10/9/2019 3:02:00 PM End of the Youngers, fall fishing, pheasants
Ron Kuecker Outdoors Columnist
The Jesse James and Younger brothers gangs were a rough, tough bunch of outlaws in the 1870s. To some extent they were still fighting the Civil War, seeking revenge through guerilla tactics. They thought a bank robbery in Minnesota would do two things; punish the north and enhance their own wealth. A few weeks ago I wrote about the Northfield bank attempt where the citizens essentially said, not in our town. There they shot up the gang so badly they left two of their gang (Clell Miller and William Stiles) dead on the street. Then the three Youngers, two James boys and Charley Pitts took off like scared rabbits. I wrote about their trip overland; muddy roads, flooded rivers and a few bridges, to a few miles west of Mankato. Then the James boys, Frank and Jesse, left them because the wounded Younger brothers were slowing them down. Charlie Pitts chose to stay with the Youngers. Soon the four headed west and had to abandon their tired out horses. Familiar small towns they passed included Lake Crystal, Hanska and LaSalle. Bob Younger had taken a slug through his elbow, they had stopped his bleeding by packing it with old newspapers they had found along the way. Jim Younger had taken a slug through the upper jaw that had knocked out several teeth. Jesse said upon splitting from them, "even a blind man could follow your trail." Cole Younger, the oldest of the Youngers, had 11 wounds which included birdshot, buckshot and a rifle slug buried near one hip. When they passed a farm near Hanska they stopped at a farm and bought some food. It was there that a 17-year-old farm boy recognized who they were. He jumped on his dads work horse and rode eight and a half miles to Madelia. In Madelia, the County Sheriff Glispin called for a posse to be headed by a Civil War veteran and they easily gathered up five more courageous town folk and were gone within the hour. The Magnificent Seven, as some called them, headed west of Madelia and found them in a dense thicket along the Watonwan River. A shootout took place, Charley Pitts stood up and started firing and Sheriff Glispin downed him with one shot through the upper chest, dead. The seven-man posse opened up on the outlaws and in a couple of minutes the fight was over. A bloodied, white surrender flag, was raised above the thicket, alongside the river in what has been called the Hanska Slough. The first person to approach the shot up Cole Younger was Colonel T.L. Vought who accepted their surrender. Ron Vought has called me and said yes, he was a distant cousin of his. Well, no one said Minnesota is always "Minnesota Nice". Especially when you are trying to rob our hard-earned money from Germans, Irish and Norwegians. The Youngers all were sentenced to hard labor in Stillwater. Bob, with terminal tuberculosis, took his own life in jail. Jim also committed suicide after his release. Cole lived to become an author, preacher man and patriot who gave inspirational speeches near his home in Missouri. Fall fishing I remember well, when duck hunting season traditionally began the first week in October. Combines were usually pulling into fields to begin the soybean harvest. And fishermen "in the know" began pulling in the walleyes. I would often sit in my duck boat observing empty blue skies only to come home and my fishing friends would have a cooler full of nice white filets. I still haven't changed my habits. A few weeks ago, as the rivers lowered, a couple good friends reported of the good fishing they were having. One was catching walleyes in the Des Moines River and the other was having really good cat fishing in the Minnesota. The best I could do was a good catfish meal at Cracker Barrel! Now the rivers are up again, all we can hope for is a stop in the rainfall and lower levels. Son Scott recently grabbed a nice Sunday morning at our cabin and found out largemouth bass fishing can be just as good as fall walleyes. The lake water cools down on the surface and then the warmer waters come to the top. It's called the annual lake rollover or turnover. Fish do respond to it and especially bass come very shallow to grab frogs jumping into the lake. Pheasant hunt 2019 I didn't save much space to write about pheasant hunting prospects this fall of 2019. It opens too early, this coming Saturday the 12th, and runs too late into the first weekend in January. It doesn't look good. Hopefully we can all find a few days in there somewhere to down a rooster or two. I won't be very optimistic about the hunt and will write in a near future column about the problems of our pheasants and a few things we can do about it. We do need to make some changes. Pheasant hunting is one of our very best outdoor sports and it bothers me deeply to see it slip away.