Thursday, October 26, 2023

Observations from a Granite Boulder

      In mid October, Lake of the Woods Ontario looked like it was mid-September; no red and  yellow foliage to amount to much, just green hillsides and water warmer than I had ever seen it.  The temperature through seven days never got below 40 and never got above 50.  The north wind was cold, but it wasn’t like it normally is.  So strange to see that, almost no migrating waterfowl and not a small fringe of ice anywhere.

      I spent much of the time searching out sand banks, looking for wolf tracks and lost fishing lures.  I found a dozen huge Muskie lures, lost and washed up along the high water line, lures that sell in Canada  for about 30 dollars each.  From tracks I found, wolves are plentiful  in that area, and so are deer.

      I walked up to a high point looking out across the lake, then hiked farther into the woodland where giant pine trees stood.  Where  logging trucks can go, you will seldom see pines that you cannot reach around, as you  do there.   Over most of Ontario, they are cutting even small pines in great swaths, for the paper mills that give off a terrible smell where you find them, near the border.  But where I go, where logging trucks can’t get to yet, there is still a taste of what Canada was when my great  grandfather and his Cree Indian wife were living there as young people.  

      In those woods are ruffed grouse and martens and fishers and deer.  It is a different world. The whitetail bucks found there are huge, the antlers of amazing size.  Those in the Ozarks, which the trophy hunters long for, will not compare to what you see around Lake of the Woods. A hundred years ago there were no whitetail deer there.  The Lake of the Woods country was moose country.  Now, moose are in trouble, declining.  As whitetail deer moved into the region from the south in increasing numbers they spread a parasite known as ‘brain worms’.  Those worms in deer do not kill them, but in moose they are a death sentence and some locals say there are a fraction of the moose now that were found fifty years ago.  The wolves are found in good numbers because of the deer and black bear are all over the place.  But moose are declining.

      That’s what diversity does in nature. Diversity means death, discord, destruction! Where a centuries-old ecosystem is invaded by newcomer species, like carp, armadillos, black vultures, to name only a few cases, nature suffers and the life structure the Creator made work is damaged or destroyed. A hundred years ago, the big smallmouth I caught a few days before would have not been there.  Largemouth bass were native to central-southern Canada; smallmouth were not.  They were brought in from the eastern provinces in water-filled boxcars on trans-Canada trains and as they crossed the rivers and lakes of Northwest Ontario they released them.  In time the smallmouth crowded out largemouth completely. Largemouth still thrive in isolated lakes and waters but let smallmouth into those places and in ten years the largemouth are gone. 

      In that beautiful natural setting where I sat for a long time on a granite bluff amongst what this wilderness must have been like a thousand years ago, a cell phone nor a smart-box you operate with your thumbs, is of no use. Thumbs are still best used for cocking a rifle hammer! Whatever awful things are happening in the world far from me are of no consequence where I sit.  If it were not for my family, I would stay there in the land of my ancestors, and never see another television.  Heck, there ain’t nothin’ to watch on one up there anyway but hockey games! 



    Last week, after days of catching fish and taking pictures and eating fish and beans, I loaded up the pickup and headed back to the Ozarks.  Time to set trotlines and hunt squirrels and say good-bye to Canada.  A man cannot live by happiness alone!

      You might get a laugh out of my black bear article on my website, larrydablemontoutdoors.  In Canada once I had a black bear in my pickup bed and we faced each other nose-to-nose, only inches apart. If you   want to see photos from the Canadian wilderness, I will put about 20 on that website that I have taken of the wildlife of the Lake of the Woods country. Write to me at Box  22, Bolivar, Mo 65613 or email me at

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