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LAKES COUNTRY

2021

2022

A MAGAZINE FOR AND ABOUT OUR REGION'S OUTDOORSMEN

Duck Calling Park Rapids pals Owen Wagner and Tayden George share a decade-long love of duck hunting

PLUS: Wadena taxidermist Dewey Schmitz has his busiest year ever, fly fishing gains steam in Lakes Country, and Audubon Army veteran Tim Godfrey talks about living off the land

RACK’D UP

A massive spread of elk antlers, found decades ago in Toad Lake, has been restored to its original glory

HOOKED ON KAYAK FISHING

Detroit Lakes angler Paul Weber has discovered a talent for DIY outfitting


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A PUBLICATION OF:

A special supplement to the Sunday, October 24 Detroit Lakes Tribune and Park Rapids Enterprise, and Thursday, October 28 Perham Focus and Wadena Pioneer Journal.

EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS Nathan Bowe Robin Fish Vicki Gerdes Michael Johnson Lorie Skarpness Elizabeth Vierkant ADVERTISING Kathy Dennis Kristy Helmbrecht Julie Lake Jayne Merilya Elizabeth Molacek Candy Parks Britanie Rentz Robin Stalley

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RACK’d up

A 4-foot, 40-pound spread of elk antlers, found decades ago in Toad Lake, has been restored to its original glory and now hangs in the Zick family home in Snellman

14 Kayak fishing is catching on

“You can get right into the weeds,” says Detroit Lakes man Paul Weber, who’s developed a love for the sport as well as a talent for DIY outfitting

22 ‘I love the morning rush’

MAGAZINE EDITOR Marie Johnson mtjohnson@dlnewspapers.com PUBLISHER Melissa Swenson mswenson@dlnewspapers.com PAGE DESIGN Sara Slaby fccspecialsections@forumcomm.com

LAKES COUNTRY

2021

Contents TABLE OF

2022

A MAGAZINE FOR AND ABOUT OUR REGION'S OUTDOORSMEN

Recent Park Rapids grads have shared a love of duck hunting since they were old enough to shoot a gun

30 Self-sufficient man

Hunter, fisher, gardener and home brewer, Tim Godfrey, says it “just feels better” to do things yourself

36 Hunting and fishing dates 38 ‘Soul therapy’

Fly fishing is a peaceful pastime — and it’s not just for rivers; Perham native Cindee Lundin says she recommends it to anyone who loves the outdoors

46 ‘Preserving a memory’

The pandemic brought more people outdoors to hunt and fish, and now Wadena taxidermist, Dewey Schmitz, is having his busiest year ever

Duck Calling Park Rapids pals Owen Wagner and Tayden George share a decade-long love of duck hunting

PLUS: Wadena taxidermist Dewey Schmitz has his busiest year ever, fly fishing gains steam in Lakes Country, and Audubon Army veteran Tim Godfrey talks about living off the land

RACK’D UP

A massive spread of elk antlers, found decades ago in Toad Lake, has been restored to its original glory

HOOKED ON KAYAK FISHING

Detroit Lakes angler Paul Weber has discovered a talent for DIY outfitting

On the cover Owen Wagner and Tayden George by Marie Johnson / Flannel Shirts

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RACK’D UP A 4-foot, 40-pound spread of elk antlers, found decades ago in Toad Lake, has been restored to its original glory and now hangs in the Zick family home in Snellman Lorie Skarpness | For Flannel Shirts

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f the massive elk antlers hanging in Sheldon Zick’s living room could talk, they might tell of the great days of old, when plentiful herds of elk roamed freely through the forests and prairies of northwestern Minnesota. Flannel Shirts 2021 | 7


They might recall the majestic animal whose crown they once adorned. And they might uncloud the mystery behind how they ended up at the bottom of a local lake. As most visitors to the 160-acre Zick farm in Snellman — a farm that’s been in the family since 1899 — have been told, the antlers were unexpectedly hooked by Sheldon’s great-grandfather, Johann Zick, while he was fishing on nearby Toad Lake.

Majestic elk once roamed wild in Minnesota. Unfortunately, by 1900 they were extinct. The elk pictured here, in this historic photo from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, were brought to an enclosure at Itasca State Park in the early 1900s and later reintroduced into the wilds in northern Minnesota, where their descendants sill live today. Submitted Photo / Itasca State Park / Flannel Shirts

The antlers spent many decades hanging around the farm, serving as a continued source of speculation and stories amongst the family and their guests. Stored inside and outside of various buildings, they were sometimes exposed to the elements, and even to the gnawing teeth of a curious mouse, and thus had slowly degraded over time.

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Then, last September, they were given a fresh start. Sheldon’s girlfriend, Amber Hoehne of Frazee, decided to have them restored, and she asked Ben Wacker, also of Frazee, to do the job.

The history of elk in Minnesota

“I had restored antlers on white tail deer and was ready to take on the challenge,” Wacker says. “When I looked at the antlers I didn’t think it would be that tough. Then I started working on it. That’s a big, big set of antlers. It took six months.”

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources believes elk were abundant in the state before and during the early years of European settlement. Elk were protected from hunting in 1893, but even so were nearly extinct by the early 1900s.

‘A very addicting challenge’: The restoration process Wacker, who is a third cousin to Sheldon’s dad David, had some experience with taxidermy work. The rebuilding process took place in the shop he describes as his “getaway,” where the elk skull plate was bolted to a piece of plywood on his work table.

