Brute’s Bleat: January 8, 2014


Hearing the local wind chill reports Monday morning was depressing enough, but the report from the Grand Marais airport of a -59 windchill seemed to lead the list in Minnesota. The meteorologists have been tossing “polar vortex” around like it should be a household term and it no doubt will be before the week is over.  For the uninformed, like myself, it has been described as air that should be over the Arctic Circle and is instead inundating the Midwest and is responsible for our extended cold days. It sounds like there will be a light at the end of the tunnel come Friday which means I should be able to get out fishing again.  My last outing on Thursday left lots to be desired when all I caught was one sunfish. After having moved a number of times on Maple Lake I figured I finally had struck pay dirt, that wasn’t to be, but the brats tasted good anyway   .     .      .      My brother, Charles, called Friday night to let me know he and his neighbor had planned to head up to Lake of the Woods on Saturday, but cancelled because of the weather.  I heard later the highway from Blackduck to Baudette was covered with ice. He didn’t have anything good to report about fishing on Ottertail Lake.      .       .      It sounds like the slush ice on most of Minnesota’s northern lakes is freezing solid, but caution should still be exercised.
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I took Vanna out for a walk in Ney Park after church Sunday where she can enjoy running.  The woods were really quiet and nothing seemed to be stirring in the trees or on the ground.  That got me to thinking how fortunate people are to have a warm house in the winter.  I realize survival of animals and birds during Minnesota’s cold winters is part of nature’s plan for species that can handle the extremes.  I decided if I was to be an animal in Minnesota I’d choose to be a hibernating bear!  Fortunately we don’t have a lot of soft snow to blow around which makes it easier for birds to find food and there are some corn fields that didn’t get harvested which should benefit both the birds and animals (like deer) to help them survive.  I did a double-take Monday morning about 7:15 a.m. when I took Vanna outside for her morning break and there was a Cottontail rabbit sitting in the middle of the driveway seemingly at peace with the world.  Vanna put the run on the rabbit which scooted off across the street into Rick and Sharon Heberling’s yard.  I’ve seen the bunny before this winter, but most of the time it has been under one of the spruce trees which Vanna seems to check out daily. 
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 DNR Question of the Week, 12/30/13
Q: Why does the fur coat of a deer change colors depending on the time of year – a reddish color in the spring and brown in the fall?
A: The deer’s coat is designed to provide both a means for thermo-regulation and camouflage. Summer coats appear reddish and are thin, allowing deer to better cope with heat stress. In the fall, deer begin a process of molting, which is triggered by hormonal changes that reflect the changing seasons. The reddish summer coat turns into a faded gray or brown color as the new winter coat begins to grow. The new coat is comprised of two layers. The outer guard hairs are hollow, stiff and grow about 2 inches longer than the undercoat. The inner layer is soft and dense which insulates deer from the cold weather and snow. Coat color, regardless of the season, tends to be darker in forested areas and lighter in agricultural areas where deer are exposed to more direct sunlight.
– Michelle Carstensen, wildlife health program supervisor
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Mike Muller clued me in on a story in the Outdoor News about Florida’s Lake Okeechobee. Large mouth bass fishing is prominent in that lake and Muller has some trophy fish from Okeechobee which he fishes during his winters there.  The story went on to tell about the great bass fishing available there. Mike commented his fishing buddy, Jesse, had called him from Florida recently to let him know the crappies are starting to spawn. I assume that was a hint for Muller to get his butt down there; and considering how he has acquired a passion for fishing that lake’s panfish and a dislike for cold weather, you can bet he’ll be gone by the weekend.