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Dicky Powell's insights

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outdoors Duluth, 55802
Duluth News Tribune
(218) 723-5295 customer support
Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

Dicky Powell shares some anecdotes and observations from his life on the Canadian side of Saganaga Lake north of Grand Marais:

On wildlife: “There was a three-legged fox around here for a while. He lived that way for 11 years.”

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 On neighbor Benny Ambrose: “Benny was — how do you say it — a little different. But you could leave him out in the woods and he could live out there like a timber wolf. He was a woodsman.”

On wildlife: “One time, just after freeze-up, I was walking on clear ice. I saw a beaver breathe out a big bubble of air right under the ice. Then he inhaled it all in again and kept going. That was really something.”

On changing climate: “Last winter we caught a raccoon up here for the first time.”

On wildlife: “We had a pet partridge around here for three years. It would come inside, follow us around. He had to have red grapes or cranberries. He wouldn’t look at a raisin.”

On fishing: “I go out some days and don’t catch nothing, but I don’t complain. I’m way ahead.”

On the solitude of freeze-up and break-up:  “It’s nice. If you want to go around working half-naked, you can do that. But that was before drones.”

On wildlife: “I watched a baby grouse fall into a moose track one time. He could hardly get out. He had to really work at it.”

On the nearness of history: “One time we cut down this big Norway for lumber, and there was a lead ball in the middle of it. Another time, a big tree went down, and when we cut it up, there was a flintlock rifle inside of it. Things like that — if they could talk …”

 On wildlife: “The thing I really respect more than anything in the woods is a moose. I’ve shot a couple of moose that were intent on killing me. There was a day in 1964. Dad and I followed the tracks of three moose (for) four, five hours… At the top of a hill, we looked across and saw a big cow. Dad hit her in the back. I shot the calf. We took off after this cow. We came to a wall of little spruce. We stopped, and Dad went ahead. I saw Dad duck, and the moose came up. Her eyes were white. Her ears were laid back. Her hair was standing up. I shot her when she came at me. I didn’t even aim.”

On wildlife: “The other day, I saw a lynx with a dead fox. In this deep snow, a fox can’t get around easy.  A lynx wouldn’t usually kill a fox. To me, that’s a once in a lifetime thing.”

On how much firewood is enough: “As much as you can cut and a little bit more.”

On not having health insurance: “I have to either stay healthy or die.”

On raising kids in the wilderness: “They had a different life out here when they were little. It was good we had twins. You could always hear them chattering. You knew where they were.”

On computers: “I have no interest in them, but they really are amazing things. We had the Internet for four or five years. It was so handy. Sherry could talk to her mom in Florida. She could look things up for me.”

 On shooting from the house: “I looked out the back door and there was a big cow (moose). I told Sherry, ‘Don’t be alarmed. I’m going to shoot.’ ”

On trapping: “It used to be you could make a pretty good living. We trapped in the fall, open water — beaver, otter, everything that moves. The bread and butter was pine marten. They’re easy to trap, easy to clean and they bring good money. You can probably get $100 for a marten now.”

On aging: “At my age, if I go out four or five miles and get caught in slush, I might have a real problem. At 20 or 25, guiding moose hunters, I’d throw a sack of meat and a canoe on my shoulders and go over the portage. Them days are gone.”

On fishing in nearby Saganagons Lake: “You could spend thousands of dollars flying into the most remote lake and the fishing would be no better than on Saganagons.”

On neighbors Irv Benson and Benny Ambrose: “Irv Benson was guiding one day, and had some time to kill after lunch on American Point. He was walking around in the woods and found a sledge hammer. So he took it home. One day, Benny Ambrose came to visit him, and he saw that sledge and asked Irv where he got it. Irv told him he found it one day in the woods at American Point. Benny said, ‘You son of a b——. I’ve been looking for that thing for 20 years.’”

 On hot summers: “We don’t like heat. Sherry’s mom lives in Florida. At 5 o’clock, they’d have a violent thunderstorm. Rain would come down in sheets. Then the sun would come out, and the humidity would be about 400.  A guy had a place in Hawaii. He said maybe we could trade homes for a while. I don’t want no part of that.”

 On neighbor Art Madsen: “Art was telling me one year he went into the winter with $60 — and he wasn’t too bad off. He had a rifle and bullets.”

On life on Sag: “No, I wouldn’t want to live anyplace else. I went to Florida once. It was wall-to-wall people.”

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