According to information from Itasca State Park, in 1913 the Minnesota State Legislature set aside $5,000 for establishing a herd of elk in the park, with the goal of reintroducing elk into the wild. In 1929, they tried releasing eight of these elk in the Superior National Forest in an area known as the Red Lake Game Preserve, but the habitat was not suitable for the elks’ survival. In 1935, they released most of the remaining elk to the Beltrami

Island Resettlement Project, except for seven elk kept in the park for exhibition purposes. By 1940, there were approximately 100 elk as a result of this resettlement project. The animals began to spread slowly westward, with a few near Bagley Lake, about 12 miles northeast of Clearbrook. Their descendents still roam in northwestern Minnesota today. One herd is located near the tiny town of Grygla, Minn., and two herds are in Kittson County. “If you are camping near Lake Bronson this fall, you might hear the whistling bugle of the bull elk as he sings his love song to his harem,” says Itasca State Park naturalist Connie Cox.

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Sheldon and his parents, Ann and David Zick, were amazed at how nice the antlers turned out after months of restoration work by Ben Wacker. They now are the focal point of Sheldon’s living room on the family farm near Toad Lake, where they were found. Submitted Photo / Ann Zick / Flannel Shirts

“I’d come home from work and start on it about 6 o’clock at night and sometimes be at it until midnight,” he says. Wacker laughs about his “antler addiction,” which he had even before tackling this project. “I have a whole lot of mounts and antlers,” he says. “When you hunt deer and it’s a passion, you have an understanding of what antlers are supposed to look like. I never looked at one picture when I did that elk rack. It’s an art, I guess.” The first step was cleaning the elk antlers down to the original bone by removing lake sand and other debris with a dremel tool.

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“From there, it became a very addicting challenge,” he says. “I probably put 150-200 hours into those antlers.” Epoxy was used to rebuild missing pieces of horn. Wacker has seen elk in northern Minnesota and used that structural knowledge to help recreate them, including the tines. “The tips were gone on every antler on that rack,” he recalls. “Every antler had to be rebuilt, from where it broke off to the tip. You have to look at the circumference and build it so it comes out evenly to the tip. Epoxy is soft, almost like pottery clay. You have to look at the lines, how they bend, which way they are going, and work it out to the tip. It is all in the eye.” The drying process took about two days, and then the antlers were shaped with the dremel. 10 | Flannel Shirts 2021

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“On two antlers, I wasn’t satisfied with the rebuilding results the first time, so I busted them off and started over,” Wacker says. Once the antlers were rebuilt, the final step was to restore natural color using wood stains. “I started with the lighter brown color, worked in the stain and just kept rubbing it on,” he explains. “The antlers were really dry so they absorbed a lot of stain. Then I went to darker stains. Before, they were all cracked, dried out and white. Now they look like they were originally.” Once restored, Wacker put a heavy wire hanger on the back of the rack. “I put them in the back of the truck and drove up to Sheldon’s,” he says. “I told him I had something for him: his great grandpa's elk antlers that had been hanging in the grainery. There were some tears. Ann and her husband David came over and they couldn’t believe it was the same set of antlers.”

‘An old, old set of antlers’: A unique, natural heirloom Ben Wacker of rural Frazee, left, is part of the Zick clan. He restored the antlers as a surprise for Sheldon Zick, right. Submitted Photo / Ann Zick / Flannel Shirts

Wacker estimates that the antlers are 120 to 200 years old, based on the curl in the bottom that no longer exists in elk antlers today. “It’s an old, old set of antlers, no doubt,” he says. “The elk may have gone through the ice of Toad Lake in the late winter, or maybe it died before the lake was established.”

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The antlers have a spread of almost four feet in the center and weigh around 40 pounds. “They are the first thing you see when you come into the living room,” he says. “It’s a family heirloom, and history preserved from this area. I’m surprised it hung together and survived as well as it did. There were spots -- I could tell mice had been chewing on it, but not too bad. They were pretty solid. Now they’re really solid because I’ve got a lot of epoxy on that sucker.

They are the first thing you see when you come into the living room. It’s a family heirloom, and history preserved from this area.

“I told Sheldon if they start to crack anywhere, I’ll run up and epoxy it and grain it down and restrain it so we can keep this preserved forever. I would have loved to have hung it in my shop, but I knew I had to give it back. But I can go have a cold beer with Sheldon and look at it.” “Ben did an amazing job,” Amber says. “Now it’s a beautiful piece of family history.”

Ben Wacker, who restored the antlers for the Zick family

Wacker is interested in doing more horn restoration projects in the future. “I would love to take on some more,” he says. “Most taxidermists will mount a deer but they won’t fix the antlers. It’s a neat pastime for me.” Contact Wacker at 218-850-2147 for more information. Lorie Skarpness is a reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise and can be reached at lskarpness@parkrapidsenterprise.com.

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Kayak fishing is catching on

‘You can get right into the weeds,’ says Detroit Lakes man Paul Weber, who’s developed a love for the sport as well as a talent for DIY outfitting Nathan Bowe | For Flannel Shirts

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ABOVE: Paul Weber demonstrates a fully rigged fishing kayak outside his home in Detroit Lakes. Nathan Bowe / Flannel Shirts

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ou might think fishing from a kayak would be an uncomfortable, tippy sort of thing, but not if you use a fishing kayak that’s designed for the job. “They are extremely comfortable to fish out of,” says Paul Weber, 64, of Detroit Lakes, who has been enjoying the hobby for several years now and has two fishing kayaks of his own. “These are not very fast kayaks, they’re kind of like barges, very stable. You can stand up in them if you want to — I don’t, but you can. They have straps to help you stand up from the seat.” The sport seems like a natural fit for Weber, who owns a regular fishing boat and also loves canoeing. “I’ve probably done 50 Boundary Waters canoe trips,” he says.

