Chris Schultz

Outdoors Column

By Chris Schultz
Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal & Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Minn.

Nov. 25, 2002

Let him sleep: he earned it

Manitoba, Canada, October 2002

Chuck Ernst and I had just walked back into the farm house on the prairie after a morning of hunting.

We had been outside on the yard collecting, counting and logging ducks and geese. The hunting had been good, and our nine-member hunting party had quite a few waterfowl in the bag.

Now, it was time to clean birds and we were in the process of rounding up the crew to get the job done. Getting guys motivated to clean waterfowl after a long sleepless drive and, at times, strenuous labor in cold weather isn't the easiest thing to do. In fact, sometimes it's downright difficult.

However, Chuck and I were motivated. No one for any reason was getting out of this labor of love. Our motto was "you shoot 'em, you clean 'em."

After a few yells, hollers, and threats, everyone was out the door and on their way to the barn to get the job started. Everyone but Keith.

Keith Weise, the oldest member of our party, is a gadget guy when it comes to waterfowl hunting. If it's something you might need for a hunt, and he doesn't have it, he'll make it.

Keith is also the father of two boys that were on the trip. One a high school senior and the other a seventh grader. In this particular case, I think the boys understand what their dad goes through to make the entire trip happen.

See, Keith doesn't necessarily hunt a lot when we're there. He just makes darn sure his boys get to.

Oh, he's in the field everyday, but his reasons for being there aren't to shoulder his gun, bring home a limit of ducks, or even just enjoy a quiet day in the outdoors.

Personally, at this time in his life, I doubt Keith gets any quiet days in the outdoors.

On this particular trip, Keith's gadget of choice to keep his boys and the rest of us comfortable was a handcrafted, mega-sized PVC pipe boot dryer. The contraption was a darn good idea for this particular trip, and was designed to handle full sized chest waders and, of course, anything smaller.

He never got the gadget quite done. Although, I'm sure he would have if he didn't have to spend nearly a full day just before the trip reconfiguring and rewiring trailer lights on the enclosed trailer the party used to pull up all the gear that goes with a waterfowl hunting trip.

Needless to say, by day two of the trip, Keith was a bit worn.

Moving back a bit, Chuck and I were just about to head to the barn with the rest of the crew we shagged out to start cleaning birds, when we noticed Keith soundly sleeping in the downstairs bedroom. Now was the moment of truth. Do we wake him up and make him pay the waterfowl hunting consequences or do we leave him sleep.

Knowing how much his two boys love to hunt, and knowing how he loved to see them hunt, we let him sleep. A senior and a seventh grader just cleaned a few more.

Sometimes, and probably more often then not, fathers and their sons aren't just on a hunt together, they're on an adventure. If it doesn't start that way, the odds are pretty good it will end that way ­ even with dry boots and an afternoon nap.

Crow River Ducks Unlimited chapter set banquet

The Crow River Chapter of Ducks Unlimited will host its annual banquet Friday, Dec. 6 at the Blue Note of Winsted. Social hour starts at 5:30 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m.

For tickets, or more information, please mail to DU Crow River Chapter, PO Box 62, Howard Lake, MN 55349.

Outdoor notes

­ Nathan Schmalz of Lester Prairie reported seeing three good-sized coyotes playing in the lights of his combine. Nathan noted the animals weren't bashful of the equipment and looked healthy.

In the Lester Prairie area, you can occasionally hear coyotes yelping and howling at night.

­ The application deadline for Minnesota's 2003 spring turkey hunting season is Dec. 6.

­ The muzzleloader deer hunting season in Minnesota opens on Saturday, Nov. 30.

­ The firearms deer hunting season in our area closed Tuesday, Nov. 19. Look for harvest numbers and comments from hunters on this years season in upcoming columns.

­ Please remember that no ice, especially ice at this time of year, is safe.

­ The critter that moved into my backyard shed is still winning the battle. So far he's torn apart two bags of wood chips, a bag of dog bones, and chewed a hole in the bag on my lawn mower. Live traps haven't worked so far and, to me, it seems this critter has played the game before. Little does he know that I got ticked off about the hole in the bag on my lawn mower and the rules of the game have changed.

­ Winsted Sportsmen's Club will sponsor snowmobile safety training Tuesday and Thursday, Nov. 19 and 21, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the basement of Distinctive Dental Services at 131 Main Ave. W., Winsted.

Driving tests will take place when snow permits.

The training is available for anyone age 12 and older. For people under the age of 18, a signature is required from a parent or guardian.

­ Happy Thanksgiving and please take some time this week to enjoy and be thankful for the great outdoors and especially those we share it with.

­ On a final note I would like to thank all the readers who called and sent e-mails regarding the story I wrote a few weeks ago about pheasant hunting in western Minnesota with my dad. Several noted how memorable and important those same kind of experiences were for them.

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