All Things BWCA Newsletter – November 2017

All Things BWCA Newsletter – November 2017

What’s Going on in the North Woods

  • bwca ely MinnesotaAround The Base
  • The Fishing Corner
  • Wilderness Wisdom
  • The Boy Scout Scene
  • Tips For the Outdoor Photographer
  • More Great Information

This newsletter is designed to help keep you current on the issues of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Quetico Provincial Park, to give you information on Williams and Hall Outfitters, and to share some of our knowledge and love of the outdoors and the BWCA wilderness around us. We hope you enjoy these articles and share them with your friends.

Around The Base

Big News – We Now Have a Really Big Back-up Generator!

by Blayne

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The Beast (aka The New Generator)

Actually, We Have Two New Generators

In 2017 we made a very exciting, while not very glamorous, improvement to our base on Moose Lake.  We installed a brand new Generac backup generator. In fact we installed a second backup generator, so the backup generator is backed-up as well.

Now, to those of you that were unlucky enough to pass through our base during the major power outage in July 2015, you know what we are talking about.  Our base is located 20 miles from our nearest power sub-station.  In 2015 a freak windstorm left us without power for over 6 days.

No Power for 20 Miles

The storm destroyed the entire power grid between our base and the sub-station. Oh, it also destroyed the sub-station.  It was actually an amazing feat that our utility companies were able to get us back online as soon as they did. If you were with us during that outage, you saw first-hand that loss of power also means loss of our water system, refrigeration, lights, computers and so on.  Well, never again!!!!

Protection From Those Nasty Storms and Falling Trees

Power outages are a frequent occurrence in the Northwoods.  When you think about power lines running through miles of dense forest it is probably a miracle to have as few problems as we do. Well to say we are excited to enter the modern era of reliable backup power would be an understatement, for sure.

The installation took the better part of the summer, but we got it done, and all systems are go. This is one of those infrastructure issues that is neither glamorous or obvious, but it will insure our guests have a seamless experience which will not be interrupted by falling trees.

The Backup to the Backup

Adventure On!

The Fishing Corner

At Season’s End

by Dave, our resident fishing expert.

williams and hall outfitters ely mn bwca

Ice in the Distance

Moose Lake is Icing Over Already

Well, the open water fishing season on Moose Lake came to an abrupt end this year. My hopes for some late season smallmouth & walleye fishing were dashed by a couple snowstorms and several record low temperatures last week. The south end of Moose lake is already iced up as are the ponds and most of the small lakes. The last several years would have one thinking “wow! this is early”, but it’s actually a lot closer to normal than we want to believe.

Time to Clean Up The Fishing Tackle

So now I’ll need to shift gears. It’s deer hunting season in Minnesota but for me, it’s more of an opportunity to sneak in an afternoon nap if I can find a comfortable log to settle in on. Safe ice fishing is still a little way away so I’ll use the next few weeks to clean up all my tackle messes that have piled up over the season. I fish several different techniques and often mix and match tackle to fit the task at hand. ely

Unfortunately, much of that stuff winds up in a spot in my house I refer to as the “work room”.  The work room is a perpetual work in progress. Rather than scramble for the “stuff” I need when I need it, I try to organize “stuff” to make it easy to grab and go when I can.

Now, with a little extra time to clean up, maintain and re-organize all my “stuff”, I need to seize this time to get ready for ice fishing and to be ready for when the grips of winter ease in leu of the next open water season…maybe six months from now! ely

Note to self…take the unexpected spare time you get and make the most of it, otherwise all those “tackle messes” will wind up right where you left them, come spring.

Fish On. Be Free.

Wilderness Wisdom

Building a Fire on a Wet Day in the BWCA/Quetico

by Kevin

williams and hall outfitters bwca ely minnesota

Finding Warmth After a Wet Day on the Water

It’s been a wet day of canoeing and you just want to feel some warmth.  You can’t wait to get to camp and start a fire.  But you are worried about finding some dry wood to get the fire started and burn.  Hopefully, you have brought along a few fire starter squares, or at least some dryer lint, to get things going.  But if you haven’t, here are a few tips to help you when this situation arises.

