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Letter: Deer camp arson destroyed family history

I am writing this letter in absolute disgust and disbelief. My family and I have a hunting shack by the Tamarac Refuge. It started out belonging to my mother's dad and her uncles. It has since then been left to many people in my family, after the deaths of my Grandpa Johnson and my great uncles.

In the line of people that have been a part of this cabin were my Uncle Lyle (and his family), who passed away many years ago, and my dad, Robert "Bob" Cossette, who passed away in 1998 of cancer. It was then in the hands of my mom and my uncle Meryle. This cabin, or the "deer camp" as we call it, has been in the family for 72 years, left untouched and open.

We always left the door open because it was welcome to anyone to use if they needed a place to lay their head or warm up.

Before my dad passed away he spent many days and weekends working on fixing our "deer camp" up. It was very nice looking and gave us many memories. We still to this day go up as often as possible to stay, camp, hunt or just grill and hang around.

Our camp was located right between Tamarac Lodge and Rainbow Resort, across the road from the Little Bemidji Lake access road. We spent a lot of time at all three places. We walked the roads when we were kids. From the time we were born to the time we had kids of our own, we still walked those roads.

Every time we would go up to the camp, we would write the date, who was there and what we did, whether it was to fix something up, stay the night, hunt, or just grill and have a few beers. This tradition started 72 years ago.

There were homemade projects the grandkids had made and hung up. They would especially make them for the camp. There were also pictures of my dad with the youngest of the grandkids, Josh and Jacob. He would take them with him for the weekend to help him work on the camp or just to take them fishing.

There are too many memories to count, especially between my dad, mom and sisters.

My dad and mom's biggest dream was to retire and move to the camp. That's why they worked so hard to keep it in the family. Like I had mentioned before, my dad passed away in 1998.

Well, last month my mom received a phone call from the head of the DNR to inform her that they had been in the area and that our "deer camp" had been burned down. It was gone. everything gone. All the writings, all the pictures, all my dads hard work, gone. We were in disbelief, sad and mad all at the same time. Shock hit us all; it was as if there was a death in our family.

We all then drove over there. My mom and my family in one car, and my sister and her family in another vehicle. As we pulled into the driveway there was complete silence. We were all sick with disgust at what we saw there.

Where our camp once sat was all ashes, nothing but pieces of metal left -- the bed springs, the wood stove and the sink. One thing that was left was the old rocking chair our dad would never let us get rid of. It leaned on the camp over all the years -- yesterday it was still there, in the same spot, just with nothing to lean on.

We had all made plans to go up to the "deer camp" to fix anything that maybe needed a little fixing from the winter and to grill. Everyone was so excited, it would have been the first grilling of the season. We will still be heading up to the camp to grill, but not to fix up anything on the "deer camp," except to clean up the mess someone else decided to make. We will just pull into the driveway to see a pile of ashes where once sat the best getaway place on earth.

At least to us -- it was our getaway. It was silent and peaceful, not a care in the world is how you would explain it. We were wrong, I guess.

Someone or some people must have not cared enough to respect, but burn it down to the ground. To whoever did this I truly hope you are reading this. You should be ashamed of yourself.

To some it might have been an old shack in the woods, but if people only knew what was taken away from us. To not care and take away something that has brought so many good times and families together -- seriously, what is wrong with this world? After 72 years untouched.

Sure, there were times that people have stayed there. People that came as strangers, but wrote their story on the wall. They came as strangers, but left as friends. Thank you. You helped build your own memories.

Then those people who get their kicks off hurting others and taking what is not theirs -- well, I guess maybe I should thank you too. Now that you have taken away something very sacred to many, I guess maybe my family should look at it as an opportunity for a new start.

I do believe whoever did this will get caught. It might take time, but we will never stop trying to figure it out and we have the help of many people. So don't think you are off the hook. I'll leave it up to your guilty conscience to do its work.

The "Deer Camp" is lost, but not ever forgotten. Please anyone with any information that can help would be great.

Thanks. -- Heidi Cossette and family