MINNESOTA’S PREMIER HUNTING AND FISHING MAGAZINE - SPRING 2013
MINNESOTA REAWAKENS photo essay p 30 $4.95 US * $5.95 CAN
IN THE NORTH, IN THE SPRING Michael Furtman p 8 THE BEARDS ARE BACK! WWW.MINNESOTASPORTINGJOURNAL.COM Spring Thunderchickens p 12
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
Have you visited our website? Daily updates with blogs, pictures, DNR news and more.
FROM THE BACKWOODS
A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR
If you’ve read the winter issue of Minnesota Sporting Journal magazine,
then you already know that we’re going through a bit of a (seamless) transition. MNSJ founder and editor Matt Soberg was offered the prestigious position of editor at the Ruffed Grouse Society magazine. As a long time grouse hunter and fan of outdoor publications, it was an offer he couldn’t refuse. I was approached about a possible takeover for MNSJ, and it didn’t take me long to say yes. I knew that I wanted to work in the outdoors and I liked the idea of being my own boss, but I was still a bit apprehensive. After talking it through with some friends and family, I dove in headfirst. Matt had put together a beautiful product. He knew that I wasn’t going to come in and rewrite the handbook; I’d continue the vision that he had a passion for. MNSJ will continue to be the same high quality publication that he put together, in fact he’ll still be making appearances in the magazine and helping out from time to time. I wanted to introduce myself as the new publisher and let everyone know that I’ll work tirelessly to bring you the absolute best magazine printers can lay ink to. Matt did a great job with MNSJ, and I thank him for giving me the opportunity to keep it going. My goal is to have a magazine that he’ll aspire to be editor of again one day. Thanks for being a part of the MNSJ family and I look forward to bringing you the best of Minnesota and what Minnesotans like to do. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the Spring issue of the Minnesota Sporting Journal. We’ve got some more great photography of spring in Minnesota, even if winter didn’t want to let go. We’re welcoming long time author, photographer and Minnesotan, Michael Furtman to the magazine this issue, as well as some great contributions from writers and photographers who you’ve gotten to know from reading our past issues. Along with the spring issue, our radio show continues to expand across the state, and we recently launched a new website at www.MinnesotaSportingJournal. com giving you daily updates covering the outdoors in the North Star State. If you enjoy the magazine, you’ll enjoy the new site and the radio show as well. Find out where to tune in by visiting us online!
bret “t-Bone” amundson
MNSJ is a quarterly publication. To resubscribe, contact us: 218-209-2738 Bret@mnsportingjournal.com www.MinnesotaSportingJournal.com Publisher BYP, INC Editor Bret amundson Sales wade amundson Editing Services KRISTIN AMUNDSON Web Services WWW.LOGICSTEW.COM Marketing WWW.EARGRABBER.COM Contributors BEN BRETTINGEN, MATT SOBERG michael furtman, Tayler Michels, TYLER SCOTT, mike yurk, Ulitmate outdoor adventures Subscription Services WWW.MINNESOTASPORTINGJOURNAL. COM MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL is a publication of Boneyardprod, Inc DBA BYP, Inc. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to PO Box 823, Moorhead, MN 56561. Oneyear subscription rates: $18.00 in the U.S., $30.00 for Canada (U.S. funds only). Twoyear subscription rates: $30.00 in the U.S., $47.00 for Canada (U.S. funds only). All editorial submissions will be gladly accepted. Minnesota Sporting Journal does not guarantee against damage or loss of submitted materials. Any reproduction of all or part of Minnesota Sporting Journal without the express written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. Copyright 2013 BYP Inc
TABLE OF CONTENTS FEATURES in the north, in the spring A trip into the Boundary Waters in search of the mysterious Lake Trout.
The original mudmen The mighty and muddy Mississippi can cure that open water walleye itch.
the more things change Taking a trip to moose camp offers more than just scenery.
PHOTO ESSAY: MINNESOTA REAWAKENS As winter releases her icy grip, the creatures of the north begin to stir...
Tying Knots Sometimes simple times offer simple lessons
Find us at /mnsportingjournal or go to: www.minnesotasportingjournal.com 4
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
Photo by Bret Amundson
COLUMNS CONSERVATION AND ETHICS Mille Lacs, APR, and WIA
SEASONAL OUTDOORS PT 1 Spring Thunderchickens
TIPS AND TRICKS Killin’ the Grip ‘n Grin
SEASONAL OUTDOORS PT 2 First Impressions 38 DAKOTA REPORT-ND Missouri River Walleyes 41 DAKOTA REPORT-SD South Dakota Snow Geese
DEPARTMENTS YOUTH MOVEMENT MN Teen Challenge UPLAND SNAPSHOT Regional Pheasant Report
CHEF’S CORNER Whiskey-Glazed Turkey 44 IN THE COMMUNITY Gov’s Fishing Opener 45 MNSJ INTERVIEW Georgia Pellegrini 46
ON THE COVER: Rainbow Trout - Photo by Ben Brettingen WWW.MINNESOTASPORTINGJOURNAL.COM
CONSERVATION AND ETHICS
CONSERVATION CONVERSATION APR expansion? Mille Lacs walleye talk and more Walk-In Access land
or the last few years the Antler Point Restriction (APR)
program in the southeastern part of Minnesota has been the topic of conversation among whitetail hunters across the state. Despite some early opposition, the APR program has been deemed a success. Of course there are still dissenters, even some heated debate at a public meeting earlier this year. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, research has shown that 64% of hunters surveyed support continuing the APR program in the 300 series zones. As expected the buck harvest was down initially, with increases the last 2 seasons. This was due to the maturing bucks in the area. The APR restriction states that anyone over the age of 17 harvests a buck with at least 4 points on one side. Some argued that hunter participation would drop due to APR restrictions, which happened the first season, but they’ve since returned, and numbers have rebounded. A recent MNSJ Radio interview with the DNR’s big game program leader, Leslie McInenly gave us a chance to ask her whether or not this is something that could expand across the state: “I get that question a bit from folks, and this was one of those situations where [the DNR] originally responded to this because there was interest within the region to look at it. I think the regions are different enough that we would evaluate it the same way. I don’t see us pushing to expand it statewide. “ If you have a group of neighbors or a quality deer management group in your area and if you feel that there would be enough support to have APR, the DNR will listen. I think that has been a positive trend from the DNR recently. You will always hear some people grumble about the decisions the DNR makes, but generally they are based on science and research. More recently though, it seems the DNR is taking your desires into consideration as well. I had the chance to sit in on the public meeting at Mille Lacs regarding the walleye situation there and the theme of the meeting was, “Here’s the problem; here are our suggestions; what do you think?” With livelihoods hanging in the balance, a delicate vol-
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
ley of ideas took place without emotions pulling too hard on the reins. The DNR offered their ideas and allowed the public to give their’s, much like the debate on APR. Not everyone will be happy with the results, but such is life in the world of conservation. For the most part, the DNR and those who like to hunt and fish are working towards a common goal. Occasionally some sacrifice must take place. This year, it’s your bag limit. A twofish bag limit was deemed more acceptable to all involved parties instead of the possibility of a mid-season regulation change. As a result, you’ll be able to keep two fish between 18-20 inches or one within that slot, and one over 28 inches. Other opportunities have been presented, with liberal limits on smallmouth (6 fish, 17-20” protected slot, only 1 fish over 20”) and northern pike (3 fish, 33”-40” protected slot, only 1 fish over 40”). These new regulations are designed to keep the state and band total harvest level within the 250,000 pound goal. Both the state and the tribal bands voluntarily decreased their portion of the harvest by 50%. This year’s level is the lowest since treaty management began in 1997. Of course some would like to see this situation handled in court, but until that happens, this is what the DNR has said they are able to do.
On a positive note, more land will be offered in the
relatively new Walk-In Access (WIA) program. This program started in the western prairie portions of Minnesota and gave me some more opportunities to hunt pheasants last fall. After spending time in North Dakota on land enrolled in a similar program (P.L.O.T.S.), I was encouraged to hear that landowners in 14 additional counties can enroll their land in the WIA program. Landowners in 35 counties can now get paid to offer hunters access to their property. Privately owned parcels of 40 acres or more, which are enrolled in various conservation programs are targeted. Information regarding the WIA program can be found at the DNR website, including maps, guidelines and enrolling information. To learn more visit www.minnesotasportingjournal.com for updates or the www.dnr.state.mn.us for the DNR website.
walleye reg changes for Mille Lacs
APR does not restrict youth under 17
14 more counties get Walk-In Access
IN THE NORTH,
IN THE SPRING
BY MICHAEL FURTMAN
n the north, in the spring, there lives a little stream.
