Archive | October, 2013

Boat winterizing is simple

October 29, 2013


I took advantage of the warm weather on Sunday to winterize my boat. It’s a simple task, but very important, especially if you want the boat to perform well next spring.

That’s right. Good performance next fishing season hinges on what you do with your boat now. I do a few simple steps, and my boat runs well the next open-water season. This is my to-do list for winterizing:

1. Take care of your gas. I take the outboard motor tank and empty the gas into my car’s gas tank. Then, I put in fresh gas along with Sta-bil fuel stabilizer. The directions call for 1 ounce of Sta-bil for every 2 1/2 gallons of gas. I pump about a gallon into the tank, add the Sta-bil, then put another gallon-and-a-half of gas in. I shake it a little after that to be sure it’s mixed well.

2. Start your engine. Then, I hook up the tank with the fresh gas and start up the engine. You have to be sure to have water going into the engine, or you’ll burn up your engine. Simply take what’s called ear muffs and place them over the intake on the lower part of the motor. Attach them to a garden hose and turn the water on. Then, once you see that there’s a good seal on the ear muffs, start up your motor and let it run for 10 minutes. That uses up the old gas and puts the fresh gas in the carburetor and internal hoses. And, be sure to look and see that water is coming out of the engine.

3. Fog your engine. With your engine running, take off the cover and remove the plate that covers the carburetors. Spray fogging oil for about 5 seconds into each one. The engine will slow down and smoke will billow out of it. That’s what you want. After spraying the last one, shut off the engine.

4. Change oil in lower unit. Now comes the messiest part of the job – changing the lower unit gear lube. You can do it in the spring, but I do it in the fall while I’m working on everything else. On the lower unit are two screws, one higher up and one down low. Take both off, starting with the higher one, and drain the old gear lube into a pan. Often, it looks milky, which is a sign that it needs to be replaced. Some people think you can get away with changing it every other year, but it’s not very expensive, so I do it every year. After the old lube has drained, screw a pump into the lower hole and pump in the new lube until it runs out the top hole. Then, put the screw back into the top hole, and unscrew the pump from the bottom hole. As quickly as you can, put the bottom screw on. You may lose a little lube, but that won’t be a problem.

5. Charge batteries and store properly. Disconnect all wires from your marine batteries and charge each one. They store well with a full charge. Once charged, place them on a shelf. Do NOT put them on concrete. Doing so will drain them of the charge. And, store them outside. A battery expert I talked to said this is the best. It’s tempting to bring them inside, but he said this is wrong. So, I follow his advice. He says a marine battery lasts about three years, so you may need to replace it in the spring.

All of these steps shouldn’t take more than an hour. I wish I could have used my boat more this summer, but it just didn’t work out. The fact that my gear lube wasn’t milky tells me the boat got less use than previous years.

Hopefully, next year I will get out on the water more!

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Pray With Us

October 23, 2013

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Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Madonna and Child ~ Licensed under Creative Commons

Praying Together for Our Church

Below is a letter from Jeff Cavins to the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute inviting us to pray.  Let us all join in this beautiful novena.

In times of difficulty I have learned to turn to Mary.

For those of you who do not know of the Catechetical Institute – I urge everyone to look into it.  I am an alumni. Go C.I.

Thank you Jeff.



Dear Friends,


We would like to invite you to something very special that those associated with the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute are doing in response to recent news in our archdiocese.


As many of you know, the Catholic Church is going through some extremely difficult times. As graduates and current students, you know that we, at the Catechetical Institute, are not only learning “what” to believe, but we are learning how to “live out” what we believe. It is difficult times such as these that call us to live what we have learned—to truly live as disciples of Jesus Christ, as witnesses to the Gospel, as Christians. This is not an easy task.


As Catholics, we are blessed to follow in the great biblical tradition of the heroes of faith, men and women who responded to trials with prayer, praise and thanksgiving. As a united Catechetical Institute, we are doing just that and extending an invitation to our CI community to pray together for every member who makes up our archdiocese; for, the archdiocese is not the structure, it is the people, all of us together. We are inviting you to join us in praying for the entire body of Christ and all who are suffering right now during this arduous time.


We are beginning an extraordinary novena, one that happens to be a favorite of Pope Francis. The novena is called, “Mary, Undoer of Knots” and has a beautiful and rich tradition.


This novena will begin on Wednesday, October 23rd and conclude on the eve of the Feast of All Saints. If you do not own the small booklet that explains and walks you through the novena, you can find the daily prayers at


As mature Catholic believers, we must always ask ourselves, “What is the responsible, charitable and right way to proceed?” No doubt, many people have asked you questions about what they are hearing in the media. Our response does not merely represent our own opinion, but it represents the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ, and as such we need to always ask, “What would Jesus do?”


