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Tradition meets tech in bowhunting lifestyle



A special publication by

2 Wednesday, November 4, 2020

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ABOVE: Johnson prefers to hunt deer with a compound bow. RIGHT: Draydin Johnson, then 12 years old, and his dad, Blake, celebrate Draydin's first archery buck harvest in September 2018.

TOP: This taxidermied turkey in full feathered glory takes up a corner of Johnson's office.


ABOVE: Blake Johnson keeps mementos of some of his hunts - including deer, elk and grizzly bear - in his office at Citizens National Bank in Park Rapids. PHOTOS BY ROBIN FISH/ENTERPRISE

‘It makes me feel whole’ By Robin Fish rfish@ parkrapidsenterprise.com According to a local enthusiast, bowhunting is a lifelong pursuit that clarifies the mind and brings people closer to nature. Blake Johnson, whose office at Citizens National Bank is lined with trophies from his hunts throughout North America, makes a study of the behavior of the animals he wants to pursue, using technology to gather data in season and out.

Getting close to the game

Now pushing 38 years old, Johnson has been bowhunting since he

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was legally old enough to start. “Since I was a kid,” he said. When his father gave him his first bow, he said, “I would go outside and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot and shoot, and I would shoot some more. I just wouldn’t leave it alone.” He also recalled turning archery practice into a variety of games with his friends. “What appealed to me was the close proximity you’d have to get to a deer. I kind of liked how it’s a chess match. It’s a game of a combination between bedding, feeding, transitions, what they go through, where they’re going, travel patterns, what they do throughout the season,

hunting it.” Technological advances have included “set ’em and forget ’em” webcams, collecting weeks worth of information that you can review just before the hunting season. Other technological improvements include methods for checking the weather and wind direction. “Stands are better,” he added. “Climbing sticks, back in the day I didn’t have them. I just pegged trees. I feel bad. Those pegs grow in. If you try to take those pegs out, because you want to reclaim your investment, that subjects those trees to disease, injury. The next thing you know, that tree that you had a stand in for 20 years is


dying because it got bugs or woodpeckers.” Johnson said he prefers to shoot with a compound bow, but he has seen a lot of bowhunters switch in the last decade to the crossbow, which improves accuracy and gives youth, the elderly and people with disabilities or medical issues an opportunity to hunt.

“To some it’s (any) animal,” he said. “To some it’s a racked animal. Others, it’s just a very respectable, age-appropriate deer. Some people hunt for age class. Some people hunt for rack size or score. Some people hunt for meat. Some people hunt for the experience. So, there’s a wide variety of what people, in general, the reasons why Hunting for age class they go out.” Johnson acknowledged Personally, Johnson that hunters have differ- puts himself in the “age ent ideas about what a class” category. sugar buck, or a trophy, looks like. TRADITION: Page 3

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from low stem counts to high stem counts to food sources, why they’re eating what they’re eating at a particular time.” When he was growing up, this study of animal activity took up a lot of his spare time. “You know, you climb a tree,” he said. “You sit there. You glass with binoculars. You run. After school, you would go and walk around as much as you can. For me, it was, obviously, prior to having a vehicle, I would go and scout.” In the 26 years since then, he said, “Hunting has evolved to a data-driven state of mind, where if you’re not seeing anything on camera, obviously, you’re not going to be

Tradition meets tech in bowhunting lifestyle

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“I like to see a mature animal,” he said. “I find it fascinating how they can get through firing squads of people in blaze orange over the years, and slip through the cracks, not being hit by vehicles, not being shot or wounded, not being seen. Maybe they’ve been passed; maybe not. And then also, slipping through the depredation from getting sick, wolves. It’s amazing how they can get to an older age class when you have all these variables.” He voiced appreciation for landowners providing access to their property, though he noted that over the years, as larger parcels are subdivided, finding private land to hunt on has become more challenging. Depending on his target, Johnson said, “I like sitting up in the big woods with the mass acorn crop. I also like going to heavy farm ground, too, now and again, big land tracts around it, depending on the food source. I even like smaller, condensed, sometimes, more residential” areas. While he loves both rifle hunting and bow-


Tyler Shepersky of Menahga, left, with hunting guide Johnson, harvested this deer on a 2019 United Foundation for Disabled Archers hunt. "It’s giving back," said Johnson. "If you have a level of knowledge that you can give back to the youth, or people that are less fortunate, that need the help, that is something that I actually, really enjoy." hunting, he said he prefers the bow because it forces him to get closer to the animal. “The winds have to be right. Your layout plan would have to be right. There’s many more variables that you have to understand in order to get a quality archery shot.” On the gun side, he said he enjoys the shack life and tradition. As for what it takes to succeed in bowhunting, Johnson stressed

patience – like waiting for a deer to come close enough for an accurate shot – and studying the patterns of animals’ movement and behavior.

Favorite hunt

Besides harvesting trophies, Johnson also enjoys the meat. “I enjoy processing them,” he said. “I enjoy understanding everything about them, from dissecting them to (study) previous injuries. You can kind of assess why a deer

is acting the way it does based on his carcass.” What he learns from these studies only increases his respect for the beast. “I’ve seen anything from sticks to fence stuff, broadheads, arrow shafts, old rifle shots, car hits. It’s amazing how resilient these animals are, how strong and tough. They just keep going. It’s amazing, especially with no medic out there, or doctor – seeing what they go through, and then you take the severity of the cold, from the warm months in the summer to the winter months, and then the duration of the cold, and then obviously the predation out there.” Johnson’s hunts have taken him from Mexico to the Arctic and to multiple states of the U.S. In addition to deer, he has harvested grizzly bear, feral hog, elk, moose, mountain goat and more. Asked about his favorite hunt, Johnson told about a deer he shot and let walk away into the woods on Sept. 24, 2004. “I didn’t find it right away. The deer went a little further than I thought it would go,” he said. “I gave it the proper time for that animal to expire. I didn’t track it right away. I just backed

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 3

off, was patient about it. But it ended up just going a little bit further, and it was a tougher track than I remember. It really put me in suspense. “Ended up finding the animal the following day, in the evening. I had walked probably seven or eight miles looking for the animal, back and forth and back and forth. “It made me realize that, in anything, across the board, taking a quality shot on the animal is very important. You know, have the respect for the animal as well, because it does make it pretty difficult for them if you just start shooting and don’t give the animal any respect.”

