used skies should

to buy a membership. The cost is minimal and the funds are

Tom Beaver, cross-country ski enthusiast and BNSC member, stands at entrance of the 2-mile trail he developed and maintains just off the Wilderness Road near his home north of Nisswa. 6

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used to groom and maintain trails at the Arboretum, Forest

ers. It has a warming shelter that includes a fireplace, picnic

View Middle School and French Rapids.We also plan to hold

tables and bathrooms. Those interested in staying overnight

one or two moonlight skies this year too.All the information

can rent one of the park’s five cabins. They are rustic, with-

will be posted on our website once the dates are set.”

out running water and cooking must be done outside but

DNR trails or others that receive Grants in Aid for trail

they sleep up to 6 people and cost only $50 a night.

maintenance require a Minnesota Ski Pass. This includes all

Kathio’s park naturalist teaches a cross-country ski class

of Minnesota’s State Parks and Forests, and places like the

at the park for only $10 including equipment. The class is

Arboretum. Passes can be purchased at any of the shops

limited to the first 25 people. The park also hosts an annual

and several retailers where hunting and fishing licenses and

candle light cross-country ski night.

other types of passes are sold. The DNR’s website offers a complete listing of trails where passes are required. Crow Wing and Mille Lacs Kathio State Parks, located within a short drive of Brainerd, have ski trails. Paul Roth, Crow

Opportunities abound in our area for anyone interested in trying this wonderful sport. We don’t have to be stuck indoors all winter. So this season make a plan to get off the couch, get out of the house and go cross-country skiing.

Wing State Park manager said “Our trails offer scenic views from bluffs above the Mississippi River and pass through the historic town site of Old Crow Wing.” Mille Lacs Kathio is rated one of Minnesota’s top 12 State Parks for Cross Country Skiing.The park provides equipment rentals and a variety of terrain for all ages and levels of ski-

M E L O D Y B A N K S lives in Nisswa, MN where she works from her home-based office as a graphic artist and writer

Great primary care doctors. Great medical campus. The Medical Campus in Crosby.

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Ice Fishing

In Style By Ted Takasaki and Scott Richardson


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take a few tips from walleye fishing pro, Dave Underhill. He is equally as comfortable on the ice as he is in a boat. For starters, consider this, the location of fish species such as walleyes, northern pike, and panfish in December, January and February mirrors their locations in summer, Dave said. Try to reflect on where you found fish in June, July and August, and apply those spots to hard water fishing. “Anything we did during the summer,” says Underhill, “we are targeting for winter.” It’s time consuming to get the right gear together to increase odds of success and to ensure your time on the ice will be safe, comfortable and fun. For Underhill, who is also general manager of South Dakota-based Distinct Builders, this means he’s selling lots of four-season RVs and trailers known as The Lodge Recreational Vehicles and Fish Houses. The term ‘ice shanty’ doesn’t apply to these mobile motel rooms on wheels. Distinct Builders is the only certified manufacturer of fish houserelated RVs by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the governing association that insures quality control for wiring, over-theroad travel, ventilation, safety and more. Not only can ‘Lodges’ be used in warm weather, they can be driven onto the ice, lowered to the slick surface and turned into the fanciest fish house you’ll ever see. Heated by forced air just like home, fishermen can stay toasty inside while they fish through trap doors in the floors. The interior is pine. They look like rooms in a resort somewhere. “We are the Cadillac of ice shacks,” said Underhill. Ice anglers can watch jigs work on an ice cam projected on half of the 32-inch flat screen TV mounted in the Lodge, while they also watch a movie or NFL football on satellite Photo provided by Ted Takasaki

broadcast on the other half of the screen. There’s more. They can cook in a fully equipped kitchen and sleep on comfortable beds. “Plus,” says Underhill, laughing, “There’s plenty of room left over for a recliner for the guy who drinks a few beers and decides it’s too far to walk all the way over the bed.” Ice fishing has come a long way since Underhill was introduced to the sport at age 4 in Minnesota. A tarp house was built with anything that might keep the frigid wind off a fisherman. They used chisels and single-blade augers to cut holes. The work it took wasn’t too conducive to moving very often and there were accidents. He still chuckles when he remembers how he caught his sister’s ponytail in the auger once. The ponytail had to be sacrificed. They used jiggle sticks for fishing rods. Some brilliant inventor came up with a reel made from a coffee can with marbles that could be mounted to the shanty so it would make a racket when a fish took the bait. It was the forerunner of today’s rattle reels which can be mounted in the Lodge. Heck, there’s even a gizmo that will jig your jig for you. You can select the speed, leave it in a rod holder and go back to playing cards. If you have tip-ups outside, each one can be assigned a number that flashes on a signal board inside so you know exactly which one has a fish on. It’s especially helpful on chilly nights. “Then you just send your son out,” laughed Underhill. “Just tell him to watch out for the 10-inch holes we don’t have covers on. They usually come back without a boot. Or send one of your fat buddies. You’ll usually have to chisel his leg out of the hole. We give him three minutes and then go look for him.” Because mobility is the key in ice fishing, the smaller fish houses can be moved easily from spot to spot with an ATV or larger vehicle, if the ice is thick enough. Eighteen inches of solid ice will hold a full-sized vehicle, Underhill said. Just be sure you know where current might create thin spots. On home lakes and reservoirs, scouting begins every summer when productive spots are entered as waypoints on a GPS. A navigation/mapping chip helps even more to pinpoint the small structures – the deep drops off of points, the isolated rock piles and humps that hold walleyes and other predators. In bowl-shaped lakes, even a drop of a foot can be a gold mine. Even if you’re familiar with a body of water, stop at several bait shops on the way to get the latest information on where fish are biting and what baits are working best. If ice is too thin for the Lodge, park it in any campground or even a Wal-Mart parking lot, unload your ATV or snowmobile, along with portable ice shanty, from the storage area in the Lodge and head out on the ice. If the snow cover is light, divide the lake or reservoir

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into sections and split up your group to check out spots until the most active locations are found. Meet back at headquarters to discuss the next step. “The guy who comes back with the best fish is special,” said Underhill. “He doesn’t have to drill holes, cook supper or go outside to get a tip-up.” If the ice is thick enough to support the Lodge, take it to the best spot, drop it and start fishing. You can always use the portable shanties to scout more locations or to fish spots you know are good close by. Crappies, bluegills and walleyes can be found in the same places early in the ice season. In lakes, check greenweed edges in 4 to 14 feet of water. Look for points and inside turns, especially those that lie in transition areas from sand to mud where the forage base will be richer. In reservoirs, check the points and breaks into old river channels. Later in the winter, check the sharpest shoreline breaks to the deepest part of a lake. Walleyes don’t have to move as far to feed, a perfect situation for a fish that wants to eat without working hard to do it. Conserving energy means survival to a fish, especially during the cold months. Focus on mid-lake reefs on bigger water. Crappies will often be suspended over structure. Perch will be on the bottom. Sonar units, like Humminbird’s new Ice Machines, are invaluable. Effective depth depends on the place. Some are 30 feet deep and some are 100 feet deep. Time of day plays a role, too. Walleyes cruise shallow flats early in the morning. They return at night, though they may not be as shallow as before. Go deeper on structure during the day. Use a variety of baits. Crappies like small jigs and plastic trailers or wax worms and maggots. Bluegills like tiny jigs with the same baits. Depending on size, spoons are great for more active panfish and walleyes early and late in the season. Rattle Reels can be rigged with 4-pound-test ‘leaders’ (tippets) for crappie and perch, 8-pound for walleyes and heavier if you like northern pike. Rest assured, the RVs won’t sink even if they break through the ice. Enough insulation is blown in to make them float. Take time, now, to turn your thoughts to ice fishing and you’ll soon be fishing the hard water in style.

T a k a s a ki

T E D T A K A S A K I is one of the country’s top pro walleye fisherman and a former PWT champion. Not only has Ted won many fishing tournaments, he is the CEO of Lindy Little Joe, Inc. maker of fine fishing products.

