Ron Hustvedt

Ron Hustvedt is an outdoors writer and photographer who covers a broad array of experiences, individuals and events centered on hunting and fishing. He is also a professional educator. Please visit his website at www.WriteOutdoors.com.

Posts about Adventure travel

Game Fair does it all in the outdoors

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: August 2, 2014 - 4:28 PM

Game Fair is an amazing family event with a plethora of activities and attractions for the entire family to enjoy in the outdoors. The variety of attractions is what keeps many going back year after year and there’s always a healthy mix of the usual favorites with the newest and latest.

Now in its 33rd year, all of them at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels in Ramsey, Game Fair is a six-day event over two weekends in August beginning August 8, 9, 10 and continuing August 15, 16 and 17. Details on the event can be found at www.GameFair.com along with printable discount coupons, dog registration forms, event schedule, and a preview video so you can take a sneak-peak before venturing forth.

Fall hunting seasons are coming soon and Game Fair is the best place to see and try the latest gear while learning from the nation’s leading experts. While it is billed as a pre-hunting event, non-hunters have plenty to see and experience. Those who are interested in becoming a hunter will enjoy the opportunities to learn from seminar speakers and exhibitors alike. The atmosphere at Game Fair is a friendly one.

One of the best features of Game Fair is the free admission for canine members of the family. As long as they are on a leash, dogs are welcome to walk the Game Fair grounds with their owners. Nowhere else in the state will you see such a volume and variety of dogs.

The hosts of Game Fair for all 33 years are Chuck and Loral I Delaney. After a visit to England’s Game Fair in 1980, the Delaney’s decided this type of event might be a hit among the outdoorsmen and women of the Midwest. Game Fair has been the launching point for many new products, talents, and experts—it’s truly the place to be for outdoors lovers of all ages.

 

Some people visit Game Fair each of the six days of the event, most visit just once a year, but many make at least two trips. For one thing, there’s more than a day’s worth of action and activities to partake in. For another, many outdoors enthusiasts take advantage of the amazing deals offered by exhibitors on sporting goods and opt for a “price-scouting-visit” followed by a “purchasing-visit.”

Game Fair is a full participation event and visitors are encouraged to bring their shotgun (cased), their bow (cased), and their dog (leashed). Many visitors just prefer to watch others in action with a twice daily shooting exhibition, dog events, archery, birds of prey, and dozens of daily seminars from national outdoors experts. 

Game Fair is home to over 250 exhibitors including top dog trainers, hunting guides and retailers from across North America. With dozens of Dog Clubs and Sportsman’s Clubs, Game Fair is the nation’s largest gathering of outdoor organizations.

 

Because it is election season, there are also a host of candidates for Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. Representative and some local offices. The Outdoor News and Sportsmen for Change are also lining up a debate for the 2014 gubernatorial candidates to be held the second weekend of the event. Keep an eye out for more details on the date and time of the debate.

Game Fair is the only place where you can do it all. Some of the highlights of 2014 include:

  • Twice daily Exhibition Shooting Shows.
  • Firearms Trainer Wendy Brown with Ladies and Youth shooting instruction.
  • A 100-yard archery contest and bowhunting instruction from Kurt Baumgartner.
  • Daily seminars from dog experts including canine DNA expert Dr. Lisa Shaffer talking about dog genetics.
  • Dog training experts like Tom Dokken demonstrating the latest techniques for getting your canine friends to behave.
  • A $10,000 Duck and Goose Calling Contest, and a Turkey Calling Contest.

Visit with Ron Schara, talk waterfowl with champion callers, hear dog training advice from nationally renowned trainers, watch the fabulous birds of prey with Frank Taylor, or just walk along the lake taking in the sights throughout the picturesque grounds.

Quench your thirst or curb your hunger at the many concession stands. Be sure to try your luck at numerous raffles and drawings for big prizes throughout the Game Fair.

The spacious woods and water of Game Fair are open rain or shine from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. August 8, 9, 10 and August 15, 16, and 17 (closing is 5 p.m. on Sundays). Game Fair is located in Ramsey at the Armstrong Ranch Kennels.

 For the latest news and updates, as well as ticket giveaways, check out Game Fair on Facebook.com/GameFairUSA and on Twitter @GameFairUSA. 

In search of giant pike, across the border, in winter's final trophy hunt

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: March 31, 2013 - 12:11 AM

Some anglers go ice fishing—we were out on a trophy hunt. 

