Brute’s Bleat


A Sunday evening call from my brother, Charles, said he and two fishing buddies enjoyed a three-day trip to the Northwest Angle and fished on Lake of the Woods. He said they found their walleyes in about 20 feet of water and night crawlers seemed to work the best. He estimated they caught over 100 walleyes, enjoyed several meals and brought home their four-fish limits. They fished out of Prothero’s Resort and Charles commented the Protheros are in the process of refurbishing an older Chris-Craft inboard which he estimated to be a 20-24 footer. He said it looks impressive, has leaks in its wooden hull from being out of the water, but they had it operating in the inlet. They plan to work on the boat this winter, a boat which was a prize in its hey-day; and still is among collectors.  Charles also commented the word on Rush Lake (between Ottertail and Perham) is that the large sunfish are biting, which was music to my ears.  Locally a group of anglers stopped at Cenex Monday morning and picked up some pop and snacks. They were from the Watertown area and planned to fish on Indian Lake. I still haven’t been out fishing since before the baseball tournament which means it’s been about four weeks, and believe me that’s too long! The problem is wife, Janis, figures a lot of our furniture needs some attention and she has put me to work doing minor repairs and refinishing some pieces.  It’s a slow process and I’m doing most of the work in the garage. Staining and varnishing requires a minimum temperature of about 60 degrees and I figure a hard frost will put me out of business in the not too distant future. 
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We knew it wasn’t going to be good and the following paragraphs are from the DNR’s website on the upcoming pheasant season:
“A long winter followed by a cold, wet spring contributed to a significant decrease in Minnesota’s pheasant count, which declined 29 percent from 2012, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
“Minnesota’s results reflect what we’re seeing in other states,” said Rachel Curtis, DNR wildlife research biologist. “South Dakota had a 64-percent decrease in its brood survey. North Dakota’s most recent rooster crowing count is down 11 percent from last year. And Iowa reported a 19-percent decrease in its August roadside count.
Minnesota’s 2013 pheasant index is 64 percent below the 10-year average and 72 percent below the long-term average.
Pheasant hunters still are expected to harvest about 246,000 roosters this fall. That’s down 44,000 from last year’s estimate and is less than half the number of pheasants taken during the 2005-2008 seasons when hunting was exceptionally good. The highest pheasant counts were in the southwest region, where observers reported 51 birds per 100 miles of survey driven. Hunters should find good harvest opportunities in west-central, east-central and south-central Minnesota.
CRP enrollment declined by 63,700 acres in Minnesota’s pheasant range over the last year and contracts for nearly 400,000 acres of statewide CRP lands are scheduled to expire during the next 3 years. If not re-enrolled, this would reduce CRP acres in Minnesota by 30 percent.”
So with that said, Sept. 14 was the opener for ruffed grouse in Minnesota. You won’t get a lot of encouragement from me to hunt this native Minnesota game bird this fall because the drumming count for them is down, which means there will be less birds in the popples for your dogs to flush or point than there were a year ago, and that wasn’t a good year.  A friend of mine said we may have to consider it a good day if we hear one grouse flush.    .     .     Most grouse hunters combine grouse hunting with the woodcock season which opens a couple of weeks later.  They’re a sporty bird to hunt with a pointing dog because they hold much better than ruffed grouse who like to be on the move.  They fly kind of like a bumblebee and a hunter should carry some extra shells because I think they’re hard to hit. My first setter, Blue, wouldn’t pick one up but he would stick by the downed bird until I got there.  Vanna hasn’t had the opportunity, but I’m not expecting any miracles. I hope to have a first-hand report on grouse hunting next week.