It's coming...this thought came to my mind a week ago during my last trip north to see my parents. I was half way through a rainy four hour ride in the forests north of town when I thought..."This peacefulness will soon be coming to an end." At the moment all I could hear was the sound of gravel under my bike tires along with the sound of the rain falling through the trees to the ground, and the sounds of U2 and Pavarotti when I had the earphones for my iPod in. It was a wonderfully relaxing experience that will soon end. Why?
Because autumn will soon be upon us and in this neck of the woods, along with autumn comes the annual tribal gatherings. Yes, the "Hunter Gatherers" will soon be invading these peaceful forests of northern Minnesota. Roads and trails that have hardly been traveled since last fall will soon be invaded by tribal members as they scour the forest for their prey.
Many of these tribes have already been preparation for this annual event. Making sure their camps are fully ready by doing repairs, stocking up on food and liquid sustenance, and getting their ATV's in perfect running order. Yes, that's right...ATV's! You see, these tribes have modernized. How could anyone these days be expected to hunt for grouse and actually walk? Only a few of the truly sporting and physically fit tribal members still hunt with the ways of the old. It hearkens me back to the days of old when my Father would take me out on the hunt. I new that I would need the finest Redwing hunting boots, and a huge breakfast, because we would be spending the day actually walking through the forest often times from camp to camp.
Many of these tribal camps have also been modernized. No longer are they the "hunting shacks" of old. The fact that they even use the term "shack" is somewhat of a joke to me. These are not shacks in the faintest sense of the term. Many could be used as a second home for some of us. Satellite T.V., stereo, electricity, plumbing, wet bars, modern kitchens with all the amenities of a 5 star restaurant. Well maybe not exactly that luxurious, but you get the picture. You certainly cannot expect a tribal member from the Twin Cities to make their weekend migration to "The Shack" without having a martini or mojito can you? Yes, there is also a migration involved here.
Over the years many tribal members have moved to the more populated and economically stable areas of the state, but when autumn arrives they make their weekly trek north to gather and commune with the rest of the members of their particular tribe. These tribes even have tribal names...The Poachers Tribe, 5 Island Tribe, The Dreamers, The Botton Box Lake Tribe, and the list goes on.
As with many tribes of the past these tribes have for the most part been able to peacefully coexist with one another, but from time to time you hear stories of tribes becoming angry with one another over land disputes. For the most part these are peaceful disagreements and the tribes no longer go to war with each other over hunting grounds. Harsh words may be exchanged, but disagreements are generally settled in a peaceful manner over several beers or other cocktails.
As a former tribal member myself I must say that I do miss the weekends in the northwoods and all the fun that goes along with it. The Saturday evening dinners were the best. Often times these dinners resembled the potlatches of the tribal communities that lived in the Northwest. Large quantities of food and alcohol are often times consumed at these tribal celebrations.
At one point in time I myself was a member of one of these tribes, but after a guilt ridden hunt in which I shot a large trophy buck I gave up hunting and left my tribe to forge a path of my own. Ahh! How I do still love the taste of wild game however. With hunting season upon us I would like to wish all tribal members a successful autumn hunt and may this carry over to the deer season in November. Keep yourselves and others safe and maybe even think about taking that long walk through the forest and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of nature.
So with that, my days of riding forest roads and fire trails has come to an end...at least until the snow flies. Once December comes around I will find myself once again venturing into the northern woods on my bike.