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Minnesota deer opener: New season, new shack, old friends

Nov 10, 2019 08:31AM ● By Editor
John Riemer climbs down from his deer stand to take a break around noon Saturday during the Minnesota deer opener. Photo: Tyler Schank / [email protected]


By John Myers from the Bemidji Pioneer - November 10, 2019


The half-inch of new snow overnight was nice, making everything in the woods seem a little less brown, making a brown deer just a little easier to see.

The 25-degree temperature seemed almost balmy compared to recent mornings. And just like that, after a 349-day wait, Minnesota firearms deer hunters were back at it, on a Saturday morning with low clouds, light winds and high expectations.

“It really is perfect out,’’ said John Riemer, the proprietor at Johnny’s Deer Camp here. “But then again, it really doesn’t matter for me. I had my heater going all night in the deer stand. It will be nice and cozy. … I’ve got a 30-pound propane tank out there.”

Riemer, 63, of Pike Lake near Duluth, is half of Johnny’s Deer Camp (Camp motto: “We’ll do anything for a buck.”). The other half is Jim Simone, 78, of Duluth’s Gary neighborhood, Riemer’s father-in-law of sorts.

Jim Simone and John Riemer relax with Riemers dog Max before heading out to their deer stands Saturday outside of Embarrass Minnesota Tyler Schank  tschankduluthnewscom
Jim Simone and John Riemer relax with Riemer's dog Max before heading out to their deer stands Saturday outside of Embarrass, Minnesota. PhotO:  Tyler Schank / [email protected])

“We’ve been hunting together, what, eight years now, John? No one else will hunt with him,’’ Simone joked.

The ribbing is steady at this camp, even early in the morning.

“He has me up here because he needs someone to shoot his deer,’’ Simone said before saddling up on a four-wheeler and heading to his stand.

“You usually do get one,’’ Riemer noted. “One year I heard a boom at 8:20 and another 10 minutes later and we were done. He shot both our deer down by 8:30 on opening day.”

“It’s hard not to shoot when they have antlers,’’ Simone confessed.

Johnny’s Deer Camp was born in 2008 when Riemer bought 40 acres of land — mostly tamarack, spruce and cedar — an old Finnish farmstead originally owned by a guy named Maki. There's 400 acres of state land right behind their property and there are a few deer around in most years, Riemer said. Those deer include some nice bucks. One year they counted 12 different bucks on their trail cameras.

“Nothing big, maybe 5-, 6-, 7-pointers,’’ Simone added. “But they're bucks.”

Through last season, the guys used an old camper trailer as their deer shack. Functional, but drafty and cramped. This year the guys splurged and bought a pre-built 16x24-foot shell cabin made by Amish carpenters near Rice Lake, Wis. The shell was delivered over the summer and the guys, and sometimes their wives, have been working on it ever since — painting, putting up paneling and ceilings and insulation, carpeting, cabinets and then some. There’s electricity to the building so they added baseboard heaters, a stove and fridge. (Even the outdoor porta-potty has a milkhouse heater in it.) 

It’s a simple deer shack, to be sure, but one that will keep them warm and dry and comfortable for many seasons to come. It’s the kind of place tens of thousands of orange-clad Minnesotans were using Saturday, on opening day of the firearms deer season, and that thousands of others wish they had.

“There was never enough room in the trailer,’’ Riemer said. “And we wanted a little getaway we could use more. … The Amish did nice work.”

John Reimer left and Jim Simone measure the length of the next board they need to cut and place on the ceiling of their deer shack in Waasa Township back in September They purchased the shack as a pre-built shell and finished it themselves  Tyler Schank  tschankduluthnewscom
John Reimer (left) and Jim Simone measure the length of the next board they need to cut and place on the ceiling of their deer shack in Waasa Township back in September. They purchased the shack as a pre-built shell and finished it themselves. Photo: Tyler Schank / [email protected]

The guys asked forgiveness that all the finishing work wasn't perfectly square.

“I’m a plumber, not a carpenter,’’ Riemer said on a September afternoon when the guys were working on the place.

“It ain’t going to be perfect,’’ Simone added.

But it turned out pretty darned good. 


To read more the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the Bemidji Pioneer website.  https://www.bemidjipioneer.com/sports/outdoors/4763639-Minnesota-deer-opener-New-season-new-shack-ol...

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