Come summer, it barely flows; and great, gray granite boul-
ders periscope from what little water remains, making passage by canoe nearly impossible. But in May, this stream flows buoyantly from lake to lake, fed by melting snow. And with it flows our canoe. Parts of the Boundary Waters are a bit too well-traveled
eat light until they are as yellow as the orb that feeds them. Tiny curls of ferns shake off surrounding soil. Everywhere is the smell of earth-of soil, of water, even; scents contained for months in winter’s icy bottle. The granite bedrock of this land absorbs the sun’s warmth into its billion-yearold layers. Bears emerge from their dens, hunger dressed in black fur.
for our tastes, but this route is seldom used. The portages, barely
Spawning suckers and pike splash in the creek. Male ruffed grouse
evident, are punctuated by moose tracks, not boot prints; and the
fill the air with their drumming. Cow moose move to the safety of
lakes connected by this stream are rarely visited. It would not be
islands or lakeshore points to drop their tawny calves.
far from the truth to say that by taking this route, we are seeing
And, very important, lake trout move toward the water’s
country that few human eyes have ever scanned. And we like it
surface, putting them in easy reach of an angler’s offerings. When
the aspen buds are the size of mouse ears, lake-trout fishing is at
For decades my wife, Mary Jo, and I have chosen this route west of the Gunflint Trail for our first canoe trip of the year.
its best. If all of the other wonderful things happening in the canoe
Though it is not an easy route-and is growing more difficult as our
country spring weren’t enough to make us paddle and portage our
bodies age-it holds a charm that offsets the effort.
way to these lakes, the lure of lake trout would make sore backs
The creek is part of that charm, for when traveling its hidden course, we feel a deep sense of adventure, of exploration. On
and wet feet worth enduring. Not a trout at all, Salvelinus namaycush is in fact a char,
the ridges along the creek, dark stands of jack pine climb the hills;
closely related to other northern fish species such as brook
and on ridges elsewhere, aspen and birch reach toward the sun.
trout and arctic char. Though it lacks the red spots and brilliant
I recall years when we waded through snow on portages and
coloration of these relatives, it is handsome nonetheless. The
paddled through windswept channels on lakes black with rotting
silvery fish typically has generous vermiculations along its back
ice. Other years, spring came early, and the leaves-and black flies-
and irregular light spots along its sides. Some exhibit a beautiful
had already burst forth by the time we launched our canoe.
rose-orange tint to their pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins, which may
But in most years, we find the ice has recently departed, and we must hunt north slopes to find snow-our natural cooler for perishable foods and fresh fish fillets. Cold nights linger, keeping
have front edges of white. The tail of the lake trout is profoundly forked. Like Minnesotans, the lake trout is a creature of the north.
insects at bay. If we are lucky, the days are bright. Aspen and then
It dwells only where winters are long and harsh enough to keep
birch are beginning to bud; and, thanks to those buds, the sur-
lakes cold despite summer’s attempts to warm them. Native only
rounding hills are awash with a soft gray-green glow, as if rubbed
to North America, the lake trout has a vast range that spans glaci-
over with artist chalk.
ated waters from Alaska east to Nova Scotia. In western Canada
It is as if the land, bound tightly for months, now sighs and
its range dips south through Alberta and into Montana before
breathes under the spring sun, wriggling awake like some beast
swinging north above the prairie and across through all eastern
arising from hibernation. Along the creek a few marsh-marigolds
Canadian mainland provinces. Minnesota is about as far south as
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
Photo above: Spruce Grouse by Michael Furtman
Though moose and lynx speak to us of the north country, as do black spruce and balsam fir, the lake trout too is an indicator of climate and latitude. While Minnesotans can catch a walleye in Lake Pepin in the southeast as well as Lake Saganaga in the north, or a smallmouth bass in the St. Croix River as surely as Basswood Lake, only in canoe country or Lake Superior can we hope to catch a naturally reproduced lake trout in our state. Like the woodland caribou, now gone but once the dominant deer in the north, the lake trout speaks to me of wildness, of northness. Ten thousand years ago, as the glaciers receded, leaving a rubble-strewn granite landscape, the waters that backed up behind them served as conduits for fish migrations. Were lake trout deposited in what is now southern Minnesota? No one knows. If they were, they perished as that region warmed. But where we travel each spring, the lakes, separated by stone ridges, are the guardians of lake-trout evolution. Most of these lakes have never been stocked, so no gene
“Spring is for birth. For rebirth too; of winter-weary and city-tired souls.”
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
photo by Michael Furtman
mixing has occurred. Most lack connections, so the fish within them are direct descendants of those surviving glacial times. And the results are clear to see. I recall one fine spring day 15 years ago, when Mary Jo and I portaged from our campsite lake to a neighboring body of water. We had caught a couple of lake trout for dinner from the first lake, and left them stringered off camp. These trout were dark, almost black, and nearly 5 pounds-large for these small, infertile waters. In the second lake, we caught small, silvery lake trout with bright orange fins. We kept one, more out of curiosity than hunger, to compare with the others at camp; and when we placed them side by side, it was almost as if we were looking at two different species. The silvery fish was long and bullet-headed, and its flesh was as orange as any salmon’s. The dark trout were much stouter, their heads blunt and round, their fillets peach in color. Diet can explain coloration and shape to some degree, but what we were also seeing was nearly 10,000 years of natural selection, 10,000 years of time and circumstance shaping these We’d like to welcome Michael Furtman to the Minnesota Sporting Journal! Michael can be found online at www.michaelfurtman.com
fish to fit these lakes. A rock ridge separated them in space. But eons separated them in shape and coloration. Examining those fish, I first realized that thanks to the wilderness designation of the Boundary Waters, here nature could choose its course without tampering. When we depart, we always leave very early in the morning, so we can make it across the portages and up the creek to another much-loved lake, where we fish one last time before heading home. Drifting over a favorite reef, we might get lucky and catch this lake’s distinct trout. And we pass the spot where once we saw a cow moose standing mere feet from shore, her coat bedraggled with patches of gray and brown, her big ears swiveled in our direction. Remote as this place is, we might have been the first people she had ever seen-and when the buffy calf that had been lying between her legs wobbled to its feet, we knew for sure we were its first humans. As it took what might have been its first steps, we paddled quietly away. Spring is for birth. For rebirth too of winter-weary and citytired souls. And spring reminds me that without our trying winters, without the deep cold, the glistening lakes of canoe country would warm and could not support lake trout. In the north, in the spring, that little stream still lives. For now, so do the lovely lake trout, symbols of the north that lure us into the piney wilderness.
Spring thunderchickens Making hunts memorable starts with picking your blind partners
Ring…..ring…ring “Hello” “So, you get drawn this year” “Sure did!!” “What season you get drawn for?” “Season C” “Can’t wait; we’ll smack a thunder chicken for sure!”
Spring turkey hunting for me is an escape into the backwoods of west central MN during a time of year in which the fall and winter browns slowly turn to into a refreshing green landscape. A time in which we outdoorsman have been longing to retreat back into the woods after a long winter span of unsurpassable snow depths; a time in which we hope to log another chapter of hunting memories with friends and family. While I can recall memories from each of the 40-50 successful turkey hunts I have been on, a few hunts stand out above the rest. Not because of a long shot or second chance, or because of the degree of difficulty a certain bird presented. My most memorable hunts included calling in and witnessing the harvest of my father and grandfather’s first wild turkeys. Each hunt, as many do, presented challenges we had to overcome. Reflect with me as we take peek back into these unforgettable spring turkey hunts.
Vividly remembering our conversation back in March
of ’09, dad called me while at school to inform me he was drawn for a spring turkey tag. Excitement and anticipation quickly consumed my thoughts on a daily basis and at times clouded my hours spent studying for exams. It sure didn’t take much to distract me from studying and then the enthusiasm of taking my dad on his first turkey hunt thrown on top? Let’s just say the end of the collegiate year couldn’t come fast enough. Joining my dad and I would be Jim Christianson, a long
onversations across the phone line between family
and friends of this nature over the last five years have most commonly concluded with lasting memories both parties will never forget. Whether it be their first bird or their tenth bird, witnessing the joy of success on a hunter’s face following an encounter with one of nature’s largest and most elusive upland game birds is priceless. Let’s keep in mind success does not always mean we have filled our tags, as having an eastern turkey up close and personal, sounding off with thunderous gobbles can send as many quivers down your spine as if you had indeed bagged a bird.
