By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN The Dassel Rod and Gun Club has a lot to be thankful for as it celebrates 75 years of conservation and camaraderie.
“We’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished throughout the years and we look forward to many more,” said Jay Evjen, current president and long-time member.
When the club first began in 1935, the officers would meet at the Dassel City Hall. In 1956, it acquired land the clubhouse currently sits on at Sportsments Park on Lake Washington, according to the club’s longest member, Dean Gayner, who joined in 1955, after coming home from the service.
At the time, land sold for $1,000 for a 100-foot lot and until Leonard Benson opened up the north side of Lake Washington, the land was still pasture, according to Gayner.
“Before that, you had a picnic amongst the cows,” Gayner said.
Gayner remembers the club would have hunting contests during the 1940s.
The club would be divided, and points would be given for shooting jackrabbits and starlings, according to Gayner.
The losing team had to have a fish fry for the winning team at “Tourist’s Park,” currently known as Memorial Park.
Now, the club continues the traditional fish fry twice a year; one in the spring and another in the fall.
This year, the spring fish fry, which took place April 16, brought in 515 people and 640 pounds of pollock was served, according to Daryl Moritko, chair of the event.
Proceeds from these events go toward club and park improvements.
Located at Sportsmen’s Park on the north side of Lake Washington, the Dassel Rod and Gun Club has made several improvements and additions.
Most recently, the club added an archery range available to its members.
This spring, the club will have two archery leagues, a youth league and an adult league for $20.
Non-members can join the leagues, but must pay the $20 club membership fee also.
To join, contact Dennis Johnson (612) 599-6013.
Improvements have also been made to the park and boat landing, which is available for use by club members.
Last summer, the club doubled the width of the landing and purchased a new dock. Now, boats can land on both sides, according to Evjen.
To commemorate its 75 years, the Rod and Gun Club had mugs made by Levandowski Pottery of Dassel. They are selling them for $20. All proceeds go toward the club’s efforts.
Mugs can be purchased at the fishing opener breakfast Saturday, May 15. Breakfast begins at 6 a.m.
Throughout the year, the club donates money raised from Cans for Wildlife to organizations such as Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, Deer Hunters Association, and the Wild Turkey Federation.
“I believe in the outdoors and teaching my kids the appreciation for conservation,” Evjen said.
To get involved or to join, contact any board member.
Officers are Evjen, president; Chris Hansen, vice president; Moritko, treasurer; and Dennis Isaacson, secretary. Board members are Dennis Johnson, Tom Gayner, Chad Mackedanz, and Mike Colberg.