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+ Hibbing: AM 650 WNMT - Sun 8a

ST CLOUD Bemidji

montevideo Fergus Falls

FARGO WALKER park rapids Wahpeton

Grand Forks

Wadena ELY Hibbing







SEASONAL OUTDOORS PT 1 Goose Fest - Bret Amundson


SEASONAL OUTDOORS PT 2 Musky Mind Game - Jiggy Anderson/ Jason Freed


Bunyan’s Folly - Matt Soberg



Ben Brettingen



Bret Amundson



10 YEARS STRONG: A Dove Photo Essay

Tyler Scott



Bill Marchel

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CHEF’S CORNER Gar - Carpe Diem Outdoors




ON THE COVER: A SUNSET WALLEYE Photo by Jeff Anderson RAWfish Media Leisure Outdoor Adventures Find us at /mnsportingjournal or go to: WE’RE ALSO ON:

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AT THE END OF THE DAY Have you visited our website? Daily updates with blogs, pictures, DNR news and more.

A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR Does everyone have their water wings on? The spring was wet, but warm. The wetlands of western Minnesota made a fleeting reappearance. What does all this mean? For one, it meant for a tough year for those that fish rivers. Or live


MNSJ is a quarterly publication. To resubscribe, contact us: 218-209-2738

on them, as many docks were washed away and riverside yards flooded. No wake zones ruled and flood warnings were prevalent. Fast currents and varied structure made for exploration instead of quick trips to your favorite hole. Water temperatures dropped as the water levels rose. Mother Nature has made us work for our fish in the last year. Winter fishing was a challenge with the heavy snowfall and inconsistent ice, and then the monsoons of June threw another wrench in the open water plans of the Minnesota sportsman. Those Minnesota sportsmen and women showed true resilience however in getting out regardless and putting in the time and effort required to fill the frying pan. My goal this summer was to spend more time on the water and do it in all corners of the state. In this issue, you’ll get to read about my Summer Tour. I traveled to Alexandria for an amazing bowfishing trip where we shot 2,242 pounds of carp! Followed by stops on Leech Lake, Gull Lake, the Whitefish Chain and various lakes in the Ely area. Targeting numerous species with various methods that I have never tried before, including kayaking for smallies. The stormy weather made for tough fishing, but that didn’t stop us from considering it a successful trip. Plus we met some great people who fish for a great cause. Summer in Minnesota can be hard to beat, hopefully the temperamental weather hasn’t kept you from getting to enjoy it too much.


MINNESOTA SPORTING JOURNAL is a publication of Boneyardprod, Inc DBA BYP, Inc. POSTMASTER: Send change of address to PO Box 823, Moorhead, MN 56561. Oneyear subscription rates: $18.00 in the U.S., $30.00 for Canada (U.S. funds only). Twoyear subscription rates: $30.00 in the U.S., $47.00 for Canada (U.S. funds only). All editorial submissions will be gladly accepted. Minnesota Sporting Journal does not guarantee against damage or loss of submitted materials. Any reproduction of all or part of Minnesota Sporting Journal without the express written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited.

bret “t-Bone” amundson

Copyright 2013 BYP Inc



GO THERE: HUNTING DESTINATION WHAT IS IT:Guided Waterfowl Hunting In Western Minnesota WHERE IS IT: Watson, MN WHAT CAN YOU DO THERE: Goose Hunt, Duck Hunt, Walleye/Crappie Fish, Pheasant Hunt, Pheasant Preserve How far from the twin cities: 2.5 hours Questions?

Call 320-269-9136

or visit:

Lodging in their hotel is included in all the guided rates. Bar/Restaurant and RV Hookups on site as well.






Goose hunting is once again becoming the “in” thing to do.

For years hunters flocked to areas like Lac qui Parle, Thief River Falls, Rochester and Fergus Falls to hunt these giant birds. I hear stories on a daily basis at the Watson Hunting Camp about the 70s and 80s when guys would sleep in the ditches to stake claims to their favorite ambush spots. As the geese would fly off the “Lake That Speaks”, shotguns would sound from every side of the refuge. From jam-packed state blinds to street corners to pits on private fields, hunters would completely canvass the landscape. Local farmers got into the hunting business by creating camping space for hunters and offering them a corner of their field to shoot from. Migration patterns changed and geese became smarter, causing hunter numbers to slowly drop. Some would say the good ol’ days are gone, but a new generation of waterfowlers is once again making the Canada goose their favorite target, traveling all over the state and country to follow the migration, bypassing other hunting seasons to do so. The style of hunting has evolved from the passshooting method to a decoy-and-layout-blind style. Feeding fields are scouted on the day before a hunt. Once permission is granted, a set up including large full-body

goose decoys, layout blinds or similar products for concealing hunters and goose calls is implemented. They all are important, but having a good goose caller in the group might mean the difference between a full bag and going home empty handed. In fact, the calling aspect might be one of the reasons for the renaissance. “For me the big difference is being able to talk to them,” explains Tony Crotty from the Watson Hunting Camp. “Calling geese can make or break a hunt. There’s nothing better then finishing geese that you know you would not have had a chance at shooting, if it were not for your calling.” “Their vocabulary is larger and more complex,” according to Cory Loeffler from the DRC Call Company. “They respond to calling better. A good call can really make a difference in a goose hunt, while a good motorized decoy usually makes the difference on a duck hunt.” Field hunting for waterfowl isn’t for the faint of heart. Lots of windshield time scouting for birds with early morning set-ups that include big decoy spreads and hiding layout blinds. In some areas you’ll hunt a lot of chiselplowed fields and that requires a shovel to dig holes to lay



The author and Jeremy Hawthorne carry some cranes back to the truck

the blinds in. Sometimes that ground is frozen. Maybe that’s why it’s a younger generation doing it more. “It’s the rush,” says 24-year-old Nick Trauba. “Deer hunting is fun but doesn’t get me as excited. It’s waking up at 4 am, digging in blinds and setting decoys that makes it all worthwhile when seeing those geese locked up and coming in.” Whatever it is that’s attracting more hunters to the sport, many people are thankful for it. Hunting is big business for small towns across the state. If you need further proof, you need only to look for bird/animal related business names and landmarks. Thief River Falls (TRF) still dedicates an annual festival in September to the goose, called “Goose Fest.” This year will mark the 40th year of Goose Fest



