Steve (Buckshot) Kufrin, a wetland and waterfowl activist whose life seemed consumed by ducks, geese and their pursuit, died Sunday at his home in Prior Lake after a five-year battle with brain cancer. He was 66.
A onetime sports editor, columnist and photographer for the Swift County Monitor-News in his hometown of Benson, Minn., Kufrin also was the longtime editor of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association magazine and, beginning in 1990, an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where he worked as a private lands coordinator.
"We got along famously when I was president of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association and he was the editor of our magazine,'' said Lance Ness of Golden Valley. "He was an avid waterfowler who not only had a passion for the birds, but for writing stories about ducks and geese.''
Dave Zentner of Duluth, past president of the Izaak Walton League, said Kufrin was a natural fit when he joined Fish and Wildlife. "He was the point person for the service on private lands projects," he said, "and I was working on an Izaak Walton League program, doing upland and wetland restorations on just those lands. He helped me a ton.''
Kufrin's wife, Jill, said her husband's brain cancer returned in June. "Radiation and surgery weren't an option this time,'' she said.
Jill Kufrin recalled that she and her husband were married in a country church outside of Benson in 1983.
"After we left the church, we drove a short way down a little dirt road. Then we stopped and all of his buddies stood up from the ditch, dressed in camouflage, and gave us a 21-gun salute,'' she said, adding:
"Then we got into a duck boat on a trailer, and we were pulled through Benson like that, with me in my wedding dress,'' she said. The Kufrins spent their wedding night in a friend's duck camp.
"Duck shack,'' she corrected.
In 2005, the Fish and Wildlife Service honored him with the creation of the Kufrin Waterfowl Production Area, a tract of land set aside to benefit ducks and geese. Subsequently he received the service's National Wetlands Conservation Lifetime Achievement Award.
Kufrin was instrumental in starting Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever and Minnesota Waterfowl Association chapters in Minnesota and had been a Big Brother and Minnesota Waterfowl Association "Woodie Camp'' volunteer.
In addition to his wife, Kufrin's daughters Emily, 21, and Becca, 19, survive him. Visitation is 3-7 p.m. Wednesday at Ballard-Sunder Funeral Home, 4565 Pleasant St. SE, Prior Lake, and one hour prior to the service Thursday at 4 p.m. at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church, 3611 North Berens Road NW, Prior Lake.