Therefore, let us ask the Holy Spirit to season all our words with love, mercy and compassion. This is not only our response to our fellow Catholics, but also the response to those who appear to be attacking the Church. The guilty, the innocent, the accused and the accusers should all be treated with dignity and love. This is what it means to truly live the faith. This is what it means to be a Christian.


Thank you for uniting your prayers with ours at the Archbishop Harry J. Flynn Catechetical Institute. Let us together turn to Mary, Undoer of Knots, invoking her to ask her Son to grant us pure, humble and trusting hearts.


In Christ,


Jeff Cavins



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Federal offers new shotgun slug

October 21, 2013

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I was surprised when I went to Mills Fleet Farm yesterday to buy shotgun slugs for the upcoming 3A firearms season. I was there to buy a few five-round boxes of Federal sabot slugs, called Barnes Xpander.

They have performed beautifully for me, taking down nice bucks the last two years and at least a dozen other deer over the last 10 years. In all honesty, I was planning on using them for the rest of my shotgun hunting days.

Alas, I was shocked to discover that they were nowhere to be found at Fleet Farm. When I got home, I checked the website for Federal and learned that the company no longer makes the Barnes Xpander. It has been replaced by a slug called Vital Shok Trophy Copper.

I was stunned. Why would Federal try to fix something that isn’t broke? I have had great results with this copper slug. It’s very accurate all the way out to 100 yards, and I was done experimenting with shotgun slugs after trying these.

Now, I have to start all over again. I decided to look up information on the slug on Federal’s website, and the news might not be as bad as I think.

Seems the company has done some tweaking and come up with a slug that is slightly lighter than the 3/4-ounce Barnes Xpander that I used previously (the Xpander was offered in 3/4-ounce and 1-ounce slug weights, with me choosing the former for flatter shooting). The new slug weighs 300 grains, which is slightly lighter than the 3/4-ounce Barnes (.69 ounces when you convert)

I ended up calling Federal today and was able to talk to a customer service rep. He said that the Barnes bullet company was bought out, and the new company ended its relationship with Federal. So, Federal had no choice but to come up with a new slug to replace the Xpander.

The guy I talked to said a new slug already was in the works, so the company moved the development of it to the front burner. The new Vital Shok round is now on the shelves, and he said extensive testing by Federal indicates it is every bit as accurate as the Barnes, if not slightly more so.

I hope that’s true. Shotguns are notoriously finicky when it comes to different brands of slugs. Some shoot great, others horrible, and often there is no discernible reason for the difference.

So, the bottom line is: You have to try the slugs and see how they work in your gun. I am sure hoping these new slugs perform like the Barnes Xpanders did in my gun, a Remington 11-87 with a rifled barrel. There’s nothing like seeing your slugs consistently hit the bullseye at 50 yards, and even 100.

That’s what I got with the Xpanders. I will go out and buy some of the new Vital Shok and see if I can duplicate the results I had with the Barnes.

Stay tuned for a review!


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October lull, getting ready for rut, and NuFletch

October 18, 2013


I went out bow hunting yesterday morning on a metro property, hoping I might get a chance at a deer. I ended up seeing several wild turkeys, including a nice tom, but the deer didn’t show.

I have heard about something called the October lull, and my friend and mentor, Steve Huettl, believes it’s real. Hard to know why, but deer seem to move less in early to mid October.

Things could improve with the cold weather, however. Steve just emailed me today and wrote that two hunters he has talked to saw lots of deer movement today. It cooled off today, and temperatures are predicted to stay in the 40s all of next week. In fact, some light snow could even fall on Sunday.

Steve says cold increases deer movement during the rut, so this could be a good year if the cold sticks around the rest of the month and into November. I will say, I always do well in the cold. Last year, when I shot my big buck on the last day of the 3A firearms season Nov. 11, the temperature dropped throughout the day, from the low 40s all the way down into the 20s after dark.

About 12 years ago, I hunted an early doe season the third weekend in October over in Wisconsin. In fact, I hunted it two years in a row. I had two doe tags each year and filled three out of four. I should have filled the fourth, but missed several shots at group of does on the last day. That’s on me. Both years, it was cold during the antlerless hunts.

Hopefully, the cold will get the deer moving. I’ve got several stands set up, both here in the metro and down in Red Wing. I may get out at the end of next week, if things look promising. For sure, I’ll go out at the end of the month and the first part of November.