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THE NORTHERN CARDINAL IS THE MOST RECOGNIZED BIRD TO VISIT OUR BIRD FEEDING STAT I O N S T H R O U G H O U T M I N N E S O T A . They have become one of the most popular backyard birds and might be one reason why we started feeding birds in the first place. The cardinal has been adopted by seven states as the official state bird, which is more than any other bird. Attracting cardinals to your backyard can be a very rewarding experience for the back yard bird watcher, especially in the winter. The Northern Cardinal is just one example of how misleading bird names can be for us. Despite the name “Northern” it is most common in the Southern and East-

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ern United States. There are several cardinal species, but the Northern Cardinal is the only one native to North America and has reached its northern limits in Minnesota, hence Northern Cardinal. The first documented sighting in the state for this species occurred back in 1875. The Northern Cardinal slowly expanded its range from the southeastern part of the state to the twin cities and areas west as early as the 1920s. The popularity of backyard bird feeding is most likely a contributing factor for the cardinal’s increase in population and range in the state. The Northern Cardinal can now be found throughout most areas of Minnesota except the northwest. I believe it’s absence in this region is due to the difference in habitat. Photos provided by Judd Brink

In 2006 the bird club from Forestview Middle School, and adviser Ken Perry, conducted the area’s first “Holiday Redbird Survey” during the student’s winter break. For 10 days students and the public were encouraged to report their sightings to determine how many cardinals were in the area. They also received help from KAXE radio station out of Grand Rapids, which used their phenology show by asking listeners for their observations. The bird club, along with KAXE listeners, found over 157 cardinals in the area covering north-central Minnesota. MN Backyard Birds visits many homes each year offering a complimentary “backyard bird consultation” to help increase the number and variety of birds to their yard. The most commonly asked question is “how can I attract cardinals? cardinals?” The next question is about those darn squirrels. From my experience with bird feeding and bird watching, there are a few things that may help you attract and see more cardinals this winter. The Northern Cardinal is no different than the other birds and wildlife that visit our backyard bird feeding stations. Food, water, shelter and a place to nest are all necessary for their survival and success. It’s knowing how and what you can do that will make your yard more inviting and attractive to cardinals. Each home and yard may be different from one another, but you can still apply these tips to attract them to your yard. The type of bird feeder and seed you use can have a large impact on your success of having cardinals dining with you. Northern Cardinals prefer to feed on or near the ground on a platform or tray- type feeder. They will also use hanging tray feeders, Fly-thrus feeders and probably the most popular bird feeder the hopper. They will use tube feeders if they have a tray or perches that are large enough because they need that extra space. So, when you’re purchasing a new bird feeder that you want to use to attract cardinals, make sure that it will meet their needs. There are several specialty bird feeders that are designed specifically for cardinals. Most of them work very well and hold more seed than other available feeders. The cardinal will eat a variety of seeds, but its heavy conical bill indicates that it prefers seeds with a shell, such as black sunflower or safflower

seed. There are many stores that carry bird seed in bulk and advertise on the bag with images of cardinals and other birds. However, I caution you to look at the ingredients because it’s what’s inside that matters most. A good rule of thumb for cardinals is a mix with at least 50 per cent black sunflower seeds. A higher sunflower content is even better. The Little Farm Market and Wild Bird Store in east Brainerd offers several mixes and seed that are of the best quality and guaranteed fresh. They even have a “cardinal mix” which is a wonderful blend of 70 percent black sunflower mixed with safflower, peanuts and other helpful seeds. When using a combination of the correct feeder matched with fresh seed, you will see an increase in bird activity. Another important component for attracting birds such as cardinals is water. Even though many of us don’t observe birds drinking or bathing on a regular basis, it’s still important. During the winter months, providing a heated bird bath is like a magnet. You can greatly increase both the number and variety of birds visiting your backyard as it is used more frequently. When using a heated bird bath, it is important t o

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keep it cleaned and refilled regularly since the water tends to evaporate quickly in the colder weather. Cardinals are a frequent visitor to water and even more so when it’s heated during the cold months. A safe place, shelter and location to nest and raise young are also important to the cardinal’s habitat. When using a tray or ground feeder, try to place it near a brush pile or under a large spruce or pine tree. As brightly colored as cardinals are, it’s important to offer them a safe place to escape quickly when a predator, such as a hawk, is in the area. If the current feeder is placed in a large open area with no cover, try relocating the feeder to a protected area. For larger feeders that are not as easy to relocate, try using a different seed mix or use black sunflower to en-

tice them to investigate your bird feeder. Cardinals nest in dense, thick, overgrown areas such as mature shrubs and evergreen bushes. They also tend to favor old grape vines and other wild vines that are supported by other deciduous shrubs. With the right bird feeder combined with fresh seed, water and cover/ shelter provided by spruce and pines, you can increase your chances of attracting more cardinals to your home. I hope you to will see more cardinals this winter. It’s a great gift to anyone’s backyard. Happy Birding!

J U D D B R I N K is the owner owne of MN Backyard Birds and offer birdscaping packages p using bird feeding stations for your enjoyment. He installs enjo and d maintains i t i bird bi d feeding f di g stations t for commercial and residential customers in the Brainerd lakes area. He also leads bird guided walks and tours for the above locations. Judd Brink can be contacted at

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My friends Lauren, Josh and I pushed through the doors of the small town cafe in northeastern Montana, and immediately got some funny looks from the locals. There were a half dozen tough old salts — rancher types — glancing at us from under cowboy hats, talking out of the corners of their mouths. We were all dressed in various camouflage patterns, and probably looked rough ourselves after spending the entire night in a pickup truck crammed full of gear. It didn’t take long before the curiosity got the best of them, and one cowboy piped up and said “Now just what the heck are you guys fixin’ to do ... huntin’ season is over?” For me, a question like that is both an open invitation and an opportunity, and we quickly seated ourselves at the next table

and explained our desire to shoot coyotes as we eyed up the menu for some hot breakfast. These ranchers laughed at us, but before we had finished eating, we had permission to hunt more dirt than we could cover in a week with a small army. Who would think a hunter could be obsessed with calling in and shooting an animal considered to be vermin? What possesses a man to drive half way across the country just to shoot a coyote? How about sitting and watching predator hunting DVDs for an entire day? WELCOME TO MY WORLD

I have always been intrigued with the whole concept of calling in and interacting with animals that we can hunt. And the more I am successful at it, the hungrier I am for more.

Gas • Groceries • Bait • Liquor Licenses • Boat Storage — Open 6 am to 10 pm Daily — Corner of Hwy 210 West & County 18 SW Photo Courtesy of Bill Marchel


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Especially interesting to me are elk, turkey, waterfowl, and the canine predators — red fox, and coyote, and it is the latter that keep me entertained during the cold winter months when my boat is in storage and all other hunting seasons are closed.

otes that really haven’t been hunted. Best of all, farmers and ranchers welcome hunters like us with open arms. Plain and simple, coyotes kill and eat livestock, and there is little love for them out west. COYOTE CONVERSATION


Like humans, and many other animals and birds, coyotes use their voices to communicate in many different ways. They are some of the most vocal mammals that exist. There have been many pioneers to go on before us in the world of predator hunting, and most of the “old school” guys used rabbit distress calls to bring the coyotes into shooting range. This technique worked 50 years ago, and continues to work to this day, especially when used in conjunction with the sounds that coyotes make. My personal mentor has been “uncle” Randy Anderson, from Valentine Neb., He was one of the first to put extremely large amounts of time into making calls and learning to use them on coyotes by trial and error, all the while video-taping the whole thing. Now, Randy has teamed up with the hunting industry giant PRIMOS to market a three hour instructional DVD of non-stop coyote action — and this, each and every year for the past six seasons. Along with the hunting DVDs come new calls every year as well. Randy has come to understand the coyote language better than anyone else that I have been able to find, and I would say more than any other single thing, watching his DVDs has brought me the greatest success. I simply duplicate what he does. Following are some of the descriptions that Randy uses to instruct us about speaking the coyote language. • Invitation Howl: The typical howl used to communicate from individual to individual, or from group to group. The gist of the meaning is to say,“I’m here… who’s there?” If you have ever heard a coyote howl, this is likely the one you have heard. It is non-threatening, and like the name iimplies, is just plain inviting some communicattion from a member of the same species. This is tthe call you would use just to confirm that there aare coyotes in the area, and let them know that yyou are there too. • Interrogation Howl: A howl similar to the invvitation, but a bit more threatening. This howl w would communicate a little more seriously:“Hey, tthis is our territory… who are you and what are yyou doing here?” Differences in these calls are ssubtle, but the coyotes know it. This one can b bring the residents or intruders alike running to find out more information about what exactly is g going on. • Challenge Howl: Male coyotes have deeper vvoices, females mid-range, and young pups have tthe highest voices. Higher howls would tend to The author, Tim Anderson, pauses after a successful hunt in be less threatening to the average coyote, and deEastern Montana. pending on the season, might even be inviting