Still gets that feeling

Johnson shared some of the feelings that bowhunting brings to life. “For me, it’s time of reflection,” he said. “It makes me feel whole.” The experience is about so much more than harvesting the animal he came to stalk. “I like going up there and just observing nature, too,” he said. “I’ve probably gotten to the point where I watch more, now, or I’m very, very selective. … It’s fresh air. It’s mind clarity. It’s peace and quiet. It’s also observing a lot of wildlife

along the way.” For example, Johnson recalled several encounters with wolves, some of them scary. “I’ve watched wolves kill a whitetail in front of me. I’ve watched how they actively pursue their game. They’re very smart, and how they, essentially, drive to each other, and they understand what they’re washing. They’re washing this piece down to these other spotters. It’s impressive.” Other species he has encountered include bobcats, foxes, coyotes, fishers, eagles, ducks and geese – to say nothing of the young of the human race. A father of three boys and one daughter, ages 6-13, Johnson said he enjoys watching youth learn to hunt, just as he learned bowhunting from his father, Steve Johnson. “I enjoy watching the eyes-wide-open type stuff, where they can’t even talk to you because they’re shaking so bad,” he said. “Watching their adrenaline, I still get it. Don’t get me wrong. I still get it, and that’s why I still do it. No matter if it’s for meat or if it’s a trophy, it doesn’t matter. Even with the rifle, it doesn’t matter. If I’m going to actively try to harvest that animal, I will still get that feeling.”

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4 Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Park Rapids Enterprise

Bowhunting family’s

‘headquarters’ preserve wild memories

By Robin Fish rfish@ parkrapidsenterprise.com Father and son bowhunters Jack and John Smythe regularly bring a group of friends together for coffee and conversation at a barnlike structure at the edge of town that they call “the headquarters.” There, gazing upon the coffee group with lifelike expressions, are the heads, skins, horns and in some cases full bodies of animals the Smythes encountered on decades of hunts, ranging from within 10 miles of Park Rapids to the other side of the world. “Have you been in a place where you’ve seen more mounts?” John asked, rhetorically. Father, son and other family members, such as John’s uncle Charlie and mom Kay, have traveled around the U.S. – including Utah, Colorado and Alaska; remote parts of Canada; Spain and Switzerland; the African nations of Namibia and Tanzania; and even New Zealand, where the scenery tugged at John’s memory. “I was on the side of a mountain on the South Island of New Zealand, looking over this area, and I thought, ‘Doesn’t this look familiar?’” He said. “Just keep looking at it and looking at it. I go, ‘No way.’ If you remember ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ that whole big open area prior to Gondor was the area I was overlooking. Right around the corner was the mine where they built Gondor. So, yeah, a little nerdy, but it was fun.” Most of the Smythes’ fun hasn’t been nerdy, to judge by the collection of bowhunting memories preserved at their headquarters. Even more works of taxidermy art reside at their homes.

Preserving treasures

A headquarters guest sees not only the expect-

ed whitetail and mule deer, elk, a bearskin, a timber wolf pelt and some wall-mounted northern pike, but also heads of eland, kudu, oryx (or gemsbok), impala, hartebeest, wildebeest, waterbuck, cape buffalo, sable antelope, Himalayan tahr, warthog, feral goat, moose and caribou. There are also a whole stuffed polar bear, brown and black bear, a couple mountain lions, a lynx, a spotted leopard and two of the four species of wild sheep native to North America. “We look at this as a preservation of treasure,” said John. “Sometimes (after harvesting an animal) you’re extremely happy. Then you think back at it and you go, well, there’s an animal that is no longer around, so to speak. But we’re preserving that for other people to see.” The Smythes sometimes hunt with a rifle, but a lot of their trophies have been harvested with bow and arrow, Jack said. “When I got out of the service, back in ’93, after shooting all the weapons systems that I did,” said John, “between my father and I, we decided basically just to archery hunt because there wasn’t the challenge, so to speak, with the rifle.” He has reconsidered since then, he said, “because hunting’s hunting, no matter how you do it. I mean, whether you’re bird hunting, upland game, waterfall, to your larger animals. It’s just a matter of getting out there, enjoying what you do.” John stressed that “hunting” and “harvesting” are not the same thing. “We do hunting,” he said. “Harvesting is when you actually, to use the term, kill the animal. You harvest the animal. Hunting is when you’re going through the process.”

Pointing at a mounted wild sheep, he said, “You can spend years hunting and never harvest something like that. Or, harvest anything at all for that matter.” Compared to those who don’t feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth if they don’t harvest an animal, John said, “I can sit in a tree stand, and as long as I’m seeing animals, I’m happy. Seeing them is most of the fun.” Jack agreed, “The kill is a small part of it. It’s the preparation and the camaraderie. The camps. There’s so much more than the kill. I don’t even like to call it ‘kill’ anymore. You almost feel sad when it happens, because then the experience is over.”

said I can take my family on trips for what it costs me to go on a trip. … My theory is, now, I’m hunting and putting meat in the freezer.” John said his favorite game meats are moose and elk. “They’re really low in fat,” he said. “So, it’s just good protein all the way around.” Moose hunting is also his favorite form of hunting. “It also, pretty much, takes the longest time,” he said, recalling trips to the northwestern Ontario wilderness. “You go into camp, and you’ll spend two weeks in camp, and you might see one or two moose. Camaraderie is the biggest thing. The experience of the hunt is the other.” Regarding what he enjoys about the moose hunt, John said, “When Growing up a they start the rut, you bowhunter know they’ve started the “When you grow up in rut because they’re very a household of hunters vocal. And it’s learning – especially archery – how to call them and when your mother is a bring them in close. much better shot, from The same goes with elk. a target standpoint, than Whitetail, I think the your father is,” John said most fun I have is when with a laugh, “you kind I can actually rattle the of get hooked. So, it’s whitetail in. And you’ve always a competition.” got a certain window He added, “I have just when you can do this.” as much enjoyment, tarJust before and after get shooting. I mean, the rut, he explained, you’ve got to fine-tune mature whitetail bucks your skills. You’ve got are drawn to the sound of to stay consistent with antlers rattling togethwhat you do. The last er, which they hear as thing you want to do is a challenge from an wound an animal.” annoying, younger male. John hasn’t hunted overseas since his fam- Dangerous game ily sold the State Bank “I’ve always loved to of Park Rapids, but he hunt,” said Jack. “I never continues to hunt locally. have lost the passion to “It takes a fair amount hunt. I just got back from of money to bankroll Utah. It’s just as exciting (international hunting for me now as it was trips),” he said. “And when I was 16 years old. a lot of patience from I’m just glad I can still do your spouse and your it, because I’m going on kids because you’re 78 years old.” not home.” Probably the hardest When another local hunt he’s ever had was bowhunter asked him last year, he said, going if he wanted to go on after Alpine ibex in the a trip, John told him, Swiss Alps. “Physically “I prefer just to hunt extremely hard,” said around here now because Jack. “High elevation. it takes a lot of resources to go other places. I MEMORIES: Page 5


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John Smythe shares the memories he and his father, Jack, have preserved from their international hunts at their barnlike "headquarters" in Park Rapids. Surrounding him are a mountain lion, an oryx (also known as gemsbok), a stone sheep and a Dall sheep both harvested in Canada.

