Sometime this fall, perhaps on a crisp, clear October day when the dank smell of decaying leaves fills the air, a ruffed grouse will flush from the edge of the trail, and a shot will ring out.
I can picture it in my mind already.
Whether the shot connects with the bird remains to be seen—if it’s me pulling the trigger, it probably won’t—but the walk my hunting partners and I plan to take down that trail will carry a significance that goes far beyond the act of flushing a grouse.
The trail segment in Beltrami Island State Forest is being named after Bob Glassmann, a close friend and hunting and fishing partner from Roseau, Minn., who left us unexpectedly and all too soon in April.
He was 63 years old when he died. We’d talked by phone just the day before as he drove through Grand Forks on the way home from a trip to Denver.
I still have his phone number programmed in my phone; I can’t bring myself to erase it.
Given his passion for hunting, it was only appropriate that one of the hiking boots Bob wore on many days afield held his ashes at the front of the church for his funeral. Also on display was a photo I took of Bob and his German shorthair, Bailey, with a grouse he shot last September on a sweltering afternoon.
Not having him around this fall to traipse through the woods or join us for a cold one by the fire at the end of the day is going to be a difficult adjustment.
There’ll be stories and laughs, I’m sure—and a few tears—as we remember our friend.
That’s where the trail comes into play.
Glassmann, who taught industrial technology at Roseau before retiring in 2013, was an active member of the Lake of the Woods Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society based in Warroad, Minn., and served on its board.
He also was an avid grouse hunter, and Beltrami forest held a special place in his heart.
The Lake of the Woods RGS chapter is in the midst of a major project in Beltrami forest. The Star of the North Trail, as the project is called, will provide nearly 70 miles of hunting access in a network of new and existing trail segments that are being cleared and mowed.
To date, nearly 30 miles of the trail system are complete.
A $14,000 grant from the Ruffed Grouse Society’s Drummer Fund and another $1,500 from the Warroad Community Fund is helping to fund the trail, but the chapter also is securing sponsorships and donations to fund trail segments, which cost about $1,000 per mile to build.
The RGS chapter, along with several of Bob’s friends, pooled resources to fund a segment of the new trail system in his honor.
The Robert “Bob” Glassmann track, as the trail segment is called, is located south of Warroad along Dick’s Parkway, a major road through the forest, and a dedication ceremony is set for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the trailhead.
Jared Olafson, co-chairman of the RGS chapter and chairman of the group’s habitat committee, said signs and gates for the trail were being erected this weekend. Friends and family from across the region are planning to attend Saturday’s dedication, and the RGS chapter will have a small fleet of ATVs on hand for people who want to see more of the trail after the ceremony.
It’s a fitting tribute, I think, to a good friend who spent many a fall day walking Beltrami forest for ruffed grouse. Knowing Bob the way so many of us did, he’d probably feign embarrassment at all of the attention. He probably wouldn’t say so, but I think he’d be flattered, as well.
This fall is going to be different, but Bob definitely will be in our thoughts as we hunt the trail that will be dedicated Saturday in his honor.
Whether we shoot a bird on that trail or even see one, we’ll raise a toast in his honor at the end of our hunt and remember the good times we had.
I can picture it in my mind already.