From north to south, and east to west, coyotes are located all across the United States and Canada.They are especially plentiful in the western states as well as the Midwestern farm country. And like the wild turkey and the whitetail deer, their populations are growing, and they are becoming more and more comfortable around urban areas. I remember just 15 years ago when a friend shot a random coyote from his deer stand in far western Minnesota. By contrast, in recent years this same friend has been averaging over 100 “dogs” per winter in the very same place. I think that’s really impressive, but what’s even more surprising is that there are just as many coyotes around to shoot the next season. My friends and I hear coyotes howling right here in the Brainerd area on a very regular basis, and I also see them crossing roads regularly while driving our area highways. Just last week, one walked within 20 yards of me as I stood on my deer stand. But hunting them here in Minnesota is honestly very challenging and difficult. Parcels of land are small and access is getting to be more and more difficult. Forest is thick and it is much harder for coyotes to hear us as we attempt to call them in. And, coyotes are a very careful, very cunning animal. We hunt them here in Minnesota, but what we really yearn for are the wide open spaces of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana. In states like these, hunters can enjoy huge ranches where a man can walk all day and never have to worry about land ownership or boundaries. That, and he can encounter large numbers of coy-

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Photos provided by Tim Anderson

(invitation howl), but when we are talking about adult the other guy shoots it. It’s fun, and it works! male coyotes, the challenge howl would be used to bring COME WITH ME… in the male you hear howling with the deep voice who On a rare but classic coyote hunt, where everything just won’t come in. Basically you’re communicating this: “I know this is your territory, but I am here too, so what goes right. My friend Lauren and I were hunting along the Cheyare you going to do about it?”The hunter needs to be careful with this howl, because it is intimidating to females enne River in South Dakota. Conditions were good. It was and pups, and should be used more as a last resort with a cold, and the day after a severe blizzard. The coyotes had very stubborn adult male dog that just won’t come in.This been holed up, and now they were hungry, and they were howl is deep (lower), and much shorter and quicker ... a hunting for something to eat. combination of a howl and a bark. • Pup Distress: This is no howl at all, but sounds just as if you have stepped on your dogs’ tail or foot. It is a series of yelps that stem from surprise, confusion and hurt. And what it does is kick in the maternal instinct of the female coyotes that hear it, and brings them running. Along with them come other pups, or perhaps the males that travel with them. Used with the rabbit distress, it is the most effective call that I have used. • Busted — I See You: This is the call we never ever do, but unfortunately, we experience it from the coyotes that we hunt when we make a mistake. This is when a coyote discovers your position, and then proceeds to sit down and tell the whole world just that. This coyote will bark and yap and howl in short quick bursts, and this The authors friends, Josh and Lauren, with a coyote they might go on for 10 or 15 minutes. This usually double teamed just before sunset. happens out of gun range! We spotted a group of four coyotes near a stock pond, • Female Whimper: Mating season is February, give or take, and this call almost sounds like a bird going beep, and quickly surveyed the wind and our options as to beep, beep, beep, beep ... It’s especially attractive to males where we could set up. There wasn’t much for cover but a fence line and some short weeds, so we dove in there, during the breeding season. • The Serenade: This is when multiple hunters howl all just over the hill from our quarry.As we were walking, we at the same time. In coyote country, one will often hear flushed a large covey of sharp-tail grouse, and they flew groups of dogs open up and do this for miles in every over the hill toward the coyotes. Lauren was the shooter, so I started with an interrogadirection. It’s as if they wish to express the excitement of the pack about the coming night, My friends and I love tion howl. No reply, but we knew full well that we had to do this group calling, and initiate other packs to do been heard. Shortly after, I followed with some rabbit disthe same as a way of wrapping up the day. Sometimes we tress, and then after that, some pup distress. The idea was spark coyote conversations from every direction, and oc- to simulate that some coyotes had captured a rabbit, and casionally, an entire pack will come drifting in as the light now a pup was getting scolded for trying to eat out of turn. The next thing we knew, our covey of grouse was flyis fading. Now that is exciting! • The Lip Squeek: Simply use your mouth to squeek like ing back over the hill our way. Lauren and I exchanged a mouse or small rodent.We use this call to bring in a coy- glances, and under our facemasks, each detected a knowing smile; we both understood that a coyote was on its ote those last few yards into gun range. • The Bark: Most of the above calls all use actual mouth way, hunting us. Our plan was working. Hearts began beating faster with anticipation. I don’t calls that are for sale in the store. With this call, we generally just use our voice because there is generally little time know why this gets me so excited; I just know and underfor fumbling looking for the right call. You can always stand that The Good Lord made me this way. For me, this count on coyotes for one thing, and that is that they are is right up there with shooting a big game animal, and in going to circle around and try to get downwind of you, so this case, I was not even planning to shoot. Soon there were ears coming over the hill, then eyes, that they can smell what’s going on before they come in. The idea is to bark like a dog to get them to stop before and then a whole body. This ‘yote was wary, but still comthey get into your scent wash. One guy stops the dog, and ing. At 100 yards, it hung up, and that’s when I began lip-

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squeeking so that the coyote would continue on its way. Now it was angling toward us from left to right, but it was also working its way to our downwind side. Lauren was close, and I whispered loudly to shoot the dog now, before it got any further. One quick shot from Lauren with his snow camo’d AR style .223, and this coyote was down for the count. This marked the first coyote that I had ever called in for my friend Lauren, and we celebrated with some high fives and a hug, but we were not done yet. We quickly hiked over the next hill crosswind from us, and then sat down and began a series of pup distress calls. Within minutes, another of the coyotes was running in to investigate, and this time it was my turn as the shooter. It’s a memory and a learning experience that Lauren and I will hold onto for a long, long time. IS IT FOR YOU?

Coyote seasons are liberal. In most states, the season is open year-around, and there is no limit. Here in Minnesota, we can hunt them on our regular small game license. In many other states, it varies from free, to perhaps $125 for a yearly license.

Retail stores are now full of gear and gadgets that makes hunting this critter even more fun and interesting. Beyond the hand calls and DVD’s that I talked about earlier, there are remote controlled electronic callers, and even rabbit and coyote decoys. The hunting industry is now in the midst of preparing for a sport that is quickly growing in popularity. May I suggest buying a Randy Anderson/PRIMOS “Calling all Coyotes” DVD, and sit down and enjoy watching a good man and his friends hunting this intelligent and elusive creature all across North America. You might even find yourself craving the hunt for coyote!

With over 30 years of experience in being "obsessed with fishing" T I M A N D E R S O N is the owner ot Tim Anderson’s Big Fish Hunt Guide Service. Specializing in Giant Musky Hunts on Lake Mille Lacs, and the surrounding Brainerd Minnesota area Lakes.

The authors hunting partner, Lauren Dorweiler, celebrates the coyote hunt described in the article.

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Photo provided by Tim Anderson

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We clench our teeth and endure December through March, mostly from the comfort of our heated homes. If we have to go outside, we make it snappy, rushing from our car to the destination and then back to our nest. What would life look like if you enjoy the outdoors all winter long? Don’t wait for global warming. Cold weather enthusiasts insist all you need is the proper winter wear. If you are still dressing in red cotton long underwear and flannel shirts, you’ve got a lot to learn. When Jeff Kidder of Baxter moved to northern Minnesota 40 years ago, staying warm in the winter was an almost impossible challenge. After graduating from high school in the Chicago area, he and a few friends were determined to live off the land, buying 110 acres on the White Earth Indian Reservation for $6,000. They lived in a tent before building a 20 by 40 foot cabin. “I didn’t know anything about the outdoors or living in the THE SUMMER.