Among the memories the Smythes have preserved from many years of international hunting are stuffed heads as well as full-body photos of such game as the eland (at left), cape buffalo, wildebeest (in the corner, partly hidden), sable antelope and zebra.

A waterbuck, a mountain lion and an oryx (also known as a gemsbok) grace the wall at the top of the stairs at the Smythes' "headquarters."

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MEMORIES From Page 4

"I never have lost the passion to hunt," said Jack Smythe, going on 78 years old. "It’s just as exciting for me now as it was when I was 16 years old."

Steep, very steep terrain. Physically very hard for somebody my age. But I can still do it!” Despite hard evidence of worldwide success, he insisted, “I’m not a professional hunter. I know a lot of professional hunters. I’m pretty well connected because I’ve been at it for 60 years.” John noted that Jack is affiliated with the Pope & Young Club and Safari Club International. “And just the people that you meet and get to know pretty well over the years,” Jack added. “You get connections. It’s kind of like a camaraderie.” Jack hinted that this social aspect has suffered as the technology of hunting has grown. “When I started hunting big game, we never even had scopes on rifles,” he said. “You never saw it. It evolved now so that everybody’s got a scope, and just about everybody sits in an elevated house. But that didn’t used to

be that way. There are a lot of really nice hunting camps. You get camaraderie. Even if they never shoot a deer, they really look forward to hunting season.” Asked what memories his trophies bring to mind, Jack said, “Everyone of these that I’ve taken, I can look at, and I can remember exactly the situation, the preparation that went into it. It’s so special. Like that leopard.” He pointed toward a lean, longtailed cat taken in Tanzania. “I can remember everything that went into it. At one time, that was probably within six feet of us, coming in behind us, and my wife heard it breathing. She was in a blind with me.” “That’s not a good feeling!” said John. “One of the most dangerous animals you can go after, right there. They used to say, hunting tigers, that tigers were really dangerous. Tigers and lions will go in a camp and kill one person; a leopard will kill everybody.” Asked about a trophy of

a large fish with another fish in its mouth, John laughed. “We’ve been on some nice water, up in Ontario. It’s always interesting, when you pull in a five, six, seven pound northern, and you’re reeling that in, and there’s a bigger one

coming after it. That’s my idea of fun. So, we have just as much fishing as we do hunting. It’s just being outdoors, enjoying nature.” “It’s something you get into, it’s almost like you can’t stop,” said Jack. “It becomes addictive.”

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Jack Smythe brought home this elk from a hunting trip to Utah. "Everyone of these (trophies) that I’ve taken, I can look at, and I can remember exactly the situation, the preparation that went into it," he said. "It’s so special."

Among the other hunting trophies on the upstairs level of the Smythes' "headquarters" are whitetail deer, antelope, mule deer, waterbuck, caribou, black bear and mountain lion. Jack said the two bucks on the pedestal were shot within 10 miles of Park Rapids.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 5

Jack Smythe recalled that this leopard crept up on him and his wife Kay while they were sitting in a blind in Tanzania. "That was probably within six feet of us, coming in behind us, and my wife heard it breathing," he said.



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Dog training 101 By Lorie Skarpness lskarpness@ parkrapidsenterprise.com Training a dog begins when a puppy is eight weeks old and should be a fun and positive experience for both the dog and owner, according to Shirley Nordrum. Her family-run “Ricky Tics Dog Training” is based in Hart Lake Township, near Laporte. “Ricky Tics is a military term that means in a hurry or fast,” she said. “A lot of our family were in the military, so that’s how we thought of the name.” She has four dogs: two Labs, a husky and one she describes as “a little, bitty, fuzzy rescue.” “Creating a loyalty and a bond between the dog and their person can be encouraged by being consistent and using only positive training methods,” she said. Her advice on how to successfully train a dog can be summed up this way: “You have to have the time to train your dog. You have to be patient, and you have to be consistent.”

Shirley’s sister, Sharon Nordrum, and her nephew, Andreas Nordrum, work with her, training owners how to train their dogs for hunting, agility and obedience. Most of that training is done out in the field, so dogs can practice working the way they will on a hunt. “If you only train your dog in your yard and then you go out in the field, your dog is not going to perform well,” she said. “When the puppy first learns to acquire the skill and is successful 80 to 90 percent of the time, you should start training your dog in different places to teach generalization. A dog who acquires a skill in an obedience class may not do it well at home, because they don’t realize they have to do it in different places. That’s really key to training your dog right.” She explained that the “three Ds” of dog training are distance, duration and distractions. “You want a dog that will sit even when you walk away,” she said. “The way you teach that

is to tell your dog to sit and then increase the distance that you walk away and the duration they will stay in the sit position. And you want your dog to learn to work through distractions, because there are a lot of distractions when you’re in the field hunting.”

Sharon Nordrum's golden retriever, BaWaaJige (a word that means "to harvest your dreams" in the Ojibwe language), retrieves a chuker on a hunt at Wings North in southern Minnesota.

Dogs bring gifts to our lives

The Nordrums are of Anishinaabeg heritage and believe in treating dogs with respect. “We don’t use any negative or harsh methods, like the e-collar that can be a painful experience for the dog,” she said. “Our training methods are all positive. Our philosophy comes from our traditions. In our creation story, when we’re told about how all of creation came to be. The dog is in that story separate from the wolf. So, I don’t believe dogs came from wolves. I believe dogs are dogs. Each one of the animals and the plants and the beings on the planet told


Shirley Nordrum and her dog, RIO, were joined by Andreas and his Lab, Aten, for a day of pheasant hunting at Wild Acres near Pequot Lakes. PHOTOS COURTESY OF SHIRLEY NORDRUM

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TRAINING From Page 6

us what their gifts to us, the Anishinaabeg (original people), was going to be. And the dog was feeling bad because he didn’t really know what his gift was. He was having a conversation with someone else who said, ‘Are you kidding? You protect Anishinaabeg. You make them laugh. You’re with them all the time, always by their side. You’re their companion.’ And then the dog understood that’s what his gift to us is. I think it’s important people know that is our relationship with the dog, whose name is Animush in Ojibwe.”

