Archive | November, 2010

The editor’s life

November 30, 2010

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I’ve been a Catholic journalist for 18 years now — an editor for 12 of them. One of the most frequent questions I get from friends, family members and new acquaintances is: “What’s it like being the editor of a Catholic newspaper?” (Actually, two newspapers in my case — The Catholic Spirit in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and The Visitor, which I edit for the Diocese of St. Cloud.)

They ask, truly, because they’re not sure what a newspaper editor does these days, much less an editor like me who works for religious publications.

They assume it’s pretty challenging to publish newspapers that aim to serve the entire local Catholic community and not just a particular segment. They ask, “How can you print things that everyone will like all the time?” (Answer: You can’t.)

They think I must lead a pretty frenetic life that can be challenging for my spouse and kids. (Answer: They’re right. And please don’t ask my wife about it. She’s a photographer and graphic designer who works with me at The Catholic Spirit, and she’ll give you an earful about how I need to do a better job of balancing work life and home life.)

They wonder where we get all the story ideas that end up as news and features in our print editions and on our websites. (Answer: Where don’t we get story ideas from. E-mails, phone calls, letters, press releases, news team brainstorm sessions and casual conversations with people we meet every day are great sources for stories.)

In order to give readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what goes into publishing two biweekly newspapers and the two 24/7 websites associated with them, I’ve decided to post about it on this blog.

What’s new at the newspapers? How do we make decisions about what goes into print and on the web and what doesn’t? What’s it like working at a place where your job is to proclaim daily the good news of Jesus Christ? These are among the topics I’ll address in a few blog posts each week.

To be sure, editing a Catholic newspaper today is challenging on several fronts. But it’s a job — actually, I think of it more as a vocation — that I love to do, otherwise I wouldn’t be in this profession for 18 years and counting. The editor’s chair is also a wonderful vantage point from which to view the life of the church as it unfolds in our parishes, dioceses, nation and world.

I hope you enjoy the insights I’ll be sharing. I also hope you’ll be willing to share your own thoughts by commenting with suggestions, story ideas and other feedback!

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November 30, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr

November 30, 2010

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St. Andrew with X shaped cross at St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi

An Apostle’s Feast Day. November 30 is the feast of St. Andrew.  All three Synoptic gospels as well as Acts list him as one of the original Twelve (Mt 10:2; Mk 3:18; Lk 6:14; Acts 1:13).

Gospel Information on Andrew. Andrew was born and raised in Bethsaida (Jn 1:44), a fishing village on the north side of the Sea of Galilee, only a short distance from Capernaum, another town about a mile to the west.  He had a least one brother, Peter, and they were both fisherman (Mt 4:18; Mk 1:16).   At some point they acquired a home in Capernaum where they lived together (Mk 1:29).  Andrew was a Jew, and from the context of Mark’s gospel, it is presumed that he worshiped in the synagogue in Capernaum (see Mk 1:16-31).

Two Versions of Andrew’s Call. When John the Baptist began his prophetic ministry in the desert, Andrew became one of his disciples (Jn 1:35).  On one occasion Jesus walked by and the Baptizer pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God,” and when Andrew heard this he transferred allegiance and became Jesus’ follower (Jn 1:36-37).  According to the Fourth Gospel Andrew received his call to become a disciple not from Jesus but from the Baptist, and was the first person to become a follower, and it is for this reason that the Eastern Church calls Andrew the “Protoclete” or “the first called.”  Andrew, in turn, went to his brother Simon Peter and called him to follow Jesus (Jn 1:41-42).  Matthew and Mark tell Andrew’s call story differently.  They report that Peter and Andrew were fishing, and that as Jesus walked along the Sea of Galilee, he beckoned, “Come, follow me,” and they left their nets immediately and followed him (Mt 4:18-20; Mk 1:16-18).

Andrew’s Faith.
Andrew came to faith very quickly, almost instantly, due to Jesus’ compelling presence.  After Andrew met Jesus and stayed with him for only a day, he declared to his brother Simon, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:51).

