I bought my kids (right, my wife is saying in her head as she reads this) a new ATV this spring: It’s a 2004 Yamaha Raptor

Well, new to me anyway and a little different than my trusty 1985 Honda Fourtrax.

For those of you not all that familiar with ATV’s, it’s what is nearly universally known as a quad - a sporty version of an ATV meant more for racing around and hitting jumps as opposed to hauling firewood on the back 40.

I looked at several different options before pulling the pin on this purchase and fully intended to get something practical in the 200 to 250 cc range for them to learn on, but I just kept coming back to the quads because they look so darn cool.

And YouTube is a terrible influence when it comes to buying new toys, especially during that period between no snowmobiling and no grass when many of us in northern Minnesota are bored to tears.

Being able to watch humans of all ages having a blast on their quads just amplifies the “want” button deep down in my never-going-to-grow up soul.

Being stuck inside due to a deadly virus doesn’t help either. When I’m feeling stir crazy, I tend to spend money I shouldn’t on things I don’t really need.

This particular purchase probably is probably a good example.

But practicality is boring so after selling a few high priced toys laying around my house unused to raise the cash, and an exhaustive two-day search that started with a passing comment to my wife meant to plant the seeds about how cool it would be if the whole family could go ATVing this summer and ended with a trip to rural Nashwauk and exchange of cash, I had a quad.

Listen, I don’t mess around when it comes to spending fun money. You have to move quick when you have cash in hand and want to buy a toy or something like a broken washing machine or an unexpected lay-off due to a pandemic will vacuum up your Benjamins before you are able to satisfy your urges.

The day I brought it home, the temperature was right around 20 degrees and there was still two feet of snow on the ground and a long ride was out of the question.

So I did the only thing I could – I unloaded it from the truck and took off up the street.

I had given it a test drive before I bought it, but it was in a rural setting and not all that long of a trip because, again, it was freezing out. So when I hit the road and squeezed the throttle, I realized quickly this wasn’t your grandpa’s four-wheeler.

First of all it makes a lot of noise – the loud annoying kind your neighbors hate, especially when you put an aftermarket muffler on it that increases the crackling high pitched wail that protrudes from the back of the machine when you pinch it.

Apparently, this machine has one of those special mufflers.

So now, ironically after a column complaining about similar type noise makers on snowmobiles just a few months ago, I’m that guy.

The second lesson I learned within two blocks of riding, and as the days and weeks of March and April passed, was that sporty quads tend to take a beating in a way that my reliable old Honda never has.

Mostly because they are ridden like they’ve been stolen by kids one-third of my age.

What that means is a lot of wear and tear on important components of the vehicle, particularly in the steering areas.

The first thing I noticed was the high-pitched squeal coming from the front wheels that according to the experts on the Yamaha Raptor forums usually indicates bad bearings. A closer look at the situation revealed that not only were the bearings shot but at least one of the front rims was bent (a result of jumps taken, no doubt).

Oh, and the splines on one of the rear hubs were stripped, the rear bearing was shot, and the lug nut on the opposite side of the axle was basically welded on because someone before me must have used a hammer to tighten it as the threads were crushed.

So what that meant was a new axle, two new rear hubs, new rear bearings, and, a new sprocket because the teeth on the one that was on there were damaged from riding around on a bad set up.

But fear not faithful readers, I fixed it all up nice while doing my part to keep the economy going and keeping the local postmaster, and the UPS and FedEx driver’s busy.

And now I have a quad for the kids (ya, right, the kids) to zip around on and annoy the neighborhood – at least when I can finally register the thing. The Department of Motor Vehicles was shut down due to stay-at-home the day after I bought it and you can’t transfer vehicle ownership online.

So for now it (mostly) occupies a space in my garage.

But it looks pretty sweet sitting there.


Elk Hunting

The Department of Natural Resources is now accepting applications for elk hunting licenses in northwestern Minnesota for seasons that will be held from late August to early December.

This year’s seasons are structured to allow hunters to have more opportunities to harvest antlerless elk. The DNR is offering 44 elk licenses this year; last year there were 27 offered. More seasons and license options are also available this year. The application deadline is June 12.

“There will be better odds of getting an antlerless license, and we hope hunters consider applying for one of these licenses,” said Barbara Keller, DNR big game program leader. “Elk meat is delicious and fills far more freezer space than a white-tailed deer.”

The DNR is allowing hunters to choose from three options when they apply to harvest elk: a license for a bull elk; a license for an antlerless elk, which can be a female or a young male; or a license for either a bull or antlerless elk. Additional hunting seasons will spread out hunting effort, from late August to early December.

The 44 elk hunting licenses offered this year are in either the Kittson central zone (zone 20), with 42 licenses, or Kittson northeast zone (zone 30), with two licenses. Hunts in these zones focus on the Kittson Central herd, which is increasing.

The dates for the 2020 Minnesota elk season are:

•Saturday, Aug. 22, to Sunday, Aug. 30: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20) zone.

•Saturday, Sept. 5, to Sunday, Sept. 13: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20) zone and two bull-only tags will be available in the Kittson northeast (zone 30) zone.

•Saturday, Sept. 19, to Sunday, Sept. 27: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20).

•Saturday, Oct. 3, to Sunday, Oct. 11: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20).

•Saturday, Oct. 24, to Sunday, Nov. 1: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20).

•Saturday, Dec. 5, to Sunday, Dec. 13: Four antlerless tags and three either-sex tags will be available in the Kittson central (zone 20).

The DNR uses hunting as the main tool to manage elk populations, with harvest of female elk the focus of keeping populations within goal range.

The new license options give better odds of getting a license to hunters who want to harvest an antlerless elk. Antlerless applicants are now put in a separate pool of applicants; in the past, hunters willing to harvest an antlerless elk needed to compete in the lottery against hunters who only planned to harvest a bull.

It is important that hunters review the season structure on the DNR website prior to entering the elk season lottery, to make sure they apply for the license they want.

Hunters must select the type of elk license they are applying for: bull-only (two licenses available), either-sex (18 licenses available) or antlerless only (24 licenses available), in addition to the zone and season. Hunters may apply individually or in parties of two online or by telephone 888-665-4236.

There is a nonrefundable application fee of $5 per hunter.

More information is available on the DNR’s elk hunting page.


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