County attorney owned one of Otter Tail's prominent duck-hunting cabins in the 1950s

Mud Lake.jpg
A map shows the location of Mud Lake, southeast of Maplewood State Park. Roger Dell owned own of the lake's prominent duck-hunting cabins in the early 1950s. (Submitted photo)

One of the prominent duck-hunting cabins in Otter Tail County during the early 1950s was one owned by renowned county attorney Roger Dell. His cabin was near Mud Lake in Star Lake Township.

This was much more than just your average duck-hunting cabin or deer shack.

Dell, a Fergus Falls attorney who later became chief justice of the Minnesota State Supreme Court, entertained his lawyer friends on weekends at the duck-hunting cabin.

Mud Lake is west of Dead Lake. To the northwest is Maplewood State Park, established long after Dell hunted at Mud Lake.

Dell’s cabin, close to some prime duck-hunting areas, not only had overnight lodging but also had the comforts of home such as a deluxe stove, refrigerator, clothes washer and clothes dryer.


“As kids, the judge let us hunt there on weekdays,” said Doug Lange, who lived nearby with his parents Adolph and Marcella Lange and his brother, Larry.

“The judge would oftentimes wave to us while riding his gaited horse,” Lange said. “He’d remove his cowboy hat and wave in a friendly gesture.”

The brothers recall those good duck hunting days on invitation of Judge Dell to hunt on his property weekdays, before and after school.

Lange is a retiree living with his wife Sharon in Seattle, and his brother Larry Lange is a retiree living in Perham. Larry’s wife is Joan.

Judge Dell (2).jpg
Judge Roger Dell. (Photo courtesy Minnesota State Historical Society)

Born in 1897 at Bird Island, Minnesota, Dell graduated from the St. Paul College of Law in 1920. That same year he started work as an attorney in Fergus Falls, under the firm Brown and Dell.

Dell later worked with the firm of Dell, Rosengren and Rufer. Dell was widely known as a trial lawyer.


In 1953 Dell was appointed by Minnesota Gov. Elmer Anderson to the state Supreme Court as an associate justice. A year later he was named chief justice of the state Supreme Court.

Dell retired from the court in 1962.

He died on March 8, 1966, at the age of 68. The Dell Trust, established in his memory, provides funds for charitable purposes and nonprofit organizations.

Dell also was an expert trap shooter

Roger Dell had another claim to fame as a firearm owner and duck hunter.

He was an expert trap-shooter, ranking high in United States trap-shooting competition at the national tournament in Vandalia, Ohio. He loved fishing in addition to duck hunting.

In 1993 Dell was posthumously inducted into the Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce Sports Hall of Fame.

Accepting the award on behalf of Dell was Gerald Rufer, groomed by Dell at the law firm established by the late judge.

Rufer held a handmade 12-gauge shotgun with beautiful engraving. The firearm was formerly owned by Dell. Dell's wife was also deceased and they had no children, thus the reason for Rufer accepting the award on Dell’s behalf.


“A beautiful shotgun,” Rufer told the audience. “It was custom made and willed to me. Of course, I drew up the will.”

The audience roared with laughter.

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