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
time friend and former biology teacher. Our mid-April morning started out cool and crisp as many do. Walking into our spot, we took our time as we did not know exactly where the birds were roosting in this particular woodlot; Jim had a feeling they would be roosting in a general area, but we wanted to be cautious in not getting too close. As first light was creeping over the eastern skies, gobblers began to fill the woods. Making our way stealthily across the frost-ridden spring ground, we gradually snuck within a mere hundred yards of the roosted tom. A large oak tree would be our posting point and backdrop, as we would attempt to entice the lonely bird in our direction. We made our set just inside the timber, but unknowingly set up with a 3-strand barbed wire fence approximately 40 yards in between the approaching tom and us. This was made clear when
only a couple hundred yards out. Following a couple short-calling sequences, I was able to pull one of the subordinate toms off the flock of hens right into our laps. My position put me staring down the barrel of Jim’s gun as this curious tom came in from our rear left. He crossed Jim’s carful aim at a mere 6 steps. Needless to say, Jim’s hunt was over. Round two. Dad was back up to bat. After a quiet celebration between Jim, Dad, and me, we settled in as we knew there were more turkeys working the alfalfa field out front. I let out an aggressive series of clucks and purrs to draw attention back down to our draw. No more than five minutes later the strutted tom cracked the horizon only 50 yards away. Just a couple more clucks and the gobbler found himself 32 yards from the end of Dad’s shotgun, this time loaded with 3 inch #4 lead. I cannot explain the joy we shared that morning together; undoubtedly a moment I will never forget.
the bird drew near but came to a standstill when he realized he would need to cross under the fence. He longed for the hen we put out in front but was unwilling to make the senseless dip under the fence to within a deadly range. As he pranced about in circles, showing off his iridescent beauty at 40 yards, my patience began to stretch to the limits along with my dad’s. I whispered, “take him Dad; he isn’t coming any closer.” No more than did I say those words, the fire rolled out the barrel of the Remington 1100. “You got him Dad”, I shouted in utter excitement. “Oh… wait….he’s getting back up. Shoot him again, shoot him again!!!!” In what we thought was our first successful turkey hunt together turned into disappointment in a matter’s time. The old tom took the pattern of #4 shot to the body, somehow taking the impact without penetration to the vitals. We watched him scamper off into the brush following a hail Mary from dad. Upon further evaluation, I was unaware Dad threw steel shot into his pocket when leaving the house instead of grabbing the lead shot I specifically purchased for him. His 2 ¾ #4 shot did not quite do the trick. We searched and searched for his bird, but all efforts came up short. Onto the next spot we went. Jim would be up next as Dad had his opportunity. We arrived to our next location tucked back along the Pelican river-a spot we have harvested numerous mature longbeards. My confidence was high. Sneaking in the back door of this prime spot, we were able to get settled in as the birds were strutting their stuff
r o f s p i 7t sh fi r e t be t y! h p a r g ph o t o BY
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ill up F ! P U T I 1. FILL ch u m s a h t i the frame w s possible ta c e j b u s e h t of dead e h t g n i z i minim space.
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
R. U O H N E 2. GOLD losest to sunrise sc The hour often make the et and suns s better as the ph photogra h softer and uc light is m ing. tter more fla
3. FO C I’m su US ON TH re E lookin the fish is FISH! b g partn than your etter er fi signifi (unless it’s shing cant o y ther - our me)! po It to hav is almost a ints for lw e versu the person ays better s the fi out of sh. focus
4. GO THROUGH THE ROUTINE! Often times the bes t pictures come from the angler interacting w ith the fish and not sim ply staring at the came ra! Have your subject g o through the sequen ce of landing to releasi ng while you direct, te lling them to hold for ke y opportunities.
N I E H 5. T N E E W BET to t e g r o f ire t n Donâ€™t e e h ht p a r g o t h, c n pho u a l the m o r f g, n trip i t s a c ses, i r n u s res u to l e h t of s p u se e a s e l e clo r e o th t , h s fi and shot! 16
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
H S I F A E K I L 6. ER! T A W F O T OU ck a b h s fi t a h t Get I try ! r e t a w e h t n i of t u o t i e v a h to less r o f r e t a w e th s d n o c e s 0 3 n tha maximum.
I hate p hotos (w ith a passion ) where the angler i s glaring back at you w ith a de at Fishing is fun. S h stare. mile!
THE ORIGINAL MUDMEN Fishing the muddy Mississippi can cure that open water itch
BY MIKE YURK
It is the river of adventures.... ...and Huckleberry Finn.
Photo by Ben Brettingen
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
and are fun to catch. But you never know what you get in the river
ome twenty feet above the surface of the Mississippi
in spring. There are catfish and sturgeon and sheepshead and
River the lower end of a tree trunk, some of the root system still
white bass and almost any fish found in fresh water.
intact, is lodged in the forked branches of another tree on the
It is the time for big fish too. The big female walleyes will
rocky banks. At one time an angry, muddy, flooded river carried
be in the river, and it is one of the best times of the year to catch
that tree trunk down river where it finally came to rest, now high
them. In a couple of hours one afternoon I saw two boats near me
up in that other tree. It just shows you the power of the Missis-
pull in a twenty-eight inch and a thirty inch walleye. After taking
sippi River, particularly in the spring.
photos, both fish were released.
The power of the Mississippi River can be felt in so many
I fish the Mississippi River at the dam above Red Wing. It
ways in the spring. It is the big muddy. It is the river of adventures
is a popular place, and you will find many boats because you can
and Huckleberry Finn. The watery lifeline of middle America
catch a lot of fish there. The River is well known. It is common to
shipping from Minneapolis and Saint Paul to New Orleans. And
find boats registered in Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, in addition
it is one of the best places to go fishing when the rest of the state
to Minnesota and Wisconsin, the two states that share the shores
is closed to walleye fishing and opening day won’t be until the
with this great river. I once saw a boat from Maine on the Missis-
second week in May.
sippi River. It came a long way to fish there.
The Mississippi River is open to fishing all year long and
Fisherman on the Mississippi River in spring face a
in March and April when the regular fishing season seems so far
multitude of challenges. First of all there is the weather. I have
away and you are getting hungry for a meal of fresh fish fillets, the
fished in snow and ice storms, and it seems that it is always cold
Mississippi River is the place to go.
and windy on the river in the early season. In fact it seems that
For most of the people who fish the Mississippi River
the best fishing is when the weather is at its worst. A buddy and
in March and April the target fish are walleyes and their smaller
I joke that if it isn’t miserable we won’t catch fish. We call it the
cousins the sauger. Generally, fishermen on the river will catch
misery quotient. It is simple-the higher the misery quotient the
more sauger than walleyes, but they taste the same from the pan
more fish we catch. Secondly, river conditions can be expected to be at their
worst. In spring, high waters almost to flood stage and sometimes beyond are normal, and currents are strong and unforgiv-
To work a jig, just let it drop to the bottom and raise it six to eight inches with the rod tip, and let it drop back down again.
ing. Those same powerful currents that initiate that primeval urge for fish to move upriver are the same currents that slam into your boat and make it tough to get your bait to the bottom. Any number of baits will work in the spring on
The key to catching
“It’s simple. The higher the misery quotient, the more fish we catch.”
these fish in the Missis-
walleyes and sauger is to be able to maintain contact with the bottom. If the current is too strong to get a three quarters ounce jig to the bottom, then I will go to an ounce jig. My second
sippi, but by far the most
favorite rig for the
popular and most effective is a jig and minnow. My favorite jig
Mississippi River walleye and sauger is a bait rig. I attach a three-
is a short shank hook on a three quarter ounce jig with a stinger
foot leader, with a couple of chartreuse beads and chartreuse
hook. The jig hook goes through the mouth and out the top of the
hook, to a swivel. Above the swivel I attach either an egg or bell
minnow and the stinger hook goes into the tail. The stinger hook
sinker. With this rig I can use sinkers up to two ounces. I have
is particularly important if the fish are hitting lightly.
found that if I can’t get the bait to the bottom with a two ounce
Color matters on walleyes and sauger, and I have found
sinker, the current is too fast for the bait fish and consequently too
that the best jig is anything that has chartreuse on it. My second
fast for walleyes and sauger too. If that is the case I go looking for
choice in color, if chartreuse is not working, is gold.
slower moving water.
Photo by Ben Brettingen
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do -Mark Twain otherwise...
