Posts Tagged ‘Southwest MN’

Posts Tagged ‘Southwest MN’


January 28th, 2015

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member, “used with permission by the Renville County Register”.

It was a Monday evening in December when the call came in. Jordan asked Oscar if he could join himself and Richard who lives in the Twin Cities for a pheasant hunt here in Renville County. They were all “old friends”.

The conversation involved planning the time to meet, place, and where the trio would hunt. They would meet on Wednesday morning.

Jordan said that he had a place lined up that had received little hunting pressure; there should be a lot of birds. Richard was bringing his pointing hunting dog.

The guys were looking forward to this joining of old friends for a pheasant hunt. They hadn’t hunted much lately due to age and its nasty fellow travelers.

Then Jordan dropped a “bomb” on Oscar. He said, “Richard may be showing some signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s; He may not be able to hunt much after this season.”

Oscar cringed as he heard this and then he began to hope that they would have some good hunting luck, for Richard’s sake.

Wednesday morning came quickly and the three friends assembled at Jordan’s home. After the hunt, the trio would gather there for a meal after hunting.

The three well-seasoned friends and the rambunctious pointing dog piled into the truck and drove off to the chosen hunting spot. Upon arrival, the dog was first out of the truck. He quickly made a sweep of the immediate habitat and flushed a rooster and a hen.

When Oscar and Richard had loaded guns and made ready for the hunt, Jordan drove the truck to the end of the field to be a “blocker”. “Where’s the dog? He has way too much energy today”, said Richard. The two friends started to walk into the tall prairie grass and the dog rejoined them, running back and forth in front of them, attempting to sniff out a pheasant for them.

Suddenly the dog showed signs of picking up a scent. Off he went, chasing the sweet smell of the pheasants. Whistles and loud shouting by Richard couldn’t restore common sense and training that the dog had received. Kiss any pheasants goodbye in this prairie. Dogs have a way of embarrassing their owners.

The three friends re-grouped and moved on to another part of this large wildlife area. The dog took off again, followed by a lot of shouting and use of the whistle. Suddenly the dog got “birdy”. He slowly moved ahead and suddenly assumed the classic pose of a good pointer. Nose high, tail rigid and the right front paw lifted and curled back. Oscar wished he had his camera along for this moment. The dog then moved ahead and flushed a hen pheasant. No shot, but the dog assumed he should pursue the bird no matter how far it flew. Richard got desperate that he would lose the dog so he walked as fast as his old legs could go toward where the dog had disappeared in the tall grass. Now the dog went into the neighboring field where the guys had no permission to hunt. Richard followed as fast as he could.

After a while, Oscar looked where Richard had gone, following the dog. No one could be seen, even though Richard was dressed in orange vest and hat. Finally Oscar could see him heading in the wrong direction from where the dog had appeared to go. Oscar hoped he knew what he was doing. Then, Richard was no longer visible at all.

Thoughts of dementia flew into Oscar’s brain and he thought Richard may get lost, even here on the prairie. Oscar could not locate Richard and worried about a heart attack or something. Oscar then quickly contacted Jordan and they hopped into the pickup and drove the trails looking out for Richard in the area he had disappeared into. They both began to fear the worst. Someone wearing orange should be easy to spot, unless he was down on the ground in the tall grass. Worry abounded.

After much frantic searching, an orange blob could be seen out in the neighbor’s tallgrass prairie. The orange blob had to be Richard, either sitting down or lying down. They shouted and waved their arms, but Richard didn’t seem to see them. So, Oscar left the pickup and started to walk over the neighboring prairie to see Richard. When Oscar found the area where Richard had been seen, he wasn’t there. Looking farther in the prairie, nothing could be seen. Then over a rise in the land, there was Richard, staggering along like a drunken sailor, totally lost and a bit panicked. Obviously Richard was very confused and instead of walking back to the area they were hunting, he continued down the path heading away from the other two.