Additional New Testament Information on Andrew. Jesus had a special core group of disciples who were his closest partners, Peter, James, and John, but there were two occasions when Andrew was a fourth:  when Jesus cured Peter’s mother-in-law and when Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple (Mk 1:29; 13:3).  Andrew is mentioned in three other instances:  when Jesus fed the five thousand, it was Andrew who identified the boy with the five barley loaves and the two fish (Jn 6:8-9); when some Greeks came to Jerusalem for an audience with Jesus, it was Andrew who approached Jesus on their behalf (Jn 12:20,22); and when the apostles were gathered in the upper room before Pentecost, Andrew was there (Acts 1:13).

Early Church History.
The rest of St. Andrew’s story is provided by historians, not Scripture.  After Pentecost Andrew became a missionary and probably traveled to Bithynia, south of the Black Sea, now northern Turkey; and Scythia, much further east between the Black and Caspian Seas, modern Georgia of the USSR.  There are legends that Andrew went to Poland, northern Europe, and Scotland; and general agreement that he went to Macedonia, northern Greece, and Achaia, southern Greece, where he was martyred in Patras in 60 AD on an X-shaped cross.

St. Andrew’s Intercession. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia, Scotland, and Greece, as well as fishermen, fish merchants, sailors, and spinsters or old maids.

St. Andrew’s Symbols. Andrew is represented by an X-shaped cross, the instrument of his crucifixion; a single fish or a fishing net, signs of his profession; a pair of crisscrossed fish which recall both his vocation as a fisher of people and the manner of his death; a carpenter’s square because he helped to build the Church; and a palm branch because he was a martyr.

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Patience is rewarded

November 29, 2010

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When our family arrived in Great Falls, Mont. for our annual Thanksgiving trip, it felt more like January than November.

Temperatures dipped below zero, and both the mountains and the lowlands were covered by a thick blanket of snow.

Undaunted, we headed out into the field to pursue our quarry of deer and elk. We hoped the animals wouldn’t dislike the conditions nearly as much as we did.

A friend of mine told me before the trip that, in cold weather, animals often will move to feed during the middle — and warmest part — of the day. His logic proved correct, as we did see some animals between the hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. However, the number of sightings was way down from previous years.

We hunted for a few hours on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday without success, though we did see a few whitetails that we tried to stalk. One of them was a dandy 10-point buck that we saw on a piece of private property that was designated as a Block Management Area (BMA). You can hunt BMAs as long as you sign in first.

My son, Andy, had a buck tag, so we tried to help him get the deer. Problem was, when we saw the buck, he was in a part of the BMA that was labeled as a safety zone, which meant Andy could neither shoot the deer nor walk onto that portion of the BMA.

So, we were left setting him up just outside the safety zone in the hope that the buck would eventually leave the zone and venture into Andy’s line of sight. After a few minutes, he did, but at a dead run. Andy waited for the buck to stop so he could shoot, but the 10-pointer kept running until he was out of sight.

He ran across the road to another BMA, so we followed. We saw him in a field, so Andy and I began another stalk. But, the buck and a doe he found ran back across the road to the safety zone. This time, the deer stayed put.

Later, my son, William, and I saw two does bedded on a hillside and tried to stalk them. But, they spooked and we never got a shot.

That’s how it went for several days until, finally, the weather warmed up on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Temperatures climbed into the upper 30s, and we went out at dawn with high hopes.

This time, my son, Joe, was with us. He is going to college at the University of Dallas, and his grandpa, Bob Guditis, and his wife, Sharon, generously bought him a plane ticket to come for Thanksgiving weekend. This was his second day of hunting, and we were hoping to fill his doe tag.

We went to the two adjacent BMAs and did the mandatory sign-in to gain access to hunt. As we were signing the book on one of them, Bob spotted a deer walking toward a row of pine trees. He looked through his binoculars and  saw that it was the 10-pointer.

Problem was, Joe and I only had doe tags, and Andy was busy chasing elk with my brother-in-law, Jerry Gray, higher up in the mountains. Bob had a tag, but he had been sick with bronchial pneumonia for several weeks and didn’t have enough strength to go on a stalk for the buck.