Photo by Bret Amundson Picking the right water is as important as the bait. The rule of thumb when fishing the Mississippi River is that if the water is high, fish shallow, and if the water is normal or low, fish deep. I usually start at about twenty feet and then work either deeper or shallower depending on water levels. Once you find the fish, stick with it. I have found that the fish will be active at a specific depth, and you need to stay within a foot or two of that depth to consistently keep getting strikes. I look up on shore and see a tree filled with bald eagles. There must be twentyfive or more eagles in the tree. Their bright white heads and tailfeathers stand our starkly in the leafless trees against the gray skies overhead. There are some people who will never see that many eagles in their entire lifetime, and I am seeing that many at one time in one tree. The Mississippi River in the spring is an exciting place to be and draws more than just fish and fishermen.
MN Teen Challenge
The Minnesota Fishing Challenge, Saturday June 1st on Gull Lake. Now in it’s 5th year, the MN Fishing Challenge is set to be bigger and better in 2013. The Challenge is designed to be
help raise money for Minnesota Teen Challenge.” With centers in Duluth, Brainerd and the Twin Cities, Min-
a fun event while educating about a great cause-Minnesota
nesota Teen Challenge casts a wide net in its mission to help as
Adult and Teen Challenge, which offers comprehensive
many as possible.
addiction treatment and recovery services. It’s also a big fundraising event.
“Most of the programs are long term and faith based, which is one of the reasons why they work so well,” said Kalkofen. The
“The tournament was an idea that Al Linder had to
MN Fishing Challenge is a way to introduce MN Adult and Teen
bring people from all over the region together to share tactics.
Challenge to the fishing community and educate them about what
He wanted it to be multi-species so people could fish for
the program does and how they help. There are about 450 people
whatever they could catch,” said Jim Kalkofen describing how
going through the various programs, from children to adults, men
the tournament is very accessible to all skill levels.
and women. The need has kept most programs at capacity.
There are bass, walleye, pan fish and pike divisions; everyone is welcome to enter any or all the divisions. “The key is the sharing and the teaching for the youngsters that come.” Kalkofen would go on to add, “All of these folks pay a low entry fee to fish in two person teams, and they
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
The organization has been known as MN Teen Challenge for 25 years but has always opened it’s doors to people of all ages. Recently however, the name changed to MN Adult and Teen Challenge. If you’d like to get involved, you can try your luck in the
Photo by Matt Soberg
tournament; you can support one of the teams in the tournament, or just come out and support the event. The weigh-ins begin at 1pm at Cragun’s with Al Linder, Ron Linder, Steve Pennaz and others. The Teen Challenge Choir, 60 voices strong, will sing and tell their stories. There are also events on Friday night. Find all the information at www.mntc.org/fishingchallenge YOU CAN ALSO DONATE ONLINE AT WWW.MNTC.ORG *What: Minnesota Fishing Challenge *When: Saturday June 1st at 7am *Where: Gull Lake *Who: 2 person fishing teams – over 120 boats *How: You can get more info by calling
Jim Kalkofen at 218-833-8777
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE... The more they should stay the same Story and photos by Bret Amundson
The author heads into the northwoods for a trip back in time. 24
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
y parents recently vacationed in Mexico where they witnessed something they’d never seen before. Pilgrims had ventured from rural areas, walking for miles until falling to their knees once they descended upon the city’s churches. They’d shuffle up the aisle like this, praying for miracles. This ritual goes back hundreds of years and is kept alive today by people who understand the value in tradition. While the modern world encourages us to move forward and embrace the latest in technology and innovations, there are still those that realize simpler times can offer a simpler way of life. Priorities in a person’s life can change over time and as I’ve grown older, I’d like to think I’ve gotten wiser. While that might
not be completely true, I have found that I don’t always need to slap down the plastic for the latest and greatest gizmo. Full disclosure: I do have some of the latest and greatest gizmos and most of the time I really enjoy them. However, I’ve also realized that I don’t want to mortgage my present day for the unpredictable future. What I’d like is quality of life. (And maybe a big backyard!) Of course, I also need to pay the bills and I do really like my IPhone, but I don’t want to work the rest of my life to just to live in a McMansion while sacrificing opportunities to LIVE my life now, before I’m using a bedpan more than a fyring pan. I may not be walking for miles like those in Mexico, but I’d like to see myself live more like others I’ve met recently.
I was able to take a trip this winter to a cabin nestled far in the northwoods of Minnesota. Surrounded by a variety of pines, with flaky puffs of snow that would fall from one branch to another with each slight gust of wind. The story behind this cabin was almost as enjoyable as the time I was able to spend in it. Years ago a moose camp was built even further to the north in Canada. While that cabin, built with wood and muscle, can still be seen, the traditions that were built with elbow grease and camaraderie are becoming as sparse as the species it was named after. I’d seen pictures of that moose camp and envisioned long nights quartering moose by moonlight, sleeping by the warmth of a wood stove and using the best bathroom Mother Nature can provide. That Canadian moose camp has changed hands and I’ll probably never get to see it. But I was able to stay at the next best thing. A re-creation of sorts on our side of the border, complete with the wood stove and the lack of indoor plumbing. It was as if I’d traveled back to a time where you worked the land to live. And you liked it. A few modern amenities adorned the walls, like a satellite tv (that was never turned on) and cell phone chargers. A radio that occasionally stuttered to life offered communication with neighbors several miles away. Below that sat a bank of batteries, which supplied a small amount of life for the aforementioned items. Despite a few of today’s conviences, a simpler way of life was clearly at work. A way of life that involved getting your hands dirty. Work wasn’t uncommon; it was part of the vacation. It was something that kept you on your toes while enjoying the north woods. “I had someone tell me they stay in shape by pushing a cart
around Kmart, come on!” That was one of the comments by a 75 year old resident that had me sucking in my 37 year old gut, wondering if I had what it took to live this type of lifestyle. Other comments offered such common sense simplicity, that it really made you wonder what went wrong with our society. How’d we become a nation of creampuffs. “You can’t bog down a piece of machinery”. Good advice for the guy going back for seconds at breakfast; good advice for just about anyone actually. We ate well, with venison steaks, French toast and chili on the menu. The eggs came from the “egg fridge”, a small cooler under an insulating rug parked next to a cracked window. This system allowed for cool enough air to keep the eggs fresh. When you live off the grid, you have all kinds of “fridges”. Our beer fridge was similar to the milk fridge-5 gallon buckets filled with snow. Behind the cabin sat three 55-gallon drums, one stepped lower than the next, held together by pipes that slanted downward. The highest barrel was fixed below the cabin’s downspout. Once one barrel was full, water would spill down the chain and fill the next one in line. The summer rainwater collected in these 3 “holding tanks” would become wash water for winter. Think about that. Not only do you go to the bathroom outside, but you have to collect water in July that you’ll want to use in February. This northwoods cabin is not your prototypical Minnesota vacation home. In fact, it isn’t the destination of choice in the summer. It’s the destination of choice once the mercury drops below the freezing mark.
“I had someone tell me they stay in shape by pushing around a cart at Kmart. Come on!”
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
Outdoor plumbing, wood stoves and situated miles from the nearest road-all with temperatures in the single digits. Why?
Why not? A few reasons were given, with the main one being: swamps. They freeze in the winter making remote areas accessible. In fact, constructing the cabin required building a road and hauling everything necessary during the throws of winter. Packing everything on your back, strapping on snowshoes and braving the frosty northern Minnesota wilderness. That fact in itself was the inspiration for this article. We decided to travel by snowmobile more than 10 miles into the bush to see what this was all about and chronicle the story.
What I found was so much more than that.
Keeping an old family tradition alive, neighbors that
relied on each other, valuing hard work and living the life that our grandfathers had enjoyed, all welcomed us the moment we climbed off our sleds. Suddenly surrounded by a vast forest, abundant wildlife and fish-filled lakes, we also realized how rare this type of situation is nowadays. Is it rare because so much prime habitat is getting plowed up? Sure. Is it rare because of the large amount of land leases and the high cost of purchasing property? Probably. But itâ€™s also so rare because of the hard work involved in creating and maintaining it. The hard work that our ancestors considered everyday life that people today usually pass on because it requires a little elbow grease.
The type of life from our past that could help us so much
in the future; the more things change, the more they should stay the same.
