During my 21 years as Wagner's 7-12 school principal (1976-1997), truancy was my greatest challenge. When all efforts failed, I signed an official complaint. The child, guardian and I ultimately wound up in front of Judge Paul Kern in the Lake Andes courthouse. A stern lecture and threat of a healthy fine got the job done. When Judge Kern spoke, those kids listened. Paul Kern hunted pheasants before I thought about coming to South Dakota. The judge recently
Baseball, apple pie, the Mitchell Gun Show — as American as it gets! Rob Moore and his staff did a great job putting the show together, and Betsy and I had a fine time visiting with column readers and old friends. And yes, the 4-H concession team should open a soup kitchen — the food was that good!
On Thursday morning, Oct. 19, I received a phone call from a man who said he called me because I seemed to have a sense of what's going on with our pheasants. After mentioning that he had a degree in wildlife management, he said he realized that habitat was of paramount importance, but that something more was going on out there.
Back in the early nineties, my father made me a great proposition. He offered to take me on a fishing trip anywhere I wanted to go. He left it to me to work out all the details. My mind raced with possibilities. Dad was in his eighties, and I had to consider his comfort. He, like me, was vulnerable to seasickness. I ruled out the ocean, and I had second thoughts about tropical jungles.
When Betsy and I have embarked on adventures in the past, friends have asked, "How can you go to Africa? What if the plane crashes? What about terrorists? Aren't you afraid?" One of the great things about growing older is enjoying books you read 20 years ago. It's like you never read them before. Last night, I was rereading Last Horizons by Peter Hathaway Capstick. Peter was in the act of culling a herd of elephants that had brutally killed a fellow control officer friend and one of his tracker/gun bearers. I had forgotten all about this.
In the fall of 1960, two years of ROTC were required of all male students at what was then South Dakota State College. In one of my first ROTC classes, joining the rifle team was encouraged. I checked it out. There was a range in the armory basement, we had access to superb Model 52 Winchesters, and we could shoot any time we wanted. The best part? The ammo was free.
Something I read, and something I saw on television, really touched me this past week. "Two Degrees Centigrade," the global warming program on the History Channel, led to my losing some sleep the night I watched it. According to the program, we are doomed unless our technology solves the problem of warmer surface waters on our gulfs and oceans. My grandchildren could live to see the collapse. I'm not a doom and gloom guy, and I believe we'll solve the problem, although it will get worse before it gets better.
One of the key outdoors issues in Washington D.C., — lead — pales in comparison to immigration, North Korea, jobs and health care, but it is important to hunters and fishermen.
Remember the weather on Labor Day Monday? Temperatures reached 90 by midafternoon. Tuesday morning was flat out cold by comparison. Prior to that cold Tuesday morning, I had invited a pair of Mitchell buddies and their boat to fish that day with me for catfish beneath the dam at Pickstown. On the way to the river I talked of catching 30 cats and predicted the taking of some that would go 8 pounds or more. In the back of my mind, I thought about cold fronts and what they do to fishing. We had a fine time, but in spite of solunar table predictions, we caught nary a fish.
As usual, Betsy was messing with her iPhone when she broke the silence: "I have a question for you. What's the most dangerous thing a hunter on foreign soil faces?" Fortunately for me, I had just read a gripping article in my latest hunting magazine. "I'll take a wild guess and say it has to do with a pulmonary embolism that resulted from cramped leg room on the trip over." I think I amazed Betsy with my correct answer. The story I had read went like this ...