Normally we like to begin these thoughts on a positive note. Unfortunately we heard about something so brazen that it needed to be discussed. Several weeks ago we received an email describing a situation that should never happen, especially in the outdoors of our Northwoods. The act was that some selfish individuals broke off the door on an ice shack on a local lake. These individuals stole all the ice fishing equipment that was stored in the shack. Some of that gear had been passed on for three generations.
Apparently there are some individuals in the outdoors who do not know how to behave. Another outdoorsman reported that someone had taken his small blind during the gun deer season. We had lost a double wide metal ladder stand, which was removed from our property. If you see someone acting in a questionable manner, report that action to the DNR Tip Line toll free number at (800) 847-9367.
Working together hopefully we can help rid our area of these outlaws. Those illegal actions are taking away our chance to enjoy our northwoods.
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Now on to more positive thoughts. Several recent days we have been either walking in the woods searching for animal tracks, or sitting on the ice of several area lakes. Most of the time when we head for the woods, Judy accompanies me. The walking is easy where we have been, with just over five inches of snow on the ground. We have found that a ski pole makes walking much easier, and seems to keep our feet from sliding on patches of ice.
Judy always has her camera in a jacket pocket and she has, over the years, taken some interesting photographs.
We have been seeing tracks that were left by snowshoe hares, grouse, turkeys, coyotes and a few deer. Frequently we have seen the scat from coyotes. It is interesting to examine the tracks and attempt to figure out what the animal was trying to do.
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Thus far the winter weather has been kind to animals, with mild temperatures and very little snow cover. As our temperatures begin to drop, the grouse would be much more comfortable if we would get some relatively deep snow. When the temperatures drop, grouse will roost under the snow where they can. The temperature in the snow roost may be as much as 20 degrees warmer than in the open.
It is surprising that we have not been seeing wolf tracks on our walks. Apparently the wolves are hunting in other areas. Some of the fellows in our deer-hunting group believe that there are so few deer in the Monico area that the wolves have moved to other areas. Some researchers claim that a wolf will kill and consume as many as 15 deer each year.
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As previously mentioned, we have been spending some time sitting on the ice watching a pair of tip-downs, and jigging with a third line. Several years ago a friend showed us that very light line would far out-produce the heavier lines. Thus far we have been fishing for crappies with two and four pound test line. The light lines are difficult to use when the wind blows. It is sometimes difficult to get the line down the holes in the ice. While fishing for crappies, we have accidentally been catching some bluegills.
It is easy to know when you hook a bluegill on the light line because they swim in circles around the hole. When Corney joins us, he usually sets a tip-up out with the hope that he might catch a northern or a walleye. So far his efforts have produced a large mouth bass.
We have noticed a decline in the action from crappies from noon until 2:30 p.m.
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A local mother told us that her 9-year old son simply loves to fish. Last fall she and her son stopped at a garage sale where there was a portable ice fishing shelter was for sale. Upon returning home the son proceeded to count the money in his piggy bank, and he now has a portable ice fishing tent.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column appearing in the Star Journal.