I’ve been in catch-up mode after spending most of last week out of the office hosting friends for our annual “October trip” grouse excursion at the getaway in northwest Minnesota. Ruffed grouse numbers were down, at least in the areas we hunt, but the weather on two of the days was about as close to perfect as you can get this time of year, and the get-together was as enjoyable as ever.
Everybody saw ruffed grouse, a lucky few bagged birds and a limit of sharp-tailed grouse one afternoon provided a nice bonus for one hunter in our crew.
Needless to say, my Inbox was full upon my return. Here are a few highlights:
Gary Lund of Roseau, Minn., sent a photo of a snowy owl he photographed Oct. 15 near Roseau. That seemed early to me, so I checked with Mike Jacobs, who writes the weekly “Always in Season” bird column in the Herald’s outdoors section, to get his thoughts. Here’s what he had to say: “Yes i would say it is unusual,” Jacobs writes. “Early November is more likely but that’s not so far away.” The owl clearly was a young bird, Jacobs said, because its plumage is heavily streaked. Whether the early sighting is a sign of an influx of snowy owls this winter remains to be seen. Here’s hoping it is.
- If the road leads you to the Twin Cities in the next few months and you purchased a Minnesota hunting or fishing license, the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Wild are offering ticket discounts to several of the NHL team’s home games at the Xcel Energy Center. According to the DNR, the promotion includes games Wednesday, Nov. 25, against the Vancouver Canucks; Thursday, Dec. 3, against the Toronto Maple Leafs; Monday, Jan. 25, against the Arizona Coyotes; Sunday, Feb. 28, against the Florida Panthers; and Sunday, March 6, against the St. Louis Blues. Ticket costs vary based on game and seating options. More information is available here.
- The main feature in this coming Sunday’s outdoors section will be a roundup of upland game and fall fishing reports from around the region. In a nutshell, pheasant hunting in much of North Dakota has lived up to expectations, ruffed grouse hunting in much of Minnesota has fallen short of expectations and fall walleye fishing is improving on the Manitoba portion of the Red River and the Winnipeg River near Pine Falls, Man., both of which are Lake Winnipeg tributaries. Just a few minutes ago, my phone buzzed with a message from a Canadian friend who’d just landed a 28-inch walleye on the Red. … As if being in the office on such a beautiful October day wasn’t tough enough already. Sigh.