Autumn is a great time to get out into nature and enjoy the colors

Published 6:24pm Saturday, September 29, 2012

On Monday I had driven to Blue Earth to watch my grandson Dylan’s football game, and the farmers were out in full force busily harvesting beans. The countryside is painted a golden brown this time of year, and along with the trees changing colors, it is truly a picture worthy of an artist’s brush.

Taking a drive in the country in the fall can be rewarding, and it always gives me that special feeling which I seem to experience each year at about this time.

Although I don’t do very much hunting these days, this is always a special time of year for me. The archery season for deer is now open along with the waterfowl hunting season. If you venture north a ways you can be treated to some grouse hunting which can be enjoyed on many of the wildlife management areas in northern Minnesota. We have access to a total of 11 of those areas right here in Freeborn County that is there for the public to enjoy.

It was quite a few years ago that my oldest son Brian asked me if I wanted to ride along with him to the Bricelyn/Frost area and check out a couple of the places that he bow hunted. It was a beautiful crisp fall day, and when we visited these places I definitely could see what would make a person enjoy sitting in a tree for hours just waiting for a deer to come by.

When Brian and I first decided to look for some land in northern Minnesota we spent most of a summer looking for that right spot and one that we could both liked. The land that we bought was on a little lake and was actually the first place that we had visited.

As we drove down the easement drive to the property for the first time we were greeted by a deer standing on the edge of the drive right in front of us. As soon as I noticed the deer the thought flashed through my mind “this will be the place” because the look on Brian’s face said it all.

We kept looking at other places but in the end kept coming back to this one — I guess it’s a sportsman’s version of love at first sight. We are located on a lake that was not supposed to have fish in it, but there are plenty of sunnies and crappies to be had.

The ironic thing about sighting that deer is that Brian has yet to do any bow hunting up there, but both he and his boys hunt ducks and grouse each fall when they spend a few October days at the cabin.

A couple of years ago Trevor, my oldest grandson, even built a deer stand on our land but so far no one has used it. I have a feeling that if it doesn’t have feathers Trevor isn’t interested.

There are grouse on our property and on the adjoining state land that surrounds our property. Brian and the boys spend a few hours each week walking the woods in search of grouse. They have gotten a few in the last couple of years and I have sighted quite a few over the summer months so hunting looks to be pretty good this October.

A couple of years ago I broke down and bought a single shot 20 gauge just to have at the cabin.

I have been asked why a single shot? First of all, it was fairly inexpensive and with my cat-like reflexes if I don’t hit something on the first shot I more than likely won’t hit it at all.

Brian and I will be heading to the cabin for a week in October for a little fishing and hunting. Who knows, he may even be able to talk the old man into walking one of the many public trails that are available in the area. If that happens, although I’m no quickdraw McGraw, I’ll be carrying my trusty 20 gauge hoping to make my one shot count.

Just spending time with Brian fishing and walking the woods at this time of the year is really what it’s all about.


Grouse hunting

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued the following news release promoting grouse hunting in the state.

There’s more to Minnesota than 10,000 lakes. Try 11 million acres of public hunting land, 528 designated hunting areas in the ruffed grouse range covering nearly 1 million acres, 43 designated ruffed grouse management areas and 600 miles of hunter walking trails.

Minnesota offers some of the best grouse hunting in the country. Even in down years of the grouse population’s boom-and-bust cycle, hunters in other states still envy our flush rates and hunter success rates remain high.

Grouse already know Minnesota is the perfect place. It’s time you did, too.


What you’ll need

Not counting a sturdy pair of boots, a blaze orange hat and vest and a shotgun, all you need to hunt grouse in Minnesota is a valid game license.

Hunters seeking woodcock must be HIP-certified (done when you purchase your Minnesota license) but do not need state or federal migratory bird stamps. Shotguns may not hold more than three shells unless a plug is used.

If you’re not on your home turf, you’ll need a place to stay, something to eat and a souvenir or two. Communities such as Grand Rapids, Ely, Duluth and Bemidji offer a wealth of options.

Until next time, take a drive in the country and enjoy the changing colors, but be aware of the farmers as they drive from field to field harvesting their crops.

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 in the Tribune each Sunday.