Not your typical trophy hunt, however. There would be no killing, at least none intentionally. Trophies would be released, a little tired, but no worse for wear. 

Whatever the quarry, it’s true that trophies tend to live in special places that require a little extra work to get to. A specific bay on Lake of the Woods was our destination for this trophy hunt and big pike were our quarry.

The mythical number for pike anglers is the 40-inch mark which roughly works out to being a 20-pound fish. It takes a special body of water and the right tactics to land a pike of that size. 

Lake of the Woods is loaded with big fish including probably the highest population of pike over 40-inches in the 48 contiguous states. Although there are plenty of excellent big pike entry points on the American side, our trophy hunting crew decided to cross the border into Canada—Manitoba to be specific. 

Only a small portion of massive Lake of the Woods is in Manitoba, most of the lake is in Ontario. The segment in Manitoba is known as Buffalo Bay and we stayed at the beautiful Buffalo Point Resort located right on the lake complete with a marina—a great access point for four-wheelers and snowmobiles. 

The group leader for my trip was Bryan “Beef” Sathre of Fathead Guide Service. A national pro-staffer with companies like IceForce, StrikeMaster, MarCum Electronics, Rapala and Otter Outdoors, he has fished Lake of the Woods a ton but usually from the American side. 

“Late ice is big pike time all over the lake but it seems like Buffalo Bay just has a higher percentage of pike in that 40-inch range,” Sathre said. Anglers practicing catch and release is one of the chief reasons for that. “Trophies like this have been around a long time but have a lot more life to live so we let them go to keep making more pike to catch in years to come,” Sathre emphasized.

Also along with the group was seasoned big pike angler Sabin Rasmus who has iced numerous big pike and is equally adamant about releasing every pike as quickly as possible into the waters. “Celebrate the catch with a few photos and then let it go again—there’s nothing cooler than that big tail disappearing back in the hole and the gush of water as it swims off to be caught again someday,” Rasmus said. 

 

Methodology

Trophy pike can be caught in a variety of ways but it’s tough to beat a solid spread of tip-ups over the selected area. Pike roam the lake in search of easy food, often in the form of dead fish floating just underneath the ice. These pike will kill anything they come across as well but an easy meal is tough for any predator to turn down. 

Our bait for the day was a dead minnow right around a foot long that was hooked with two trebles on a quick-strike rig. This “Slew-Dog” rig is a special set-up and the rig of choice for big pike anglers. Northland Tackle also makes a quick-strike rig called the Predator Rig and we used a few of them as well. 

Anglers can make their own rig as well so long as the treble hooks are big enough to fit the bait. In our case, foot-long frozen herring with one treble through the head and the other between the dorsal and tail. Large baits tend to deter smaller pike. Once a pike is on the line, it’s important to set the hook during the initial run to ensure a hookset in the mouth rather than deeper in the throat. A mouth hook is what makes a successful release possible.

Connecting the Slew-Dog rig to the tip-up was mason line. The thick white line performs very well in these conditions and doesn’t slice and dice your hand as a big pike burns the line on your fingers as you let it run. 

The snow was still thick on the ice so after drilling holes with the StrikeMaster equipped with extensions, we shoveled out an area to serve as a windbreak and then shoveled a viewing point so that the flag could be seen from our main base. 

Main base was at the midpoint of a J-shape resembling a decoy spread complete with 12 tip-ups set at various depths below the ice. None of the tip-ups was further than 200 feet away but only the end of the “J” was within 50 feet of home base. It makes for some high-stepping sprints when a flag pops, not to mention plenty of falls when your boot busts through the layer of slush and your other leg takes too big of a step. 

On the snow, near each hole, we placed a small black bucket to provide for an easy visual reference. Monitoring a dozen or so tip-ups from sunrise to sunset can be quite exhausting without visual references. 

 

Success

Over two days of hardcore fishing, in cold and blustery conditions, our group found its fair share of trophies. Five of the seven anglers in our group caught the biggest pike of their lifetime and seven pike over 40-inches were caught along with many others just shy of that mark. 

When you fish this way, the only fair way to do it is to take turns. We decided who would be first before the first flag ever popped but it’s funny how multiple flags tend to pop all at once, knocking that system out of order. No complaints, however. When two or three flags go in succession and you are running from one hole to the next, it’s the peak of excitement and anticipation. It’s also a great way to warm up! This is cross-training at its finest. 

