Oct. 20–Ely canoe outfitter and guide Jason Zabokrtsky is making steady progress on his bushwhacking attempt to walk and swim about 80 miles from Atikokan, Ontario, to Ely. On Thursday, he was camped on Allan Lake in the heart of Quetico Provincial Park a few miles south of Sturgeon Lake.
In an update posted to the Ely Outfitting Company and Boundary Waters Guide Service Facebook page, he said: “I am camped on the tip of a peninsula on Allan Lake. It’s a lovely spot with sunset and sunrise views. I built a drying fire at camp and am looking forward to my first dry socks in five days. I really saw some country today and traveled 6.75 miles! My pace is picking up as my pack gets lighter and my navigation skills improve.”
He left on his trip Oct. 11 and had hoped to reach Ely by Friday . His trek is believed to be the first of its kind in the open-water season.
Grouse hunt on par with last year
Hunters at the 32nd annual National Grouse and Woodcock Hunt, held Oct. 10-11 at Grand Rapids, harvested grouse at about the same rate this fall as last year, said Dan Dessecker, Ruffed Grouse Society biologist. The event is held as a fundraiser by the Ruffed Grouse Society.
A total of 103 hunters harvested 218 ruffed grouse in two days, or about 1.06 birds per hunter per day, compared to 1.05 birds per hunter per day last fall.
The ratio of immature birds to adult birds, an indicator of the spring hatch, was 5.9 to one. The long-term average is for the 32 years of the hunt is 6.47 immatures per adult.
Hunters harvested 418 woodcock during the hunt, or 2.03 birds per hunter per day, compared to 2.5 woodcock per hunter per day in 2012. This year’s woodcock harvest rate was the third-highest since the woodcock limit was reduced to three in 1997, Dessecker said. (Last year’s harvest rate was especially high because of a full moon and two nights of north winds just before the hunt, which likely moved woodcock into the area, Dessecker said.)
Dessecker said several indicators suggested that the late spring this year may have affected the grouse population. Four or five grouse killed were hatched during the second or third week in July, he said.
Wisconsin wolf hunt under way
As of Thursday evening, a total of eight gray wolves had been taken in Wisconsin’s wolf hunting and trapping season, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The season opened Tuesday. None of the wolves was taken in Zone 1, far northwestern Wisconsin. This year’s wolf season quota is 251.
Ice-fishing show coming to Duluth
It will be a few weeks before the lakes freeze, but ice anglers might want to know that a new ice-fishing show will be held in Duluth this December. The Arrowhead Ice Fishing and Winter Show will be held Dec. 13-15 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. The show will include displays of ice-fishing shelters, ice augers, electronics, tackle, snowmobiles, four-wheelers and more.
At a simulated ice-fishing tank, anglers will fish through holes for tagged trout good for gift certificates redeemable at show exhibitors. More than $8,000 in certificates and $7,000 in prizes will be awarded, said show producer Ron Murphy of Shamrock Productions. Shamrock also produces the annual Duluth Boat, Sports, Travel and RV Show each February.
DNR urges caution in open-water hunting
New rules for this fall’s waterfowl season in Minnesota allow hunters to hunt on open water on selected bodies of water, including Lake of the Woods and Lake Superior. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources warns hunters about the potential dangers of hunting in open water late in the season.
Many open-water hunters use layout boats. A layout boat is a one- or two-person boat with a very shallow draft and extremely low sides. The boats allow a hunter to set up near a spread of decoys just slightly above the water’s surface. The shallow draft and low sides make this type of craft extremely vulnerable to wave action or wakes from other boats and could cause it to swamp or capsize, DNR officials say.
In addition, the low profile of a layout boat makes it hard for other boaters to see waterfowl hunters, especially in low light or wavy conditions.
Layout boats, DNR officials say, should be accompanied by a larger tender boat that is used to put out decoys, set the layout boat, retrieve downed birds and transport the hunter to and from the anchored layout boat. The tender boat can come to the rescue should something go wrong.
Open-water hunting is typically conducted late in the waterfowl season when diving ducks are migrating.
“The later the hunt, the colder the water,” said Kara Owens, DNR boat and water safety specialist. “Hunters need to know if they fall overboard the possibility of cold-water immersion and hypothermia greatly increases.”
The DNR offers these tips:
–Wear a life jacket. State law requires an accessible and wearable U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on board all boats, including layout and duck boats.
–Do not overload boat with gear. Avoid a sudden shift in weight. Leave dogs on the tender boat or at home.
–Keep an eye on the sky. Do not hunt during rough weather and stormy conditions.
–Most duck boats don’t make good tender boats. Use a boat designed for deep water that can handle waves.
–In case of capsizing or swamping, stay with the boat, even when filled with water; the boat will still float and is more likely to be seen by potential rescuers.
–Always tell someone the hunt location and time of return. Hunt with a companion or group.
–Carry a cell phone or VHF radio for emergency communication.