• 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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  • Portraits of Small Town Life

    October 29, 2015 Comments (0) Uncategorized

    When you drive into Gackle, North Dakota, there’s a hillside filled with tires painted in red, white, and blue. They spell out the town name. When I asked if mischievous high schoolers ever messed with those tires, I was told, “Oh, fer sure.” They’ve been rearranged to spell “TACKLE” “TICKLE” and more.

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  • In Search of Equilibrium

    October 13, 2015 Comments (0) Uncategorized

    It’s the time of year to which I most look forward. It’s not just the pumpkin bread (and muffins, pudding, soup, seeds, and all other versions of foods that we’ve created from our abundant pumpkin patch in the back yard). It’s mainly the hunting, which has become my singular passion over the past few years.

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  • Peace in Platte

    December 12, 2014 Comments (0) Uncategorized

    I’m back in South Dakota for a few days. It’s the last hunt of the year. My buddies and I made the front page of the paper on opening weekend. Here’s the whole front page, a nice slice of small town life: It’s been a busy fall, teaching a seminary class, launching a book line, …

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  • Will Preach for Hunt

    November 18, 2014 Comments (0) Uncategorized

    I spent last weekend in Huron, South Dakota. This is the second year in a row that I’ve hunted there and preached at Grace Episcopal Church, the result of a pleading post that I put up last year. The people there are fantastic — hospitable, warm, and friendly. I attended the “High Noon” lunch at …

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