Prepare for the cold

Now’s a good time to start thinking about the cold and how to dress for it, particularly if you’re planning on being in a stand for any length of time. I’ve got a pretty good system that has worked well for me.

It starts with a good base layer. I have a set of Under Armour – leggings and long-sleeve top in its Cold Gear line. My wife bought it for me several years ago, and it really helps. Next, I put on wool pants and a wool sweater. I do like wool, and it works very well until the temperatures get really cold, like the teens or even single digits.

My top layer is an insulated set of bibs and jacket. I wear a hat, of course, but keeping my hands warm for bow hunting presents a unique challenge.

Steve says he does not like to shoot with gloves on, particularly on his release hand. So, he puts his hands inside a muff, the kind you see NFL  quarterbacks using in cold weather. I have done this and it works.

But, there is one key ingredient for keeping both your hands and feet warm – using chemical hand warmers (the small resin bags). I have used them for years and they really work. Now’s the time to stock up. I put them inside the muff and my hands stay warm. I also put the toe warmers inside my boots and that works very well. I have socks that are called Smartwool, and I use a pair of insulated rubber boots made by a company called Muck.

This setup usually keeps me warm. But, cold and a strong wind can make it tough. That was the case last fall on Nov. 11. Fortunately, I was able to hang on until the final minutes of legal shooting time to get my buck.

NuFletch test

I got NuFletch installed on my arrows on Monday at A1 Archery in Hudson. It didn’t take long, and one of the guys paper tuned my bow when he was done. He had to move my arrow rest a little, and I had to move my sight pin a bit as my arrows now were hitting low. But, I got that adjusted at A1’s indoor range, and I went home happy with my setup.

I did some more testing at home and found that my arrows now fly slightly flatter – and quieter. The flatter your arrows shoot, the less you have to think about where to put your sight pin on a deer. I can now use my 20-yard pin from 0-25 yards without having to move the pin up or down on a deer.

That’s huge. Before, I was hitting a few inches high at 10 and 15 yards, and a few inches low at 25. So, I always had to think about exactly what distance I was shooting at a deer, and compensate accordingly. I didn’t do that well enough on a doe I shot at four weeks ago, and I ended up hitting it in the shoulder.

I definitely don’t want that to happen again. I’m hoping that, with NuFletch, I will avoid this problem. We’ll see. Not sure when I’ll get out next, but I plan to be out there during the rut.

I think I’m ready for it.

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What I took away from the Rediscover: event

October 17, 2013


Father Robert Barron at the Rediscover: Catholic Celebration. (Dianne Towalski/The Catholic Spirit)

Father Robert Barron at the Rediscover: Catholic Celebration. (Dianne Towalski/The Catholic Spirit)

I left the Rediscover: event at the Saint Paul RiverCentre on Saturday with fresh encouragement to take my faith to the next level. Matthew Kelly challenged all 5,000 of us by asking whether the would be a life-changing day or just another day? “It’s up to you,” he said. “You decide.”

George Weigel urged us to take our baptism much more seriously. The world needs us, he said. “We are on a battlefield and the walking wounded are all around us.” He called this “mission territory,” and said it has never been more important that we fulfill the great commission to spread the Good News.

Father Robert Barron capped the day with practical suggestions for all us modern-day evangelists. Bringing a little notebook with me to the event, I wrote the suggestions down, and am delighted to share them here, in case you weren’t there on Oct. 12:

Lead with beauty to get to goodness and truth. Father said it is rare to win someone over with arguments about goodness or truth. Secular culture has relativized goodness and truth to the point where people have trouble agreeing on what is good and what is true. But most of us can recognize beauty. And the Church has so much beautiful music, architecture, art, etc., to share. A person might become more disposed to accepting goodness and truth if they have been prepared by common admiration of true beauty.

Don’t dumb down the faith. Father Barron said we have hurt ourselves by reducing the message of Vatican II to “banners and balloons.” Noting the rich intellectual tradition of the Church, Fr. Barron said we need smart explanations of the faith to counter the arguments against God and Church coming from the secular world, which is largely well-educated.

Preach with ‘ardor.’ That’s an easy one to understand. Who would you rather listen to: a dull speaker or an exciting speaker? Of course, we all prefer the exciting speaker. People can hear the passion in your voice; let it come through when you are talking about your faith.

Tell the great story. Explain that Jesus Christ was crucified and rose from the dead in the climactic story of the Bible. This is THE good news. All the stories in the Bible – creation, the fall, the formation of the people of Israel, the life of Christ, the early Church – are part of the Great Story. And the story doesn’t end with the Bible. We are part of the story, too! “Teach the Bible,” Father Barron said.

