They tried pushing it. They tried pulling it. They tried cutting it in half.

And the monster bog of the Brainerd lakes just laughed.

In the ongoing struggle of man vs. nature, nature won by a knockout Wednesday.

A daylong effort at North Long Lake failed to dislodge the giant floating mat of muck, bulrushes and tamarack trees that grounded on shore last fall at Legionville, a training camp for Minnesota school patrol guards.

“It kicked our butts, let’s just be honest here,” said Kevin Martini, an official with the Brainerd office of the state Department of Natural Resources. “We never thought it would be this much trouble.”

More than three dozen volunteers attacked the bog about 7 a.m. with a flotilla of boats packing thousands of horsepower, trying to pull the bog off shore. The bog refused to budge.

“Six boats? I think we needed 160,” one driver said.

The bog broke loose last October, on Friday the 13th, and rampaged around the lake for a week, taking out several docks and boat lifts before settling at Legionville.

DNR officials estimate the bog covers about 4 acres and weighs as much as 4,000 tons.

Around dinner time, workers finally succeeded in slicing the bog in half using a steel cable. Five boats hooked onto half of the bog and tried to pull it loose from shore.

But despite the roar of the mighty Evinrude engines, the bog didn’t move.

Randy Tesdahl, executive director of the American Legion in Minnesota, said the next step is to try to slice off smaller pieces of the bog and move them.

“We’re making lemonade, believe me,” he said. “This will be moved.”

Tesdahl said water safety is an important part of the training students receive at Legionville so it’s important to have the beach open for boating, canoeing and safety classes.

When the bog came ashore last fall, Tesdahl said he got calls from companies all over the U.S. offering to move it. The problem is most wanted $50,000 to $100,000 to do the job.

All the labor Wednesday was volunteered and local businesses donated the boats and heavy equipment.

Everyone wanted in on the action, even the food. Many locals who came out to watch helped themselves to the lunch that had been delivered for the volunteers.

“How many times in a lifetime are you gonna see something like this in your own backyard?” said Tom Hagen, who lives nearby. “It’s made me more curious about nature.”

Karen Pierzinski and her husband, Barney, were fascinated. “I think it’s hilarious,” Karen said. “It’s just one big mess. Good luck to ’em.”

Added her husband: “I think they should get some dynamite.”