Wayne was recently awarded for 30 years of serving as a firearm safety instructor by the game warden of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. The award is a beautiful print of 2 dogs waiting to go out hunting with their master, and an engraved plate on the frame commemorating his years of service. It is proudly displayed in his home, along with many mounted trophies from his hunting and fishing days. Both Wayne and Audrey have their fair share of taxidermied memories, and I was privy to several stories as I asked about the fish and animals on display.
Wayne grew up in Mazeppa, and at age 13 went to work on a farm in Zumbrota. That is where his love of hunting and fishing began. He worked on the farm and went to school in his sophomore and junior years, and then on to Red Wing to finish out his senior year. And that is where he met the love of his life. Audrey had moved to Red Wing for nurses training, and that is where they met. They were married in 1958. Since farming was something he knew and enjoyed, the Livingstons bought a farm in Roscoe in 1970 to raise their son Randy and daughter Laurie. Wayne also worked for IBM at the time as a 1st Line Manufacturing manager, and remained there for 32 years. He continued to farm for 43 years before injuring his leg in 2012, and moving into Wanamingo.
Being an avid hunter and fisherman, he took an advanced course in firearm safety. Eventually, he was asked to "help out" in the firearm safety programs in Rochester, Wanamingo, and Zumbrota, and he accepted the position. He remained as a trainer for 30 years!
I asked him what he taught his students in those 30 years. He said firearm safety consists of more than properly shooting a gun. It's what to do when someone hands you a gun, how to operate it, and what to wear while hunting. Also, knowing how to survive if you get lost is of utmost importance. Wayne learned this lesson the hard way in 1974. He was hunting in northern Minnesota with his son and their 2 friends tracking a moose they had sighted when he got separated from the rest of his party. I asked him how that happened, and he said he didn't map out his coordinates, and he should have been more prepared. He had to build a shelter and shoot and cook up a squirrel to survive in the 2 ½ days he wandered about. On the 3rd day, he was rescued by a helicopter search team, but he was already heading back to camp. How? By using his map and compass like he should have done to begin with! Lesson learned! So, add survival skills to the tool box.
Wondering about the ages of those he taught, the answer is 12 to 72. I asked him if he ever hears back from his students, and he said just 2 weeks ago a man came up to him and Audrey at the Dairy Queen and thanked him for his training, and told Audrey what a great job he did.
He has also helped mothers to understand how important hunter safety training is. He teaches the mothers not to be afraid of the gun itself. "With the proper training, a gun is no more than a tool", says Wayne. "When a mother is concerned about her children taking the course, it is because she doesn't understand. I teach her how important it is to know that safety training gives her child knowledge of the tool, and how to properly use it. A firearm won't hurt you unless there's an idiot behind it!'
I asked him where his favorite place to hunt was, and he decided the Northwest Territories were the most eventful. From almost missing a ferry because of being detained at a check point, to the Caribou hunts he had the pleasure of being part of, it ranks at the top of his list. Wayne has hunted in all but two of the Canadian Territories and provinces, and many of the best hunting spots in United States. He has had many experiences on those trips, and has a lot of stories to tell. In his living room are many of the subjects of his adventures! There were a few fish and mammals I had never seen before. What a pleasure it was to hear his stories!
Congratualtions, Wayne, on a job well done!
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