A lure rests on a lily pad near a fishing kayak paddled by Paul Weber near Detroit Lakes. Submitted Photo / Paul Weber / Flannel Shirts

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He's had more time for kayak fishing since retiring July 1 following a long career in insurance, first with Schiller Insurance and then with Bell Insurance. He picked up kayak fishing about four years ago from a great-nephew who's in his 20s.

I look at YouTube and I get ideas and rig it up so it works for me. All this stuff I’ve done for pennies, but you can spend hundreds of dollars on it.

“It sounded kind of fun, so I thought I’d give it a try,” he says. “Since then I’ve been doing it quite a lot — I really enjoy it." Weber likes the quiet and serenity that comes with paddling on the lake, and appreciates the chance to get a bit of a workout while doing something he loves.

Paul Weber, on outfitting his fishing kayak

“I get a little exercise and paddle around,” he says. A fishing kayak weighs about 75 pounds and is easier to put in and pull out of a lake than a fishing boat, whether there’s a traditional public access or not, Weber says: “If there’s any kind of

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public land, you can pull it over; it doesn’t have to be an access." And, he adds, it’s easier to launch and land a kayak by yourself: “It’s a lot tougher to fish alone in a boat." Fishing kayaks can operate in shallow water, so Weber is able to chase fish close to the shoreline and in other very shallow areas of a lake. He often fishes for large-mouth bass, and early in the season bass are often found in about a foot of water, so kayak fishing works well. “You can get right into the weeds,” he attests. He likes going after bass because there’s a lot of action involved. “With bass, you’re always casting and reeling,” he says. “And the action when they jump out of the water is pretty exciting.” He generally practices catchand-release, as does his son,

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Austin, who is also a kayak fisherman. Weber's wife, Lisa Weber (who is superintendent of the Waubun-Ogema-White Earth School District), and daughter, Nicole Panzer, have also done some kayak fishing with him.

“Everybody has a crate (on their fishing kayak), and the rods fit on there,” Weber explains.

The kayaks Weber uses cost about $800, but he says it wouldn’t be difficult to spend thousands of dollars buying and outfitting a fishing kayak. Part of the fun for him is finding creative, effective ways to outfit kayaks for a lot less money. He bought a used trailer, for example, and modified it to carry two kayaks, along with fishing rods and other gear.

Small storage holds in the kayak contain rain gear and a battery for the fish locator, which he mostly uses to check water temperature early in the season and water depth as he hunts for bass. He has lights on a pole that can be put up on the rear of the kayak for use during evening hours.

“Typically I bring four or five rods with me, all rigged differently, so you can just switch them out if you want to change lures,” he says. Those rods stand like flag poles from holders attached to a plastic milk crate behind an adjustable kayak seat.

In his crate he carries an extra (scupper plug), a little sponge to bail with, rope, stringer, and bug spray: “Not much,” he says.

“You try to make it as much like a fishing boat as you can,” he says. “Everybody rigs theirs up differently.” Weber put brackets on the top sides for various amenities, like the fish locator, and has a trolling mount for his rod. “It’s kind of scary to start drilling holes right away (in a new kayak),”

Paul Weber’s fishing kayak, rigged up and ready to go outside his home in Detroit Lakes. Submitted Photo / Paul Weber Flannel Shirts

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he admits with a laugh. But they are designed to handle it, and it’s how people customize their fishing kayaks to best work for them.

“We talk back and forth,” he says. ”When I go fishing with my son, we separate and work around the lake in different directions.”

The cup holder in front of the seat holds various lures within easy reach, and a waterproof plastic bag attached to the seat serves as a cell phone holder and license protector. Pliers and line cutters are also attached to the seat for easy access. Life jackets fit under the seat for easy storage during hauling.

The walkie-talkies allow them to spread the news when they find fish. Weber often fishes on lakes in his hometown Detroit Lakes area, as well as at his family's cabin at White Swan Lake in Itasca County.

I just like to get out and paddle around — it’s very peaceful.

In the kayak above is Austin Weber, Paul’s son, doing some fishing. Above him is their friend and fellow fisherman, Garret Meyer, of Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Submitted Photos Paul Weber Flannel Shirts

“The fishing is very good there, so it’s fun to go out,” he says.

Paul Weber, kayak “Everything’s But he likes to fisherman smaller” in a go to other lakes, fishing kayak, as well. He uses including the the Department of anchor, which is Natural Resources' 3.5 pounds instead of online “lake finder” the standard 10 pounds, tool to check out Minnesota Weber says. He developed his lakes with good largemouth bass own anchor system using a 15-foot populations. extendable dog leash. That anchor is attached to a trolley system he devised Fishing kayaks do have their to move it back and forth the length limitations, he freely admits — they of the kayak, which can prevent the can be a challenge in windy weather, kayak from tipping in windy weather. and they aren’t easy to transport in “I look at YouTube and I get ideas and the Boundary Waters, where boat rig it up so it works for me,” he says. “All carts aren’t allowed on the portage this stuff I’ve done for pennies, but you trails from lake to lake. But overall, can spend hundreds of dollars on it.” the joys of fishing from a kayak far outweigh any downside, he says: “I Walkie-talkies allow Weber and others just like to get out and paddle around to communicate in areas without cell phone reception. — it’s very peaceful." Nathan Bowe is a reporter at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. He can be reached at nbowe@dlnewspapers.com.

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MORNING

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Park Rapids pals share a love of duck hunting Robin Fish | For Flannel Shirts

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Spending time surrounded by scenery like this is one of the pluses of duck hunting.

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Scooter and Mayhem pose proudly by a row of ducks taken along the lake.

