Adam Hjelm, Contributing Writer
The other morning as I grabbed a quick cup of coffee at the local café on my way to work, I stumbled into a conversation that I normally avoid like the plague. It seemed that I had walked into a hornet's nest of a discussion on who is to blame for our poor water quality in the area lakes. The café's coffee clinkers that morning had moved on from the normal sex jokes and discussions about snowfall to the pollution blame game.
We were standing in the muddy, flowing water of a central Wisconsin river pulling up mesh traps full of wiggling, flipping, snapping bugs. Some were barely the size of my pinky, while other were the size of a dollar bill. "Shake them into your pail before they start crawling out or they start freaking out too much," my buddy yells from across the stream as he shakes a trap full of angry Rusty Crayfish into a pail between his legs.
We were out on a small lake just west of Alexandria trying our luck the last few weekends of big fish season a few years ago. The tip-up flags were flying and the northern pike were biting with enthusiasm and appetites not seen since the last Lion's Club charity pancake breakfast. It was amazing to say the least! Lots of fish over the 30-inch mark and even a few knocking on the 40-inch mark. Fish too big to really eat, but a heck of a ton of fun to catch and then throw back to catch another day.
There I was, sitting in my fish house minding my own business when the events unfolded. At first, there were only two of them. They were surprisingly quiet, mostly just walking around in circles kind of eyeing each other up like an intense suspense scene out of a John Wayne film. Before long, one by one, the crowd grew until I could no longer distinguish who was whom. They kept coming and gathering around and just like that — Boom! — there was a murder happening before me right there on the ice. No blood, no gunshots, no visual struggles, and not even any remorse.
A few months ago as I was heading out fishing, I noticed a broken spading fork and a smashed pickle bucket by my buddy's garage. Now this normally would not concern the average person to see next to their friend's garage. However, the average person does not have friends like I do. Especially my friend Jim, and especially this pail and this spading fork. We will call him Jim to protect his identity and humility.
It is indeed that time of year again. The woods will be adorned with random orange blobs sitting in boxes, platforms, and devices high up in the air. Some are hoping for the big buck, some are hoping for some venison for the freezer, and some are just hoping to see some furry little fellas.
Today, as I write this, marks the first official day of fall. That is right! Pack away the bikinis and speedos and break out the flannel and footy pajamas. It is time for stores to promote pumpkin spice everything and jack up the price on Halloween candy. Summer is over and fall is here. But even better than the mosquitoes freezing to death, fall means the start of hunting. For me, the first day of fall always reminds me of a goose hunting trip years ago with my grandpa and a few buddies.
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