City dude and bowhunter, all in one

By his own definition, Ron Lee is a city dude.

Raised on the east side of St. Paul, Minn., as a boy, he has worked for 21 years as a printer in the Twin Cities.

So, how did it happen that Ron Lee, 39, of Lakeland, married with a 2-year old daughter, also is an unabashed zealot for archery hunting.

"It's my passion," he said. "I hunt anything and everything with a bow and arrow, but especially deer."

When the archery deer season opens Sept. 18, Lee said he'll be sitting in a treestand at sunrise. And after that?

"It's a safe bet I'll hunt at least one day a week throughout the season," he said.

And that hunting pace does not include planned trips to Wisconsin and Montana before the snow flies.

But how did it happen? How did a city boy grow up with passions often incubated down on the farm? Lee has asked himself the same question.

His father had something to do with it.

"My father grew up in the country in western North Dakota, and he was a hunter," Lee said. "But I was the youngest child, and when I was ready to go hunting my father was pretty much done."

Lee said he went duck hunting a time or two with his brother but that experience isn't remembered for sprouting his zest for the hunting lifestyle. Maybe, Lee thinks, it was boyhood memories of a woodsy cabin.

"My dad never made much money but he built a modest cabin in the woods near Cambridge, Minn., and we went up there every weekend when I was a young boy," Lee recalled.

Something clicked with the boy in the cabin. The woods; animal tracks; mystery; adventure?

"I always wanted to hunt. I don't know why. Maybe it was in my blood," Lee said. Warmer hunting weather and long seasons inspired Lee to try archery hunting and he's never looked back.

"Archery became my passion," he said. But the first bowhunting years tried his patience.

"I bowhunted for three years and never shot a deer. I missed so much so I quit, quit for one year," Lee explained.

A year later, the urge returned and Lee picked up a new bow, a gift from his wife. "I shot my first deer, a buck, on opening weekend," he said.

The passion never faded again. Today, Lee spends time passing on his hunting skills and knowledge to young people.

He introduced archery hunting to a nephew who now shares the passion. He shoots in archery tournaments and belongs to Metro Bow Hunters Resource Base, an organization of archers who assist with deer-thinning operations when requested by various city councils around the Twin Cities metropolitan area.

"Ramsey County absolutely loves us because we help control deer populations in eight parks," Lee said.

Archery hunting offers him a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life.

"I think that's what I enjoy the most. It's nice and quiet and I have time to reflect on things, get my life problems in order," Lee said.

"The other part is what you get to see. You see deer unspooked and everything else … coyote, bear, fox, everything you can imagine."

Lee also has suburban hunting land, although urban sprawl has slowly consumed more and more of his treestands.

"I used to hunt five minutes from the house. Now it's a housing development," he said.

But the passion continues. Lee said his bowhunting sharpens his senses, his attention to detail and has introduced him to other avid archers.

"What I really enjoy are the people involved in archery," he said. "They're always willing to help anybody. That gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling."

Lee said a city hunter has challenges but nothing compares to the task of stalking with a stick and string an alert mule deer buck.

Ron Schara may be reached at ron@mnbound.com.

Schara's 250-page book, "Ron Schara's Minnesota Fishing Guide" (Tristan Outdoors; $19.95) is available by clicking here or by calling (888) 755-3155.

July through September 2004, Ron Schara's short feature, "Backroads with Ron & Raven," airs Saturdays on ESPN2 at 7:55 a.m. ET. Click here to view this week's show descriptions.