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

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…

The wolves in the neighborhood
posted on Friday, Feb 02, 2018
During this season of short days, my opportunities for dog walks in the woods are limited to weekends. On such walks, the dogs are off leash, so I like to be able to see them. A couple of years ago, I bought lights for their collars, thinking this would make evening walks possible. It did, for a couple of days. Walking down the county road near my home one evening, a neighbor passing in a pick-up stopped to see if everything was all right, which seemed an odd question until…

Without conservation, nature is no match for human nature
posted on Friday, Jan 26, 2018
Acting in what some would call the nick of time, the Ontario government recently used a helicopter to capture woodland caribou from Lake Superior’s Michipicoten Island, where they are being wiped out by wolves (as previously reported in this column) that arrived there about five years ago. Eight females and one male were moved to the Slate Islands, which have long supported caribou. Wolf predation had reduced the Slate Island population to about four bull caribou. Wolves are now absent from the archipelago. It is hoped the released caribou will…

The problems with feeding deer
posted on Friday, Jan 19, 2018
In the afternoon, when the long shadows of a short winter day grow even longer, the deer visit my bird feeder. Since the feeder is just outside of the kitchen window and next to where the dogs are when outside on their cables, it may seem the deer are making a bold move. But the does and their fawns know the dogs and me. They are accustomed to our daily routines. You might say my yard is their yard. I get along with my whitetail neighbors. Trees and shrubs are…

When it is cold, be a chickadee
posted on Friday, Jan 12, 2018
Has it been cold enough for you? Minnesota entered the New Year with a bitter bout of cold weather. On some days, the high temp remained below zero. Nighttime lows dipped beyond 20 below. This is not unusual weather for early January. Knowing that doesn’t make enduring a cold spell any easier. Cold spells have their high and low points. I like the way the snow squeaks beneath my feet when the temperature is below zero. I don’t like the way mechanical objects refuse to start or actually break on…

The petty tyrants of county government
posted on Friday, Jan 05, 2018
Ok. We won’t name names in this particular column, because they aren’t important. What happened in two counties, via the actions of their boards of commissioners, could happen just about anywhere in Minnesota. It speaks to a malaise that seems to infect many of our duly elected. Its symptoms include a willfulness that isn’t wisdom and a memory loss that makes them forget who they represent. The only treatment, and it isn’t always successful, is form of shock therapy that occurs when someone calls out their actions in a public…

A little more about Lake Superior’s woodland caribou
posted on Tuesday, Jan 02, 2018
Sometimes, reporting on a story is straight-forward. Often, though, an interview can lead you on unexpected twists and turns. Last week, I had a conference call with three men in Wawa, Ontario, about Lake Superior caribou. They contacted me after a recent column in Minnesota Outdoor News about the looming extirpation of Lake Superior’s native woodland caribou. They wanted to share some more information with me. That’s how I met, via telephone, Christian Schroeder, who has a camp on Michipicoten Island; Leo Lepiano, land and resources director for the Michipicoten…

When they hear you coming
posted on Friday, Dec 22, 2017
As most outdoor-loving Minnesotans know, there is cold and then there is cold. The first kind of cold you can tolerate and enjoy your outdoor activities. The second kind of cold is bitter, makes you miserable and is best avoided. We had one morning during the recent deer season that was the second kind of cold. At daybreak the temperature hovered near zero, which is warm enough for hunting if you are sufficiently bundled up or spending your morning in a heated blind. I prefer to stay on my feet,…