Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and joined the Herald staff in 1989. He worked as a copy editor in the features and news departments before becoming outdoors editor in 1998. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University.
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GRAND FORKS — During last year's North Dakota pheasant opener, Scott Lindgren of Grand Forks and his hunting partners headed west to hunt an area that produced easy, three-bird limits not that many years ago. "Typically, you'd walk in and make one walk, and you'd shoot your three birds," Lindgren said. Different story last year. "We jumped into one of those pieces on opening morning — we shot one and saw four," he said. "It went from hundreds (of pheasants) to a handful."
FORT FRANCES, Ont.—Spend enough time outdoors, and you're going to get bit by bad weather eventually; it's pretty much unavoidable. Such was the case this past week, when I joined two others on a three-day fishing trip to northwestern Ontario. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give the weather a 3 and only because I'm feeling generous. The conditions we endured came as no surprise. The weather forecast in the days leading up to our trip called for clouds, wind, rain and perhaps even snow. The only thing missing was sun.
GRAND FORKS — Several years ago, a friend and I crossed the border at Rainy River, Ont., for a few days of lake trout fishing and received pamphlets warning us of extreme fire danger and the burning restrictions that were in place for the province. We'd barely crossed the border, it seemed, when the skies opened up, and the rain started to fall. We spent at least one day inside the camper that was our temporary residence listening to torrential rain pounding the roof. Fishing in rain is one thing, but that was more than we cared to handle.
Following up on rumors goes with the territory in the news business. They might turn out to be much ado about nothing, but then again. ... Such was the case earlier this week, when I received an email from a reader in Devils Lake, N.D. Word was, the reader said, that four boats from Iowa were caught fishing Lake Alice National Wildlife Refuge—which is closed to summer fishing—and had 63 walleyes over their limit.
Gary Johnson was teaching math and business in 1968 in his hometown of Humboldt, Minn., when the school superintendent asked if he could help teach firearms safety. Fifty years later, Johnson still teaches firearms safety—and has no plans of stopping anytime soon. Teaching the course has been a good fit, he says. "I've been in a family that hunts ever since I was born," Johnson, 79, said Thursday. "I love the outdoors. I've been raised on a farm so it just kind of comes naturally." Plus, he said, "I still can outwalk most of my family" during deer season.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — As a muskie fisherman with a knack for inventing things, developing a muskie lure came naturally for Jeff Sprecher. It appears the Grand Forks inventor and entrepreneur has landed the tackle equivalent of a whopper with his Airheads—bucktail-type fishing lures with double spinner blades and soft plastic heads and tails—and Power Tail replacement components that also can be used on spoons and other lures.
It took nearly a year and a half, but an Underwood, Minn., man who paddled a giant pumpkin from Grand Forks to Oslo, Minn., in October 2016 officially is the World’s Greatest Pumpkin Paddler.
GRAND FORKS—The peregrine falcons nesting atop the University of North Dakota water tower appear to have at least one baby, observers say. Parents are Marv, the patriarch of Grand Forks peregrines since 2014, and an unbanded female that showed up this spring in place of Terminator, who had produced every peregrine chick since 2008 when she first nested in Grand Forks. Terminator didn't return to the nest box this year, so the speculation is she died.
BISMARCK—As Neal Leier remembers it, they had barely drifted away from the Fox Island Park boat ramp Friday morning for a day of walleye fishing on the Missouri River in Bismarck when his brother, Leon, noticed fish on the depth finder screen. Leier, of Bismarck, quickly grabbed a pole and tossed out a jig tipped with a plastic tail.
North Dakota doesn't have a resident gray wolf population, but the eastern half of the state falls within the boundaries of what's known as the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment, which includes gray wolves in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Fringe states that partially fall within the boundary are North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and far northern Illinois.