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Dave Zentner of Duluth, himself a longtime conservationist who headed the Capitol duck rallies, also has worked with Ness over the years. “He leads with his heart,” Zentner said. “He’s a joy to work with.”
Ness, who grew up in north Minneapolis in a non-hunting family, said he decided early to give something back to pursuits that have changed his life. He figures he spends 200 hours a year at the Legislature.
“I do it because I love it,” he said. “You have to find the time. It’s important for the next generation.”
And key issues remain: Water and wetland conservation, aquatic invasive species, climate change and monitoring spending of Legacy Amendment dollars destined for fish, game and wildlife habitat.
“We have to keep an eye on it, or they will steal the money [for other purposes],” Ness said.
But next week, Ness will temporarily forget about perplexing conservation issues as he and his friends head to turkey camp near La Crescent.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous — one of my favorite spots in the whole world,” Ness said. “I can’t wait to go. Camping makes it more old-style hunting. We have a big fire pit. We rough it. I like to do it that way.”
He remembers that first hunt in 1981, when he was a novice.
“I made all the mistakes. I scared turkeys away, left and right. I didn’t know you had to sit totally still,” Ness said.
Since then he has become an expert, hunted turkeys in five states and bagged three subspecies: Merriam’s, Easterns and Rio Grande. He needs an Osceola turkey in Florida to complete the coveted Grand Slam.
“It’s on my bucket list,” he said.
Whether he bags a young bird with a 2-inch beard or a longspur with a 10-inch bird, “the excitement is beyond measure.
“I consider every one a trophy.”
Doug Smith • email@example.com
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