“Okay then, when do we get another nostalgia party started?” That’s how some of my dad’s era vintage readers responded to our last couple columns where, as they said, we pretty much “waltzed” down memory lane. First of all, I have no clue how to do the waltz. When a slow song is played, my generation just kind of stands in one place and sways back and forth. Secondly, if I listened to our vintage readers, I would lead with Ricky Nelson’s 1972 song “Garden Party” that recounts, with comments, his painful 1971 reunion outing at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
If you have watched “Law & Order” or “Perry Mason,” for that matter, you know what “overruled” means. This correlates to before I get into this column’s theme of, “this was then, this is now,” the senior member of Dimich Outdoors, my dad, won his objection (he is also the judge), directing that I back story one of his goldie oldie idols, Ricky Nelson.
As many of you know, Ricky first gained fame as a teenage idol in his parents’ ‘50s and ‘60s television show, “Ozzie and Harriet.” Ricky consequently struck rock gold with soul-searching songs like “Lonesome Town,” “Have I Told you Lately that I Love You,” “Be-Bop Baby” and “Hello Mary Lou.” His last top 40 hit was “Garden Party.”
Ricky was an early television phenomenon who, like so many other child stars, including Judy Garland, probably got fame before they were able to handle it. If you listen to Ricky’s 1961 song, “Teenage Idol,” you might get a sense of what these “child stars” went through as Ricky sings, “Some people call me a teenage idol / Some people say they envy me / I guess they got no way of knowing / How lonesome I can be.”
In his heyday, Ricky and his songs were incredibly received. But on October 15, 1971, during a Rock and Roll Revival at Madison Square Garden that all came to an end for Ricky as he left the stage when he was booed for playing not only new material, but having long hair and wearing “bell bottoms.” When you listen to Rick’s 1972 rebuttal song “Garden Party” you will hear of “my old friends.” These friends were the musical giants with whom he shared the bill: Chuck Barry, Bo Diddley and Bobby Rydell. Many say it was all a mistake as the crowd was booing police action in the back of the venue, but Ricky took it personally, feeling it was aimed at him and did not return to the stage, even for the encore.
Back in the day, outdoor writers almost always focused on the “hook ‘n bullet” stories of “how to” or the “me ‘n Joe” stories. Most centered on mule and whitetail deer, walleyes, bass, trout, grouse, ducks and geese. Turkeys, bears, moose, elk, sharptail, pheasants, panfish, northerns, muskies, smallmouth bass and fishing pros and wolves and Asian Carp, deer hunting over bait and so on, were non-issues. There were, however, the occasional “hunting hawks” (to protect pheasants and grouse) stories that barely ruffled a feather, but today would make national news. Imagine having a hawk-hunting article or show today?
If you follow the outdoor media (except maybe the syndicated shows where everything is wonderful) you know that at the beginning of 2016, like in “The Music Man” we have trouble in “River City.” For my purposes, let’s just say “River City” is our outdoors.
Aside from anti-hunters rising and overall hunter numbers declining, one of our most significant and probably most frightening concerns is our dwindling moose population, which in northwest Minnesota has almost disappeared since the moose-hunting season was stopped in 1997 and is half of what it was just a few years ago in the northeast. Oh, there is ongoing research, radio collaring of both calves (which Governor Dayton has temporarily halted) and adults and a bunch of ongoing state management and research, but, to use a worn analogy, it’s like herding cats, lots of noise and action, but no discernable results.
It seems everywhere we turn in our hunting, fishing and trapping worlds, there is more research and new management plans. This research/management is being done because certain parts of our hunting and fishing worlds are either perceived to be heading into dire straits or, like the moose and several large fishing lakes, actually are in dire straits.
Strangely enough, although many of you identify “Dire Straits” as the British rock band (“Sultans of Swing,” “Money for Nothing”), “strait” is a navigational term for a dangerous narrow water passage like the “Straits of Gibraltar” and “dire” means terrible. In a manner of speaking, what Mille Lacs is currently going through is the same thing our other large water lakes like Leech, Upper Red, Vermillion and Big Winnie not only have gone through, but are still going through as they are not completely out of the water (sorry, bad pun, but true).
As in navigation, to get through these dire straits, the key is how plotting a course and deciding who will make decisions. As you well know, especially today, it is difficult to get a simple majority to agree on any plan even though nearly 100% will say something has to be done. Regarding involving our governmental agencies, there is an old saying that says nothing will ever get done if people cling to the notion that, “Government should stay out of the things we want them to stay out of, but be involved in the things we want them to get into.”
Aside from the alarming moose decline, we also have a bitter battle over not only who should manage our timber wolves, state or federal authorities, but also how they should be managed. Many people believe those who support wolf hunting and trapping seasons and those who oppose them will never see eye to eye and the battle will be won (as it has been lately) by who has the best lobbyists.
In addition, consider current deer debates whether we should allow “cross-tagging” (party hunting) or make “APR” (antler point restrictions) mandatory statewide. Here’s the “big” question, “How do we please everyone?” Add in should any hunter be allowed to use a crossbow in archery season, not just with a doctor’s excuse or age factor and then factor in, should anyone be able to use a scope on a muzzleloader? Think about it, it wasn’t that long ago no one could legally use a crossbow and there wasn’t a special muzzleloader season, so they had to be used in the regular firearms season. Also remember, Minnesota had a bounty on black bears until 1965 and did not hold a state-regulated bear hunt until 1971, put together for the DNR (Department of Conservation then) by Richard “Dick” Anderson (of Hunter Education fame) and Lynn Rogers (yes, the currently controversial bear guy).
Yes, we have issues. But, can everyone who has a line in the water at Mille Lacs, like the smallmouth people, muskie hunters, trophy pike pursuers, perch jerkers, and walleye loyalists, have it their own way? Probably not, but compromise is a word seldom heard nowadays. What we now hear are downer words like “fed up,” “disgusted,” and “wary.” Many avid outdoors people feel they have been abandoned by the powers that run our resources, kind of like when Ricky Nelson in his 1957 hit, “Stood Up,” sang “Stood up, broken-hearted, again.” Only instead of “stood up” many today would say “Fed up.”
Ricky Nelson’s “Garden Party” ends with, “You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.” That might have been true in his personal music world, but in our outdoor world, the opposite is true. We need to forget about pleasing ourselves and gaining our personal wants. We need to focus and compromise and achieve what’s best for our resources. Once we do, it will be “all right now” and we will “have learned our lesson well.”
Nik Dimich is a Grand Rapids, Minnesota area and northern Minnesota fishing guide and outdoor communicator who is on the pro staffs of Mercury Marine, Plano Synergy, Frabill and Ray’s Sport & Marine. To book a trip or to just talk fishing, hunting or the outdoors, please contact him at 218-259-8459 or at www.DimichOutdoors.com and “like” Dimich Outdoors or Nik and Becca’s Outdoor Promotions on Facebook. Kristin and Rod Dimich contribute to this column.