Going To The Dogs — And Bowhunters?

CROSBY, Minn. — If it were waterfowl hunting, especially with a dog, the plan to include hunting in True North Basecamp’s growing mix of outdoors offerings would be even more perfect.

But that the camp now allows dogs and wants to include hunting — possibly providing a sanctuary of sorts for bowhunters during the firearms deer hunting season, around a mine-pit lake brimming with outdoor possibilities — is special nonetheless.

Yes, True North continues to tap into the possibilities. A cluster of six new cabins on Armour Mine Pit Lake 2, on the edge of Crosby and the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, is the face of True North. But it includes a campsite with 33 sites, too, also in the heart of a world-class mountain bike trail system.basecamp3

And that’s the main draw at True North. Like big-time on-site ski accommodations (ski-in/ski-out), the bike trails are at the doorstep of the True North cabins (bike-in/bike-out), and nearly as close at the campground. Fishing might be secondary here, but with the cabins just feet from the lake, it’s also convenient to wet a line.

Dan Jurek of Minneapolis, who co-founded the camp with Jeff Bajek, also of the Twin Cities, said boating and watersports are popular here, too. A true family destination. And, unlike many lodging offerings in the area, dogs now are part of the mix at True North, further widening the possibilities — and, ultimately, the demographics — at the camp.

“We got a lot of requests from guests. They really wanted to bring their pets with them,” Jurek said. “There was a real overwhelming response from those who wanted to bring their dogs. And this also allows us to broaden our audience appeal.”

Dogs are allowed at all cabins and campsites and, “So far, people have been respectful, and that’s the only request we have — that people keep them on a leash and clean up after them and are mindful of other guests,” Jurek said of campers who have brought their dogs since that’s been doable in recent weeks. “We brought our dog with us the other weekend. She had a blast.”

True North isn’t yet a year old — it opened Dec. 26, 2015, just in time for what proved to be a busy fat-tire biking season on the Cuyuna mountain bike trails. So True North is yet to experience the annual two-week shutdown of the trails, coming up in November during the state firearms deer hunting season.

It can be a frustrating lull for mountain bikers and even some area businesses that rely, at least to some extent, on the highly-popular trails to draw business. But it’s not stopping Jurek from at least trying to drum up business at True North and continuing to broaden the scope at the camp.

As True North sits on 40 acres of prime wildlife habitat, Jurek is considering opening up that land to bowhunters during that two-week shutdown of the trails — a sort of sanctuary for bowhunters on the edge of a firearms permit area. Bowhunters in turn could rent the cabins (or campsites) so as to have the same easy access to deer hunting that mountain bikers have to the trails.

“It (the True North property) follows along the shore of Armour Mine No. 2, right by the cabins,” Jurek said. “I think a bowhunter would do well. I’ve seen a lot of deer there.”

It’s not a done deal, Jurek said, but interested bowhunters can go to the True North website at truenorthbasecamp.com for contact information for Jurek and the camp.

Jurek and company are thinking beyond November, too, while still enjoying the now at True North.

“A lot of people are catching fish like crazy — 3 to 4 pound largemouth bass,” Jurek said of a summer that’s been action-packed on the trails and on Armour No. 2. “And there are more and more boats. People are bringing boats (to True North). That’s a trend we’re seeing. People are surprised when they go up there (and see that boat activity).

“We’ve had a great season and continue to have a great season. And we’re starting to decide what plan we’re going to roll out next year. We’re going to have a planning meeting this fall based on guest feedback. We’ll be expanding our reach for winter activities beyond fat biking — snowshoeing, cross-country skiing. We want to emphasize that.”

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