132 YEARS OF SERVICE to Southern Minnesota
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There are many times when a person is out enjoying the outdoors that things just don’t go as smoothly as one would like.

I can remember years back when a friend of mine was heading out early in the morning for the deer hunting opener and he bagged a deer sooner than  expected. 

It seems that on his way to the hunting area, a deer ran out of the ditch and he struck it, taking out his radiator.

Another time, a couple of hunters had just registered their deer and as they were heading home to hang them, a deer ran out of the ditch and into the side of the vehicle. I’d guess if you were a superstitious person, you might take that as a sign.

Over the years I have seen, heard about or experienced first hand some not-too-cool incidents while fishing. More than one of those instances occurred while on a family vacation at Spider Lake. During the first part of the week my son Brian, the oldest, would go out with me at the break of dawn until about Wednesday when he would usually opt to sleep in like his brother. My usual trend on these vacations was to hit the lake early, return to camp about 8 to clean fish and have breakfast. After breakfast we would load the whole family into our little boat and fish for about three or four hours. On one of those occasions I was on the lake at the crack of dawn enjoying the solitude of an early morning sunrise when I tied into a nice sized pike. I fought the fish for a couple of minutes before I was able to coax it to the boat. As I maneuvered the fish towards my landing net, it must have gotten its second wind because it lunged downward and then came straight up, exploding out of the water, but I finally managed to get it into the boat. That pike was determined to fight me all the way and when I tried to remove the hook, the fish went berserk and shook the lure loose, which flew at me like a slingshot driving the treble hook into my hand. The hook was embedded so that I couldn’t cut the end off nor crimp the barb. I tried everything to extract the hook, all the while trying to keep the boat from drifting into shore. I eventually decided to bite the proverbial bullet and rip it out with my needle nose pliers. After such an ordeal there is always enough free advice at camp to go around that makes removing a hook sound easy and painless.

Another incident that I had while fishing alone on Spider almost ended badly. I had decided to go out in the evening and do a little casting and I believe I had every fishing pole that we owned along with me. On one of the casts I managed to unknowingly hook another rod lying behind me and fling it over my shoulder into the water; luckily it was still attached to my lure and I was able to retrieve it. That is one of those things a person does that causes him to look around to see if anyone was watching.

Camping with the family was never uneventful because it seemed that something always happened to make things interesting. One weekend we had decided to go with some friends to Hickory Hills for the weekend. Now, getting ready for any camping trip always seemed to offer its own challenges. This particular time as I was attempting to put the pickup camper on the truck, the jack broke and I couldn’t get it to crank up. After a lot of sweat and some “McGyvering,” I was finally able to get it to work. Once we were at the campground I was cranking the jacks down and as I furiously turned the handle to make up for lost time, it came off, striking me in the forehead and almost putting me to the ground while leaving a nasty gash. I’ve often wondered if my boys thought they were watching a cartoon because they were speechless at first; then when they figured I was going to make it they began to laugh. I didn’t see the humor in it at the time, but they still bring it up from time to time and after all these years, I can finally see a little humor there.

One of the camping excursions we took with a group of friends was really an exercise in futility. A friend of mine had told me about this campground on Elysian Lake that was in a farmer’s pasture and camping was on a first-come, first-serve basis, or so we thought. After getting a late start on Friday evening, we had to set up our tents in the dark. After we had finally finished and stepped back to admire our handy work, another camper walked over and informed us that we were in someone else’s spot — so much for the first-come, first-serve theory. After we had torn down the tents and moved them in total darkness we realized that we had no firewood. In as much as we were the men and were gatherers of all things outdoors, the three of us set out in the farmer’s pasture in search of firewood. We only managed to find a few straggly branches, some cockleburs and the farmer’s Holstein bull. Upon returning to camp almost empty handed, except for a few sticks along with some cuts and scratches, we found that the girls had a nice fire going. It seems that fellow felt bad for telling us to move so he gave them a bunch of firewood. Topping off the weekend of pure enjoyment was the fact that the walleyes we were told would bite from shore were actually 4-inch bullheads that would bite a minnow almost as large as they were.

We tented, we camped in campers but no matter what, I always made sure that I had a fishing pole and tackle box along because you just never knew when the opportunity would present itself. Those were all fun times with memories that make us shake our heads and laugh when we look back and wonder how we did it.

Until next time; there is still plenty of summer left so take some time to enjoy the great outdoors with a weekend camping trip, do some fishing or just spend a day at one of our areas lakes.

Please take a little time to remember those who served and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice so that we are able to enjoy all the freedoms that we have today.  

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