Start early and keep it positive

Nordrum said training a puppy to be a good hunting dog starts early. “I start training my puppies to retrieve when they’re 8 weeks old,” she said. “I use something soft, because their teeth are delicate at that age. If you have a hallway, sit at the end of the hallway and throw a soft foam paint roller. Get your puppy to bring it to you, and do 15 minutes of work with your puppy twice a day.” Another command she teaches her puppies early is “sit.” “Use both a verbal cue and a hand signal and a whistle,” she said. “When I tell my dog to come, I say ‘here,’ blow my whistle three times and hold my hands out. My dogs know all three of those. If I’m in a situation where I need to be quiet, like when I’m hunting, I can give a quick toot and hold up my hands and they know I want them to come to me. Nordrum said having the owner train the dog and being consistent are both important. “I know a lot of people who make big bucks training other people’s dogs,” she said. “I believe that unless you train your dog yourself, you’re always going to be going back to that trainer to ‘tune up’ the dog. Because if you didn’t

train the dog, when things break down and your dog isn’t performing to the standard you’d like, you end up having to send the dog back to the trainer. People should train their own dog. That’s what we like to do, work with people to help them train their own dog. It’s cheaper and a lot more fun and you get that strong bond.” She said when training a puppy, it’s also important everyone in the family is on the same page, using the same commands and having the same expectations of how the puppy is to behave in the home. “If you don’t want your puppy to jump up on you, but for whatever reason your husband or wife thinks that’s cute and they’re not telling the puppy to stay off, you’re just going to have a dog that’s confused about what he can and can’t do,” she said. “So it’s always good to have a family meeting about what you’re training, what commands you’re using. If one person is saying ‘come’ and another person is saying ‘here,’ the dog’s going to get confused.” Nordrum said when she’s training her hunting dog she doesn’t use treats as a reward. “I only use praise and the reward of getting that bumper or that bird to bring back to me,” she said.

Working with a dog’s instincts

“Some breeds are easier to train than others,” Nordrum said. “Retrievers excel at retrieving and are used mostly for waterfowl, but can also do a good job for upland hunting. Labrador retrievers also point by putting their nose down when they spot a pheasant holed up in some brush.” Dogs are trained to quarter, which means moving back and forth across the field looking for scent. “When they come upon the scent of the bird, they stop and kind of put their nose in a downward position and typically their tail goes

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 7

the actual bird brought to you.” With the puppy on a long line and a bird planted in the field, one of the people tells the dog to “hunt it up.” “You can train your dog to quarter by having two people out in the field to help you, one on each side,” she said. “You’ll walk along handling the puppy and your partners are walking 30 feet on either side of you. They’re using bumpers and calling ‘pup pup’ swinging the bumpers to encourage the dog to come to them. As soon as the dog comes to them they will blow the whistle PHOTO COURTESY OF SHIRLEY NORDRUM ‘toot toot’ and the person RIO retrieves a duck during a training day. on the other side calls ‘pup pup’ and swings up,” she explained. possibility of hurting or dogs next year so they the bumper, encouraging the puppy to go the can dig in that.” “Sometimes the real killing your dog.” other way. The puppy is pointing breeds will lift She said it’s important learning that two toots their front paw. They’re to understand a dog’s Bumpers to birds Nordrum uses a on the whistle means you telling you there’s a bird instincts and not punish want them to move to somewhere close by.” them for following them. bumper to train hunting dogs. “Bumpers come the other side about 30 Nordrum said while “Dogs dig,” she said. this behavior is instinc- “We don’t get after our in different sizes,” she feet. If my dog goes farsaid. “Some are made ther I’ll have the person tual in some dogs, it can dogs when they dig, of canvass and others on the other side do two also be trained. because that’s good for are shaped like pigeons, toots to bring him back.” “You’d be using real their muscles and the wood ducks, mallards The reward for the birds to bring that out,” holes they make keep or geese. I like the ones dog is getting to run and she said. Other dogs come with them cool. It’s important that are shaped like a retrieve the bumper that different gifts. “Spring- to let dogs be who they bird, because it teaches is thrown. “That’s what er Spaniels are flush- are. We’re going to build the dog to bring it to you they love,” she said. “It’s ers,” she said. “They’re a big sandbox for our the way you would want a great joy for them.” going to go through the field quartering back and forth and flush the birds up so you can shoot them. Then you have your pointers and your setters. They’re going to be looking for the bird, and when they detect that scent they’re going to hold still and wait for you to come and shoot it. “You can train any breed to flush the bird up so you can shoot it. I’m not training my dogs that way. I’m training them to stay steady so I can flush up that bird and shoot. I don’t want to risk my dog breaking and ever being in the line of a shot. If you don’t have a steady dog, Mark Schik Jason Funk Sam Coborn that’s very dangerous. When you’re waterfowl hunting, you want your dog at your side and in a sit. If they start inching forward, we call that creeping and that’s unacceptable. That dog is thinking about breaking, and if he does, there’s a


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H eartl and L akes H unter 

8 Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Placing an animal, like this gray fox, on a natural setting is a way to preserve the memory of the hunt. The art of taxidermy involves using paint and other materials to give the animal a lifelike appearance.

Some hunters want a shoulder mount like this elk to hang on the wall. Mounts like this are also popular with those who don't hunt but want an "up north" look for their cabin.

Park Rapids Enterprise

During his 40 years in business, Pilgrim Taxidermy has done work for customers from hunts near and far. This African gemsbok is one of the more exotic animals owner Ted Pilgrim has worked with.



has been preserving memories for 40 years from Bemidji State University, but when he couldn’t find a position Whether it is a bear- in this area working in skin rug or a full-sized natural resources, he deer, taxidermists are decided to follow a trade preserving more than he learned at a young the animals they spend age. “One of my high hours working on. They are preserving memo- school teachers was a hobby taxidermist and ries. Ted Pilgrim, who grew he taught me taxidermy up in Verndale, has been when I was in seventh or practicing the art and eighth grade,” he said. science of taxidermy for “When I first started, it 40 years in his shop four was a learn-as-you-go miles south of Park Rap- process and throw the mistakes in the garids. Polar bears and Kodiak bage and start over with bears are the two big- another one. Pilgrim said he went to gest animals he has prea lot of seminars where served. “I’ve worked on ani- he learned techniques mals from Canada, Alas- from other taxidermists. ka and Russia over the “There are many good years,” he said. “Most of taxidermists who never my customers live within went to college or trade a 50-mile radius of Park school,” he said. “They Rapids, but I have done just have a natural artiswork for people from tic ability.” The artistry of tapesall parts of the country, especially when I was try is expressed in recdoing fish. Back in the reating how the animal days when there were a looked in the wild. “I try lot of resorts in the area, to make it look alive,” he new guests would come said. “There are a lot of up every week. In the tools that help me along 1980s and 1990s, when that path. fishing was a big part of the resort industry, I Preparing animals “The big key is the gained customers from all over the country, skinning of the animal,” and a lot of my business Pilgrim said. “It has to be done in a particular comes from referrals.” way to get a good quality mount. Just taking that Learning by doing Pilgrim has been hunt- hide off the carcass, if ing since he was 10. His it’s done improperly, can love of nature led him to make it really difficult to pursue a biology degree make a good mount. The By Lorie Skarpness lskarpness@parkrapidsenterprise.com

