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There was a lot of color in the trees when the four of us, Daryl Hennen and Coco and Vanna and myself, headed north on Highway 10 toward ruffed grouse county Sunday morning. Of course that was after the sun provided enough light to give the landscape a brilliance that is part of Minnesota’s autumn season. We enjoyed a hearty breakfast at the Great Northern Cafe in Park Rapids and then headed further north to the Boot Lake area where we hoped to find some ruffed grouse. It’s an area that has held birds, but that was back when the cycle was in our favor. On Sunday we had a problem finding any grouse, but Hennen eventually heard one drumming which he pursued the second time it drummed. He and Coco’s nose found the log the grouse had been perching on while it was drumming and it flushed ahead of them as they were closing in. Daryl said he got a glimpse, but not enough time to shoot. Later that morning we had a timberdoodle flush and fly down the trail ahead of us. We both shot, but my effort was a split second later than Hennen’s and it’s safe to say he did the harvesting. We spent some time in the Two Inlets State on some great looking hunters’ walking trails, but we didn’t raise a grouse feather. From there we drove east toward the First Crow Wing Lake and started looking for a Hunters Walking Trail which we had discovered on our first trip to that area, but hadn’t hunted. In the process of looking, but never finding the gated trail, we came across two ruffed grouse while driving down a forest road. The first one scooted across the trail and apparently continued running in the brush. The dogs came across its scent, and Hennen heard the grouse flush. I didn’t hear a thing and I’m beginning to think I should get a pair of hunting hearing aids! They would be more secure than the type generally available for older guys like me who could lose them fighting the brush. Anyway, I was fortunate to harvest one grouse on the same trail which is my first for the year. For the day we flushed four grouse and three woodcock. We came across a flock of wood ducks while looking for grouse along a waterway and Hennen decided to switch to steel shot as he had a duck stamp. Naturally we didn’t see any more ducks accidentally or on purpose. We came across two flocks of turkeys along the roadside with about 8-10 birds in each group. They seem to be a bird that can handle the extremes of Minnesota’s climate. Other local grouse hunters, most of whom hunt further north-east than we do, have had some mixed success finding birds. One of the best hunts was by Mike Lauer and his son, Jordan, who harvested seven of the 15 they flushed and shot at. They were hoofing it and Mike figured they put in a lot of miles in the process. I didn’t get out for the pheasant opener on Saturday, but it’s on my agenda for later this month after the corn harvesting is winding down.
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In the fishing department George Palmer and I made an effort to find some sunfish last week Tuesday. That was one of the nicest days of last week, and while the fishing wasn’t the greatest we enjoyed the afternoon. Palmer caught most of the eight keeper fish caught. Palmer barely had his line in the water and he had a strike. He said right off it wasn’t sunfish and he played the two-pound bass which he subsequently released. We couldn’t seem to find a concentration of sunfish that day regardless of the type of bait, nighties or artificial, we were using. We each caught a hammer-handle Northern and Palmer lost a sunfish jig when one of his Northerns cut his line. Palmer was wondering if I was going to buy any of the new Viking Stadium’s licensed seats which have been a topic of interest for several weeks. My response was I’d go for the best available if he’d loan me the $10,000 or whatever it would take. I didn’t get a positive response!
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I used last Friday’s strong winds to give me an assist with the leaves in my back yard. The wind was from the south and by cutting the lawn the wind’s gusts blew the majority of the leaves into the Hwy. 55 ditch which is filled with cattails. It’s been a great fall for yard work and getting things buttoned up for winter. That’s not to say I’m ready for winter, but it’s something that comes every year and being prepared is half of the battle.
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