Three Fantastic Silent Sports You Need to Try in Northern Minnesota

The quiet of a winter’s day up north in Minnesota is something everyone needs to experience. Crisp winter air, lightly falling snow, and the beauty of the forest is something to behold!

Not everyone enjoys the long, cold winter here. But when you discover the beauty of winter silent sports, a long winter can be pure bliss.

Cross Country Skiing & Snowshoeing

There are miles of trails in the area for cross country skiing and snowshoeing, but the Chippewa National Forest and the Shingobee Recreational Area are among the most popular places to hit the trails. Itasca State Park is another excellent place you’ll want to check out.

Fat Tire Biking 

Like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, you can find fat tire bike trails pretty easily around Walker, Minnesota. But one of the best fat bike trail systems in the state is within an hour of us. With over 25 miles of groomed single track trails, Cuyuna tops the charts for fun on your fattie. The scenery is spectacular, and you can even bike into town on Main Street Crosby for a beer and food during your mid-day break.

Winter’s peaceful landscape is ideal for silent sports in northern Minnesota. I hope you get out and enjoy at least one of them!

The Best Snowmobiling Fun in Northern Minnesota

Winter in Northern Minnesota is spectacular, and we are fortunate to enjoy a plethora of winter activities, including cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Snowmobiling is a particular favorite of many Minnesotans, and if you’re looking for some great trails to ride, you won’t have to look far.

Paul Bunyan Trail

The Paul Bunyan trail is hugely popular, with over 120 miles of groomed trails; don’t forget your map! It’s perfect for all levels of riders and offers 14 trail towns to stop and enjoy along the way. For more information about the Paul Bunyan Trail, click here.

Heartland Trail

The 50-mile Heartland Trail runs from Park Rapids to Cass Lake and is a local favorite due to the stunning forest of towering pine forests and the many lakes and streams it weaves around and over. For more info on the Heartland Trail, click here.

Chippewa National Forest

The Chippewa National Forest is another great place to snowmobile, with over 315 miles of trails that can be accessed. You’ll love the views along the trails, which include scenic woodlands, frozen wetlands, and 1,300 lakes! The trails connect to nearly 200 miles of routes beyond the Forest. For more information, please click here.

Stay safe, and enjoy the special time of winter up north in Minnesota!

Three Fantastic Tips for Early Ice Walleye Fishing

It’s strange to be talking about early ice in late December, but here we are. The mild temperatures have been a bit unusual, but hey – it’s 2020! It looks like winter is finally here, however, and so it’s time to start enjoying some fishing!

Here are a few tips for early ice walleye fishing:

Try the weeds. Early ice means you might still be able to find weeds, which hold fish all year long due to the oxygen they create. 

Use live bait. With the milder temps we’ve had, it’s easier to keep bait alive and lively. Active bait attracts more fish versus using a limp minnow. Try Red-tails, a favorite with Minnesota anglers!

Move quietly and minimize noise. Walleye are cautious early in the season and easy to spook. They’re getting used to new noises from footsteps to augers. Make sure you’re set up and ready come evening; it’s key to not spooking the fish!

Don’t forget to overdress for the weather. You can take layers off if you’re hot, but once you get cold, it’s miserable.

Want the latest fishing update? Click here. Above all, be safe out there. And have fun!

Your Guide to a Memorable Christmas at the Cabin

It’s been a tough year all around. All of the uncertainty and change has made some people more ready than ever to get away from it all. Fantastic holiday memories are yours to be made at the cabin this season. We’ve put together your guide for making Christmas 2020 the most memorable Christmas ever…at the cabin!

How about a Christmas movie marathon?

A cozy night in front of the fire binge-watching your favorite Christmas movies? Sign us up! Elf, Christmas Vacation, White Christmas, and Daddy’s Home 2 are all feel-good family favorites. Some old school classics like Holiday Inn or It’s a Wonderful Life are even more idyllic at the cabin. And depending on your definition of “Christmas movie,” you may want to consider adding the original Die Hard movie to your list.

Go “all Clark Griswold” with your decorations.

