An Outdoorsman’s Diary: The Perfect Frontier | columns


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This week’s column is mostly about spending four days in Dodge County near Burnett with my super, dumbest perfect buddy, the only ROD BENSLEY! I have written about Rod in the past and until recently he founded, operated and owned the Roosters Run pheasant hunting area. Rod and his wife, Wendy Vick, still farm the finest 212 acres of pure paradise in Dodge County, but they no longer market pheasant hunting for a good reason you’ll soon find out.

All thanks for the best goose hunt I’ve ever done goes to retired Dodge County Conservation Officer John Christian. I had met John in the past, but today I would learn that the man is a pure bird dog and that he has left no weaknesses when we met in a somewhat picked sweet corn field long before daybreak. There were three little bait banks to wipe out and then the bird dog made a blind for me out of corn stalks, told me to lie down on the ground and covered me up. I was told the geese would be there soon and the wait wouldn’t be long.

Well, here is the inside story, and it’s a big one, a sad one, but that’s what life is about. My SUPER DUPER BUDDY had a sore leg last fall and it got worse all winter. Due to Covid issues and some scheduling issues, it wasn’t until mid-spring that serious investigations into what was causing the pain were seriously investigated, and it was soon discovered that Rod had prostate cancer that had progressed to the bone.

It was found that Rod had a chance of fighting until he got very sick on Memorial Day and found out he had rectal cancer and may not have long to live.

I was in regular contact with Rod and Wendy throughout the summer, and four days with them were scheduled to visit and also take me to Rod Bensley Forced Labor Camp.

This is how John Christian comes into the story, it was found that he can set up a hunt in conditions where there are virtually no geese in the area for the start and with his long-time mate, who is not entirely healthy.

Wendy Vick, a nurse at the Waupon Correctional Institute, was so concerned for her husband that she came along and got into the truck.

A herd flies by, I can’t see a boo because I have corn stalks in my face, John drills one. A herd lands, there is nothing I can do because they are out of reach. One flock makes the mistake of getting too close and we drop five. Before it got light we said we’d be happy to see a couple of geese, we now have six.

Rod sails a goose and Wendy goes home to get her German Wirehaired Pointer “Sassy”. Rod Bensley is one of the best hound trainers I’ve seen. The goose is at least 500 meters away and in a sunflower field. Sassy finds the goose! We have ten now.

Rod Bensley knows he’s a man on a short rope, he runs business in every possible way and does his best to make sure that Wendy is well looked after, including the two planning a new house at 212 and build acres.

After the amazing haul in and some other extraordinary shooting, I have four geese, as does John and Rod two. Rod’s bad leg (worsening cancer) tells him he has to go home. We literally had to lift him off the floor.

A crush from Canada makes a mistake, I shot one, John shot one, and Rod gets a triple! Wendy comes in from the truck and the first thing she says to me is: “It’s God, I guarantee you it’s God!”

I stayed with the Bensleys two more days and did basic work and attended and saw the non-stop parade of people visiting Rod and it was an amazing experience for me.

Rod has been lucky lately and is praying that he can hunt deer with his crossbow and maybe even a rifle.

No matter what, this retired correctional officer, longtime tree climber / harvest worker lives big and to the fullest every day! Live like there’s no tomorrow! Sunset.

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About Clayton Arredondo

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