Just being there is sometimes good enough

Published 7:22am Sunday, March 18, 2012

Column: Woods & Water, by Dick Herfindahl

Have you ever wondered why a bow hunter could spend hours sitting in a tree stand without seeing a deer and come away feeling great? I can relate to it in time spent in a boat or fishing off shore without a bite. It has to be the feeling of self satisfaction you get from just being there.

This is what separates most outdoorsmen from others. It’s the feeling that you get from just participating in the sport. I know it’s always nice to put fish in the live well or strap that big buck across the hood of the car. Do people really do that anymore? I guess I’m dating myself with that one but you get the idea. I’ve always felt that just being there is the most important part and if you are successful in putting fish in the boat that is just a bonus.

There are too many times that the emphasis is put strictly on how many fish you can catch or how much meat you can put in the freezer. There is nothing wrong with that as long as it’s within the legal limit, and if the fun is measured in pounds for you then have at it.

The reason I mention this is that when my son, Brian, first started bow hunting as a teen, his uncle, Lynn, took him under his wing and taught him about the sport. After Lynn moved away, Brian still had that love for the sport and one day he asked me if I’d like to ride along with him to check out some of the places that he had hunted with Lynn. We visited a couple of places over by Bricelyn, and Frost looked promising. Although he didn’t hunt on that day, I walked with him into the woods to check it out and I immediately got the feeling that this could be a good way to spend part of a day. It was not so much about the hunting but about the outdoors, and I could see that spending a few hours in the woods, deer or no deer, could be quite satisfying.

With the weather we are experiencing this spring or almost spring, I can’t help but get pumped up for the upcoming fishing season. I suspect that with the early spring everything could evolve a lot earlier as far as water temperatures and spawning. It will be interesting to see if it holds or if we suffer a minor setback in the next couple of weeks. Either way it has been a mild winter and my wallet was very appreciative when it came to the heating bill.

Now is the time to stock up the old tackle box, and with the early spring I know most of us are rearing to go, but I have to admit it’s easier to spend time doing that when the weather doesn’t call you to the outdoors. I’m not saying that I missed a snowy winter or the case of cabin fever that accompanies it but there are times when I’ve almost enjoyed a snowstorm and the cozy feeling that being holed up in the house brings.

If you are trying to come up with a different plan for a vacation because of high gas prices you might want to think about camping. It can be a great experience and relatively inexpensive to get started. I have written numerous times about what a fun family experience camping can be and if you choose to go to a state park, it can be a pretty minimal camping expense.

You can start by purchasing a state park permit for $25 that will get you and your vehicle into any of the 74 parks for the whole season. If you want to sticker more than one vehicle it is $18 for each additional one. Whether you go to a state park and spend a day, spend a couple of nights or even a week camping there is something for the whole family to enjoy. If you love nature and love the outdoors then this could be for you. A sticker is good year round and there are plenty of parks that schedule both summer and winter events.

What a great way to introduce the kids to an outdoors adventure and get them interested in nature. There is nothing better than sitting around a campfire roasting hot dogs or making smores and you’re never too old to be that kid again. This was probably the No. 1 thing that our family looked forward to on every camping vacation.

Camping in a state park starts at $12 a night for rustic, and you can also get a modern site with a bathroom and showers anywhere from $12-22. A remote site (a site that cannot be accessed by vehicle) goes from $12-22 and an equestrian site can range from $20-22.

Camping equipment can be as extravagant or as simple as you like. A good flashlight and a lantern are two things that I would highly recommend along with a tent, sleeping bags, eating and cooking utensils, a box of wooden stick matches, drinking water, wash clothes, towels and last but not least insect repellent. I did not mention food because, unless you are fasting, it is a necessity.

If you are at a park near a lake you may want to pack some fishing equipment. I don’t think that I’ve ever gone camping without at least taking one fishing rod and some tackle along. That’s just me, of course, but I have found that you can almost always find a place to wet a line within a few miles of any campground.

If you are interested in planning a visit to a state park, you may purchase a sticker by calling 1-888-646-6367 or buy one when you visit the state park of choice. You can visit the Deparment of Natural Resourses website at www.state.mn.us/state_parks/permit to find out about parks and campsites. Some parks have a limited number of cabins available for a fee of $45 without electricity and $50 without electricity. No matter what your pleasure a state park adventure can be a fun and pleasant family experience.

Until next time, take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy the great Minnesota outdoors experience.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.


Dick Herfindahl’s column appears each Sunday in the Tribune.