Photos courtesy of Rachel Reabe Nystrom

country. We spent our days fishing, hunting and hiking and learning from our neighbors how to garden and raise chickens and pigs.” When it got cold, they kept the wood cook stove going and enjoyed hiking and cross-country skiing. In the early 70s, Kidder’s cold weather gear consisted of cotton long underwear, jeans or overalls, layers of cotton sweatshirts and some wool if he was lucky and a nylon jacket. “When we came inside, the clothes were frozen and so were we. We would hang everything up in the cabin, put wood on the fire and wait for it to melt into a puddle on the floor,” Kidder remembered. He says life in the woods would have been much more comfortable with today’s winter clothing, which was revolutionized in the late 70s with a synthetic fabric called Gore-Tex. Kidder remembers it well. “My first Gor-Tex ski jacket, it breathed. It blocked the wind completely and repelled all moisture. At the end of

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the day, you weren’t Layering outdoor sopping wet. The clothing also allows breathing fabric the wearer to adjust had taken the vathroughout the day. por out so you were If the temperature warm and dry. The climbs, you can take weather no longer off the Gor-Tex shell dictated whether and wad it up in your or not you could be backpack. Holm said outside.” in the old days when Kidder, who people used to wear moved to the a heavy parka over a Brainerd area in t-shirt, there were no 1985 with his family, options to stay comcontinues to enjoy fortable. “With layers, winter outdoor acyou’ve got a system to tivities. “Backpackwork with,” he pointed ing, winter camping, out. “Most people are even with kayaking, starting to get it. The if it’s snowing, rain- It was -21 when we left the truck. The temperature never made majority of our cusing or windy, you it above zero (I believe it never made it above -10, but don’t tomers are outdoor don’t miss a beat if people and they are hold me to it). you have the right willing to pay for it. clothes on. We always say there is no bad weather just You just have to encourage those people who don’t want bad gear.” to go outside in the winter that they can be warm and Matt Holm, assistant manager at Gander Mountain in comfortable in the right clothes.” Baxter, said smart winter wear involves three distinct layHolm and his friends enjoyed a deer camp near the ers of clothes. “You have a base layer against your skin Boundary Waters Canoe Area a couple of years ago. “We of long underwear which will be 100 percent polyester. parked our truck when it was -23 degrees and were outIt doesn’t hold in the moisture, but transfers it to the side from dark to dark. The warmest it got all day was next layer. Your outside activity determines the weight of each layer. If you’re going to sit in a tree or on the ice, you want thick underwear to hold in the heat. You don’t want it so thick when you are cross- country skiing. If you come in asking for long underwear, we find out if you need light weight, mid-weight or polar weight.” A good set of long underwear could cost $100 and Holm said it’s worth every penny. The middle layer, according to Holm, is designed to hold the heat. “This thermal layer could be fleece or wool or a combination. It needs to create warmth but still breathe. The drier you stay, the warmer you are going to be.” As with the base level, fleece options range from thinner to thicker depending on the level of activity. “When you are riding a bike or skiing or hiking, you want to begin being a little cold,” Holm noted. “As soon as you start moving, your body starts generating heat. You don’t want to overheat because it increases the moisture next to your body. You are trying to be warm with activity but not sweating.” While the first two layers are all about managing moisture, the top layer or shell is designed for protection from the wind and snow. Gor-Tex remains king, said Matt Holm (assistant manager at Gander Mountain) on the left with his friend Todd Gazellka deer Holm. “It’s the best. It’s breathable. Cutting the wind is hunting up north. Holm is wearing three layers of eighty percent of the game. If you can accomplish that winter wear, having shed his top Gore-Tex shell. and your base and middle layers are doing their job, you Gazellka is still in full gear. will be happy, dry and warm.”

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-15 degrees and we were warm and comfortable.” The annual Jaycees ice fishing contest in January is the supreme test for cold weather clothing. Fishermen from around the world gather on Gull Lake in the coldest month of the year to sit out on the ice for hours, exposed to the elements. Holm guarantees that those who dress correctly, regardless of the cold, will be comfortable. “You see those pictures of the ice fishermen smiling in sub zero temperatures. They’re not inebriated. They put the right layers together and they are enjoying themselves.”

A journalist, R A C H E L R E A B E N Y S T R O M worked as a reporter and talk show host on Minnesota Public Radio for almost 20 years. She currently serves on the Crow Wing County Board as a commissioner.

What was I wearing? • • • • • • • •

• • • • • • • •

Base Layer Top: Patagonia Capilene 4 Zip-T Mid Layer #1 Top: Patagonia R2 Jacket (high loft fleece insulation) Mid Layer #2 Top: Patagonia Snap-T Synchilla (pull over fleece) Soft Shell Top: Patagonia Retro-X (high loft fleece, windproof) Hard Shell Top: Gander Mountain TecH2O (windproof, waterproof) Base Layer Bottom: Patagonia Capilene 4 Mid Layer Bottom: Polartec Wind Pro Heavy weight fleece pants (wind resistant) Insulated Hard Shell Bottom: Gander Mountain TecH2O pants (insulated, waterproof/windproof) Socks: Patagonia liner socks and heavy weight Capilene socks Boots: The North Face - Baltoro Gaiters: OR (Outdoor Research) Gore-Tex Accessories: Patagonia Neck Gaitor Windproof fleece hat Patagonia heavy weight capilene glove liners Marmot Work Gloves (waterproof, insulated)

My friends and I always say, “No such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” If you’re dressed right you can go out in anything and enjoy it! Photos courtesy of Rachel Reabe Nystrom

Jeff Kidder of Baxter in winter gear standing next to his kayak.

Brad and friend Todd Gazelka (Brainerd, MN). We used the ATV to get the bulk of our gear up a long hill and left it at the cabin because it was not legal to go any further with it.


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Ice and snow create a significant boost to the Brainerd lakes economic picture. With “good” winter conditions, people travel here to play, generating jobs and business. Ice fishing and snowmobiling are the two main outdoor recreation pursuits that draw tourists to the area. Cross country skiing, snowshoeing, major events, competitive sports, skiing and even romantic getaways bring people to the Brainerd Lakes. This story could not capture all the resorts, chambers and others involved, but it examines the economic impact through a cross-section of participants. Two major events, the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing

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Extravaganza and the Sertoma Winter Wonderland at Northland Arboretum, draw some of the largest winter crowds. In recent years, the Jaycees event has resulted in about $200,000 for local charities, said marketing director Mary Devine. About 11,000 people annually flock to Gull Lake, with nearly 75 percent returning year after year. “The economic impact from this one-day event (set for Jan. 22 in 2011) has a $1,500,000 shot in the arm for the area,” she said. At least one-third of the contestants stay in local lodging. Advertising and marketing campaigns promote the area with the event. Photo courtesy of Jim Kalkofen

The Sertoma Winter Wonderland draws 25,000 people. “Last year, all 50 states and three countries were represented,” said Dale Brady, Northland Arboretum director. The light show has become a Brainerd lakes tradition, and the third season runs from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. New this year will be walking tours and horse-drawn sleigh rides through the light displays. At $10 per carload, Brady said, “This is one of the brightest sides to Christmas. It brings everybody together.” He also cited the 12 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, some lighted. The course is utilized by schools and other racers. Sled dog rides will be available this winter, and various trails are waiting for snowshoers, hikers and dogwalkers. “Outdoor activities draw people and are a tremendous impact to the area,” Brady said. Snowmobiling is a $1 billion industry in Minnesota, said Merrifield resident Keith Twombly, president of the Minnesota United Snowmobile Association. This includes two major manufacturers, dealerships, resorts, plus the dollars spent traveling and staying while enjoying winter. His group oversees 250 volunteer clubs that groom most of the 22,000 miles of state trails. “Around here, if businesses don’t make money in winter, they can’t survive just on three summer months,” he said, “People know the area in the warm months, but also want to see it in winter.” John Ferrian, president of the Crow Wing County Snowmobile Trail Association, Baxter, pointed with pride to the 800 miles of county trails maintained by the 12 independent clubs. “We have about 1,800 family members involved and we see tens of thousands of visitors every winter,” he said. “Summer people are drawn to the lakes; winter people come for the snowmobile trails,” Ferrian said. “Many area businesses depend on the money smowmobilers spend.” Area clubs pack Hole in the Day Bay for the Jaycees, helping assure solid ice. They do the same for the Gull Lake Frozen Fore and the arboretum, run races in Garrison, offer rides at Camp Confidence, host a swap meet at the Crow Wing Fairgrounds and train youngsters. Brian Van Vickle, sales manager at Brothers Motor Sports, said, “If we have snow by Thanksgiving, sales are positively related.” New unit snowmobile sales at the