How has winter affected the pheasant habitat in the region? MINNESOTA - Winter weather has been quite different for
can be very unpredictable regarding weather with early spring
the southern and northern areas of Minnesota’s pheasant range,
snow storms being very detrimental to breeding pheasants,” Kohn
according to Nicole Davros, Upland Game Project Leader with
said, “We always like to see an early warm spring.” North Dakota
the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “Although the
upland hunters and conservationists would also like to see the
southern half of the range has seen some snow on the ground
pendulum swing in habitat’s direction. The new CRP signup is a
since January and a few days of extreme cold, fields have opened
start, and North Dakota also received an additional 30,000 acres
up at times and birds have been able to forage for food. On the
to enroll in as CRP State Acres For wildlife Enhancement (SAFE)
other hand, pheasants in the northern half of the range have had
projects. Until now, these programs had been fully subscribed.
a tougher time. Consistent snow since
SOUTH DAKOTA - Winter pheas-
December and January in many areas
ant cover is at a premium in the Dako-
and strong winds have led to some
tas, but Travis Runia, Senior Upland
cattail basins being filled, and birds
Game Biologist with the South Dakota
have headed to woody cover for night
Department of Game, Fish and Parks,
roosting. Recent ice storms have also
says winter conditions this year haven’t
forced birds to the roadsides in search
been severe enough to cause substantial
of food and grit.” Pheasants are also
losses to the ringneck population, except
searching for better habitat trends in
in the northeast corner of the state.
Minnesota. “Long-term habitat trends
“Periods of thawing winter temperatures
in Minnesota’s pheasant range continue
have minimized snow pack accumu-
to decline, primarily as a result of agri-
lation, except in northeastern South
cultural intensification and sprawl. “The
Dakota,” Runia said, “So far, March
loss of CRP (the Conservation Reserve
has been cold with measurable snow
Program) is expected to continue with
and freezing rain events over much of
more than 620,000 acres in Minnesota
the primary pheasant range.” Even in
scheduled to expire in the next three
that northeast corner, Runia points out
years. Competing economic opportunities (e.g., high commod-
conditions are far less severe this year than the extremely harsh
ity prices and land rental rates, ethanol production) continue to
winters of 1996-1997 and 2010-2011, when pheasant abundance
threaten the future of farmland conservation programs.” Davros
declined by 50 percent. While the winter has been mild, the habi-
tat loss in “The Pheasant Capital” has not. “For the first time since NORTH DAKOTA – Much of North Dakota’s prime pheas-
the late 1980’s, less than 1 million acres of CRP grassland will be
ant range (south-central and southwest) has not been affected by
available to nesting pheasants this spring,” Runia says, “Acreage of
winter, with snow covering just a few inches across landscape,
this premier nesting habitat has declined by 33 percent since 2007
according to Stan Kohn, Upland Game Management Supervisor
when pheasant populations were at 20-year highs.” Following one
with the North Dakota Game & Fish Department. Kohn says the
of the most severe droughts in recent memory, Runia says April
remainder of the state however, has received appreciable amounts
rains would be welcomed to help encourage the growth of cool-
of snow (snow depth 12”-plus). “Much of this area is devoid of
season grasses, the preferred nesting cover of pheasants.
good winter cover so it may have some negative effect on the
IOWA – Coming off the first pheasant population increase in
population going into spring.” And spring could still be a long
seven years, Iowa pheasant hunters would love nothing more than
ways off for this northern state. “March and the first part of April
to see that trend continue. It’s been an average winter, according
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
to Todd Bogenschutz, Upland Wildlife Research Biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Looking at historical trends, Bogenshutz says if the coming spring is on the dry side, his statewide prediction is counts will increase, and if spring rains are normal or wetter than normal, he expects counts wouldn’t increase. Northeast, central and south-central Iowa have had the most snow this winter, and unfortunately these are areas where habitat conditions are the worst. Iowa is the recipient of a new pheasant CRP SAFE initiative, to the tune of 50,000 acres, and Bogenshutz says he hopes that signup can begin in April. KANSAS – Two years of extreme drought have put Kansas at record lows, with very little pheasant production the last two breeding seasons, reports Dave Dahlgren, Small Game Specialist with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. The 2012-2013 winter was very mild up until late February, when most of Kansas experienced extreme winter storms. “The extreme weather events could have slightly reduced pheasant populations, especially with degradation of habitat due to drought,” Dahlgren said, “However, pheasants can withstand these storms relatively easily when they are not frequent and snow does not stay on the
Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever’s Online
landscape for multiple weeks in a row.” On the upland habitat
Editor. Email Anthony at
front, Dahlgren reports his department, along with Pheasants
AHauck@pheasantsforever.org and follow him
Forever and other partners, are working on a pheasant initiative that includes focus areas in north-central and north-west Kansas.
on Twitter @AnthonyHauckPF.
Below: A western Minnesota longtail finds a fitting place for a photograph. by Bret Amundson
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
Photo essay: As winter releases her icy grip, the creatures of the north begin to stir.
photo by Ben Brettingen
“For the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers are springing up and the time of the singing birds has come. Yes, spring is here.” Song of Solomon 2:11 - 12 Hooded Merganser’s first flight by Michael Furtman 32
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
Bounding Bambi by Mike Lentz
Swan Pond by Bret Amundson
Spring is nature’s way of saying,
“Let’s party!” -Robin Williams
Sharp-dressed Sharptail by Mike Lentz
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade. - Charles Dickens
Common Goldeneye Courtship by Michael Furtman
LUNCH! by Bret Amundson
Spring Struttin’ by Tyler Scott
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
He’ll live to fight another day! Smallmouth Photo by Ben Brettingen
Spring strutter! Photo by Ultimate Outdoor Adventures
he sharp “GOBBLE” pierced the eveing air, causing me to nearly jump right out of my camouflage boots. The rotund turkey had crept up from behind the makeshift blind that was concealing my location, and was now strutting just 30 yards away. Just five minutes into my first spring turkey hunt and I was frozen solid, searching for a way to get into position without getting busted. I think I’m going to like chasing toms in April.
“5 minutes into my first spring turkey hunt and I was frozen solid...” Photo by Mike Lentz
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
I never was a big turkey hunter-no one in my family was, so I suppose that’s why I never took it up. We were primarily waterfowl and whitetail hunters. I can still remember the first turkeys
truck with the windows down, preferably during rush hour in the busiest part of town. Once the season finally arrived, I borrowed a hen decoy
I saw in the field, around 20 years ago as the population was just
and headed out in search of my first gobbler. I really had no idea
starting to expand into our area. We saw 4 black dots on the other
what to expect as I’d never done this or been part of a turkey hunt
side of an alfalfa field and originally thought they might be bears.
before. I only knew what I’d seen on those TV shows that I finally
(The prevalence of black bear in the area has you seeing bears any
came around to watching. I asked the landowner where the tur-
time there is a dark spot near the woods.)
keys had been spotted the most, and a clearing next to a wooded
The next day I had a turkey
ravine was chosen as my starting
land in the same tree as my deer
stand; that was the beginning of
As I set out with bow in one
many sightings in those woods.
hand, decoy in the other, I caught
As the years went by, more and
a glimpse of movement across the
more turkeys began popping
field. We’ve got ourselves a strutter!
up all over the area, but we still
I wasn’t even to the field yet, and my
never hunted them.
heart was racing. I crouched down
I was starting to watch
and crawled up to the edge. I hoped
more outdoor television, and I
a small group of trees would be
was getting frustrated with all
enough to conceal my appearance,
the shows featuring the feath-
yet give me space enough to shoot
ered bowling balls. I wanted to
a bow through. I didn’t have much
watch duck shows. I was a waterfowl guy at heart, and I wanted
time to prepare the area, and I didn’t own a ground blind.
that adrenaline rush of cupped mallards dropping into a spread. I
As I approached, this puffed out bird disappeared into the
would scoff when a guy would lean against a tree and break out a
woods, giving me a chance to set up the decoy. I ducked back
little cigar box and start scraping the lid back and forth. Then one
behind cover, nocked an arrow, placed the mouth call between
day, I gave it a shot. I sat through one show, then another and
my tongue and teeth, and began trying to sweet talk that turkey
another, before I realized, “Hey, this gives me something to hunt
across the field.
in April and May.” Maybe there’s something to this spring turkey deal after all.
I crouched low, put my hand over one side of my mouth like I’d seen on TV and started a slow, methodical yelp pattern. Then I
That winter I rode a bus to Ballard’s Resort on Lake of the
sat in silence for a few minutes waiting to hear a response.
Woods for some winter ice fishing. I’ve hosted a number of trips
like this as part of various radio jobs I’d held in the past. After
A second batch of yelps followed with more waiting…still
striking up a conversation with one of the riders, talk turned to
turkey. More specifically, we spoke about his property and the
A few more minutes passed by without any sight or sound of
large amount of resident toms that he was inadvertently feeding.
the tom that I’d seen across the field. I figured one more batch of
I quickly volunteered my services for that spring season, and the
yelps and then I’d try to move to the position I originally wanted
next thing I knew I was applying for a tag.
to be in.
