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Wildersmith November 4

Whiskey Jack
Whiskey Jack

FinalCut_Wildersmith_20111104.mp38.55 MB

The 20th anniversary of the northland’s great Halloween snowstorm was celebrated quietly with no repeat. In fact, spirits of snowy ghosts and goblins throughout the upper Trail were not too haunting at all. Being nearly at the end of the world, so to speak, there were so few spooks banging at the Wildersmith door that our candy cache remains intact except for a little in-house snitching.

The atmosphere has shown some sign of components soon to be in the offing as our ground was whitened with about a half inch in the early hours, and several mornings found a skim of ice on the smaller ponds and swamps along the byway since we last met on the radio. However, in both circumstances, the cold weather character could not be sustained as sun and wind vaporized things rather easily.

Bitter cold has not consumed us yet, but several of our recent dawns have dished up some pretty hefty frosted layers on most everything sticking up in the air. At Wildersmith our coldest reading to date has only been in the high teens.

On the moisture side of the ledger, a few piddly shower attempts in the past week have netted less than a quarter inch, but it has kept things damp enough to chill the bones when added to the never-ceasing air currents.

So the beat goes on as we traipse into month 11. Ojibwe call it the month of the ‘freezing over’ moon (Gash Kadino-Giizis) while others in the north woods label it as the full ‘beaver’ moon.

Regardless of what one dubs it, excitement mounts with the end of one month in Halloween orange, and a beginning of another in hot hunter orange. This marks the opening of another firearms whitetail season. In a matter of hours, thousands of stalkers, decked out in their fluorescent outfits, will descend on border country and take positions trying to look like a tree or a bush.

All this hoopla is in hope of surprising some unsuspecting buck or doe that is more in tune with continuing the species than looking down the barrel of a 30 ought six. Not a pursuer myself, I wish both hunter and the hunted good luck, but most of all, let’s be sane and safe during the next couple weeks. For everyone else that might be out in the forest doing their thing during this time of year, remember to don your orange warning wear too.

The wintertime critters that frequent our deck-side feeders are back. That poultry-lovin’ marten has returned, remembering how well it has been treated in the past. And a cluster of whiskey jacks have hung around to make me feel guilty enough to get up and out early with a handful of bread cubes. The gray jay reward for my early day outdoor venture has been a visit to my hand and a peck on the digits if the serving is not enough.

The “white sox” are out along County Road 20 at almost any time of day or night, and they are not of the Chicago vintage. I’m talking about snowshoe hares, and all have slipped into their white winter leggings. I guess that I have not paid them much attention, but apparently their turn from summer to winter apparel must start from the ground up. A few have even taken on a white undercarriage.

At times it’s like you’re in a game of dodge ball trying to avoid the daredevils in white sneakers with the vehicle. Speaking of other daredevils in the wild, those hares don’t exactly have a lock on keeping you alert on backcountry roads. Minnesota’s ‘chicken birds’ must think that their hunting season is over because they are casually roaming about creating an occasional roadside surprise of their own. Between the hares, grouse and now crazy deer, vehicle operation is not for the faint of heart.

Keep on hangin’ on, and savor dodging those wilderness surprises!

Airdate: November 4, 2011

Photo courtesy of Steve Urszenyi via Flickr.