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Here's a story to get deer hunters warmed up


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1958 antlers given new life

Submitted by Journal Staff on October 26, 2007 - 10:37am.

By Kathy M. Ellsworth

It was 1958. An ice house that belonged to Red Rogers was rebuilt and was now a 14 x 16 hunting shack, moved to a place in the north woods, south of Ray, Minn.

The shack had a Kalamazoo Wood Cook Stove, one set of double bunks and one set of single bunks, table and chairs and could sleep six comfortably. Kenneth “Buzz” and Bob Hultman settled the camp for the enjoyment of hunting and family weekends. The one mile trip behind the Frank House home was sometimes filled with ruts and deep mud holes. Bob Hultman had a Jeep pick up, that frequently was used to transport people, gear and pulling other vehicles out from the mud. It was always worth the effort to get to the quaint little shack.

Slaughter Hill

Hunting season of November 1958, Buzz and Bob Hultman, Cliff Weum, Keith Seward and guest Orin “Bugs” Tollefsrud had gathered at the shack for the deer hunt. South/southwest of the shack was a hill. On the top of the hill, the ridge had a huge cutting of old pine stumps and a beautiful view of the area surrounding the hill. In the past, it took an hour and a half to go around a swamp to get to the ridge, but the harvest of deer from that hill, made it worth it. Recently Buzz and Bob had received an ariel photo of the area. The guys made a trail through the swamp, using the photo and it cut the hour and a half walk to about 12 – 15 minutes. The hill was named “Slaughter Hill.”

On the first day of deer season, the guys headed out for the Hill.

Tollefsrud did not have a rifle; he was using a 12-gauge shotgun with slugs. Bugs stated, “I’m not buying no rifle until I decide if I’m going to be a deer hunter or not.” Before spreading out the guys had a cup of coffee. Buzz brought Bugs to his hunting spot on the ridge and told him to stay there until one of the guys came back for him. Buzz found his place on a rock about a block away from Bugs. Bob went to his favorite hunting place and started a warming fire in an old stump. The smell of the wood smoke drifted through the hunting area. Cliff and Keith were spread out at their hunting spots.

No sooner then Buzz was settled, he looked down from the hill and there was a buck with its nose to the ground. With one shot of his 30-30 Winchester, the buck jumped in the air, ran around a small rock pile and dropped dead. Buzz was shaking from all the excitement.

Two shots

Just then he heard two shots. It was Bugs shooting his 12 gauge shotgun. Buzz decided to first walk over to check on Bugs before checking his deer. Bob, Cliff and Keith met just about the same time, where Bugs was standing next to a spike buck and a doe. His gun was leaning against a tree and when he was asked if he had gutted them out. Bugs looked up and said, “No, I don’t have a knife. There’s nothing to this deer hunting.” The group helped clean Bugs’ two deer and dragged them over to where Buzz’s buck was laying.

Buzz was the first one to the 12-point buck. The rack was a huge non-typical rack. After gutting the deer, one of the guys suggested quartering the buck to haul it out of the woods. Buzz said, “No way, it’s coming out just as it is.” The guys dragged their deer to the edge of the swap where Bob was waiting with his Jeep. They loaded the deer on the back and Bob broke out a six pack of Buckhorn beer. He said, “It’s time to take a break and drink to Bugs’ first deer hunt and Buzz’s big buck.” After one beer they brought the deer to the shack and hung the deer on the hanging pole.

They registered their deer and celebrated at the Standard Gas Station in Ray. A couple who ran the café/tavern, Ernie and Sylvia, was known for their good food and warm service. Hunters in the area would gather there to tell their stories.

The shack was a special place for many years of hunting and family fun. There was a old Plymouth sedan with chains on the tires and the kid’s would ask, “Let’s go for a ride around the horn.” Frequently they would get stuck and the whole gang would get out and push. Life was good. Happy memories of good times shared are cherished by many.

In the summer of 1969 Lightning struck and all that was left of the shack was the Kalamazoo Wood Stove.

The antlers of Buzz Hultman’s 1958 buck were mounted on a plaque in 1970 as a Christmas gift from daughter Kathy. They were in the cabin on Grindstone Island until it was sold and then hung in the basement.

Son-in-law, Keith A. Ellsworth was inspired when he saw the antlers hanging in the basement. He was interested in the story behind the trophy rack and started asking Buzz questions.

Keith felt it was a “once in a lifetime rack” and it should be displayed where people could see it.” Keith’s wife Kathy, had shot an 8-point buck during the 2006 deer season. As a gift to Kathy, Keith had a excellent taxidermist, Greg Lundin, do a head mount of the deer for her. It was a beautiful gift in honor of Kathy’s big buck.

The mount

Buzz said, “Back in the 50’s people didn’t have the money to have head mounts done.” Keith asked if he could take the antlers to his good friend Greg. The antlers could have a cape attached with a mold and the 1958 “Slaughter Hill Buck” could be displayed for family and friends to see. Buzz agreed, saying, “Now I don’t want you spending a whole lot of money on this.” Keith smiled and the antlers were taken to Greg in early July 2007.

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2007, Keith rang the doorbell at his in-laws, Buzz and Evie Hultman’s home at about 5:30pm. Buzz answered the door. It had been 49 years; Buzz was taken back by seeing the full head mount with the huge non-typical 12 point antlers. He said, “It was like going back to 1958. Sitting on that rock and seeing that buck again for the first time. I could see my self looking down from “Slaughter Hill.” It was a beautiful spot and a beautiful deer and here it is again.”

Keith helped Buzz hang the head mount and it can be seen as you come in the back door of the house. Keith said, “It’s a once in a life time buck and I’m glad I could have Greg do a full head mount for Buzz.”

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Great story. My dad and his buddies used to have a deer camp up North and they always went for a week and this story reminded me of that place. We used to go in the Fall as kids when they would open up the deer shack and get things ready and prepared for the upcoming deer season. It was a great place to be - and I always wanted to be able to deer hunt with him at that deer shack. They stopped hunting there before I was the deer hunting age though - but I remember the place. My dad is in a nursing home now this year - and is going fast. It is the first year he wont be hunting with us - it wont be the same. Your story reminded me of some good times and memories - thanks.

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Really enjoyed reading the story thanks for sharing it with us. Do you have a photo to post? It really gets a guy pumped up for the upcoming opener. I will celebrate my 30th year in the deer woods next weekend...man did that go by fast! Good Luck to all and have a safe trip!

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