SUMMER TOUR: Winds down



by Bret Amundson

61714 -  ben smallie-8The Summer Tour Part 1 is about to come to an end.  I’m not sure if I’m ready for it to or not.  The last week and a half has been a whirlwind of windshield time, sunsets on the water and waiting out storms.  Cell phone reception and internet signals were few and far between and I missed some calls that I shouldn’t have.  (Sorry Bob Hughes at KNSI!!)

Will it be nice to get back home?  Sure.  But I had the chance to meet some great people, fish on some great lakes and see parts of Minnesota that I’d never seen before.

Watch for a complete story of my trip coming in the Summer issue of Minnesota Sporting Journal magazine. (Subscribe here).

WHC-Geese-ducks-fish2As I bounced from place to place, I also searched out internet locations.  While a few people along the way asked if I’d “unplug” once in a while, I couldn’t do it.  This trip was to explore Minnesota (that’s catchy!) and share what I found with you.  I needed to have access to the internet, however fleeting that access was.

One morning I had the chance to fish with Jim Riley (Links Wild Safaris) and Ben Putnam from Boundary Waters Outfitters.   Ben is a disabled vet from the Marine Corps who shared some stories with us during the slow time on the water-fishing still hadn’t picked up yet.

Each time I have a chance to talk to a veteran, I find myself listening in wonderment.

“How can someone go through something like that?”

I’ve always respected those who’ve served our country and as I got older, a sense of guilt crept in that I never did.   I had the chance to talk to a number of vets and hopefully I was able to convey the amount of gratitude I have.

Ben Putnam hooks into a smallie
Ben Putnam hooks into a smallie

While listening to Ben’s story, I couldn’t help feel like I was reading a book or sitting in a movie theater.  It doesn’t seem like real life.  While I sit back and contemplate where I’m going to fish again, there are people risking their lives-getting shot at-and will have to live with that feeling forever.   It doesn’t seem fair that someone should have to do it, so I am forever grateful for those that have.  Please thank a veteran and do what you can to help.  You can start with a couple of services like these:

Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

-Veterans on the Lake Resort (Ely, MN)

Wounded Warriors Guide Service (Bemidji, MN)

There are more out there of course, but that will get you started.

61714 -  ben smallie-4
I told Ben to hold it out as far as he could!

This blog was going to be about fishing, but sometimes when you just open up the laptop and start typing, you never know what’s going to come out.

Ben, it was good to meet you and thanks for your service.  To all the veterans I met on this trip, thank you.  I hope to see you again on my next Summer Tour!

-Listen for interviews with Ben Putnam from Boundary Waters Outfitters along with Neil Olson and Dick Zahn from Veterans on the Lake Resort next week on MNSJ Radio. 



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