(and technically it’s in Middle River, just north of TRF). The dates this year are September 26th – the 28th, meaning for the third year in a row, I’ll be celebrating my birthday in a goose blind. And I couldn’t think of a better place to do it. It will be hard to top last year’s festivities. I was able hunt with the guys at the DRC Call Company. I’ve hunted with Loeffler and his crew a few times, and it’s always nice to have a North American Goose Calling Champion bringing geese in for you. In 2012, we hunted near Fergus Falls as big, heavy snowflakes fell around us. Geese were coming in close enough to touch. In fact, Loeffler did. After a limit of geese was shot, we stayed hidden and watched as flock after flock descended into our decoy spread. At one point a goose flew directly over Loeffler and he was able to reach up and give

its belly a scratch. Needless to say, the goose was a little surprised. Thief RiveR falls, MN While Goose Fest celebrates the tradition of hunting Canada geese, the annual migration of sandhill cranes passes through the area as well. While attending Goose Fest in 2012, Plan to attend the MN waterfowl we attempted to hunt cranes without oPeNer event success. In 2013, we made a con-Thief River Falls, offers wORld scious effort to get as close as possible MN clAss huNTiNg OPPORTuNiTies! to these prehistoric birds. The sandhill crane season only goes -cOMFORTABle lOdgiNg options back a couple of years. Beginning in sept. 26-28 are available for 2010, it has taken place in a northany size group. In nearby Middle river, MN! west Minnesota zone only. For a $3 -experience it for 218-686-9785 permit bought through the Minnesota yourself and enjoy true hunting, like it Department of Natural Resources, was meant to be. you can take part. These “large” birds Media Familiarization Tour also available. can have a 7-foot wingspan, but only Please contact the Convention & Visitors Bureau for more info. weigh around 5-8 lbs. While they’re 102 Main Ave. N. • P.O. Box 176 •Thief River Falls, MN 56701 • email: all “neck and legs”, the meat on the breastbone has given them the nickname “Ribeye of the sky”. I wanted to find Goose Fest has to offer. The Wheel, A Middle River bar, out for myself. The earliest Sandhill Crane fossil, estimated was packed from end to end as two different bands took the stage and had people bouncing around all night. Since it to be 2.5 million years old, was unearthed was my birthday, we may have stayed out just a little longer in the Macasphalt Shell Pit in Florida, acthan we planned. I didn’t have a choice in the matter, but I cording to The population has expanded to the point where wasn’t complaining. A scouting trip the day before found a cut wheat managing them through a hunting seafield adjacent to standing beans. The field had literally been son is possible. 10 other states across the trampled by geese and cranes, so we arrived before dark to mid-continent flyway also offer a season on set up. An assortment of sentries, feeders and active decoys cranes. Rumors of an expanded zone have were placed in front of and behind a row of grass that rose been quietly passed around. from the middle of our field like a mohawk. We’d need to Your limit in Minnesota is two and on Saturday afternoon, I shot a double, quickly hide 8 guys- 6 hunters and two cameramen from the Wild Dakota TV show. putting me on the crane board and filling my limit. Soon geese that were close enough for us to reach We bumped up a nice covey of sharp-tailed grouse out and grab were falling from the sky. We finished just shy along the way, and if we hadn’t been in stealth mode, we of our limit, but that wasn’t because of our shooting. There would have had a couple of nice sharpies in the freezer too. The evening consisted of some of the finest nightlife were no “free passes given”-we didn’t miss any birds, just ran out of flocks to hunt. Soon it was lunch time and we found ourselves in the Middle River Cafe face-first in a plate of pork and mashed potatoes. In fact the food was almost as big of a highlight as the hunting. Goose Fest features a smorgasbord of gooserelated dishes. The obligatory goose jerky is always on the menu, but an assortment of favorites and experiments are available as well. The goose quesadillas were my pick in the goose-cooking contest. There are also games for the kids, a goose calling contest, and a parade-complete with a camouflage-wearing Miss Middle River.

a Waterfowler’s DReaM DesTiNaTioN!

www. visittrf .com

Goose Fest



Jeremy Hawthorne getting the geese prettied up for pictures


The Wounded Warriors Guide Service Travels to Arkansas for the waterfowl trip of a lifetime. Story and Photos by Bret Amundson

Mika poses for the camera

The 40th Annual event is September 26 – 28th. For more information about how you can be involved, go to or find “Goose Fest Middle River Minnesota” on Facebook. You can also see more pictures from last year at keywords “goose fest”.



HOOKED: WEDDING DAY WALLEYES by Tyler Scott “...I was joined by a handful of gents who were about to embark on a walleye quest for the books; for few can claim they have shared a morning on the water with their groomsmen ripping eyes on their wedding day...” WWW.MINNESOTASPORTINGJOURNAL.COM


Saturday, June 7th, 2014.

I awoke to the deafening sound of my rooster alarm crowing to seemingly no end as my phone had vibrated under the bed. An early morning adventure had been conceived for today. This wasn’t going to be an ordinary morning of fishing--nor was this going to be any ordinary day for myself and those close to me as this was going to be the happiest of my life; I had been in a magnificent relationship for over 11 years and the much anticipated wedding day had finally arrived! But how might an outdoor enthusiast commence such a day as this you may ask? Well, I had to look no further than having a rod in my hands as the early morning light cast across a mid-Minnesota lake, in pursuit of our state fish. Graciously, I was joined by a handful of gents who were about to embark on a walleye quest for the books; for few can claim they have shared a morning on the water with their groomsmen ripping eyes on their wedding day. Was I fortunate? You bet! Was I lucky? Of course! Was I thankful? Without a doubt! As our two-vessel voyage set forth, our journey was short as I had been picking up fair numbers of walleyes at a known walleye hangout within eyesight of the dock in the days leading up. With one of our boats being limited in mobility, bobber fishing with a leech was going to be the tactic of choice. While the others rigged for bobber fishing, my good friend Joe and I proceeded to cover ground with the dependable Lindy Rig tipped with a crawler. The quest had officially begun. Joining our pursuit on this dreary, cool morning would be our “up for anything” wedding photographer, Micah Kvidt (Micah Kvidt Productions --, who had recently moved back from a four-year stint down in Florida. I think he would be the first to admit he was slightly under dressed as just 15 minutes into our trek I could visibly see a slight shiver transition into a trembling quiver. Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite a quiver, but following our afternoon wedding photo shoot where temps had risen into the mid 70’s, Micah made a remark that many of us Minnesotans are quite accustomed to: “I forgot that Minnesota might be the only place where I can endure frostbite in the morning and suffer from a sunburn in the afternoon.” Our morning started out with sporadic action. A few pesky hammer handles and smallmouth bass entertained both boats for the first half hour. Though a few of the guys may have been doubting my guiding skills, I knew it would be only a matter of time before the eyes would move up onto the shelf and start a feeding frenzy. Before long it happened; the first walleye of the morning emerged from the depths producing abundant smiles and cheers around. Soon thereafter it seemed as though a light switch had been turned on. The walleye gods were with us as no matter the tactic used and Minnesota gold was filling the landing nets. Once I had put a couple of eyes in the boat, I was able to sit back and enjoy this surreal moment in my life. What more could I have really asked for on such a glorious day, for I was surrounded by those dear to me while partaking in a sport I cherish deeply. With each walleye hitting the deck, I could only gaze at the excitement of those around me and my admiration for God’s beauty which had been bestowed upon us that morning.



The author with a wedding day walleye

“...memories that I’ll keep with me for a lifetime.”



As our morning adventure drew to a close, I could not help but reminisce on one of my all time favorite movies, Grumpy Old Men. It reminded me much of how my wedding day had begun; enjoying a wondrous day on the water in search of a freshwater gem in the presence of a couple fishing cronies. Only difference was, I could not afford to take the chance at being late to the church or else‌.. Our mission was simple that day; live in the moment, take in the experience, and make sure, of course, the groom landed his wedding day walleye.