So, Joe and I decided to try hiking the tree line in the hopes that a doe was with the buck. We hadn’t gone 100  yards into the tree line when we got our answer — a doe was bedded in some brush. We crawled out of view, then moved toward the doe.

We hadn’t gone far when we saw the deer walk out into the field in front of us. On the second shot with the .270-caliber  rifle Grandpa Bob had given Joe, the deer went down. I was thrilled for Joe. He now was going to have some venison to take back to school and grill for his friends.

Meanwhile, Andy and Jerry came upon a herd of elk and took some shots. Andy missed at about 250 yards, and Jerry hit one that started bleeding in the snow. He tracked it for more than a mile before finally giving up. Obviously, it was not a fatal hit.

They were disappointed, but glad to have at least seen some elk, which hadn’t happened on our three previous trips. This year, because of the deep snow, the elk were down lower on the mountain, where hunters like Andy and Jerry could encounter them.

On Saturday, the last morning of the hunt, we were hoping to connect with deer and elk. I went back to the two BMAs with Joe and Grandpa Bob, while Andy went back up the mountain for his last chance at an elk. None were spotted, but a decent mule deer buck appeared with several does, and ended up walking right at Andy, Jerry and his wife, Jessica. When the buck stopped at about 45 yards, Andy took the shot and tagged the second muley buck of his life.

Meanwhile, Bob, Joe and I drove a gravel road that ran through one of the BMAs. We saw two animals bedded about 750 yards into the field. We were pretty sure they were whitetails, so off I went on what I hoped would be my last stalk of the trip.

However, I wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence. I had terrain cover for only the first 50 yards of the stalk. After that, I would be in full view of the deer the rest of the time.

I decided to go for it, figuring either the deer would spook right away, or I would successfully move to within rifle range — about 300 to 350 yards.

Amazingly, the deer didn’t spook when I walked over the hill and into view. They were facing perpendicular to my path, and seemed not to notice me. Plus, I got a nice bonus when some dogs on the adjacent property started barking and making a ruckus. The deer’s eyes were locked on the dogs, giving me the chance to sneak in.

Eventually, the deer turned their heads toward me and spotted me. There was a buck and a doe, and the doe stood up. I easily identified her as a whitetail doe that I could shoot, rather than a mule deer, which I could not.

To my surprise, she did not run. I walked a little closer, then got down on all fours and crawled for about 25 yards. Then, I got down on the ground and set up my backpack as a gun rest. I placed my 7 mm rifle on the pack and zoomed the 4-12 scope in on the deer. The pack proved to be a steady rest, and I settled the crosshairs on the deer’s shoulder and pulled the trigger.

She ran a little ways and fell, while the buck jumped to his feet and ran off. But, he eventually decided he didn’t want to leave the doe, so he turned and started coming back. He got to within rifle range as he trotted back toward his female companion.

If only someone with a buck tag had joined me on the stalk. Oh well. We were far from disappointed. We brought home plenty of venison, which now sits in the brand new freezer we bought just before the trip.

And, the best part of all — Bob shot an elk on Sunday morning, the last day of the season. Not long after reaching his land, he and Jerry saw a herd of elk crossing a four wheeler trail. Bob got his gun ready just in time to shoot a spike bull. That gives Bob and Sharon the elk meat they were hoping for.

God was so good to us, and I am grateful for his many blessings on our trip, especially Bob’s elk. Bob is very generous to us — and he always puts our desire to bag an animal ahead of his own. That means he spends most of his time helping us. And, he does so cheerfully, without complaint.

Thus, my final prayer of the trip was that the Lord would grant Bob an elk. And, once again, God came through.

That was the perfect end to a wonderful vacation.

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Prudence, civility needed in climate change debate

November 26, 2010

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I was speaking last week to a men’s spirituality group when a question came up about what the church believes about global warming.