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Boyhood friends Owen Wagner, left, and Tayden George celebrate after filling their tag for the day with goldeneye drakes and one bufflehead drake.

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Taking close to 100 ducks during a hunt in North Dakota are, from left, Darrin Hoverson, Kevin George, Tayden George, Chris Brand and dogs Rocky, Mayhem and Scout.


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Taking pride in a day’s work are duck hunting buddies Owen Hoverson, left, Ben Brunjes, Owen Wagner, Tayden George, Rodney George, Chris Brand and Kevin George and doggy helpers Mayhem, Rocky and Scooter.

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Lining up after a hunt are, from left, Mike Marshall, Tayden George, Rodney George, Kevin George, Calub Shavlik, Chris Brand and Mayhem the dog.

Submitted Photos Tayden George Flannel Shirts

Tayden George’s duck recipe on pg. 27 Flannel Shirts 2021 | 23


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pair of 2021 graduates from Park Rapids Area High School have been duck hunting buds since the age of about 10.

Both Tayden George and classmate Owen Wagner are studying to be electrical linemen at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Wadena, following in the footsteps of their dads, Kevin George and the late Mike Wagner. They caught their love of duck hunting from the same place. “We’ve been going since we were, like, 6,” says Tayden George, “but we were just watching (at first). My dad really loves duck hunting, and he would always bring me and him to go duck hunting and go watch all of them. Then, once we got to that age where we could actually start shooting a gun, we started to go with them and slowly make our way up.” TOP TO BOTTOM: Tayden George, after a successful day of shooting ducks. Tayden George and Owen Wagner have been duck hunting together since they were old enough to shoot a gun. Basking with them in the pride of a successful day of shooting is their canine friend Scooter. Submitted Photos / Tayden George Flannel Shirts

His dad always urged him and his pal Wagner to appreciate the fun in the sport. Together with local Department of Natural Resources Hydrologist Darrin Hoverson, Kevin George has been guiding Ducks Unlimited hunts for kids since the boys were about 8 years old. And it was him who taught them to aim with a

shotgun after they learned hunter safety on small-caliber air rifles. “He would sit with me, he’d put me on his shoulders, and he’d say, ‘Ready? The safety’s off. Just pull the trigger, slow and steady,’” the younger George recalls. “We got started with Kevin, but as we got older, we joined the trap shooting team, which helped us become better shooters,” adds Wagner. Besides doing well in the clay target league, George graduated with a $500 scholarship from Ducks Unlimited, one of only 61 such scholarships awarded nationwide, and just two in Minnesota this year.

Finding luck with ducks Clay pigeons are one thing, but how about live ducks? “Over the years, we’ve had really good luck,” says George. “Over these last couple of years, we’ve had 500s, 400s in a 60-day span. But I mean, we go hard... If you

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can fit in a little bit of duck hunting before school, you’re gonna fit it in there.”

season, you could shoot one identical to that,” while a monster fish or a bear could be a rare prize.

He explains that those numbers – 500, 400 – were the total number of birds their entire hunting party would bring down in a twomonth hunting season, with each individual limited to six ducks per day.

“I have a snow goose in taxidermy,” he admits. “I shot a one-in-10,000 bird. It was a blue-phase Rossie (Ross’s goose)... It was a really cool bird.”

“Most days, we had at least four to five guys with us,” says George, meaning their group’s daily limit could be as high as 30. Asked what kinds of duck they especially like to bring home to eat, George says his favorite is the spoonbill.

I love the morning rush... It’s before shooting hours, but you hear all the ducks getting up and start flying around. I love that.

“It’s one of the weirdest ducks you’ll ever see,” he says. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been amazed by them. They’re just a really pretty but really dumb duck.”

Owen Wagner

The friends eat duck in all different ways, including deep fried, slow cooked and made into jerky.

Playing the wind Standard duck-hunting equipment includes boats, decoys, eager dogs and guns. Both friends prefer the Benelli Super Black Eagle II. Some of their older hunting buddies rock the Benelli M1.

“It’s fun because it’s really easy to take apart and it’s really easy to keep, like it’ll always shoot for you,” Tayden says of the Super Black Eagle. “It’s always been a reliable gun.”

Wagner says blue-winged teal are his favorite: “They’re so fun and fast when they come in, and they’re such great eating when you get them.”

“If you take care of them, they’ll last you a lifetime,” Owen agrees.

They mainly shoot to eat. George doesn’t have his birds taxidermied, as a rule, because “the next

Another secret of their success, the friends said, is using a jerk cord to provide a little movement for

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they’ll be like, ‘Oh! They’re real! See the wind?’” Perhaps more important than having a few dozen painted decoys is choosing the right spot – details of which successful hunters aren’t inclined to share. “If you have the spot they want, they’re gonna come,” says George. “We have a few favorite spots, but as the years have gone on, the wetland production areas have kind of dwindled with the lack of rain.”

Tayden George, left, and Owen Wagner have been involved in a lot of sports, including clay target shooting, track and field, cycling, hunting, fishing and even demolition derby driving. Their shared interests include a longtime pursuit of ducks. Robin Fish / Flannel Shirts

Helping the fun go on George said years of drought have contributed to a sharp decline in the duck population in North Dakota, where he likes to hunt.

anchored spreads of decoys, so ducks flying overhead will think they’re swimming around.

“You’re gonna still have a good shoot,” he says, but he predicts hunters will keep bagging fewer ducks until one day, they aren’t around anymore.

“You’ve gotta play the wind, too,” says George, “so once they come to you,

“As time goes on, I think, the limits will go down,” says Wagner.

