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A few days ago I was heading West on Hammer Road and as I looked out over the slough toward the place that we knew as “Skunk Hill,” I began to think about all the fun I’d had roaming that slough as a kid. Winter was usually when I would spend many hours exploring the slough.

We kids would usually make one or two trips to Skunk Hill in the summer, but winter was when you could spend time without fear of getting wet. For some reason I was like a magnet to water and whenever we ventured there in the summer I would usually end up with wet tennis shoes. Winter had its challenges because if you ventured too close to the bull rushes there was always a chance you’d break through the ice and end up with an overshoe full of ice cold water.

There were a few times we walked the slough all the way from Bridge Street to where the creek connected to Goose Lake. On these adventures we were always looking to see what kind of fish we could spot swimming in the creek. Spotting fish or any type of wild critter was the main reason I enjoyed these adventures. There were many times I’d be at the bridge and a school of minnows would come through. These were the times that got me going and I can still remember the excitement when those minnows came through because I would hope they would swim into my homemade minnow trap.

None of us kids had anything that resembled a store-bought trap, but my neighbor Roger, who was a little older, had a pretty darned nice one. He was pretty mechanical and he had fashioned one out of heavy wire and screen. I knew from the moment I saw it that I had to make one myself. I found an old screen window from the horse barn that we had in the back yard. My mother told me I could use it, so after driving a nail in each corner I attached a wire to each and ran them to the center. After twisting the wires together in the middle I tied a rope to them and — voila — I had a minnow trap.

That was pretty easy right? Well, there were a couple of unforeseen obstacles that needed to be overcome before this could work. As I rode my bike to the bridge with my new minnow trap in tow, I was excited to give it the ultimate test. Once at the bridge the magic moment was finally there and I could feel the excitement as I dropped the net into the water. What happened next really “took the wind from my sails,” to quote my dad. Splash, the net hit the water and in an instant it floated out of sight under the bridge – wood floats. Even with this slight oversight I was determined to make it work. Rocks do not float, so I loaded it with rocks and dropped it in once again. This time it sunk to the bottom and I was ready for some unsuspecting fish to swim over the top of it.

After a short time a school of minnows appeared and began swimming over my trap. Unfortunately, the weight of the rocks made it pretty heavy, so lifting the net was a slow process; the rocks were of various weights and when I lifted it the net shifted to one side it tipped, dumping the rocks and the few dumb minnows I had tricked, back into the water.

Nobody said being a kid would be easy, so I headed home and back to the drawing board hoping my creativity would kick in and I would come up with a new and better plan. I finally did make one that didn’t involve wood, and it worked pretty well. There is never a better feeling to a kid than when he creates something and it actually works.

Hunters register nearly 120,000 deer through second weekend

Minnesota firearms hunters registered 118,599 deer through the second weekend of firearms deer season, up from 104,785 from the same period in 2014, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Final numbers from the first 10 days show that the number of deer registered rose 13 percent from 2014. Buck harvest during the first 10 days of the firearms season was up 18 percent from last year, indicating that the population has in fact grown from its low point two springs ago.

Zone 1 total firearms harvest was up 14 percent, Zone 2 was up 17.5 percent and Zone 3 was up 7 percent. Buck harvest was up significantly in all zones

Additional deer will be harvested during the northern rifle zone season, which continues through Sunday, Nov. 22; the late southeastern season, which runs Saturday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 29; and the muzzleloader season, which begins Saturday, Nov. 28, and continues through Sunday, Dec. 13.

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Until next time, with winter just around the corner, take advantage of the weather and get outdoors to enjoy what nature has to offer...

Remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers because they are the reason we are able to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

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