Friday's Weekend Column
The Hunt Goes On

by James Glaser
November 14, 2003

The Minnesota Deer hunting season is still on and every place you drive you see hunting camps set up. Last Saturday night Charmaine and I drove out to Grattan Township for their hunters supper just so I could compare their supper with the one I had the night before in Northome, which was put on by the Ladies Auxiliary.

It had been several years since we had been to Grattan and they have a new town hall. We turned on the wrong road and went down a few miles before I remembered that townships are six miles square and so I stopped and asked a hunter for directions. Just like every other guy I hate asking for directions.

There were a couple hunters standing by a fire, (it was 12 degrees below zero that morning) they had a deer hanging and looked pretty happy, but a little cold. I said, "can you tell me where the Grattan Town hall is?' I kid you not, they said, "we don't even know where we are." They had come up in the middle of the night and just turned off on this forestry road, set up camp in the dark and started hunting in the morning. This is not unusual

We turned around and when we got to the road we had turned off of, we turned west and continued on down that road. About a hundred yards down that road was the Grattan Hall. Both suppers were great, but I must say that Grattan had way more pies and I do like mashed potatoes better than augratin.

Nobody has shot the "Big Buck" yet. That is the deer everyone sees all the way up to the night before the season starts. Some say it weights 300 pounds and has fifteen points on its rack, others swear it has eighteen. I have seen a real big one right near here, but it never stands still long enough to get a real good look at it. You even slow down and he is gone. That is why he got so big. Right now I bet he is out in that swamp north of the blacktop and will stay there until after the season is over.

Last week I wrote about going to Willow River High School to give a talk on freedom and war. It went well and I must say that I was real impressed by the students. They were not at all shy about asking questions and both their questions and their vocabulary told me that they were getting a good education. You hear so much about poor public education these days, well I would like those writing about our current students to take a look at Willow River.

Our VFW is going to have a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day Dinner on December 7th. We were looking for some Veteran that was there to give a talk. Even a guy that just enlisted in 1941 would be eighty years old now. If we can't find one or talk somebody else into it, then I will have to bone up on it and give a talk. We have a few members that are real interesting to talk to about WW II, but it is hard to get then to open up before a group of people.

We are in full winter now. We have lots of snow, the lake is frozen over, and it seems like the furnace is on all the time. Our house is not sealed up tight. Contractors that build new homes in Minnesota now have to go by the State Code and because they seal them so tight, many homes have problems with mold, so now they build a box in the basement that lets in air so that the furnace can run and the air in the home gets changed once in a while.

I don't care if it is thirty below zero, Charmaine sleeps with a window open. We have no heat runs going up stairs and when you hop out of bed you don't dilly dally around the bedroom very long. You come down those steps and start making coffee and after those few minutes getting kind of dressed, the kitchen feels real warm.

I almost forgot this, but thinking about cold mornings reminded me of it. This year their are more hunters in tents than ever before. These are not your hundred dollar nylon tent, but rather those thousand dollar white canvas tents with the stove pipe sticking out the top that would easily sleep thirty adults.

There are also lots of hundred to two hundred thousand dollar motor homes and as you walk through the woods you can hear the generators running. Americans don't go in for roughing it much any more. About the only real hunters are those that are after ducks. They are out in their blinds and the more miserable the weather the better they like it. I love wild duck, but a few years ago we were spoiled by a kid from town that would bring us ducks all cleaned, ready to cook. I could have cried when he went to the cities, got married, and quit hunting.

I have been asking people about what they have planned for Christmas and many are saying that they are going to cut back this year. I have been saying that for a long time now, but every year it seems to cost more. If all of my children would have joined a religious order, things might be different.

As soon as hunting season is over, all of Northern Minnesota changes and is given back to those that live up here all the time. Sure there are snowmobiles and ice fishermen, but the majority of them are from right up here. Soon there will only be one or two cars by here a day. No kids on this road now, so no school bus. Soon at night we will be able to hear the trees cracking and on some nights a wolf howling at the moon.

In the winter a person can hear more of nature than at any other time. Stand out at night and you can hear the deer crunching the snow as they walk through the yard. Owls are loud in the winter, all those leaves in the summer block the sound. Northern Lights are now starting to show their colors and everything has a moon shadow on the snow. This is my time of year to really enjoy living up here. Just today a fellow Vet was heading out for Florida as a snow bird. I like the guy, but was happy to see him leave.

There are less and less places in this country that you can walk in total silence. You can stand out side and hear nothing. It makes the world immense and it makes me feel real small, but for some reason it is the only time that I feel totally secure. If you have never been to a real wilderness, you owe it to yourself to have that experience at least once. Standing out in the woods with no sound other than your breathing and your heart beat. Try it and you will find it addicting.

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