Another Mentor Gone

Mark Corrigan passed on a few days ago. He was my father-in-law
and I will miss him. He was an avid hunter, angler and he taught me
a lot about both sports. 

Mark was raised in northeast Iowa on a farm with his mother,
father and ten brothers. He would tell stories of hunting as a boy,
where the orders were, “if you pulled the trigger you better be
bringing something home.” He was one of the best shots I’ve ever
been around. He had been trained from childhood to make every one
count.

A big family was in his future, much like the way he grew up. The
difference was his six daughters and three sons grew up in Cedar
Rapids, Iowa where a career in law enforcement kept him until the
day he died. That never stopped him from taking the kids out to the
river or reservoir to dunk nightcrawlers for whatever was
biting.

Fortunately I landed his oldest daughter – childhood sweethearts –
and that meant I had some extra years to hunt and fish with him. We
got along well because we both enjoyed getting outdoors.

When I started deer hunting it was Mark who took me out of the
woods and set me up next to the corn where the deer were moving in
and out all night. I went from a frustrated deer hunter to
consuming plenty of venison because of his insights. And this was
in the late sixties and early seventies when there weren’t a lot of
deer around.

Mark taught me plenty about the Mississippi River. This was one of
his favorite places to fish. His annual trip to Ferryville,
Wisconsin was so much fun you hated to leave when the week was
over. Picture this. You can’t buy a lot of boat on a cop’s salary
so Mark would take his 18-foot Arkansas Traveller – he later
upgraded to a 20-foot Jon boat – and he would make two, sometimes
three trips from Dixon’s Dock to the dam where we would fish,
picnic and spend much of the day. There were all his kids, some of
their friends and the boat would be loaded to capacity on each
trip. The best catfishing and white bass fishing I ever had was on
these trips. When we would show up at the dam the sea of children
would hop out of the boat and everyone there would high-tail it out
and we would have the spot to ourselves.

When it came to deer hunting Mark seemed like a psychic. This was
due to his experience during the early years when seeing a deer was
an historic moment. We would be out in the woods and he would point
to a spot and predict the time the deer was going to come along. If
you had bet against him you would still be paying off your debt.
Using a cap and ball muzzleloader to extend his season, Mark
dropped a lot of bucks with one shot.

He’s gone now but his legacy will continue. He taught his sons and
daughters the joy of outdoor sports and they are passing it on to
his grandchildren and great grandchildren today. It’s getting
tougher all the time to find a mentor when it comes to outdoor
pursuits and it’s a shame when another is gone.

Be assured if there is a heaven Mark is there and he’s sitting in a
big Jon boat threading some chicken liver on a 4/0 hook and smiling
because he knows he’ll soon be setting the hook on a big mud cat.
And there’s little doubt in my mind he has at least three rods
baited and out. He liked eating what he caught just as much as he
liked catching it. Bet those cats in heaven are pretty tasty. They
might even come skinned. Seems to me I learned from him that there
is more than one way…

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