skinning process is the key to the finished product no matter what animal the hunter’s dealing with.” He said hunters should consult their taxidermist before going out in the field. “You can’t rely on YouTube videos,” he said. “Some of the information on YouTube is good, but some is totally wrong. For example, back when I started, it was common for taxidermists to tell people to wrap their fish in a wet towel and then put it in a plastic bag and freeze it. Turns out that wrapping a fish in a wet towel destroys the color. It’s one of the worst things you can do. But if you went on YouTube right now and Googled how to take care of a fish for taxidermy purposes, you’ll get all kinds of results that say to wrap that fish in a wet towel. That information is 40 years old, but it just keeps repeating itself.” Pilgrim said he is no longer taking in fish and birds. “I’m trying to semi-retire, so I’m just doing big game from here on out,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of work piled up in my freezers, both personal and family animals I want to try and get done one day. I am so busy with work for my customers, so I keep putting those off.” Those heading to

Giving animals a life-like appearance and habitat is part of the artistry of taxidermy, as Pilgrim demonstrated with this bobcat mount. western states need to skin their animal before returning to Minnesota. “Because of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) regulations, they can no longer bring the carcass into Minnesota,” he said. “Having knowledge of how to take a cape off an animal or skin the animal completely is very necessary for a western hunt. People going out of state need to preplan if they want to have their animal preserved through taxidermy.”

life-sized mounts. But my customers run the whole gamut. Some want a shoulder mount of a bear or a bear rug. I do quite a few where I just tan the hides for people to hang on their wall.” Changes in the tanning industry have led to mounts that look better and last longer. “One of the biggest changes in the past 40 years has been with the tanning process,” he said. “Years ago, the hides tanned using acid and a lot of salt tended to break Taxidermy process down over time. Now a Hides are stored in a lot of the tanning is synfreezer until he is ready thetic or a combination to work on them. “That of synthetic and organic, way they stay fresh,” and that makes the hides he said. “There is about more subtle and worka two-year wait from able. Now hides can hang when hides come in until on the wall for 30 years the project is completed. and not deteriorate.” I take that tanned skin Pilgrim gets his hides and order a form, then from a commercial tanbring that animal back to nery. “Back in the 1980s a lifelike-looking state. when I first started, I Two or three large bears mostly used tanneries in I’ve worked on have been California and Oregon,”

he said. “The process has improved so much that now I use a tannery right here in Minnesota. Other taxidermists do their own tanning.” Forms of animals called mannequins are used for life-sized models. “That’s the starting point,” he said. “The paints taxidermists use now are a thousand times better than when I started. We used automotive paint back then and tried to adapt it for taxidermy purposes, and it just didn’t work. In the interim, companies have developed paints specifically for taxidermy use. They adhere to protein, to skin. “That’s part of the process of developing a good taxidermy business, having good materials to work with. None of us are an island. We all use outside resources. The epoxies that we use to rebuild structures


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Park Rapids Enterprise

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 9


are just phenomenal now compared to what they were in the 80s. The quality of mounts that are being produced today couldn’t have been produced in the 70s.” On big game mounts, all membranes on the face that don’t have hair need to be painted. “The membranes around the ears, inside the nose and the nose itself,” he said. “If it’s an open mouth mount, the skin inside the mouth. On birds, the bills and feet need to be painted, and on fish the entire fish has to be repainted. Having a paint that’s made to stick to protein or leather works so much better.” Glass eyes have also become more life-like. “Looking back at the eyes that were available in the 1970s and 80s, they were terrible,” he said. “The new-age eyes that we can buy today have such great detail. It’s an incredible improvement.” Habitat is another big part of taxidermy. “In the 70s and 80s, we were just seeing the start of not just putting a mount on the wall but having some sort of a habitat base,” he said. “In those days, it was all real stuff, dried grass and moss. Those things deteriorated over time. Now artificial plants are made out of plastic but absolutely look real and are a big part of the display.”

Ted Pilgrim's love of hunting led him to a career in taxidermy. He has been in the business for 40 years and gets away for his own hunts when he can find the time. He got this elk in Montana.

of excitement with them when they come in the door after a hunt,” Pilgrim said. “I hear some absolutely phenomenal stories. A big part of my enjoyment during 40 years of doing this is meeting new customers and visiting with old customers. I’ve developed friendships with them. We all share a common ground. We love to be outdoors, to hunt and fish and all of these outdoor activities.” Pilgrim said while a mount might not look exactly like it did when the hunter was in the field, what taxidermy customers are looking for is for something tangible connected to the Preserving memories hunting experience. “Customers who come “They look at that years in bring a certain level from now and remem-

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ber what the hunt was all about,” he said. “The memories are in a person’s head and the taxidermy work is just a way to keep the memory alive. People do the same thing with a photograph.” Other times all the customer wants is a deer head on the wall or a bear rug on the floor. “Especially in this area, owners who may not hunt want something to give their cabin or lake home a rustic northwoods look,” he said. Pilgrim said it takes more time to do a lifelike mount than a shoulder or head mount. “It’s not the time per mount that keeps most taxidermists busy, but the amount of volume that is in our possession,” he said. “Just as

an example, the firearms deer season runs nine days in Minnesota. Most of us will take in six months of work or more in that nine-day period.” Right now he estimates there are 300 mounts waiting to be done in his nine freezers, not counting his own kills and those of family members. “As of Jan. 1, I had a two-year backlog,” he said. “That backlog is wearing me down. I’m trying to catch up. The only way for me to whittle that backlog down was to hire help, which I don’t want to do, or quit taking in a certain volume of work. That’s why I no longer take in fish or birds. I’ve done a lot of fish over the years. The biggest that I recall was a 56-inch muskie.”

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be even worse. My wife Kathy is a big part of my business. Over the years she’s been my best critic and has helped me develop my technique. And she takes care of the business when I go hunting.”