“Our mission was simple that day; live in the moment, take in the experience, and make sure, of course, the groom landed his wedding day walleye.”

The author with his wife, Devin



MUSKY MIND GAME Photos and Story by Jason Freed and Jeff Anderson Lesiure Outdoor Adventures







little over two decades ago, growing up in the woods and lakes that surround Bemidji, Minnesota was a teenage boy whose passion for the search and hunt of muskies was greater than anyone could ever imagine. His father would drop him off at the lake only to be picked up at the end of the day. It was those solo adventures where this young boy cherished the search and challenge to catch the predator of 10,000 casts. Jeff “Jiggy” Andersen, has since grown up and is now the co-owner of his own tackle company, Big Tooth Tackle and guide service Leisure Outdoor Adventures. Being one of the Midwest’s premier musky guides, Andersen will tell you that those days as a young boy helped him form a mental toughness to turn each day on the water into a challenge of figuring out when, where, and how to make a musky bite. Throughout his countless hours on the water, he has created a three step approach to what he likes to call “The Musky Mind Game”, and much like any other competitive sport, the mental part according to Andersen, is every bit as important as the many casts one is supposed to throw or the infamous magic lure tied to the end of the line.

on the weekends and watch professional musky anglers on television boat multiple muskies in a thirty-minute television segment and tell themselves they want to do that or that it doesn’t look too difficult. It is this mindset that causes people to set the rod down after just a few hours of casting, feeling defeated and frustrated after not even seeing a musky. According to Andersen, “Once you learn to love The Chase, the catching comes easy, and you will truly cherish the whole process that goes into musky fishing”. The Chase is what takes away the feeling of the grind, the frustration, the sense of defeat after a day of not seeing a fish on the water. It is what will fuel your determination at 4:00 AM when your alarm goes off to signal the start of another day of musky fishing. Andersen states that “The idea of having to cast 10,000 times is blown out of proportion. Instead, it is the willingness to work-do the right things each and every time-which creates a consistency in your approach and will enhance your love for The Chase. Embrace It; cherish it, and enjoy it!”

Step 1: The Chase

According to Anderson, The efficiency game is something that often times goes unnoticed but all great anglers, whether they are musky or walleye fisherman have figured out. While in the boat, efficiency will take those thousands of wasted casts and eliminate them. When looking at efficiency, you have to take every single component of your fishing setup into consideration. Ask yourself the following questions: “Is my boat set up and organized for when I catch a fish?” Anglers must have the proper hook

When people call to book a musky trip with Leisure Outdoor Adventures, the first thing they are told is to embrace the challenge-otherwise known as “The Chase”for this trophy fish. It is this simple concept that anglers often forget about. One might compare it to an athlete who enjoys the practice and work that is put in before they ever play the game. All too often, arm-chair anglers sit down



Step 2: The Efficiency Game

removing tools, hook sharpener, landing net, measuring board, and a variety of other tools within reach. Also having plenty of room within the boat to operate when doing a figure 8 or landing and releasing a fish safely and effectively can be the difference between a successful day and a failure. “Do I have a plan to have the boat positioned in the right spot and at the prime feeding time?” Utilizing your GPS to its fullest is a key component to success. When seeing a fish earlier in the day, knowing that you will go back exactly to where you punched in that GPS coordinate and positioning your boat the same way it was when you saw the fish the first time will make fishing easier. “Are my lures running properly each and every cast, and is my equipment the right equipment for what you I am trying to do?” When setting yourself up for musky fishing, it is important to have the proper set up from the reel, rod, and lure, to the lure movement. Lures can get fouled or need to be tweaked so they run properly. Pay close attention to how your lure is running, constantly evaluating and adjusting as necessary. For example, take a topwater lure such as a Big Tooth Klack Bait. When running true it sets off a sound muskies can’t resist checking out but if not tuned correctly, can be inefficient like other top water lures. Not having the right equipment or trying to use equipment that is hard to handle causes physical fatigue and can ultimately lead to your downfall when that moment comes to catch the musky one has been chasing for hours. Whether it is chucking pound Bull Dawgs, Big Tooth Juice Bucktails, or dealing with backlashes on an unfamiliar high speed reel, these can all cause frustration and doubt after a while.

Most anglers are successful with being organized and prepared for these types of things. However, there is one critical thread that will tie the efficiency game all together-your mental approach. As soon as anglers lose their mental sharpness, they lose body posture, casting distance, and begin forgetting about the little things such as a lure not running correctly or losing focus on the GPS, resulting in getting off of the sweet spot. It is these moments when anglers lose their chance at the “fish of a lifetime”. Step 3: The Curveball Andersen will be the first to say, “As soon as you think you have these fish figured out you don’t. They are a humbling fish that challenges you both mentally and physically.” Anglers sometimes build a level of confidence and feel like they are dialed in and are two steps ahead of the fish. It is this moment that Mother Nature changes the weather dynamics, or the fish simply change their feeding habits, locations, or demeanor. Andersen relates this curveball to a musky outing he had a year ago on Lake of the Woods. “We had been fishing for over a week straight. It was super hot all week, and the fish were on the chow. The second to last night of the trip a massive cold front set in and stabilized.” This is the curveball delivered by Mother Nature. “We almost packed up and went home early, but we convinced ourselves to man-up and go fishing. When we hit the water we were prepared to have to completely switch tactics and locations. What we found out though, was that



we were over-thinking the mental part. We decided to stick with what we had been doing all week, and we had the best day of our whole trip!” The lesson learned from that day is to not over think your plan and mentally give up when thrown a curveball. There are times when a change in the plan of attack is necessary. According to Andersen, “The second you don’t believe that you can’t catch a fish on each cast, is when you have evaluate and change things up. When I hit this mental wall, I change gears right there, which can mean changing locations and tactics”. This switch can get you back on track and in the zone. The Musky Mind Game is all about the mental approach. Understanding and accepting The Chase will reduce the chance that anglers become frustrated and give up on catching a musky. Mental fatigue can occur if one is not efficient in the organization of the boat, as well as the proper use of the appropriate fishing equipment. Finally, be prepared for the curveball. Belive that “musky magic” is going to happen, but always be prepared to switch things up if you need to. Using this three-step approach to musky fishing will enhance your mental endurance and allow you to truly love the allure of musky fishing.



Andersen lives by the mantra of “You can’t catch fish if you don’t fish for them!”


