Preparing for deer opener
If Gerald Schultz isn't THE Jackpine Savage, he's a reasonable facsimile.
Ensconced in a wooded area north of Park Rapids, the retired heavy equipment operator has turned his 200 acres over to wildlife.
He lives among deer, birds and other creatures of nature.
"The beaver pond dried up," he pointed out in amazement. "The beaver left."
Drought conditions came to the Schultz property in August, the driest he's seen since he bought the place in '58.
And, as Schultz prepares for yet another firearms deer season, something more than drought is putting a crimp in his sails.
One of his ten deer stands has some major excavation going on underneath it.
Koch Pipeline is doing some joint repair on his property, where a natural gas line runs deep beneath the surface.
"That's my best stand!" Schultz said.
He's checked the progress of the project daily. Foreman Scott Bennett politely reminds him it's just a routine repair in the company's 4,000 miles of pipeline and the crew will be gone well before the opener Nov. 3.
Their conversation appears to be a daily routine.
Two large backhoes are digging a deep trench near the stand. The operators appear to be quite skilled, even though they're wedged up against the deer stand.
"We don't let them dig around a pipe if they're not good," Bennett told Schultz last week.
By Monday, the progress was steady.
"Looks like they're back-fillin' the hole," Schultz reported.
The ten enclosed deer stands on his property will be filled Saturday, mostly with relatives.
When the influx of relatives outgrew the second floor of his home, wife Rose said the crowd was getting too large to handle.
Gerald bought the lumber and let his guests build a bunkhouse just off the main residence.
It wasn't quite a "them or me" proposition, but Rose was exhausted cooking and cleaning.
"She's the best," he said of his wife.
He's a tinkerer in retirement.
He has a fleet, or flock, if you will, of propellers strategically located throughout the property.
"I use that to control the wildlife," he explains. "I got washers. When the propeller turns it rubs the washers together and that creates a sound that the wildlife can't stand. So therefore...it ties them up to a quarter mile away. Especially the wolves and the bears. I got no predators on my place right now."
Because the deer respect the propellers, too, Gerald took most down in preparation for the hunting season. "So the deer will move around better," he explains. "The timberwolves are starting to move back already," he said Monday. "Two of 'em were spotted a half-mile north Friday afternoon so that shows how it controls them."
He'll put the propellers back up after deer season. He's aware a wolf season starting the same day may also control the predators.
"I set 'em (propellers) around my garden and wherever I want control," he said. "It's hard to believe isn't it?"
He and Rose raised a son and a daughter on the land.
"Well, I tell you what, it paid off in the long run," he said about what a good place he had to raise kids.
"To teach them to drive and that, I'd take them out in the field, maneuver the hills, turns and that. Neither one of them has ever had an accident."
As he prepares for the influx of weekend guests, the ten invited and the estimated "seven poachers," he says it's the right number to keep the deer population under control.
"I haven't hunted in the last two years," he admitted. "Well, we just don't care that much for the meat and I like my live animals. With the hunters we keep the herd just where it's supposed to be."