“And they’ll probably restrict you only to shooting males,” adds George. “If you shoot a female, you’re killing 12 baby ducks right there. So you have to take your shots wisely and choose what you’re going for.” Old-school spots that used to produce record-breaking bags, Wagner says, are not as effective anymore. “But we’re finding more new spots,” says George. “They’re turning out pretty successful.” Besides shooting straight, Wagner said the sport has taught them “how crucial it is to conserve the population and hope that there’s a better population in the future for other people to enjoy as well.” “It’s pretty much ‘go out, have fun and make sure they come back,’” George agrees. They do this, for example, by putting out wood duck houses in the spring, so the birds have a safe place to nest, helping clean up habitat areas and

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“The best part about duck hunting is to see all the ducks,” George says. “I mean, even if you don’t shoot a shell that day … It’s just cool to see nature at its finest, you know?”

urging other hunters to abide by the rules. “Just to make everything fair for everyone,” says George. “That’s kind of why we just take our limit, only our limit.” Duck hunters take the bad with the good. Both George and Wagner have made the mistake of shooting straight upward and falling out of the boat. George once saw his dad take a cold bath when he stood up to shoot a wounded duck. “All of a sudden, I see a guy bloopin’ in the water,” he recalls. “We wear life jackets, you know. I see my cousin grabbing him, throwing him in the boat, and they cuddle up next to each other. My dad’s just frickin’ freezing.” Nevertheless, they say it’s all worthwhile to see the birds.

Tayden George’s duck recipe

When George introduces friends to a special hunting spot, he tells them, “Turn off all your locations. Get away from the world for the first part of the morning. Then, once you get back to the house, you can turn everything back on and you’re good. And you don’t talk about where we went.”

Ingredients: 1 lb. bacon 8 skinless duck breasts 4 jalapenos, split in half with seeds out 1 pkg. cream cheese Montreal steak marinade

“I love the morning rush,” adds Wagner. “As you’re sitting there and the sun’s coming up and all the ducks just get up out of the wild rice, they start flying by your head. It’s before shooting hours, but you hear all the ducks getting up and start flying around. I love that. That’s what I think of, every time I think of duck hunting.”

Directions: Make the marinade. Add duck breasts. Let sit for two hours or longer. Fill jalapeno halves with cream cheese. Put duck breasts on top of stuffed jalapenos. Wrap duck breasts and jalapenos with bacon and stick with toothpicks. Grill till bacon is crisp. Don’t overcook the duck -- cook until medium done.

Robin Fish is a reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise and can be reached at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com.

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"I really learned the value of doing it yourself — making it yourself, growing it yourself, hunting, fishing, stocking up on food and preparing for harder times," he says. Tim Godfrey served in the U.S. Army from 1985 to 1992, and was stationed or deployed all over the world, from Germany and South America to Korea, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Submitted Photo Tim Godfrey Flannel Shirts

He carried those values and skills with him into adulthood, becoming an avid hunter, fisherman and gardener, and also making and processing much of his own food, including brewing his own beer. When he became a father, he raised his kids to be self-sufficient, too. "I believe you should always be prepared to survive," he says. "I grew up that way, and I've tried to teach my kids that, as well." Godfrey has lived in many places in his lifetime, but today calls Audubon home. He and his wife, Jackie, moved to the small northwestern Minnesota

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community this past summer after he accepted the position of Superintendent of Lake Park-Audubon Public Schools. He says they hope to spend their retirement years there, as it's a haven for hunting and fishing. "It's a beautiful area," he says. "It's a small town, with lots of outdoor activities — two of my biggest hobbies are hunting and fishing." "I've been hunting for bear, moose, elk, caribou, and I love pheasant hunting, but my favorite is deer hunting," he adds. "It was a tradition in my family, in our community." Godfrey has hunted and fished all over the world, from Alaska, where he lived and worked for about eight years, to Korea, where he was stationed while he was in the U.S. Army. He says there's a lot of satisfaction to be had in doing things for yourself whenever possible. When he brings home an animal or fish he's nabbed, he likes to process and prepare it himself, at least as much as possible. The same goes for the fruits and vegetables he and

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Jackie grow in their garden; he likes to do the canning. Cooking is something he enjoys quite a bit, too — in particular when he has procured and processed the ingredients himself. "I make pretty good venison burgers," he says. He also makes his own bacon. "There's a real sense of pride in creating your own product. That's how it started," he says. "As I grew older, it became more of a craft — it became more of a hobby to me, almost an art form."

In addition to being a DIY guy when it comes to food, Godfrey also likes to do as much of his own maintenance and repair work as possible.

I think it just feels better — you feel more fulfilled — when you can do it yourself. Tim Godfrey

Godfrey feels modern society has become so dependent on readily available services and materials, "that we've forgotten how to be self-sufficient, and to do it ourselves."

"I'm kind of a 'fix it' guy," he says. "I try to use my own skills and resources first, before I contract with somebody else to do the job. I feel I've always had the ability to look at something, take it apart and figure out how it works."

When he can't figure out how to fix something himself, he'll turn to YouTube, which he feels "is one of the greatest teachers there is today." If something is so broken that he can't figure out how to fix it, then "it probably can't be fixed," he says. "That's when it's time for a new one."

Tim Godfrey says deer hunting is one of his favorite pastimes. He uses the venison from kills such as this white-tailed deer to make his own chili, burgers and other dishes. Submitted Photo / Tim Godfrey Flannel Shirts

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Godfrey was in the Army from 19851992 and says he was stationed in a lot of different places during that time. He was deployed to South America, Saudi Arabia and Iraq (during Operation Desert Storm), and was in Germany for a while, as well. After he married his first wife, who was in the Air Force, they traveled around even more: "My life is a road map." Along the way, he got a teaching degree from the University of Colorado in Pueblo, then earned a master's degree in special education at Florida State University. "I was a teacher for 13 years," he says, and it was while he was in Alaska that he went for his principal's credentials. He has spent 12 years as a school administrator, first as an elementary principal, then a high school principal, and finally, a superintendent.

