Shawn Perich

Shawn is a veteran writer and editor well-known for his many books and outdoor stories. A native of Duluth and longtime North Shore resident, he’s spent a lifetime roaming the Northern Wilds and is eager to share what he knows with readers.

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Recent Articles by Shawn Perich

Flattery won't get you wildlife habitat
posted on Friday, Jun 08, 2018
Last week, Minnesota Outdoor News published an unusual commentary. For starters, it wasn't an opinion piece, just a Dept. of the Interior press release announcing new hunting and fishing opportunities on national wildlife refuges. This is a standard announcement from Interior that reflects updates to refuge management plans. What made this release unusual was that more than half of it was devoted to accolades to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke from politicians, bureaucrats and the leaders of several conservation organizations. As has been previously noted in this column, praise for the…

Questions, not easy answers, about outdoor recreation
posted on Friday, Jun 01, 2018
Outdoor recreation is big business.  Last year the Outdoor Recreation Industry reported that the outdoor recreation economy generates $887 billion in consumer spending annually, sustains 7.6 million American jobs and generates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in state and local tax revenue each year.  According to data from the U.S Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation is among the nation's largest industries, accounting for two percent of the GDP. This is less than construction at 4.3 percent, but greater than agriculture (farming, forestry and…

In defense of sausage makers
posted on Friday, May 25, 2018
At the end of last week, two days before the Minnesota Legislature was scheduled to adjourn, news outlets reported that our duly elected hadn’t completed their work. Nearly all of the session’s major legislation was essentially no more than muddled paperwork that had yet to pass both houses of the Legislature, not to mention survive the Governor’s veto pen. The Legislature’s intent was to cram over the weekend for the final moment at midnight Sunday, hastily slamming together three-months-worth of law-making. An errant lawmaker cheekily observed that governing a state, which is…

When a fishing trip becomes an adventure
posted on Friday, May 18, 2018
If you’ve ever seen the movie “A River Runs Through It,” there is a scene where the narrator’s brother, Paul, hooks a huge trout and then plays it, wading chest deep and eventually tumbling down through a rapids until he reaches quiet water to land the fish. The narrator and his father watch the masterful performance and then congratulate the soaking wet brother as he hoists his trophy to show them. “At that point,” says the narrator, “I knew that surely and clearly I was witnessing perfection.” I watched a…

In the company of otters, loons and eagles
posted on Friday, May 11, 2018
They launched from a birch tree; first one, then the another. The two bald eagles were perched above a small tributary to a North Shore trout river and flushed as I approached on a passing trail. I knew what they were up to. It’s spawning season for rainbow trout and suckers, both of which may be seen in the shallow riffles along streams. From an eagle’s view, the birch above the creek was a good spot to go fishing. It’s not unusual to encounter eagles while fishing along the North…

Duluth’s story-teller portages into retirement
posted on Friday, May 04, 2018
For 38 years, Sam Cook had what some folks might consider a dream job as an outdoor writer for the Duluth News-Tribune. He would likely concur, with a caveat. “When you go fishing for work, it’s not the same,” he says. “You may have a fishing rod, but you also have a notebook and camera. If you are doing it right, it’s work.” Cook’s many readers know he does it right. For decades, he covered an outdoor beat in a region many see as a slice of heaven, posting stories…

For some, all else stops when the steelhead run
posted on Monday, Apr 30, 2018
Spring used to be when a young man’s fancy turned to steelhead. Maybe it still does, but in the not-so-distant past, steelhead fishing was a way of life for a lot of guys around the shores of Lake Superior. A way of life, even though “the run,” when the big rainbow trout enter streams to spawn, lasts no more than a few short weeks in any given locality. In other words, you have to work at it in order to make steelhead fishing a lifestyle. The way to begin is…

A good dog is called home
posted on Friday, Apr 20, 2018
You never know what you’re getting when you choose a puppy. You may get some assurances from the breeder about the pup’s lineage, but all you really know is that it’s cute. When it comes to dogs, I really wouldn’t have it any other way. We picked up an eight-week-old yellow bundle with big paws and floppy ears from some folks just west of the Twin Cities nearly 14 years ago. We had two older dogs and decided to start the transition to a young hunting dog. We debated names…

Crows, suckers and the rites of spring
posted on Friday, Apr 13, 2018
Northern Minnesota has a season which doesn’t have a name: the uncertain time between winter and spring. It’s when midday sunshine and warm temps get you thinking spring is just around the corner, but the nighttime temps drop to single digits, ensuring the hip-deep snow on the ground stays put. That’s when the first migrating crows appear. Some of us get a little stir-crazy then. Tired of the semi-hibernation that winter forces upon us, we want to get outside and savor some sunshine. When I was a kid, Dad would…

Spring Rush at the Resorts
posted on Wednesday, Apr 11, 2018
Multi-tasking before the first guests arrive If you own a resort, spring cleaning is…well, a rite of spring. Once the snow melts, resort owners have a short window to get their entire operation in shipshape before the first guests arrive for the fishing season opener. Opening a resort for the season is a formidable task. “I tend to put it out of my mind for four months in the winter,” says Paul Del Pino, owner of Dog Lake Resort in Kaministiquia, Ont. “I need 20 days to get open and…

