Ever since 1989, I have written my annual year-in-review column, which basically lets me stay home for the holidays. This year, I will write about some of the top outdoor experiences I had with my 16-year-old daughter Selina Walters.
Space is always an issue when writing, so I will jump all the way to hunting turkeys in April. Selina had harvested five toms coming into this year’s hunt. The last three years, her week to hunt has also been her prom week, and though she is always exhausted, she hunts hard.
The first four days of the season, we did not see a bird. On Sunday, after a full night of prom events, I decided to let her sleep in, and we did not hit the woods until noon. A half hour after getting into our blind in an oak forest, tom No. 6 came within range, and Selina did not miss.
Every year for the last 17, I have gone to Birch Point Resort on Marsh Miller Flowage near Bloomer on a bluegill fishing trip. I love both the resort and the flowage, and so have all four kids I’ve helped raise. These days, Selina is my partner on this trip, as she has been for the last 15 years, and she generally brings a friend. We are very good at catching sumo bluegill and perhaps the neatest part of this adventure is that Selina has become very good friends with Reese Frase and Brett Kostka.
Reese and Brett are Selina’s age and live in the Osseo area. Reese’s family has a permanent campsite at Birch Point. Reese and Brett fish with us, hang out in the cabin and are a lot of fun.
Shultz Lake in Canada is a place where if you cannot have fun, you are not fun. Selina has been my fishing partner on this annual trip for a long time, and has been going on Canadian fly-in fishing trips since she was 6 months old.
We do this trip with family and longtime friends, and our group of eight is really into our annual longest-northern and longest-walleye bets for the week. Selina and I have become pretty good at catching big fish and last year she won the walleye contest, and I took first — much to the joy of the rest of the gang — in the gator bet.
No matter what the weather throws at us, and you see some harsh storms during seven days in the Canadian bush, Selina never seems to worry or show any sign of wanting to head back to the cabin until day becomes night.
I think one of the most real tests of a young outdoorsman or woman, is the three-month job of bear baiting and hunting. Bear baiting kicks my behind, both financially and physically, and shows what doesn’t get done on the home front.
This would be Selina’s third bear season. I passed my tag to her when she was 10. Selina also received a tag when she was 14, and did not see a bear after spending 16 nights in the stand. I knew this year I had to get the tag filled, as once she hits college, she is gone as far as bear hunting goes.
On the second night of her hunt I heard the sweet sound of her 30:06 being fired twice as I sat in a stand a good mile away. Within seconds, I got the best phone call of my life, when she told me she had got one.
Selina has heard a million stories of bear, deer, elk and moose that vanished never to be found because the shooter put a bullet into it, and even though it was still running, was confident it would die and be found.
Her first bullet went into the shoulder and the bear started running. Selina remained calm and put another bullet in the same spot. Now we have bear meat, a rug in the future and one heck of a big monkey off our backs.
At 16, Selina is a permanent fixture of the Red Brush Gang’s deer camp. She can stay up late into the night where she watches the very interesting festivities, and she can still get up in the morning. Back in 2016, she had a very bad knee injury and had to be hauled around in a deer cart. Though she will probably never run like a gazelle, her knee is healed, and she straps on her hip boots like the rest of us.
I think one of the most important parts of raising an infant to become an outdoors person is to make it fun and never force them to go. The most important thing is to teach them the simple fact, that if you do not catch a fish, drop a duck, or shoot a deer, it still was a good day!