Deer tales: A grandfather's legacy

Ben Trenne never knew his grandfather, Vernard Trenne, but he certainly was thinking about the man last weekend while hunting deer in central Minnesota.

Ben Trenne never knew his grandfather, Vernard Trenne, but he certainly was thinking about the man last weekend while hunting deer in central Minnesota.

Considering his grandfather's legacy surrounded him, it was only natural.

A sixth-grader at Schroeder Middle School in Grand Forks, Ben shot his first deer last weekend during an antlerless hunt in Lake Carlos State Park near Alexandria, Minn.

If there's such a thing as a perfect place for a 12-year-old to shoot his first deer, Ben certainly found it.

His grandpa, you see, played a key role in the history of Lake Carlos State Park. Beginning in the late 1950s, Vernard Trenne volunteered hours of time, overseeing a committee that worked to expand the boundaries of the park from 400 acres to its current size of more than 1,100 acres.


An avid horseman, Trenne also helped organize the annual Horseman's Holiday event, which in 1962 drew more than 800 horses and riders and featured a live broadcast from Paul Harvey, the national radio commentator.

Vernard Trenne died in 1972 - 23 years before Ben was born. Today, a plaque commemorating Trenne's efforts occupies a prominent place on a rock outside the park's visitor center.

"Without Vernard Trenne, Lake Carlos State Park would not be what it is today," reads a brochure about the history of the park. "Mr. Trenne's determination and persistence led to the expansion and development of a significant part of this park. For this we will be forever grateful."

Missed opportunities

Ben Trenne showed some of that same determination and persistence last weekend. Accompanied by his dad, the Rev. Paul Trenne, and uncle, Arlyn Trenne of Alexandria, Ben had to be persistent - he admits to missing a few opportunities last weekend.

As Ben tells the story, he saw some does early the first morning but wasn't in a position to shoot. He and his dad moved to a different spot later in the day, and Ben had a shot at a doe.

This part of Minnesota requires hunters to use shotguns with slugs for deer, and Ben was using his dad's vintage Remington 870 12 gauge, a shotgun that was a bit too big for the boy.

Long story short, Ben says, he missed the deer.


"I forgot to look at the sights," he admitted.

He missed another doe later that day.

A minister at St. Mark's Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, Paul had taken a vacation day Sunday to accompany his son in the field. So, the father and son and Uncle Arlyn were back in the woods Sunday morning.

It was shortly after 8 a.m., Ben recalls, when he spotted a doe headed his direction. The doe soon was within 30 yards and still coming. It made a "J" turn around a bush and before long, Ben's patience resulted in a can't-miss shot.

And this time, he didn't miss.

"She ran 35 yards, and I saw her drop," Ben said.

"He did a good job," his dad said.

Grandpa Vernard might not have been there in person that morning, but he definitely was there in spirit. The work he'd done all those years ago created the opportunity that Ben and other hunters were able to enjoy last weekend.


The location also was fitting, Ben says, because the park where he shot his first deer also produced his first fish - at the ripe, young age of 1½.

The significance wasn't lost on family members.

"I remember my dad saying when I was little, 'the time will come when the common man won't have access to lakeshore and wilderness' and that's what motivated him," Paul Trenne said.

Last weekend, that motivation created the memory of a lifetime.

Reach Dokken at 780-1148, (800) 477-6572 ext. 148, or .

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