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken about the topic many times, most recently at last month’s Synod of Bishops for the Middle East: “Today we see that with the climate problems, the foundations of the earth are threatened, threatened by our behavior,” he said.

Caring for God’s creation is a hallmark of Catholic social teaching, and the pope, bishops and many other Catholics have been supportive of efforts to deal effectively with environmental problems.

In that vein, when the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on climate change nine years ago, they acknowledged the wide scientific consensus that the phenomenon is happening and that humans are a contributing cause. Today, the Catholic Coalition on Climate Change, which supports and complements the USCCB’s Environmental Justice Program, is among religious groups at the forefront of the issue.

At the same time, church officials — then and now — also acknowledge that they are not scientists and that responsible scientific research is what’s needed to enhance our knowledge about the issue.

Still, the issue is important enough and serious enough, and there is enough evidence at this point, to require prudent action in addressing the threats posed by global warming, particularly because of the devastating effects it could have on the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations. In other words, as the bishops said, “if enough evidence indicates that the present course of action could jeopardize humankind’s well-being, prudence dictates taking mitigating or preventative action.”

Good science. Prudence. Both are needed as the world addresses the issue of climate change. I would also add one more thing: Civility as the science and its public policy implications are debated.

An associate professor at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul is among those pushing for more civility and clearing up misinformation that clouds the debate. John Abraham says the scientific community needs to present the science about climate and greenhouse gas emissions objectively and dispassionately if there’s any hope of convincing sincere skeptics and getting them on board to find solutions.

He has launched a website to connect the news media to about 50 national experts on various topics related to climate change.

“We need to depolarize the debate,” Abraham recently told the StarTribune newspaper. “As long as we are polarized, we are stalemated.”

Hopefully, his efforts will be a positive step to help the media and the general public better address this important issue.

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ST. CATHERINE OF ALEXANDRIA, Virgin and Martyr

November 24, 2010

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St. Catherine of Alexandria - Window at St. Bridget in DeGraf

St. Catherine of Alexandria is a saint of great interest locally because she is the patron saint of St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.  November 25 was her feast day for many years.  She was dropped from the liturgical calendar in 1969, but recently her memorial was reinstated in the revised Roman Missal.  There is little reliable historical data about her life, but her legendary story is inspiring.

Youthful beginnings. St. Catherine lived in Alexandria, Egypt, during the fourth century AD.  She was born into an upper class pagan Roman family.  She was blessed with intellectual genius and a fierce hunger for learning, as well as striking beauty, but as attractive as she was, she preferred learning and philosophy to marriage.

Her conversion story. There are two main legends about Catherine’s conversion to Christianity.  According to the first, the Blessed Mother appeared to a hermit in the Egyptian desert.  The hermit went to Catherine and showed her an image of the Madonna and Christ child which led to her immediate conversion at the age of eighteen.  Not only that, she was “mystically married” to Christ, and the Christ child placed a ring on her finger.  According to another version, the Christ child and the Blessed Mother appeared to her directly.

Incredible bravery. Subsequently Catherine preached about Jesus and the gospel throughout Alexandria at a time when the emperor Maxentius was conducting a persecution against Christians.  In a bold and daring move, Catherine approached the emperor, scolded him for his persecution, and voiced strong arguments against the pagan Roman gods.  The emperor could not withstand her wisdom so he assembled fifty leading pagan philosophers to debate with her.  Not only did Catherine win the debate, they all converted to Christianity.  Incensed, the emperor had all fifty burned to death, but he spared Catherine because he lusted for her.

A mystical marriage untainted. Maxentius was enthralled with Catherine’s beauty, and he tried to seduce her, even though he was a married man with a queen.  He went so far as to promise Catherine that he would crown her his new queen.  Catherine flatly denied his advances.  Rejected and mortified, the enraged emperor had Catherine beaten and thrown into prison.

A curious twist. Intrigued by Catherine, both the queen and an army general went secretly to visit Catherine in prison.  Because of her remarkable faith, both the empress, the general, and two hundred prison guards converted.  Maxentius went berserk and had them all executed.