WWW.POWERLODGE.COM Power Lodge - Brainerd, MN 17821 State Hwy 371 Brainerd, MN 56401 Phone: (218) 822-3500 Power Lodge - Mille Lacs, MN 33972 US Hwy 169 Onamia, MN 56359 Phone: (320) 532-3860 WWW.MINNESOTASPORTINGJOURNAL.COM


WHAT LIES BENEATH Photos and Story by Ben Brettingen

“...I could see what all the scuba diving fuss was all about. Fish after fish swam by, seemingly regarding me as one of their own.” Have you ever glanced down into your local lake

from the comfort of your boat, wondering where in the world are all the fish? Do you see 10 lb walleyes casually swimming around you or only someone with a goofy reflection staring back up at you? Since I was a young kid, I desperately wanted to be down with the fish, because often times to catch the fish, you need to be the fish. Well, that’s exactly what I was going to do! No longer was there going to be a goofy guy staring back at me from a mirror like water surface. I would be the fat guy, with three chins and a smushed face, compressed by a wetsuit hood. Things really kicked off this spring when I made the leap and purchased all of the necessary hardware for my underwater pursuits. It was a cold day in May when I jumped into a frigid Lake Minnetonka, with water temperatures barely touching 40, that I knew this sport was for me! As if I was in Purple Rain, I began to purify myself in Lake Minnetonka, I could see what all the scuba diving fuss was all about. Fish after fish swam by, seemingly regarding me as one of their own. Since then, I haven’t been able to get enough! Any chance I get, I’ll throw on the mask and attempt to put some reasoning behind the way we fish.



I’ve already seen some amazing sights and actually found some neat treasures. One of the first awesome experiences was out on Lake Minnetonka, diving in Wayzata Bay around noon. I was on a little point which topped out at 10 feet. As I swam along the bottom, there were walleye after walleye hanging out right on top of some structure. So much for the rule of thumb keeping walleye down in the depths on one of the clearest lakes, on the most bluebird day! Another memorable dive was on the Great Lakes chasing after smallmouth bass. After I located a good pod of bass, I had my fishing partners, who were topside, cast at the fish until one of them decided to eat it. I ended up taking measures into my own hands, as I grabbed the line and dangled the tube jig right in front of a bass’ face. He turned and smoked it only two feet away! It soon became more of a treasure hunt, than a fish research project. As of late, there have been a couple interesting finds too. I was cruising around near the bottom in 14 feet as I spotted a couple smallmouth bass hanging around a lone rock on a sand flat. Upon further inspection, the rock turned out to be an old outboard motor! It took some finagling but I eventually hooked a rope to it and pulled it

to the surface. A 1949 Sears-Roebuck made Elgin Outboard motor, had been lost and now was found. Either dumping it in the lake was a convenient way from somebody to get rid of it or somebody might have forgotten to tighten it down on the transom. Believe it or not, I’ve also learned a few important lessons which will hopefully aid me on the water, and maybe even change the way I fish forever! 1. Bring Rocks When the fishing gets tough, make sure to remember your rocks. I’ve found there is no greater weapon in a fisherman’s arsenal than banging a few rocks together underwater. When I am diving and trying to find a few fish, it seems to never fail. Within seconds, I’m often circled by smallmouth bass, sunfish and occasionally a walleye.



Above left: The author heads in for another dive. Above: This flag signals that there is a “diver down� and boats should use caution in the area. Below: A school of largemouth bass swim around the author uninterested in his presence.



2. Don’t Forget Rope In my last two dives alone, I have found 6 anchors on a small lake near Walker, Minnesota. Not one of them connected to any rope. Whether someone forgot to tie it off or didn’t tie a very good knot, I’m not sure. Make sure you have a good solid knot tied to your anchor or else I might find yours too. 3. Fish where fish live I spent last weekend fishing bass, and during the first hour of my outing I struck out. Maybe a combined total of 6 pounds between 7 fish. I was fishing an area with a perfect mixture of rock, sand and beautiful looking brush piles-all on a sharp break. It looked too good not to hold thousands of fish. I was looking for the grandest small jaw in the lake but wasn’t having any luck. I decided to put the scuba gear on and dive down and see why I was doing a lot of fishing and hardly any catching. It was quite a startling revelation: There weren’t any fish there! I moved to a small mid-lake hump, marked a few fish on the graph, dropped a line and bam! Smoked a toad smallmouth and shortly after another! I dove down to check things out and the hump was littered with brown bass. It doesn’t matter how amazing of a fisherman you are, if there aren’t any fish around you, odds aren’t in your favor. Give SCUBA a try, I guarantee you’ll learn more and have fun doing it!

About the author: Ben is a passionate outdoorsman based out of the Twin Cities, Minnesota. When he’s not behind the reel or gun, he’s behind the camera for In Depth Outdoors TV.




This trip wasn’t just about getting back to my roots. This was about exploring Minnesota. Getting out and doing all the things that I had heard about but never done. From stalking carp stacked up in a creek culvert to silently slipping across a windless lake in a kayak searching the shallows for bronze-backed fighters. This was a chance to forget about the years I spent working 6-7 days a week in an industry that doesn’t allow much time for hunting and fishing.



Jim Riley from Links Wild Safaris kayaks near Ely.

EXPLORING MINNESOTA Story and Photos by Bret Amundson

This was more than a trip. This was me driving a wrecking ball through the walls of the typical “office” and embracing America’s offer of chasing the Dream.


6/10/14: Alexandria 6/11/14: Alexandria 6/12/14: Alexandria 6/13/14: Walker 6/14/14: Brainerd 6/15/14: Ely 6/16/14: Ely 6/17/14 - Ely 6/18/14:Brainerd 6/19/14: St Cloud 6/20/14: St Paul 6/21/14: Home WWW.MINNESOTASPORTINGJOURNAL.COM




urk Stark had whetted my appetite with cellphone videos of carp packed together into a creek bed like...well, like sardines. Various industry bowshooters would be gathering at the Geneva Beach Resort for twoplus days of stringin’ and flingin’. When all was said and done, we’d stick and sell 2,242 pounds of common carp. Before we’d step foot in the stream however, Darrel and Tammie Schrieber, me and my dog and Mika drove over to the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League Championship at the Alexandria Shooting Park. Over 6,100 student athletes took part in the League this year, making it the biggest high school sport in the state! Even bigger than hockey (in the STATE of hockey!). Executive Director Jim Sable remarked, “Last year we had 832 coaches. This year we have 1,800 coaches. At this tournament we have 4000 shooters and that makes it not only the biggest youth trap shooting event not in the state, not in the country-but in the world!” “This is the only gender neutral sport in high school anywhere in the country. But it isn’t just gender neutral, we have adapted students. In the old days, somebody would call that handicapped, but they aren’t, they are adapted students and if you walked from that end to this end you will see shooters in wheelchairs,” Sable added. For more, listen to our podcast with Sable at



Day 2:

“I went creek shooting when I was younger, but nothing like this,” said

Darrel Schrieber from Carpe Diem Outdoors. “They’re stacked up in there so full it’s ridiculous.” The allure of bowfishing these days is cruising the shallows at night on the bow of specially rigged boats with platforms and spotlights. The night offers a clearer perspective into the water, unsuspecting fish and (usually) no competition on the water. The lights can also take a recognizable shoreline and cast it into an eerie glow, making docks and tree stumps resemble something out of a horror movie. But what made this trip to Alexandria special was the Creekside chaos that ensued when we arrived in the heart of a residential neighborhood. We had so much success at the various culverts along this creek that the boats became an afterthought. “They’re spawning this time of year and if you can find any kind of running water anywhere-culverts or whatever, we were getting trampled today, trying to drive and keep them up there,” said Curt Wells, co-host of Bowhunter TV. “They were hitting our legs, it was incredible.” We’d move from culvert to culvert, chasing or shooting each carp in the vicinity, then resting it and coming back later. “It was a blast. We found all the carp running in the creeks, wherever we could find current,” Wells said. “My arms are sore right now, I can hardly hold them up.” The warm temperatures allowed for wading in the creeks and soon the kids who were along were knee deep, bent over with water up to their shoulders trying to catch carp with their bare hands. I’m not sure what they had more fun with, catching the fish or keeping themselves from falling in! This trip wasn’t just about shooting fish and trying out some new products like Toxic Broadheads and Twisted

