I grew up in a hunting and fishing family, eating what we shot and caught. My parents owned the house on the hill between Lake Washington and Lake Stella. We fished in Lake Washington because we docked our boats on that side. We also skied on Lake Washington but we ran down the hill steps to swim in Lake Stella. Sometimes the men in the family fished on Lake Stella or headed to other Minnesota lakes. When we lived in Indiana, we spent summers at lake cabins here in Minnesota with our relatives, fishing and water skiing.
Most of my family fish in the summer. I am not a great caster and I do not care if I catch fish or not. I am willing to be the one baiting hooks for children. When we were kids, brother Bob refused to fish in a boat with me because he swore my talking scared the fish away. I firmly believe it is this statement that earned Bob four daughters and no sons, just like having four sisters and no brothers.
Nephew Rylee, who is thirteen, fishes more than anyone else in our family; he fishes for hours in the summer almost every day. He started fishing when he was three. After a mishap with a bobber, Rylee warned everyone not to put a bobber in our mouths. Picture a three-year-old in a fishing boat wailing with a bobber hooked to his tongue and an adult with big hands trying to unhook the bobber. I do not recall wanting to put a bobber in my mouth but I keep Rylee’s advice in my back pocket.
A smaller group of my family fish in the winter. The winter fishing fanatics do so in a heated fish house with beds, a kitchen, a living room with technology, and a bathroom. They also have one of those gizmos that show where the fish are which I think is big-time cheating. Poor nephew Jace has stepped into a fish hole three or four times in his four years of life.
I only have one winter fishing experience. Years ago, I went fishing with dad on Lake Stella. Dad’s fish house was not heated. I read, ate sandwiches, and drank coffee. Dad fished but I watched his lines because he was busy visiting the other fish houses. When dad settled in to mind his own lines, visitors came calling one after the other. When we returned home, I told mom that dad and his friends went fishing so they could go from fish house to fish house gabbing and eating each other’s food packed by the women in their lives.
When we were growing up, my family did more hunting in Minnesota than we did in Indiana. As adults, my family hunts in Minnesota, sometimes Wisconsin. Brother Bob hunts in South Dakota where he owns a home. He has a second home in Tennesee but I do not think I have heard him mention hunting there. Most of Bob’s hunting stories are about big game hunting in Alaska with his son-in-law Mike and Mike’s brothers, who grew up in Alaska and have all worked as firefighters in the Alaskan forests. Bob has a bear hide with head and paws from an Alaskan bear he shot, tracked, and skinned.
When brother Bob was young and received a BB gun in Indiana, we, sisters, were merciless when he shot a bird in our front yard. Sister Deb locked the house door and would not let Bob in the house until mom returned from the grocery store. My parents decreed that Bob could hunt in the orchard and woods but not the yard.
Years later in Minnesota, dad called mom to come to see the deer he, brother Bob, and their fellow hunters shot. We, sisters, loaded up in the station wagon and went with mom on the adventure only to be sorely disappointed. It was the sisters’ first time seeing dead deer hanging in the trees, fully gutted. Sister Deb led the indignant brigade of sisters marching back to the car and locking the doors. Despite mom’s explanation of the realities of hunting, Deb locked the house doors when we got home. When dad and Bob came home hours later, they had to knock on the door to be let in.
Mom, sister Deb and I were the holdouts on hunting. Although, Deb liked target practice. I have never shot a gun and, most likely, it will stay that way. Dad convinced sister Kathy and sister Kim to wear orange overalls, jackets, and hats and hunt with the guys. One year, I noticed a note on Kathy’s refrigerator calendar that read “Tell Dad no!” Kathy explained that once she was out in the wet and cold, it would hit her that hunting paled in comparison to Dad’s annual hunting pep talk.
Everyone but two of us in my family own guns. Most of the family own more than one gun a piece. All of our family guns are properly stored. My nephews and the men play with Nerf guns and squirt guns of all sizes, shooting targets and one another. I grew up playing with hard metal revolver guns. I can still conjure up the sound and smell of cap guns sparking and smoking.
I am one of the family members who do not own a gun. I am not opposed to gun ownership. It just is not something that interests me. Yet, like you, no doubt, I have read extensively about assault rifles and public shootings at schools, places of employment, churches, and other venues.
I do not understand why people want to own assault rifles. And, I really do not understand what is driving the level of anger for individuals to shoot people randomly in public settings. These shootings boggle my mind and break my heart.
— Judy Holmes, a voracious reader and a fabulous cook, resides in Litchfield and thinks too much.