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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BIRCHDALE, Minn.—When your daily commute takes you along Minnesota Highway 11 from International Falls to Baudette, you're bound to experience some memorable wildlife encounters. Phil Talmage, area fisheries supervisor for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Baudette, was reminded of that Tuesday morning on the drive to work.
ROSS, Minn.—Two months after winning the lottery, Debbie Kujava and her brother, Dennis Kujava, are adjusting to their new lives as millionaires. The winning Lotto America ticket Debbie bought as part of a Jackpot Bundle on Tuesday, March 13, at Holiday Stationstores in Roseau, Minn., was worth $22.8 million, and the $13.5 million cash option she chose was whittled down to $9.4 million after the required tax withholding. The odds of winning were about 1 in 24 million, Debbie Kujava says. She kept it quiet until March 19, when Lotto America made it official.
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."
When Jeremy Woinarowicz joined the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as a conservation officer in 2004, most of the wolf depredation complaints he handled came from farmers in the eastern edge of his work area near Grygla, Skime and Fourtown, Minn. That gradually has changed over time, and complaints have expanded from forested, more traditional wolf habitat to open farm country to the south and west, said Woinarowicz, of Warren, Minn.
BISMARCK — Whether the behemoth muskie Ryan Getz of Bismarck caught while ice fishing on New Johns Lake in Burleigh County is a new state record tiger muskie — a hybrid pike-muskie cross — or just a very large pure strain muskie won't be known until genetic test results become available. Either way, it's one heck of a fish to pull through a hole in the ice. The muskie measured 51 inches and weighed 41.3 pounds. "Yeah, it wasn't too bad," Getz said with a laugh Thursday, March 6, in a phone interview. "I wish they'd give me word" on the test results.
WALHALLA, N.D. — Jim Brown had seen the two bucks on his trail camera near Walhalla, N.D., earlier in the fall, but then they stopped showing up. That all changed one day in December when Brown, a Walhalla contractor, checked the card on his Cuddyback trail camera. What he saw only can be described as a spectacle of nature: One buck entangled with the rack of another buck whose body is severed from its head. The antlers and severed head hang from the rack of the living buck.
DETROIT LAKES, Minn.—Ask Gary Thompson why people break through the ice, and he'll say they usually don't do a good enough job of testing it before they venture out. There's more to "reading" ice than measuring how thick it is. The Eskimos have more than 100 different words for snow, Thompson says. And while his vocabulary for describing ice is less extensive, it's no less accurate.
DICKINSON, N.D. — North Dakota has its first bighorn sheep entries in the Boone and Crockett awards book after two hunters in November shot rams with horns big enough to qualify. Dustin Seamands of Bismarck made the most of his once-in-a-lifetime North Dakota sheep tag to shoot a ram that measured 177⅛ inches after the mandatory 60-day drying period, making it the new North Dakota record bighorn. Brian Ham of Alice, N.D., wasn't far behind, shooting a ram that officially measured 176⅝ inches after the drying period.
GRAND FORKS—Raccoons displaying odd behavior symptomatic of distemper have been reported by homeowners near Larimore, N.D., and while nothing has been confirmed, the reports are a good reminder for people to make sure their dogs and other pets are vaccinated, experts say. Distemper—or canine distemper, as it's officially known—is a viral-borne illness similar to rabies.
ROSEAU, Minn. — Jan Johnson knew the bear was in the area, and he knew it was big. He was right; it was. Johnson, of rural Roseau, toughed out a gloomy, rainy afternoon of bear hunting Oct. 1 and came home with a black bear that unofficially weighed 721 pounds live weight. Bears are scored by skull size rather than body weight, but Johnson's bear definitely is one of the heaviest bears to be taken in Minnesota in quite some time. Photos of the bear have been making the rounds in texts, emails and social media.