Duck Opener: A Special Place on Stoney Lake

Duck Opener: A Special Place on Stoney Lake
NEW LONDON, Minn. (MCT) - Roger Strand slipped out of his sleeping bag in the darkness Saturday, dressed and loaded the woodstove with logs, kindling another duck hunting season.

Soon, five other hunters stirred in the little cabin, beckoned to the breakfast table by steaming pancakes and the anticipation of a new season. Outside, Canada geese honked on the lake as darkness gave way to dawn. Decoy bags, duck boats and hunting dogs were ready to go.

Welcome to Stoney Lake Cabin and the 2008 Minnesota duck opener.

For more than 50 years, Strand, 72, and his family have launched their waterfowl hunting seasons from the picturesque cabin in the woods overlooking 30-acre Stoney Lake. The place is a classic: Deer heads, wildlife art, old decoys and photos adorn the place. Log books jammed with photos document hunts back to the 1950s.

Four generations of Strands have called this unique, cement-block cabin their hunting shack.


It's a fortress that holds a wealth of memories.


"We hunt deer, turkeys and ducks here," Strand said. "These openers are special."

And the tradition continued Saturday.

Strand was joined by two nephews, three of their offspring and a friend_seven hunters_plus two kids too young to hunt who already are learning about the Stoney Cabin mystic. Log bunk beds sleep 10, and there's room for more.

Sometimes the place is filled.


"It's such an important thing for our family," Roger Strand said.

"My father grew up in New London, and he loved to hunt ducks," said Strand, a retired doctor, longtime conservationist and member of the Wood Duck Society. He is well-known in waterfowl circles. He has 100 wood duck boxes scattered on his property and nearby. And for 26 years the local chapter of the Minnesota Waterfowl Association has held Prairie Pothole Day on his farm, which attracts up to 5,000 people.

His father, Orrin, instilled a love of waterfowling for Roger and his brother Dick.


"He wanted a place where the boys and maybe grandchildren could hunt, so he built this in 1955. We've been holding duck camps and openers here since before that. Now we're into the fourth generation."

His father and brother have passed away, but three generations were on hand Saturday.

Said nephew Matt Strand, 48, of Eden Prairie: "I started duck hunting right here. It's like a second home. You just don't miss the opener."

Matt Strand's sons, Alex, 15, Tom, 19, and Mike, 22, all were in blinds Saturday. So was Alex's friend Roy McGhee, 14, of Eden Prairie. And Eric Strand, 45, of Shakopee, Matt's brother, brought his youngsters, Jessi, 7, and Nick, 5, to experience duck camp.

All found some action.

"It's opener, baby," McGhee said as 9 a.m. legal shooting time arrived. He and buddy Alex and his dad hunted over a couple dozen decoys off a point. Brothers Mike and Tom Strand set up in a back bay while Roger manned a small point near the cabin.

Two blue-winged teal screamed over the point from the east, Roy and Alex cut loose with their 12-gauges, and one bird tumbled to the water.

"I hit one!" McGhee said.

Later, a lone hen wood duck flew near the decoys, but the three hunters just watched it sail past. This camp's unwritten rule: Try not to shoot hen woodies or mallards.

"Everybody makes mistakes, and we don't harp about it," Roger Strand said.

By noon, the three had five mergansers and a blue-winged teal in the bag. Mike and Tom had three teal and a merganser, and Roger had a lone merganser. Mergansers aren't considered a delicacy, but the group planned to wrap the breasts in bacon and serve them as hors d'oeuvres.

"In the 1950s and 60s, this lake was a mallard hole," Strand said. "There was wonderful mallard shooting." But the local mallard population has declined, he said. The group expected to find lots of wood ducks, but those were missing, too, on Saturday. Canada geese now usually offer some opportunities. The group saw plenty but got no shots.

But they weren't dismayed.

Saturday night, venison was on the menu. And Sunday?

They'll be making more memories in the duck blind.

While state and federal wildlife agencies fret about a decline in young hunters, the Strand family keeps cranking them out. The family's hunting tradition endures. And the Stoney Lake Cabin is in good hands.

"This is what I grew up doing," Eric Strand said.

"Being out here with my dad, uncle, brothers and cousins.

"It's come full circle now."

© 2008, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

New Abu Garcia Baitcasting Reels

In the booth of one of fishing's all-time great reel makers, Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead and Andrew Wheeler of Pure Fishing discuss one of the brand new baitcasting reels from Abu Garcia being released at ICAST 2019.

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

Major League Fishing pros Alton Jones, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi and James Watson share their thoughts on how to approach fishing a new lake for bass.

As KVD tells OSG's Lynn Burkhead, innovative Humminbird products and cutting-edge technology like that found in the new Mega 360 Imaging sonar are major reasons contributing to his unparalleled success.

13 Fishing Inception SZ

13 Fishing Inception SZ

Florida angling pro Jessie Mizell knows that the saltwater found in Sunshine State coastal fisheries can wreak havoc on even the best fishing gear. But with 13 Fishing's new feature laden Inception SZ saltwater baitcasting reel, tackling inshore and light tackle saltwater game fish just got a whole lot easier!

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers. Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near anything that fits in their mouths. Catfish

5 Ways To Catch Catfish on Lures

Keith Sutton - September 16, 2015

As most catfish anglers know, blue cats, channel cats and flatheads will eat darn near...

          From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll find Bass

7 Best Bets For New Jersey Largemouth Bass

October 04, 2010

From Monksville Reservoir to Union Lake, plus five other picks, here's where you'll...

 A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest.

Although the art Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

 Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin 30.30 Stories

Grandpa's Gun Tags Giant Buck, Ends Multi-Year Quest

Lynn Burkhead - November 21, 2017

Missouri hunter Tim Phillips is all smiles after using his late grandfather's worn Marlin...

From a world-record crappie to the best gear of the year, these hunting and fishing articles were most popular with our readers. Stories

Game & Fish's Top 10 Stories of 2018

G&F Online Staff - December 24, 2018

From a world-record crappie to the best gear of the year, these hunting and fishing articles...

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck supremacy? Whitetail

The Next ‘Big Tex' for Trophy Bucks?

Jordan Michaels - October 18, 2019

Could the northern stretches of the Lone Star State one day rival the south for big-buck...

Predator hunters living in more open areas are in a unique position to enjoy coyote hunting at its Stories

Guns & Loads for Long-Range Coyote Hunting

Stephen D. Carpenteri - December 13, 2015

Predator hunters living in more open areas are in a unique position to enjoy coyote hunting at...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.