In 2013, he came back to North Dakota, where he had spent many of his formative years, "to be closer to my father, Warren, who passed away in 2016." He has served as a superintendent in several North Dakota school districts, most recently in Kenmare, where he and Jackie first made a home together. The couple married two years ago and have a blended family of six children and five grandchildren, "with one more (grandchild) on the way." Godfrey says he tried to pass on his skills and self-reliance to each of his four children, and believes the best way is "learning by doing." "It all feeds back to that innovative mindset," he says. "I think it just feels better — you feel more fulfilled — when you can do it yourself."

Vicki Gerdes is a reporter at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. She can be reached at vgerdes@dlnewspapers.com.

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Tim Godfrey says Alaska is one of his favorite destinations for hunting and fishing; he has brought home several fish like this silver salmon, and tries to get back there at least once a year to re-stock his pantry. He lived and worked in Alaska for several years. Submitted Photo Tim Godfrey / Flannel Shirts

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Current and Upcoming

Hunting Seasons

Current and Upcoming

Fishing Seasons

• 09/01/21 - 10/31/21: Crow, second season; statewide

• 10/16/21 - 03/15/22: Fox, Badger, Raccoon and Opossum; north furbearer zone

• 05/15/21 - 10/31/21: Stream Trout in lakes; statewide

• 09/01/21 - 11/08/21: Sora and Virginia Rail; statewide

• 10/21/21 - 10/24/21: Deer - Early Antlerless; parts of southeastern Minnesota

• 05/15/21 - 02/27/22: Walleye, Sauger and Northern Pike; statewide inland waters

• 09/01/21 - 11/08/21: Common Snipe; statewide

• 10/21/21 - 10/24/21: Deer - Youth; statewide

• 09/01/21 - 11/29/21: Mourning Dove; statewide

• 10/23/21 - 03/15/22: Fox, Badger, Raccoon and Opossum; south furbearer zone

• 05/15/21 - 02/27/22: Smallmouth and Largemouth Bass; northeastern Minnesota

• 09/18/21 - 11/30/21: Sharp-Tailed Grouse; northwest zone (east-central zone season has been closed)

• 10/29/21 - 10/31/21: Deer - Camp Ripley Archery; Camp Ripley

• 09/18/21 - 12/31/21: Deer - Archery; statewide

• 11/06/21: DEER SEASON OPENER; statewide

• 09/18/21 - 01/02/22: Ruffed and Spruce Grouse; statewide

• 11/06/21 - 11/21/21: Deer - Firearm Season A; 100 series permit areas

• 09/18/21 - 01/02/22: Hungarian Partridge; statewide

• 11/06/21 - 11/28/21: Deer - Firearm Season A; 200 and 300 series permit areas

• 09/18/21 - 02/28/22: Rabbit and Squirrel; statewide

• 11/20/21 - 11/28/21: Deer - Firearm Season B; 300 series permit areas

• 09/25/21 - 11/08/21: Woodcock; statewide

• 11/27/21 - 12/12/21: Deer - Muzzleloader; statewide

• 10/02/21 - 10/31/21: Fall Wild Turkey; statewide

• 12/14/21 - 01/15/22: Crow, third season; statewide

• 10/16/21 - 01/02/22: Ring-Necked Pheasant; statewide

• 12/18/21 - 01/23/22: Bobcat; north of I-94 and U.S. Highway 10

• 05/29/21 - 02/27/22: Largemouth Bass; statewide excluding northeastern Minnesota • 06/05/21 - 12/01/21: Muskellunge; statewide inland waters • 06/16/21 - 04/14/22: Lake Sturgeon and Shovelnose Sturgeon; statewide inland waters • 01/15/22 - 01/17/22: Take a Kid Ice Fishing Weekend; statewide • 2022 OPENERS: Stream Trout, 04/16 ; Walleye, Sauger and Northern Pike, 05/14 ; Muskellunge, 06/04 (all statewide) *For more hunting and fishing seasons and other additional information, refer to the Minnesota DNR at dnr.state.mn.us

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‘Soul therapy’ Fly fishing is a peaceful pastime — and it’s not just for rivers Perham native Cindee Lundin says she recommends it to anyone who loves the outdoors Elizabeth Vierkant | For Flannel Shirts

C

indee Lundin’s introduction to fly fishing felt, to her, like fate. She had always been interested in the sport, and knew she wanted to try it someday, but had no specific timeframe for that in mind — then the universe reached out to her. Just this past summer, as she was scrolling through her Facebook page, an advertisement for women’s fly fishing classes popped up, offered at Front 20 Outfitters Fly Shop and Guide Service in Perham.

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Cindee Lundin stands by the water, holding up her rod and a fish she caught with a large smile on her face. Submitted Photo Cindee Lundin / Flannel Shirts

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Lundin grew up on a farm between Perham and New York Mills but now lives in Tucson, Arizona, and wasn’t even in Minnesota at the time that ad popped up. But she was planning to visit Perham for a few weeks to see family, and the fly fishing class just happened to be going on during the time of her trip. The fates had spoken.