dealership amount to about 25 to 30 percent of overall business. When used sales, parts and service are added, winter is significant for the Brainerd dealership. He said, “I have preached far and wide that people don’t understand the impact of motorized vehicle trail riding. It’s vital for the family to have fun, and equally vital for the community that supports the sport — lodging, gas stations, restaurants, etc.” If snowmobiling depends on snow, ice fishing is equally dependent on ice. “Traditionally, a good winter is when we can get on the ice by Thanksgiving. That’s a gold ribbon for us,” said S & W Bait Shop owner Sherry Wicktor. The earlier the ice season starts, the more it means to bait sales, with the shop’s winter sales accounting for 25 to 40 percent of annual sales. “Winter is 50/50 panfish and walleyes. Locals are too busy in summer working, but can get out all winter,” she said. The Extravaganza has turned into a week-long event for many businesses, including hers, she said. The shop on Highway 371, north of Brainerd is open 365 days each year. Another large bait shop, Tutt’s Bait and Tackle in Garrison, services the ice fishing crowd. Owner Kurt King said, “It’s totally dependent on Mother Nature. If the weather cooperates with early ice, our winter could be about 25 percent of the entire year. We rely on ice fishing to make our year.” He said the trend to “wheel-houses” and the internet has changed ice fishing. When a “hot-bite” occurs, anglers pack up and drive across the state. If Mille Lacs is the hot lake, “we’re crazy-busy as they show up from all over,” he said. One of the recognized ice fishing experts, Brian “Bro” Brosdahl from Max, said, “Without Minnesota’s ice fishing, many towns would be empty. Visitors stay, eat, buy gas, bait and groceries, as well as augers, tackle and real estate because of ice fishing.” Ice fishing is the fastest growing segment of fishing, and Bro forecast that the growth will continue to gain kids back to the outdoors. “I like to see them trade their video games for a rod, and the excitement they display when hauling up a fish,” he said. “As saltwater is to the coastline, ice is to us here in Minnesota.” Ice fishing is simple, with advancements in electronics, ice houses, tackle and clothing to make it comfortable and affordable. “Where else can you drive right

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up to the 50-yard line, park and enjoy your sport?” he asked, “Winter lasts a long time. Enjoy it.” John Crane, brand manager for Northland Tackle, Bemidji, said, “Ice allows us to retain our employees and pay our bills at the same time. Our ice business is significant, and rounds out our year.” Tom Zenanko, sales and marketing manager at Vexilar in Minneapolis echoed Crane, saying, “We sell our entire electronics production run by Dec. 1 every year, despite increasing units by 20 percent annually.” He said over the past three years, ice fishing popularity has increased 15 to 20 percent. “It’s inexpensive and anglers don’t have to travel far for good fishing,” Zenanko said. Many resorts cater to both ice fishermen and snowmobilers. Eddy’s Resort on Mille Lacs offers lodging packages that include ice house rentals, said Bob Schlichte, director of strategic relationships for Grand Casino, owner of Eddy’s. He said the resort supports the Vikings Arctic Blast and events of the Garrison Commercial Club. “Many of these outdoor events benefit the community when thousands of people show up to participate,” he said. Despite mostly weekend stays, the months of January, February and March account for 16 percent of Eddy’s overall business, allowing them to keep their crews year-round. The Quarterdeck Resort on Gull Lake’s west side promotes “The Brainerd Lakes are open year round,” said sales and marketing director Lee Seipp. She said resorts and the hospitality business are key to bringing in new dollars and keeping jobs. Seipp said as the first winterized resort on Gull Lake, they offer skiing, both downhill and cross-country. “We’re next to Ski Gull, and this has a huge impact for us with tubing, boarding and skiing,” she said. Snowmobiling with the nearby Pillsbury State Forest trails, plus the Gull Lake connecting trails, brings in many tourists. “We’re a winter mecca, centrally located so people can spend less time travelling. During the Extravaganza, we fill all 44 cabins and the motel,” she said. The Frozen Fore draws more than 1,000 participants including many regulars. “Events create commerce from winter into spring by entertaining the locals and attracting outof-towners,” she said. The Frozen Fore is Feb. 25-27. “Winter makes a big difference to the overall picture,” said Priscilla Balmer, manager of Boyd Lodge in Crosslake. “With snow, we keep our employees working all winter.” In addition to a major snowmobile trail crossing their property, they offer cross-country ski trails, a large lighted skating rink, broomball, hot tubs and saunas. With a good snow pack, and with 18 cabins open on weekends, winter amounts to 10 percent of their overall business. Mark Ronnei, general manager of Grand View Lodge,

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described the expanding winter business, and said, “If we could do more marketing and have more events, we could grow winter tourism significantly. The proof is that people are looking to come to the Brainerd lakes. They only need a reason (like the Extravaganza).” Winter allows Grand View to employee about 60 people. He said the resort was closed for 70 winters, and has now been open for 15 years, adding more activities each season. “We feel we’ve got the best cross-country ski trails around. They’re on the Pines Golf Course,” he said. Other attractions include snowshoeing, multiple skating and broomball rinks, dog-sled rides, ice fishing, snowmobiling. “Families have fun with the variety,” Ronnei said, “and business conferences take time to experience outdoor activities.” Most of Grand View’s winter guests visit on weekends, but winter now equals the busiest month of the year, July, for this resort. “Winter is the biggest opportunity for the entire area,” he said. Some of the Pequot Lakes and Crosslake area events reflect the importance of winter, said Brainerd Lakes Chamber area coordinator Sue Galligan. “If you live here, it’s essential to get out and do something. If folks in the Twin Cities want to experience winter, this is the place for it. It sure helps lodging and restaurants,” she said, “The more events, the better the local economy becomes.” She pointed to the 3,000 people who attend the Breezy Point Ice Fest annually. It’s Jan. 7-9, and this year will host 80 to 100 broomball teams playing on 10 rinks. “This means more overnight guests,” she said. A second broomball tournament will occur Feb. 4-6. Winterfest in Crosslake Feb. 4-5 brings another 3,000 people to town for “Fun in the winter, with activities, Winter Olympics, bonfires and lots more,” she said. Crosslake also draws thousands to its St. Pat’s Day parade on March 12. This includes week-long events such as a treasure hunt, a Miss Blarney contest and a fundraising pancake breakfast. The Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous occurs Jan. 21-23 in Crosslake, with 2,000 to 3,000 attendees. “We’re becoming a more year-round tourist destination,” Galligan said. Winter gets cussed and discussed more than any other season. The discussions about the economic impact of winter recreation from the people above indicate that it’s very important now, and with a push here and a push there, could grow even more in the future.

J I M K A L K O F E N has been in and around

boats all his life. He has been director of the largest walleye tournament circuits for two decades, and was inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.

Photo Provided by Jim Kalkofen


rld “ ice ’s lar The Às ges hin t ch g c ari t on tes able t.”

In the land of 10,000 lakes... only one ice Àshing contest is quite like this! Saturday January 22nd 12pm - 3pm Hole in the Day Bay on Gull Lake

HARD WATER , SOFT PLASTICS A soft touch for winter bluegills, perch and walleyes

Mike Hehner with a nice ice perch caught on a jig and soft bait.

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and most bluegill fishermen would opt for a teeny tiny jig tipped with a waxworm; most perch anglers, a small spoon baited with a minnow head; and most crappie fishermen, either a tiny spoon or a jig, dressed with a live minnow. Downsized lures in combination with livebait tend to rule the ice fishing game, especially in the Brainerd lakes area where live bait and multi-species fishing interest go hand-in-hand. A growing number of panfish ice anglers, however, are replacing minnows and grubs with tiny, flexible softbaits that retain their quivering, lifelike appearance, even in ultra-cold water. The success they are experiencing is causing even walleye anglers to take notice. BEGINNING WITH BLUEGILLS

lure designer Brian Brosdahl of Max, Minnesota. “Especially in clear waters, where fish can detect the smallest faults in your presentation.” PROCEEDING TO PERCH

Perch, by comparison, are less fussy, and usually more aggressive than bluegills. Like walleyes, they often strike a fluttering spoon tipped with a minnow head, although smaller 1-inch spoons tend to favor perch, while slightly larger 1 _-inchers tend to be better for walleyes. Still, 4-pound-test and a bit more jiggle and wiggle tend to make perch bite spoons. Lift, then flutter the spoon downward to attract their attention. Then let it dangle, spinning ever-so slowly due to line twist unfurling beneath the hole. The lift-flutter attracts, but the vulnerable pause is what triggers strikes. By comparison, when you’re using soft baits, keep the action to a minimum and let the soft bait work its natural magic. Occasional quivers, extended pauses, letting the lure hang near-motionless in place. They’re especially good when perch are using shallower water and flats; we’ll soon explain why.

