Dick Herfindahl: Anticipating another visit to the north country

Published 9:55 pm Friday, June 21, 2019

Woods & Water by Dick Herfindahl


The month of June seems to be disappearing right before my very eyes. It seems like only yesterday I was shoveling the snow from the sidewalk and now I am sweeping grass clippings. Once our family vacation was over it just seems like time is flying by. I have wanted to get back up north to the cabin, but with graduations, birthdays and other appointments, finding the time is harder than it should be.

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There is a plan in place for my wife Jean and I to get up to the cabin in the not too distant future. On our next trip we will, no doubt, be doing a little mowing, weed wacking and maybe even, literally saw a few logs. I plan on doing some fishing and just taking in the beauty of the area. We will miss the presence of our family on this trip, but I am sure we will have a great time.

It is sometimes an adventure when Jean and I are at the cabin by ourselves. A few years ago a storm of great magnitude went through the area helped along by 80 mile-an-hour straight-line winds. We sat in the cabin watching as the trees down by the lake were bent over facing straight east with the force of that wind. In a cabin like ours there is no place to go to escape a severe storm so staying in the cabin and trusting the man upstairs to keep us safe is the best that you can do.

On another occasion when we were there alone as I glanced out at the bird feeders I noticed a black bear eyeing them. It then stood up on its hind legs and walked toward one of them with the same look in its eye that I get when eyeing a steak on the grill. I yelled “no” at it a couple of times before it stopped, looked at me and stomped off only to turn and approach the feeder again. I do know the bear really didn’t really know what the word no meant.  I am sure that it was just the tone of my voice. In any event, it was quite an experience.

I was asked by some friends at work after telling them the story if my wife was afraid. Quite the contrary, she looked at me and said wouldn’t it be neat if that bear came up on our deck? The words had hardly rolled out of her mouth when standing right in front of us looking into the cabin was our friend, who we decided to call Yogi. He looked into the cabin for a couple of minutes and then went down the steps and meandered through the woods towards the neighbors. It was about 10-15 minutes before he returned to take another stab at getting into the feeders. I took out my handgun and fired it into the wood pile to scare him away. He looked at me and as I fired another round and then slowly turned and wandered down the hill. While he was gone I took the feeders down in anticipation of his ultimate return. He did return, looked around for the feeders and then, finally, he must have decided that he’d had enough of this nonsense and moved on.

Another great memory to add to my list of great outdoors adventures. Spending time with my family still trumps spending time with a bear. What a great experience, which I can only classify as unforgettable.

Another time when Jean and I were at the cabin, she was sitting on the deck and I was inside when she asked me, “what kind of animal is this?” I walked out onto the deck only to see a badger walking slowly down the trail into the woods. Another time that same year while Jean was washing dishes she looked up and in a tree directly across from the window was a Pine Martin staring right at her, unafraid.

Yes, when you are in the north woods you just never know what kind of wildlife you may encounter. Seeing a deer is almost uneventful compared to some of the other interesting creatures one may see.

Once we get settled in, I will definitely be checking the trail cameras to see what kind of critters have ventured into the area in our absence. Over the last few years checking the cameras has held many surprises and a lot of wildlife pictures. Deer and raccoon seem to be the most frequent visitors followed by black bear, fox, coyote, woodchuck, pine martin, porcupine and even a beaver. Almost makes a person feel like Grizzly Adams except most of these critters usually don’t appear when I am around and you will never see me walking around with a raccoon on my shoulder.

Please remember to keep our troops in your prayers. We must never forget those who are still putting themselves in harm’s way so we can enjoy all of the wonderful freedoms we have today.