Out of the woods, back in the office

I’m in catch-up mode today after spending the better part of 10 days hunting ruffed grouse and hanging out with friends at our getaway in northwest Minnesota. Aside from a couple of days that were windier than I prefer, the weather was great, and we encountered enough birds to keep things interesting. Woodcock were scarce, at least where we hunted, but one of the guys in the crew managed to bag a bonus sharptail, and we likely could have gotten a few more if we’d put in the effort.

Peter Howard of Ithaca, N.Y., with one of the several ruffed grouse he bagged during a week-plus-long hunting trip in northern Minnesota with Brad Dokken and a crew of other friends.

It’s hard to stay out of the woods on beautiful fall days, though, and so we spent the bulk of our time chasing ruffs.

From the second-hand reports I’ve gotten, pheasant hunting in North Dakota has been pretty good for the hunters who’ve made the trek farther west.

As for waterfowl, Mark Fisher, biologist for the U.S. Fish and

Craig Hanson of Grand Forks shared this photo of a successful duck and goose hunt he  and some friends enjoyed on “a nice Saturday morning in a corn field somewhere in ND.”

Wildlife Service in Devils Lake, left me a voice mail earlier this week saying snow geese had moved into the Lake Region. The biggest concentration was west of Leeds, N.D., Fisher said, and the Devils Lake area is seeing an influx of Canada geese and swans along with indications that migrant mallards are moving into the area.

Hunting success last weekend was mixed with the warm, windy weather, Fisher said, and the birds are scattered so scouting is crucial. Habitat and water conditions are favorable, so hunters who put in the scouting effort should be rewarded, Fisher said.

The great weather we’ve enjoyed the past couple of weeks can change in a heartbeat this time of year so get out and enjoy while it lasts.


Area anglers do well in Devils Lake pro walleye tourney

A few tidbits on this Monday morning as I gear up to spend the better part of the next two weeks in the woods of northern Minnesota:

Chad Maloy (left) and Don Denning of Fargo show off their tournament high bag of five walleyes weighing 36 pounds, 12 ounces Saturday on Devils Lake. The pair finished second in the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament that ended Saturday.

Area teams had a strong showing in the three-day Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit tournament that wrapped up Saturday on Devils Lake. Wisconsin pros Korey Sprengel and Derek Navis won the tournament with a three-day bag of 85 pounds, 13 ounces, edging the Fargo team of Don Denning and Chad Maloy, who weighed in the biggest bag of the tournament Saturday with five walleyes that tipped the scales at a whopping 36 pounds, 12 ounces — more than a 7-pound average.

The tournament was headquartered at Grahams Island State Park.

Maloy said they caught their fish vertical jigging with Jigging Raps and Northland Puppet Minnows in a rock-mud transition area in 33 to 34 feet of water. Saturday, Maloy said he and Denning caught their fish early and were off the water about 10 a.m., dodging the brunt of the wind that grew stronger throughout the day.

Rounding out the area anglers in the 38-team tournament were Spencer Deutz, Moorhead and Ron Deutz, Fargo, who placed fourth  with 71 pounds, 11 ounces; Troy Morris, Fargo, and Kevin Bruer, Robbinsdale, Minn., sixth, 64 pounds, 14 ounces; and Al Freidig and Clint Devier, both of Devils Lake, 11th, 59 pounds, 4 ounces. Freidig and Devier also had big fish of the tournament with a walleye weighing 10 pounds, 5 ounces.

All are members of the F-M Walleyes fishing club.

Hunting success during the 33rd annual Ruffed Grouse Society National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt was on par with last year, despite a large increase in spring drumming counts. Hunters participating in the Oct. 9-10 event near Grand Rapids, Minn., shot an average of 1.07 grouse per day, up only slightly from 1.06 last year. The woodcock harvest was down, with an average of 1.8 this year, compared with 2.03 last year.

The Forks Rifle Club is holding its annual sighting-in days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 25-26 at the club’s W.G. Coulter Range, located 8½ miles west of Merrifield, N.D., on Grand Forks County Road 6. According to club member Tom Reiten, club personnel will be on hand to help hunters sight in their firearms for the upcoming deer season. North Dakota’s deer gun season opens at noon Nov. 7, and Minnesota’s firearms deer season opens a half-hour before sunrise Nov. 8.

Whitetail Lunatics posts video of successful Kittson County elk hunt

Mitch Wilson of Squaw Lake, Minn., emailed Sunday to share a link to the video of the 6×7 bull elk he shot Sept. 14 in Kittson County the second morning of elk season in northwest Minnesota. A videographer for the group Whitetail Lunatics was in an enclosed stand with Wilson and documented what ultimately turned out to be a successful hunt.

Mitch Wilson (left) of Squaw Lake, Minn., shot this 6×7 bull elk the second morning of the Kittson County season near Lancaster, Minn. Pictured with Wilson is his 10-year-old son, Owen.

The pair had spent the night in the stand to increase their odds of encountering elk at first light.

I wrote about Wilson’s hunt in the Sept. 21 outdoors section, and here’s how he described the encounter:

“As it became light, we could see and hear a nice bull bugling from his bed 240 yards away in a food plot,” Wilson said. “Two other bulls were there feeding, and eventually, when the light got better, I took this 6×7 at 242 yards.”

As the video shows, the hunt didn’t lack for excitement or anticipation and shows, yet again, the quality of northwest Minnesota’s small elk herd.