After attending this year’s Governor’s fishing opener and basking in the 30/30 weather of the event — temps in the high 30s and 30-mph wind gusts — I am ready for whatever lies ahead for the upcoming fishing season. I have participated in enough of these openers that a little snow and cold temperatures just seem commonplace.
This year’s opener was held in McGregor, so I decided to leave a few days early and open up the cabin and then drive back down for the event. After the opener I returned to the cabin for a few more days before heading home. In my haste I had forgotten to pick up the chain saw from my son Brian. What the heck; what were the chances of downed trees welcoming me back three years in a row? Those odds were actually pretty darned good because as I took the last turn towards the cabin I was greeted by two pine trees blocking the drive about 20 feet apart. After surveying the situation and realizing the trees were not about to move themselves, I took the long walk to the cabin to retrieve an axe and a large pruning saw.
On the drive up I had encountered intermittent mist but no steady rainfall; that all changed with the first swing of the axe. Now I was not only working much harder than I had planned, but the sweat on my brow was being refreshed by the steady rainfall. I was wearing my favorite red and black flannel shirt, but even that didn’t put me in lumberjack mode. I only planned on cutting enough out of those trees to open the driveway, but even that was hard work, especially for an old guy who hasn’t had to use those skills for a while. Maybe someday I will be older and wiser and actually come to the cabin with chainsaw in tow.
Once I cleared a path to the cabin and got settled in, I filled the bird feeders and waited for my feathered friends to arrive. It took only an hour or so before the birds started visiting and I was in the bird-watching business. It usually takes up to two days before they appear, but there they were for my viewing pleasure. Once I was rested up from my stint of playing lumberjack, I finished putting things away and relaxed. I managed to get a few things accomplished before I headed south for the opener.
I left Friday morning for the opener and when I was about four miles south of the cabin a bear lumbered across the highway right in front of me. It was close enough so I had to slow down to avoid hitting it. Now that was really exciting and an experience I will always remember. The next night as I was leaving the banquet there were four deer that ran across the road in front of the car; they were a lot closer than I really cared for.
Once the opener was finished, I headed back to the cabin, about an 80-mile drive. The weather still hadn’t changed much from day one; it was 40-ish during the day and high 20s to low 30s at night. I made the best out of the situation and got some things done at the cabin that would make the next visit a lot easier. There was only one night when I didn’t have to start the wood stove; in fact, it ran constantly for about three days.
I had a variety of birds visiting the feeders; black capped chickadees, nuthatches, a downy woodpecker, three pair of red breasted grosbeaks, some pine sparrows, blue jays and even a raven visited. There was a red tail hawk sitting atop a dead birch tree a little way down the hill toward the lake. There were also a couple of red squirrels that, although they couldn’t get to the feeders, managed to get their share from the ground. I had seen a large shadow go overhead a few times and finally identified it as this magnificent adult eagle which flew directly toward me and landed in a tree by the lakeshore. At that moment I was thinking that life was pretty darned good.
Although I didn’t put the boat in the water this time up, I did get it ready for the next time. The sun made an appearance the day before I planned to leave so I drove to a few of my favorite lakes to do a little shore fishing, which got the adrenaline flowing for the next visit. I always like to fish a few times on each visit to the cabin and usually from a boat, but the weather was not good and the warmth of the cabin coupled with the abundance of wildlife right out in front of the cabin made not putting the boat in the water seem pretty okay.
Sunday night I had a visitor. I solved the raccoon problem a couple years ago by stringing wires between the trees and hanging the feeders out of their reach. No problems for the last two years, but all that changed this time. It seems I had a visitor and it took down two feeders and cleaned them out and the third one, which my son Brian and his family had given me for Christmas, was gone. I know a raccoon could not have reached those feeders or carried that one off so it had to be a bear. The next night I left my old wooden one out, which had different feed in it, and took the other one into the cabin. The next morning, I found the critter had broken the wire and pulled that old wood one down, but didn’t empty it or run off with it. A coon would have torn that old wooden feeder apart and eaten the seed inside.
I had heard reports of nuisance bears in the area, so I assumed that was the culprit. Yes, there is still an abundance of wildlife in Minnesota for us to enjoy. I can’t wait for my next great adventure at the cabin – this time, however, I will take the chainsaw.
Until next time, with the fishing opener behind us it’s time to get serious about fishing; whether it is fishing, camping and vacation – enjoy!
Memorial Day is a time to honor those that have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Please take pause to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops that are serving today.