When he can get away, Pilgrim enjoys hunting deer, elk and antelope. “I have to be selective in the time I take off,” he said. “If I tried to do everything outdoors that I enjoy, my backlog would

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Improvements in the tanning process over the past 40 years help assure that mounts like this mountain goat will retain their lifelike appearance for 30 years or longer without deterioration of the hide.

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10 Wednesday, November 4, 2020

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Park Rapids Enterprise

Lost in the Lochsa mountains By John Zentz TALES OF THE NORTH

Small, yet heavy tungsten ice fishing jigs, like this Clam Pro Tackle Drop Jig, can plunge through slush and weeds to reach active fish quickly. JASON DURHAM/FOR THE ENTERPRISE

Fish fast with tungsten jigs By Jason Durham For the Enterprise Over the past few years, the popularity of tungsten ice fishing jigs has increased dramatically. Some anglers have yet to discover tungsten or the positive attributes associated with it, which is odd since the dense metal, also known as wolfram, was discovered in the late 1700s. Tungsten is the same element you’ve heard about that inhabits the interior of conventional light bulbs. The reason it works so well for lighting is that it has a high melting point. In fact, tungsten has the highest melting point of all pure metals, at a temperature of 6,192 degrees. Lead, which is the material used to create a majority of ice fishing jigs and spoons, has a melting point of 621.5 degrees. In contrast to

the late discovery of tungsten, lead was found in 7,000 B.C. The relatively young material is only available in select areas around the world. China is the major supplier of tungsten, with countries such as Russia and Canada as secondary resources. So why is tungsten a worthy material to use for fishing jigs? First, tungsten has a density that is 1.7 times greater than lead. That creates a jig that is smaller in size and profile compared to a lead based jig, but with a comparable weight. In other words, envision your favorite 1/16-ounce jig head that weighs the same, but is much smaller in appearance. In the ice fishing world, that compact appearance often equates to more strikes. Tungsten jigs have a few additional advantages. When “ice trolling,” meaning rapidly moving

from hole to hole, cleaning out the icy slush takes time. Many anglers rarely carry an ice scoop and instead use the float from their Vexilar Ice-ducer to clear a small channel in the slush and drop the tungsten jig down. The heavy-headed design plummets through slushy holes. Additionally, tungsten jigs drop down to the active schools of fish quickly. If you’ve ever fished on the ice, you’ve experienced times when you catch a big one and can see more nice fish on your Vexilar screen. With a super-light ice jig, the wait is nearly unbearable and sometimes the school departs. Unhooking the fish and re-baiting takes time, which is why many anglers pair a plastic tail with the fast-fishing tungsten jig. Not to mention, when the pesky smaller fish sit above the

bigger fish, the unique jig promptly descends beyond the small fish to reach the big ones. Tungsten jigs can also dive through weeds and brush, beyond inhibiting structure where the big fish often exist. There are a few downsides to tungsten jigs, including cost. You’ll notice a slightly higher price tag at the checkout counter, primarily due to the availability of the element in conjunction with the added difficulty in manufacturing since it possesses such a high melting point. Yet don’t let the negative aspects dissuade you from trying out the micro-sized, heavy-headed tungsten jigs this season. You may just find yourself a “comfortable element.” Originally from Nevis, Jason Durham operates Go Fish! Guide Service.

When I was about 16 or 17 years old, I was hunting elk with my father. The mountain area we were hunting in was called the Lochsa, in Idaho state. This is a very remote area – 200 miles of nothing but mountains. Come morning, we took off to hunt. My dad and my brothers went up the mountain one way. I went the other, down a canyon and up a mountain. I had been walking for two or three hours, but had not heard or seen anything. Well, that’s not totally true. I had seen about 10 deer, one big buck, but no elk. I suddenly realized I didn’t know where I was. I was lost. I set down on a log to think. There was a fog moving in – that’s all I needed, another problem, just to make things worse. I thought, “I don’t know which way to go, but in the fog I wouldn’t know anyway.” I took a big breath and I said to myself, “Pull yourself together.” I had one comforting thought: my dad had taught us well. Now it was up to me to remember and put it all to work. The first thing I better do is get ready. I was going to be here all night. I turned and there was a big cedar tree with low hang limbs, perfect to stay dry. I began gathering bows for a bed and wood for a fire. I scraped all the needles in a round area, then put rocks around the circle for a fire pit. That was one of the worst nights I have ever had. I was young and scared to death.


Somehow I got through it. The next morning, I remembered what my dad had taught us. He told us many times to follow the water if you are lost. Creeks run down to big creeks. Big creeks go down to rivers, and towns are built on rivers. That’s what I did. I followed a small creek two or three hours. About noon, I ran into a mountain road. I was walking down the road when I saw a jeep coming. I don’t think I have ever seen anything as good as that jeep. He stopped. I told him I was lost and where we were camped. Luckily, he knew where it was and took me there. I thanked him again and walked into camp. As I walked in, my dad looked up and calmly said, “Hi, you made it.” “I was lost. You don’t look like you were worried.” He smiled. “I wasn’t. You boys listen when I tell you things. I knew you would find your way back.: He walked over and hugged me. I knew I was home and safe. A storyteller, John Zentz, 87, will share a blend of fact and fiction in his bimonthly column. Some tales he’s lived through, some he’s been told. Zentz and his family are longtime Hubbard County residents. He has a picture of his grandmother and grandfather, seven times removed, sitting on a porch in Park Rapids.

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Park Rapids Enterprise

H eartl and L akes H unter 

Roasted duck stuffed with wild rice and apples and served with a side of roasted vegetables is the reward of a successful hunt. ADOBE STOCK