Bluegills have darned near microscopic vision, and often approach with inches and stare at your lures for long periods before deciding to ease in and lightly inhale your bait. But if anything looks phony-such as placing too much action on a lure, or using too heavy a line-and they refuse to bite. That’s why panfish ice anglers often rely on 1- to 2-pound test CATERING TO CRAPPIES monofilament line, teeny jigs Basically, smaller bluegilltipped with live waxworms, Brian Brosdahl entices a bluegill through the ice. ish softbaits of an inch or so and plenty of patience for bluegills. Dangle them near motionless, with only the in length will catch shallow crappies relating weeds or occasional slight quiver to attract ‘gills to come in for a deep weedlines. But once crappies move deep to their closer look; then try to hold them still to trigger fussy usual winter haunts-down the edges of dropoffs, and out fish into biting. across soft basin areas of 30-odd feet in depth-tiny jigs When it comes to using softbaits for bluegills, North- tipped with softbaits become very difficult to fish effecland Fishing Tackle’s Bro Bug lineup is darned tough to tively in deeper water. For sheer effectiveness, slightly beat. It features teeny jigheads with size No. 14 or No. heavier baits like small spoons, 1-inch Jigging Rapalas, 12 hooks, dressed with soft plastic imitations of natural and perhaps 1/32-ounce jigs tipped with live minnows forage items: Bro’s Bloodworm (reddish bloodworms), tend to work better for crappies. It’s just too darned the Slug Bug (general insect larvae), and the Scud Bug hard to fish tiny softbaits on featherweight 1/64- or (shrimp imitation). “Sometimes, the biggest bluegills, 1/80-ounce jigs in deep water. crappies and perch eat the smallest critters that camouflage themselves in drab colors,” says panfish expert and



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So, why haven’t ice walleye anglers jumped on the softbait bandwagon as well? And couldn’t they learn a thing or two from panfish anglers in the process? We posed those questions to ice angler extraordinaire Brian Brosdahl, who relentlessly swiss-cheeses the frozen surfaces of northern Minnesota lakes with auger holes from first-ice through last-ice, and all the hard times in-between. Brian pursues and catches anything and everything through the ice — including big walleyes — using whatever it takes to make ‘em bite. “You’d think it was mostly the flexibility and lifelike appearance of small plastic baits that make them such good ice fishing baits, especially for panfish,” Bro says. “But in my experience, it’s not so much the softness of the baits, but how slowly they fall when dressed on light jigheads. Small softbaits glide to the bottom, giving fish more time to study and react to them, and making them ideal for fishing in shallow to moderate depths. “I see it over and over again on shallow lakes like Leech and Winnibigoshish, where shallow walleyes come right in and pound lures gliding toward bottom. I could probably touch a lot of those fish with my rod tip, I’m fishing so shallow. You can get a visual on fish and see them come in and strike, both on the screen and through the hole. You want to glide the bait down just past them. You’d run out of patience trying to fish this way in real deep water, but fishing softbaits in even moderately shallow depths would be fine. “Spoons, by comparison, plummet more quickly, and are usually better suited for fishing in deeper water. We don’t need any more vertical baits in ice fishing; we need more baits that move horizontally. That’s what softbaits do. Or more correctly, what you can make them do.” “The baits I use for walleyes are mostly all panfish size,” Brosdahl says, “because that’s what I target the most. In the process, I catch lots of walleyes on them. Small softbaits have fins, tails, and lots of flickering appendages and supple movements. You can make small plastics move just like the creatures that fish are chasing. Use gentle rod tip movements, and then try to hold them still. You can’t — but you should still try. “Northland Fishing Tackle makes a Mimic Minnow Fry softbait that’s 2 inches long, which is a bit on the big side for panfish, but large enough for walleyes. I call it ‘predator size.’ I use the paddle tail version for lake trout, but walleyes definitely prefer the subtler, horizontal whale tail version. Ideally, we’ll someday see more soft baits of this size and design for fishing walleyes through the ice.” A good plan for walleyes, then, might be to use upsized versions of small softbaits designed for panfish, as opposed to simply downsized version of larger walleye plastics. I guess it all depends on how you look at it. But from a walleye’s viewpoint, small to ‘predator-sized’ softbaits seem to look and act good enough to eat beneath the ice. Larger softbaits you’d use for walleyes in open

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water simply appear too big and bold for general ice use, unless the fish average very large, like on the Great Lakes; at the very least, the jury is still out on them at this time. The nice thing is, when you’re using soft plastics or biodegradable soft baits on ice, you don’t have to worry about fish stealing your bait; wasting time fishing with an empty jig; or wasting even more time rebaiting your hook while trying not to freeze your fingers. With some biodegradable baits, you might have to keep them in a pocket to prevent freezing — much like live bait. But other than that, they fish about the same as soft plastics — subtly and effectively — and are definitely worth a try. SOFT TARGETS

The Brainerd Lakes area has many weedy lakes where bluegills, perch and walleyes actively forage the 4- to 10foot depths, even in winter. (Gull Lake, Pelican, North Long, Round, Edward are good examples.) Bluegills tend to be creatures of tall standing weedbeds, while perch and walleyes sometimes prefer deeper water, and sometimes, shallower weeds. Spoons tend to excel when the fish are deeper, making them great at times for perch, crappies and walleyes. But when walleyes relate to broad, sandy, main lake points with low-lying carpets of sandgrass, surrounded by stands of tall, green cabbage weeds, small jigs tipped with softbaits are ideal for catching them. When less active, walleyes lie in the protective cover of the broadleaf cabbage. Once they become active, particularly as lowlight levels arrive near sundown, the fish often slide up into the relatively open sand area where tufts of sandgrass provide at least some cover for perch. At about the same time, perch, which have poor night vision, begin settling to bottom, resting their fins on the sand, in and around sandgrass clumps. If the cover isn’t too thick, perch become sitting ducks for walleyes at this time, and walleyes attack with a vengeance. The nice thing about fishing small jigs tipped with softbaits is, they’re ideal for catching both species in relatively shallow water. Catch a mess of perch or bluegills on smaller softbaits during the daylight hours, and as their activity wanes, switch to slightly larger lures, and get ready for the walleyes to turn on with a vengeance. Try the same tactics across shallow rock flats, around shoreline points, and around the edges of rock reefs. The common factor is, you’re fishing relatively shallow for active perch and walleyes, using small, subtle softbaits that catch darned near anything that swims.

P l a s t i c s

D A V E C S A N D A works with Lind-

ner Media Productions in Baxter, Minnesota and is a veteran outdoor writer, seminar speaker and co-host of Angling Edge TV.

ms pass saw many thunderstor The summer of 2010 ys were pla dis ing zzling lightn through the area. Da ers. mm su few s previou common compared the

erd area northern Once rare in the Brain lorful male cardinals like this co st-covered tree are perched in a rime fro more common. becoming more and

A trumpeter swan in flight, long neck exten ded and graceful wings pump ing up and down is a sight to behold.

l doe vember day a whitetai Even on a dreary No ace and gr t to leap high displays caught as she is abou beauty. Photos provided by Bill Marchel

I tend to focus on colorful subjects, but I also enjoy photographing the cryptic animals, such as a drab colored deer in gloomy November lighting. However, we all could use a bit of merriment during the cold winter. Thus, I have included a few colorful birds. I had to incorporate one image of a white-tailed deer since they are my favorite photo prey. None of the subjects are exotic wildlife, nor where any of the images taken in far away locations. In fact, all of the photos were shot within a few miles of Brainerd. I hope these photographs instill in you a renewed appreciation for the outdoors. Happy New Year.

