Herald Journal Columns
Oct. 31, 2005, Herald Journal

Already got my deer for the year

By Aaron Schultz

I know, last week, I said I was going to talk about what a bad year it has been to be a Minnesota sports’ fan.

Well, something came up, so I’ll get to that stuff later on in this column.

What came up was a night (and day) that I would like to forget, and in a hurry.

That day was Thursday, and it will go down as one of the worst days on the job that I have had.

My Thursday started out with a lot of running around, just trying to get some things in place before I left for what was one heck of a journey.

One of those things I was trying to take care of was attempting to figure out how I was going to cover three section semifinal football games that were all Saturday night with 7 p.m. kickoffs.

Okay, that is something I will get to later, now back to my journey.

I ended up leaving Winsted at around 1:30 p.m. or so, and made my way up to Pierz.

But, before I headed up to Pierz, I needed to stop and get my oil changed.

It just so happened that about an hour before I was going to get my oil changed, my check engine light came on.

No big deal, I thought wrongly. I will just get my oil changed and the light will turn off.

Not so, and I made my way halfway up the state with my car making some noises that I know it was not supposed to be making.

Anyway, despite the noise, it still ran good, so I figured I would chance it and make my way up to Pierz.

The Section 5A cross country meet was taking place, and the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Lakers’ cross country team had made it to sections.

Not only did the boys’ team make it, but Jo Smith for the girls’ team also advanced to sections, and was running for a place in the state meet.

The girls’ race was first, and Smith finished in a very good 11th place, but only the top 10 finishers advance to the state tournament.

Next up was the boys’ race, and while the team finished last, Daniel Merritt ran a very good race, finishing 19th.

Merritt and Smith both broke the school record, with Merritt, Smith, Jeff Lachermeier, and Ryan Sterner all breaking the school course record.

Okay, not too bad, and it was a beautiful day to be outside, so my day was looking up.

Then came the drive from Pierz to Kerkhoven for the Holy Trinity of Winsted Trojans’ volleyball team’s sub-section quarterfinal game.

This drive might have been the worst drive I have ever taken.

I know I have been on longer drives, but I don’t think I have ever been on a drive that seemed to take so long.

But, my timing was perfect, as I walked into the Kerkhoven gym right as the Trojans and Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (KMS) match was getting started.

So, my roller coaster ride of a day continued.

While I was happy I got to see the start of the match, it did not go the Trojans’ way early.

KMS, which placed third in the Class 1A state tournament just a season ago, got off to a fast start.

The Trojans fell in the opening game 25-6.

Then, Holy Trinity came out firing in the second game, and took the early lead, only to have KMS pull out the 25-21 victory in the end.

The match went just three games, with KMS winning the third game 25-9.

While I was disappointed that the Trojans lost, the three-game loss did mean that I would probably be able to get home a little sooner.

So, I headed out, jumped on Hwy. 12 and headed east, but then, it happened.

Before I even got to Willmar, I noticed something coming at me in the other lane, and it wasn’t a car or truck.

Yep, it was an 8-point buck, and it looked like it was getting ready to swerve into my lane.

I hit the breaks, and tried avoiding the deer by pulling onto the shoulder, but it was too late.

This monster buck ran right into the side of my car.

As I came to a stop and prepared myself for the car behind me to run into me, I looked over and saw the car go right by.

So, while I did get hit by a deer, at least I didn’t get rear-ended.

I then put my flashers on, and tried opening my door, which was not an easy task.
“Crap,” I said to myself (actually, the words were probably not that kind).

I stepped out of my car after I finally got my door opened and saw the dents, the hair hanging off my car, and the fact that my side mirror was no longer there.

I looked around for the deer, but did not see it on the road.

I thought about looking in the ditch for it, to see if it was dead or alive, but I didn’t have a flashlight, it was pitch dark out, and I was in the middle of nowhere.

So, I jumped back in my car, hoping that it would keep running; after all, I really didn’t look forward to sitting on the side of the road for two hours while someone came to me.

The car started right back up, and I headed home, driving no faster than 55 miles-per-hour.

Now, I normally am a pretty cautious driver, especially at night, but this drive went to a whole new level.

I was slowing down for shadows, already dead animals, and pretty much anything else that looked like it had even the smallest chance of causing a problem.

Thankfully, I made it home without any other incidents.

Yep, after over 300 miles, a sore pedal foot, two teams eliminated, the loss of my side mirror, several dents, and probably a dead deer, I made it home.

I made it home with a little piece of the deer in question, as hair from the deer stayed attached to my car.

This brings me to the deer hunting opener, which is Saturday.

I got to thinking on that long, slow trip home after my collision with that big buck, and I now believe that deer can communicate with each other over long distances.