Finally Oscar got close enough to be heard by Richard as he shouted to him. Richard stopped and looked back. A big sigh of relief moved over Richard’s face as he saw a friend coming for him. Richard immediately sat down on the ground, thoroughly exhausted from his blind search for the dog and trying to locate his friends. Richard admitted to being lost and very turned around. The dog had also found Richard.

Oscar and Richard talked a while until Richard seemed to get some strength back and stood up. As they started to walk back to the hunting area, Richard used his shotgun as a cane to steady him. He held the muzzle of the shotgun and it pointed up into his arm pit. So, Oscar asked him if the gun had been unloaded. Richard didn’t think he had done that. Oscar took out the five shells in the gun and checked it. Then they resumed the walk back. Then, along came the pickup with Jordan who had found an opening in the fence between the two properties and came to the rescue. Richard, completely exhausted of energy couldn’t even lift his legs up into the pickup. The two friends feared a heart attack in Richard at any time.

Oscar’s mind ran through the day’s events and his own fears that Richard could have died out there in the tall grass prairie. He realized that unless someone was right along side of Richard, he should never hunt again.

Then, sadness overtook Oscar as he saw himself possibly reaching this point in his hunting life down the road. A lifetime of hunting, dogs and shotguns must come to an end some day.

And so would he.


Today Sven quotes Daniel Webster: “God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”


December 31st, 2014

By Jon Wogen, TBC Board member, “used by permission of the Renville County Register”.

Owls have always intrigued me. When I was a kid on the farm, owls were a constant part of my life. We had seven wildlife areas on our farm, a railroad right of way and a large grove for wind protection. One had a lot of interesting experiences with wild things when you grow up in such a place.

We had lots of owls that lived in this wildlife-rich area of our farm. At night Screech Owls would give us their high pitched hoots and really became fun to imitate. The owls actually came closer and hooted back to us. They are a small, cute, but menacing looking miniature owl that resembles the Great Horned Owl in the face. They look so serious all the time. No smiling there.

We often saw these small owls at sunset. When we finished milking the cows and feeding the other critters, the sun had usually set and the western sky was beautiful gold, red, orange, or other wonderful color, depending upon the clouds present at that time.

As we walked into the house for supper, we could stop and look back at the barn. Quite often at that time, a small Screech Owl would fly to the peak of the barn roof. He just sat there pondering the sunset. The owl never hooted or moved much. It just sat there and enjoyed the colorful sunset. It eventually flew away as it got dark and began hunting for mice.

Since living on the farm owls have always intrigued me. That mysterious and serious look on their faces really got your attention. They never seemed to like us, but just tolerated us. The Great Horned Owls with their big “ears” and huge yellow eyes always were scary to see. We imagined that they would swoop down on us and grab us by the hair as they ripped off our caps, but it never happened. Kids do have an imagination. I remember reading where a hunter was calling for a fox to come in so he could shoot it. He was using a call that imitated a wounded and scared rabbit. A Great Horned Owl swooped down and grabbed his cap off his head, ripping open a large gash in his scalp. I never trusted owls after I read that story in one of the outdoor magazines.

Some wildlife lovers call the Great Horned Owl the “winged tiger” as it had a reputation for being able to kill quite large critters, such as rabbits, house cats, and even skunks. It preferred mice as they could be swallowed whole and their beaks weren’t really designed for tearing up their pray very well.

Another owl here in Minnesota that I love is the tiny Saw Whet Owl. This guy is even smaller than the Screech Owl. It lives in more forested areas and has a most unusual call. It sounds like someone sharpening a saw with a file, hence the name. It is pretty scary hearing such a sound when out in the woods at night. Their eyes are fantastic for night vision and they can home in on prey like small voles, mice and large insects with no effort at all.

Minnesota has a number of owls that are present. The barn owl probably is no longer found in Minnesota, but there could be a few in the southeast part of the state. The Barred Owl, Screech Owl, Saw –Whet Owl, Great Horned Owl, Long-Eared Owl, and Short-Eared Owl are somewhat numerous at least part of the year. The Boreal Owl, Burrowing Owl, Great Grey Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, and the Snowy Owl are less common and are found only at certain times of the year, mostly in winter. The Burrowing Owl is probably not found in Minnesota but if they are still here, they would be found on the Western Minnesota Prairie remnants still present on hilly ground. The Great Grey Owl nests in the extreme northern Minnesota forest, but become more numerous in Minnesota during severe winters in Canada. The Snow Owl comes down in winter when the mice and lemmings are in low supply.

