Monday, February 6th, 2023
Monday, February 6th, 2023

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Big game hunting – in July?

Dean BortzSure, it's possible to hunt big game in July, but for us adults, we have to use our imagination a little bit. That's what's happening this week – this adult's imagination has been turning grasshoppers into big game critters for two days so far, largely due to the arrival in the Northwoods of my grandson, Mason, who is now 5 years old. Mason has three main interests – trains, tractors and catching insects and arachnids. So far we've hit on trains and insects. After meeting his parents at Wausau's Marathon Park for the "hand-off," we took a couple of train rides on the park's nifty little propane-powered train. Followed by an ice cream cone, which, I suppose, could be listed as his fourth main interest. Then we pointed the pick-up north and headed to Arbor Vitae. We talked insect hunting all the way. The lad is fascinated with insects and we weren't out of the truck 10 minutes before we had an old canning jar – complete with an old hole-punched Ball lid – in hand. The search was on. It didn't take long to figure out that young kids can learn a lot about hunting while chasing grasshoppers. The first thing they find out is that it's a blast. They don't even know they're learning spot-and-stalk techniques, but they are. And patience, too. Quick decision making. Pride in a good, clean "harvest." Even catch-and-release. The first evening we "canned" four flying 'hoppers while missing at least a dozen and chasing after numerous others that never stopped once they hit the air. The following morning we were back at it again. The previous evening's lesson paid big dividends for the lad. Mason canned four grasshoppers on his own, while I added another five or six. He spotted a magnum hopper and caught it in just two attempts. He was pretty proud of catching such a big flying grasshopper. After that, he lost interest in the small, half-inch long hoppers – he was after only big game. It was easier for him to keep an eye on the moving hoppers in the shorter grass, but if a big one lit in the taller vegetation, he'd holler, "Opa, it's in the jungle," and take off after it. The evening before he didn't care for the taller cover because it scratched his arms and legs. By the next morning, his "skin had toughened up" and he hit the tall stuff without hesitation. Now we're back for a drink of water and another jar. The grasshopper big game hunt continues.

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