Dimich Outdoors Article: A wild goose chase…

A wild goose chase…

By Nik Dimich

Back in my youth, I vividly remember one of my dad’s new best friends (I was told this

happens when you get older older and “grow up” as old friends move or drift apart and

new “besties” appear), the late Mike Clark who grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota

and later farmed with his wife Ann (great, now retired, Grand Rapids middle school

social studies teacher) in eastern NoDak, answering why he had given up goose hunting.

Mike’s answer was priceless, “I’ve been on too many ‘wild goose chases.’”

Well, I had no clue what that meant, but I really didn’t care as Mike took me (as my dad freaked out and my mom loved it) on my first “Harley” ride. Although it was just down our driveway and a bit beyond, I will never forget it. Somewhat settled down when we returned, my dad said he would clothespin clip baseball cards to my bike tires to simulate the “chopper” sound. He tried, but no, it was not the same.

Then, of course, I had to hear the usual wailing about how he and his buddies had clipped Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and Hank Aaron on their bike spokes or how their mothers had thrown out baseball card “treasures” like the “Babe” that were now worth thousands of dollars. I never said anything, but I highly doubted they ever even considered the “worth” of anything, save maybe a nickel to play the pinball machines at Otto and Edna’s “Midway Café” or “Phil’s Grill” on main street Coleraine.

Although I have heard of the “wild goose chase” for many years from many of my elders, and I really got what it meant, I got to the point where I just had to find out where it came from. The obvious derivation, of course, was that even back in indigenous people’s times, people felt everyone, like wild geese, needed leaders to guide them.

The “wild goose chase” was even mentioned in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet’ when Mercutio says in Act II, “Nay, if our wits run the wild goose chase.” Today, of course, the general meaning is we are just engaging in an “exercise in futility.”

There are actually two “success” stories regarding the Minnesota “goose” phenomenon. The first, of course, occurred in Rochester, Minnesota (Silver Lake) when in 1962 a small flock of the giant Canadian geese that had been overhunted and suffered from loss of habitat and were thought to have become extinct in the 1950s was found wintering in the power plant’s warm waters of Silver Lake.

This subspecies and the regular Canada geese have flourished, in fact their numbers have increased so dramatically that in many parks and golf courses and yards they are considered pests. Some even call them “rats with wings.” There are so many geese they now outnumber ducks in North America.

The “rat” thing is a bit harsh in my estimation, there is nothing quite like the high honking of geese overhead, but they certainly do contribute a substantial amount of fecal matter that has even closed some beaches. On the other hand, for indigenous First Nation peoples (Canada) and Native Americans, if the goose was your totem you were kind, loyal and brave and family and friends are high priorities for you. And if geese fly into your dreams, they are letting you know you are never alone. It can also mean you are tackling a problem incorrectly and are “on a wild goose chase.”

The second success story and for northern Minnesota, probably the most important is the “Geese Unlimited” story. “Geese Unlimited” originated in Grand Rapids, MN in 1987 with the objective of transplanting “nuisance” geese from the “Twin Cities” (Minneapolis/St. Paul not Bovey/Coleraine) to the 1,000 lakes area in Itasca County. From a few hundred of these geese have come thousands. I did have trouble finding a history of “Geese Unlimited,” but several Grand Rapids names were mentioned quite a bit: Dave Sandstrom, Bill Epple, the late Butch Bakken and the late Bob Chesness. I apologize for not mentioning more.

Good luck on goose opener and here are a few tips some veteran early season goose hunters have told me: scout and get permission to hunt land or water; practice calling and shooting from your back or a pit; bring bug spray. They also highly recommended gutting and cooling your geese quickly, even packing them in coolers with ice. This will also prevent you from being ticketed for “wanton waste” if your geese spoil and you discard them and a conservation officer finds out.

If you don’t like the taste of ducks or geese (some say they are “flying liver”), check out the many fine local game processors (the ones who do your deer butchering or sticks or sausage). I’ve tasted many great goose-based sticks and sausage. You might also consider extending your culinary knowledge and make your own. Check with your local sporting goods stores/department or grocery stores for more information. Many have wonderful selections of not only spices, etc., but also of grinders and mixing equipment.

If you are still using your trail cameras for deer and have put out some “treats,” keep in mind all “bait” (food stuffs like pumpkins, molasses, corn, etc., ask the DNR if you are confused) must be picked up ten days prior to bow or firearms hunting and that includes any kernels of corn or sunflower seeds.

So much hunting to do, so little time. Don’t, however, give up on the fall fishing phenomenon. As we slide into September with its woodland color and cool nights and fall sports and hunting and fishing, crappies are now on the roam as well as sunnies. Both are staying close to weedline edges and during bright days or cold fronts are sliding to deeper water and deep woody structure. To locate these schools of fish in the fall, try hovering with your electric motor over some deep holes or follow the edges of the weedlines while you vertical jig off the bottom with a jig and minnow or plastics. Be sure to look for “clouds” or “Christmas trees” or “layers” as these will usually be crappies. Sometimes, however, they are balls of forage or small panfish. If nothing bites, move.

Walleyes and perch are also starting to frequent shoreline veggie beds of thick submerged weeds and areas with sand grass in shallows and on the outside of weedlines. As the water continues to cool, walleyes and perch and bass will be dining on the “crayfish” buffet, which can be found on most rocky structures.

Northern pike and muskies will also be along these same shorelines where there are rock and weed structures, searching for perch and little walleyes and minnow forage. So go the perch and minnows, so go these under water “wolves.”

Good luck hunting (it feels good to say that again) and fishing. Have fun getting ready for all the good stuff that is coming up.

Nik Dimich is a year round Grand Rapids, MN and Lake Winnie area fishing guide and outdoor communicator. To book a trip or media event please contact him at 218-259-8459 or at www.DimichOutdoors.com and “like Dimich Outdoors or Nik and Becca’s Outdoor Promotions on Facebook.


#1 choice photo caption (geese/hunters): Jeff “Cubby” Skelly, Charlie Worrath, Mary Cay Boser and Jason Boser had a very good “wild goose chase” last opener at Steve Gilbertson’s “The Mallard Club.”


#2 choice photo caption (crappies): Rosemarie Heikkila once again treated her 93 year old grandfather Ray Heikkila to their annual fishing trip with Dimich Outdoors, this year doing well on Itasca County crappies and northerns.


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