Messenger design editor, Don Dittberner, scored early in the spring turkey hunting season last week Wednesday when he harvested this approximate 20 lb. Tom at about 6:30 a.m. The bird had a beard measuring 9 1/2” inches and spurs measuring 1 1/8 inches. He was hunting in Sherburne County on public land and had scouted the area about six times prior to opening day so he had a good indication of where they roosted. Don said this bird was one of two that strutted up on him. He also had an opportunity to video a few other birds that returned to the area. He said he has a number of turkey calls but is reluctant to use them unless it is needed to call them back to you. “It’s best not to give up your location or the Tom may hang up and expect you to come to them. Scouting is the key to early success.” It worked for him on the opener when one of the Toms came into range for a killing shot.
At Maple Lake Public Schools, we celebrate the many volunteers who give so much of their time to enhance the education of our students.
Volunteering provides for the basic human desire of being needed and feeling connected to the world outside ourselves. Without the generosity of our volunteers, the daily routines of our schools would have a different flow and the “extras” volunteers provide would be nonexistent.
As we move into a new era of technology, curriculum changes, and new teaching styles, we also are seeing some changes with the volunteer world.
It looks like reality is coming back after a 75 degree Saturday, followed by a rain and hail on Sunday (.31 inches of rain), and a 40 degree wake up call on Monday. This is not unusual for April which can be about as fickle as months go when it comes to sudden weather changes. Golfers, who’s games have been dormant since last fall, like to get out on the links in April, just like the anglers. Both groups are subject to April’s showers and inclement weather, but it will get better. Take for instance the early bird flowers, Crocuses, are out and blooming. I came across some Sunday morning. Crocus flowers are one of the brightest and earliest spring bloomers. Plant them in the fall and these easy-to-grow bulbs will light up your yard.
This photo of a wild mink is probably one of those once in a lifetime things and was taken by Debbie Geyen last week. She and a co-worker with the DNR were replacing a sign post at the access of one of the lake accesses in Carver County when this mink popped out from under the access boat dock. The mink, normally not the most inquisitive animal in the world, didn’t seem to mind being photographed by Debbie. She had one other photo before the mink disappeared as quickly as it appeared. Debbie said it was a first for her. They tried to give the mink part of a sandwich, but the mink declined. The DNR says, “The mink is the most common water mammal predator (meat eater) in Minnesota. It can be found in nearly every wetland, lake, and creek in the state, including those in cities and towns. The mink is a versatile predator. Lithe and agile, it pursues its prey on land and in water. It can swim and dive with ease and remain underwater for many minutes.”
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Maple Lake’s freeze-ups and open water for 2016 and 2017 are some kind of a record with an extra freeze-up and opener this year. The 2016 freeze up was Dec. 17; and 2017’s first opener was March 9. The lake froze over again on March 16 and remained frozen until March 21 when it opened for a second time. Last year’s opener was March 15, something of a record in itself! There just might be something to global warming!
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Maple Lake became an official settlement in 1855, bringing settlers from all over to live in the wild back country that once was, and still is, Wright County, Minnesota. The Messenger received these photos, which were postcards at one point, and thought they were worth sharing. The above left and above right photos are from Donnelly Drive in Maple Lake, right off the shores of Maple Lake itself. Another historic landmark in Maple Lake was the creamery building. This building was built around 1912 and had only three workers or less. The cream, milk and butter were refrigerated in the early years by blocks of ice which was delivered to Maple Lake regularly. In the year of its fiftieth anniversary, the creamery had over $2,000,000 in sales.
(Photos and postcards submitted by John Haack)
Kate Heberling edged Bill Eccless with this 39 3/4 inch Northern while fishing on Lake of the Woods early in March. His was 38 1/4 inches. Kate’s father, Rick Heberling, said this year’s entourage consisted of 10 anglers who fished Mar. 4 - 7. Besides Kate, Ann and Jason and himself, the others were Todd and Bill Eccless, Tom Lauer, Jordan Lauer, Eric Lemke, and Dianna Hermosillo.