Owls have a valuable place in nature. They are very helpful in controlling the supply of mice, rats, voles, lemmings, and such. In the case of the Great Horned Owl, they can also be destructive to other wildlife, including rabbits, pheasants, and other “desirable wildlife”. But, as they say, “Everything has a place in the scheme of things of nature”.

Next week we will discuss owls a bit more. We will present plans for a Screech Owl House as those little guys need some help. There are now fewer and fewer standing dead trees for them to nest in and they love hole-nesting. Building a nest box for them and placing it fairly high in trees will be worth your time.


I hadn’t attended a Bike Trail Meeting for some time so wanted to learn what is up with that effort. They held a meeting at Master’s in Olivia on Wed., November 19.

They are awaiting a decision about their grant that they had applied for a while back. The DNR grant people won’t make a decision until January at the earliest. But, plans go on as if it will be awarded to the Bird Island-Olivia Trail Committee.

If it is awarded, the project will go on. There will be a trail head located on the north side of the new Renville County Hospital where the trail will be located. The trail head in Bird Island will be near the Baseball Diamond. The trail head in Bird Island has been drawn up for study by members of the Bird Island City Council and future users of the trail. It consists of a nice shelter or gathering place. Cost estimates are being studied for this structure. The plans are interesting and appear to be rather nice.

Keep tuned in and watch for future announcements about the possible receipt of the grant for the trail. Once a grant is in place, things can proceed. The committee discussed how to involve the landowners in fixing perceived problems with the trail going past their properties. For instance, special landscaping can be done to remedy some “problems”. Those runners, hikers and bikers who long for this project are getting anxious as the grant procedure comes to its end.


Today, Sven quotes Rose Kennedy: “Life is not easy for any of us. But it is a continual challenge, and it is up to us to be cheerful and strong, so that those who depend on us may draw strength from our example.”

Bird Watching in Southwestern Minnesota

August 29th, 2012

The climate and terrain in Southwestern Minnesota makes this home to a number of  birding sites.  While the ideal time is during migration, birding in Redwood & Renville Counties are fruitful in all seasons.

Take in Cedar Mountain SNA **(Scientific and Natural Area)  a good place for wildlife and bird watching.  Spectacular for its scenery, rock outcrops and plant life, especially in August when the prairie is in bloom.  The SNA lies on bedrock and ridges that go back 3.4 billion years and it is here in Renville County along the Minnesota River, just 11 miles from the town of Redwood Falls.

Cedar Mountain WMA** (Wildlife Management Area) neighbors the Scientific Natural Area, and complements the SNA by providing additional prairie habitat.

**These are excellent birding areas. However, birder access can be difficult due to necessity of crossing the creek from the south or walking through the prairie restoration in the WMA on the east.  It is situated between Minnesota River and Wabasha Creek, so in the Spring it may be inaccessible due to high water.

Thirty acres of mesic woodland (Mesic soil is a medium type of soil a woodland that has both conifers and broadleaf trees ) lies immediately south of the SNA, and west of the SNA is a 133-acre complex of former cropland, 30 acres of which remains planted in a grain plot that provides winter food for resident wildlife. Sixty-seven acres have been seeded to a diverse mixture of prairie grasses and forbs, and the remainder of the property contains naturally-regenerating lowland hardwood forest, including silver maple and cottonwood.

Due to habitat diversity, 117 bird species have been recorded at this SNA. Although the WMA does not maintain a checklist, similar species would be found.

You are likely to spot:

  • Upland Sandpipers
  • Sedge Wrens
  • Blue Grosbeaks
  • Red-winged black birds
  • Canada Geese
  • Wood ducks
  • Blue-winged teal ducks
  • Woodpeckers
  • Doves
  • Red-tailed hawks
  • Northern cardinals
  • Eastern bluebirds
  • American goldfinches

Bald eagles have nested within about a mile of Cedar Mountain SNA/WMA, so keep on the lookout for flying and foraging eagles.