  1. Carry a flint and steel along with matches. You can go through a lot of matches on a cold, windy day. But the flint and steel will keep making sparks.
  2. Each BWCA campsite has a fire ring with a grate. Make sure you have a nice space under the grate that is protected from the wind.
  3. Most important is to gather up tinder and kindling. For tinder, look for birch bark.  Birch bark, even when wet, will light easily.  Just don’t remove the bark from live trees.  Also look for some dry pine needles and pine bark with sap bubbles.  These are also very flammable.  Also gather up small sticks to use as kindling once you get the tinder going.
  4. Lay a few small sticks across the ground of the fire ring. The dirt in the fire ring will likely be wet and cold.  The sticks will act as insulating floor.
  5. Now place your tinder on top of your floor of sticks. Using a match or flint and steel, light the tinder.  Then begin to add your kindling slowly until your fire is going well.
  6. At this point you should be able to add larger pieces of wood.

Here are a couple of additional fire building tips.

  • Place your larger to pieces of wood on the fire grate above your fire to dry out.
  • Wood that is damp on the outside may be dry on the inside. Try making some fuzzsticks which will help expose the dry wood. Fuzzsticks can make great tinder.
  • Make sure you have plenty of tinder, kindling and some larger wood ready before you light your fire.
  • Test your fire building skills on a dry day first.
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A Fuzz Stick

Paddle On.  Be Free.

The Boy Scout Scene 

Be Aware of BSA Religious Emblems

by Kevin

williams and hall outfitters ely mn bwca queticoc

Just a Few of The Available Religious Emblems

There Are Emblems for Many Faiths

As Scouters, we can be very focused on rank advancement and merit badges.  After all, this is one of the key ways boys learn the skills of scouting. However, let’s not lose sight of the 12th point of the Scout Law – A scout is reverent.  Also, remember this part of the Scout Oath – “duty to God”.

The BSA has created a number of Religious Emblems that Boy Scouts can earn that keep them connected to reverence and duty to God.  An amazing array of faiths have emblems that can be earned.

These emblems are not for all boys and should not be pushed upon them.  After all, the Boy Scouts are a secular organization.  Nonetheless, helping boys know that the emblems are available to them are a service that all Scout Leaders should provide.

A great outline of the Religious Emblem program can be found here.

PS – We are here to help your troop plan a 2018 BWCA trip

We would very much like to help Boy Scouts plan Boundary Waters trips.  As Scouters, we are dedicated to helping out any way we can.  If you have any questions during your planning process, just give us a call.

Duty On. Be Your Best.

Tips For the Outdoor Photographer 

How to Photograph a Bald Eagle

By Kevin

williams and hall outfitters ely mn bwca

Bald Eagle head shot (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), Homer, Alaska

Bald Eagle Sightings Happen Often in the BWCA

Paddling in the Boundary Waters and Quetico offers a great chance to see the majestic bald eagle.  In fact, many times we spot these incredible raptors right on Moose Lake.  If you are lucky enough to see a bald eagle, you should try to capture a photo of it.  However, this can be easier said than done.

To take a photo a bald eagle, you will need to have your camera ready.  In addition, these tips should help you get that great image.

  • Increase Your Odds – You have to be in the right place at the right time. Paddling in the Boundary Waters definitely increases your odds of seeing one or more bald eagles.
  • Be Ready – You will likely need to have a zoom lens ready when a bald eagle is sighted. The longer the better.
  • Camera Settings – Bird photography usually requires fast shutter speeds. Consider 1/1000th.
  • Keep an eye out for eagle nests or eagles perched in trees. Stationary birds are easier to photograph.

Shoot On!

We Can Help You Secure Your 2018 Permits for Boundary Waters  and Quetico

Quetico Park permits are available no sooner than 5 months, to the day, ahead of the actual start date and Boundary Waters permits became available for application on a first-come, first serve basis beginning in mid-January.  Now is the time to apply.

Remember…We are happy to secure your Canoe Country permits at no extra charge!

williams and hall outfitters ely bwca permits

williams and hall outfitters quetico ely







Purchase Williams and Hall Merchandise Online

Need a great gift for that paddler in your life.  You can always find Williams and Hall merchandise online.  Just click the “Shop For Gear” link at the top of our home page or go directly to

Winter Sport Show and  Customer Night Dates

Please catch up with us this winter at a sport show or Boundary Waters night near you. The dates are now posted on our website. You can see them by clicking here. 

These are great times to visit and plan your next excursion into this wild country.  We will do our best to continue to reach out to you through our blog and newsletters.  We will let you know of any changes in rules or regulations that come down the pike just as soon as we can.

Thank you for a great 2017 season!

Thank you sign

We hope you give us a chance to help you plan your 2018 Canoe Country adventure.

From your friends at Williams and Hall,                                                                             Charlene, Blayne, Dave and Kevin

Williams and Hall Outfitters and Canoe Adventures                                                                                        
(218) 365-5837

Paddle On.  Be Free.