Deer camps have been a tradition passed down for many years

Published 11:08 pm Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Minnesota deer hunting season begins Saturday, and it doesn’t seem possible to me that it is already here. Although I am not a deer hunter myself I do keep up with how some friends who hunt have fared.

A few years ago I attended the governor’s deer hunting opener in the Brainerd area. Not being a hunter I was invited to ride along with some nice folks from the Department of Natural Resources as they checked in with hunters at various deer camps to see how they were doing. It was a really interesting time, and I was impressed by the close-knit feeling that I took away from visiting those different deer camps.

Many of these camps were made up of generations of hunters that have been coming to the same area for many years. Most of these camps were started by a group of friends or a family that had one main thing in common — the love of hunting. Deer camps have been a part of the Minnesota deer hunting scene for as long as I can remember, and I had often heard friends talking about “deer camp.” After witnessing it firsthand I could see what was so special about it. Some of these folks had introduced their kids and grandkids to the sport and were still there hunting right alongside of them.

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Sharing a tradition and passing it on to the next generation is what being a sportsman is all about. It can give you a real sense of accomplishment. For me it makes spending time in the outdoors even more enjoyable. Although I don’t hunt much anymore it is fun to watch the grandkids get excited about the sport. A couple of weeks ago my son, Brian, and his family were spending some time at our cabin, and although the weather wasn’t the best, they still managed to bag a couple of grouse on our land. Grant, the youngest of the three boys got his first grouse on this trip which made everyone happy.

I have said more than once that it isn’t always about how many fish you catch or birds that you bag — it’s about being there and the whole outdoors experience. I don’t know what is the matter with me lately because the lakes aren’t even frozen over yet and I am already looking forward to spring. This winter I am planning on spending a little time on the “hard water” with my grandson, Trevor. He can be the guide because unlike his grandpa he knows where and how to catch fish through the ice.

In the past few years I have ventured out from time to time and tried my hand at ice fishing. The key to having a successful outing is to start early in the season as soon as the ice is safe enough to venture out on. I believe that I am getting a little ahead of myself because we still have open water, and I want to take a little time to get that one more cast in. Still being that kid at heart I am definitely guilty of being that guy — you know the one — he says it’s time to go but has to get in a few more casts just to satisfy his need to fish. At times I feel that I do this because in my mind I can see this “lunker” lying there waiting for me to make that perfect cast.

Having the need to satisfy that urge sometimes has not ended well for me. Many years ago I was shingling my garage on a Saturday in November and I was supposed go to a birthday party for my niece. My wife and the boys went on ahead while I finished what I was doing. I had just bought a new fishing rod at Bergland Sporting Goods store’s closeout sale and decided to try it out before heading to Freeborn for the festivities. I drove around Fountain Lake looking for a spot to cast. After a few casts I had caught a small northern so I took that as a good sign and headed home to put the fishing pole away and clean up. I had leaned the rod against the car while I retrieved my tackle box but wouldn’t you know it, a gust of wind came up and blew the car door shut at about the same time my rod started falling over. It was shut in the car door and that crunching noise told me it wasn’t going to be good. Sure enough, it was broken off just above the handle which made it unfixable for me. So much for my new rod and that one more cast thing.

This story did have a happy ending because I had shipped it to the company (Browning) and explained what had happened and asked if they could fix it. A couple of weeks later a long package arrived containing a brand new rod with an invoice that said they were replacing the broken one because of a factory defect. Evidently the good folks at Browning felt sorry for the dummy that broke his fishing pole the first time he went to use it.

Who would have thought that having to make just one more cast could create a problem? The funny thing is, the kid in me still feels the need to make that one more cast.

Until next time, enjoy the outdoors and take a little time to share the experience with our youth.

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.