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A special hunting bond for Ristvedt clan of Lake Park

Poppy and Wayne at Poppy's ground blind1 / 2
Poppy, Wayne and Eric Ristvedt at their hunting camp2 / 2

My father died recently. He lived to be 93 years old. I started deer hunting with my dad when I was 12 years old. The first word out of my son's mouth when he was learning to talk was "Poppy." My dad loved it when my kids referred to him as Poppy.

My dad was 89 years old the last year he hunted with my son Eric and I.

I purchased land up north about 20 years ago so that we could have our own little piece of Heaven. We call it "Bear Creek." I cannot tell you how much Poppy, Eric, and I laughed there.

What some people do not understand, is that you do not invite just anybody to go deer hunting with you. The bonding is incredible. If someone invites you to go deer hunting, they really like you.

Poppy refused to ride a four-wheeler, so in the beginning Eric and I would help him get to and from his deer stand.

As time went on, it got to be pretty hard for him to go very far from the cabin. When I felt the time was right, I asked him how he would feel if I built him a ground blind about 40 yards from the cabin.

Poppy thought that would be a good idea. I built a 6-foot by 6-foot ground blind out of plywood. He could have a heater and a chair in it.

Even though the cabin and his blind are basically located on a small island, it is a natural wildlife crossing. Unless the animal wants to walk in water, it has to come through there. I thought I needed something "extra" to help Poppy out, so I used a brush hog to clear the area in front of him, and then I went to work with a disc and harrow. When I was all done he had a quarter-acre of beautiful lush clover to hunt over.

Poppy has not hunted for four years because of his health. His ground blind still sits there unoccupied.

Every spring I disc it up and put new seed into the ground and watch it grow and think of my father. I will do this forever in his memory. The deer are safe there. I think they were safe when Poppy sat there!

No one has hunted in my Poppy's ground blind and no one ever will, because it is "Poppy's patch."