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Down memory lane with Dean Hacker

Our water heater shut down the other day and of course it happened on a Sunday. Why is it that it seems that when you need a plumber or a doctor or another professional in a semi-emergency moment that it always seems to happen on a Sunday? Not so sure why that is or if we’re the only people that this happens to.

Anyway, I am glad our water heater went out! It gave me a chance to talk with Rick, who works for D&D Plumbing in Brainerd. I knew that his boss, Dean Hacker, had some health problems earlier this fall and I had not heard much after that. So when I asked Rick how Dean was doing, it came as a sad shock. He told me that Dean was in hospice and my heart immediately sank! I got on the phone right away to schedule a time to come see Dean. Candy picked up the phone and after a short chat, she said I could come over anytime the next day.

It was noon on Tuesday (Jan. 22) when I pulled up at their home and for the next 1.5 hours we all chatted. The living room where Dean was situated in his hospital bed was surrounded by “stuff” (like Dean put it). This stuff that I am talking about included two huge bull elk, a number of serious trophy whitetails, a musky or two and probably some other “stuff”!

Dean is an avid outdoorsman and for the past 40 years he had caught a lot of fish, shot a number of beautiful animals and spent a lot of time with friends and family out in the wild.

I fished with Dean and Candy on Lake X, I was also guiding them on Lake Bemidji when Candy caught a big musky. We also chatted about winter fishing on Gull Lake, where Dean and Candy had been fixtures on “the corner” since I first started ice fishing Gull Lake over 20 plus years ago.

I remember my neighbor back then, Lonnie Liebel, telling me about Deano. I had my spot, they had their spot and Lonnie had his and we liked it just like that!

There was the other time on the Whitefish Chain where we ended up seeking shelter at the Wharf because of a wicked thunderstorm. Oh, and I almost forgot about the “yellow T-shirt” over on Mille Lacs where Dean put us to school on the walleyes a number of summers ago!

These two (Dean and Candy) are dedicated outdoors people that take their sports seriously. I didn’t know until Tuesday that Dean had won the “International” this year on Gull Lake. Dean and Candy were quite involved in the Northerns Inc. Chapter here in Brainerd and the International is the granddaddy of all northern tournaments. Dean won it this year and he told me that it was only because someone upstairs wanted him to win. Now isn’t that the truth!

So, back to that “stuff”, it’s just that! We all have stuff and when it comes down to life and death the stuff doesn’t matter, it’s the final destination that does!

Love you Deano and Candy, Walleyedan.

WALLEYEDAN Eigen may be reached at 218-839-5598, or