Even though he’s put numerous anglers on 40-inch fish both as a guide and a friend, Sathre had yet to bust the mark himself. All that changed on our last day of angling, however, when he pulled a chunky 42-inch pike through the ice. “I love putting other people on fish but I’m not going to lie, that was a lot of fun to catch and it’s amazing how much power a fish that size has,” Sathre said. 

Adding to the thrill was the sheer girth of Sathre’s pike. “It was a very thick fish that just rolled over my hands as I held it—definitely the biggest I’ve ever caught. Best of all, it’s still swimming,” he said. 

All the pike our group caught were successfully released, often without time to take photographs. Normally a March trip features warm weather and plenty of opportunities for successful releases and photographs. Not this year with below zero wind chills and temperatures in the teens at best. 

 

Accommodations

Crossing into Canada at the point of entry just north of Warroad was relatively easy and a passport card or book was all it took. Just a few hundred yards past the international border is the turn-off for Buffalo Point Resort. The resort has a wide variety of accommodations for visitors year-round including cabins for sale right on the lake. Check www.buffalopoint.ca for details or visit lakeofthewoodsmn.com for general information on fishing and accommodations on the American side. 

Buffalo Point Resort has a full marina that offers access in the winter and a landing in the summer. When not covered in snow, there is a lush 18-hole golf course with the perfect blend of lakeshore and woods. 

With a restaurant, store and bar on the premises there was little need to venture out into other parts of Canada. Our group is not much for boozing while fishing so we had no problem with the law in Canada restricting drinking on the ice. 

That said, Canada is under strict price controls on adult beverages so if that’s part of the after-fishing plans, make sure to come fully prepared. Just not over prepared—customs has strict restrictions on how much adult beverage can be brought into the country. 

Positioned on a point, Buffalo Point provides visitors with beautiful views of both sunrise and sunset. Being so far north, and relatively away from metropolitan areas, the stars shine brighter and the northern lights glow more colorful. 

 

 

 

Meet the Hudson Bay Bound women after their historic journey that continues to its next phase

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: September 19, 2011 - 12:04 AM

 For Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren, paddling the 1,800 miles from Fort Snelling to Hudson Bay was just one part of the journey known as “Hudson Bay Bound.”

            That phase of the journey, which lasted 85 days, ended on August 25 in York Factory, Manitoba along the shores of Hudson Bay. Raiho and Warren enter the history books as the first women to complete the journey, inspired by Eric Severeid’s book “Canoeing With the Cree” first published in 1935.
            “The end of the Hayes River was a magical experience and we are happy that we accomplished our goal,” Warren said. The journey began June 2 at Fort Snelling, near the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers.
            The first phase included planning the entire trip while wrapping up their senior year of college at St. Olaf in Northfield and competing in a run for the Ultimate Frisbee national title.
Arriving at York Factory at Hudson Bay

Arriving at York Factory at Hudson Bay

            “A lot of expeditioners spend months of time planning and we did all that while keeping very busy and are so glad that everything worked out,” Raiho said. “Now it’s time to share that experience with others and hopefully inspire them to take their own outdoor adventures,” Warren added.
            The trip doesn’t feel like its over because their arrival in York Factory only sparked the beginning of yet another journey. “For one thing, we took a float plane from York Factory to Gillam and then took a 36-hour train ride to return to Winnipeg where our friends from Menogyn picked us up and returned us to Grand Marais,” Raiho said.
            In early September, Raiho and Warren gave a presentation of their journey to paddlers from all over canoe country at Stone Harbor in Grand Marais. The presentation went so well, they have been asked to share their story with others. “It would be fun to do some public speaking both from a motivational speaker role and sharing what we saw from an environmental perspective—a few offers have come in and we are open to others,” Warren said.
            Warren and Raiho want to be sure that everybody who is interested attends their celebration party this Thursday at the Bloomington REI from 7 to 8:30 p.m. “We’ll tell the story of our trip including video, photos and music provided by us,” Warren said.
            There will also be an auction for a Langford Prospector canoe from Stone Harbor, the canoe they used to make their epic journey. Proceeds from the auction, in addition to the other money they raised along their trip, will be donated to the YMCA’s Camp Menogyn. “People can make donations at the event as well if they are interested and we hope that we can raise at least $10,000 for Camp Menogyn so they can provide outdoor adventures for a lot of young people,” Raiho said. 
            Those who cannot make the event are invited to check their website at www.HudsonBayBound.com for photos, video and the entire blog of their trip along the way.
            The actual canoe they paddled to Hudson Bay is not the one up for bid because of its historic value but it will be on display at Stone Harbor in Grand Marais for years to come.
Ann Raiho looks out over Hudson Bay while strumming a tune