Fly ties line the displays in the back of Perham’s Front 20 Outfitters. Elizabeth Vierkant / Flannel Shirts

"It wasn't even on our radar to do this class, but it landed just perfectly for me to be able to take it," she says. "I literally was just so thrilled. I went and bought rods right away." Lundin is well-known in Perham for her artistic talents; she was one of

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two women who created the large turtle-and-loon mural that spans the side of a building downtown (her sister, Chenoa Pickrain, was the other artist). She says her art, like her life in general, is influenced and inspired by nature — and perhaps that’s why the idea of fly fishing always appealed to her. Whether in Minnesota or Arizona, she says, she spends the majority of her time outside. Before getting into fly fishing herself, she’d seen other people do it, swinging their rods and casting their lines, and was drawn to it. Maybe it was the artistic, fluid motion of the cast. Maybe it was her great love for the outdoors. Maybe it was both. "I've always enjoyed being in nature more than I've enjoyed being anywhere else," Lundin says. "I feel grounded in nature... It's been ingrained in me since I was little." So, seemingly driven by fate, Lundin found herself at a full-day fly fishing class at Front 20 Outfitters.

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Why fly fishing?

• It’s adaptable for almost any type of person. Cindee Lundin struggles with shoulder pain due to osteoarthritis, but still finds fly fishing easily manageable. She was shown ways to cast that wouldn’t hurt her. • The equipment is easy to pack and take anywhere, regardless of available space. • Equipment costs won’t break the bank, unlike some hobbies, says Lundin. • Variety. You can fish for many types of fish in many different bodies of water.

Misconceptions about fly fishing

• It’s just for rivers. No! You can fly fish on almost any body of water; Minnesota lakes can be great places to fly fish. • It’s just for catching trout. Also no! You can catch a wide variety of fish, including bass and panfish. • It’s easy to learn, especially if you’ve been fishing before. Nope again. The movement of casting that’s necessary for fly fishing is very different from traditional casting. Making these changes to your muscle memory can be difficult.

How to get started

• Take a class. Front 20 Outfitters in Perham offers fly fishing classes. Visit the shop’s Facebook page or website, front20outfitters.com, for more information, or call 218-346-4899. • Get some equipment and watch YouTube videos about casting. Doug Harthan says it’s quite difficult to learn how to cast without visuals, so a video may help. • Try recording yourself and your casting. Compare it to the YouTube video you watched.

Needed equipment

Front 20 Outfitters’ owner and fly fishing instructor, Doug Harthan, offers some advice for anyone looking to start fly fishing. • He recommends a 6-weight fly rod for the Perham area, particularly because of the warm water and the types of fish — bass, trout, and panfish — you can catch. • He also recommends a weight-forward floating line, size 3X leaders, size 3-4X tippets, and flies for panfish and bass. • Wading pants, wading boots, a hip pack, sling or vest, a good hat and other accessories can add convenience and comfort to the sport.

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In the morning, she and the other class participants spent time learning how to tie different types of knots, getting hands-on practice and experience. Afterward, they practiced casting in an open area rather than on water, which Lundin found to be quite neat. After some lunch, they went into the water and fly fished throughout the afternoon. "When I caught my first fish all by myself, I was so thrilled," Lundin laughs. "I felt just like a little kid." The best part of the experience for Lundin was being taught by Roxanne and Doug Harthan, who have been a part of the fly fishing world for many years and Lundin says are very knowledgeable about the sport. Any questions she had, they were able to answer. "It was such a relaxed atmosphere, and I didn't feel intimidated," Lundin says. "Because I hadn't fly fished before, the best part was learning a new skill you can do for the rest of your life."

TOP TO BOTTOM: Cindee and Mark Lundin, during their recent threemonth road trip. Submitted Photo / Cindee Lundin Flannel Shirts Doug and Roxanne Harthan are owners of Perham’s Front 20 Outfitters, the town’s fly shop, and instruct classes on the hobby. Elizabeth Vierkant Flannel Shirts

Fly fishing wasn't the only exciting, spur-of-the-moment outdoor activity that Lundin had taken up that summer. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, she and her husband, Mark, had previously been forced to cancel some big plans, including a trip to Cape Cod with family. Looking for a safer travel alternative, she made a suggestion to Mark: "I said, 'Let's just throw a tent in the back of the truck, and let's go on a road trip,'"

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she recalls with a laugh. "I said we should drive, and that's what we did." The two went on a three-monthlong, 10,000-mile road trip across the country. “We just had a blast,” she says. Though she’s usually a careful planner, Lundin’s spur-of-themoment decisions about that road trip and her new fly fishing hobby turned out better than she expected. "I was having some anxiety about the trip, because I felt like we didn't have enough plans," she says, adding that, after she realized the benefits of not being strapped to time, her outlook changed. "I was like, 'Oh my God, this is great! This is a reprieve after working so many years.'" She’s already looking forward to taking her fly fishing supplies along with her on her next road trip with Mark, planned for 2022. In fact, she plans to keep fly fishing for the rest of her life. "There's so many positive things about just being outside and fishing on the shore, and experiencing the peace and calm and getting to fish in a lake, casting a line," she says. "It's some pretty good soul therapy." Lundin recommends fly fishing to anyone who enjoys fishing or the outdoors in general. To her, it's the perfect way to get outside and stay active while also easing stress in an enjoyable and peaceful way. "I can't see a negative in that," she says.

Elizabeth Vierkant is a reporter at the Perham Focus. She can be reached at evierkant@perhamfocus.com.

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The buck stops here — at least until the hunter comes to pick up his mount from Dewey’s Taxidermy. Michael Johnson / Flannel Shirts 46 | Flannel Shirts 2021


Preserving a memory The pandemic brought more people outdoors to hunt and fish, and now Wadena taxidermist, Dewey Schmitz, is having his busiest year ever Michael Johnson | For Flannel Shirts

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ongtime Wadena taxidermist Dewey Schmitz has been busier than ever this past year, in a profession that’s seen a boost from pandemic-era hunting and fishing.

