Wildersmith on the Gunflint Nov. 4, 2009

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We can be comfortable in knowing that summer has passed as we enter week one of November in the north woods. Our windiest segment of the year is just now beginning to build. The season that outdoorsman Larry Weber calls “autwin” is about “falling back” from man-made, to real sun time, and bringing on all kinds of changes, including fashion adjustments for folks around the territory.
 
Although substantial snow has yet to set in, the teeth of the usual Nor’westers is soon to bring out longies, wool pants and insulated boots. So there is no point in fighting the trend.
 
Another border country fashion statement will be made this weekend as the firearms deer slaying season commences. Yes, all sorts of hot orange hunting safety garb will be displayed tramping through the woods.
 
This is pumpkin season, and we usually associate the squash family fruit at this time of year with last weekends Halloween, or the celebration of a bountiful harvest come Thanksgiving. However, during our next 16 days, the customary orange color that we see grown on vines at ground level will be found up in the air, hanging out and trying to look like a tree.
 
The hope is for a safe venison-seeking season, and that the dreams of a fine trophy take-home will come true. And, for those non-hunters that are still tromping out and about, remember that you should put on some “hot” pumpkin wear for safety’s sake too.
 
Speaking of the pending winter, snow that established the base for last season’s 100 inches at Wildersmith occurred late in week one of November. Area residents will be on the lookout for white with more staying power real soon, especially deer hunters.
 
But until fleece blankets us for good, notorious winds during the month of the beaver moon will be bellowing through our wilderness with a shivery pungency of decaying vegetation. Simultaneously, typically gray heavens will begin bulging with snow-filled paunches just waiting to deliver.
 
Incessant rains over the past few weeks have secured my belief that the area will freeze with a wet forest floor, which is good for all growing things come next spring. Trail residents are lucky that the temps were above freezing during the downpours of last weekend, or the Halloween blizzard of 18 years ago might have been replayed in some parts of the Arrowhead.
 
With the exception of the whitetail season ahead, human activities throughout the upper trail have slowed to a near standstill. Things will pick up again when the snow is deep enough to create cross-country skiing opportunities through the great Gunflint cross-country system.
 
On the wild side, critters that slumber through the coming season are about to disappear while other members of the untamed neighborhood remain active with daily searching and storage of survival needs. So activity on the whole is really operating at 50 percent of normal, all cast members being considered.
 
My avian buddies, “Whiskey” and “Jack”, are still chirping with enthusiasm each time that I step out of doors. The Canadian pair and I have each other figured out. They come and sit waiting for a handout, while I promptly go and get them a treat. Guess who has trained who? Every day I get rewarded for their training me so well, when one will come and sit on my hand for a morsel of nourishment. What an extraordinary experience!
 
Keep on hangin’ on, and savor some “autwin” happenings!

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