Catherine’s martyrdom. The emperor decided to torture Catherine’s chaste body by stretching it over a large spiked wheel with tall points on the surface and a sharp blade on the side.  Miraculously, before the torture could begin, her shackles were loosened and the wheel shattered, reportedly by angels.  She was finally beheaded.  Then, according to the legend, her body was flown by the angels to Mount Sinai where she was buried.

A strong advocate. St. Catherine of Alexandria is the patron saint of philosophers, librarians, university students, young women, preachers, apologists, lawyers, notaries, and wheelwrights.    She is also revered as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, a group of saints thought to have special intercessory power.

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A priest’s deer hunt

November 19, 2010

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The following story comes from Father Michael Becker, new rector of St. John Vianney College Seminary and former pastor of St. Michael in St. Michael. He is an avid deer hunter who goes out annually with someone from St. Michael. He writes:

“I was out hunting this past weekend with parishioners from St Michael’s Catholic Church (St Michael, MN). Jerry Dehmer is a father and grandfather of many. His home is in St Michael, but he owns a couple farms up near Bagley, MN (west of Bemidji). So for the last 10 years he has farmed up near Bemidji, and returns home on weekends (or other days) to be with his wife in St Michael (or she sometimes goes up to be with him).

Every year, Jerry takes the youngest grandchild (boy or girl), who just became of legal age to hunt deer into a stand, and helps his grandchild shoot a deer, and every year they are successful. Jerry has a rule on his farms, that no one can shoot little bucks. As a result, every year, there are several eight-, 10- and even 12-point bucks that are taken off his land. And often, because Jerry is so talented at it, the youngest grandchild is one of those who get a big buck. This year, I happen to be one of seven that shot some nice bucks (mine a 10-pointer).

It is truly a family experience – especially love between a grandfather and grandchildren! But, I should not forget to remember his wife, Bitsy, who with some of the daughters, usually prepares all the meals while the rest hunt). Jerry is a devout practicing Catholic, who never stays in the stand on Sunday mornings, but always leaves it to go to Mass in nearby Fosston (except when I am with the Dehmers, I celebrate Mass for them . . . I’ve done so for the last 5 years).

One other really neat fact — Jerry often goes hunting for elk each fall as well. This fall he was out west  (southern Colorado, I believe) and lost his cell phone. Hiking around the mountains left like one in a million chances of finding that phone. He retraced every step he had taken the day he lost it, but found it not. Well, he said a prayer to St Anthony (patron of lost things), and some time later, one of his hunting buddies stepped off the path he was hiking, putting a leg up on a log, just to tie his shoe lace. Looking down he spotted a cell phone. It was Jerry’s. This is incredible, like truly a needle in a hundred hay stacks.”

After reading Father Becker’s story, I called Jerry to hear more about his deer and elk hunts. I discovered that, for the sixth time, he helped one of his grandchildren bag their first deer. The fortunate hunter in this case was Blake Barthel, 13, who shot a nice eight-pointer, which Jerry helped find. Later, he brought the deer to a taxidermist, another tradition he carries out for his grandchildren. Jerry had a total of 16 hunters in the party this year, and they took 10 deer, seven bucks and three does.

As for the elk hunt, Jerry was not able to bag one, though one of the other three hunters in his party did. However, he was able to take a nine-point buck in Minnesota. He came across two bucks whose antlers were interlocked as the result of a fight. One was already dead, and Jerry did the ethical thing and shot the other.

Sounds like a nice reward for all the work Jerry does every year to help out all of the hunters in his party. We need more hunters like Jerry in the field!

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Angelic tale makes for good reading to children

November 16, 2010

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Angels are drawn to the bakery in St.Michael’s monastery because, “it’s the place that smells the most like heaven!”

Along the way they help bring confidence to a monk who isn’t too sure of his culinary skills and teach some lessons about faith and perseverance.

That’s as much as you probably need to know about “Brother Jerome and the Angels in the Bakery,” a cute story grandparents will find they read over and over.

