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Living life outdoors

Tim Humphrey and his nephew Brayden show off a fish they caught on Pike Bay.

If Tim Humphrey had his way, he’d likely be outdoors every minute of every day.

That, of course, is hardly practical – especially when one has a wife, three kids and a day job like Humphrey.

But it’s safe to say the Cass Lake native is a jack-of-all-trades.

“If you can do it outdoors in Minnesota, I’ve probably done it,” Humphrey says of his vast and varied interests of the outdoors.

As the owner and operator of Aspen Outfitters in Cass Lake, Humphrey specializes in trophy black bear hunts all over the North Woods.

Humphrey started the business in 1998 as a side project – he works full time as a sales representative for Pepsi Nei Bottling in Bemidji. Mostly, he was a grouse guide, helping hunters track down the birds in the woods of the Chippewa National Forest.

In 2001, the business expanded to include bigger game – including, but not limited to, bears.

Humphrey says the choice to expand was a natural one.

“I’ve always had a passion for it,” he says. “I’ve hunter bears myself, and it’s something I just enjoyed doing.

“It’s getting to the point now where I get enough repeat customers where I actually make some money doing it, which is nice.”

Bear hunting is common in Minnesota, but it takes trained professionals to help snare one.

That’s where Humphrey comes in. He helps hunters do everything, from selecting the proper bait to setting up their stand and selecting the proper weapons.

For about a month – from September to early October – the bear business consumes him.

“Basically, in the fall, I go to work then go out into the woods and do the bear guide thing,” he says. “It takes up a lot of my time, but I love it.

“It’s the thing I’m most ambitious with and devoted to.”

Man for all seasons

For the 11 other months of the year, Humphrey isn’t just sitting on his couch.

In the spring and summer, you can usually find him fishing, trapping or hunting.

He’s also a Farden Township supervisor in Hubbard County and a member of the county’s Parks and Recreation Board.

Trapping, he says, is a side hobby that’s allowed him to catch foxes, coyotes, minks, otters, beavers and various other woodland creatures.

“Trapping I think is one of those primitive things that hasn’t changed much since settlers started doing it centuries ago,” he says. “It challenges your intellect in a way that few things do. You have to how to outsmart the animal, figure out how to catch the animal and how to get it to come back.”

It’s in the winter, however, the Humphrey can feel most at home – walking out onto a frozen lake to ice fish. This is, after all, Northern Minnesota.

“It’s one of my favorite things to do for fun,” he says. “I always look forward to the ice freezing over. And when it melts in the spring, I won’t say I’m sad but I just hate to see it go.”

It’s something that’s been passed down from generations. His father, Karl, was an avid outdoorsmen and it stuck with him.

“I just remember going with my father out on the lake when I was a few years old and filling up a bucket of perch,” Humphrey says.

Now, he says, he takes his wife, Sheri, and three children (Kylee, Logan and Jenny) out on the lake at every opportunity during the summer.

“My wife is very supportive, and she likes to do a lot of the things with me,” he says. “And she tolerates me being gone as long as the time I’m around is quality time with the family.”

From the looks of it, the love of the outdoors is being passed down, just like it was in previous generations.

His son, Logan, is already taking an interest in trapping.

“He’s got his own trap line and everything,” Humphrey says with a smile. “His passion for the outdoors might be even greater than mine.”

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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