Typically when I land on the Minnesota Historical Society’s blog I expect to see reflections on Minnesota’s involvement in the Civil War, political flashbacks, you know that sort of thing. Well, imagine my surprise to see a post showing a Herter’s Master Deer Call. That’s right, if you’ve lived…oh, for let’s say 40 or more years on this earth and consider yourself an outdoorsman…well, there’s a good chance Herter’s has touched your life at least in some small way.
So, it’s only fitting how the Minnesota Historical Society makes mention of this icon of an outdoors store once headquartered in Waseca, Minnesota. I can only say I was physically at the store once prior to its closing, but long before Cabela’s and Gander Mountain were household names, for most sportsmen the name George L. Herter was truly legendary. And I would guess that many customers of Herter’s shopped by mail order and not at the store. When the Herter’s catalog arrived in the mail it was a special day in the household, indeed.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of taking a walk back in time you owe it to yourself to click directly to eBay and search for “Herter catalog.” At most times you will find dozens of old issues still available in collections, some for just a few bucks…but the money is well worth it to see how sportsman gear has evolved over the past 40+ years.
The founder of the store was a real character. Need some proof of that? Just take a look at the titles of George L. Herter’s many books he authored. Unfortunately, I never met the guy, but he was an interesting individual who believe in simple, yet solid advice. His store was also pretty much built on that same principle, as well.
I would imagine as the generations get older there will come a time when few outdoorsmen, unless they study history, will have any recollection of the Herter’s name. Oh, type in Herters.com and it will take you directly to Cabela’s whom I believe purchased the rights several years back. And yes, even Cabela’s who was once competitors with Herter’s still recognizes the value of selling under the Herter’s name.
So, when you see the Minnesota Historical Society post an iconic image from this great store…yeah, it is sort of a big deal to some of us who are growing a bit older in the tooth. Many of us have fond recollections of the store and the catalog which was premium in its time.
And you know, there’s also something a bit nostalgic about remembering back to an era when you didn’t have say 200 choices for cold weather footwear and another 50 different options for waders. Perhaps back when Herters was king the outdoorsmen spent more time worrying about woodsmanship and the quarry they chased…than they now do about all the clothes, gear and technology they take to the woods.
Let’s hear some of your thoughts on what you remember about George L. Herter, the retail store or that glorious mail order catalog.
©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.