Many times while sitting on a deer stand or driving down a country road I've thought about writing a column praising the laboring class, a descriptor I use admirably. Sometimes I think about this also when I'm on a lake, fishing, or while at a gas station filling up my truck and seeing the guy or the woman at the pump across from me watching the dollars fly into the tanks of their cars and pickups.

This fascination with workaday people began I think when I was a kid, watching my dad trying to fit in the things he liked to do with the things he had to do. My dad died young after being sick a long time, a sentence you never want to write. But before he did, like most everybody, he made do, and sometimes better than that.

This came to mind the other day while reading the 139 comments on a short story this newspaper published about Gov. Tim Walz's proposal to raise the prices of fishing licenses and boat registration fees.

Some of the comments were stabs at humor, while others bore the deep cynicism that has become a hallmark of modern America. "So, the state is running a $17 billion surplus and the DNR wants to raise fees, that makes sense,'' one fellow chirped, echoing the thoughts of many others.

In the political parlance of the day, the fee-raising idea has particularly bad "optics'' because it's being floated at a time when the state is flush with cash, as the commenter notes.

Yet, and still, the price of a fishing license hasn't been increased since 2017, and boat registration fees haven't been raised since 2006. Obviously, then, because the Department of Natural Resources is largely funded by these and other license and permit sales, and because the cost of everything is continually rising, more income is needed to keep the "outdoors'' open for business.

That said, the frustration that is evident in many of the comments about increasing fishing and boat registration fees is representative of the exasperation, and burdens, the state's workers, both blue-collar and white-, bear every day, financial and otherwise.

Some of these Minnesotans swing hammers, others teach school and still others, yes, work for the DNR or toil delivering this newspaper. In aggregate, their struggle for the legal tender, as Jackson Browne put it, builds our communities and in the end keeps everyone on the hot rock we all inhabit moving in a productive direction, more or less.

Yet as Studs Terkel noted in his 1974 book, "Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About It,'' jobs, over time, can and oftentimes do become routine and, for some, unfulfilling. As Mike Lefevre, a steelworker, told Terkel, "I do my work but I don't say whoopee-doo. The day I get excited about my job is the day I go to a head shrinker. How are you gonna get excited about pullin steel? How are you gonna get excited when you're tired and want to sit down?''

A majority of Minnesota's 5-million-plus population has an answer: They hike, bike, boat, fish, hunt, climb, paddle and participate in any number of a hundred or so other outdoor activities. Among these are almost 1 million boat owners and 1.5 million anglers, some of whom in spring, summer and fall drive to Mille Lacs or Leech or Winnie, or perhaps Minnetonka or White Bear or another Twin Cities lake, and drop their boats into the water, gaining satisfaction in the process in ways they never could while working.

This is true in part because the natural settings they immerse themselves in are comforting in ways their day-to-day lives are not, and never can be. It's also true because these getaway settings provide canvasses onto which they can paint, if only for a short while, identities that are closer to their true, natural selves.

From a distance, or to the uninitiated, baiting a jig with a minnow and dropping it over the gunwale of a boat no matter its size or cost might appear to be an exercise not unlike walking a dog or taking out the garbage. But to an angler who has chosen a particular spot to fish on a particular lake at a particular time with a particular bait, what's occurring is what the psychologist Abraham Maslow beginning in 1943 called self-actualization, or "seeking fulfillment and change through personal growth.''

And while riding across a lake or wetting a line aren't the only venues by which such growth can be gained — being a mother or father or musician or any of hundreds of other activities qualify — bobbing in a boat and dropping a baited jig over a gunwale fits the bill nicely for a lot of Minnesotans.

Which brings us back to the story of commenters who criticized the proposal to increase boat registration and fishing license fees.

Their frustrations notwithstanding, most of these outdoors enthusiasts will in the end support the price hikes, because the services they will provide and improvements they will make are needed.

But the commenters' support will be colored by the exasperation they gave voice to, because for too long, too much of the maintenance, and improvements, of the state's natural resources has fallen to anglers, boaters and hunters, many of whom toil for working-class wages, whereas hikers, cyclists, birders and the public at large, who earn the same wages or better, too often get a pass on these expenses.

But OK. So be it. Send the bill.

The state's workaday folks will be among those who will pony up, and on we go.