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The Last WIndrow: It was just one big lie

I've been addicted to the outdoor life since I was old enough to understand the stories told to me by my grandfather. He loved hunting and fishing, and I was in awe of his descriptions of downing a flying goose or landing a flopping carp on the muddy banks of the Floyd River. I believe some of those stories were a bit overblown, but I was mesmerized with his tales. When I was old enough to read, my room always held outdoor magazines featuring giant moose or antlered deer on the covers.

I had favorite writers of those columns, and later, when the TV set arrived in our farmhouse, I enjoyed watching them pulling in giant muskies or shooting at pheasants over pointing dogs. One of my favorite outdoor persons of late is retiring from the TV screen. Just last week Ron Schara announced that he would no longer be doing his TV show. Bummer! I always enjoyed Ron's colorful outings into the fields and on the lakes of Minnesota and beyond. The show will go on with his daughter and his friend I understand, so all is not lost.

One of my favorite outdoor magazine stories from many years ago revolved around a deer hunt in northern Minnesota. The writer took the reader through the snow covered woods to the remote deer camp and wrote of a huge buck that he took on the trip. The story was so well-written that I could actually feel the biting cold of the north wind, hear the shot echo through the woods and see the hunter approaching a giant set of antlers lying just over a snowdrift. I actually cut out the photo of that hunter approaching the antlers and hung it in my bedroom. Every night I would dream of harvesting such a magnificent whitetail.

Many years later I was managing a fishing tackle and bait store in Minnesota when who should walk in the door but the writer of that legendary piece of literature. I won't mention his name so that I'm not drug into court.

After I found out who this guy was and who he wrote for, I sauntered on up to him and introduced myself. I mentioned to him that he had written my all-time favorite hunting story. I told him that as a kid I had actually pasted it up on my bedroom wall so that I could look at it and feel the glory of that special moment.

The writer thanked me for the compliments and said he kind of remembered that story. Then he told me the "real" story.

Seems like he and his hunting party found this broken down log cabin in the woods south of International Falls. They rented it for the hunting season from a farmer. That season had seen early snow, and when they got to the cabin they discovered the door had blown open and snow was drifted across the floor. There was only a barrel stove to heat the cabin, and the water pipes were frozen. But they were going to make the best of it and he was going to get his story.

Five days later they had not yet seen a deer. The writer had only one day left before his magazine deadline came up. He was in a panic. He hastily wrote his article about the hunt, but there was no picture to be had to go along with the column. So, things had to happen.

Above the cabin's fireplace there was a huge rack of whitetail antlers screwed to the ceiling. In an effort to save his journalistic hide, he pulled those antlers down, went out to the road near the cabin and found the dead, car-killed carcass of a doe deer he had seen on the way in. The huge rack of antlers was artistically and strategically placed in the snowdrift and my writer had a guy take a picture of him warily approaching the antlers with his rifle at the ready.

The whole article was one big lie. My balloon was punctured. I promised myself that if ever I were to write a column, I would never tell a lie. (At least not a big one!) Have a great retirement, Mr. Schara!

See you next time. Okay?

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