Timber Treestands but meeting some new people in the industry. I’d heard of Kicking Bear Camps before but never met the man behind it, Ray Howell. I was able to hear the amazing story about the camps and how they’ve grown to 22 states. Hear the story in the MNSJ Radio podcast section at “I smell like a carp! It was awesome,” Howell said. “I haven’t had that much fun-I mean carp shooting is made for kids and I turned into a kid.” We all turned into kids, whooping and hollering up and down the creek, trying not to disturb the neighbors too much. In fact a few of them came down to see what the ruckus was all about and thanked us for removing the invasive fish. “If you’ve ever seen lines get tangled back and forth because there’s so many fish on arrows-it was amazing!” Howell added. “It was fun, just fun.” What do you do with 2,242 pounds of carp? In Alexandria, you sell them to Bio Corporation. A company that sells preserved animals to schools for biology classes and also hosts a turtle farm. Turtles love carp! They paid us .15 per pound that day, so not only did we get to have some fun, but lunch was paid for too. Special thanks to Dennis and Corliss Stark who graciously accepted Mika into their home for the couple of days I spent in Alec. I hope she didn’t shed too much on your bed! Opposite Page Top: A carp is shot while bowfishing. Opposite bottom: A high school athlete competes in Alexandria. Top: Carp are stacked in an urban creek. Middle: Curt Wells takes aim during a night bowfishing trip. Bottom: One luck fisheman connects!




Jason Freed with a 27.5” walleye. Photo by Jake Flaa

A couple of weeks earlier I had received an email from my newly techsavy 74-year-old father. It included a cell

phone picture of a 27 ½” walleye he caught on his trip to Leech Lake. It would win biggest fish of the trip and the group would enjoy two big meals of fish during their weeklong stay, in addition to fish for the cooler. This made me think of the invite Jason Freed had given me earlier this year at the Ice Castle Classic fishing tournament on Lac qui Parle. I’m not known for turning down offers like that and gave him a call. Soon a journey up 371 was on the itinerary. For 8 hours we went one end of Leech to the other, trying spinners with crawlers, jigs with leeches along with a jig and minnow pitch presentation. While many fish were marked, not many were hungry. There had been strong storms through the area the previous 24 hours so the fish seemed to be turned off. The old, “You should have been here last week,” applied. The heavy winds the day before even knocked a boat off it’s lift and created a giant headache for it’s owner. We were able to coax a couple of walleyes up, including an eater from boat-mate Jake Flaa and a beautiful 27” fish from captain/guide Freed. The latter being the trip saver for all of us. Even if you don’t catch numbers, catching a nice fish like that can make your day. The only bittersweet moment was that I had missed a bite just prior to



Above: Jake Flaa with a Leech Lake walleye

Freed hooking into the big one. Was it the same fish? Who knows, but they both gave me a hard time about it. For the most part all I caught was sunburn, but you won’t hear me complaining.


Admittedly, I’d never spent much time in the Brainerd lakes area growing up. We had a cabin elsewhere and that monopolized most of our summer weekends. Lately I’ve been trying to make up for it-and why not? According to, there are “dozens of quality fishing lakes from small to large.” I was able to get in the boat with Dennis Mackedanz from Camp Confidence for their 31st Annual Nick Adams Memorial Fishing Classic. “It’s a two day event,” Mackedanz explained. “There’s a golf event on Friday and on Saturday we finish it up with a fishing tournament on Gull Lake.” “We’re very excited that we got it all filled up to raise money for such a great cause,” said Sarah Smith special events coordinator at Camp Confidence when discussing the gloomy forecast for that day. “Camp Confidence is an outdoor facility for people with disabilities. We are open year-round as an outdoor education,” Smith added. “The fisherman (at this event) provide almost a third of the budget at Camp, “Smith said. “It’s a fun tournament-it’s not a money tournament. They donate their day and their time and it goes a long way for the campers. “

The Crosslake-Ideal Lions Fishing Tournament was taking place on the nearby Whitefish Chain and I made my way to the northeast to witness the weigh-in. A father son team made up of Darrel and Jesse Johnson took first place on this Father’s day weekend tournament. Even more impressive is that they did it after losing the net on the first fish. One thing this tournament has gotten noticed for is its release system. Fish come from the live well to the scale and back to aerated tanks on two barges. One barge is releasing fish while the other is collecting. The system has worked so well that the DNR took notice and recommended it for the State Bass Championship a few years ago. “They see how we operate and they say, ‘Hey, the Lions are doing something right!’” Event Chairman Joe Doerfler explained. “We’re really proud of this.” I was able to meet up with Mandy Uhrich at the tournament, who then invited me to fish the next day for largemouth bass. Mother Nature decided I’d been around the water enough and sent another storm our way. I took a raincheck and headed north. Dennis Mackedanz guides during the Nick Adams Memorial Fishing Classic

The Mariucci Lodge at Camp Confidence



DAY 7: THE ELY EXPERIENCE It had been many years since I’d been through Ely, and even then it was usually a quick drive through until we hit our entry point for the Boundary Waters. I wanted to spend a couple of days on the edge of the BWCAW and see what this town and the area resorts were about. Specifically a resort that Jim Riley from Links Wild Safaris had told me about. “30 years ago bulldozers arrived to knock down two resorts,” Riley told me. “The locals stopped them and suggested creating one just for Veterans.” Handicapped accessible cabins and docks, along with pontoons and fishing boats are available for veterans and people with disabilities at Veterans on the Lake Resort. “In the late 70’s the Government bought out resorts around the Boundary Waters, “explained vice chairman Dick Zahn. “This resort is a combination of two resorts…it sat here for a couple of years and the Government was going to take it down.” One local resident came up with a plan. Frank Salerno found out that under the buyout, there was a title which allowed any

Kayaking on a lake near Ely 32


group of individuals that would like to take one of these resorts over and use it for disabled people, could take it over with a user fee from the Forest Service. Salerno, along with Matt Stukel, the original chairman, got together with 8th District Representative Jim Oberstar and in 1982 a non-profit board of directors laid the groundwork and opened Disabled Veterans Wilderness Resort in 1983. Donations and user-fees are how Veterans on the Lake operates so if you’d like to help out, visit for more information. And if you are, or know someone who is disabled or a veteran (or even active duty military and their friends), this resort offers an affordable getaway in northern Minnesota. ‘We have 9 cabins that are wheelchair accessible,” according to Neil Olson, current chairman. “We are leased land from the Superior National Forest so we need to keep a certain percentage as a whole for the year, for the handicapped people, veterans and active duty. But we can rent out to any other customers, but we have to keep our percentages up with our mission of handicapped accessible.” I spent time on Fall Lake with disabled vet Ben Putnam from Boundary Waters Outfitters. Putnam looks to be about 180 pounds soaking wet and when he was in Iraq as a Marine, he would carry 180 pounds of ammo on his back-a

