Monday, March 16, 2015

In Like a Lamb and out like a Snow Goose

Has anyone else ever heard the saying  "In like a lamb out like a lion", when referring to the March weather?  I think for most of us this recent weather qualifies as in like a lamb.  With the weather getting this nice this fast and a lack of snow line the skies will soon be filled with Ross, Snows, and Blues.

If you have never done it you should most definitely look into putting together a spring Snow Goose hunt.  Even if you aren't much of a waterfowl hunter this is an absolute blast.  First off most states either have no limit or a very generous, almost unreachable one. So When they come in to the decoys it can be absolutely crazy!   Secondly 90% of the hunting is done in fields as opposed to over water and I would venture to say that an even larger portion of it is done through guide services.  Now I know what you are thinking $$$$$$.  However a lot of these guide services have very reasonable rates and when compared to the cost of putting together a massive decoy spread, which is what it takes to get these things in close, add in an e-call and your much better off paying someone who already has the gear.   If its someone else's gear that usually means you don't have to haul it, and the geese you kill while using said gear get cleaned by someone else! Also most of these hunts are in rural areas with small town hotels, great greasy spoon diners, and very affordable rates. 

A few years back I spent a month helping a guide service in South Dakota during their busiest time.  Until then I really hadn't had much experience decoying snow geese so it was a learning experience to say the least.  Most times they don't come in on an approach like Canadians they instead circle overhead repeatedly slowly descending into the decoys. Often times these waves are a couple thousand or more deep so even if the shooting isn't your thing just watching that many birds descending over your head really is breath taking. 

If you are serious about giving it a shot log on to the Hunt The North web site (you can find there link on our home page) and sort through the guide services from there.  Don't wait to long though because with the lack of snow on the ground in the flyways this year they won't stick around long. 

Also I would like to see some pics from anyone who gets out this year and we will get them up on the website. 


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sometimes when fishing you just have to shake your head.

Hello All, 

Sorry I didn't get out a new entry on Sunday night but I was on an ice fishing trip in northeastern South Dakota.  Every year a large group of my best friends and I take a late season ice fishing trip and that's where we went this year.  I will have to admit that most years it turns into more of a social event than a real hardcore fishing trip and this year, with 45 degree temps it was no exception.  However its hard for anyone who takes hunting or fishing seriously to turn it off for very long and there were bursts of seriousness sprinkled in with all the story telling and grilling on the ice.  As I drove away from the lodge for the last time I began to think about my next post and I couldn't help but think about just how random fishing can be at times. 

Leading up to this trip I had tapped every knowledgeable friend I have in that area and had put together what I thought was pretty good plan for what and where to fish. So we started our search on Saturday morning on a lake that we had heard was going pretty well on the Perch. Then we started perforating the lake.  I'm not kidding you, the guys that I fish with don't believe in staying in one place too long unless they are really hitting and Saturday morning was no different.  The Strikemasters were screaming and ice shavings were being dished out at a pace that would rival the freezy stands at the MN state fair.  7-8 minutes per hole and if you didn't find anything serious it was on to the next.  Jig changes, bait changes, depth changes, every thing we could think of in every bay of this particular lake and nothing worth keeping.  By now it was late morning and the hunger pains were beginning to set in.  So we found a spot that was pretty well out of the wind, set up the grill and dug out the Venison brats.  Generally speaking there just isn't much action around noon anyway so everyone stayed close to there rods but no one was fishing intently.  Then I hear the every so familiar "fish on".  No big deal probably a Pike cruising the shallows in search of a mid day Perch snack.  Nope a really nice jumbo Perch.   Then another, and another, and now a Walleye, another Perch, and so on.   The grilling, talking, and lying quickly stopped and suddenly we were all kneeling over our holes staring at graphs and vexilars.  It only lasted about 45 minutes but it was long enough for us to put a pretty pile of fish on the ice.  When it came to a screeching halt we all kind of looked up at each other as if to say "what the hell was that all about".    All morning we fish hard during the prime hours and come up empty.  Sometimes you just gotta shake your head!

That's what we all love about it anyway right?   The fish you catch when it seems hopeless.  The pair of geese that come in as your picking up decoys, and you limit out.  The buck that comes into your stand directly down wind.   Its those things that help remind me how a day spent afield or on the water, alone or with good friends, can restore my energy and melt away my stress.  So for crying out loud, stay active, stay healthy, and stay outside!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Back to Buffer Strips

In the last post we dove into the impending proposal for waterway buffer strips in Minnesota.   One of the most glaring issues as always is the money.  Where will it come from?  Not only will it cost millions to install and establish these waterways but enforcing, and maintaining them will be a yearly undertaking which will no doubt require added staffing of whichever entity takes it over (most likely the DNR). Which in turn requires ........yep more money.  Again before anyone gets the wrong idea I want to point out that I do think that we need these programs in many states and I am most definitely in favor of protecting our waterways. However the financial burden should fall on everyone's shoulders including, but not solely the landowners.  Whether you own 15,000 acres in the Red River Valley or an empty lot on Lake X  it shouldn't be your sole financial responsibility when really its everyone's duty to preserve the waters that we all need on some level.  

One thing that would surprise many non landowners is that there are already programs somewhat similar to this proposal currently in use through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).  The difference is that they are for the most part voluntary not mandatory.   In fact there is a stewardship program that even provides partial funding through the federal government to help with the installation and maintenance costs associated with establishing buffer strips and other erosion control systems.  Its very similar to the tax funded programs that many states have which will contribute, and in some cases provide all the plant material for installing wind breaks or conservation strips.  Hopefully this will be the route taken by Minnesota for its funding.

Once you get the funding somewhat straightened out the next major hurdle is whether or not this magic width for the strips (whatever it ends up being) will be universal.  Will the guy on Minnetonka have to have the same buffer as the guy with a drainage ditch in Lincoln County?  Good luck, as our loyal reader Nigel pointed out, telling lake front owners they can no longer touch the first 50 feet of their frontage! Now that's a lake association meeting that I want nothing to do with. 

Unfortunately this is most likely going to be a long and difficult thing to institute, however water quality needs to be a priority for all people not just outdoor enthusiasts and I tip my hat to Minnesota for its willingness to address the situation no matter how daunting.  I hope that whatever program they come up with that its landowner friendly because in the long run they truly hold the key to our water quality and wild life habitat. 

Well I look forward to following this story in the future and next time we visit I want to lighten the mood with a little late season hard water fishing talk.  So remember STAY ACTIVE, STAY HEALTHY, STAY OUTDOORS