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Wildersmith November 11

Gunflint residents foster friendships with neighborhood foxes this week
Gunflint residents foster friendships with neighborhood foxes this week

FinalCut_Wildersmith_20111111.mp39.15 MB

The season that north country folk anticipate at this time of year continues AWOE (absent without explanation). By this date in 2010 the territory had a blanket of snow that became the norm for the season, hanging around until the latter days of April.

Instead of slipping into those insulated stompers for slip-sliding around, we are still treading around on the cushy carpet of needles and leaf litter in summer hiking boots.

The atmosphere has stayed unusually warm for yet another week, acting more like we’re headed into an El Nino pattern instead of the predicted La Nina. Thus the air remains alive as one inhales the rich earthy smells of fall’s decomposing plant matter, while those usual frosty breaths of November expiration have been few and far between.

With basically no substantial precipitation through the upper end of the byway during the last week, the area is once again tinder dry with wildfire potential. Perhaps the only saving grace in the matter of fire danger is that nights have been much cooler than they were a few weeks back when the Pagami Creek inferno was raging not too far away.

Tourist traffic has slowed to almost nothing along the Trail. However, the onset of rifle shooting deer season this past Saturday saw vehicles cruising through with a “hot orange” glow inside as opposed to the customary top-mounted canoes and trailing watercraft.

As of this writing, I’m told hunting success in the Gunflint Lake area has been minimal. There seems to be little if any sign of the critters. There are many noticeable spots of hunter fluorescence in various high points along the Trail. Hopefully a change to colder and maybe some snowier conditions will bring some action to those orange-looking bushes that sit so quietly.

One local hunter noted the sighting of a doe with two wolves in hot pursuit. These two warriors were followed by two more, then two more and then two more for an eight pack total. It would be a good bet that these four-legged hunters had better luck than most of the two-legged pursuers around here, at least on that day.

It’s probably safe to say that the wolves have taken control over what was a burgeoning whitetail population just two or three years ago. As we might expect though, this too will cycle as dining opportunities diminish, the pack population will move on to better hunting grounds and the browsing population will eventually rebound.

A gal residing over on Tucker Lake tells of a growing friendship with a neighborhood fox. The fluffy tailed critter has become so friendly that it hangs around within whistling distance most all the time.

She tells of stepping out the door and if it is not in sight, a whistle has it coming in on the run, and when outside the lady is now carrying treats in her pocket for her newfound companion. How fun this must be!

Then another gal from over on Loon Lake shared that she had a fox walking up her driveway recently. Acquainted with the fox experience over on Tucker Lake, she stepped out and gave a whistle. Sure enough, this one came right back to her door in anticipation of a handout, which it did receive.

One would wonder if this fox might have been the same one, or have we humans domesticated them to the point that a whistle respondent gene has evolved? Jokingly, I’ll bet those gals down in the mid-Trail area, on Poplar Lane, who’ve been pampering neighborhood foxes for years are behind all this. Bless them all, for they shall inherit the wild kingdom!

On a final note, we at Wildersmith hope that everyone will step to the plate once again to show their support of this “deeply rooted” component in our wonderful northeast Minnesota community. WTIP’s fall membership drive needs you! Please give as generously as possible!

Keep on hangin’ on and savor our gray natural world!

Airdate: November 11, 2011

Photo courtesy of Art G. via Flickr.