Monday, November 29, 2010

Scene helps deal with loss of our friend

We just learned we lost a good friend over Thanksgiving.

We're getting to an age now where we've lost quite a few friends as well as all of our elders.

That doesn't make it any easier.

I find some solace in this photo of a stump behind our home.

Where once a mighty tree had stood, now a young sapling grows. Life didn't end here.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Invisaswivel might be useful for walleye

A new, fluorocarbon swivel could be handy when walleye fishing this summer.

Called the Invisaswivel, it is said to be clear and strong.

Walleye are spooked by just about anything metal so I'm thinking this product could be just the ticket whenever you need to use a swivel such as when trolling walleye spinners.

You can also eliminate line twist when jigging for walleye by putting a swivel a couple of feet ahead of your jig.

Check out the Invisaswivel yourself.

The website is:

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Village Corner in Vermilion Bay is no more

Village Corner, Vermilion Bay
If you're like me you always made a stop at the Village Corner in Vermilion Bay on the way up to Red Lake. It was on the corner of Hwy. 17 and Hwy. 105 (the Red Lake road).

Well, the Village Corner caught fire and burned down last fall. I haven't heard if it will be rebuilt but I imagine it will, probably not before next spring, however.

The Village Corner was a busy place. It had a gas bar, terrific tackle shop, restaurant and some other shops. It was also the bus stop and a favorite truck stop.

If you need to get gas in Vermilion Bay now, you need to go farther west on Hwy. 17. Famous Bobby's sells gas and is also a great tackle and bait shop.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our 2011 fishing package rates same as last year

View from the lodge
Here's some good news!

Our fishing packages in 2011 will cost the same as they did in 2010. In fact, they haven't changed for the past three years.

Our goal is to always offer a premium-quality vacation at the most affordable price while still making continuous upgrades and improvements to camp and our equipment.

In 2011 we will have all electric-start Honda outboards and a couple of new Lund boats.

Last season we installed a massive state-of-the-art septic system for the entire camp that uses peat moss as a biofilter. We also rebuilt all of our crib docks.

The year before that we put in a large water filtration plant that provides delicious safe drinking water to every tap in camp. We also rebuilt our boathouse.

We've got some cabin remodeling in mind for this coming season.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

How big a tree will a beaver cut down?

Our grandsons Quillan and Raven marvel at the work of North America's largest rodent near camp this fall.

The beaver that had been working on this quaking aspen was going to need more than one night to do the job.

These animals only eat the bark from the trees and prefer the new growth on the limbs rather than the tough bark on the trunk. This tree just had a few branches, probably 60-70 feet off the ground.

I knew a wildlife researcher who was able to show that beaver are able to calculate the work that must go into cutting down a tree compared to the nutrition they will gain from it. When beaver first move into an area they cut down small to medium-sized trees, bypassing big old trees like the one in this picture. Eventually, when there is almost nothing left, they take the time to gnaw down the big projects.

They will go about 100 feet away from the water to get trees. In this photo all the smaller trees in the background are white birch. These aren't favored by beaver as long as there are aspen, alders and willows to eat. But when it takes too much work to get their favorite food, they'll turn on the birch too.

Beavers are as common around camp as are robins in other parts of the world. We see them every evening swimming around the docks.

Although beaver run afoul of humans because of their tree cutting, many other creatures appreciate the beaver's hard work.

They create clearings in the forest where new growth will sprout and provide food for herbivores like moose and deer. Ruffed grouse like to eat rosehips that grow on wild rose bushes in these spots. In winter, snowshoe hares nibble on the stems of the young aspen that will spring up from the roots of the old tree.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A great day to take a ride aboard the Lickety Split

One mile to Middle Narrows
Looking back at Wolf Narrows

These were the views out the bow and stern of our camp trip boat, the Lickety Split, during a calm day on Red Lake, Ontario, last summer.

Such mirror-like water is a pleasure to make the 20-mile journey in although it's not a favorite with our fishermen. They prefer a little "walleye chop."

The Lickety Split can make the voyage in nearly all weather. One type of weather system we do avoid is the thunderstorm. If we encounter one during the trip we simply go to the safety of the shoreline and wait until it passes. But normally we can time our departure at the dock to avoid thunderstorms altogether.

"A sudden storm is soon over," is the old adage and a good one. Waiting-out a thunderstorm normally means just a 15-to-30-minute delay.

In most conditions the Lickety Split can take nine people and their gear to camp or back to town in just 35 minutes. In rough water, however, the trip can take twice that long as it is necessary to slow down and sometimes to follow alternate routes.

