NAGC News: Newspapers, Awards, and More

Another year, another 365 chances to get outside and do important things. 2021 so far has developed its own flavor, heavy on “couldn’t wait to do this again.” It’s been mostly good, sometimes hectic, and almost always rewarding. Where to start…where to start…

The Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW) annual conference in Gaylord, Michigan just wrapped up last week. As usual, it was chock-full of activities, seminars, networking, and socializing. Though it was about four times as far from home as the last conference, it was worth the drive. In the first couple days, I went river rafting with Sturgeon River Paddlesports and looking for elk with an expert from Michigan DNR. In the Award-in-Craft ceremony, I was honored for a few things from the last year:

Never A Goose Chase was awarded second place in the Best Website competition. 

Less Screen Time, More Green Time was inspired by a couple outings with my kids in April that were short but extremely meaningful. It was given third place honors in the Blog division, Open category. 

“Backpacking Rewards,” a photo used in Less Screen Time, More Green Time, was also given third place in the Photography division, Outdoor Recreation category. 

I am humbled to be recognized by such an accomplished, respected group of outdoor communicators. Next year’s AGLOW conference in Branson can’t come soon enough. 

The summer of 2021 was full to the brim with adventures, due in part to making up for 2020. Trips to the BWCA and Yellowstone with my wife and kids were worth the wait, and provided memories to last a lifetime. In between our comings and goings, I produced weekly lake recreation features for Minnesota’s Press Publications newspapers. They titled the series “At the Lakes,” which ran from June to September. I hope to have the privilege to do it again next year. 

Just as that wrapped up, I was presented the opportunity to write for the Mankato Free Press, my hometown paper. I already have several topics in mind for this Fall; watch for those if you live in that market.

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer ran three short pieces of mine in the last year, on wild hazelnuts, catfishing, and Minnesota’s crappies. While they were challenging, it felt good to crack into that venerable publication. You can find those in the issue archives on their website. And if this summer hadn’t been crazy enough, they also assigned me a story which consumed every scrap of free time I had in July and August. I won’t reveal any more about that, but you can look for it in 2022. 

Some items sneak onto Never A Goose Chase without an email campaign (usually foraging). So, even if you’re an email subscriber, take a second to scroll down the home page and see what you’ve missed. Then turn off your screens and get outside!

Foraging in Minnesota: Wild Grapes

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I never paid much attention to wild grapes until a couple years ago. Growing up in the Minnesota River valley, we often encountered beefy grape vines in the woods that disappeared into the tops of the tallest treees. They were sturdy enough to swing on if you could break them at the bottom. The fruit I tasted on occasion wasn’t very good compared to the green and red grapes from the store, so I wrote them off in my youth. For decades, I didn’t know what I was missing. 

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Foraging in Minnesota: Sand Cherry

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A couple days ago, my daughter found a single cherry. I could not have been more elated. 

It was our first Sand cherry. We’d been searching hard for two whole days, covering almost 10 miles on foot, in three distinct parts of Minnesota. The triumph was not so much the harvest (ultimately a couple dozen cherries) as it was the successful conclusion to our foraging quest. 

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Do Something New: River Smallmouth Float Trip

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I recently took a day trip on the Mississippi to do some fishing. It’s something I hadn’t done before, but had been considering trying on the many fishable rivers in the area. 

It’s good I did, because it will probably stand as one of the highlights of the entire summer. To tell the truth, the plan was so simple, it really couldn’t fail: just me, my kayak, the river, and any smallmouth bass that were in the mood for a tussle. 

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Yellow Bass of the Fairmont Chain

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I was on the phone last night with an old Minnesota fisherman. He asked if I’d done anything interesting lately. I said, “See if you can guess. What are yellow with black markings, plentiful, and taste good when they’re battered and fried?”

“Bananas.” 

“Yeah, well, okay….here’s another hint: they wiggle and flop when you throw them on the ice next to your sled.”

“Puppies?”

“What? No! I’m talking about yellow bass.”

“Huh. Never heard of ‘em.”

No kidding. 

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