Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Streams of thought: Reflecting on outdoor happenings from 2022

ENOUGH RECENT READING has reminded me that this is the time of year for reflection, which shouldn’t be difficult for someone who tends to reflect, reminisce – whatever you care to call it – far too much. So, sure, I’ll reflect on 2022 just a bit, because the next time you take the time to read this column, it’ll be 2023.

On Tuesday, the Minnesota DNR unveiled the final version of its revised state wolf management plan. A draft of the plan was released in June. I find it difficult to believe that it was just last February that wolves were again “re-listed” – placed on the federal endangered species list and labeled “threatened”
once again in Minnesota. Maybe that’s because of the many times during
past decades that wolves have been delisted, then re-listed and so on
and so forth.

I’m sure 2023 will bring even more wolf news, as deer hunters across northern
Minnesota react to poor results and assign blame. If our letters to the
editor section is any indicator, that’s a given.

I recall 2022 as a year during which the state Legislature did little to
affect the outdoors (even though there were plenty of discussions and
proposals). Will that change this year? Probably so. Will it change for
the better? That’ll be a matter of opinion. Trying to trace the tracks
of chronic wasting disease across Minnesota has become the work of a
crack investigator, which I am not. But, we try to keep up. CWD no doubt
will be on the minds of some of the elected in the new DFL-ruled state
Senate and House, but what will be proposed? Had I a crystal ball, one
of the first things I’d request would be what this cervid disease will
lead us to in, say, 10 or 20 or even 30 years.

I try to accomplish at least one big thing each year (feel free to set
your sights higher), and to learn as much about that one thing as I can
along the way. This past winter into spring, that singular focus was dog
breeding. Now, it will be hard to ever think about 2022 and not view it
as the year during which my black Lab, Liza, produced her own litter of
pups – an educational, at times frustrating, time-consuming, and
certainly a satisfying experience.

Given the past two weeks, I’m already having pleasant thoughts and
experiencing much longing for the spring and summer of 2023. Last year’s
garden, while mostly neglected, produced a fine crop of tomatoes.
Experiencing similar neglect were “Betty,” my boat, and my rods and
reels and lures and pretty much everything fishing-related. It’s a
reflection, but not one to be appreciated. If I could get a jump on
resolutions for 2023, one would be to fish more when spring arrives.
It’s a simple, straight-forward ask of myself – or so it seems when it’s
minus-10 on a December morning.

Fall, however, was good. Ducks were plentiful during the September
regular-season opener, though again my dog offered me evidence that
while mallards and woodies and teal she will retrieve, Canada geese are,
for now, out of the question. I’ve told her before and I’ll tell her
again what a strange Lab she is.

In October, college friend Mike hosted me for a few days of ruffed grouse hunting near Grand Rapids. I love that area.

Pheasant hunting will never disappoint me. What will I remember? Probably my dog
as she sat facing west and silhouetted, after hunting hours. At full
alert she listened and whined as roosters returned for roosting,
cackling as they came. Oh, and twice when pheasant hunting took
precedence over the second half of Vikings games. Those games? Against
the Bills and Colts … No regrets.

Here’s hoping you’ll fondly recall 2022 and make 2023 the best it can be. Happy holidays!

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