Emphasize the Augustinian anthropology. Father unpacked that one for us. What he means is that St. Augustine said, “Lord, you have made us for yourself, therefore our hearts are restless until it rests in Thee.” Because of the way God made us, we all have a void in our lives that only can be filled by God. We mistakenly try to fill the void with things like wealth, pleasure, power and honor, but everything leaves us wanting. This is a belief shared by some of our most famous modern-day philosophers – Mick Jagger said, “I can’t get no satisfaction;” U2 sings, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for,” and Bruce Springsteen has a song called “Everyone Has a Hungry Heart.”

Stress the Irenaeus doctrine of God. St. Irenaeus taught that God does not need us. This is great news because it means that God does not give us things and do things for us to get anything back from us. The only reason He does anything for us is because He loves us.

Any one of these tips can make us better evangelists. There’s a lot of work to do, so let’s get to work!

Blog author Tom Bengtson is a local small business owner and writer. You can contact Bengtson by visiting his website

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Something Beautiful…

October 14, 2013


Something Beautiful

Something Beautiful

Last week a speaker/entertainer came to speak at the Champions for Life luncheon.  Danielle Rose, a music missionary sang from her prolife CD and spoke about her missionary work in China.  Because of the one child only policy and the poverty of most of those who live there, many families abort their daughters in favor of having a son who can care for them in their old age. As she was explaining this horrible reality, she described that this country had 20 million young men who will never have a wife and family.


What happens in a country where you have millions of young men with no future?


With such hope and innocence she said.  “Maybe God will raise them up to become priests.”  I am sad to say that most of us in the audience chuckled at that statement.  Maybe we have become so cynical that we don’t believe God can really do such things. China is, after all, an atheist country where it is illegal to evangelize.  Then, Danielle caught our attention and said compellingly “No, really! God can make something beautiful.”


At that moment, Danielle asked the Holy Spirit to help her find the right words to say.  I wish I could remember her exact words but she went on to compare Christ’s passion to the situation in China.



She said, “God can take something ugly and sinful and horrible and make something beautiful happen from it.” Of course I know this; I just need to be reminded.


I don’t know about others in the audience, but I wasn’t thinking about the situation in China.  I was thinking about situations in my own heart, situations closer to home.

Her words reminded me to hope and trust that “God really can make something beautiful!”


Here is to something beautiful!

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How does arrow fletching affect your bow hunt?

October 9, 2013


I must admit, I have given very little thought to arrow fletching as it relates to flight and, ultimately, what happens when an arrow hits a deer.

Another recent failure in the woods, plus an article in North American Hunter magazine turned my attention toward this topic recently. After hitting yet another deer three weeks ago and failing to recover it, I started asking myself questions. Although I figured out that it was a shoulder hit, which almost always results in little to no penetration into the vital area, I couldn’t help but wonder if the poor penetration had anything to do with my setup.

As I pondered that, I ran into an article in the October issue of North American Hunter (page 28). Managing editor Dave Maas tested a new product called NuFletch, and had very favorable comments about the results. Basically, it’s a short aluminum arrow shaft section that screws into the back end of your arrow, in which you can slide vanes in and out. That means you easily can replace damaged vanes in the field.

But, there’s more, according to Maas. The short piece of aluminum that now sits on the rear end of the arrow adds weight and stiffness to the arrow. That, in turn, increases penetration.

It’s not a hard thing to test. All you have to do is see how deep into your target arrows with NuFletch penetrate versus standard arrows. When I went online to see if others had tested NuFletch, I read that some archers were getting 3-4 inches of deeper penetration into their targets.

I can’t help but think that this will make a difference in the field. One thing I am really hoping for is to get a pass-through on a deer this year (through the vitals, of course). The best blood trails always come from pass throughs. Not hard to understand why: two holes in the deer and no arrow in the deer to block blood flow.

I can’t say I completely understand what NuFletch does to arrow flight. What I can say is I sent an email to the company and got a response from the CEO, John Marshall. Very impressive!

How it works

I then followed up with a phone call, and we spent about 15-20 minutes talking about NuFletch. He said the NuFletch basically does two things: 1. Reduces oscillation in arrow flight (not detectable by the naked eye), thereby keeping the kinetic energy up, which results in a stronger hit on a deer, plus less loss in arrow speed down range; and, 2. Puts more mass at the back end of the arrow, which creates a hammer-and-nail effect when the arrow hits the deer. Simply put, the higher weight on the back end of the arrow drives the front end of the arrow harder when it hits something.