Bring a taste

Wednesday, November 4, 2020 11


of the wild to the table

By Lorie Skarpness lskarpness@ parkrapidsenterprise.com

ing. Roast at 350 degrees until the duck is brown and tender. Serve with An old cookbook in my cooked cranberries. collection “North CounSmall Game Goulash try Cooking” has a sec1 rabbit or grouse tion of recipes for pre2 cups flour paring a variety of game 1 Tbsp. Lawry’s in flavorful ways in its seasoning salt native foods section. 1 Tbsp. black pepper Recipes in the cookbook 1 tsp. onion salt came from members of 3-4 shakes garlic the Itasca West Recrepowder ational Area. 3 Tbsp. margarine 1-2 cans cream of Barbecue Duck mushroom soup 1/2 pound butter Cut meat into small or margarine chunks and roll in 1/2 cup ketchup flour seasoned with 1 Tbsp. sugar salt, pepper and garlic 1-1/2 Tbsp. powder. Brown meat in Worcestershire sauce margarine in a frying Pepper to taste pan. Transfer browned 1 tsp. salt meat cubes to a larger 1 clove garlic, pressed pan. Add 1 to 2 cans 1 small onion, chopped cream of mushroom 1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce soup depending on the 1/4 to 1 duck breast amount of meat. Warm per person depending and stir together, about on size of duck 10 minutes. Although Split a whole duck in this recipe tastes parhalf and flatten with ticularly fantastic the side of a cleaver. with rabbit or pheasCombine sauce ingredi- ant, it also takes good ents in a saucepan and with squirrel, venison, simmer covered for 5 grouse, duck or even minutes. Bake duck in a chicken or beef. flat pan at 375 degrees for about 1 hour, bastBraised grouse ing with sauce every 1 or 2 birds 10 minutes. Turn and 1/4 tsp. salt cook duck on the other 1/4 cup chopped celery side the same length of 1 Tbsp. chopped onion time and continue bast1/4 cup butter ing every 10 minutes 1 cup water or soup until done. stock 1/2 Tbsp. flour Wild Rice 1 cup sour cream and Wild Duck 1 cup mushrooms Roast the prepared Clean, wash and dry duck, salted on inside birds. Remove skin. Cut and outside. Stuff duck in pieces. Saute in butter with wild rice that has until brown. Add 1 jigger been rinsed in water. brandy. Remove from Pare and core apples pan and saute celery, and place into the cavity. onions and mushrooms. Apples and rice will cook Add flour. Stir well and in the duck while roast- add stock. Replace birds

Venison Pepper Steak 1 lb. venison, cut in strips 1 green pepper, thinly sliced 28-oz. can stewed tomatoes Deer Steak 1 bunch table onions, and Noodles chopped 2 lbs. venison steak 1 clove chopped garlic 2 Tbsp. butter 1 small can 2 Tbsp. bacon fat mushrooms 1 medium onion 2 Tbsp. soy sauce 1 tsp. salt Saute meat and gar1/4 tsp. pepper lic in butter until brown. 2 tsp. paprika Add remaining ingre1/3 cup sour cream dients and simmer for 1/2 cup butter about 2 hours. Serve over mushrooms Melt butter and rice. Serves 4. bacon fat in a skillet. Italian Venison Add chopped onion Sandwiches and brown lightly. Cut 6-lb. venison roast steak into 1-inch thick 3 large onions bite-sized pieces. Add 1 tsp. salt to skillet and brown Place meat in a roaster quickly. Transfer steak and onions to a baking half filled with water, add dish and in the skillet salt and onions and cover. liquid blend the flour, Roast in a 500-degree salt, pepper and papri- oven for about 30 minka. Brown lightly. Add utes. Then reduce heat to sour cream, stirring 325 degrees and continuntil thick. Add mush- ue roasting until tender, rooms and pour this approximately 3 hours. mixture over the steak. When done, remove Cover and bake at 300 from oven and let stand degrees until tender, overnight. The next day, 45 minutes to 1 hour. remove fat and slice Spoon over hot cooked meat very thin. Strain the liquid. noodles. Add: 1/2 tsp. garlic salt Venison Pot Roast 1/2 tsp. oregano Sear venison roast 1/4 tsp. basil over high flame with a 1/2 tsp. Italian little butter or oil until seasoning browned. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt minced garlic or gar1 tsp. Accent seasoning lic powder. Add 1 cup 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped celery sliced with leaves and 1/2-cup Bring all ingredients chopped onion. Cover tightly and roast in a to boiling point. Place slow 300- to 325-degree sliced meat and liquid in oven until done. Car- flat pan and cook at 350 rots and potatoes can be degrees for 30 minutes. added towards the end May be stirred a couple of times while cooking to if desired. Extra venison recipes combine well. Serve on to use for filler if needed hoagie bread. and simmer covered for 1 hour or until tender. Blend in sour cream and simmer slowly for a few minutes before serving.

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H eartl and L akes H unter 

12 Wednesday, November 4, 2020



UP NORTH PRIVATE CABIN ~ Your dream hunting/private get away with access to the Paul Bunyan State Forest. Year round log cabin with infloor heat, situated on the east side of Mudd Lake with 1624’ of lake frontage. $259,000 (5666866)


26.5 ACRE HOME W/ COMMERCIAL BUILDING ~ This excellent 5 bedroom, 2 bath country home is set on a wonderful 26.5 acres of mixed pines and hardwoods. Located just a few miles west of Menahga on Hwy. 87, this property has many potential uses. Formerly a commercial mechanical shop on the property, this would also be an outstanding hobby farm with an extra garage, a large 40’ x 80’ finished and heated shop, outdoor wood boiler and so much more! $289,900 (5577960)


HOME WITH 122 ACRES CLOSE TO PARK RAPIDS ~ A rare find! 122 heavily wooded acres with a home and a 30’ x 36’ pole building. As you drive into the wooded drive you will appreciate the privacy and the idyllic setting. The driveway opens up to a large area where the home and the pole building are located. The home was built to truly take in the wonderful views of the scenic pond, the gazebo and the woods beyond. The home features large living spaces, two kitchens, 2 bathrooms, and a large deck. It could be used year round or as a seasonal get away that is perfect for entertaining family and friends. The property is perfect for hunting with mowed trails throughout and several ponds for wildlife. $275,000 (5619794)

4 BEDROOM COUNTRY HOME ON 10 ACRES IN ROCHERT ~ Beautiful 4 bedroom, 3 bath country home set on 10 acres in Holmesville Township. This property is located close to Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge and Rock Lake, Rice Lake, and Cotton Lake. You can enjoy the peace and quiet this property has to offer and the abundance of wildlife. $275,900 (5646356)

Park Rapids Enterprise

NEVIS COUNTRY HOME ~ Exceptional 3+ bedroom, 4 bath home on 5 private wooded acres. The highest quality craftsmanship is shown throughout this beautiful home. The former owner was a cabinet maker so the home features custom cabinetry in each room which includes Cherry, Black Walnut and Birch. It also features a gourmet kitchen with an open great room leading to an expansive deck for entertaining. This home is handicap accessible and has infloor heat throughout the home and the attached garage. Also included is a 5,000 sq. ft. heated shop with a 1/2 bath and plenty of room for your hobbies. $439,900 (5675070)

