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Nelson recalls 66 pheasant hunting trips PDF Print E-mail
Written by Harold Nelson   

Editor’s note. The Enterprise received an envelope full of information from Harold Nelson of Denver and found his story interesting enough to be shared in his own words.

I am Harold Nelson from Denver and I have hunted in the Holyoke area every year, with the exception of one, for 66 years on opening day. That one year I made it the second week of hunting.

I keep coming back because of the community, the hospitality and the great people. I have hunted on the Dale Martin and Glenn Bradford farms—now run by their sons Bob Martin and Walt Bradford. It has become multi-generational. This year the “girls” enjoyed the beautiful open house at The Oak Tree, and four generations of “boys” hunted.

Harold Nelson is pictured during opening pheasant hunting weekend
this year. The 97-year-old has made every opening day but one in the
Holyoke area for 66 years. The one year he missed, he was in town
the next weekend. He plans to return next year at age 98 if the Lord allows.

Now for some of the happenings of the past 66 years.

—There used to be 21 of us from the present Keebler Company. Through the years it was formerly Merchants Biscuit Co., Supreme Bakers, Bowman Biscuit Co. It is owned by The Kellogg Co. Out of those 21, I am the only one living.

—Those of us that didn’t stay overnight in the vehicle, stayed in the Burge Hotel. It wasn’t uncommon to look out the second floor windows and see a half dozen rooster pheasants. This was in the ‘40s and ‘50s.

—Down at the ranches, we spent the day hunting and almost always got our limit, which at one time was 10 roosters/20 in possession. Today that seems like a lot of birds—but there were thousands. We are now lucky if we get one each. The pheasants have very little cover such as sunflowers and high weeds.

—After dark a couple of us would get into the back of Dale’s pickup and with a spot light and .22 rifles, we would get 200-300 jack rabbits from the alfalfa field. I was told a mink farmer paid five cents for them. There were literally thousands of jack rabbits—sad that is not true any more either.

—At noon Pauline Martin would set out a table “a mile long” to feed all the hunters. What a meal! What great hospitality and friendship. Bless her heart. She did that out of the greatness of her heart. God bless her. On Sunday, Glenn would be sure we had enough Rocky Mountain Oysters to feed everyone. The barber in town was the Mountain Oyster cook! What a feast we had!

—Sometimes after a day of hunting, a few of the men got a little inebriated. Bill Wagner attempted to ride one of Dale’s steers. As suspected, he had sort of a bad ride. When Bill got on, the steer lunged forward and Bill ended up face down in the manure. His mouth was open, hollering and showing off. We had a good laugh at his mouth full of you know what!

—By the way, I don’t drink, nor have I ever taken a puff of tobacco. I have never had a swallow of beer in my life. That’s probably the reason I’m 97 and still going strong. Kids, are you listening?

Family members gather with Harold Nelson, second from left in back row, earlier this year as they all wear their Git ‘em! Holyoke, CO shirts. The group gathered in November to celebrate Nelson’s hunting history in Holyoke. Nelson has hunted in the Holyoke area for the past 66 years. Pictured from left, front row, Isabel Blue, Jackson Blue and Jonathan Balding; second row, Jacob Harmon, Cody Harmon and Christopher Balding; and back row, James Blue, Nelson, Derryl Soden, Erin Blue, Carolee Soden, Matt Harmon and Nicole Harmon.

I am 97 years old and don’t do a lot of walking any more. My joints are wearing out. I lived on a farm in Nebraska and farmed for 25 years. With horses walking behind a one furrow plow, walking cultivators, and walking three miles to and from school each day, I figure I have walked the equivalent of five times across the U.S. That’s over 13,000 miles just in my “growin’ up years!”

Regardless of the weather, my dad very seldom took us to school in a buggy. Then the Army added many more thousand steps.

I got drafted into the Army in 1941 at the age of 26. I was one of the first to be drafted in Nebraska in WWII. Where did they put me? In the infantry where all we did was walk. They knew I was a walking farmer!

I spent four years in the 3rd Infantry Division, two years on the front lines in Africa, Sicily and Italy—never having a roof over my head. We lived in the ground in fox holes.

After I got out, I swore I would never climb another hill or mountain—but I guess I changed my mind! When I got home I hunted deer and elk for 47 years in the mountains. I shot a buck deer every year for 47 years. After my wife passed away, I quit hunting big game. I wouldn’t know what to do with the meat living alone. I don’t shoot anything I don’t eat (except those that are not edible).

Is it any wonder my hips and knees hurt? But, I still go.

If the Lord’s willing, my family and I will be back to Holyoke pheasant hunting opening day next year!

Holyoke Enterprise December 13, 2012