2020 is the year for going all out on holiday decorations. Twinkling white lights and garland draped all over your cabin makes the long winter nights feel cozy and festive. Go above and beyond. Try putting Christmas trees in each bedroom – it’s a surefire way to get the kids excited and add some holiday cheer! Click here for a list of fabulous decorating ideas.

Craft or bake homemade ornaments for your tree.

Making homemade ornaments for your Christmas tree is a great activity to do with the kids. Search Pinterest for scented salt dough or cinnamon Gingerbread ornaments that will not only be fun to make but will make your cabin smell wonderful. Be aware…if you have a dog, you should hang these homemade ornaments high in the tree!

Start a new family tradition.

Family traditions are memories that last forever. This year, consider making a new tradition; matching family pajamas, ugly Christmas sweaters, or hiding the Christmas pickle are all ideas your family might want to start and continue on for years to come. 

The Bill Hansen team of realtors wishes you and your family a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of holiday seasons!

Interesting Minnesota Deer Hunting Facts

Deer hunting season was reportedly off to a slow start this year. Nevertheless, in general, hunters should have more opportunities to harvest deer because deer populations have increased in much of the state. 

Here are some interesting facts about deer hunting in Minnesota:

  • About half the deer shot during the season are shot opening weekend. This year that was most like somewhere around 100,000 deer, depending on the weather.
  • About 70% of the season harvest occurs in the first four days of the season.
  • A whitetail’s home range is about 1 square mile.
  • Last year, 36% of all Minnesota hunters successfully harvested a deer (including archery and muzzleloader)
  • The average hunter spends five days afield during Minnesota’s firearms deer season.
  • The biggest white-tailed deer recorded in Minnesota was a 500-pound buck.

For more statistics, the latest state rules, and safety tips, click here. Have a great hunting season, and above all, remember to stay safe!

Venison Recipes that Always Satisfy

The Best Ways to Prepare Venison (with the least amount of work)

Despite one of the warmest openers in recent history here in Minnesota, this year’s deer hunting season didn’t disappoint. Many Minnesota hunters successfully filled their tags with trophy bucks and mature does from their hunting property or cabins throughout northern Minnesota. 

So now it’s simply a question of how to prepare all of the fresh venison that you were able to harvest from your hunt. 

A quick search online will reveal that foodies have shared more and more over the years from their lists of new recipes and better ways to enjoy venison. And as you know, venison prepared poorly can put a bad taste in your mouth for years to come, but venison prepared right can be a delicacy.

Simple Venison Steaks  

Consider preparing some venison steaks with minimal seasoning and a just the right amount of grilling. Some black peppercorn sprinkled overtop mustard on a steak will be just the right amount of flavoring. Grilling times will vary based on whether you’re cooking with gas or charcoal. But a grilled venison steak, even in the dead of winter, is the easiest – and can be the most enjoyable – venison recipe. 

Venison Stew  

Being a Minnesotan almost demands that you know how to make a good stew. Some prefer to slow cook their venison so that it doesn’t have the gamey taste that hunted animals can have. Some simply brown the meat on the stovetop before adding it to the stew. Regardless of which direction you go, venison stew is a Minnesota must and makes winters much more bearable. Find a great venison stew recipe here.

Venison Bacon Burgers  

Everyone has their own favorite way to prepare burgers. Ground venison, prepared correctly, can be truly enjoyable. When making the patties, mix ground venison with a raw egg, pieces of bacon, and some fresh rosemary with pepper. Gouda cheese can either be chunked into the patties or melted on top. To add some texture and sweetness, consider dicing up a pear into the patties. However you prepare them, the way you cook them is just as important. 

However you choose to enjoy your venison from this year’s deer hunting season, remember that venison is very low in fat and so is best when it’s prepared and served medium-rare.

Happy hunting…and happy eating! 

Grouse, Pheasant, and Woodcock Hunting Tips

It’s woodcock, pheasant, and grouse hunting season in Minnesota, and we are fortunate to have some of the best bird hunting in the country  here in our own state! Whether you choose to hunt in the 34,000-acre Mille Lacs Wildlife Management Area, the 1.6 million acre Chippewa National Forest, or the far northern forests bordering the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and Lake Of The Woods, Minnesota grouse season does not disappoint. 

