Goose hunting more about camaraderie than harvest

Wade Wittwer of Little Falls traveled north of Greenbush recently to hunt geese with some of his buddies. Six miles from the Canadian border, it was Wittwer’s first time hunting in those territories. The biggest challenge was not only to find the geese, but to find land to hunt on. Much of it is agricultural with some forests and swamps.
The northwestern corner of the state has different hunting regulations when it comes to early-season goose hunting. While the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) allows geese to be hunted in all conditions, whether in the field or on the water, the northwestern section does not.
“You’re only allowed to field hunt, so you can’t shoot anything on the water,” Wittwer said. “You’re only allowed to hunt geese 100 yards or more away from water.”

Wade Wittwer considers it a bonus whenever he harvests something, but knows the real treasure of hunting lies in the camaraderie of friends.
Wade Wittwer considers it a bonus whenever he harvests something, but knows the real treasure of hunting lies in the camaraderie of friends.

Wittwer and his friends, Bill Zupko of Flensburg, Erik Zupko of Little Falls and Todd Koning of Randall, arrived in Greenbush on a Friday afternoon. There they put their gear in the hunting shack, met up with their friend, Brian Blawat of Greenbush and drove around looking for geese. They found some feeding.
“You want to find where they are landing, so you can hunt them in the morning,” Wittwer said. “They come in at night for water at a pond or other place of water. Then they usually go back to where they are feeding.”
When the four men went out the following day, they got their shotguns ready, placed several goose decoys in the field and used goose calls.
Even though no geese were shot, Wittwer wasn’t bothered by it one bit.
“Hunting is about the camaraderie of friends, having a good time, sharing a few laughs and swapping good stories,” he said.
“Catching a goose is just a bonus,” he said.
Wittwer said he was about 11 when he went hunting for the first time. It was a special time and excitement for a boy when Grandpa Ward showed him how to hunt squirrels. Never hunting just for the sport, but also for food, Wittwer recalls the squirrels tasted good.
Grandpa Ward holds a special place in Wittwer’s heart. Not only did he teach him how to hunt, as well as how to fish, it was the friendship that developed when they were together.
“It was fun doing things with Grandpa. Sometimes he’d even take me out of school as a treat to go fishing,” he said.
Sitting on the river and waiting for the fish to bite or in the woods, waiting for a deer was more than just that. They were also opportunities Grandpa used to instill many valuable lessons and values into his grandson.
“He helped me become the man I am today,” Wittwer said.
Hunting is a tradition that Wittwer has shared with his sons, Logan, 15, and Cody, 13. Having hunted for ducks and other animals, this year will be the first time for Cody to go deer hunting.
“I think it’s great. I’m very proud of him for doing it,” he said. “I’m really happy when they go with me because it gives them something do besides electronics.”
Depending on what type of meat is brought home after a hunt, the Wittwer family makes a variety of jerky, sausage and steak. While he particularly likes steak, Wittwer said his wife, Deb, enjoys venison sausage.
“It’s also good that the boys help, because it’s something they learn and can then do when they are older and are on their own,” he said. “It feels good to be able to bring meat home. It also helps on the grocery bill.”
Whenever time allows, Wittwer said he likes to do something outdoors with his family.
“Anything you can do outdoors together with your family without any electronics is an opportunity to bring you closer,” he said. “That’s what it is about. The camaraderie that comes from getting together and doing things together.”

  • Jim Ostrander

    Truth! Parenting at its best. Congratulations Mr. Wittwer, I did much the same with my brother. It didn’t matter if we harvested a goose or two, it was all about spending time together. When there was enough ice on Mille Lacs he’d call me up and say “…let’s go fishin'”, and I’d meet him at the fish house to spend a few days just being brothers. Good memories for all.