I was successful in getting that tag, and since I’d been com-
Cautiously I proceeded to yelp some more. Then at about 8
pletely hooked by hunting with a bow now, that’s how I wanted to
o’clock (by position, not time) a tom almost gobbled me right up a
seal the deal. I bought a 4-dollar mouth call and practiced for a
tree. I’m not sure if I actually jumped, but it sure felt like I just hit
few months, drawing some funny looks. I liked to practice in my
the end of a bungee cord 6 inches from the water.
“I’m not sure if I actually jumped, but it sure felt like I just hit the end of a bungee cord 6 inches from the water.” I slowly cocked my head to look back behind me and sure enough, this big ol’ longbeard was working his magic about 30 yards away. While within bow range, I hadn’t anticipated a turkey coming from that direction. There was no way I could shoot my bow through the brush from where I was sitting. That was problem number one. Problem number two was the fence that he wouldn’t cross. I could hear the blood pulsating through my veins as I wondered if he’d make the jump and come into my shooting lanes. I sat there helpless as he did his best to coax my hen decoy over to his side of the fence, in full on strut mode back and forth along the barbed wire. Once he realized she was playing hard to get, he lost interest and headed back to the area he came from. While it would have been a sure thing with a shotgun, it turned out to be just another close call with the bow. It was successful however in getting me back out for many more days that season. It took a while, but I did finally bag that bird-or one of his friends anyway…and since it was the on my last day, I employed my trusty twelve gauge. This year I’ll work hard again to try to stick a bird, paying closer attention to all directions. I just drew my tag, and I’m starting to get funny looks around town again.
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
DAKOTA REPORT-ND TAYLOR MICHELS
f I could just choose one of my favorite events each spring, it would be springtime fishing. More specifically, shore fishing for walleyes on the lower Missouri river system. The lower part of the Missouri stretches from south of the Garrison dam to south of the Bismarck/Mandan area where I live. Casting from the banks of the river the last few years has proven to be an easy yet productive way to catch lots of nice fish while having a great time enjoying warm weather with family and friends who have been cooped up all winter. Fishing the lower Missouri river system in the spring can provide some fantastic trophies for all who are willing to try. Even without a boat to get around on the water, itâ€™s not out of the question to expect good luck on the banks of the flowing river. With lots of public land access and simple fishing tactics, the lower Missouri has proven to be a source of wonderful walleye and northern pike fishing. There are many drive-in access points and a thorough look at the river maps, provided online by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, will show this. But if a more adventurous experience is in your nature, then you can expect at least a short walk in to get away from any other fishing pressure on a secluded slice of the river. Game and Fish has also provided a bundle of fishing piers along the river, these help you get away from the dense weed cover along the shore, which can quickly much up a fishing line. During the peak of the spring walleye spawn, which typically encompasses late April and early May, finding a place to wet a line on the Missouri river should be on the bucket list of anybody interested in some juicy walleye action. Since North Dakota has no slot limits and a continuous fishing season, the large spawning females are a target for all fishermen and women during peak spawning time in the spring. While most of the fishing population in the Midwest might agree that spring time anglers take out far too many large spawning fish, research within the state has shown that such regulations have had no effect on fish populations. This allows for the decision to keep a large spawning female walleye up to the angler that catches such a fish. It certainly does not take a tackle box full of fancy lures and presentations to land nice walleyes from the banks of this river. The most popular presentation used in this area has to be a variation of the lindy rig: a sliding weight about 1 â€“ 1.5oz above a barrel swivel with a comfortable 2-3ft leader and a reasonable sized hook to be tipped with a fathead minnow, leech, or night crawler. After the bait of choice is successfully applied to the hook cast into the river, the current will pull your line along the bottom until the weight settles into a spot where it will anchor your bait until Mr. Walleye arrives to eat it. If you find yourself fishing less current and deeper pools of water, it is also popular for people to cast jigs into the deeper water and retrieve them slowly, hoping a walleye will snatch it off the bottom. And if your patience is at stake and you need to have fast action, you can cast a shallow diving crankbait. This will allow you to make more casts, and it will keep you
busy longer. I personally have had luck with all three of these types of presentations while fishing the Missouri, catching a bevy of nice walleyes and some pretty good pike mixed in as well. I guess the big takeaway here is that as long as there are fish in your area, catch them the way you want-that will make your experience that much more enjoyable. So as soon as the temperatures are bearable and the prairie roads are accessible you will find good company on the lower Missouri river in search of the mighty walleye. With all kinds of access available, the Missouri river can be a peaceful outing for a family while other areas can challenge the skills of even the most seasoned walleye fisherman or woman. I plan to make regular trips to various spots along the shoreline of the lower Missouri this year, same as I have in the past, and I look forward to good luck and good company. While a small tackle box will suffice, I use the added space in the pickup for a heavily packed cooler for everyone to enjoy while we wait for our rod tips to start galloping down the shore. As always remember to double check the laws and regulations before going in the field to prevent any problems that may spoil what is sure to be a great day of fun in the sun.
You deserve a ridiculously good golf course! www.medora.com 1-800-MEDORA-1
The Good, the Bad and the Muddy: Spring snow goose hunting
d been hunting snow geese in the spring for the last few years in North Dakota but hadn’t gone south trying to meet the migration head on. A number of friends had traveled to Missouri, Nebraska, and South Dakota to watch one of nature’s most spectacular events, so I was feeling the peer pressure. Chuck Ellingson, Tony Crotty and I decided to pack up and head out. The fall migration is familiar to most and many people take part by default as it happens within most fall hunting seasons. The spring migration is similar in that the birds are flocked up and traveling for miles, but there are a number of differences. The biggest being the fact that you can’t hunt them on their way back up. That fact alone keeps many waterfowling fanatics at work while the spring migration fills the prairie skies and flooded grain fields. There is one exception to that rule and that’s the spring conservation season on snow geese. This season is designed to help lower the population heading back up to the tundra where
The author’s yellow lab “Mika” brings back a snow goose on a trip to South Dakota earlier this year. Photos by Bret Amundson
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
they are literally eating themselves out of house and home. The amount of snow geese (and blue and Ross’s goose) has been growing too quickly and their voracious feeding is destroying the landscape that they thrive in. This also presents a golden opportunity for the anxious waterfowler: a chance to set up the layout blinds in the spring and try to trick one of the wariest birds into range. Two things come to mind when taking part in the spring snow goose hunt: 1) There is no other species of huntable waterfowl that will spin flocks of thousands above your spread. 2) There is no other species of huntable waterfowl that can frustrate you more. The spring snow goose conservation season is not for the faint of heart. In fact, Chuck mentioned a number of times that he may never do it again. Decoy spreads can range from a few hundred to a few thousand. Have you ever set up over a thousand decoys to hunt waterfowl? Not many have- at least not a
second time. To successfully hunt snow geese in the spring there are a number of factors to consider: You will spend a lot of time behind the wheel. Depending on where you live, you’ll need to go where the birds are. Gas isn’t cheap and most hunters haul a trailer everywhere they go. Add in food and lodging, and this trip just took a day off your spring break vacation. You also need a big spread of decoys. Windsock-type decoys have become very popular and there are a number of them on the market. But you need a lot and they’re not cheap. Motor-powered rotary type decoys, like “THE FLOCKER”, a new product from the guys who brought you “Reel Wings”, aren’t cheap either. But they add the much-needed motion to your spread. They work, but now you’ll also be hauling a 12volt battery out into the field. If you’re lucky, that field is dry enough to drive on. If you’re lucky, the farmer gave you permission to drive on it. Don’t leave ruts; that will keep the next guy from getting permission. Oh, that also brings up the fact that you’ll need to find that field full of geese, locate the owner, and secure permission-ALL before the next hunter comes along. If you’re not lucky to be able to drive the truck and trailer out, an ATV can be utilized- just another item on the list that you’re hiding from your significant other. You remember the mud I mentioned, right? Well, you’ll be Chuck Ellingson’s 9 year old Lab “Morgan”, poses with her prize. laying in it for hours. I’d like to take this moment to apologize too mention the chance to see all of God’s geese and ducks comto the person responsible for cleaning the shower at the hotel we ing back at once. In the fall, the migration is slow, with different stayed at. species moving at different times. In the spring, they all come at Snow goose hunting the spring can be cold, wet and muddy. once. It’s like leaving the Metrodome after a Vikings game, the It can cost you a lot of money and a lot of time. But it can also be doors open and it’s every man for themselves! one of those spectacles that most people never get the chance to It’s not for everyone, but if you put in the time and hard experience. I have seen over 100,000 snow geese in one day, and work, you can have the shoot of a lifetime. I wasn’t even hunting. That was something that any waterfowler should check out. There is one more thing about snow goose hunting- you’re not always guaranteed to come home with a truck full of birds. But since there is no limit on how many you can shoot, the triple digit benchmark has been established. No other way can you realistically, legally harvest over 100 birds in one day, unless you’re ankle deep in the mud, eyes glued to the horizon searching for snows during the spring season. That brings guys out year after year, even if some days end with sun/windburn from staring into a bluebird sky, void of any of the snow-white waterfowl that entices and frustrates. Most hunts I’ve been on have averaged 10 – 30 birds and those are fun hunts. I’ve also come home empty handed, not an ideal situation after hours of sweat equity. But the chance to knock down over 100 will keep me coming back for more, not
CHEF’S CORNER Whiskey-glazed turkey breast
INGREDIENTS • 6 tablespoons of butter • 1 turkey breast, skin on brined • Salt and pepper • 8 to 10 strips of bacon, or equivalent in lard (for breasts without skin only) • 1 cup turkey stock • 3 tablespoons honey • 6 tablespoons whiskey • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
BY Georgia Pellegrini Turkey feathers are quite easy to pluck as long as you do just a few at a time so the skin doesn’t tear. It is better to leave the skin on, because attempting to remove it while the feathers are still on can result in a feathery mess. If you don’t have skin on your turkey breast, simply layer it with bacon or lard before cooking. It is essential that you brine the breast meat before cooking it. I have a friend who uses a brine of simple filtered water from the sea, which has ample salt, then after 24 hours, switches to a bath of unsalted purified water. Or if you’re not feeling quite as adventurous, you can use a homemade brine.