Northern Wilds columnist inducted to fishing hall of fame
posted on Friday, Apr 06, 2018
Sometime in the middle of the previous century, a little boy went fishing. That’s when it started. “There is a picture of me sitting in my father’s lap as a toddler, holding a fishing rod. I remember catching a brook trout in McVicar Creek when I was maybe 2,” says Gord Ellis of Thunder Bay, Ont. Thus began a career in fishing that culminated in March with Ellis’ induction to the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame. It was an honor well-deserved. Full disclosure: I’ve known Ellis for more than…

Muskie bill a smokescreen for anti-public agenda
posted on Thursday, Mar 29, 2018
Maybe it’s just the time of year, but something smells fishy in St. Paul. Perhaps it’s because the Legislature is in session, an annual occurrence that attracts all sorts of slimy bottom-feeders to the State Capitol. Then again, it just might be this so-called muskie bill that’s been introduced in the State Senate. First, a full disclosure: I’ve never caught a muskie. I rarely fish in waters where they swim. I’ve little interest in becoming a muskie fisherman, but this has nothing to do with the fish. Frankly, when it…

Restoration Project Preserves Historic Carousel
posted on Wednesday, Mar 28, 2018
Generations of children have ridden the wooden carousel horses at Thunder Bay’s Chippewa Park. For many, the memory of riding on a carousel lingers for life. Now, after a century of service, the carved wooden horses of the C.W. Parker carousel have become tired and in need of repair. Local woodcrafter and sculptor Vic Germaniuk was contracted by the City of Thunder Bay to begin the wooden horse restoration project, which is part of a larger effort to restore the carousel to its original factory condition. The restoration project was…

The end of the Kamloops rainbow
posted on Friday, Mar 23, 2018
I don't recall the last time I caught a Lake Superior Kamloops rainbow trout. In 2013, I was fishing with a friend who caught one in a tiny creek near the Canadian border. We killed it and ate it for dinner. You can identify a Kamloops rainbow, or 'looper' as most everyone calls them, because their adipose fin is clipped off in the hatchery. This is the small, fleshy fin found on trout between the dorsal fin and the tail. If a rainbow has all of its fins, it is…

DNR Wildlife vacancies won’t be filled this year or next
posted on Friday, Mar 16, 2018
Earlier this winter, Dave Ingebrigtsen, the longtime DNR assistant wildlife manager in Grand Marais, retired. Since his office was a one-man show, his work area is now covered by the Two Harbors office, which is nearly two hours away. We can hope this is a temporary situation, but this retirement adds to an extraordinary list of Section of Wildlife position vacancies across the state. Section of Wildlife chief Paul Telander confirmed there are about 40 vacancies in field and regional offices, as well as the St. Paul headquarters. These vacancies…

When you can’t fish flies, tie them
posted on Friday, Mar 09, 2018
A wise man once opined that fly-fishing is the most fun you can have while standing up. At the very least, it’s the most fun you can have while holding a fishing rod. If that is true, then it stands to reason that tying your own flies is pretty fun, too. This winter, I’ve stepped back into fly tying; something I’ve done since boyhood but let fall by the wayside in recent years. This winter, I had two motivating factors: successful cataract surgery and a pressing need for flies. The…

Forest management leads to few deer north of Duluth
posted on Friday, Mar 02, 2018
Imagine if the deer disappeared from your hunting area. Think what it would be like if you went for a walk after a fresh snow and were unable to find a deer tracks. What if no one in your hunting party saw any tracks either? Some friends of mine who hunt along the Marshall Truck Trail north of Duluth are faced with this situation. “We haven’t shot a deer in three years,” says Craig Sterle of Cloquet. “We haven’t hardly seen deer in that time.” Sterle and his party are…

Making a case for native fish
posted on Friday, Feb 23, 2018
In the world of fishing, anglers rarely talk about native fish. They may distinguish between naturally reproduced, wild fish and those stocked from a hatchery, but that’s about it. Not many of us think about whether fish are native to the waters where we catch them. The reason for this is that fisheries agencies have been introducing fish species to new waters for more than a century, including nearly all popular fishing waters. Often, fish managers are motivated by the desires of anglers seeking new or different game fish to…

The Sax-Zim Bog is for the birds
posted on Friday, Feb 16, 2018
North of Duluth is a swamp; a really big swamp. In the early 20th Century, some folks got the idea they could drain the swamp and create a farming paradise. They dug long and straight ditches through the peat and, incredibly, cleared thousands of forested acres to create fields. So much open ground existed that prairie grouse, sharptails and even prairie chickens, flourished for a few decades. But the swamp wasn’t drained away. The wished-for farming paradise never came to be. The forest gradually returned, overtaking much of the open ground.…

Bison, pigeons & wolverines: A glimpse into the past
posted on Friday, Feb 09, 2018
We like to think of Minnesota past as a paradise of wildlife, but the paradise may have been lost longer ago than we think. I recently received a copy of "A Century of Minnesota Wild Life" by Walter J. Breckenridge published in Minnesota History, a publication of the Minnesota Historical Society, in June, September, 1949. Breckenridge was the director of the Minnesota Museum of Natural History at the University of Minnesota. It offers remarkable insight regarding the state's native game species. While the state was settled by Europeans during the…