Ann Raiho looks out over Hudson Bay while strumming a tune

            Sharing their trip with others is only part of the next phase. As recent college graduates, both Raiho and Warren are in the middle of one of life’s great journeys. T
Once January rolls around, Inver Grove Heights native Raiho will be heading to Colorado State University of Fort Collins to pursue her master’s degree in ecology.
            Warren, on the other hand, will be job searching as she travels to Madison, New York, Washington, D.C. and her hometown Miami, Florida. “I’ll be back in Minneapolis as well and would love to work here if the right opportunity presented itself,” she said.
            One of the most commonly asked questions of the pair is what they plan on doing for their next wilderness adventure. “I have a cousin who is going on a seven-week trip next summer with Camp Menogyn so I told her in 2015 she can come with Natalie and I on another trip somewhere,” Raiho said.
            Where that trip will take them is another story yet to be told. Topping their historic journey to Hudson Bay will probably not be the goal but getting out there and doing something is always better than sitting around doing nothing.
            Raiho and Warren hope that others are inspired by their journey to do just that.  

Grand Marais still my favorite side of Boundary Waters

Posted by: Ron Hustvedt Updated: July 12, 2010 - 12:25 AM

 

Sunset over Grand Marais as seen from the scenic overlook along the Gunflint Trail

Sunset over Grand Marais as seen from the scenic overlook along the Gunflint Trail

 

Apparently the construction on I-35 in Duluth and scattered locations along the North Shore’s Highway 61 is keeping some people from visiting the region. I just returned from a week trip along those very roads and my assessment is that it’s being overblown.
 
Is there traffic? Yes. But no more than usual it seemed, and I drove through on the way up during the Grandma’s Marathon rush in Duluth. Was there construction? Yes. But this is summertime in Minnesota and construction is a given.
 
Our trip took a stop in Grand Marais like it always does simply because it’s one of the best cities on the face of the earth. Such an eclectic mix of people, culture and cuisine.
Rainbow over Artist's Point in Grand Marais

Rainbow over Artist's Point in Grand Marais

There is also the strong presence of majestic Lake Superior. If you haven’t seen the lake from Grand Marais then you haven’t yet truly experienced Lake Superior! My favorite sunsets over Superior feature the Sawtooth Mountains, the lighthouses to the harbor and the beautiful trees along Artist’s Point.
 
Grand Marais sunsets feature plenty of blue, gold and orange

Grand Marais sunsets feature plenty of blue, gold and orange

Grand Marais is also my preferred way of accessing the BWCA Wilderness Area. Oh I’ve been through Ely and will again. There’s nothing wrong with Ely, but it just feels more touristy and traffic-ridden. The tough part about Ely is there’s such a high concentration of entry points in a single area. You have to go a day or two in to get away from the crowds.
 
On the Grand Marais side there are several main roads to the edges of the BWCA and the ever-popular and winding Gunflint Trail is 50 miles of staggered entry points. Driving along the Gunflint Trail is a magical experience with wonderful twists and turns through spacious woods. It only takes part of a day to get away from the crowds on the Grand Marais side of the BWCA.
 
A variety of experiences await in Grand Marais

A variety of experiences await in Grand Marais

While on my most recent trip we stopped by to visit our good friends Dave and Nancy Seaton who own Hungry Jack Outfitters about halfway up the Gunflint Trail. They are great people and run a top-notch business. Like most every outfitter up there, they offer both full and partial outfitting services.
 
I know there are many other high-quality outfitters, but my family will never go anywhere else. Both Dave and Nancy are BWCA paddling enthusiasts and they have traversed most every path imaginable throughout the Gunflint area. They are always good for a tip about the best fishing hole, the secret blueberry patches and the best campsites on any given lake (and the campsites to stay away from!).
 

So maybe there will be a closed lane or two along the way. Maybe there will be a line-up of cars that slows your journey by 10 minutes. Any time lost in construction traffic on the way to Grand Marais seems to be returned tenfold once you arrive and that makes it all worthwhile.

My family's traditional Lake Saganaga group photo

My family's traditional Lake Saganaga group photo

 

      

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