Here are a few tips for hunting grouse, pheasant, and woodcock in Minnesota:

  • Hunt single file in woodcock covers. It’s safest to walk single file in woodcock cover; when the dog goes on point, you can then spread out with defined shooting lanes.
  • Walk in a line for grouse.  Grouse prefer to run, so spreading out and walking in a horizontal line works best. Grouse are known to be skittish, so it’s best to keep your conversations to a minimum.
  • Don’t rush your shot. Taking your time is especially important for woodcock. Quick shots kill birds, but rushed shots tend to miss.
  • Take time to enjoy the experience. Hunting is about so much more than bagging your limit. Make sure to take some time to enjoy the experience, appreciate the dogs and the company you are with, as well as the beautiful Minnesota land you’re hunting on.

Stay safe and enjoy hunting season!

Readying Your Minnesota Cabin for Winter

Haven’t we had a gorgeous fall?! Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and winter will be approaching soon.

Here are some essential steps to take to ensure your Minnesota cabin is ready for the winter:

  • Turn off the water. If you don’t use your cabin in the winter, make sure you turn the water off at the supply point. Nobody wants the headaches that frozen pipes bring. Don’t forget to clear your dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators of water. 
  • Turn down your thermostat. But not all the way! If you have a furnace, lower the temperature but keep it above freezing.
  • Unplug appliances. It’s best to unplug all of your appliances when you’re preparing your cabin for winter. Doing so reduces your electricity bill and reduces fire risk due to old or faulty wiring or nibbling rodents.
  • Seal your foundation. Check your foundation for cracks and seal up any you find with steel wool and spray foam to ensure no critters find their way in when it’s cold.
  • Secure the property. When you leave for the last time, close the blinds and curtains and double-check that all doors and windows are locked. Consider installing outside security/motion detector lights that could deter would-be burglars. 

Properly preparing your cabin for winter protects your investment and helps ensure you don’t return to a mess when spring rolls around. Enjoy these remaining gorgeous fall days!

Up North Minnesota Leaf-Peeping Tips

You don’t have to go far to see spectacular fall color where we are in Walker, Minnesota! Minnesota DNR’s Fall Color Finder shows we have reached peak color all around us in Schoolcraft State Park, Itasca State Park, and La Salle Lake State Recreation Area.

Some people say these are the most vibrant colors they’ve seen in several years, so be sure to get out there this weekend and do some leaf-peeping. Here are a few tips for your fall color excursion:

  • Find some water. With the thousands of lakes in Minnesota, you don’t have to go far to find a lake. Seeing the fall colors reflecting off the water is breathtaking, so don’t forget your camera. 
  • Take in the sights on two wheels. Riding a bike path through the many wooded trails is like riding through a brilliant wonderland; check out this link for a list of the numerous bike trails in the area.
  • Take advantage of Golden Hour. For Instagram-worthy photos, get out early (an hour after sunrise) or an hour before sunset to capture amazing soft, golden light.

Enjoy this beautiful time of year!

How to Ensure Your Dock is Ready for Winter

It’s hard to believe summer is over, and we’re already talking about closing up your lakeshore cabins for the winter. Here’s hoping we have several weeks left to enjoy comfortable but cooler weather and no mosquitos!

But, when it comes time to winterize your Minnesota lakeshore cabin, here are a few tips:

  • Remove your floating dock, so it doesn’t get damaged if the lake freezes. Secure it once out of the water, and don’t forget to bring in the anchors!
  • Clean your dock’s surface. Whether you can see it or not, you may have algae and fungus on your dock. Cleaning it thoroughly ensures it will be in good shape next spring/summer when you’re ready to put it back in the water
  • Inspect your boat lift if you have one. Check to make sure all parts look good and are working properly.
  • Verify insurance coverage. If you haven’t insured your dock, you might want to consider doing that. Docks are expensive, and insuring them can save you a lot of pain down the road if something happens!

When warm weather rolls back around, your dock will be ready to use and enjoy.