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Wildersmith on the Gunflint November 10, 2017

WTIP News     November 10, 2017     Wildersmith on the Gunflint     by     Fred Smith

Here we are smack dab into November, and the character of month eleven seems right on schedule. Border country has experienced a little bit of everything weather-wise. Since we last gathered on WTIP, about the only climatic element which we’ve seen little of is sunshine.                                                          

Over the last week it’s snowed some, melted some, rained some and snowed some more. As I scribe this weeks’ news, the gales of November are slamming waves against the granite shores of Gunflint Lake and frigid temps have taken over. There’s plenty of bite in the frosty air.                                                                                                                                                                         
Clouds over head caused this territory to miss the “freezing-over” moon of last weekend, but the spirit of “his lunar highness” has been gaining momentum in recent days. With exception of the bigger bodies of water, lakes are iced over along the Trail, and wetland ponds are locked up for the winter. Yes, the “freezing-over” moon is doing just that!                              

The great Minnesota deer hunting season kicked off last weekend, and reports from hunters around the Gunflint Lake area are disappointing. Few if any tracks have been observed let alone the real thing. One hunter stated, the only tracks in the snow have been those of the Gunflint/ Loon Lake wolf pack. It’s for certain the wolves are so in command they have forced the deer population into near extinction in the upper Trail. This venison happening has occurred by both consumption and herd migration toward the North Shore highlands above Grand Marais. Though few and far between, there are a handful of the white tailed critters around, so perhaps this next week will see a little luck for those sitting in the woods.                                                        

Around Wildersmith, the fisher is becoming an everyday kind of guy/gal. One night it will make enough clatter while rummaging around to wake me up, then on other darkness sojourns it just leaves imprints in the snow as an attendance check-in. To date there hasn’t been too much animal protein as an attraction, but nevertheless, it has a greedy appetite for sunflower seeds.                                                                                                                                                                
A fellow down the road reported another chapter in the wildland predator/prey saga. This time he spotted a pine marten loitering around the yard. Apparently hungry, “old Marty” had its eye on a squirrel who’d been munching around his feed tray.                                                                                 

To make a long story short as possible, the marten got after the red rodent chasing it up a tall spruce tree. Cornering lunch potential at the tree top with no means of escape, a leap to the branch of a nearby tree found the marten having nabbed a squirrel dinner. With a meal secured, it was next seen scrambling down the timber and then scampered off into the forest.                                                                                                                                                                                        
As the snow has been thawing some, then re-freezing to a crusty state to make natural seed sources scarce, avian traffic has become a blur in recent days. Most notable seed tray visitors have been those blue bullies of the airways. At times we have a “blue wave” of jays swarming the feed tray. Since we’ve seen almost no blue in the skies of late, they do offer a bit of azure brilliance, but scare the daylights out of all the little winged fellows.                                                                      
More sadness has befallen the family of Jean Foster who I mentioned as passing away in last weeks’ column. Just six days following her death on October 25th, husband Robert Foster died in Hospice on November 1st. The two resided in West Des Moines, Iowa, but spent summers on Gunflint Lake for decades. Life takes many turns as it has in the case of Jean and Bob where ironically, their times together continue in another heavenly place. Peace and sympathies to their daughters and granddaughter from the Gunflint Trail friends and neighbors.           

Word is out on a Bluegrass Concert Saturday (the 11TH) up this way. The event will be held in the Conference Center at Gunflint Lodge beginning at 7:30. Featured artists are Bluegrass Hall of Famer, Dick Kimmel and Pamela Longtine.  For ticket information call, Gunflint Lodge 388-2294 or go to their website, https://www.                                                                                                                                                                              
The WTIP fall/winter membership drive is in full swing. My “Join Together” pitch from last week is now a reality. WTIP needs you!                                                                                                        

Please don’t forget your end-of-the-year giving couldn’t go to a more worthwhile community non-profit venture. Show your support with a pledge by calling 387-1070 or toll free at 1-800-473-9847; or click and join online at; or stop by the studios at 1712 West Highway 61 and commit to help in person. Thanks in advance for caring, from the Wildersmith two!                                                                                                                                                                                       

For WTIP, this is Wildersmith, on the Trail, where every day is great, as told by winds through the pines!