We always see loons and eagles during the voyage and sometimes are lucky enough to spot swimming moose, deer and black bear as well.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I've got to get one of these 'diesel deer forwarders'

Our son Matthew uses his diesel Kubota tractor to take out a nice buck from the woods.

My brother-in-law Ron got this 10-pointer.

I've been concentrating on deer hunting since we got home from camp and have seen a bunch but I'm waiting for "Mr. Big."

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Monday, November 15, 2010

The beauty in small things

fritillary butterfly at Red Lake, Ontario
This fritillary butterfly resting on the weathered wooden step of one of the buildings at camp caught my eye this fall.

It's amazing the detail delivered by the macro mode of small pocket cameras. I used an Olympus FE 340 which is about the size of a deck of cards.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

How to temporarily paralyze a walleye

paralyzed walleye
Gently push forward the walleye's pectoral fins (they're the ones on the side near the head) and a walleye absolutely cannot move. It's as if the fish was paralyzed. It will sit motionless on your hand until you allow the fins to flip backwards again.

You can use this little trick to amaze your friends next summer.

First say that you are going to put the fish into a deep trance.

Look deeply into the fish's eyes, all the while saying the magic words, "balloon ball, balloon ball."

Then stretch the fish out on on your palm (with the fins pushed forward).

Incredibly it will lie motionless.

Then, with the other magic word (and a slight shifting of your hand away from the fins), "Shazaam," and the fish comes back to life and jumps into the water.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Walleyes brilliantly colored in 2010

golden walleye
Not only were walleyes especially plentiful in 2010, they also seemed exceptionally beautiful.

Check out this beauty held by Bow Narrows angler Jason Pons.

Was it just me or were the walleyes actually a deeper hue of gold last summer?

Comments anyone?

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Great feeling to have next summer's wood ready

Our son Josh was at camp for a couple of weeks this fall and he managed to split, stack and cover what should be next year's supply of firewood.

Here he stands amid some of the 10 cords of aspen firewood.

The trees were felled by the crew that installed our new septic system last spring. September was the first occasion we had to buck-up the trees into stove lengths.

In the Boreal Forest we don't have the great firewood species of trees that most of our guests from the States enjoy. We simply burn whatever is available. For years following a spruce budworm infestation, we burned balsam fir because there were dead, dry balsam all around the camp. It has about the lowest heat value but the standing trees are an extreme fire hazard so we had to get rid of them.

When we go looking for firewood by boat we usually get dead standing jackpine or white spruce.

Quaking aspen such as the huge pile split up by Josh burns about as well as pine or spruce. But it always must be cut green and then split and dried. You never find a dry aspen on the stump. Dead trees are always punky.

White birch is our species with the most heat value but it also must be cut and dried for at least six months before using. The birch bark is very resistant to rot and is also waterproof (that's why it was used by the native people for canoes.) You can find hollow lengths of birchbark in the forest where the tree has fallen down, it's inside rotted away and nothing is left but the bark.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanks to our great staff of 2010!

The Year of 2010 was one the busiest seasons we have ever had; yet, it went off like clockwork thanks to our talented and hardworking staff.

This photo was taken as the three staffers left in late August. I was unable to upload it to the blog at the time due to our Internet connection problems.

The three staffers in the Lickety Split with Brenda and I are Landon Broennle, Kristina Belanger (next to Brenda) and Emilie Godin.

The trio were on their way to catch a Bearskin Airways plane for Thunder Bay.

You can't quite see it in the photo but Kristina and Emilie were wearing black rubber boots. That was because they had reached the airline's baggage weight (and space) limit and they still hadn't packed their trusty boots. So they simply wore them home, even though it was a pleasant day!

That kind of aplomb was typical for these three. Nothing got them down or frustrated them.

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The season is over and we're home

Late October sunrise Bow Narrows Camp on Red Lake, Ontario
Brenda, Sam and I are back home again.

We pulled out of camp a week ago and spent most of last week in Dryden where we attended the annual conference of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario (NOTO).

We also had to make two trips to our home in Nolalu and one extra trip back to Red Lake to ferry all of our belongings including a bull moose and a wood chipper.

Now that I'm back in the world of high-speed internet I find I can upload photos to the blog again. It would seem our clunky telephone connection at camp was finally just too slow to communicate anything other than text. This may mean we will need to install a satellite system next season.

Anyway, we're home now and I can update the blog regularly again.

The photo above was taken the morning we left camp. I think sunrises are even more beautiful than sunsets. Their color changes by the second.

It was good we left camp when we did because the next day saw something resembling a hurricane strike the entire region. There were winds of 80 kmh (50 mph) and rain that came down in sheets for the entire day. We could barely stay on the road as we drove the moose meat down to Nolalu.

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