This recipe is taken from Georgia’s book: “Girl Hunter; Revolutionizing the way we eat, one hunt at a time” Available wherever books are sold. www.GeorgiaPellegrini.com
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
1. Preheat the oven to 325F. In an ovenproof skillet or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until it begins to bubble. Sprinkle the skin of the brined turkey breast with salt and pepper. If the breast is without skin, wrap it with bacon or lard and fasten with toothpicks or kitchen twine as needed. Place the breast skin side down in the butter, sprinkle the underside with salt and pepper, and let the skin brown for about 5 minutes. Turn it over and add the stock. Cover with foil or a lid and transfer to the oven. 2. In a separate skillet, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Whisk in the honey until well incorporated. Add the whiskey along with the orange zest and juice and cayenne and whisk together. Turn the heat to low and let the glaze reduce by half. Turn off the heat and set aside. 3. Once the turkey has cooked for 10 minutes, brush with the remaining glaze, leave uncovered, and increase the temperature to 400F. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until the internal temperature reads 140 - 150F. 4. Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil for 10 minutes before slicing, and serving. Also try: upland game birds
IN THE COMMUNITY
Fish Hook lake
The 2013 Minnesota Governor’s Fishing opener is coming
May 9 – May 12 in the Park Rapids area. After being part of the Governor’s Pheasant Opener in Marshall last fall, MNSJ is looking
2013 MN Governors Fishing Opener
forward to hitting the open water to chase walleyes. Of course these events are more than just fishing. It’s a chance to talk conservation, rub elbows with politicians in charge of legislating that conservation and see the sights and sounds of the area. It’s been happening since 1948, and if you’d like to know more about what’s going on this year, visit www.mngovernorsopener.com. FOR THE PUBLIC: There is a Community Picnic Event that Governor Dayton will be attending, Friday May 10th at 3:30pm. This is a fun-filled event including a free meal, activities and entertainment. Everyone is welcome, and it will be held in downtown Park Rapids. Of course you’re welcome to fish any of the area lakes as well during the opener. Ben Brettingen and I plan on hitting the water and taking advantage of an opportunity to get out and rip some lips! If your community would like to hold the event contact Carol Altepeter, Event Coordinator, at 218-828-2334 or 888-6296466. Email: email@example.com
Escape to crystal clear Minnesota lakes, majestic pines, miles of trails for biking, hiking and exploring. Destination attractions, fun events, festivals, charming shopping and exceptional lodging options. Get started on your next family tradition today! 800-247-0054 | ParkRapids.com
We caught up with the investment banker turned girl hunter at pheasant fest MNSJ: We are at Pheasant Fest at the Minneapolis Convention Center; is this your first trip to Minnesota? GP: It is; it’s great to be here. It’s a cold, cold place right now, but I’m so happy to be here.
with honey bees and chickens, so I was pretty good at rolling up my sleeves and getting my hands dirty. But I didn’t start hunting until I became a chef. I was cooking at restaurants in New York and France and one of the restaurants I was working at charged
MNSJ: Give us a little history, where are you from?
me with the task of killing a turkey for the restaurant. That was
GP: I am originally from upstate New York; I grew up in the
my watershed moment, when I realized that I actually wanted to
Hudson Valley, on the same land that my great-grandfather grew
participate in the full process, that I wanted to do it from begin-
ning to end. I was already skinning, butchering and fileting, but
MNSJ: So you’re no stranger to cold weather then?
I really wanted to start from the very beginning. I started to hunt
GP: It’s true, but I’ve been spending a lot of time in Austin,
and that journey ultimately became a book, which is called “Girl
Texas lately, so I think I’ve gotten a little soft. MNSJ: You didn’t grow up hunting. Tell us about the transition of how you got into wild game cooking. GP: I grew up fishing trout for breakfast…and I grew up
Hunter”. It’s about my journeys over field and stream in search of the main course, and of course the recipes at the end is the most important thing, eating what you worked so hard to bring to the dinner table.
Georgia, Mika and Bret photo by Wade Amundson
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GEORGIA’S WORK, CHECK OUT:
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
MNSJ: Let’s back up a minute; how many people can say
that you had to write this book? Did the idea come first? Or after
they were a chef in New York and France, and then talk about
a few of these experiences, did you think “this would make a good
skinning an animal in the next sentence?
GP: (laughs) I think it’s the shock value that gets most
GP: I just started doing some of these things and it seemed
people’s attention. I obviously don’t seem to fit the typical profile
to catch on. I’m keeping my website up, chronicling my adven-
of the American hunter, but I think that’s a good thing and that’s
tures around the world and around the country and it seems to re-
what will ultimately invite new types of people into the fold and
ally tap into something with people. More and more people want
that will help hunting. The more women that didn’t start out
to get in touch with their ingredients. They want to understand
hunting, or women that are curious and want to spend more time
that food doesn’t just come from a grocery aisle in the meat sec-
doing things that their ancestors did, hopefully we can invite them
tion, wrapped in Styrofoam and boneless and skinless, with no
into the fold and give them an accessible entry point.
sign that it was a living thing. People care more now about being
MNSJ: I was reading about “Bourbon Berries” on your website, with the caption “it was the right way to start the day”?
conscious eaters and going to the source. Maybe it’s not hunting, maybe its just going to the farm and buying a share in an animal
GP: That was from a “Girl Hunter weekend” that I recently
and partaking in the slaughter. It’s a wonderful thing because it
had. I do these weekends to give those women I was just talk-
will make us better stewards of the land, better human beings, and
ing about, giving them an accessible entry point. It’s this sort of
healthier eaters. The more I wrote about it, the more people could
“girl power” weekend, where women get together and eat those
relate to that and because I’m not the typical hunter, because I
bourbon-soaked berries and hunt, fly fish and cook. It’s been a
come to it later in life, suddenly it feels more accessible to them as
really special experience. I host them two times a year, and it
happened sort of by accident, but I think it’s a great thing to bring
MNSJ: What’s the wildest outing you’ve been on?
women together, to support each other, to learn outdoor skills and
GP: (laughs) I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about those
realize that we’re different than men in the field and that’s a good
publicly! I’ve had some amazing experiences; hunting for me has
thing. We learn from each other and support each other.
always been about the people that you’re with. I’ve had some
MNSJ: How did it happen by “accident”?
