Looking ahead and staying active can help make the deep, dark days of winter more bearable. And there are plenty of events on tap in the coming weeks to make the winter pass at least a little bit faster.

A series of workshops across northwest Minnesota beginning later this month present an opportunity for the many deer hunters in that part of the state to get involved in the Department of Natural Resources’ process for setting deer population goals.

Anyone with an interest in deer populations in northwest Minnesota can and should attend, said John Williams, northwest region wildlife supervisor for the DNR in Bemidji.

Williams says he’d like to see at least 50 people attend the meetings and “hopefully a bit more than that.”

John Williams, DNR Northwest Region wildlife supervisor, Bemidji. (Minnesota DNR photo)
John Williams, DNR Northwest Region wildlife supervisor, Bemidji. (Minnesota DNR photo)

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The workshops are set for Jan. 29 and Feb. 27 in International Falls, Minn., with satellite locations in Waskish, Warroad and St. Paul; Jan. 30 and Feb. 26 in Thief River Falls, with a satellite location in St. Paul; Jan. 21 and Feb. 24 in Moorhead, with a satellite location in St. Paul; and Jan. 22 and Feb. 25 in Alexandria, with a satellite location in St. Paul.

The workshops replace the citizen advisory committees and public meetings the DNR used during the last round of setting deer population goals in 2017. DNR brass, including Williams and Barb Keller, the agency’s big game program leader in St. Paul, will be attending all of the workshops.

The population goals established in the process will guide deer management for a decade, with a midpoint review every five years.

“Back in 2014, when we kind of started off some of this process, there were general information meetings that were held, and we generally had 50 or better people at those,” Williams said. “Largely because, I think it was just a prime interest at that time.

“It’s hard to say, and of course, this is prime sports season for basketball games and stuff like that and it’s just hard to schedule a good time, but hopefully we’ll get a good enough attendance that we can get a product that most people will support.”

People who attend the sessions, which will be set up in a workshop format, will break into small groups to scope and develop issues and then come up with recommendations. Ideally, those who attend should plan to be at both workshops.

“The first session is more about, what do you want to talk about, what’s important to you?” Williams said. “Is it concerns about wolves? Is it concerns about not seeing enough deer in the field? Is it concerns about deer damage to pine regeneration? Or anything like that. What is the factor that you would like to at least discuss and how might the current population be either facilitating it or impacting it?

“The second meeting, I think, we talk a little bit more about where you want to go with deer populations from the current level.”

More information on the workshops, including specific locations, is available on the Deer Populations and Goals portion of the DNR website at https://bit.ly/36Ebxf8.

Derbies and shows

Good luck finding a ticket this late in the game, but if ice fishing tournaments are your bag, the Devils Lake Volunteer Fire Department’s 36th annual Ice Fishing Tournament is set for 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, on Six-Mile Bay of Devils Lake. This is North Dakota’s largest ice fishing tournament and also is the fire department’s primary fundraiser. In addition to scads of ice fishing prizes, the big weekend caps off with a raffle drawing beginning at 7 p.m. in the Devils Lake Memorial Building, where the Grand Prize is a 2020 Jeep Gladiator truck. You’ll find more info and a complete prize breakdown at www.dlvfdicefishingtourney.com.

I’m a fan of old snowmobiles, and while vintage snowmobile shows are on tap across the region again this winter, the closest one to Grand Forks and East Grand Forks is the 9th annual AK Vintage Snowmobile Show set for Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Blue Moose in East Grand Forks. There’ll be sleds on display outside the Blue Moose throughout the day, along with a silent auction and raffle inside the Blue Moose from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for Relay for Life so the show is a great opportunity to see some neat old snowmobiles and support a good cause at the same time.

A bit further down the road, the 17th annual Ice Buster Daze fishing derby is set for Saturday, Feb. 8, in Crookston. There’ll be a fishing derby from 1 to 4 p.m. on the Red Lake River at Central Park with an entry fee of $20 per hole, which includes a sloppy Joe supper. The first place fishing prize is a Vexilar FL-18 Ice Pack flasher unit, and prizes will be awarded down to 15th place. Numerous raffle prizes also will be awarded.

Tickets are available at Crookston Hardware Hank. For more information, contact Brian at (218) 281-7762, Hardware Hank at (218) 281-1749 or Suzie at (218) 281-5118.

Dokken reports on outdoors. Call him at (701) 780-1148, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1148 or send email to bdokken@gfherald.com.

Brad Dokken
Brad Dokken