Hunting and Gathering

GUEST BLOG: In keeping with our theme for October: Hunting and Gathering, here’s a memory from Blake Anderson, who grew up in a tiny northern Minnesota town where hunting was a major part of the autumn culture. Whether the weapon is gun or bow and the prey is deer, bear, pheasant, duck, goose, or grouse, Minnesotans remain passionate about hunting. And some families still depend on hunting for part of their winter’s meat supply.

Learning to Hunt from the Pros – by Blake Anderson

I suppose I was about twenty, and this wasn’t my first hunting experience, but it was one of the most memorable. My Uncle Shep (aka Duane Sheppard) called and asked if I wanted to hunt with him and Cork (aka Arvid Anderson).

Cork liked the area called the “Bull Moose Trail,” about 10 miles west of Backus. I had hunted there on occasion and was familiar with the location. During deer season this long trail attracts a lot of people, so the woods were concentrated pretty heavily with hunters.

The three of us rode out together, and when we arrived at the point of the hunt, we all decided to walk in different directions, agreeing to meet up for a break a few hours into the stand time. It was colder than usual for November, but having grown up in northern Minnesota, I was accustomed to brutal temperatures.

After separating—each of us to our own standing position—I heard other hunters shooting and carrying on. Soon one bullet from another hunting party whizzed literally right past my ear, so I now know what a super close shot sounds like. This might sound weird, but because it makes such a good story, I almost didn’t mind. Though I am not crazy about it ever happening again.

Standing stationary in the same spot in these temperatures began to chill me to the bone, and I was counting the minutes before Shep had told us to meet up. By the time of the pre-determined meeting, the wind was rough and conditions were rugged, even for Minnesota at that time of year. During the hike back, I fantasized about the warmth of the vehicle, hot coffee, and maybe calling it a day.

As I stumbled into the clearing, there stood Cork and Shep with the thermos of coffee on the hood of the car. Their jackets unzipped, laces of their boots loosened, both of them acted like it was 80 degrees. The engine of the car wasn’t even running.

Cork and Shep didn’t complain or act in the least bit cold, and though I couldn’t feel my feet, it was becoming clear that we were not even going to get into the vehicle to warm up. Strangely, after ten minutes of coffee outdoors, laughter, and lively conversation, I felt a little warmer. But all day I kept asking myself “What kind of grit or mettle is this? Where does this kind of fortitude come from?”

I pondered the expression, Standing among Giants. And that day I felt that I had.

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