Some might say this all sounds good on paper, but Marshall also realizes that he needs proof. So, he told me that he has done testing with a chronograph, which measures arrow speed. He admits that there is a slight loss of speed right off the bow (about 8-10 feet per second). But, down range speeds don’t drop as much as standard arrows.

And, when the speed drops less, the arrow trajectory flattens. Any bow hunter will tell you that flat trajectories are huge because misses on deer tend to be more vertical than horizontal. I vividly recall missing a nice eight-point buck two years ago when the arrow sailed underneath the deer’s body. Maybe, just maybe NuFletch could have made the difference.

Hard to say on that one. But, what it could mean is that I might be able to aim the exact same way on a deer with my 20-yard pin all the way out to 25 yards. Right now, my 20-yard pin puts me 2 inches high at 10 yards, 3 inches high at 15, right on at 20 and about 4-5 inches low at 25.

That means I have to move my pin up a bit at 25 yards to put the arrow in the vitals. Not a big deal, you say? I agree, except that with everything that you have to think about when lining up a shot at a deer – not to mention the added factor of being super excited – moving your pin up a few inches at 25 yards is something you easily could forget.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have my arrows hit at 25 yards to close to where they hit at 20 that I don’t have to change my aiming point? I’ve said since I first started shooting a bow 2 1/2 years ago that the simpler I can make the process, the better.

Simple and better?

Hopefully, NuFletch will both simplify the process and give me better arrow performance. Oh, and here’s another thing that Maas pointed out: He saw less wind drift with NuFletch. At 40 yards, his NuFletch arrows drifted only 1-3 inches in a strong crosswind, as opposed to 6-8 inches with standard arrows.

What this hints at is increased accuracy. Marshall is convinced I will shoot tighter groups with NuFletch. I can’t wait to find out. Believe me, once I get NuFletch on my arrows, I am going to give this product a thorough test.

Speaking of installation, I am going to go to A1 Archery in Hudson for that. Marshall is going to ship the product there, and the guys at the shop have agreed to install it for me. They have not worked with NuFletch, and don’t currently have it on their shelves.

Paper tuning a must

So, I guess that makes me their guinea pig. That’s fine with me. But, Marshall did give me one VERY important tip – it is critical to paper tune my bow after installing NuFletch. A small adjustment to my arrow rest may be needed to get the arrows with NuFletch to fly straight. He said this is one big mistake made by many people who try his product. Then, when the arrows don’t fly the same as their standard ones, they complain and say the product is junk.

What I have learned over the years is you MUST use a product correctly in order to determine its effectiveness. Some small detail that seems insignificant can, in fact, be huge. Marshall is telling me that paper tuning your bow after installing NuFletch is one such detail. I will make sure to paper tune my bow at A1.

I’m not worried. It’s not a complicated product, and Marshall said I could install NuFletch myself. Several months ago, I might have tried. But, with the archery deer season underway, I would rather let experienced bow techs tackle the job, hence my planned visit to A1.

I will go there sometime in the next week or so. With the rut just around the corner, I hope to have NuFletch on my arrows when the bucks start cruising!


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Act now for a great deal on ladder stands

October 4, 2013


If you’re a deer hunter who uses ladder stands, you might want to shop at Menard’s this weekend. I was just there this morning and picked up two ladder stands that I intend to put up soon.

They went on sale just this morning. The original price is $65.99, and it went down to $54.99. But, there also is a $15 mail-in rebate, which brings the price down to $40.

I have been pricing and buying ladder stands for years, and it’s very hard to find one for $75 anymore, much less $40. I have even bought them used on Craig’s List, and I think $70 was the least I have ever paid for one.

But, this is a very short window of opportunity. The sale only lasts through Sunday, or until the stands sell out. There were plenty left this morning, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were gone by tomorrow afternoon. I’m not sure if the sale has been advertised. Yet, I have no doubt thrifty hunters will find out about it and act swiftly.

I do need to make an important point about this stand – it is a bare bones model, meaning there is just a mesh seat and small standing platform, with no armrests or shooting rail.

That might make some people hesitate, but I have hunted out of similar stands without much trouble. The key actually is finding the right tree. If the tree is nice and straight, you should be fine. A small cushion is all you need, and the trunk will make a fine backrest.

But, beware of a tree that slants in the least, especially forward. A forward-slanting tree is the worst. It’s very tough to sit for very long because you feel like you’re always leaning forward. I like to lean back when I can, or at least stay straight. Thus, I think the straightness of the tree matters more than the type of ladder stand you set up.

The brand of this ladder stand is Sky Raider. I’m not familiar with it, but a friend of mine has used them before and says they work fine. I also have gone online to look up reviews (you can find reviews for just about anything on the internet). I have read more positives than negatives about this stand, and I’m not worried about it.