B I L L M A R C H E L is a wildlife and outdoors photographer and writer who lives near Fort Ripley. His work has appeared in many regional and national publications and he writes a monthly column for the Brainerd Dispatch. He can be reached at

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M a r c h e l 27


DAVE GENZ IS DOING SOMETHING MOST PEOPLE WOULD LOVE TO. He’s taken a passion for a hobby and has found

a way to make a living at it. He’s been ice fishing his whole life. “My dad was a road construction worker,” says Genz, “and he didn’t work in the winter so I don’t remember not going ice fishing.” Over the years he’s gotten pretty good at it. So much so that today he’s known as Mr. Ice Fishing and Genz has designed some of the most important tools available for the sport. He travels around the state of Minnesota, and places like Wisconsin, Canada, upstate New York and Vermont giving seminars so he can teach others the secrets he’s learned for making every outing on the frozen water a successful one. But it did take a while to make his dream a reality. “I did in-home fishing seminars,” he said of his start, “It was the same principal as a Tupperware party,” said Genz explaining a multi-level marketing plan selling fishing equipment. “That’s how I gained the experience and confidence to stand up in front of crowds and the

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more I was out there talking the more I realized that I probably knew more about ice fishing than most people did. Nobody was really promoting the sport of ice fishing back then either it was still basically sit on a bucket with a stick. In 1979 he invented the Fish Trap, a portable ice house that easily moved from place to place on a lake to find the hot spots while protecting those fishing from the wind and other elements. “Patsy, my wife, sewed five that first year with her sewing machine at home and we sold them to our friends. The next year she sewed 20 and we expanded to a couple of the local bait shops. The next year she sewed 80 and then she wouldn’t sew anymore,” he says with a laugh. “You can imagine with the sewing machine how long that took.” His daughters and their friends assembled those first houses. “My daughters assembled them on weekends and then they had money to go roller skating on Saturday night,” he said. In 1980 the company was incorporated and Genz sent Patsy to take business


classes at Anoka Ramsey Technical College so they could learn how to manage their growing business. Meanwhile Genz kept his day job at American Linen. “We lived in Minneapolis then and I went to Des Moines and Fargo on weekends because I still had a full-time job, a wife and two kids. It took a lot of years,” he said, “I did talks at the local bait shops.” Soon sporting goods stores like Holiday and Burger Bros. were selling his products. Dave joined up with The Clam Corporation in 1992 and they still sell the Fish Trap today. The designs, however, have changed since those first ones sewn by Patsy. “They have gotten bigger over the years,” says Genz. “The original ones were one-person houses. We’ve made them bigger, turned them into pontoon boats. You can socialize, take the family along and cook up lunch.” Some people may see the new all-the-comforts-ofhome wheelhouse fish houses as competition for the portables. Dave says that’s definitely not the case and there’s a place for both. “Wheelhouses are the cabin. In the summertime you go to the cabin but you get in your boat and go where the fish are. At the cabin you could fish off the dock but you don’t ... you get out and move around. So even though you have a wheeled fish house you still need the mobility of a good portable if you’re going to be constantly successful.” Some ice fishing advice from the expert? Pack light for one thing. “You’d be surprised how little I pack to take with me. Just the essentials,” he said. Other must-haves include a good portable ice structure like the Fish Trap, and a Vexilar to see where the fish are. “I remember very clearly the first time I got the new unit and dropped my hook down. I saw it sink on the screen. I knew that was a major breakthrough in ice fishing. The main thing electronics tells you is that there’s no fish down there so you’ve got to move. You can’t say they’re not biting if they’re not there,” he says, “That’s the cliché of people thinking the fish start biting at 4 o’clock. They don’t. That’s just when they show up. I can make them bite at 12 o’clock if I know they’re down there.” He also uses a laser auger, and a lightweight rod and reel — he’s designed several himself that come in a variety of lengths and are available through Clam. Then Photo provided by Sheila Helmberger

there’s the all important bait. “My favorite lure is the Fat Boy,” says Genz, “and my favorite Fat Boy is the Red Glow Fat Boy. It glows red in the dark. If you’re fishing in low light periods or deeper water Red Glow is the ticket.” The Fat Boy comes in other colors as well that are effective in various types of light. Genz spent years trying to find the best apparel to wear when he went out to the lake. “I used to fish in Carhartts and Refrigiwear or rain gear but it didn’t breathe very well when you were moving around,” he says. So he helped design the ultimate ice fishing apparel for keeping warm and dry in the harshest of winter fishing conditions. A outfit made out of Ice Armour features padded knees and a padded seat for kneeling over the ice hole. Genz waits every year for his first outing on the lake. He knows when it will be — he just doesn’t know where. “I fish every Thanksgiving weekend,” he says with a laugh. “Some years I just have to drive farther than others. Last year I had to drive to Bottineau, N.D., and fish on the Canadian border.” Dave Genz’s career is still something of a family affair too. Dave and Patsy and their two daughters and their families all live in the same neighborhood on the same street south of St. Cloud and help keep things running smoothly. “Our family gatherings are pretty regular,” he says. Genz has been inducted into the Minnesota Fishing Hall of Fame and this year he will be inducted into the national Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame. He has written and co-written books on ice fishing and an article on Genz and the Fish Trap fish house was featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 2003. Genz was also a silver medalist of the 1992 World Ice Fishing Championship on Team USA. If you ask Genz about retiring he repeats the advice he heard another fishing expert say early in his career, “I’m not doing anything I ever care to retire from,” he says. Ice fishing has been pretty good to Genz in his lifetime. And he’s returning the favor.

S H E I L A H E L M B E R G E R has a journalism degree. She is a mother of three, and contributes regularly to various local publications.

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ter place to be than on the water in Minnesota, summer or winter. Same venues, but differing activities and hazards mark the seasons. The urge to get out on the ice for fishing, snowmobiling, skating and cross-country skiing can be overwhelming. Tim Smalley, DNR boat and water safety specialist, has been or soon will be receiving phone calls asking, “Is the ice safe yet?” To which he most likely will reply, “No, ice is never truly safe.” Smalley offers the following guidelines for what or who can be on the ice at different thicknesses. Keep in mind these are merely guidelines and are for new, clear, solid ice. 2” or less - STAY OFF 4” - Ice fishing or other activities on foot 5” - Snowmobile or ATV 8” - 12” - Car or small pickup 12” - 15” - Medium truck **Vehicles weighing about one ton such as cars, pickups or SUVs should be parked at least 50 feet apart and moved every two hours to prevent sinking. It’s not a bad idea to make a hole next to the car. If water starts to overflow the top of the hole the ice is sinking and it’s time to move the vehicle** No ice is 100 percent safe Several factors aside from ice thickness affect the safety of ice— the age of the ice, temperatures, snow cover, water depth and the size of the lake, currents, even rotting vegetation and the movement of fish! “The schooling of fish, especially rough fish that sometimes school early, can affect ice thickness. They roll on the bottom of the lake causing the warmer water found on the bottom to come to the surface and undermine the ice”, says Smalley.

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Age of the ice — New ice is generally much stronger than old ice. Direct freezing of still water makes stronger ice than that formed by melting snow, refrozen ice, or ice made by water bubbling up through cracks and freezing on the surface. Temperature — Steady sub-freezing temperatures are best. Colder temperatures occurring for a longer period of time result in stronger ice. Snow cover — Snow is a good insulator. It slows down the ice forming process and keeps the ice from freezing hard. Snow is heavy, too, and puts a lot of weight and stress on existing ice. Depth of water under the ice and the size of the body of water — A large body of water will freeze at a slower rate than that of a smaller lake. Currents and location — If there is moving water the ice will be less solid. Springs and feeder creeks coming into a lake create weak and open spots in ice. River ice is weaker than lake ice due to currents. CHECKING ICE THICKNESS

Ice is seldom the same thickness over a single body of water. It can be two feet thick in one place and a mere one inch thick just a few yards away. Check the ice at least every 150 feet, especially early in the season or in any situation where the thickness varies widely. Remember, it’s impossible to judge the strength of ice by its appearance, its thickness, daily temperature, or snow cover alone. Smalley suggests contacting the local DNR conservation officer/game warden or a local bait shop owner or resort representative on the lake you will be visiting about ice conditions, “They would know the body of water best.” It’s also important to do some checking yourself once you get there. This can be done with an ice auger, drill or ice pick. SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

Along with tools to check depth of ice, bring a cell phone (to keep in your vehicle, along with an extra set of dry clothes), a personal flotation device, a throw rope, and a set of ice picks in the event you fall through the ice. Ice picks can be purchased or you can make your own. Inform a family member, neighbor, or friend of where you are going to be throughout the day. Leave a note with information on your location and the route you will take to get there and back. Let people know what time you are leaving and what time you plan to arrive back home. INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING ICE CLAWS

