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A Terry Redlin Moment
Oct 18, 2012
This past weekend was the in-state opener for pheasant hunters. We now have a preserve opener, a youth opener, an in-state opener and an out-state opener. This is too much red tape for a traditionalist like me, so generally I just wait for the High Holiday of the opener on the third Saturday in October. But I am a traditionalist — not a fool! This year, with all the beans and corn out and the CRP hayed, the in-state opener promised to be an opportunity to hunt virgin birds on public lands in ample numbers, so I was all in.
WHERE TO HUNT
The waterfowl hunters are a good resource. My duck hunting buddies said that all the birds they heard or saw were near water, and one suggested Long Lake. Long Lake is about 4 minutes from the edge of Watertown, the state’s fourth largest city. From my home, it is an equal distance to Long Lake or Wal-Mart! That just didn’t sound like a recipe for a successful hunt. But I checked with another buddy and his advice echoed the first — take the Memorial Park road from town until you hit Long Lake, and then north until you find a place to park. That seemed like odd advice, but I took it.
For the in-state opener you can only hunt public areas, which lends itself to a concentration of hunters. Pick a public spot four miles from the city of Watertown, and you’re asking for something that looks like the Oklahoma Land Rush. As I drove north, there were multiple pickups parked every quarter-mile. This didn’t look promising, but since I mostly just wanted to get a chance to work my three dogs without being shot at, I was flexible. I saw an area with two trucks and room for me to park, so we were in. As I parked, I notice to my right a monument — I was at the Terry Redlin Wetland Area.
TERRY REDLIN — ONE OF THE GREATEST
Terry is a Watertown native that lost one leg as a high schooler in a motorcycle accident. The state agreed to send him to art school as part of a vocational retraining program, and at first blush, the rest is history. He learned to paint wildlife scenes that captured the beauty of the upper Midwest like nobody had previously imagined. He became so popular that more people bought copies of his work than almost any other artist to ever walk the face of the earth —seriously. But Terry Redlin was different. He never forgot what the people of South Dakota did for him, and he was determined to repay the debt he felt. He returned home. The Redlin Art Center, and many other charitable contributions, are monuments to his commitment.
Not surprisingly, Ducks Unlimited and the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks recognized his support of the outdoors with a monument and the dedication of a public hunting area near his hometown of Watertown.
THIS CAN’T ACTUALLY WORK
So I got out with my three dogs — with two hunters and their sons and dogs to my left and another group a quarter mile to my right. On the first pass towards the water, the only scent the dogs picked up was towards the dads — and no good hunter will crowd a dad taking his kids on a hunt. After a swim for the dogs in Long Lake, three quick flushes yielded two roosters, two shots and a pretty good day. On the swing back to the pickup, about 40 yards from the Terry Redlin marker, one more rooster decided to give it a go, and a quick bark from the over-and-under finished the day. According to the satellite time on the iPhone, my anticipated two-hour walk with my dogs lasted all of 31 minutes!
ASSESSING THE HUNT
My hunting buddy Yseth had to go out later, hunt longer and had less success. When I told him about my hunt, his quick retort was, “You got lucky!”
Personally, I think he missed another obvious answer. Terry Redlin painted the beautiful and multi-colored pheasant like nobody before or since. Maybe, just maybe, the birds hang around his monument because they appreciate his work too?
Lee Schoenbeck grew up in Webster, practices law in Watertown, and is a freelance writer for the South Dakota Magazine website.