Ben Putnam hides behind an eater story that I listened to while forgetting all about my line in walleye. the water. Stories of war usually leave me wondering if what I’m hearing is real life or a movie I watched. It seems so surreal that someone went through a time in their life where bullets came and went, without caring who they came in contact with. To have to be in a situation where someone might have been looking through a scope with crosshairs on your chest is not something anyone should have to go through. But they do. And I can’t thank them enough. Not only did Ben serve his country but he outfished Jim and me. He is also available to guide and outfit you for the Boundary Waters. They’re located just across the street from Timber Trail Lodge, where Bill Forsberg (another veteran) offers a comfortable retreat on Farm Lake. The next challenge was chasing smallmouth bass in kayaks. Riley and I headed out to a (secret) lake that ended up looking like Grand Central Station when we arrived. Canoes and john boats full of kids and their adult hosts were coming off the windy lake. As we waited for them to load up, we hoped that the waves would subside in time for us to paddle out in our one-man vessels. Light drops of rain greeted us as we started off from the landing and I wondered how long we’d make it. A few casts with a jig and a minnow proved to be an exercise in futility and soon it was off to another spot. I dragged the offering behind the kayak as I went and suddenly there was a ruckus in the back of the boat. A small northern had hooked up and was bending the rod over, rattling against the milk crate holder and the other rod. I was on the 50 yard line at the Metrodome during a Vikings/ quickly reeled in while the wind pushed me up into the Packers game. I have no idea what I heard but as quickly trees. The fish was released easily, however the cedar along as it started, it ended and I went back to casting around the shore was not. I was just happy to land a fish so I unsubmerged boulders and fallen trees. tangled and moved on. Soon it was time to get back to the real world-sort That would be nearly all the excitement of the night. of. I stopped for a Veterans on the Lake fundraiser brat Stormy weather had shut down this fishery as well. The then called up Mandy Uhrich to see if I could make good wind did calm down and we had a beautiful night kayakon my rain check. ing across the glass-like surface. The occasional boil would entice me closer, but small panfish turned out to be the culprits. I finally threw on a slip bobber and targeted on tight corner and was rewarded with a small bluegill. Not what we wanted, but we had doubled our take. Some close encounters with loons and great blue herons would be the closest we’d get to wildlife. Aside from the sudden burst of screaming and yelling from the far This smallmouth bass would be released to fight end of the lake-I felt like I another day.



DAY 9: BACK IN BRAINERD The weather didn’t look much better than it did the previous time I was in Brainerd, but Uhrich was determined to put me on the fish. “No pressure or anything, thanks!” She said as I told her that fishing wasn’t very good during this entire trip, (aside from the days with the bow). “I’m taking you to my secret spot.” “So I shouldn’t tell everyone about it in the magazine?” The look she shot back at me was priceless. We headed out of Brainerd with one eye on the sky, hoping the rain would hold off. We’d have to maneuver through 25 mile an hour winds, but as long as we didn’t have rain and lightning, we were going to make it. “There are a few trucks and trailers here,” I casually mentioned as I peeked at the landing through the trees. “What!?” Uhrich responded. “There must be league here tonight. So much for having the lake to ourselves.” I really didn’t mind since I’d been up on lakes near



Ely and had some relative obscurity there. Besides we were bass fishing and that meant a lot of moving from spot to spot. We hit the usual docks and weedy bays, but it was the breaks and weed lines that were hidden unless you knew the lake that provided the most action. We didn’t put any wall hangers in the boat, but we did catch more fish than I had on any other outing during this trip. Even a couple that were picture-worthy. And watching a woman drive you across a windy lake at 70 miles an hour: priceless. I know she’ll smack me for saying that since it shouldn’t matter what sex she is. All I know is that she handled that boat like a champ and can outfish a lot of guys I know. I shouldn’t be surprised since she started guiding at age 15 and has won numerous tournaments. Including one where the trophy was nearly taller than her. This would signal nearly the end of the trip for me. I had to stop in St Cloud to drop off magazines at Scheels (pick up the next issue there!) and see some friends. Then

a trip to the Twin Cities to do some work on the business side with my brother Wade and it would be back to Watson Hunting Camp where I call home. It’s almost not fair to say that the fun is over since I’m surrounded by the Lac qui Parle wildlife refuge there. Deer, waterfowl, turkeys and all sorts of wildlife are in abundance. In fact, you could say that my “Tour” started there a year ago as I make my way around the state of Minnesota. Watch for the website and our next issue for what part I “explore” next!




In 2004 - after a 57-year hiatus – Minnesotans were again allowed to hunt mourning doves when then Governor Tim Pawlenty signed a bill that would permit Minnesota to be the 40th state in the Union with a mourning dove hunting season. A surge of calls and emails from sportsmen and conservation groups ensured the bill’s passage.

Minnesota’s September 1, 2014, mourning dove hunting opener is fast approaching. Here are a few tips to help you find a dove hunting hotspot.



Mourning doves prefer to feed in the open or in short cover so keep your eyes peeled for harvested small grain fields. Doves especially like wheat. Also watched for any overgrown or weedy fields that contain scattered openings which are particularly attractive to feeding doves. There the birds consume various weed seeds, especially foxtail. New CRP fields, weedy openings in corn, bean and sunflower fields, or other unattended areas also are potential dove hotspots.

While silhouetted against a late afternoon sun, a young hunter shows off his first ever dove to his father.



A hunter takes a mourning dove retrieved by a German Wire-haired pointer while hunting in sunflower field. Rain water had gathered in a low spot providing doves a place to drink

Several doves are already in the bag while Axel, a Deutsch Drahthaar watches for incoming birds. Downed doves are difficult to find making a good dog invaluable.



Keep a lookout for low areas in fields with standing water from recent rainfall. That’s a definite plus since it adds one more factor to the dove-hunting equation: a place for the birds to drink. An additional bonus would be a nearby pine plantation or grove of trees doves use for nighttime roosting.

Downed doves can be very difficult to locate, so the wise hunter will employ a dog for retrieving duties. Mark well each fallen dove because sometimes dogs have trouble finding the birds, especially on hot days. Don’t forget to carry plenty of water for your dog. Backlit by a brilliant sky, the author places dove decoys in preparation for a hunt



Mourning doves prefer to feed in short cover where their favorite fare are various weed seeds and waste grain like wheat and oats. While rare, the occasional mourning dove wears a leg band. Information gathered by banding the birds aids in their management.

Gravel pits are dove magnets because birds congregate there to gather grit. If a gravel pit contains depressions that hold water, so much the better. Most gravel pits feature weedy areas where doves can also find food. 40


Hunters should plan on pursuing doves as close to the September 1st opener as possible because the birds are quick to leave ahead of any unseasonably cold weather. The daily bag limit on mourning doves is 15 and the possession limit is 30.