LUXURY COUNTRY HOME WITH 38 ACRES NEAR SEBEKA ~ Luxury country home with ultimate quality and privacy! Over 6,000 sq. ft. of living space in this 4+ bedroom, 3.5 bath home. Perfect property for the sportsman in a wildlife rich, wooded setting. Also perfect for the family with lots of toys or hobbies. Several large outbuildings including a custom built log guest home/sauna, 3 large red barns, storage sheds and much more. Must be seen in person to fully appreciate this once-in-alifetime property! $539,900 (5610351)

4.97 ACRES ON SUNDAY LAKE ~ Enjoy nearly 5 acres on peaceful Sunday Lake. Paved roads all the way from Park Rapids. There are a variety of trees on this property and has great privacy for building or just gathering at the lake. $65,000 (5579465)

25 ACRES ON PICKEREL LAKE ~ Enjoy 25 plus acres and over 1600 feet of shoreline on Pickerel Lake. The rolling hills and variety of trees make the perfect setting for enjoying nature, building a home or you can divide into lots. Many different views of the lake. Don’t miss this opportunity to have privacy and to go fishing! $284,500 (5624994)

covenants. 5 acre lot that would be great for building and/or recreational use. You could park an RV on yearround. On a publicly maintained road with medium tree cover, private with slightly sloped rolling elevation and level spots. No low land and good drainage. Enjoy all the recreational activities that Park Rapids Lakes area has to offer. Close to trails for snowmobiling & ATV’s, great fishing lakes, Itasca State Park & Headwaters of the Mississippi, bike trails, and numerous other entertaining activities. $34,900 (5672984)

9.62 ACRE LOT ~ 9.62 beautiful acres for your enjoyment. Beautiful tree cover in the heart of the Hubbard Prairie. Set in between the south end of Long Lake and the Crow Wing Lakes this is the perfect jumping off point for the outdoor enthusiast. Within 10 minutes of many fantastic fishing and recreational lakes, 1,000’s of miles of ATV/UTV/Snowmobile trails, and many camping and hunting opportunities. $39,500 (5631377)

ACREAGES BUILDING LOT NEAR 6th CROW WING ~ Perfect place to build your home or camp until that time! Beautiful, heavily wooded lot located between Park Rapids & Nevis, close to 6th Crow Wing & Lake Belle Taine, Heartland Trail, & great restaurants! $41,000 (4999344) 18.5 BEAUTIFUL ACRES NEAR KABEKONA NEAR BEMIDJI ~ Great building site with approximately 1026’ of frontage on Highway 71 just 5 miles South of Bemidji and 5 miles North of Kabekona corner. There is about 5 acres of high ground towards the front of the property on Highway 71 and the balance of the land on the east side is lower. Bungashing Creek is on the far Southeast corner of the land. $29,900 (5672865)

LOT BY EMMAVILLE ~ No restrictive

13.69 ACRE LOT ~ 13.69 beautiful acres for your enjoyment. Beautiful tree cover in the heart of the Hubbard Prairie. Set in between the south end of Long Lake and the Crow Wing Lakes this is the perfect jumping off point for the outdoor enthusiast. Within 10 minutes of many fantastic fishing and recreational lakes, 1,000’s of miles of ATV/UTV/Snowmobile trails, and many camping and hunting opportunities. $42,500 (5631334)

Call our office & speak to one of our full time Realtors for a successful real estate purchase or sale!

20 ACRES NORTH OF WALKER ~ Prime location and excellent hunting with this awesome 20 acre parcel of land! Just 10 miles North of Walker, close to 1,000’s of acres of state land and many lakes, golf courses, and easy access from Hwy 371! $49,900 (5674986)

80 ACRES IN SEBEKA ~ 80 acres, mix of pasture, woods and lowland, with the Cat River flowing through it. In an excellent area for Whitetail Deer, Turkey and Bear. $94,900 (5255260)

40 ACRES WITH SMALL LAKE ~ 40 acres on an unnamed lake, with a great spot for building a cabin overlooking the lake. Located just south of Itasca State Park with easy access from US Highway 71. It is located in a great area for hunting or just enjoying the north woods. $99,900 (5472448)

MENAHGA CABIN ON 40 ACRES ~ 40 acres near Menahga. Property has a mix of trees and also a couple nice clearings. The cabin is 24x20 and has 2 bedrooms, living area, kitchen and room for an indoor bathroom. There is a sauna and storage shed also on the property. All buildings have electricity and there is a well serving the property. $112,400 (5672027)

57 ACRES NEAR ITASCA STATE PARK ~ 57 acres of rolling hills and nice hardwoods, easy access, just off highway. Just 1 mile to the east entrance of Itasca State Park.

Nice rolling terrain, with Aspen and Spruce recently harvested giving a park like feel. A great mix of high ground with some low to the East. Deer, turkey, roughed grouse, and bear hunting opportunities. 1000’s of acres of county and state land at your back door. With miles and miles of snowmobile and ATV and walking trails at your disposal in the nearby forest land. Hiking, biking opportunities in Itasca State Park. Not to mention close proximity to some of the area’s finest lakes. Fiber optic and electric run down Moose Dr. An outdoor enthusiast’s dream property. Don’t miss out on this one! $119,700 (5578261)

80 ACRES NEAR ITASCA PARK ~ 80 acres with rolling hills and nice hardwoods, easy access, just 1/4 mile off highway. Just 1 mile to the east entrance of Itasca State Park. Nice rolling terrain, with Aspen and Spruce recently harvested giving a park like feel. A great mix of high ground with some low and pond. Deer, turkey, roughed grouse, and bear hunting opportunities. 1000’s of acres of county and state land at your back door. With miles and miles of snowmobile and ATV and walking trails at your disposal in the nearby forest land. Hiking, biking opportunities in Itasca Park. Not to mention close proximity to some of the area’s finest lakes. Fiber optic and electric run down Moose Dr. An outdoor enthusiasts dream property. Don’t miss out on this one! $168,000 (5578215)

400 ACRES – FARMSTEAD ~ 400 acres and an old farmstead. Nice mix of tillable, pasture, wooded and low land. Was used as a sheep farm when it was operational. A picturesque setting with loads of possibility. Located in an area known for incredible white tail deer hunting. A low pressure area with tons of elbow room. Surrounded by large, private, agricultural and wooded tracts. This property has what it takes to produce trophy white tail. With proper management it could be brought to the next level. Would also be well suited to a livestock operation. Old farm house, has water damage from frozen pipes,. New sewer system in 2016, and has a drilled well. 104’x54’ livestock barn. 64’x30’ steel building with dirt floor, used for livestock and hay. 24’x28’ double garage. Large tracts like this are harder and harder to find, don’t let this opportunity pass you by! $499,900 (5666342)

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Heartland Lakes Hunter 2020  

Heartland Lakes Hunter 2020