Benedictine Father Dominic Garramone penned this little gem, and artist Richard Bernal provided the colorful illustrations for this Reedy Press work that kids will enjoy.

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Another deer connection

November 12, 2010

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Sometimes, when you hunt or fish, you play a hunch. That’s what happened yesterday, when I left the office a little early to go down to one of my deer hunting spots near Red Wing for an afternoon sit.

On this piece of private property, we had built a stand toward the back end of a small meadow that formerly was used as a cow pasture. I wanted to hunt this meadow because deer like to come out into it and graze. They’ll often do this in the late afternoon, so I figured I might hit it just right.

Problem was, the wind was wrong. It was coming from the southwest, meaning the wind would blow my scent right to where the deer come out. That could mean that a deer might smell me and spook before I even see it.

This may be what happened to my friend, Bernie Schwab, who hunted the stand all day Saturday and Sunday morning. He had a south to southwest wind the whole time, and never saw a deer.

With this in mind, I made a slight adjustment. Instead of  sitting in the stand, I positioned myself on the other side of the meadow. Now, the southwest wind we had yesterday would blow my scent away from the meadow and into the woods.

I walked down toward the far end of the meadow and tucked myself in along the fenceline at the edge of the woods. I trimmed some brush away to clear a shooting lane, then settled into my folding chair.

It was an old chair that I had bought more than 10 years ago that is showing its age. I have newer, sturdier chairs, but I chose this one because it’s lighter and because I shot my first two deer from it.

I was hoping for my third on this occasion. It was a beautiful afternoon — not too hot, not too cold. I got to the spot at about 3:30 p.m., so I had almost two hours to hunt. That’s plenty of time in the evening. There have been times when I have sat in a stand late in the day and saw a deer within an hour.

As the sun started to dip below the horizon, things got quiet. I really like this time of day. It’s so peaceful. I was filled with anticipation, my eyes and ears on high alert. This was prime time for a deer sighting.

Just minutes after the sun went down, I saw some movement to my right. Then, I made out the head of a doe walking in the meadow. I quickly raised my gun and tried to find the deer in my scope.

When I did, it was behind a tree, with the heart and lung area blocked. I wasn’t worried. I knew the deer was calm and relaxed, unaware of my presence. Just a second or two later, it stepped past the tree and exposed its vitals.

There was some brush between me and the deer, but it was small branches that I knew my 12-gauge slug would get through without a problem. Some people don’t like shooting through brush, but I felt confident about making this shot.

I pulled the trigger, then the deer turned and started running down the hill. Not sure if my shot got through the brush, I fired again. The deer went down and stayed down.

Turns out my first shot was a good one, hitting both lungs. I was very excited to get this deer, a nice, healthy, mature doe. I had missed a chance at one just like it on Saturday, so I was glad to get another chance at an adult doe.

Some people need to shoot a buck to be satisfied. Not me. Every deer is a trophy, and I like venison so much it doesn’t matter what kind of deer I shoot. I was ecstatic about getting this deer, and I knelt down beside it, put my hand on it and said a prayer of thanks to the Lord.

This is something I always try to do after harvesting an animal. When I’m out hunting, I take what the Lord gives me, then I thank him for it. I don’t want to be like the nine lepers Jesus healed who did not come back to thank him. I want to be like the one who did.

I quickly field dressed the deer and started dragging it back to my car. Then, I decided to see how far I could drive toward the deer from where I parked. Turns out I was able to make it the entire way. So, the deer drag was a short one.

Praise God! I had done a long one on Saturday and wasn’t too interested in another one like it. I smiled all the way home, then started calling family members and friends to tell the story of God’s blessing.

The last call was to my dad. Along with recounting the details of my hunt, I was able to wish him a happy Veteran’s Day. He is a World War II vet, and I hope to hear more of his stories soon. In the meantime, I’m excited about the venison that will be filling my freezer very soon.

