Vanna and I gave grouse hunting our best effort on Saturday even though the few reports I had were not good. We started hunting north of Pillager in the Meadow-brook Wildlife Management Area we had hunted before. It looked good, but the only game bird we put in the air was a woodcock shortly after we got started. Our next stop was north of Staples in another WMA where we harvested the grouse shown with Vanna. We had one other opportunity, but never got a shot off. We didn’t hear much shooting which is a pretty good indication of the lack of birds. All in all it was a good day for hunting and Vanna got hot a few times, but didn’t point any birds. . . I convinced Daryl Hennen to go with George Palmer for an afternoon of sunfish angling last Wednesday. We found out they were still biting on Indian Lake and after about three hours we had 16 sunfish and one crappie in the live well. Hennen and Palmer each caught a couple of bass which were of the catch-and-release variety.
Sunday night’s blood moon was interesting to watch as it moved into earth’s shadow. I went outside about 8 p.m. and it had only started to lose some of its edge. An hour later there was just a sliver left and it was hidden behind some clouds, but would show itself periodically. The moon’s closeness to earth made this year’s eclipse more dramatic, but if you missed it there will be another one in about 15-16 years.
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George Palmer and I tried fishing in the strong south wind on Indian Lake last week Tuesday afternoon and the biggest problem we had was holding the boat on a spot we wanted to fish. We got out about 2:30 p.m. and fished the south shore when the wind gusts were just too strong on the west end of the lake. We caught sunnies there, but mostly small ones in the shallow water. About 4:30 the wind seemed to have gone down a little and we headed for the west end and anchored in about 15 feet of water. It took several more anchoring attempts to find some weeds to help keep us from blowing off the spot. The bite wasn’t fast, but we had 15 between us when we started discussing whether we wanted to fillet them or release them for another day. We both have fish in our freezers and releasing them won out! That wasn’t the first time we have released our catch, but it makes sense if you don’t really need them.
It was good to hear the pheasant population in Minnesota is up 33% statewide. The DNR had this to say about pheasants in Minnesota. “Favorable weather conditions led to a 33-percent increase in the number of Minnesota pheasants compared to last year at this time. However, the 2015 pheasant index is 39 percent below the 10-year average and 59 percent below the long-term average. Habitat loss continues to be the main factor in a long-term decline of the state’s pheasant population, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.” It takes programs like the Soil Bank from years past or the more recent Conservation Reserve Program to provide the habitat necessary to maintain good pheasant numbers in these days of intense farming. Hunters will find more birds this fall in the southwestern part of Minnesota according to the maps the DNR has available, but they won’t be all over. I guess that’s why it’s called hunting!
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With the Labor Day weekend behind us, it’s time to think seriously about getting organized for fall activities. For me that means giving Vanna a fall hairdo to keep pulling cockleburs to a minimum. Her flowing tail is a built-in trait for English Setters, and while it’s attractive, it seems like it is a magnet for attracting burs, and two-pronged stickers (preacher’s lice), thistles and most any kind of weed that likes to imbed itself and make a tangled mess of her tail. Sometimes getting the cockleburs out, either from hunting or a walk in the park, doesn’t get done right away. When that happens she takes matters into her own hands (more likely her mouth) and pulls them out with her teeth. She’s not too fussy about where she spits them out and about this time of the year the seeds have sprouted from last fall and they have begun to grow in the lawn.
The Gear-Head committee completed a wrap-up of this year’s Gear-Head Get Together and we are overwhelmed with the support we received. The sponsors, the Chamber, the food vendors, the cooperation of the EAA folks at the Airport Fly-In and their activities, the city crew, the volunteers from the Diamonds and Dreams group, our volunteers and all the participants and spectators that enjoyed the day are so appreciated. It is great fun planning this event when you have this level of support from the area. See you next year on August 20, 2016.
Gear-Head Get Together Committee
I finally got out on Maple Lake one morning last week and, while I didn’t bring any fish home for supper, I found out there was plenty of activity. I was trolling with a nighty in 17-20 feet of water and would catch sunfish, and crappies. Some would have been keepers, but only one 11 inch crappie met my self imposed 8 inch minimum. The fishing grapevine told me walleye anglers may want to consider Cedar Lake. That might be my next early morning outing considering we’re supposed to have some 90 degree days this week.
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Granddaughters and Daughter were in Wisconsin. We decided to go there to see them and to get away from the hustle and bustle of retirement for a few days. We are aged and decrepit, so we thought leaving early would be wise. Also, it would be an event to remember, like Wife's ascent on a rocket launching tower or my day on a submarine. Dissimilar, but memorable nonetheless.
To add to the mystique, we chose to pick a motel at random, near the Dells. The clerk at one of the two motels we declined admitted the rooms were absurdly expensive and many people had declined. Finally we found one that was only moderately absurd, because an acquaintance had said a room in Manhattan would be four hundred clams.
It's quiet again here. Daughter and Granddaughter went to Wisconsin with a carload of stuff a college freshman would need. Before they left, they also filled up our SUV with more stuff a college freshman might need, after putting stuff a college freshman won't need in our garage. Then they came back for even more stuff and left a couple days later. We will deliver our stuff in a week or so just to make our back seat useful again.
Granddaughter went to China with a school group and returned just in time to take a driver's test. You can imagine how that went after flying on a plane for hours and hours and hours. Her learner's permit was still good, though, and on their return—without her purse by mistake—it paid off. A copy of the permit proved sufficient. The state keeps track of those things. Daughter is concerned with paying off college, too, and mentioned several times how important a job was going to be. But how many times does a kid get to go to China?
Never in my born days did I think I’d have something good to say about Bull Thistles. That’s because I was raised on a dairy farm that also had hogs and chickens and grain (oats, barley, and wheat) was part of their diets. This was before combines and farmers cut their small grain crops with a machine called a grain binder which cut the standing grain and tied it neatly in a bundle. One of my jobs during harvest was to stand one bundle against another with six or eight in a shock. If you wanted to get fancy you’d take a single bundle and place it lengthwise on the top of upright bundles. I only did this if it was a wheat crop. This was in the late forties and even though the crops were spot-sprayed to kill the weeds, it seems there were always some thistles on parts of the field. I got along pretty well with Canadian and sow-thistles, but those bull thistles didn’t show any mercy!