HENDRICKS?-?Kvernmo Slough just outside of Hendricks became the first Wildlife Management Area in Minnesota in 1953, and Harland Christoffer started hunting there every year in 1964.
On Tuesday he came back with his son Kerry, and grandson, Josiah, to visit the place he loves one more time. But Harland Christoffer didn't hunt this year; he has stage four colon cancer and wasn't strong enough to join them.
"I was working with the elevators around here, and I met a guy in Ivanhoe who hunted," Harland Christoffer said. "We went running around looking at sloughs and wound up here. In '66 I took the boys."
Photo by Steve Browne
Harland Christoffer shows the buttons on his cap proclaiming him to be a lifelong member of Ducks Unlimited.
Harland Christoffer and his wife Joanne have five sons who all grew up hunting in Kvernmo WMA. Harland and Joanne live in Sioux Falls, S.D. Kerry Christoffer, a park ranger with the state Department of Natural Resources for 37 years, lives in Montevideo.
"I must have been about 13," Kerry Christoffer said.
Because Kvernmo has no natural outlet, it is one of the few sloughs that seldom dries up, according to Kerry Christoffer. Because the cat tail reeds need to dry out periodically for their bulbs to germinate, there's almost always open water.
"We started with an old wooden boat, and many times we'd come out and break the ice," Harlan Christoffer said. "There were rushes all across this lake once. This slough needs a drainage."
The Christoffer family believes in passing on the tradition of hunting and fishing.
"They brought me out in '92 or '93," Josiah Christoffer said. "I was probably about eight."
Joanne Christoffer used to drop her husband, son and grandson off at the slough in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon after a day's hunting. Today, young people more often learn how to hunt safely in programs sponsored by the DNR and wildlife organizations.
"The Legacy Amendment (to the state constitution) passed on the primary selling point of protecting clean water," Kerry Christoffer said. "But the Legacy is also trying to pass on the things that matter in outdoor recreation."
Harland Christoffer probably won't return to Kvernmo Slough. But his sons and his grandsons will. And soon enough, another generation of Christoffers will be hunting there. Josiah Christoffer and his wife are expecting a baby next month.