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Not too many saints out there on Oct. 31

November 10, 2010

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A few days before Halloween I asked readers to send in photos if they or their children were dressing up as a saint or angel for the occasion. On our annual trick-or-treating venture to the Mall of America, I didn’t see any saints. I did see one angel, but only one. One person that read my request did dress up and responded with a photo. Pictured below is Zoya, from Anchorage, Alaska, dressed as Saint Patrick. Thanks Zoya for letting us see your awesome costume!

I’m sure there were many more kids in saint costumes on All Saints Day. Fifth-grade faith formation students at Guardian Angels in Chaska held a costume contest. They had everyone from Saint Mary to Blessed Mother Teresa and many more. They sent us the photo below.

If you have photos from a church or school program, feel free to send them in, I’ll keep track of them and post a gallery when I get a few. Send them to towalskid@archspm.org.

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Deer connection

November 8, 2010

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I climbed into my deer stand on opening day Saturday morning right about at the start of legal shooting hours. In fact, just after settling in, I heard some shots in the distance. Only about 20 minutes later, I saw a deer come out from a tree line about 30 to 40 yards away.

Unlike other years, the first thing I did was look at its head. Usually, I’m trying to get a bead on the vital area (heart and lungs) so I can take a shot. Not this time. The new four-point antler restriction meant I had to determine whether the deer had antlers.

At first, I didn’t see any. Then, the deer jerked its head up and I saw a small rack — too small, in fact. It had two points on one side and three on the other. So, I had to let it walk.

I’m not a trophy hunter, so I normally would shoot a deer like this. But, the trophy hunters in Zone 300 where I hunt made their voices heard, and the DNR established the new rule, which exists in other states.

I wasn’t happy about having to pass up a shot, but I figured maybe a legal deer would show up later.

Later turned out to be only a half hour. I saw and heard movement to my left, and I spotted the head and back of a deer walking along the edge of the corn field in front of my stand. I saw the head through brush and didn’t spot any antlers this time.

Just a few steps later, it cleared the brush and tall grass. Just 20 yards away, it turned its head and looked into the standing corn. I fired, and it did the classic hop of a deer that has been hit in the vitals.

It didn’t go far. I waited for about a half hour, then my brother, Paul, came over and we went to retrieve the deer. After field dressing it, I climbed back into the stand to sit some more. All was quiet until about 11:50, when I heard some crunching in the corn field to my right. I thought it was Paul, as we had agreed he would come over at noon to take over the stand. I hadn’t checked the time in a while, so I figured it must be noon.

But, it went quiet for a little bit, so I figured it wasn’t Paul. Then, I heard it again where the corn field ends and the tree line begins. A moment or two later, a deer’s head popped up through the corn. I saw that it was a doe, so I turned and started to raise my 12-gauge shotgun. As I did so, the deer jerked its head up and looked straight at me.

When I got the scope to my eye, the deer was gone. Then, a few seconds later, I saw it running out the other side of the tree line. There wasn’t a good opening to shoot, so I let it go.

I was a little bummed, but that’s the way deer hunting goes. The first two deer never saw me raise my gun, but this doe seemed more  wary than either of those two. Plus, I’m almost certain she smelled me. The wind was blowing straight from me to her.

A whitetail’s nose is very keen, and once they smell you, they usually bolt quickly thereafter. I think the only way I could have gotten that deer is if I had raised my gun right after I heard the noise in the corn. That way, once its head popped up, I would have been on it within a second or two, and with very little movement.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. The other issue was I wasn’t expecting to see a deer at that time, especially after taking one there at 8:25. But, my stand was on a travel route, so deer move through the area regularly, especially during the rut when bucks are chasing does.

I  was hoping that maybe a buck was following that doe and he would pop his head up, but it didn’t happen. Perhaps, this doe was not in heat. Another thing is that, sometimes, bucks just don’t want to come out into the open to intercept a doe. They just wait in the woods until a doe comes back in.

That’s a classic tactic used by older, mature bucks, which is why putting a stand up in the woods can be very effective. Maybe, I can do that next year. In the meantime, I’ve got the rest of this week and this weekend to try and fill my other tag. I’ve got a few ideas. Maybe I can encounter a buck yet.

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