Any gauge shotgun will work for shooting doves. The birds are small and fragile so trap and skeet loads of 7 ½ or 8 shot and improved cylinder or modified chokes will work. Nontoxic shot is required on federal waterfowl production areas. Since doves are migratory birds, shotguns must not be capable of holding more than three shells. Party hunting for doves is not legal, which means individuals may not shoot doves for other party members.

A downed mourning dove fell to a 20 gauge double barrel in a harvested wheat field.

About Bill Marchel of Fort Ripley, Minnesota: Marchel is a full-time wildlife and outdoor photographer/writer. His photo files contain over 125,000 images. You can view his work at



PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT: WHAT: WILDEAR HEARING BOOSTERS WHERE: RAMSEY, MN “What?” That’s a question I get asked constantly when having a conversation with most of my family. I grew up around guns; hunting and fishing were a big part of our lives. Every fall the shotguns and rifles were religiously used while hearing protection was not. There were 10 guys on my Dad’s side of the family, including my grandfather Helmer. My dad had two brothers and they all had two sons. And we all love the outdoors. I remember my first hunting trip to the Alexandria area. I spent my 8th birthday in the Holiday Inn just off I-94. It was a long time ago, but I believe one of my gifts was a set of muppet finger puppets. My memories get a little cloudy, but I think that was also the year that my whole family received matching flannel shirts-something to keep us warm on those cool fall days. I also remember sitting on shell boxes and watch-



ing mallards buzz by the marsh. I was too young to venture out in “Quack” our rickety duck boat, so I was relegated to watching birds wing by the outer edge of the cattails. Soon a hen mallard came a little too close and I took aim. I watched as my trusty Daisy unleashed its fury and a single bb went zinging off the general direction of the speeding duck. It soon folded and I jumped up and down as my magic pellet must have connected. It didn’t matter that my cousin Jeff, who was also celebrating his birthday that weekend, had taken a shot with his 12 gauge. Like a good cousin, he let me have the glory even if he was the one who actually downed the bird. In the 30 years that have followed since that weekend, trap leagues, weekends in the slough and rifle volleys in the tree stand have commenced on a regular basis. Would hearing protecting be used? Sometimes. Usually it would just be the cheap foam inserts that cost 50 cents. We are given 5 senses. Would you risk losing one of them with something that costs half of a dollar? Maybe it’s because I work in the “sound” industry that I utilize caution. I do voice over work and produce audio projects so I value my hearing because it puts food on

the table. It could also be because I don’t want to end up like everyone else in my family who has to ask for questions to be repeated on a consistent basis. Either way, I’d been in the market for some serious hearing protection. Every time I’d use the cheap foam protectors, I’d lose them. They might fall out when I’m adjusting my hat or simply moving around. I’ve tried the custom-molded kits that you can buy, but those never fit quite right. I needed to get the professionals involved. Zach Meyer at WildEar Hearing Boosters had exactly what I was looking for. Custom-fit inserts that were battery-powered. They boost the subtle noises, yet cancel the loud ones such as gunfire. Just what I needed. I am absolutely, 100% focused on protecting my hearing as I need it for my livelihood and for family conversations down the road. The Master Series is what I have and according to the Wildear Website: Our New Master Series is for the sportsman who does it all. It has 4 programs to choose from and is loaded with the most advanced digital hearing enhancement and protection technology. Master Series also has a venting system that eliminates the “plugged-ear” sensation. Enhanced Features: We have improved the sound quality by reducing circuit noise. We have also implemented a Wax Protection System. This helps with the prevention of ear wax build-up of the WildEar sound port.

For those that complain that protection hinders the hunting experience by keeping you from hearing the whistle of ducks or the footsteps of whitetails, WildEars will boost those sounds yet protect you when the gun goes off. “Even if you go to a gun range, everyone is wearing hearing protection, so people are aware of the harm when it’s a controlled environment,” explains Meyer. “But you’re still exposed to those same sounds and noises when you’re in a hunting situation. So why wouldn’t you do it there?” I was in a situation recently where a group of guys were having a good time shooting clay pigeons. Out of 15 guys, 2 people were wearing hearing protection, including me. Some were younger, some were older. This boggled my mind. Maybe they felt they’d lose their man card if they wore ear plugs? All I know is that my Dad has to have close captioning on anytime he watches tv. Someday I will too, but I’m going to put it off as long as possible, with the help of WildEar hearing boosters.





Who: Robert Utne What: Big Game Taxidermy, Trophy Room Design, Wildlife Art Where: Twin Cities 44


A couple of years ago I was roaming the halls at a hotel in Minnetonka, looking for the spot designated for my Minnesota

Sporting Journal Booth. It was the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation’s annual banquet and other booths were being set up. Custom knives, outfitters, puppies and more were all about to be on display. One area caught my eye and proceeded to be my highlight for the day: The fullbody mounts from Wild Images in Motion. A close second was the first ever South Dakota Sheep Tag auction that went for $102,000! I had taken a picture of the mount on the opposite page and was using it on our website to promote where we was that day. You can see why it was attracting attention. “I like to do my work as an overall picture,” explained Robert Utne, the owner of Wild Images in Motion. “Even when I get into trophy rooms, I like to have the animals...interacting together.” Taxidermy is a hobby for some and a passion for others. Having some artistic ability and years of experience can set you apart. “I started when I was 15 years old and worked parttime through high school,” Utne said. “I worked full-time for 6 years after high school. (Then) I custom painted motorcycle helmets nationally for about 17 years.” Full-body mounts of exotic animals like gemsbok, crocodiles, giraffes, elephants and bison are just part of his work. Utne also features unique wildlife art painted on elephant ears. While taxidermy in itself is a challenge (and he’s upped the stakes with the interactive multiple body mounts), the hardest part may be the transportation. You have to build your mount to be disassembled, moved and reassembled in another location. “It’s like putting together a model airplane,” Utne said

while explaining that the room where the mount will be displayed has to be taken into account before the mount is finished. “The elephant that I’m doing will need to be fitted in the hunter’s home and positioned. The whole form will be in sections, probably quartered, the ears will disassemble, the tusks, (etc)…” Any alterations to the animal would be made off site, then the pieces brought to the trophy room and put back together. How do you decide on what the mount will look like? “I’m really open to the customer’s suggestion,” Utne answered. “The clients input is critical. It’s their memory. I listen really closely to the customer in getting the details and the inspiration. There may have been something that happened during the hunt or before they shot it. A lot of customers like to have the animal turned the same direction, whether or not the animal knows what’s going on-if their ears are laid back-trying to replicate or bring back that memory from that moment.” What about the guy who’s room is getting a little full and it’s time to reorganize the mounts? Or even someone who’s just deciding to build a trophy room? “That starts from architecture to lighting. Preconstruction is really important,” Utne said. “Just having a basic game plan…even the best laid plans in trophy room design (can change). It’s a sliding scale through the course of a hunter’s career. It tends to grow more than most people plan, (laughs).” How important is picking a good taxidermist? “The final part of the hunt is the part you’ll be looking at the longest.” Utne stresses that he doesn’t want a hunter to settle. If they’ve put in the time and money to hunt down a trophy, then it deserves to be properly memorialized.