wonderful experiences and some not so wonderful experiences,
GP: I was doing a book tour for my book “Girl Hunter”
but what it’s taught me each time, is what kind of hunter and
and I invited a bunch of food writers out for a weekend, and it
what kind of human being I want to be in this world. I think it’s
wasn’t called a “Girl Hunter” weekend yet, it was just an idea that
important to challenge yourself as a hunter each day, because you
all these writers would have a weekend of adventure, of mak-
are partaking in the cycle of life and you need do it consciously
ing s’mores, cooking, hunting, clay shooting, fishing and cook-
ing. It got a lot of press and I got so many emails, my inbox was
MNSJ: You’re speaking here at Pheasant Fest, what are we
flooded and all these women were sharing their stories with me
going to hear?
and sharing their desire for this feeling of empowerment to the
GP: How I think the face of hunting is changing and how
point where they would feel comfortable going out. They didn’t
we can embrace that. I’ll also be doing some cooking and talking
necessarily feel comfortable going out with their husbands or
about wild game and how I think it’s important to treat wild game
boyfriends, but they were hoping they could do it with me. I de-
differently than you would treat meat from the store. I’m a big
cided to do this science experiment and see what it would be like
proponent of aging meat and my book has a whole chart on aging,
if I planned more weekends. I just feel blessed every time I get
with what temperature to do it at. And all kinds of brines and
to go on these experiences with them and have these experiences
marinades and recipes. I’ve been doing a great recipe for stuffed
with them for the very first time. The first time they’ve hunted
pheasant breast which I think is on the Pheasants Forever website.
and to be able to relive that, each time with them is really special
MNSJ: What’s next?
for me, and in my opinion that’s the future of hunting. The more
GP: I just finished my 3rd book. It will be coming out next
we invite these kinds of women in, the more likely their kids will want to do it. MNSJ: Let’s talk about the book, “Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the way he eat, one hunt at a time”. When did you realize
year at this time and it’s called “The Fearless Girl’s Guide”. It’s a whole lifestyle guide which teaches women everything from pioneer skills to lifestyle skills. How to change a tire, how to use a compass or how to make red wine popsicles out of old wine,
or how to make your own bacon, you know, kind of a fun way-
U.S. It’s the only native pig-like animal in the U.S.; the rest are
MNSJ: Wait, did you say how to make your own bacon?
imports. It looks like a small pig, but people in Arizona and
GP: (laughs) Absolutely! I think bacon is the great unifier.
Texas call it a “desert rat”. It has a naturally smokey or mesquite
I think even vegetarians love bacon! MNSJ: We should mention that you are more than just a chef, this is all stuff we can find on your website right? GP: My website is chock full of how-to’s and recipes. I also
flavor, but I made it taste good and they didn’t think I’d be able to. I also love squirrel and a lot of people in Kentucky and other parts of the country love squirrel, but if you go to New York City, they’d be horrified to hear that. They think they are “tree
have a Facebook page that I use as a resource for people. Every
rats”, so people don’t look at me and think that I eat squirrel, but
Friday I do a Q and A where people can ask me cooking ques-
I think it’s one of the best meats in the woods.
tions, and I answer them in real time. MNSJ: What would you like to hunt that you haven’t? GP: There’s nothing I won’t try as long as it’s edible. I’ve convinced a lot of people that things were edible that they didn’t
MNSJ: I want to see you serve squirrel in a high-end New York restaurant! GP: (laughs) I’ve converted some people! It’s my mission! You can find more at www.GeorgiaPellegrini.com and
think were edible. For me, it’s about the adventure, I’d love to
get her book “Girl Hunter” wherever books are sold. Thanks
hunt big game in Alaska. I’d love to hunt in Germany, I’d love
to hunt in Italy. I’ve had some great experiences in England. I
think some more experiences abroad would be a fun way to extend my horizons. MNSJ: What have you eaten that you had to think twice about? GP: I’ve never had to think twice, but I had somebody tell me that javelina wasn’t edible, which is a native peccary in the
photo by Ultimate Outdoor Adventures
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
Sometimes Simple Times with Your Grandfather are the Times You Will Never Forget. “I just can’t get it Grampa,” I said leaning my hands slightly
in one hand and the hook in the other. Like he’d done a million
to the right to catch the correct angle of the glistening sun. With
times before, he aimed the line toward the eye and through it
my tongue stuck out and clenched in my teeth, I strained with the
went. This time, however, he took his time, calmly explaining
hook about three inches from my face, awkwardly trying to push
each and every step.
the fishing line through the eye hole.
I tried my best to concentrate, but you know the attention
“Keep trying,” my grandfather said from his lawn chair
span of inattentive youth. I wanted to touch some scales in the
next to me at the end of the dock. “Never give up, boy. That’s our
worst way but always tried to learn as much from my grandpa as I
could when I had the chance.
I tried and tried. Grandpa reeled in a bluegill, and then
“Take the line like this boy . . . twist it here . . . switch hands .
another . . . and then another. I wasn’t sure if he was teaching me
. . wrap it around . . . and tie in a knot,” he said, as if it was so obvi-
some lesson in patience, as he often taught lessons, but I couldn’t
ous. “This is our secret knot, only tied for those special occasions
take it anymore.
. . . when we are going for the big fish.”
I finally said, “Ahhhhh Phooey, Gramps. You’re gonna catch all the fish if I don’t get my line in the water!” I reached my little
“You got it, don’t you, boy?” He asked. “Oh, yeah, Gramps, no prob’” I replied, knowing I just
fifth-grade hands out to him with an untied J-hook.
wanted to get a crawler on the hook as fast as possible. If I played
“I will give you a quick lesson,” he replied. “I will tie one for you, but you remember how, and you do the next one yourself.” “Alright, Gramps, thanks.” I wanted to catch a fish so bad.
my cards right and didn’t horse the fish to the dock, I knew I could use this hook all afternoon with no problem. He had tied this for me before - It worked.
With his eye glasses perched just right and peering through the bottom bifocal, he bent toward me with the line finger pinched
“You gotta use this knot, boy . . . I don’t want to see you tying no granny knots . . . not with me!”
“...tying the knot’ can lead to a lifetime of special adventures.” photo by Ben Brettingen
photo by Ben Brettingen
“I know Gramps . . . I know.” I finally cast my line into the water.
certain place, with a certain person and for a certain reason. ***
“Speaking of Granny,” I replied changing the subject to take
Just then, my bobber went down, not with a gentle “bob-
off the pressure; “I don’t supposed she’s making pie for us?” With a
bob-bob” under the water’s surface like a bluegill does – but a
grumbling tummy, fresh pie sounded so good.
ferocious drop to the bottom of the lake that sniffed of pesky
“In due time, boy . . . in due time . . . we have fish to catch first,” He said, and I didn’t object. My pie comment triggered some light in Grampa’s mind.
northern pike to me.
With youthful pizzazz and exuberance, I couldn’t help
but set the hook, hard, into the mouth of the feeding fish. My
“Let me tell you a little story about when I met your grandma,” he
rod bent in half, it seemed, and one run by the “pike-esque” fish
went on. He always liked to wax philosophical with me and tell
snapped the line in a heartbeat. I never did see what it was, but I
stories of days gone by. I tried to multitask, listen and fish, as best
think I knew.
For some reason, he really got into this story, and it went on . . . and on . . . and on. I think I caught a dozen sunfish, at least,
“Oh, coconuts,” I said with a sheepish grin and glad I
didn’t use any expletives I’d been learning at school.
I slowly reeled in my loose line with no hook on the end.
by the time he finished. The story started with pulling up to her
I thought to myself, “Here we go again with another of Gramps’
house in the old car – to how he was so debonair that time at
lessons.” With every knot tied, I banked a pearl of wisdom in my
the dance – to that special moment of the first kiss - to being so
brain . . . and didn’t mind one bit.
nervous while meeting her folks for the first time – to the mean-
“Would you mind tying me another knot, Gramps?” He
ing of true love – to popping the question – and on . . . and on . . .
could see the fishing desire on my face and the need for another
and on . . .
My youthful mind was overwhelmed, honestly, however one
“No problem, Bud . . . no problem . . . let’s keep fishing.”
thing he said, I will never forget. “It’s just like fishing boy . . . if you put your heart and soul
into it . . . ‘tying the knot’ can lead to a lifetime of special advenMatt Soberg is the editor of the Ruffed Grouse Society maga-
tures.” I was too young to catch my grandpa’s clever pun that day, but today, I remember it clear as day. On the dock and on that day, I learned a great lesson from my grandfather, one of those special lessons that only happen at a
MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL
zine and splits his time missing birds, hooking trees and tying knots between Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
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Minnesota's Premier Hunting and Fishing Magazine. Filled with stunning photography and descriptive stories of outdoor adventures.