One nice tip I did pick up has to do with the pins used to keep the ladder sections together. Seems like the loose-fitting pins can rattle when you move in the stand. I have noticed this on other stands with these type of pins, but didn’t know where the noise came from.

Someone on a hunting forum said the noise is caused by the pins, which fit loosely in the holes and can make noise when the stand moves. The guy writing the post says he simply replaces the pins with bolts and the problem goes away.

Makes sense to me. I definitely will try that tip. It’s a quick and easy fix. Here’s hoping I can harvest a whitetail from one of my new stands this fall!


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‘Til death do us part

October 2, 2013

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How great is the love the Father has lavished on us! (1 John 3:1)


Marriage isn’t merely about the husband and wife, it’s also about the people around the couple as they live this holy sacrament.  Eugene and Mary Kirsch’s 58-year-marriage was a source of blessing to many others because of the beautiful witness they gave.

And they continued to teach about married love–until the very end.

“Family and faith is what’s important!”

Eugene (Gene) and Mary met on a blind date. Since both were very active, they went bowling for this first outing together. Their love seemed a perfect strike from the beginning, and they married in 1955. Five years later, they moved to a home in Roseville and joined Maternity of Mary Church in St. Paul. They raised four daughters–Vicki, Lori, Kathy and Karen. All of the girls went to grade school at Maternity of Mary, and got married there.

Gene and Mary had a home business together–Gene was an accountant and mainly worked out of their basement, while Mary typed forms for him upstairs. Mary was also a part-time sales associate at the JCPenney store in Roseville for 13 years. Their daughter, Vicki Flannigan, said, “Gaining wealth was never important to our parents, but family and faith was important.”

The Kirschs were devout Catholics. In fact, Mary attended daily Mass until she married at age 21, and resumed doing so when she retired from JCPenney. They were active parishioners for 53 years at Maternity of Mary. They were extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, went to Eucharistic Adoration together each week, and helped plan the Cana dinners. “We teased Dad because his pants always had holes in the knees from praying all the Rosaries,” their daughter, Karen Cossack, wrote.

“They always struck me as a couple very much in love,” the Kirschs’ pastor, Father Peter Williams, said. “They were faithful, devoted, and possessed a good sense of humor. I appreciated how they lived their vows, and the manner in which they raised their daughters.”

What’s the secret to a long marriage?

Their daughter Vicki said, “Our parents had a beautiful, married life. The perfect marriage, really. I cannot recall any disrespect or quarreling among those two.”

What was their secret to marital bliss?

Their children think it was a combination of a many things. They only had one plain TV set and seemed to somehow agree on the channel. Perhaps the simple life of one TV and two recliners aided in their success? As they aged, they continued to be active–in their faith, and with other things.  They took walks around the block together all year round, never walking without the other.  They played tennis and golf almost daily and went on 38 cruises together. Yep, 38! Gene would often get up on the ship’s stage and play the piano for people. He liked to sing, too–real loudly; at church, and at other places as well. Once, during a relative’s wedding reception, Gene took the microphone from the DJ and serenaded Mary with the song It had to be you.  Their daughter, Karen, wrote: “When the DJ asked them to reveal the secret of their long marriage, Mom just responded, “Love.”

Vicki wrote in an email:

“The key word for their successful marriage is ‘compliment.’ In my entire childhood and adult life, I can vividly recall both of them complimenting each other all the time! Dad complimented on every meal, nearly every bite! I believe that sometimes the food wasn’t all that delicious but dad still found the part of the meal that he would compliment her on — maybe just the fact that the food was served warm! She would compliment him on all his talents — piano playing, singing, being such a great conversationalist, speaking German, etc.”

In sickness and in health

Five years ago, Mary was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and it progressed fairly quickly, especially the type of dementia which is linked with this disease. Gene had a pace maker, but was still doing well. When their parents’ health first started this decline, their daughters turned their childhood home into a care facility. They organized meals for them and brought them to Mass at Maternity of Mary each week. Every day, the daughters made sure that one of them was there to check on their parents and visit with them. They had an excellent system in place.

All eight of the Kirsch grandchildren helped take care of Grandma and Grandpa, too. For example, Bridget Flannigan (age 29), a professional stylist, did Grandma’s hair and nails regularly. Katie King, age 23, a nurse at the Amplatz Children’s Hospital, checked her grandparents’ blood pressure and monitored their other medical needs–she also prayed with them.

