Engineer Mountain looms alone in the distance from the base of Coal Bank Pass.
The span between the two is long and lonely, dotted with bursts of yellow, red and orange aspen trees.
It was two falls ago that Bruce Edberg made the trek to southwestern Colorado. And there, somewhere between Coal Bank Pass and the area just to the south, simply referred to as Purgatory, he shot his first elk.
It's mounted on the wall in his taxidermy shop at his home off Highway 371, just south of Nisswa. Not far from another trophy.
Bruce Edberg, a longtime volunteer firearms safety instructor for the Minnesota DNR, appeared on the cover of the 2007 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook. At a recent hunters' education course at Pine River Elementary School, Edberg was presented with a framed, enlarged copy of the handbook cover.
Edberg, 52, a longtime volunteer firearms safety instructor for the Minnesota DNR, is pictured on the cover of the 2007 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, attentively gazing over the shoulder of a student as she eyed a target and prepared to squeeze off a shot in a firearms safety course.
At a recent hunters' education course at Pine River Elementary School, Edberg was presented with a framed, enlarged copy of the handbook cover. It hangs on a wall in his shop, centered below three trophy-sized white-tailed deer he also bagged.
While his trophies dot the walls of his shop, along with countless mounts of fur, fins and feathers for his many customers, Edberg doesn't fuss over his trophies. The most recent addition included.
"I was asked if I would pose (for the handbook cover). I guess I was just in the right place at the right time," he said. "It wasn't a big deal. I just happened to be there."
Bruce Edberg's mounts include the elk (right) he shot in Colorado. Brainerd Dispatch/ Brian S. Peterson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
But to Edberg, hunters' education is a very big deal, making him the perfect poster child, so to speak, for the long-running DNR program.
"The biggest thing is the safety part," said Edberg, who has been teaching the firearms courses for 14 years. "To make clean, ethical shots."
On the handbook cover, the image of a now-retired DNR officer is in the foreground of the photo illustration, viewing the results of the girl's shoot. A common sight these days.
"I can't believe how many girls are coming through (the course)," Edberg said. "We had a whole bunch at the last class (at Pine River)."
For Edberg, promoting safety doesn't stop with the firearms courses. For more than 30 years, he also has served the area as a medical first responder.
"I try to promote safety when I'm working as a first responder, too," he said. "I've seen people who have gotten shot while I was running ambulance. I want to promote being more careful."
Among the mounts in the works in Bruce Edberg's taxidermy shop are this wild boar from Texas. Brainerd Dispatch/ Brian S. Peterson » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Maybe even more so than ever. On July 23, while Edberg and his wife were traveling on Highway 371 just north of Brainerd, another motorist sped onto the highway from a side road, crashing into the Edbergs' vehicle. The Edbergs are still recovering.
As a result, he's gotten behind on his taxidermy duties - countless sets of antlers, bear skins and the like still await their finishing touches. But no worries. Although active as a firearms safety instructor and first responder, taxidermy is his passion.
"I was 12 years old when I was allowed to have a knife in my hand," Edberg said of his start in taxidermy. "And when I was at Brainerd High, a (doctor/taxidermist) came to class. I absorbed it all and did it alone from there.
"The things I like to do is to get old mounts and try to refurbish them. Especially fish. And I do like working on elk. They're one of my favorites."
BRIAN S. PETERSON, outdoors editor, may be reached at brian. firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5864.
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