The inevitable arrived as it has for most of the 67 plus years of my life.Sometimes later and years ago sooner.This “inevitable” referred to is the day we flip the cabin well switch to off, blow water from the lines, clean and unplug the refrigerator, pack up the rest of the kitchen, strip the beds, pull the shades, give it a last look, jot down on a paper plate that all is turned off, date it and pull the locked door shut.There’s always a certain sadness as I head down the driveway knowing we won’t be back until the following spring but the once green yard is now turning white.Last spring was different than all the others before so let’s look back briefly.
This one had its beginning in February with a scared and tearful phone call from Chad, my youngest son.He was in the Onamia hospital emergency room on day 1 of what was to be a Mille Lacs ice fishing weekend.He was about to leave via ambulance for North Memorial Hospital with a severely broken leg caused by a fall on the ice.Less than 24 hours later he would be in surgery having a nine inch plate supported by 11 screws put in to correct the break.Three months later of extended home care passed before he could finally return to work with my help.It was also about that time the Covid pandemic hit and life for everyone changed creating what could only be described as anything but normal.For me life just kind of evolved from this point.Convinced Chad was ok I packed my clothes, loaded up the dogs, packed coolers with frozen game and other freezer stuff, hooked onto the boat heading north to the cabin.Along the way my turkey tag simply stayed in my wallet missing the season entirely for the first time in recent memory. Why?Because I really do love to hunt those birds but it simply wasn’t to be this year.
With the last of the lake’s winter ice tinkling in the waves along shore more like a giant wind chime announcing spring’s arrival the sheet ice simply sank out of sight.Still a bit of snow remained in the woods but alone with Belle and Snap for company we set about yard cleanup after another winter.We also had a few hot dog roasting camp fires practically oblivious to the outside world but for my cell phone and daily calls home to Deb and family.Morels were in season but the best I could do was to pick some wild asparagus.It sure is tasty with venison chops on the grill.
Next came the fishing opener.Deb, Erik, Chad, Katie, Danielle and grandson Jack came to visit.I really can’t remember how much success we had but we did eat fresh fish so must have been ok.I also have lots of livewell pics often releasing them.I’m just not much of a fan of cleaning fish.Probably a throwback to bass tournament days.We also fished a lake nearby with too many small pike catching a bunch of them for pickling along with some really nice bass all on Sumpn Sumpn Jigs. What a hoot and yummy, pickled pike on crackers is such a treat.Deb’s mom and dad, Frank and Clara Tvrdik introduced me to that delight but now they’re gone.It’s really surprising how spoiled a person gets when the option to fish weekdays is always there.
Another event with a sad unfortunate ending came one afternoon with my brother-in-law, Dean and I on the lakeside of the cabin.A man who had just lifted to drop the trolling motor into the water turned losing his balance on a windy hot afternoon falling or perhaps going in for a swim, or so I thought.Saying something to Dean we only heard one word from his wife, “Help!” Running to the dock stripping my shoes, socks, pants and shirt I jumped in getting to him as fast as I could.There’s a shallow sand bar directly in front.The boat was quite new and his wife didn’t know how to drive it.He couldn’t swim and wasn’t wearing a lifejacket. Finally getting a rope to him and able to pull him to the shallow water which was only a short distance but with him not realizing that we began to get him to shore.Deb, my wife called 911 which produced sirens and thus emergency personnel on the way.Dean, myself and his wife got the man up on the dock beginning CPR because he had no pulse.The medical people soon arrived taking over.About 2 hours after leaving in the ambulance his wife returned to thank us for giving her husband a chance but also tell us he didn’t survive.Even never meeting this man bitter tears of disbelief and sadness came rushing out.Thinking back, and a lesson we can all learn was to please wear a lifejacket, there were 3 in that boat all stowed.Unfortunately this memory still brings sadness and tears!It simply didn’t have to happen!
Then almost in the blink of an eye it was August.I had been broadcasting the KFAN Fan Outdoors show all summer but now fishing got even better.Denny Fletcher of Fletchers Bait in Sauk Centre introduced me to the Brassy Shiner.On a jig it was like a minnow on steroids and walleyes absolutely couldn’t resist ‘em.We caught a bunch of fish and was it fun especially the big ones.In my excitement I broke off a few, operator error and even had one I could not get off the bottom.It would simply slowly shake it’s head actually pulling the knot out of the 4 lb P-Line after an excited battle of 10 minutes or so.I can only wonder how big it must have been.Humminbird electronics and MinnKota Ultrex are certainly game changers.It’s see fish, drop on ‘em and catch fish.Stay on top of fish with Spot Lock too.Wow is all I can say.It’s soooo much fun!Oh yea and left ‘em biting too.But there’s next year!However, we won’t talk much about the 2 mice that got into the boat chewing the lines from my rods causing the “ultimate” trap line to be created.Needless to say they’re gone!Or about the time I forgot to take the plug out before a heavy rain finding that it took about 15 minutes to drain waiting at the access!Maybe the boat trailer tail light issue that kept burning bulbs well that’s fixed too with new LED lights.All part of the last summer.
With the arrival of Pheasant Season I simply exchanged rods for the Browning Sweet Sixteen and dogs.As most of you know I have 2 Brittanys with 1 being a pup from Snap’s litter 4 years ago.She was the runt but would take zero from the other pups which appealed to me so she stayed.The trials and tribulations of “Belle the Dog” are too much and too long.Let’s simply say I was frustrated until this year.After dropping a rooster in the plowing and thinking it dead the dogs were taken to the area finding it simply winged taking off like a streak for the slough grass.Both dogs were in hot pursuit.Hitting the grass wide open Snap suddenly lost the scent circling back to begin anew. Just as suddenly Belle was gone from sight.In less than a minute she reappeared with a very much alive rooster delivering it to hand.I could have, no I did scream in delight knowing or hoping the light had come on and it did.Her points have become more solid, nose incredible and retrieving skills only getting better.She’s still got a lot to learn but in my world that’s exactly why I hunt!So fingers crossed but she’s well on her way to being what I hoped she would be, a Bird Dog!
So that brings us to present.My hunting adventures head to SW Minn Saturday to spend time afield with Chad.Summer has ended but we’ve a couple more months of the outdoors before the ice season. I only hope the deep snow isn’t a death sentence for a number of our birds in central Minnesota.Right now it doesn’t look good with more than a foot on the ground and still snowing as I write!Fingers crossed!Finally some good news the lakes are still wide open so all this snow is too early to mess up the hard water season!We can only hope because it’s on the horizon!
Good Luck and Enjoy!