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GooseFest inducts Kolbo brothers to Hall of Fame...

It’s only fitting that Jerome and Tim Kolbo be inducted into the GooseFest Hall of Fame this year.

10/15/18 (Mon)

It’s only fitting that Jerome and Tim Kolbo be inducted into the GooseFest Hall of Fame this year.

It was exactly 10 years ago when their father Duane was inducted and both Jerome and Tim speak highly of what their father taught them about the hunt.

Their mother, Cleone, was right in the middle of it all. She didn’t hunt, but was deeply involved with cleaning and cooking of the waterfowl.

“Jim and Jerome have hunted birds with their Dad and others since they were able to shoot a gun,” Cleone Kolbo said. “They have always been good and honest sportsmen.”

She added, the boys have always dressed their birds and the family always ate what they shot.

With that in mind, she said it would be special to the family if Jerome and Tim could be inducted in 2018.

Tim Kolbo, who lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, called it unique that the inductions are exactly a decade apart.

“That makes this even more special,” he said.

Tim, who is 62, still has a lot of memories about waterfowl hunting that go back to his childhood. Those memories include his grandfather Elmer Kolbo and several others in the extended family.

The Kolbo farm is south of Kenmare bordering the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge. His grandfather purchased the farm from a Mennonite family in 1934. His parents later built a house on the sprawling property.

“That’s where my dad grew up,” he said. “As a young boy of 6-7 or 8, I would run across the garden to Grandpa’s house mostly because he had more time to hunt.”

He explained that at that time,  Duane was busy working to raise a family so he went hunting more with his grandfather.

“It’s always exciting and we had to get up early,” he said. “The anticipation was almost like Christmas. We’d run over to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. I can still smell the bacon and eggs. Those were some of my earliest memories.”

As he grew up, they didn’t see geese. It was mostly duck hunting.

“I was about 12 or 13, it was evening and I was hunting with Grandpa,” Tim said. “It was clear and sunny and I got to a rock pile. There were thousands of mallards circling around. The sun was shining on them and it was so extraordinary that I never shot. I just watched it. When I got back, Grandpa was mad.”

He recalls a moment in 1970 or 71. That’s when they first started to see flights of geese in this part of the state.

“We were in the Tolley area; my dad, me and Jerome, sitting around a slough watching snow geese,” he said. “I remember laying on my back with binoculars. Dad shot and it startled me. He nicked the tip of a wing. It spiraled and fell to the ground. That was his first goose and when we went to get it, it was much larger than the ducks we were used to seeing. That was the first time I saw a goose up close, but the closer we got, it started walking away. That was my first experience with a goose.”

The first goose Tim shot was near Tolley in the fall of 1971. He was 15 years old.

“It was banded so we sent it in and got a letter,” he said. “The band was from Juneau, Alaska and the bird was 16 years old. It made plenty of trips back and forth.”

Tim recalls how difficult it is to pluck a snow goose so the better way is to skin it. When that is accomplished, he said you wrap it with bacon and slow cook it and that makes it all worth it.

He hasn’t been home in three years but is looking forward to being back in Kenmare next week for GooseFest activities. Cedar Rapids is 12 hours away so it isn’t always easy. And at 62, he is looking forward to retiring  soon which will give him more time to do some hunting and fishing, something he often craves but doesn’t get to do often.

The last time he was back, he, Jerome and one of Jerome’s friends hit the mother lode of  honkers.

“We didn’t have decoys in the early ‘70s,” he said. “Three years ago we had decoys. We got into a heavy honker hunt near Bowbells. We had some really good blinds.”

Much like Tim, Jerome speaks highly of his father and grandfather and what they taught the boys about hunting.

“I was shooting ducks, geese and upland game at 8 or 9,” he said. “And we’d always come back to Kenmare as our hub.”

Because he lives in Mississippi, he brings friends back with him and the challenge is always to get the trifecta; ducks, geese, upland game. It’s not always possible, but ducks, there’s just no end.

“People don’t realize how many ducks are out here and available to hunt,” Jerome said. “One-hundred snow geese in a day; we did that challenge.”

And for Jerome personally, there’s a lot more to hunting than hunting.

“It wasn’t always about the kill,” he said. “Let’s just enjoy these amazing things we’ve got here. Most people don’t even realize what’s here.”

Jerome has put down his gun many times to just watch, enjoy and learn.

“I think the anticipation is about the biggest thing for me,” he said.

There’s also respecting landowner rights.

“You have to get permission to hunt on people’s land,” he said. “You ask, you take care of it while there, you don’t leave trash lying around and you go back and say thank you.”

Getting together with old friends and family is equally important to Jerome. Just getting together and telling stories that are passed down at least three generations now, is priceless to him.

There’s also the people he calls legends that includes others who have been inducted into the GooseFest Hall of Fame and some who were big into hunting before GooseFest existed.

“Oh my gosh, we have hunted side by side with legends,” he said. “They are the ones who set the bar high. It includes love of God, nature and family.”

He added he’s been blessed to hunt with “legends.”

“You almost have to earn it,” he said. “And you have to listen.”

And nowadays when he comes home, people tell him stories that he wishes he knew when he and Tim were kids.

“I’ve had the good fortune of hunting with some of the best in Kenmare and beyond,” he said. “Our story is, we’ve been blessed to hunt with some of the best.”

He says he gets back every year, but in the past couple of years, his mother Cleone has been the biggest priority.

He talked about some of the friends he has brought back from the Deep South to hunt northwest North Dakota.

“All of the different people I’ve brought back, can’t believe all we have here in Kenmare,” he said. “It’s not just at our farm, but in this area. People don’t realize there’s way more than geese.”

He’s actually organized caravans of people to Kenmare for GooseFest and the hunt.

“We’ve tried a lot,” he said. “We always try to create a tradition with Mom and my friends.”

He talked about going out for dinner at various locations around town to maximize the experience.

Cleone added she has been content with Jerome bringing his friends back from Mississippi to share in the fun of North Dakota and of GooseFest.

According to Jerome, GooseFest is about integrity and the legends who were inducted prior to him and his brother.

“The rule is, if you shoot it, you eat it,” he said. “You’ll learn a big lesson (about hunting) right there.”

He added some of the people who have come to North Dakota with him don’t realize there’s more than just shooting the birds.

And that includes cleaning and cooking those birds.

“My Mom deserves a medal for the thousands of birds she’s cooked,” he said, adding there have been a lot of late nights after the hunt where Cleone was busy in the kitchen.

Indeed, there’s a lot more than the hunt in Jerome’s mind. That includes seeing golden and bald eagles, badgers and an occasional porcupine that may have gotten a little close to one of his friends.

“We see wildlife, we’ve seen the moon twice in one day and if you go you will see something you’ve never experienced,” he said. “You can go to Arkansas and shoot ducks, but you’ve got to go to North Dakota. We get to see the northern lights here. It’s just a magical place. It’s too wonderful.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!