After seeing a huge flock, or flocks of turkeys feeding in a harvested corn field south of Hasty and off the west side of County Road 8, I’m beginning to think hunting pheasants is the wrong species. Two of the turkeys were feeding fairly close to the road when I stopped to take a photo (below), but they didn’t waste any time doing the turkey trot to put some distance between us. I tried to get a head count and came up with thirty that I could see, but there were more hidden off to the south by a small knoll in the field, so I’d guess the total number was at least fifty birds. The turkeys have been feeding in that field for several days and I suspect they will continue until all the corn is gone or the snow gets too deep. There’s a number of unharvested corn fields in Wright County which should be a boon to wildlife. Thanks, guys!
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Winter fishing on local lakes leaves a lot to be desired this year and I suspect the late freeze-up had something to do with it. I made a couple of trips to Rock Lake last week and visited with other anglers who weren’t having much success either. One fellow commented Rock was the third lake he’d tried that morning and didn’t have anything to show for his efforts. He had been to Little Cedar (nothing) and East Maple Lake (a few too-small crappies). I tried various depths north of the public access without any fish showing on the Vexillar and then took a hike across the lake and drilled lots of holes, but not finding any fish again. I tried bumping the bottom which sometimes works, and after nothing from 7 to 13 feet, I decided to take a break from drilling and concentrate on jigging. I was about to give up on that when the red started to move on the Vexillar indicating fish. I dropped my wax worm and when I moved it up a little a keeper sunfish hit it with authority.
Daryl Hennen and I made a late season pheasant hunt last Wednesday west of Morris and hunted in about six inches of soft snow. We saw a fair number of birds, roosters and hens, but getting close to a rooster was near impossible. The majority of those seen were either on private property or they headed to their safe havens when spooked. Consequently neither of us got any shooting, but on the plus side, seeing that many hens is a good indication that next spring’s brood numbers should be up. A lot depends upon the rest of the winter and the spring nesting season. On behalf of the pheasant population I’m in favor of an extended January thaw, even though the winter thus far has been unusually warm. Now it’s time for a thorough cleaning of the O/U until the trap shooting season comes around. My only New Year’s resolution is to participate on a regular basis in that sport and hope it will do me so good in next fall’s upland game seasons!
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On Nov. 29 the Maple Lake Library held their annual Barnes & Noble Book Fair. Proceeds from the fundraiser will go toward purchasing new books and audio books. The Maple Lake Library is a volunteer run non-profit.
Front Row: Margaret Jenniges, Mike Heffron, Della Ness, Marie Mavencamp and Katie Serrano. Back Row: Denise Blizil, Carol Northenscold, Jan Shovelain, Deb Geyen, Robin Aeshliman, Irene Abrams, Kath Heffron, Char Drenkhahn and Terry Mooney. (Photo submitted)
Back in the olden days publishers appreciated the Christmas holiday falling on one of the later days of the week (after Wednesday) because that meant the Messenger would be in the hands of most subscribers before the holiday, thanks to the Post Office. Friday, Dec. 25, is ideal because it gives businesses one last shot at advertising their Holiday-ware for those last-minute shoppers who have been procrastinating for the past year. And in some cases, the Friday holiday is the beginning of a three-day weekend for employees and employers. So, with that said, we wish each of our readers the Merriest of Christmases as we have in the past 45 years or so. This one has all the earmarks of being a brown Christmas (less than an inch of snow), which is unusual, but not unheard of. Brown holidays will make it nice for people travelling on the bottom half of Minnesota’s highways, but that’s not necessarily true up north where they have had some snow.
My thanks to Nick Pawlenty for pinch-hitting for me last week while I was admiring the country-side while hunting for pheasants in North Dakota. I think he should be a regular columnist. As for our late season pheasant hunt, Mike Muller, Daryl Hennen and I, could summarize by saying it wasn’t a good trip. But that would only be true if a person’s decision was based on the pheasant harvest which in our case was five pheasants and two sharptails. We were hunting south of Bismark on the west side of the river and stayed in the small town of Flasher at the Antelope Lodge and Recreation Center. Despite the attractive name, it wasn’t the Taj Mahal but more than adequate for the three of us and our three dogs and inexpensive at $20 a night per person.
To begin, Harold has the week off and has gone to do some late-winter hunting with Vanna this week, and to say the least I am very jealous, and hopefully, he bags a couple birds to brag about. I will start this off with a small introduction about myself. I started at the Maple Lake Messenger about eight months ago, which has been a great experience. I love the small town feel, and have been received with nothing but kindness. I have met a lot of people in town and they are truly wonderful. The community here seems very deeply rooted, and the traditions of Maple Lake run rampant around town. It is a deep breath of fresh air, and lacks the rush and clutter of big cities such as Minneapolis. This I enjoy the most.
The most unusual happened last Tuesday when I was doing a solo grouse hunt in the Sandstone area. I was headed for the St. Croix State Forest and as I entered the hamlet of Duxbury a rooster pheasant walked across the county road intersection as proud as can be. I figured it must be someone’s pet and left it undisturbed. It was a nice sunny day and the grouse should have been out and about. Vanna and I did see a couple and later in the afternoon we had one flush in the Nemadji State Forest which we got a glimpse of but didn’t react quick enough to shoot. There was snow on the trails we walked and there were grouse tracks which told us the birds had been on the trails sometime earlier. We stayed overnight in the Sturgeon Lake Motel, the only one we could find that accepted dogs. The motel owner said he had purchased the motel in late October and was eager to help us find some birds. He and others we talked with said the numbers are up, but so had been the ATV hunters.
I’m guessing most Midwest turtles are getting ready to go into hibernation for the winter now that we’ve had a sampling of snow (Nov. 19th). Ruth (Pribyl) Ternes, daughter of Louis and Fran Pribyl, commented about seeing turtles migrate from or into Mud Lake (Hwy. 55 East, Maple Lake) from Maple Lake back in the ‘60s and looking for information about them and if they still are crossing Hwy. 55 each fall or spring. She said the ones that caught her eye back in the ‘60s weren’t snapping turtles. We’re ruling out painted turtles and are guessing it could have been Blanding’s turtles because she remembers them as being fairly large. Another guess is they might have been rubber back turtles which are fairly large. So if any of our readers have noticed the migration of turtles across Hwy. 55, let us know what you’re seeing and we will pass on the information to Ruth.
Eleven-year-old, Ryker Pierson, Maple Lake, added a bit of new decor for his room when he took this 8-point buck on Nov. 13. He was hunting off the home property with a new shotgun (owned less than 48 hrs.) when he bagged the monster buck. His parents are Jason and Tonya Pierson, 7833 Endicott Ave. NW, Maple Lake.