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Tips for the most perfect preservation When explaining to people about the proper steps to take in making sure you get the best taxidermy results, Dewey Schmitz has a couple important tips to remember: “Fresh is best,” and “Treat it like you’ll eat it.” Getting an animal to the taxidermist quickly is key for proper preservation. If that isn’t possible, here are some steps to take at home: • Let the animal cool. It often surprises people, but wrapping a large animal in plastic and putting it in the freezer can cause it to go bad. Consider bears; these animals have so much fat on them that if they are not cooled down first, wrapping them up can hold heat and steam inside of their fat layers. They’ll start to rot from the inside out, even in a freezer. If you let the body cool off first, and then wrap and place it in a freezer, it should be good to go for quite some time. But time itself can gradually dry out an animal and create undesirable changes to the skin.

• Do not gut a bird or small game. Let it cool, put it in a plastic bag, and freeze it.

• Watch those fish fins. If it’s a fish that’s not frozen, be sure to lay the fins tight to

• Always have the appropriate DNR tags with your animals.

the body before trying to freeze it. If the fins are frozen out, wrap them in a wet cloth or paper towel, then plastic, and freeze. Do not gut a fish. • Big game skinning. How you want your big game mounted can affect how you should skin it. A major consideration for shoulder mounts is to avoid cutting the chest or neck area. If blood gets on the hide, wash it off or brush off with snow.

All those outdoor sports enthusiasts that got sick of being cooped up inside during the COVID-19 shutdowns later stormed the fields, forests and water holes with renewed fervor, returning with bounties worthy of their trophy walls. That’s where Dewey’s Taxidermy comes in. Schmitz’s workshops have been boasting a steady flow of work, with pieces in every stage from beginning to end.

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Schmitz meddled in taxidermy early on in high school — and he didn’t start out as the skilled pro he is now. “My first several mounts ended up in the garbage,” he admits. But with practice, he improved considerably. His very first mounted deer — a roadkill doe — is still a prominent display at Weber’s Wadena Hardware Co., where it serves as a reminder to shoppers of the deer hunting season. Schmitz’s own love of hunting is what steered him into taxidermy. He wanted to learn how to preserve his hunting memories, to make those memories last all year long. “I enjoyed the outdoors, it wasn’t just about the killing,” he says. “You’re preserving a memory of it.” Of course, the painful trade-off of running a taxidermy business is that your services are needed most during those key hunting and fishing seasons. That means Schmitz misses out on rifle season,

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Dewey Schmitz holds up a pine marten while surrounded by some of his work at his taxidermy business outside Wadena this past September. Michael Johnson / Flannel Shirts and barely has time to bow hunt. Trapping, however, remains a hobby near and dear to his heart. Schmitz got his professional start in taxidermy in 1982, when he started taxidermy school in Nisswa. He

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two Schmitzes work together full time, alongside additional part-time and seasonal employees who are all needed to meet high demand. Their most common work includes bears, ducks, fish of all sizes, and, especially, deer. Schmitz says the 10-day deer hunting season typically brings in eight to nine months’ worth of work for his taxidermy business. This fall, an abundance of bears — and big bears, at that — has been steadily arriving, too.

They’re all ready and waiting for customers to pick up. In the last five years, Schmitz says, the demand for taxidermy services has doubled. He thinks that’s partly due to the area’s healthy deer population: the Quality Deer Management Association has been working to increase the number of more mature deer being harvested, and those selective Schmitz harvests have helped boost the population overall.

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The main entry into Schmitz’s workshop is filled with examples of his work, including a wall of deer shoulder mounts as well as ducks, geese, small game, and a counter full of bear skulls.

More people have been planting food plots in recent years, too, and he suspects that’s made an impact on the number of wellnourished, trophy deer that are out there for hunters to nab. In addition, a renewed interest in buying land specifically for

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Dewey’s Taxidermy employee Ryan Schmitz forms the mouth of a black bear in September 2021. Schmitz has been working in the taxidermy field for almost 20 years. Photos by Michael Johnson / Flannel Shirts 50 | Flannel Shirts 2021

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deer hunting means more people are taking advantage of the strong local population. It’s a stark contrast to decades ago, when seeing a deer was the talk of the town. “I remember, as a kid, when somebody saw a deer in the neighborhood, we all went to see the tracks — it was like seeing a bear now,” Schmitz says. Of course, seeing a bear now is also not as unheard of as it once was, as bears have become more common in this part of the state. A lot of that has to do with conservation, Schmitz says: One cannot enjoy tomorrow what’s been eradicated today.

Dewey Schmitz has handled an enormous number of trophy fish and game in his 30-plus years of taxidermy work. Michael Johnson / Flannel Shirts

“Because of the deer coming back, we have a lot of other wildlife making a comeback, such as the fisher, bobcat, timberwolves,” he

says. “All that is coming back while regulated hunting is taking place.” Schmitz often hears from oldtimers about the “good ol’ days,” but he believes the good ol’ days are now. Looking around his shop, huge northern pike hang from the ceiling, crappies the size of frying pans lay drying on tables, and many months’ worth of work is at his fingertips. All are reminders of how bountiful the wildlife is around us. “Through conservation we have better fishing, better hunting, better everything than when I was a kid, especially fishing,” Schmitz says. “Just that conservation attitude: Don’t kill it unless there’s extra.” Dewey’s Taxidermy strives to have all work done within a year, and is always open to trying new things. It’s located northwest of Wadena at 63539 340th Street.

Michael Johnson is the editor of the Wadena Pioneer-Journal. He can be reached at mjohnson@wadenapj.com.

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