Weather Forecast


Outdoor time is always unique

Stein-Erik Pettersen from Tromso, Norway fished in the Park Rapids area this past week. He enjoyed catching a variety of local fish, especially this beautiful Potato Lake walleye. (Jason Durham / For the Enterprise)

By Jason Durham / For the Enterprise

It’s been said before, but when you spend a lot of time on the water or close to nature in general, unique experiences take place.

For people who aren’t around the great outdoors much, seeing a baby loon content upon its mother’s back or a turtle laying eggs on the shoulder of the road is definitely “unique.”

Those who reside in the Park Rapids area or guests who visit during the spring calendar period see these small miracles annually. Like the fawns that have just started to walk or the overwhelming chorus of frogs in the evening.

But then there are times when even the residents say, “Wow, that was unique.” This has happened to me a few times in past two weeks.

The first took place in the west arm of Potato Lake. Four guide clients were fishing for walleye and one angler got hung up on something in 16 feet of water. The angler pulled and pulled, but the hook would not pull free.

I tried a few tricks to get loose, but none worked. “We’ll just have to break the line,” I said.

As I pulled straight back on the spinning rod, without making the blank bend and keeping my hand on the reel spool to break the line, the snag came loose…and immediately moved sideways.

I handed the rod back to the angler and he began to reel, thinking there was a chance it could be a fish.

As the end of the line made it to the boat he screamed, “It’s a skull!”

“No it’s not,” I said.

“But it’s a bone,” the angler replied.

And it was. A single, quite large, vertebra. Bigger than a baseball.

Ironically, one of the other guests in the boat was a veterinarian. “I’d say it’s from a cow or a horse, unless you have moose around,” he theorized.

We all made our predictions of how the vertebrae ended up on the bottom of Potato Lake in 16 feet of water. Nonetheless, I dried it out and put it in my office. It’s undoubtedly a trophy, since I don’t predict anyone aboard my boat will catch another.

Then last week I was driving home on County Road 4 and I noticed two cars that had pulled over to the shoulder of the road. I slowed down and then I saw why they had stopped; A loon.

Understand that loons spend their entire lives in either the air or water, with the exception of when they lay eggs. Even then they use their legs and wings to push themselves just barely onto the shoreline, a floating bog or a man-made floating nest.

One of the bystanders was ready to grab the bird and bring it to the pond a few hundred yards away. I warned of the animal’s sharp beak and strength as I simultaneously called the DNR.

A DNR employee arrived soon thereafter and safely brought it to the pond, where its relieved mate called out sounds of joy.