No bird for Coach Grant in 2022, but every hunt creates a memory

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The hunters participating in Bud Grant’s pre-95th birthday party Minnesota gobbler hunt included (l-r): Chris Knutson, Mike Sieve, Mark Hamilton, Bud Grant, Justin Vaske, James Loken, Duane Vaske, and Adam Vaske. (Photo by Pat Smith)

Bud Grant celebrated his 95th birthday two weeks early by going out on an early May turkey hunt in southeastern Minnesota. Even though he didn’t kill a bird, he said it was still a great hunt.

“I’ve shot enough turkeys so I’m not disappointed, I’m just glad I was able to get out there and do it,” he said. “At my stage of life there are plenty of incapacitations – I can’t go after deer in the swamps or cross a corn field for pheasant, but one thing I can do is hunt things that come to you.”

In the category of things that come to you, Grant said he can sit in a duck blind, a deer stand and a turkey blind. As he recalled details of his most recent outing, Grant waxed philosophically on hunting, and on life.

“Now I wonder if that’s hunting, because for me the term ‘hunting’ means you have to seek,” he said. A lifelong hunter who has hunted from the Arctic to South America, Grant is more accustomed to seeking and finding than sitting and waiting.

“Whatever you call it, I enjoyed it, but lately I’ve wondered whether or not that’s really hunting.”

The turkey hunt was arranged by his friend Mike Sieve, a renowned wildlife artist from Houston County in southeastern Minnesota. It came about as Sieve was interviewing Grant for an upcoming series of paintings portraying different phases of the 1940 Armistice Day blizzard.

“There aren’t many people around anymore who remember that experience, and Bud has his own harrowing tale from it while a young man in northern Wisconsin,” Sieve said.

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During a break from the turkey blind, Coach Grant and wildlife artist Mike Sieve shared hunting and football stories in Sieve’s studio in rural Rushford, Minn. (Photo by Chris Knutson)

Chris Knutson of Art Barbarian’s Wildlife Art Gallery was along for the conversation and said the subject of turkey hunting came up, and before they knew it, a hunt was being planned to celebrate Grant’s 95th birthday.

Sieve called his friend John Loken, who owns Loken’s Rushford Inn, to set him up with a place to stay and Loken also offered his farm as the hunting location. Grant brought his companion Pat Smith and hunting buddy Mark Hamilton. Sieve and Knutson were there along with John Loken’s son, James, and friends Justin Vaske, Duane Vaske, and Adam Vaske.

The only turkeys bagged that day were by the youngest guys of the group, Duane and Adam Vaske. “That was good news for them – I didn’t take a shot, much less see any turkeys until I got home and there were two toms and a hen in my yard,” Grant said.  Sometimes, that’s just how hunting goes, he said.

“In order to be a coach you have to have a short memory. You can’t look back and worry about the game you lost and dwell on that. You can’t get too impressed by your wins so you look forward and think you’re a genius,” Grant said.  “Forget the losses and wins and just keep going.”

It’s been two years since Grant has bagged a deer, but he hopes to give it another try this November.

“I’ve been to a lot of funerals in the last few years and it makes you realize that if you have good memories to think about, then you can sit and look out the window thinking good thoughts,” he said.

On a wall in his house is a display of around 40 turkey beards he’s harvested over the years, and while he can’t remember the stories of all of them, the ones he does remember let him live those moments over again just looking at them. “Good memories sustain you,” he said. “They entertain and extend your enjoyment in this lifetime.”

An ounce of wisdom, gathered after 95 enjoyable years, is certainly advice worth taking.  Bud’s 95th birthday is Friday, May 20.

From Outdoor News: Happy Birthday Coach!

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Turkey

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