• Duck Fest in Gackle, North Dakota

    October 22, 2018 Comments (0) waterfowl hunting

    Sometime in the late 1990s, Jay and Gary Haut of Jamestown, N.D., went to a team goose shoot in Bottineau, just south of the Canadian border. Unfortunately, geese hadn’t yet started to migrate. The hunt was a bust. But the idea got the brothers thinking. Their family roots were in Gackle, 200 miles south, known

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  • About that Turkey

    June 13, 2018 Comments (0) turkey

    A couple months ago, I penned a story for the Star Tribune about my lack of success at hunting wild turkey, and about Aidan’s amazing success cough, luck, cough. Here’s a clip: For years, I didn’t see the allure of turkey hunting — or, to be honest, of any dogless hunting. If I couldn’t have …

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  • The Odyssey of a Loon Egg

    June 8, 2018 Comments (0) habitat, nongame wildlife

    My latest report in the Star Tribune is the saga of an unhatched loon egg from our lake last summer. (The photos, of course, are from Courtney.) Here’s how it begins: As they’ve done every year since 2003, Bob and Carole Otto approached a spring day in 2017 with the same mission. A couple of …

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  • From Forest to Fare

    November 28, 2017 Comments (2) turkey

      It’s quite a story about how this kid ended up serving a smoked wild turkey that he’d shot to the family on Thanksgiving last week. In October, I was in Vermont, visiting colleges with his older brother. We were sitting in a hotel room when my phone rang. I answered and heard Aidan, 13, …

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  • My First Deer

    November 19, 2017 Comments (0) deer

    I’ve always been a bird hunter—waterfowl and upland have been my preference, and that’s because of the dog. If I can’t take my dog, my desire to hunt decreases significantly. In the last few years, I’ve hunted for turkeys in the Spring—both halfheartedly and unsuccessfully—only because

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  • Back to Gackle

    October 18, 2017 Comments (0) waterfowl hunting

    I’ve got a thing for small towns. Growing up, it was Gaylord, Minnesota. That’s where my dad grew up, and I’d regularly visit my grandparents there. The siren went off at noon every day. On Saturday, my grandpa mowed the church lawn, and my grandma put cut flowers on the altar. These days, I frequent

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  • Do Drink the Water

    October 10, 2017 Comments (1) canoeing

    There comes a moment when you’re with a group in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. You’re canoeing in your first or second lake, and you’re with a first-timer. They give you that look of, “Okay, if you say so, but if I have fluids coming out of both ends in an hour I’m going

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  • The Merits of Joining

    June 30, 2017 Comments (0) grouse, habitat

    When I was a young hunter, I had neither the funds nor the interest in joining conservation groups. It seemed like a bunch of old guys in those groups, and I really didn’t see the benefit. But then, about ten years ago, my brother, Andrew, gave me a gift membership to Ducks Unlimited. That started …

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  • Turning a Bass Master into a Fly Fishing Ninja

    June 12, 2017 Comments (1) fishing

    My dear childhood friend, Amy Randall Hazel, taught my youngest to fly fish last week, and she’s written about it on her weekly fishing report: The weather forecast for yesterday was even worse than the day before, and I had a guide trip on the Deschutes with a long-time family friend from Minnesota and his

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  • Tree by Tree, Restoring a Forest

    June 2, 2017 Comments (3) Uncategorized

    My grandfather, Bower Hawthorne, was a longtime newspaperman, known more for chain-smoking and three-Martini lunches at the Little Wagon and the Oak Room in the Twin Cities than for a love of the outdoors. But in 1964, acting on a tip from Brainerd mayor Tom O’Brien, he bought 164 acres in Crow Wing County. He

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