Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Wild Weekend

With the weatherman predicting another record snowfall for Sunday while Saturday's weather would be the last of the February thaw, I decided it would be a great time to head up to our deer hunting grounds on Rich's place and retrieve my ladder stand.  The trek back to my stand consists of a quarter mile adventure through an alder swamp.  At the end of deer season last fall it was decided that rather than go through all the work of removing it piece by piece, it would be much simpler to leave it in the woods and wait till the swamp freezes.  Of course that's what I said year and the heavy part of the stand keep it's host tree company all year.  Determined to get it out before the thaw, and looking at my schedule, it was as good a time as any.  The fact that I needed to pick up my ice fishing gear from Bill Lundeen and my friend and hunting partner Jack claimed the crappies were really biting on his lake, I picked up my frequent weekend companion Lory, and once again headed north.  Our route takes us up the Great River Road which parallels the Mississippi River, crosses the confluence of the Crow River before meeting the highway north.  Crossing the Crow River, we ran into an interesting scene, 10 - 12 wild tom turkeys robbing a ground feeder in front of a house.  It's been a tough year for turkeys with the deep snow. 

The pending storm must have had the all the wildlife on high alert.  Hooking the trailer to the truck, I noticed something ran over the edge of my holding pond.  Sure enough  it was my red fox whom lives inside the drain culvert.  This holding pond is basically a depression that drains a good portion of my neighborhood runoff rain and melt water and allows it to be reabsorbed into the water table.  If the water gets too high, there is an outlet culvert which runs underground a few hundred feet, emptying onto the flood plan of the Mississippi River.  It only to the outlet in the spring while the ground is still froze and the melt is fast.  I suspect that the depth of the culvert keeps it fairly warm deep inside, making a cozy home for the fox.  One of the benefits of having the fox around is the noticeable absence of rabbits on the property.  Last year the rabbits were at epidemic levels, eating everything in site.  I hope it decides to stay around for a while as it pretty cool to see it around quite a bit these days.  One thing is for sure, if you walk down to the culvert the fox has made his presence well known as they make sure their skunk like scent is everywhere!

Our first stop was at Bill's to pick up my portable ice house, Vexilar FL20, and my underwater camera.  For my efforts I was rewarded with a smoked Tullibee that he had caught last week.  The fish was a work of art and would go great with the Miller High Life that Jack always has.  Next stop was Jack's cabin on Platte Lake, 12 miles west of Mille Lacs.  There we unloaded the trailer, replacing the contents with his 2 up snowmobile, the perfect means for hauling out tree stand and headed for Rich's place.  Coming around the corner, something caught my eye, a huge immature bald eagle high in a tree.  Stopping to take a look, it soon became apparent, it was guarding a road kill deer, exposed by the weeks snow melt.  Getting out to take a picture, it decided to take flight.  Had this been a more mature eagle, I doubt it would have given up it's readily available food source.  Never the less it was pretty cool to see a young eagle this close.  After accomplishing my goal, we headed out on Platte Lake for the evening bite, which never developed.  A few sunnies was about all I could muster up, but all in all it was a good day.

Admittedly I am getting sick of winter.  After spending a few days in 76 degree Anaheim, CA two weeks ago, then a couple of 60 degree days in Denver last week and reading Jeff's adventures in Mexico, the latest 12 inches of snow has taken the wind out of my sails!  A week from Friday I travel to Rockport Texas to fish Redfish in the barrier marshes of the Gulf of Mexico with my Texas friend Joe Stanfield and Jim Cox, one of my suppliers.  The website looks interesting and will provide a good break for this long winter.  In the meantime the weekend plan is to try again for a limit of tullibees, maybe smoking them this time.  We did open a jar of the pickled ones Lory did last week and they are coming along real well.

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