Longtime local Minnesota Deer Hunters Association members recognized for work

Published 9:01 pm Friday, October 14, 2022

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Founders and longtime members of the Southern Gateway Chapter of the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association are being recognized for their work with the chapter since its creation. 

The local chapter started in May 1990 and presently has 168 members, though at one time it had as many as 300. The association is centered around ensuring the preservation and enhancement of wild deer hunting opportunities and also has a large focus on youth hunting education.

Clark Hammer, Tom and Sandy Norby and Jack Adams were recognized for their dedication to the chapter with gifts of hunting knives with handles made out of antlers that were engraved with their names. 

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“We as a chapter said it was time to recognize those people who have been very instrumental in getting our chapter started and the legacy they left behind for us to take forward,” said Deanne von Wald, chapter president. 

Tom Norby said before the local chapter started, the closest chapter was in Hayfield. He and his wife were members there, but there were many people in Albert Lea interested in a chapter here so they decided to start one locally. They were also previous regional directors with the association. 

Sandy Norby said the chapter brings a sense of camaraderie over a shared interest and a chance to learn from people throughout the state about hunting and various habitats. 

Over the years, some of the highlights with the local chapter has been the purchase of 1,200 acres of land on Grass Lake in southern Freeborn County that was dedicated as a wildlife conservation area. 

They also have organized the Hides for Habitat program, which prepared deer hides for hide buyers, with the money made from the sale of the hides going to support numerous efforts. 

The chapter, which mostly covers Freeborn County, has also played a big role in forkhorn camps, which are camps children can attend to learn how to hunt and to learn information about hunting safety. The Norbys said there are seven camps throughout the state. 

They also were instrumental in bringing about the new Conservation Building at the Freeborn County Fairgrounds with the help of Norm Fredin, former fair manager.

The chapter has an annual banquet that raises money for projects with half of the money going to the state, while half stays local. In the fall there is  youth day, which provides a chance for youth to shoot guns, bow hunt, learn how to put up a deer stand and learn how to follow blood trails, among others. 

Hammer, Tom Norby and Adams said they were all longtime hunters, while Sandy Norby didn’t start hunting until she met her husband. 

“It’s these kinds of people that start out the project that give us the roots that we can continue doing good things in our community,” von Wald said. 

She said an association such as the Deer Hunters Association would not exist without the teamwork that has been evident in their group.