Dennis Anderson: Mentors keep the chain moving for numbers of young hunters

Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune on

Published in Outdoors

"We worked it out so the boy could keep his gun and waders at my house, in a locker in my garage,'' Froehlich said. "I gave him the combination for the garage lock, so he could get his gear early in the morning and go hunting, when he had time. We also arranged for him to keep his canoe where he could easily access it for hunting.''

That student has since graduated and doubtless will be forever grateful for the hunting opportunities a guy from Nicollet, Minn., helped provide.

Now Froehlich is introducing another youngster to experiences that will shape his life as a hunter. A companion goal is to nurture in the boy a strong conservation ethic, so someday he will be among Minnesotans who care enough about the state's woods, waters and fields to protect them.

"He's my cousin's son, and though he's just 13, he's a trooper,'' Froehlich said.

By "trooper'' Froehlich means a boy who, at age 11, was eager to arise long before sunup to join Froehlich in a turkey-hunting blind. Their first season yielded no toms. Nor did their efforts this past spring.

Still, Connor Bode, an eighth-grader at Mt. Olive Lutheran School in Mankato, remains enthusiastic.


"I love hunting,'' he said the other day. "Fred got me into it. I just love getting outdoors. It really clears my mind.''

This is Youth Waterfowl Weekend in Minnesota, and Fred and Connor are guests at Brian Hoffman's hunting shack on Swan Lake, as they were a year ago on the same weekend.

"Brian hosts kids every Youth Opener at his cabin,'' Froehlich said.

Like Froehlich, Hoffman is a director of the Nicollet Conservation Club, which has been stellar in its support of prep trap shooting. The club's eager squad has had as many as 96 schoolkid members, and this year fielded a team almost that large. Free of charge, each young shooter is given a snazzy jersey to wear at competitions, and the club bought a well-equipped trailer with an awning that provides a sheltered headquarters at the shoots for coaches, kids and parents.


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