Brad Dokken is editor of the Herald's Northland Outdoors section and also works as a copy editor and page designer. 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. He also writes a blog called Compass Points. A Roseau, Minn., native, Dokken is a graduate of Bemidji State University.
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If you've never been to Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, here's the perfect excuse for a last-minute road trip. The Friends of Rydell and Glacial Ridge Refuges group is hosting an event marking Rydell's 25th anniversary from 1 to 4 p.m. today—Sunday, June 11—at the refuge, located at 17788 349th St. SE between Mentor and Erskine, Minn.. The refuge is about 55 miles southeast of Grand Forks, and getting there is as simple as heading east on U.S. Highway 2, turning south on Polk County Road 210 between Mentor and Erskine and following the signs to the refuge.
OAK HAMMOCK MARSH, Man. — The morning was absolutely miserable — cold, cloudy and windy — and banding birds or getting into the heart of the marsh by canoe wasn't going to be an option. "The wind is quite strong this morning," Jacques Bourgeois wrote in an email. "Can you postpone your visit to tomorrow?"
Muzzleloader hunters in Minnesota will be able to use magnifying scopes on their guns, blaze pink will be allowed for hunters in the field, and anglers and deer hunters will pay a few dollars more for their licenses beginning in 2018 under legislation Gov. Mark Dayton signed Tuesday.
BAUDETTE, Minn.—The land—and the critters that live there—was just waiting to be studied and explored. That's exactly what students at Lake of the Woods School have been doing in the school forest and pond near this school along state Highway 11 on the outskirts of Baudette. They're learning about phenology, which Webster's New World Dictionary defines as "the study of natural phenomena that recur periodically, such as migration or blossoming, and of their relation to climate and changes in season."
NARCISSE SNAKE DENS, Man.—The snakes—dozens, perhaps even hundreds—resembled a giant undulating blob of spaghetti as they twisted and rolled in their apparent attempt to scale the side of the rocky pit. Like Medusa—the snake-haired goddess of Greek mythology—brushing her reptilian locks, the mass of red-sided garter snakes would slither a foot or two up the side of the pit before sliding back to the bottom. Over and over they did this, producing a sound similar to white noise as they twisted and slithered at the bottom of the pit.
There was good news this past week for people who visit the Northwest Angle when U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., announced that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has selected the area for a pilot project aimed at simplifying the border-crossing process. The pilot project will benefit tourists returning to Minnesota after venturing into Ontario by snowmobile or boating into Ontario waters and stepping foot on Canadian soil.
GRAND FORKS — Now that he's had a few days to look back on the 2017 North Dakota legislative session, the director of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department says he'd probably give the session a B+ in terms of its impact on hunters and anglers. If not for a few contentious issues, Terry Steinwand says he'd be tempted to give the legislative session an A. Game and Fish tracked 28 outdoors-related bills during the session, 11 of which passed both chambers and were signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum.
If Spiderman was a fisherman, his walleye senses would be absolutely tingling with anticipation at the prospect of wetting a line Saturday. It's the Minnesota walleye opener, and as events on the outdoors calendar go, the annual piscatorial happening is big stuff—and big business.
RED LAKE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA, Minn.—Traffic noise isn't a problem, but a forest full of sounds competes for Gretchen Mehmel's ears on this crisp Monday morning. Pileated woodpeckers hammer away with a percussive cadence as they bore into trees for a morning snack. Hermit thrushes, white-throated sparrows and swamp sparrows offer melodic contrasts with their trills and calls. Not to be outdone, spring peepers and chorus frogs are in full voice, as well.
ROOSEVELT, Minn. — I'd come to Norris Camp, headquarters of Red Lake Wildlife Management Area, to spend a few hours in a ruffed grouse blind and tag along on an early morning drumming count survey. Little did I know I'd experience another spectacle of nature in the process.