Wolf Lake has the DNR's attention
The Wolf Lake Sportsmen's club remains optimistic because of the attention of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The lake is quite shallow, with a maximum depth of 16 feet. In recent years, several new aeration systems have been active in the lake because it has a history of extreme winter kill. The DNR keeps stocking large numbers of walleyes here, about 1/2 million fry, every two years. Four "fountain type" aerators have been purchased by the Wolf Lake sportsmen, and two by the DNR. This spring, there was no indication of winterkill in the lake.
But, it may take some time to see an improvement in walleye numbers. Things like big improvements don't happen overnight. So everybody is very cautiously waiting.
The lake may be more important to Park Rapids area fishermen and its large number of visitors than it is to Detroit Lakes and North Dakota anglers. Wolf Lake has lots of northern pike, a well-known predator, where there is walleye stocking. But the pike aren't particularly big. Blue gill catches are quite satisfying to anglers who go afloat on quiet, warm summer nights. And there are bullheads in this shallow water. Bullheads, panfish, and pike are the targets of Wolf Lake sportsmen. The DNR is trying hard to make this lake into a walleye lake.
That large bunch of ducklings? Probably woodies
If you take a quiet, slow drive, or a walk, along the shore of many of the local small lakes near woodlands, you have a good chance to see compact bunches of ducklings. Could be any species, but the big bunches may be the hatchlings of two or more hens. Woodie hens will do that, and one mother has a lot of little ones to care for. The eggs were hatched a month ago, and the ducklings mind the hen very well for a week or more. After a couple of weeks, they're ready to try their wings. They get their vital protein, available in the many insects we get in June. Woodies build their strength fast, but tend to keep together. As you gunners know, woodies arrive to look over the decoys in groups, often four or more.
Ducks in North Dakota
Ducks Unlimited has an important headquarters site at Bismarck, so the premier habitat protector is in a good position to monitor the nesting of the birds in the center of the prairie pothole region. DU says it is very good this year, so a big crop of birds will be available in October. There are ducks everywhere! Breeding ducks are in all locations. Conditions have been very wet and there hasn't been a lot of warm weather to dry things out.
These waters have plenty of the foods that ducks like. There has been a rebounding in the numbers of pintails, a species that has been troubled in recent years. Longtime hunters will remember the annual arrival of pintails to Little Detroit Lake, in late October each year. But, that's all in the past. We don't get that influx of pintails anymore. Continued wet conditions in North Dakota's central prairie pothole region will continue the hunting Mecca that many of us have enjoyed for two decades.
Remington's new shotshell wad
The research and development divisions of all of the major manufacturers of shot shell ammunition are working long hours to even further improve the steel shot, non-toxic ammo now in demand. Remington is in the lead again with an improved plastic wad. And the shells they're installed in are renamed the HyperSonic. At an astounding 1,700 feet per second flight speed, it is the fastest around, and speed increases killing power and range. The wad does this by isolating a column of powder directly above the primer, instead of the full diameter wad base covering the powder charge the new Xcelerator wad employs a narrow tube. Because this sets right over the primer, this ignition flame is confined largely to the powder within this narrow plastic wad column. The flames are then freed to begin burning the rest of the powder, charge outside that narrow, inner tube.
The new wads are reported to deliver 16 percent more pattern energy for longer-range lethality. The new Xcelerator wad is a new idea. It will be available this fall in 12 gauge loads, at probably a hefty retail price.
Good things keep coming. Have you tried Federal's Black Cloud? Great, not cheap either. Winchester, where are you? You're next!
DNR biologists are cautious
About the nesting success of Minnesota's game birds. It is late June now, and all species have small young birds out of the nest. There has been a pretty good supply of insects for them, so they're getting protein. Mike Larson, the research biologist at Grand Rapids, one of Minnesota's ruffed grouse habitats, has said that is always difficult to grasp just how well ruffs are doing in the early part of the year due to the dense habitat, which produces ruffed grouse. But conditions were considered this spring and young grouse should have made it through the last winter in pretty good shape. They had deep snow, which they like -- gives them warmth at night and escape from avian predators.
At Madelia, Kurt Haroldson is the research biologist. Last year, a cold front went through in nesting season and the hatch was poor. Right now there are young pheasants on the ground. If we have warm and dry conditions it will be good.
Turkeys tend to be tougher than pheasants when it comes to making it through a tough winter, so there should be plenty of hens to tend flocks this spring if warm dry weather is with us.
Sharptail grouse in the northwestern part of Minnesota have shown an increase of 15 percent over the previous year. This spring we'll have a pretty good hatch.
Young ducks are already in the lakes in the Bemidji area, according to Steve Cordts, the waterfowl specialist. Some regional DNR managers have reported seeing some good broods. We have seen some at Detroit Lakes, Audubon, and in the Cormorant chain. Resident populations of Canada geese have looked pretty good in the Detroit Lakes and Callaway vicinity. Geese always hatch earlier than ducks do, but geese hatched very early this year and they had some pretty warm and dry weather this spring. Looks good for geese.
Cold and rainy weather isn't fun for any young bird. We're nearing the end of June now, with the last half of the month cool, a bit wet, little sunshine. With July coming up, warmer weather is expected, and a strengthening of the young birds we like to hunt in the fall.
Scent Lok hunting clothing
Several years ago, five Minnesota hunters sued the Scent Lok Company, claiming the togs didn't lock out human odor, as advertised. A Minnesota judge sided with the hunters. Scent Lok will appeal. This small company got bad press. Lost sales, but the clothing is really pretty good, does lock out human odor, permits a hunter to get closer to big game in the field for greater hunter success.
Deer hunters want to know what works. The pros in the hunting fields have had marked success wearing Scent Lok and are enthusiastically recommending it.
Human odor does put deer on high alert. If it can be lessened, that's good. From a deer hunters' perspective, those guys who have bought the fairly expensive Scent Lok clothing have been overwhelmingly satisfied and recommend it to others.
Scent Lok masks human odor, but that's just one factor of deer hunting. Did the five Minnesota hunters who brought suit all perform that great in the field? Hunters who have worn Scent Lok hunting clothes for ten years or more say that it is really a great product, works well, and is comfortable, stylish and warm.