Archive for the ‘Upland Gamebirds’ Category

“Happy Thanksgiving!”

On behalf of the entire FML Prostaff, wishing save travels and bountiful harvest
on this glorious day!

FML Outdoors picture of the Day


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(From Left to Right): FML Outdoors Editor Scott Nelson, Brad Finstad — Chief author and negotiator of the bill to authorize the building of Minnesota Twins ballpark — Target Field, and U.S. Congressman Erik Paulsen

Le Sueur, MN

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It’s pretty tough to beat a beautiful fall day on the grouse trail with great companionship in the likes of your best four-legged and two-legged hunting buddies. It’s even nicer when the birds are cooperating! Well that’s just exactly what many hunters across Minnesota are experiencing. For many hunters, ruffed grouse hunting is much like a right of passage. The sound of a flushing grouse is unmistakable and once heard — unforgettable! Many hunters can look back and recall the early years of their hunting career beginning with a pocket full of shotgun shells, walking along-side Dad down old logging roads and trails in hopes of bagging this elusive bird.

So far this season, wonderful weather coupled with birds at near peak population has kept many hunters returning to the woods and putting miles under their boots.

Successful reports are coming in from all over the state on both private and public lands.

Hunters are experiencing especially great numbers in the northland, with some local hunters near Duluth reporting upwards of 30 flushes a day! One popular hotspot seems to be the Canosia WMA, with many hunters reporting success on its extensive trail system. Those taking advantage of public trails along the north shore — all the way to Grand Marais are burning powder, spraying pellets and walking back to their vehicle feeling prosperous!

My golden retriever Gunnar and I have hit the trails in both St.Louis and Carlton county and haven’t had to put too much leg work in before flushing birds. We experienced great numbers of grouse and woodcock last season and so far this year is shaping up to be a good as well!

Considering the Ruffed Grouse ten-year population cycle and hunter success this season, now is the time to get out and enjoy the large constellation of upland birds!

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Good Eats!

Back in September, 2008, Minnesota opened the first Dove hunting season. At that time, my daughter was 10-years old. September is a great time of year to get young children expose to the sport of hunting (especially before cold weather sets-in).

Now just think…You don’t have to:

  • Wake up at 4:30 a.m.
  • Fight for a spot in the cattails.
  • Invest in a boat, motor and trailer
  • Freeze your butt for one lonely Teal or Wood Duck

Simply stand in a grassy field or along a fence or wooded treeline. I use dove decoys. Clip them to a wire strung between two conduit poles or find a barbed wire fence or tree branch (make sure the fence isn’t electrified!) The decoys are much smaller and cheaper than duck decoys!

Doves will fly solo and in larger groups once migrating, which allows for some great shooting. Oh…and did I say they were fast?

Look for areas between small grain (wheat, sunflowers, switchgrass) and ponds. Gravel pits are a strong attraction because Doves eat grit to help digest the little seeds. They will travel between these areas starting around 9 – 10 a.m. then again after 3 p.m. until sunset.

Yes, it takes a few Doves to make a meal. I like to serve them as appetizers before a four-course meal of Pheasant, Grouse and Venison!

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Whether you have an upright or chest-like freezer — NOW is the time to protect its contents from melting and spoiling in the event you lose power or someone accidentally leaves the door open.

A Lesson Learned the Hard Way.

It’s was a very sad day — we just came home after a week vacation to an awful smell. We searched the house, sniffing the garbage can and refrigerator. We found some old moldy oranges. Thinking that was the odor…but as soon as I opened the door to the basement the stink grew more intense!

As I walked downstairs to the basement, I quickly found the source of the foul stench. I could see the freezer door open, as the light inside illuminated the adjacent wall. “Oh know!” I thought to myself. I opened the freezer door to find bloody venison and numerous fish fillets floating in their bags. Dripping on the floor and overflowing the drain — it was clear that the freezer door was left open for a whole week!

We had a lot of food packed into the freezer. There were days when it was hard to close the door. The door could have simply popped open allowing all the cold air to escape. Even with the freezer running constantly, it could not keep up with the warm air entering. If you find that your freezer is not working and the inside is above 40 degrees and you know it has been at that temperature more than two hours, then the food probably is not safe.

A Major Investment in Time and Money.

Here is what we lost:

  • Last years venison I had cleaned and cut-up and packaged within a 2-hours of shooting it.
  • Pheasants sought after in 2-feet of snow, hundreds of miles of driving and walking in -27º below temperatures.
  • Grouse flushed over my dog Abby just before getting stuck by a porcupine.
  • Walleye’s caught 12 miles out after traveling over a foot of water on top of the ice (scary).
  • And early spring crappies after waiting months for the ice to go out.


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First Annual 2010 Chili Cookoff
was a great success!

This years 2010 Annual Chili Cookoff winner is…

FML Outdoor Editor,
Scott Nelson

15 couples attended this years event with 11 crockpots full of dangerously good chili!

I had my sites set on winning this event!

Each crockpot was given a number as guest sampled and voted on enormous amounts
of tasty chili.

Within our group of fire eaters — to my surprise,
none of the chili was very spicy?

Pictured Above: Scott and Kevin
enjoying their favorite chili.

Click here for this and other FML Outdoors recipes!

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