On March 14 of this year, Mary fell in her home and fractured her tail bone. She was brought to the hospital and it was decided that she needed transitional care just long enough to recuperate. She was there for two weeks, and each morning the daughters brought their dad to the facility to visit and recite the Rosary. But Mary failed to thrive, and was not eating much.

Easter was on March 31st of this year (2013). While Mary was at the healthcare facility, twenty or so members from the Kirsch family accompanied Gene to Mass at Maternity of Mary. After Masses at their church, it is a tradition that the congregation prays an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be for the next parishioner to pass away. Little did the Kirsch family know that they were all praying for Eugene–he was to meet his heavenly reward later that week.

However, before he passed on, Gene continued to visit his wife. In fact, the whole family piled into their cars after Easter Mass and paid Mary a joyful visit. “My mom and dad kissed on Easter and had a wonderful day surrounded by children and grandchildren,” wrote Karen. But Gene wasn’t quite himself while his bride was in the facility. It was so sad for him to see the love of his life suffering. Two days after Easter–while Gene was sitting beside his wife–she slumped forward into his lap, unresponsive. His beloved wife never spoke or opened her eyes again. The family was called together to pray the Rosary at Mary’s bedside. They knew the end was near, and prayed that it would be peaceful.

The next day, the family made the decision to move both Mary and Gene into the Shoreview Senior Living Center with the intention of having them together. Mary received hospice care while their daughters began the difficult task of planning for her funeral. “In the nursing home, when I was reading Matthew Kelly’s book, Rediscover Catholicism, to my parents, we all cried together. I felt both of their hearts were open and ready for God’s will,” said Karen.

A happy ending

Two days later, on the night of April 5, Gene and Mary were at the care center in their new beds–which were right next to each other. Some of their daughters were in sleeping bags on the floor. During the night, Gene got up to get a glass of water. In mid stride, he passed on–gently sinking to the ground as if he were carried in the arms of Jesus. “We thought God would take our mother first,” Vicki said, “and we knew that would be too hard on Dad.”

But God works in mysterious ways, and the Kirsch daughters now know that it was best that their father went first. They told their mother to look for Dad’s hand and go to heaven.

Two days later, Mary passed away peacefully. She had been anointed by Fr. Williams who had just returned from Italy. Mary and Gene–who loved to do everything together—were laid to rest on the same day. The Maternity of Mary altar was still decorated with the lovely Easter flowers that Mary admired each season. “They were a wonderful couple, something of a fixture at Maternity of Mary for decades,” Fr. Williams said. “They were likable and endearing. It was an honor for me to preside over their double funeral Mass – the first time such a thing has occurred for me in my nine years of serving as a priest.”








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All the ‘little things’ add up in bow hunting

October 1, 2013


I went to a metro area property I have permission to bow hunt on Sunday, and was hoping to make preparations for the rut, which should start near the end of October.

I took my No. 2 son, Andrew, and we set out to find a spot where the bucks would be cruising as their bodies continue to fill with testosterone in the next few weeks. We found a classic “funnel” spot and I looked around for a good tree to put up a stand.

Problem was, there already was a stand there. It was a metal ladder stand, and my guess is that it had been there for a while. A large tree had fallen right next to it, and I had trouble believing any hunter – even the most inexperienced – would put a stand up right where a fallen tree lay.

I knew I was close to the property line, but I also knew this stand was within the boundary on the property I had permission to hunt, though only by about 15 or 20 yards. I took my concern to a local police officer who has helped me with these kinds of issues before. A bow hunter himself, he advised me to take the stand down, lay it on the ground, and attach a note to the tree for the owner of the stand to contact me.

He also advised me to post the land so that anyone coming out into the woods will know where the boundaries are. I was appointed guardian of the land, so I am authorized to post it. I put a few signs up on Sunday, and will add more. The police officer told me how to do it according to the law, and it shouldn’t take much time to do it. Plus, signs are cheap, so there’s no reason not to do it.

Stuff like this is an important part of preparation. The last thing I want to see when I’m in a stand during the rut is another hunter. Hopefully, that won’t happen this fall. As far as how to hunt the rut, I offer these tips:

Find funnels

As mentioned above, funnels are where deer travel is restricted to a small opening. When bow hunting, it’s nice to have funnels 50 yards wide or less. Water, steep terrain or terrain changes (tall grass to woods) all can create funnels. Or, if there’s a fence going across a stretch of woods and there is one spot where the top wire or two is cut, that can be a funnel, too. Another good one is fallen trees. Generally, if the tree is big enough, deer will travel around the tree. Another funnel occurs in hill country like southeastern Minnesota – the head of a large gully.