““I want people to take pride in it and feel like they’re taking it to the best.” What advice would you give to someone who knows they are going on the hunt of a lifetime and could need a taxidermist? “Call ahead and make plans before the hunt. It makes things so much easier. Think about the mount, the design and the placement,” Utne explained. To learn more about Wild Images in Motion, visit: -Bret Amundson



Carpe Diem outdoors Presents:

CHEF’S CORNER Gar Boulettes


Longnose gar are a specialty in Minnesota. There are few places to find them, so procuring one is half the batter. MNSJ had the chance to chase gar with the stick and string during a bowfishing excursion with Carpe Diem Outdoors. While most fish taken with a bow is destined for a farmers field as fertilizer, gar is a rare delicacy. Darrel and Tammie Schrieber provided us with this Gar Boulette recipe. Just how the heck do you clean a gar? We asked Darrel Scrhieber: “Use a tinsnips to get them open, because they’re all bone on the outside,” Schrieber explained. “Peel them open. Just like the backstraps on a deer, you want to take out the pure white meat. Make sure you take the gray and pink matter off the edge of it...(the meat) that’s right against the skin. Cut them into little chicken nugget-sized pieces and deep fry them.”

3 pounds gar meat 2 large onions, chopped fine 1 cup bread crumbs 1 cup mixed parsley and green onions, chopped fine 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper Black pepper and salt to taste 2 eggs, beaten Flour 1/2 cup cooking oil


-Grind the meat in a meat grinder or food processor. (It’s easier to grind if it’s partially frozen.) -Add one of the large chopped onions, the bread crumbs, parsley/green onion mixture, cayenne, black pepper, salt and eggs. -Mix well and shape into balls. -Roll in flour. -Heat the cooking oil in an iron pot and brown the balls (boulettes), stirring lightly. -Add the other chopped onion to the pot, add 3 cups water and stir. Cook slowly for about 30 to 45 minutes and serve over rice.


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“ the eyes of a fly fisherman, Bunyan may have committed an epic, yet unintentional, folly as it pertains to trout in Minnesota...”



As many of us proud Minnesotans know, Paul Bunyan is a legend of North American folklore, monstrous in size from his head

to his stride, and as the old legend goes, he explored the north woods of the United States and Canada, literally creating walleye and bass lakes with every step of his gigantic feet upon the ground. He was accompanied by Babe, his devoted blue ox buddy whose hooves made plenty of small lakes and duck sloughs, too, on their massive trek. It is believed that his name has a French origin because it sounds similar to an expression often heard in Quebec, “bon yenne”, meaning the act of being surprised or astonished. Bunyan not only created the Minnesota fishing mecca with every boot track from Bemidji to Akeley to Brainerd, he continued east all the way to northern Maine on the United States side. Giant statues dot the landscape, documenting his exploration in all the small towns that celebrate his giant feat, or is it "giant feet" - no pun intended. But in the eyes of a fly fisherman, Bunyan may have committed an epic, yet unintentional, folly as it pertains to trout in Minnesota. Sometimes, I wish Mother Nature would have given him better instructions to drag his feet and take his time to create some more rivers and streams as he traveled across our state. He must have started in Minnesota and traveled east, getting more and more tired, dragging his feet along the way. When he started here at the beginning of his travels, it seems like he was energetically high-stepping a football drill from lake to lake. Even dragging his toes could have made some trickling streams swimming with catchable brookies or browns here and there. But, alas to no avail, in Minnesota anyway. As he continued east through our neighbor Wisconsin,



then Michigan and Pennsylvania, he created some dandy trout streams, and plentiful in number to say the least. Back here in Minnesota, there are a few trout streams in the northeast as he shifted around to get comfortable for a nap where Lake Superior now lies. I think the streams in the southeast were created when he awoke and stretched out a leg after his deep sleep, dragging back his toes creating the St. Croix and part of the mighty Mississippi. Bunyan can probably be credited with the gluttony of walleye haunts we enjoy across the state. With every Minnesotan owning a boat and focused on walleye fishing - or angling for anything from muskies to bluegills, honestly - stream fishing for trout is often an afterthought here. Minnesotans are spoiled, however, and don't realize that other regions lack the sheer water and angling access available in our great state. I'm one of them - I didn't realize it until I lived in Pennsylvania for some time; a state with a great history of fishing, too, but there it's trout focused. You can't blame them - there are trout streams everywhere, and there’s a fisherman inside all of us, I don't care who you are. Once you fish, you are “hooked”; it's just the way it is. It's great because the bottom line is: you fish what you have available to you, and there is nothing wrong with that. You know why? Because, you are fishing, and a day fishing is a good thing for all, therapeutic for some, and life for the hardcore. That being said, I honestly take the world-class walleye fishing out of my back door for granted. A guy really should be on the water as much as possible, especially during the prime time of the year and especially because some amazing fisheries are literal minutes from my home. The busy times of life stall my opportunities – that is my excuse, anyway. However, after trying my hand at some Pennsylvania trout fishing, I got “hooked” and started scouring the internet maps for some Minnesota trout streams. My plan was to find a place to fish trout in my free time. I enjoy the difficulty and strategy that goes with trout fishing along with the peacefulness

of standing near a stream on a cool, foggy morning. Despite complaining about Bunyan’s folly above, Minnesota can provide some excellent trout opportunities from lakers to steelhead to brookies and browns. Sometimes, it might take a creative spirit, but if you are willing to tackle the adventure, you are sure to find good fishing. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has an excellent online guide for those looking for trout streams. Go to: http:// There you will find maps to guide you where the trout swim, oodles of species information, and even instructional information to help the novice fly fishermen, like me. I’ve been lucky to find a few Minnesota trout hiding around boathook bends, along rocks or in deep runs. And although this may sound far-fetched, I’ve been lucky to catch a few too! I’m admittedly not the best fisherman, but when I go out trout fishing I certainly try to look the part - geared up with rods – both fly and spinning, hooks, vest, hat, net and waders – like I’m straight out of an Orvis catalogue. Look good, fish good – isn’t that the saying? I always try a little fly fishing first, channeling my shadow casting technique like Norman Maclean. I switch up flies over and over, trying dries here and nymphs there. When all else fails, I pull out the box of angle worms from my back pocket – oops, did I say that? Don’t tell the fly guys! It’s all in good fun. And, when I’m fortunate enough to fool a brookie into biting whatever I’m dangling in front of her, which doesn’t happen near often enough, I feel a rush of surprise and astonishment that always keeps me coming back for more. “Bon yenne!”

Matt Soberg is a native of Baxter, Minnesota and is the Director of Communications for the Ruffed Grouse Society. He splits his time missing birds and losing fish between his home in Minnesota and RGS headquarters in Pennsylvania.

Above: The author with a prized catch. Opposite page photos courtesy of Steve Brousseau



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Minnesota Sporting Journal - Summer 2014  

Summertime in Minnesota usually involves being a part of the 10,000+ lakes. They come alive in this full color, glossy magazine. A preview...

Minnesota Sporting Journal - Summer 2014  

Summertime in Minnesota usually involves being a part of the 10,000+ lakes. They come alive in this full color, glossy magazine. A preview...

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