The Tatanka Bluffs Corridor also offers opportunities to experience Minnesota wildlife in its natural habitat. Observing wildlife is among the most affordable recreational activities, and the abundant wildlife in Redwood and Renville counties affords visitors ample opportunities to explore the natural world.  Click here to learn more!

Another great resource for birding information in MN is the Explore Minnesota Birding ReportClick here to learn more!

The Minnesota River Valley Birding Trail spans the Minnesota River watershed from its headwaters near the South Dakota border to its confluence with the Mississippi River in the Twin Cities. It promotes the beauty, wildlife, natural habitats, and recreational opportunities of this unique region. Click her to learn more!

How to find Cedar Mountain SNA/WMA:

Click Here for the MN DNR Map and Directions!

Franklin MN is located in Renville County, about 11 east of Redwood Falls on the other side of the Minnesota River.  To get to the SNA from Franklin, go 1.35 miles South on Co Rd 5 (becomes Co Rd 11 in Redwood County). Take minimum maintenance road W 0.5 miles, to parking area for Cedar Mountain WMA. Walk about a half-mile west from parking area along field road to SNA.  OR call Minnesota DNR Wildlife Manager in Redwood Falls at 507.637.4076.

The site is accessed from a parking area on the north side of Renville Co. Rd. 48. Wabasha Creek must be crossed on foot, which can be problematic during times of high water. There are no developed trails and the terrain is a bit rugged in places.

Enjoy and we look forward to seeing you on the birding trail!

Why Treaties Matter Exhibit July 4-31, 2012

July 9th, 2012

Mark your calendar for a very interesting exhibit coming to Morton, MN July 4-31, 2012.

Why Treaties Matter Exhibit ~ Self-Government in the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations will be hosted by the Minnesota Valley History Learning Center & the Dakota Wicohan.

The exhibit is presented by the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council, the Minnesota Humanities Center and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.  These 3 entities partnered in 2010 to create the exhibit you will see this July here in Morton, MN.

This is a traveling exhibit that explains the relationship between the Indian Nations and the US Government.  It explores the 20 most significant treaties between Dakota & Ojibwe with the US Government.  Explaining how these treaties affect the lands and the life ways of the Indigenous peoples of Minnesota, and explains why these binding agreements between Native Nations still matter today.

You will learn through a video presentation and banners that feature images of the people of this place.

Location: Dakota Wicohan building located behind the old Morton School at 280 N. Centennial Dr., Morton, MN 56270 (Link to Map)

Dates & Times:  July 4 – 31, 2012

Monday – Thursday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Saturday & Sunday: 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

To find out more about Minnesota Valley History Learning Center click here.

Traveling Exhibit Host Sites
(All Site are in Minnesota)

July 1-31 Minnesota Valley History Center & Dakota Wicohan, Morton
July 16-Aug 15 Mayo Clinic, Rochester
Aug 13-Sept 10 Bois Forte Heritage Center, Tower
Aug 23-Sept 22 Ramsey County Historical Society, St. Paul
Oct 1-31 Winona County Historical Society, Winona
Oct 15-Nov 12 Eden Prairie Schools, Eden Prairie
Nov 8-Dec 15 Carlton County Historical Society, Cloquet

The Minnesota Humanities Center is committed to helping people tell their story through video interviews. Watch Minnesota tribal community members speak about American Indian treaties, their history, and how they still affect people’s lives today.   Click Here to visit the MN Humanities Center Indian Treaties Home Page.

Making plans for the rest of the summer?
Visit the links below for all
of the events for 2012 with in the Tatanka Bluffs Corridor.

Dakota Wicohan
Indian Affairs Council – State of MN
Minnesota Humanities Center

 Minnesota Valley History Learning Center play this video to learn more about the river, the rock and Morton’s MN Valley History Learning Center!