FACES AND PLACES: Happy hunter
CROOKSTON -- There's a science to ADawn Melbye's hunting. "Hunting, it goes right into anatomy and physiology," said Melbye, an avid deer hunter and equine science instructor at the University of Minnesota Crookston. "Any kind of animal, I look a...
CROOKSTON -- There's a science to ADawn Melbye's hunting.
"Hunting, it goes right into anatomy and physiology," said Melbye, an avid deer hunter and equine science instructor at the University of Minnesota Crookston. "Any kind of animal, I look at it as a teaching moment."
For example, during deer hunting season she talks to her students about the proper way to hang a deer so the meat cures and the blood drains.
Meanwhile, Melbye's animal anatomy and physiology students, knowing of her interest in the subject, remember her when they go hunting.
"They bring me organs back. If they can bring the heart or the pluck, which is the heart and lungs set, they'll bring it."
Melbye also uses collisions she's had with deer as opportunities to teach her students. Last year, for example, when she hit a deer with her car the day after hunting season ended, she brought the dead animal to campus and she and her class dissected it.
"We went through all the different animal systems." That included the skin, digestive, lungs, reproductive, endocrine and cardiovascular systems, Melbye said. Meanwhile, they also delved into the muscles system.
"We did all the muscles. We cut them up by muscle sizes."
Her father, Alec McLean, taught her to gut a deer when she was 15.
"If you were going to deer hunt, the rule was, you got help on your first one, then you're on your own for the second one. He'd help you, but you were the one that was going to do the cutting."
Ever since then, dissecting has fascinated Melbye.
"When you have that inner knowledge of how something works, it's amazing to look at something from that viewpoint."
Melbye has been a hunting enthusiast since she was 12 years old and her dad began taking her to the deer stand with him during hunting season and giving her lessons in gun handling and safety. Each year, he augmented his lessons, until at 15, she was allowed to hunt on her own.
"The pinnacle was your own deer stand, by yourself." Besides deer hunting, Melbye and her five brothers and sisters and parents also hunted birds.
"Our whole, entire family would go out grouse hunting and pheasant hunting."
Melbye is carrying on the tradition of making hunting a family affair with her son, Blake, age 5. This month mother and son have spent many hours together in a ground blind on their farm near Thief River Falls waiting for the right deer.
"We'll go out as much as we can, whenever we can," she said. Her husband, Chris, however, doesn't share their enthusiasm for the shooting sport.
"My husband does not hunt at all. It's not his thing."
Melbye, like her father, uses the time she spends with her child in the hunting blind to teach him about things like gun safety and the importance of being patient.
Blake was frustrated last week when Melbye passed up the chance to shoot a young deer, she said, but she explained to him that she was going to wait for a buck.
"It was a teachable moment for my son," Melbye said. She also is teaching Blake how to avoid getting lost and gave him a compass similar to the one she wears on her hunting shirt.
"My dad's thing was you always wear a compass, you always have a knife, and of course, you always have enough ammunition."
Melbye, an outdoors lover, enjoys what she describes as the peacefulness of hunting.
"I think people could hunt with a camera or hunt with a rifle. It doesn't matter. .. It's the most relaxing thing in the world. If I could pick a day between a spa and a deer stand on a nice day, I would pick the deer stand."
Reach Bailey at (701) 787-6753; (800) 477-6572, ext. 753; or send e-mail to email@example.com .