On my way back to Minnesota this week one thing was for sure—it's hard to leave the mountains. Although we only came home with another mule deer, the trip, I feel, was still a success. Especially for my first year on a self-guided hunt on public land. We were quite shocked when we arrived in Deer Lodge to find the snow had melted a few days before we got there. I was really hoping for snow so the elk would be coming down to lower elevations, but ... oh well.
Another white-tail rifle season is in the books. As far as deer camp goes it was a great year hunting with friends and family. I think you have to look at it as something more than hunting because if you just look at the hunting part, well ... it was horrible. I don't know if it was the extremely warm weather, or high wolf numbers. Or possibly the deer numbers aren't what we are being told. But for the first time in over 25 years I didn't even see a small buck and only a few does and fawns.
I have been lucky enough to hunt pretty much everything that Minnesota has to offer. But there is one thing on my bucket list that has always been on the top, and now I've gotten to experience that. I'm talking about elk hunting, and not some guided trip. With only a few weeks notice and only one week after having surgery for kidney stones I was in a truck headed to western Montana.
Too many times we say we would like to do something and never make time to do it. It may be not enough time, or not enough money or tons of other excuses. But if you wait for exactly the right time, it probably will never happen and the things on your bucket list will never get checked off. That is what I was thinking two weeks ago when I went online and bought a Montana bull elk tag. I have always wanted to shoot an elk but like most people there was always a reason not to go.
Last week was the 24th annual disabled veteran deer hunt at Camp Ripley. Although the deer herd at camp is following the rest of the state with its low numbers, this didn't stop 60 hunters from hitting the woods. At a hunt like this you really see what a small part the deer play. For many, it's about an early morning deer camp breakfast; for others, it's getting to spend a couple of days in the woods and just being in nature. And for the volunteers, it is a chance to give back and show their appreciation for the veterans who sacrificed so much for them.
The cool mornings we are starting to see usually mean fall is in the air. Most years that would mean I would be getting the itch for some early goose hunting or grouse hunting. But not yet. You see last weekend was the Frank Schneider Musky Tournament. This year I would be fishing with good friend Tim Milo who I met a few years ago at a veterans' hunt. Since then we have gone on a few adventures, whether it be hunting or fishing it's always a good time.
The summer seems to be flying by and last weekend was the annual Fishing Has No Boundaries event held at Camp Confidence. This year everything to seemed to fall into place. The weather was perfect and the fish were biting so that set the stage for a record-breaking year for attendance. The biggest anywhere, ever, actually. This year we had three guys in our boat who all were pretty excited about getting on the water and catching some fish. We spent the morning on Sylvan Lake catching some panfish, but once we started catching some bass the sunnies were soon forgotten.
Even though it is only mid August it only takes a couple of days of cool temps to make people think fall is in the air. Early goose season is in full swing and the hunters that are getting out are finding good numbers of birds. So far this year I haven't got the hunting itch yet, but that will change pretty soon I'm guessing. This week once again we got to take out the NHRA drivers and their crew chiefs. I know I've probably said it before but for me a day catching fish and talking about racing is a dream day. In my boat was Tommy Johnson Jr. and his crew chief.
New developments happen every day to improve our odds of catching fish. From electronics that show you everything underneath your boat to ultra sensitive graphite fishing rods. So what if you took away some of these new tools we have? What if you had to fish a tournament with a Snoopy or Barbie rod? That's what took place last weekend on the Mississippi River at Lum Park. We put on our first W.I.N.K. Superhero Rod Tournament.
This week I was offered the opportunity to be a captain for the Bass Federation Minnesota Jr. Championship. Not only did I say yes, I consider it an honor to be asked. The winner of this event will be going to the Forrest Wood cup to fish and would have a chance to win some scholarship money. So you could say there was a lot on the line. The lake we would be fishing was Lake Alexander, a lake I have only been to chasing muskies. So my only spots were places I have caught bass by mistake. Well between myself and my anglers we found some nice fish.