In high school, my buddies and I would load our backpacks with camping and fishing gear and hitchhike from St. Paul to Grand Marais. We'd rent a canoe from Charlie at Gunflint Outfitters who'd drop us off at Northern Lights Lake 10 miles up the Gunflint Trail. We'd catch northerns in the shallow lake and walleyes in a couple deeper holes in the Brule River that dumped into the lake. They were great times, we honed our woodsman skills, and fostered a continuing love for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I still take my family to the Boundary Waters every year, and hope my kids realize similar memories and passion.
Tom Landwehr, Commissioner, Minnesota DNR
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A few years ago, my husband, Chuck, and I took a photographic safari to Botswana. The scenery and wildlife were spectacular. One time we were in our open-top Land Rover photographing elephants when one charged the vehicle, bringing five or six other elephants with her. The driver threw the truck into reverse and drove as fast as he could, and the elephant still caught us. We also hunted grouse over pointing dogs in South Africa, where I shot a cobra that a dog handler was about to step on. Pretty exciting trip that I'd take again.
Loral I. Delaney, Armstrong Ranch Kennels, Anoka
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Ten years ago, camping in the Serengeti, I was awakened by a sound. Through a wall of mosquito netting I saw a she-lion drinking water from the canvas wash-basin 2 feet from me. She couldn't see me with the light in her eyes. If the netting had been open, I could have touched her. Then, the thunder of hooves as a herd of wildebeest stampeded through camp. The lioness turned and in three strides brought down a straggler. I heard the shots of the porters' rifles they'd aimed over her head, and she escaped to the tall grass surrounding the camp. The rest of the night I could see a half-dozen pairs of eyes glowing in the moonlight. Her pride. I must have slept. In the morning, the wildebeest and the lions were gone. I think of her, and returning to the Serengeti, a little every day.
Don Shelby, retired anchor, WCCO-TV
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Each winter, I shoot quail at Riverview Plantation in Camilla, Georgia. The weather is wonderful, and I love hunting there among the big pines. The attraction of course is guns over dogs, in this case English pointers that find and hold quail very well. It's wonderfully picturesque country along the Flint River. I've hunted there over 30 times, and I always look forward to going back.
Dave Perkins, retired owner, Northwest Sportshow, Minneapolis Boat Show
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I traveled to the Amazon to fish for peacock bass, flying into Manaus, Brazil, and taking a boat to the Rio Negro River. The fishing was spectacular, and peacock bass just kill top-water lures. My biggest was 23 pounds. But fishing was just part of the trip. The scenery and wildlife, from South American crocodiles to monkeys, was as memorable. The beauty of our location was there were no mosquitoes, whereas in other parts of the Amazon, they can lift you off the river.
Ron Schara, retired Star Tribune outdoors columnist