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Wildersmith on the Gunflint: June 27

Black Bear
Black Bear

wildersmith_20140627_final.mp35.99 MB

Life along the Gunflint is generally leisurely and laid back. It can be a time for R & R regardless of whether one is a full-time resident or a weeklong visitor. Nevertheless, the sands of time are passing us on into the second half of the year ’14 at an unbelievable pace.
We’ll be checking off June in a few more days, and are headed to the Independence Day holiday after which many declare that summer is half over. The thought of that seems hard to reconcile when summer is officially only a week old as I scribe this week’s Gunflint scoop.
The atmosphere up the Trail continues a bit on the lesser side of normal. Not that I’m complaining, but the clouds and rain seem relentless. Thankfully, this area has not been deluged like other places around Minnesota. We’ve had just enough to keep the streams and rivers gushing merrily, river system lakes holding at stabilized levels and wildfire potential in the low to moderate range.
Meanwhile temperatures have been comfortably cool, right on, for me and the moose.  Outside of Old Sol (who can be a beast this time of year) being in absentia on most days, the past seven in Gunflint Territory have been fresh and good as they can get.
The black bear population out this way seems to have burgeoned into an uncountable number over the past couple years. About everyone I talk with recently has had a bear episode to share.
We find the Brunos up to their usual antics of satisfying insatiable appetites while waiting for our berry season to come on. By the way, a statement has been made in regard to a blueberry prediction. It’s been said, that on a scale of one to 10, the crop may be an 11 considering the timely moisture and horrendous crop of black fly pollinators.
One such growler story came from a local excavation worker who came to lunchtime with an equally voracious hunger. It seems he opened his hatchback and dug out the lunch box, leaving it exposed while he ran a brief errand (a matter of scant minutes) to another place on the site.
Guess the bear was watching all the time, and when the opportunity presented itself, Mr./Ms. Bear snatched the cooler box and made off into the woods. Returning, the stunned fellow didn’t know what to think, so a search was set in motion. After a time of tramping around the territory, the missing food container was found. The box was chewed considerably, and missing, of course, were the contents. The bear even topped off sandwich selections by drinking the guy’s bottle of bug dope.
In another incident, a couple from over on Loon Lake report that their neighborhood bear helped itself to half of a 55-gallon compost barrel in one night’s sitting. Then the critter returned the next night to finish it off. Anyone who does composting knows that this stuff does not give off the most appetizing aroma. One has to believe that this wild garbage collector might have had a heck of a bellyache for a few days, and oh, talking about bear breath, wow, this had to be bad!
Folks out this way who try gardening know that if it’s not deer or snowshoe hares, woodchucks can be enemy number one. A gal tells of a fox who has assisted her gardening efforts by working at reducing the ground hog population around her place.
On one particular morning, the fox came into her view carrying a deceased young chucker in its mouth. Not too unusual, except the fox took the lunch fare and laid it beside another from a previous hunting excursion. And, as if two weren’t enough, it headed back for another.
One has to wonder if this wasn’t a momma fox with youngsters to feed. If such was the case, it must have been easy pickins with an apparent absentee mother woodchuck. She was probably out ravaging somebody’s garden/flower patch in order to also feed her own. It’s a sometimes sad, but vicious cycle for members of the Wild Neighborhood.
For a little people news, a reminder is passed along in regard to this weekend’s “Tending the Trees” project. Volunteers should plan to arrive by 10 a.m. Saturday at the End of the Trail Campground boat landing. Come prepared for outdoor work in the dense underbrush as re-forested tree saplings are to be released from their competitive vegetation surroundings.
Work will be conducted along the Seagull Nature Trail under direction of USFS and Gunflint Scenic Byway Committee personnel. For additional information, call Rich Kujawa at 387-3768, but don’t wait too long, the event is here and now!
A second notice is for the “celebration of summer” open house at the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center this Sunday. Organizers are putting on a “shrimp boil” lunch from noon until 2 p.m. Plan to make a day of it with a visit to the museum and perhaps some hiking on the many trail system opportunities. Of special note is the fantastic temporary museum exhibit of Butterflies, Skippers and Moths.
Keep on hangin’ on and savor, Mother Nature’s Gunflint offerings!