The only really good explanation I can come up with is that all of the deer in Minnesota came together, and came to the conclusion that the only way for them to be safe this year, and for years to come, is to put me out of commission for good.

So, they found a volunteer suicide deer, and planted him along the side of Hwy. 12, knowing that I would be coming back from Kerkhoven after the volleyball game.

Then, I thought, why then, and not just some other random time?

And it hit me, they knew I would have been on the road all day, and probably be tired, and less observant than usual.

In the end, their plan failed, as I came out of the situation without a scratch, and will be heading up to the deer opener as planned.

So to all of those deer out there, watch out, I am aware of your plans to eliminate me and will be going on the offensive this Saturday.

Of course, I will have to continue to be very observant, because I am sure this will not be the final time they try to take me out.

I did think that I might be giving the deer a little too much credit for the alleged plan, but then I talked to the big outdoors man, Chris Schultz, and he told me that he never hit a deer with a vehicle, which just made me believe it even more.

See, deer have about as much fear of getting killed by Chris, as I have of running a four-minute mile. It just ain’t going to happen.

With that logic, the deer just leave Chris alone, and have no reason to take him out.

So, I have almost certainly sent one deer to deer heaven, and will be sending the second one there around 8 a.m. Saturday morning.

Bad year to be a fan

Last week, I talked about what a miserable weekend I had following Minnesota sports’ teams.

Well, it goes a lot farther than just a couple of weekends ago.

Looking back nearly a year ago, most of my favorite teams have done little, if anything, to get me very excited.

Now, sure, here and there were some moments, like the Vikings’ big come-from-behind victory over Green Bay at the Dome Friday.

But, for the most part, us Minnesota fans have been on the wrong end of games, and seasons, like that.

You can pretty much trace it back to last winter, when there was no professional hockey because of the strike, and the Timberwolves were awful.

The mighty Wolves, coming off a Western Conference Finals appearance, did nothing, and missed the playoffs.

Next up was the Minnesota Twins, the fashionable pick to win the World Series this year.

Well, the World Series is over, and the Twins are nowhere to be found.

Yep, the Twins couldn’t find any hitting, and didn’t even make the playoffs.

If not for a nice little run midway after the All-Star break, and the pitching of Johan Santana, the Twins’ season would have been a complete wash.

The Twins struggling one year, after winning three straight division titles, is not all that big of a deal to me.

Looking back 10 years, if you would have told me that the Twins would win three division titles in four years, I would have been ecstatic.

Also, during the summer, the Vikings traded Randy Moss and signed a number of defensive starters.

I wasn’t sure about the trade at the time, and now I am really not sure about it.

It seems like the Vikings’ offense could use him now.

Either way, entering the Vikings’ season, there was Super Bowl talk.

All of that talk has quickly faded away, now that the Vikings look pretty bad, and are 2-4 so far.

Then, you have the always oh-so-close Gopher football team that just can’t seem to handle success.

This year, like pretty much every year, they start out good, get everyone’s hopes up, then blow up.

Well, that is it for the Gophers. I no longer will have expectations for this football team; it just comes back to bite me in the end.

Sure, I will continue to be a fan and watch them every chance I get, but I am not going to get excited until they reach a New Year’s Day bowl game.

So there you have it, a rough year for us sports’ fans, but it will get better; it just has to.

A tough call

It is one of those decisions that is good to have to make, but one that I wish I didn’t have to.

The problem was thrust on me after Tuesday’s opening-round football playoff games ended.

The Lakers, the Trojans, and the Bulldogs all won their opening-round games and advanced to the section semifinals.

Yep, it was a good night to be a high school football fan, especially for me.

All three teams I pull for and follow came out victorious.

Now, here is the problem I had – all three played Saturday night at 7 p.m., and none near each other.

The Bulldogs played in Lester Prairie, the Trojans played at Bertha-Hewitt, and the Lakers traveled to Holdingford.

Obviously, I couldn’t be in all three places at once, or even one place half the time, and another place the other half.

So, I had to make a very tough decision, which team I was going to go watch.

And this is how I came about the decision to head to Holdingford for the Lakers’ game.

I was at the Trojans’ game for most of it Tuesday, and have some good photos already, and they were the farthest away at Bertha-Hewitt.

As for the Bulldogs’ game, I was able to get Troy Feltmann, a fellow Herald Journal employee, to attend with camera in hand, so he would be able to get pictures of the game.

Moving to the Lakers, I only got a couple shots of their win over Mayer Lutheran, and was only at that game for less than a quarter.

Therefore, I decided to head to Holdingford Saturday, hopefully for another Laker victory.

In a perfect world, the Trojans would win the 9-man state championship, the Bulldogs would win the Class 1A state championship, and the Lakers would win the Class 2A state championship.

If only they would all play on different days, my life would sure be a lot easier.