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The past week I was saddened to hear of the passing of Orrie Jirele, who was taken from us all too soon. Orrie was a very good basketball coach; he was fiery and coached with passion and when you attended a basketball game there was always a question of not if, but when he would shed the coat and tie. If you attended a high school sporting event you could usually count on seeing him there supporting the team. He was also a teacher, counselor and accomplished violinist and an avid sportsman who loved the outdoors. I always knew he liked to fish, but I also knew that hunting waterfowl was his favorite. It is ironic he left us doing something he loved and, I think, at times we’ve all had that thought, if only for a fleeting moment.

Orrie was many things to many different people but he was above all the real deal. I first met him when he coached my oldest son Brian on the high school tennis team and right away I felt like I’d known him for years. Although I was not a writer in those days, he knew from talking to Brian that I liked to frequent the same area of Northern Minnesota that he did. He mentioned to me he liked to vacation with his family at Bowstring Lake, northwest of Grand Rapids. In those days Bowstring was known for its big crappies and he said he really enjoyed fishing for them. Orrie once confided in me that he occasionally liked to take the boat out alone, light up a good cigar, sit back and just take it all in. I think it’s a “guy thing,” meaning that most guys have some little thing they do to treat themselves to something they don’t ordinarily get to enjoy.

Whenever I would attend my grandson’s tennis matches I could always count on talking to Orrie; he would be there supporting the team and talking to the kids and parents. When he asked you how you were or if you’d been fishing, he was genuinely interested in what you had to say. We all know someone that slaps you on the back asks how you are and before you get a word out they are moving on like they are walking barefoot on hot coals – not Orrie, he was genuine. He played tennis with my grandson Taylor this past summer and also hunted with Trevor my oldest grandson. The last time I spoke with him we talked about his latest fishing trip with the family and he also told me to be sure and tell Trevor to give him a call if he was doing the early goose hunt.

Yes, Orrie had a zest for life and was a man that touched the lives of many in our community; he will be missed.

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Grand Rapids area waterfowl season opener is average

Hunter success was about average on three popular waterfowl lakes for the 2013 waterfowl hunting opener in the Grand Rapids area.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife staff conducted waterfowl bag checks on opening day, Sept. 21, on Big White Oak Lake, Mud Lake (both near Deer River) and Big Rice Lake near Remer.

Hunter success in terms of ducks bagged per hunter varied from a low of 1.6 ducks per hunter at White Oak Lake, to 2.2 ducks per hunter at Mud Lake. Over the five year average, hunter success was about average for each lake.

Mallards, wood ducks and blue-winged teal were the most common birds in the bag with blue-winged teal being the most commonly bagged bird at White Oak Lake, mallard being the most commonly bagged bird at Big Rice Lake and wood duck being the most commonly bagged bird at Mud Lake.

Based on car counts, hunter numbers were down about 15 percent from the five year average.

“Noticeably absent in the bag this year were ring-necked ducks which often represent 50% or more of the opening day harvest,” said area wildlife manager Perry Loegering. “Ring-necks usually start migrating into the state in late September, but weren’t here yet.”

This year’s duck hunting season is 60 days in length. The duck bag limit is six ducks daily and may not include more than any combination of the following: four mallards (two hen mallard), three scaup, three wood ducks, two pintails, two redheads, one black duck, and/or two canvasback. If not listed, up to six ducks of a species may be taken. The daily bag limit for coot and moorhen is 15. The daily bag limit for merganser is five, no more than two of which may be a hooded merganser.  

Until next time, this is a great time for hunting and fishing but most of all its fun to just get out and enjoy the natural beauty of our great Minnesota outdoors.

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.

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