Hook and Bullet Club

My son Evan and I took a ride last Sunday to check out a logging operation near our hunting shack.
After selling my sled at Hay Days I used Megan’s to make the trip. We hopped on the trails and were surprised by two things.
One, the trails are in really good condition for this early in the season. Despite some of the worst swamp conditions you can imagine, the local snowmobile clubs and the DNR have been able to now get groomers out after the swamps were packed.
Two, there was hardly anybody out on the trails. We didn’t meet a sled on the trail during our trip, other than two small groups stopped along the Taconite, including our friend Steve Groteboer out for a quick ride.
We pulled up near the shack to survey the changes. The logger had neatly stacked the trees in piles based on species, with some already cut to length.


From the miscellaneous drawer

Did you ever have to take an aptitude test when you were in school? Mine came back stating I should become a mechanic as an adult.
That wasn’t too surprising given that I repaired my bike when needed and changed car tires for my parents. I also took apart a small table top fan in the heat of the summer to fix it.
The only problem was that when I re-assembled it, the fan ran backwards, pushing the blades so they revolved over the motor which heated up easily.
Nobody had air conditioning back then, and I was stumped and hot. I was again working for my dad that summer and knew there were men in the plant who were handy.
I brought the small fan into work and convinced a worker to see what I had done wrong and to fix it.
Before long he came back to me and asked where the rest of the fan parts were. Somewhat embarrassed, I handed them over.
He returned with a working fan.
So much for my mechanic’s aptitude!


From the miscellaneous drawer

As winter cold arrives in the northland, folks reach out to friends and acquaintances to share the settling early darkness.
In 2002 a group of musicians gathered to light up an evening with music. Some listeners joined the evening affair to provide the audience.
Musicians in Ely can change with the seasons, as snowbirds come and go. Fortunately, there are a number of Ely musicians around.
Many years ago, Bob Cary’s Starlighters band practiced at my home for its summer appearances at Burntside Lodge at the time.
Over time, the music room had also hosted a reggae group, Canadian and Russian performers, and others.
This particular evening was by request of a spouse. He had been ailing and his piano playing wife, Carol Brude prescribed the evening. That night Dan Erzar was on drums and Byron Moren fulfilled the role for stand up bass. The year that followed was not kind to all, with health issues hitting two of them.


Trout Whisperer - A place called north…

It’s an anthem of mine, the phrase, “off the beaten path”,and I wish I would have been the one to say it first, be the initiator of such thinking. I would have loved knowing the coined words fell from me, it’s such a clever turn a phrase, but, alas, I am not.
My wife and I do that more often than most could possibly imagine and in so doing we’ve found in our footfalls a further place than, “off the beaten path” where the majority have not traveled. It could be a wanderer’s way, for me, it’s like a shooting star only earthen bound, or maybe from a stellar poem. It’s simply, the road less travelled.


Hook and Bullet Club: Visiting Camp Shack

Camp Cholesterol finished the 2019 rifle season with two bucks in the freezer.
Daughter Megan and son Evan joined me for the final weekend but we couldn’t put another deer on the meat pole. Megan saw four does Sunday so there were some deer around, just not the kind we could shoot.
Earlier in the week I made a trip down Highway 1 and Lake County Highway 2, ending up just north of Gooseberry State Park.
My friend Forrest Johnson has a shack there and it had been over 20 years since I was there last.
Forrie owns the shack with two other guys, one of whom, Mark Smith, was there as well on Monday.
Camp Shack had changed quite a bit in those 21 years. A bunk room was added on the back and a sauna was built by the creek.
The biggest change was the forest around the shack. What had been clearcut just prior to my arrival two decades back had grown into a thick popple stand.


Hook and Bullet Club

Sitting in a deer stand during this year’s opening weekend grew tougher by the hour. As the mercury dropped and the wind speed increased, going back to the shack becomes an easier decision.
There were four hunters at Camp Cholesterol and we were spread out on Sunday afternoon. My two youngest, Evan and Megan, had hopped on a wheeler and headed for stands where they would sit until the end of the day due to the rules on wheeler travel.
My son Jacob and I decided to take his truck around the swamp and climb up into two ladder stands, creatively named Two Old and Two New.
The drive gave us a chance to talk, about hunting, about life, about work and about vehicles (we are guys). Soon we reached our destination and switched to hunting mode.
We walked down a trail until we reached a logging site that has been a good spot to hunt for 20 years now. I dropped some doe scent as we walked toward the Two Old stand.


Trout Whisperer - A big tom…turkey

The big turkey day is a few weeks away, but on his head is his turkey hunting hat with the single big wing feather from a turkey he shot over 20 years ago. It was, and is, the only one to date.
And his sense of humor about all of it, is wonderful. He was invited to a turkey hunt in southern Minnesota. They scoured the landscape that fall for days never seeing a bird. Then the morning he is leaving, walking through the farmyard was a big ole tom bird that he shot. Turns out it was a neighbor’s bird out for a stroll.
But hunting, we’re going to do. It will be ruffed grouse or maybe a spruce or two, perhaps a stray mallard out of a pond we shoreline stroll. I always hope for at least one mallard, and a wood duck, my personal favorite, is like a present from Mother Nature if I’m lucky enough to get one.
He looks outside, says to his wife, “I think it’s a Filson day.”


Hook and Bullet Club

A new Minnesota law this year allow hunters to use a dog to retrieve a wounded deer or bear.
Avid hunter Ben Thomas of Ely used his dog Tilli to locate a 10-point buck on Oct. 28.
Bow hunting at the end of the day from a tree stand, Thomas watched the buck come in from 90 yards away, rubbing and scraping his way along the ridge.
“I didn’t even climb down for 15 minutes after I shot and when I walked over to the spot 20 yards away I found some blood.”
But there wasn’t a lot of blood and it was starting to get dark on a cloudy afternoon so Thomas decided not to track the deer.
He talked to a friend in Wisconsin who had used a dog to track deer and bear. The advice was simple, use your dog to find the deer.
Thomas reviewed the new regulations, which includes making sure your dog is on a leash that is up to 30 feet long, and decided to give his German short hair Tilli a try.


Jeanette Mattson, 90, of Virginia

Jeanette Mattson, 90, of Virginia died October 30, 2019 at the Boundary Waters Care Center in Ely, Minnesota.
She was born Nov 14, 1928, to Henry and Hilma Sipola, in Embarrass, Minnesota. On June 1, 1946, Jeanette married Robert Mattson and was happily married for 64 years. They lived in Embarrass, Grand Rapids, Virginia and Ely. They enjoyed their lake home at Eagles Nest Lake for over 35 years entertaining family, youth and friends before retiring to Virginia. An important part of Jean’s life was her family, cooking, serving, caretaking, hosting missionaries and prayer meetings. She was a wonderful homemaker, an avid reader and had a love for the Word.


Hook and Bullet Club

Jon Prijatel posted one morning how he loves early mornings at the shack. His photos showed a hot fire burning in the wood stove and breakfast cooking on the gas stove.
At the same time at Camp Cholesterol I was watching the darkness start to fade away through the Norway pines. But there was an incredible light show taking place.
Through the window of my front door I could see the moon peaking up from the horizon. But not much of a moon, just a thin sliver. Boy was it bright.
My SkyView app is great to have when looking up at the stars. The moon may be easy to figure out but I didn’t know Mars was right next to the moon or that Uranus was the bright star out the window behind me. And did you know Mars appears reddish in color due to the iron oxide (rust) in its terrain and dusty atmosphere? Me either.


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