They had two days of excellent weather (36 and 48 degrees) on Saturday and Sunday. Monday was foggy and windy and a blizzard on Tuesday cramped their style. They caught a total of 23 Northerns and Walleyes along with some perch and an 8 lb. Poor Man’s Lobster (Eel pout) which Rick said was delicious. Kate threw back a 13 inch perch, another delicacy of that lake, when she got some incorrect legal fish size information unintentionally, I think, from her cousin, Jordan.
The latest harbinger of spring at the Brutlag household are the tulips on the south side of the house that are showing about two inches of stems. That’s more than enough fresh food for the neighborhood rabbits to nibble on. This has been an unusual winter for Minnesota with the Central Minnesota lakes opening up March 9th only to freeze up again last week (a first in my lifetime). The Mar. 6 three tornadoes, thunder and lightning, and the March 13th snow adds to the confusion as we head into spring. Local gardener Patrick Lahr figures two lake openings in one year has to be some kind of record (one opening still to come as of March 20) and suggested a new chart for record keeping is in order. A portion of the East Coast wasn’t spared by the Mar. 14 storm either. Phyllis Bowen, friend of mine who lives with her husband, Harry, in Merrimac, MA. (north of Boston) said she had her snow shovel ready anticipating lots of late season snow.
I barely got into the Messenger office Monday when I received a call from Dale Welter, Chaska, who has a wealth of town team baseball information and statistics between his ears as well as some of his exploits in other areas. He was a former room-mate of mine (behind Ed’s Barber Shop) while on the ML high school faculty years ago. Along with the box scores from town team baseball in the 1940s and before which I need to review before publishing, was a story about Welter winning the Hamm’s Hit a Homer Contest at the Metropolitan Stadium back in the ‘70s. Welter was 29 years old at the time and one of the contestants. His was a 380-foot “blast into the right-field bleachers. Over 2,000 people tried to do the same, but failed.” His prizes were a trip to the World Series in New York with his bride, Yvonne, and a case of Hamm’s beer each week for one year.
My last attempt at late ice angling was a solo effort on Maple Lake Feb. 28 when it took me too long to find any sunnies. I was on a time restraint from the better half with a request to be home by 11:30 a.m. Actually, I was out earlier than normal 9:00, but didn’t find any sizeable fish until about 10:30 when my first keeper hit my wax worm. The next two sunfish were also keepers and then some smaller fish moved into view. I was sight fishing in about five feet of water and two feet off the bottom. It was interesting to watch how cautious the larger sunfish were. Sometimes they’d swim up to the bait only to back off and let the small sunfish nip away at the waxie. Most of the time the larger “keeper” fish would keep their distance and hit the bait sometimes when I switched to a different rod and jig. I kept six that I wasn’t ashamed of and I made Janis happy when I showed up only a half-hour late!
Dittberner with a 14.5-inch perch caught on a jigging spoon.
(Photos submitted by Don Dittberner)
Fernando Songstad with his 23- inch walleye from Devils Lake.
It sounds like Devils Lake in North Dakota was the place to be recently if you like fishing walleyes and northern fishing. Six anglers, Bart and Tom Lauer, Jordon and Dominic Lauer, Ryan (Jordan’s friend) and Rick Heberling, have fished in North Dakota, but mostly on Pelican Lake for Northerns. As a group they harvested 42 walleyes off Devils Lake and 3 off Pelican, 48 Northerns off of Pelican and Devils Lake, fishing with tip-ups. Their perch came off Devils Lake. Rick said his largest northern was 10 1/2 pounds. He said Jordan had the largest walleye, 21 inches, and Bart had the largest northern, 13 lbs., and a 14- inch perch. Their walleyes ranged from 14 inches on up to 21, releasing anything under 14 inches. Rick said this year was a huge contrast weather-wise, 39 degrees compared to the -18 and -25 they fished in three years ago when their final day was still colder, near -40, too cold to fish.