The thing to remember is that deer move a lot more during the rut – in fact, more than they do at any other time of year. Does move searching for the dwindling amount of food and because they are being chased by bucks. Bucks move because they’re searching for does. And, deer like the paths of least resistance, provided they are in or near protective cover as opposed to being in the wide open.

Now’s the time to be scouting for funnels. And, don’t worry if there’s not a lot of deer sign. Deer will travel through funnels year round, but far more during the rut. You may find some well-worn trails now, but if they don’t go through a funnel area, they might not be so good during the rut. I recommend studying up on funnels (there are lots of good articles on the internet), then getting out in the woods and trying to find a funnel or two. When you’re sitting in a stand you put up near a funnel, you’ll be glad you did the work to find it.

Wait them out

One thing you can count on in early November is lots of deer movement. Because of the high levels of testosterone coursing through their bodies, bucks just can’t sit still for more than a few hours. In fact, some bucks are on the move almost constantly, especially if does have started coming into estrous. The bucks about go crazy.

This is precisely why hunters should do what the bucks can’t – sit still. I can’t emphasize this enough. An all-day sit in the right spot dramatically increases your odds of seeing a deer. I did this two years ago down near Red Wing and was rewarded with a beautiful eight-pointer that was chasing a doe. It was about 2:50 in the afternoon, and I had been sitting in my stand for about eight hours. The doe in front of that buck was the first deer I had seen all day.

I’m amazed at the number of hunters who leave the woods between 10 and noon. All I have to do is take food and water into my stand, and I’m good to go all day long. It may seem incredibly boring, but what keeps me going is knowing that I can see a deer at any time.

I just have to make sure they don’t catch me napping, like the nice six-pointer that came within 20 yards of my stand about seven years ago when I was sitting in our two-man permanent stand with Andy. I was sound asleep with my forehead resting on the shooting rail when Andy poked me on the shoulder, then leaned in to tell me a buck was coming. I ended up trying to turn the swivel chair so I could get a shot off. But, the chair squeaked and the buck spooked. He turned and ran a short distance, then stopped and turned broadside. I was able to take a shot before he ran down the hill. Unfortunately, we never recovered the buck. We went down the hill and looked, but never found blood or the deer.

But, it was a lesson learned for me. I sure hope that never happens again.

Pay attention to scent

The hardest thing to fool is a whitetail’s nose. If a deer sees you or hears you, it will stop to try and figure out what you are. But, if it smells you, it usually will turn and hightail it out of there, leaving behind a shocked and frustrated hunter.

I’ve had that happen too many times, and it’s never fun. Now, I practice a scent control regimen that includes washing clothes in no-scent soap, then putting them in a charcoal-infused bag that is designed to eliminate scent.

Then, I shower with no scent soap and put on my clothes. One important piece of my outfit is rubber boots, which do not hold any human scent. I have a pair of Muck boots that I really like. They are insulated and comfortable. When you consider that your footwear touches the ground almost constantly when you’re walking in the woods, it makes sense to keep the odor off of your feet.

The reward for managing this important detail is seeing a deer nearby that is undisturbed by your presence in the woods.

And, of course, along with scent control is playing the wind. That, in fact, is the best way to keep your scent away from a deer’s nose. The ideal scenario is to have the wind in your face when you’re in the stand, and to have your smell blowing away from the trail(s) you are watching. If you hear guys talk about smoking cigarettes while up in the stand and still seeing deer, I can almost guarantee that the wind was in their face. You could never get away with that if a deer is downwind.

Stay calm

This is much easier said than done. In fact, even though I have hunted a long time, I still get revved up when I see a deer. That’s why it’s important to play through scenarios in your head long before you shoot. That way, when an animal appears, you will have rehearsed what you are going to do. By the way, this is a lot more important in bow hunting than gun hunting.

Sight in your weapon

I marvel at the number of hunters who don’t take the time to do sighting in before the season. Then, they’re surprised when they miss a deer and don’t know what went wrong. Just two years ago, I rushed myself sighting in my 7mm rifle for our trip to Montana. The first time I fired at a deer, I missed. It was only about a 100-yard shot, so I didn’t know what went wrong. I went to the range and found out it was shooting way high. I corrected the problem and took a nice whitetail doe the next day with one shot.

If you spend hours, even days, preparing for your hunt, it only makes sense to have your weapon dialed in. With archery, I assume most hunters will shoot their bows multiple times and have their sight pins adjusted properly. The key thing here is to practice often enough that hitting the bullseye is almost automatic. I like to take it one step farther by shooting at a cardboard deer cutout target with the vital area marked. That gets you used to shooting at a deer.

Here’s hoping we all will find a deer in our sights this fall and make a successful shot!

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