Do deer stands like this one belong on public lands?

It’s been a lovely April. Lovely, that is, if you have lots of
work to do. I have a rapidly approaching book deadline and piles of
logs that must become firewood. The rain is incessant and the snow
slow to melt, so the North Shore rivers are high and cold. It’s
been easy to buckle down. Work now, fish later, is my motto.

Still, I can’t stay out of the woods. Saturday, April 21, I
drove several miles up the Arrowhead Trail to walk the dogs. Once
we crested the south-facing ridge rising up from Lake Superior,
there was still plenty of snow in the woods. A cow and calf moose
were standing in the road. They appeared to have wintered well.

I parked near a stream that meanders along the edge of a clear
cut. Spring had just arrived. The snow was melted out in the open,
so we could walk beside the creek and look for antlers dropped
during the winter by bull moose. The creek was flooded back into
the alder bottoms. Ice cakes drifted in the black current.

The dogs crashed and splashed. Every now and then, I’d hear the
raucous quacks or shrill whistles of annoyed ducks. A beaver
slapped its tail. Somewhere, a red-winged blackbird voiced
dismay.

We made a circle in the clear-cut and came back to the truck. It
didn’t matter that I hadn’t found a moose antler.

gggg

April weather doesn’t daunt the migrating birds. They press
northward with urgency. When out in the yard, robins land beside
me, unafraid, then in moments fly off. At the feeder, species come
and go. For several days, fox sparrows made plate-sized scratchings
in the half-frozen ground beneath the feeder. Then they moved
on.

As of April 23, I’ve yet to hear a drumming grouse. Evening
woodcock mating flights over our backyard have been minimal. I
expect both are waiting for the weather to break.

gggg

At right is a photo of a deer stand in Cass County. Information
from the Cass County Land Department says the structure is built in
a nonmotorized area on county-administered land in Section 2 of
Woodrow Township. The stand is 20 feet long and 11 feet wide. An
ATV trail has been cleared to it.

The stand is built in six trees, including three aspens that
totalled 1.2 cords. By statute, the builder of the stand could be
charged with destruction of timber. The trespass violation for the
three aspens would be $146.55. The other trees have lesser
value.

A question for readers. Do deer stands such as this one belong
on public lands?

gggg

You might think we’re crazy (we really don’t care what you
think), but Vikki and I took a break one busy afternoon to walk
along Kadunce Creek in pouring sleet. Everything was slushy and
drippy, but the sloppy downpour wasn’t so bad beneath the conifers
along the creek.

We followed the hiking path that leads upstream from Highway 61
through a little canyon. The creek was a snarling torrent. We
walked up to where you can stand on the rim of the narrow canyon
and see Kadunce Creek about 50 feet below. Then we walked back to
the highway.

Below the parking lot the Lake Superior beach is piled with
flat, red stones that have washed down from the canyon. Beside the
lake, we caught the brunt of the sleet and wind. We made a short
walk on the stones. Then we went home and, strangely refreshed, got
back to work.

gggg

Minnesota isn’t the only state seeking secure funding for
natural resources and the outdoors. Bruce Larson of Illinois
writes:

“I have been involved with public park districts in Illinois
(there are more than 400) and served as President of the Illinois
Association of Park Districts which works closely with and advises
the (Illinois) DNR on many issues. Currently we are pushing to have
a state-wide referendum to increase the state sales tax by 0.2
percent to fund the purchase of public lands for open space
including parks and recreation.

“Urban sprawl is very serious business. We have seen two
counties near Chicago in northern Illinois recently pass referenda
for $75 and $100 million for land purchases, something that would
have been unheard of a few years ago. Such urban sprawl pressures
I’m sure are being felt in Minnesota also and will only increase
with time.”

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