Brad Dokken is a reporter and editor of the Herald's Sunday Northland Outdoors pages. 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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BEMIDJI, Minn. — If just the thought of forest tent caterpillars is enough to make your skin crawl, there's favorable news in the woods this spring as trees begin leafing out across the region. This year's tent caterpillar season looks pretty meek across Minnesota, forest experts say. "It's hard to know exactly, as it is every year, but we're not poised for a major outbreak or anything like that," said Mike Parisio, forest health specialist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji. "I'd say we're in for a pretty typical year."
BEMIDJI, Minn. — If you're one of those goofball anglers thinking it would be fun to go ice fishing on Minnesota's fishing opener, prepare to be disappointed. There very likely will be ice floating around some northern Minnesota lakes come opening day, but you'll need a boat to reach it. That annual rite of spring known as the Minnesota walleye opener kicks off at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 12.
North Dakota doesn't have the anticipation of a walleye opener because fishing season is continuous, but Lake Sakakawea is looking like the go-to destination for North Dakota walleye fanatics this open-water season, biologists say.
GREENBUSH, Minn.—A fire that broke out Sunday night in western Roseau County in far northern Minnesota was 90 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, officials say. Known as the "County Road 7 Fire," the wildfire burned about 4,000 acres of mostly grass and swampland habitat north of Roseau County Road 7 about 15 miles northwest of Greenbush, Minn., said Christi Powers, an information officer for the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids, Minn.
GREENBUSH, Minn. -- Firefighters are working to control a large grass fire that started Sunday night about 15 miles northwest of Greenbush in western Roseau County. Known as the “County Road 7 Fire,” the fire had burned about 5,800 acres of grass and brushland as of Monday afternoon, said Adam Munstenteiger, area forestry supervisor for the Department of Natural Resources in Warroad, Minn.
Firefighters continue to battle a large grass fire burning east of Lancaster, Minn., in Kittson County. According to a Facebook post from the Lancaster Fire Department, the fire as of 3 a.m. Monday had burned 2,400 acres in Juneberry Township east of Lancaster and was on track to burn 2,700 acres if the entire field burns.
ON THE RAINY RIVER, Minn. — For people who fish, there's something about getting in a boat again after a long winter that's difficult to put into words. Excitement is part of it. So is anticipation. Anticipation for the sound of an outboard motor rumbling to life for the first time in months. Anticipation for the sound of water lapping against the hull of the boat, a sound as soothing as it is hypnotic.
GRAND FORKS — The email arrived nearly three weeks ago, hinting at the prospect of a Minnesota walleye opener four of us who got together in 1996 will never forget. "Ice fishing on Lake of the Woods for the opener?" the subject line read. "I'd say the odds are 50/50 right now," the sender said in his email. "We should plan on re-convening our 'Opener Ice Team' for 2018, conditions allowing. "Just saying. ..."
GRAND FORKS — Larry Gadaire was paddling his homemade cedar strip canoe on Lake Renwick near Cavalier, N.D., one day about 25 years ago when he saw someone cruising the lake in a kayak. A cabinet maker by trade, Gadaire did what cabinet makers by trade do when when they see something they'd like build. He built a kayak. And he's been building them ever since. "The worst thing about cedar strip is you never finish sanding," Gadaire said. "So, I started with these, and I've been modifying and changing things" along the way.
GRAND FORKS — Not that many years ago, it was relatively common practice for anglers fishing sturgeon on Lake of the Woods and Rainy River to hoist big fish up by the gill plates and hold them vertically for photos. However well intentioned those anglers might have been, chances are many sturgeon died after being handled that way, even if the fish were released. Fish aren't made to be held out of the water vertically, especially large fish, because the weight of their bodies tears the connective tissue holding their internal organs in place.