• Get two 4” pieces of wooden doweling the size of a broom handle or a little larger. Whatever material you select, it should float in case you drop the claws while struggling. • Drive a stout nail into one end of each dowel. This should be a hardened 16 penny or larger concrete nail. • Use a file to sharpen the nail heads to a point. Photo provided by Sheri Davich

• Drill a hole into the dowels (in the end opposite the nail) and tie a length of strong cord through the hole so a pick is on each end “jump-rope” fashion. You may also drill a hole in the ends alongside the nails so the nail on the other pick can nest in the hole, keeping both points covered. Keep the picks in your pocket for quick access if you or a companion does break through. IN AN EMERGENCY SITUATION

It’s possible to take every precaution and still find yourself in an emergency situation. What should you do if you or someone you are with ends up in the water? A companion falls through the ice: 1) Keep calm. 2) Don’t run up to the hole. You are of no help if you end up in the water, too. 3) Throw or extend to the person a rope, jumper cables, flotation device etc. to pull them out. 4) Call 911. Get medical assistance for the victim. People subjected to cold water can seem fine after being rescued but can suffer a potentially fatal condition called “after drop.” This happens when cold blood that is pooled in the body’s extremities starts to circulate again as the victim starts to re-warm. Keep dry clothes in the car -a spare sweatshirt and some old jeans in your vehicle along with some dry wool socks. The faster you can get your body dry, the less chance you have of suffering from hypothermia. Getting dry is the primary goal after being submerged in near-freezing lake water. WHAT IF YOU FALL IN?

1) Try not to panic. Instead, remain calm and turn toward the direction that you came from. That’s generally where the strongest ice will be. 2) Place your elbows on the unbroken surface of the ice or use ice picks. Work forward on the ice by kicking your feet. If the ice breaks, maintain your position and slide forward again. 3) Once you are lying on the ice, don’t stand. Instead, roll away from the hole. That spreads out your weight and allows you to access more solid ice. A SPECIAL NOTE FOR SNOWMOBILERS

Speed and night-time visibility are major factors in snowmobile accidents. Speed is a contributing factor in nearly all fatal snowmobiling accidents. Drive at a speed that will give you enough time to react should you need to change speed or direction quickly. Many fatal snowmobile throughthe-ice accidents occur because the machine was traveling too fast for the operator to stop when the headlamp illuminated a hole in the ice. Most snowmobiling accidents, including nine out of ten fatalities, occur after dark. Overriding your headlights is easy to do when snowmobiling at night. Consider wearing a life vest under your winter gear (with the added benefit of extra warmth), or a flotation snowmobile suit. Many people drown because the body’s response to entering frigid water,

the “gasp reflex”, fills the lungs with water as they go under. Having or wearing something that keeps your head above water can save your life. A snowmobile will sink like a stone in water, guaranteed, unlike a car or truck that will float for a bit. Never ride alone at night, and remember to put reflective strips on your clothing and helmet. Alcohol and snowmobiling Alcohol is involved in most snowmobiling fatalities. Any amount of alcohol affects judgment, impairs your perception, slows your reaction time and limits your ability to control your snowmobile. Alcohol increases your susceptibility to cold and hypothermia. This will decrease your chances of survival if you have to wait long for help to arrive after an accident. Enjoying an alcoholic beverage is acceptable during many leisure activities. Snowmobiling is not one of them. Make it a part of your day AFTER your ride. EDUCATION

Smalley credits education and getting the word out about ice safety for a diminishing number of casualties over recent years due to falling through the ice. He is gratified to report that last year only one Minnesotan lost his life on the ice, a result of a snowmobile breaking through. But even one is one too many, and he knows that the numbers will climb if our residents don’t take the necessary precautions. “Of all the tools you bring to the ice perhaps the most important is common sense” he concluded. Take care out there! Sources: Tim Smalley - Boat and Water Safety Specialist for the Minnesota Dept of Natural Resources, Minnesota DNR website

S H E R I D A V I C H is a free-lance writer living in Pequot Lakes.

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with a brilliant coat of white so dazzling and pure that it resembled a soft bed of fresh cotton. Clinging to the tiniest twigs on the skeletal trees and bushes, it turns the forest primeval into a panoramic black and white picture, straight out of Currier and Ives. It is deathly quiet in the forest now, the rustling leaves have been silenced and the trails and paths are crisscrossed with the tell-tale tracks of the animals that exist there, leaving behind a virtual road map of their meandering nightly travels and a glimpse into their very identities. The tiny energetic chickadees with their little black bibs proudly displayed, now stand out starkly against the white background as they flutter from branch to branch in a search for buds, triggering with each rapid burst of flight a tiny cascade of white powder that falls softly to the forest floor like mythical fairy dust. I move as in a dream now, not wanting to disturb the beauty before me, hearing only the soft gurgling of the water down below the river bank, still picking its relentless way downstream in a never ending journey, disappearing and then reappearing between the chunks of milky ice in a subtle game of hide and seek. A beaver hut stands out in mute testimony to the colony that exists there under the ice covered pond. For now they know they must subsist in hiding, living on the larder they so carefully stashed away last fall. Other animals in their dark dens know that the time

32 W i n t e r

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has now come to rest and sleep contentedly beneath this comfortable blanket, waiting for the warmth of the sun to reappear once more and tell them that their winter hiatus is over. Snug in their homes they reverie in the dreams of their ancestors, and live off their instinctual knowledge that the less they do the better. Deep in their wombs the seeds of the next generation are being carefully molded to be born into the world, insuring the survival of their species. Those who must exist above the snowy cover know that it is a time to curl up snug in their warm winter coats. To browse when they can for sustenance, and seek their natural shelters against the bitter cold winds of winter, always vigilant against the dangers that lurk from the others in the forest who will prey on them, so they too can survive. This can be a cruel time, but it is a necessary time in this intricate balance of life for Mother Nature, for now she too must stop and rest. You see, it’s an essential cycle of life for the forest’s flora and fauna, and now they patiently wait for that moment when the earth will once again come back to life, rejuvenating itself in the rainbows of spring time. M I K E H O L S T Mike Holst lives in Crosslake

Mn. He is a published fiction author and has five books currently in print. You can check his web site for more info on them. Mike also writes a weekly column for the Northland Press which is a small town newspaper in Crosslake. He contributes quite regularly to the Brainerd Dispatch open forum.

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HWY 169 E. GRAND RAPIDS, MN 218-326-0353 (800) 223-0621


2115 SE MAIN AVE. MOORHEAD, MN 218-287-9100

415 Washington St., Brainerd

829-5516 M-F 9-8


8194 Fairview Road Baxter MN 56425 Phone: 218-829-6656

36052 County Road 66 Crosslake MN 56442 Phone: 218-692-6656

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Downtown HolliWalk Downtown Brainerd





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Fish Fry Brainerd VFW 5:30-7:30pm

Antique SnowmoBrainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing bile Rendevous Extravaganza 12pm - 3pm Jan 21 - Jan 23 Hole in the Day Bay

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Best Shot

Cindy Spilman, Pillager, MN

This picture is of some neat looking frost on the leaves in my back yard. It was a beautiful day in Northern Minnesota. We enjoy all that Minnesota has to offer.

SSend d a slide lid or print i t tto “Y “Your B Bestt Sh Shot” t” B Brainerd i d Di Dispatch, t h P P.O. O B Box 574 574, Brainerd, MN 56401. Include a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want your materials returned. Do you enjoy taking photos? Do you have a favorite image of an eagle, flower, sunset, or how about your favorite hunting partner? Here’s your chance to share it with readers of “OUTDOOR Traditions.” Send it along with a two-sentence explanation as to where, why, and how it was shot. Both could be published online and in the 50,000 copies of our new quarterly magazine, “OUTDOORS Traditions.” Each issue will have an “editor’s pick” contributed photo, including a credit line of the photographer’s name and portrait if available. Deadline for the spring edition is February 21, 2011. The Dispatch will collect images quarterly (spring, summer, fall, winter). After each issue of “OUTDOOR Traditions” publishes, we will then place the images on our website.

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Outdoor Traditions Winter 2010