Jerry Bue remembered for his conservation efforts

One of the state’s original game managers dies at 93

File photo Jerry Bue was honored at a July 2017 dedication of the a new Lyon County Wildlife Management Area — called Bue-tiful Acres WMA — in recognition of the land Bue and his family donated. Bue died on Sunday at age 93.

MARSHALL — Without a doubt, Gerald “Jerry” Bue is leaving behind a remarkable legacy.

As the last surviving member of the 12 original area game managers hired by the Minnesota Department of Conservation in the late 1940s, Bue will be remembered for his widespread conservation efforts. Bue died on Sunday in Marshall at the age of 93.

“Jerry was a great conservationist,” Marshall Area Wildlife Manager Wendy Krueger said. “One of his claims to fame was that he was one of the 12 original game managers in the state. Back then it was called the Minnesota Department of Conservation, but now it’s the Minnesota DNR (Department of Natural Resources). He was the last surviving member. It’s sad to see him go.”

Krueger said Bue worked out of the Marshall office between 1946-1955, adding that he continued to be a strong supporter of wildlife and conservation even after he switched careers and became the owner of Bue Lumber Company in Green Valley for the next 20 years.

“Even after he went into the lumber business, he never lost his passion for conservation,” Krueger said. “The whole family was conservation-minded.”

In July 2017, a new Wildlife Management Area was dedicated in honor of Bue and his family. The WMA — called Bue-tiful Acres — consists of 167 acres of land in Lake Marshall and Sodus townships.

“It’s rolling terrain, so there’s a nice ravine there and 60 acres of native prairie, which made it really special,” Krueger said. “There’s pheasants and turkeys there and it’s also good for deer hunting, too. It’s a grassland, but there’s also a creek there that eventually flows into Lake Marshall. So besides being good for wildlife watching and hunting opportunities, it’s good for water quality.”

Bue and his family donated a significant piece of land for the Bue-tiful Acres WMA — land that will permanently remain in the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) program. In addition to the 78.6 acres they contributed, the DNR purchased another 88.3 acres of tillable land from the Bue family for the wildlife area.

“This property they donated is south of Marshall and is in a permanent program,” Krueger said. “After being in CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) for 10-15 years, then it rolls into RIM, which is a permanent contract. So that’s the family’s legacy right there. That’ll carry on for future generations to enjoy.”

Area sportsman Al Dale said he recalls Bue as an “avid sportsman” and appreciates the legacy he’s leaving behind.

“He did a lot of stuff with wildlife and all of that,” said Dale, who is a board member for the Southwest Minnesota chapter of Pheasants Forever and the Buffalo Ridge Gobblers. “I think it’s very awesome. (Bue-tiful Acres WMA) is a tremendous asset to the whole community and area as far as sportsmen go.”

As one of the 12 original area game managers, Krueger said Bue was a pioneer in the field.

“Those first 12 game managers in the state were called the 12 Apostles,” she said. “They were sent across the state in different sections. Jerry was based in Marshall, but he covered a lot of area. They kind of had to learn things on their own, so that was pretty cool.”

Krueger said Bue pioneered a lot of the different DNR surveys.

“He was the first one to come up with a method of trapping and banding ducks,” Krueger said. “He got to do quite a few things, including aerial surveys up north. He did a lot of flying — documenting wetlands and wildlife — so he got to see a lot of the Minnesota landscape.”

Bue was also the first one to confirm mountain lion tracks in the area.

“In his long life, Jerry saw a lot of changes over time,” Krueger said. “He was real observant. When he was the game manager, he was the first to confirm mountain lion tracks in Ghent back in the 50s. He did plaster casts of the footprints and then sent if off to Washington, I think, to confirm. So they were moving through the area back in the day.”

Krueger said she’ll sincerely miss the conversations with Bue.

“It was really cool when I first came to Marshall,” she said. “(Jerry) was still living at home and he’d tell us stories of days back. That was pretty neat. Even after he had a stroke, he’d visit. His kids would bring him in by.”

The last time she interacted with Bue was before Christmas.

“He was still sharp and liked getting out,” Krueger said. “He always liked keeping tabs on what was happening around here.”

All four of Bue’s sons — Brian, Doug, Fred and Robert — live in Alaska and daughter Bridget Ahmed resides in Savage, a suburb of Minneapolis, but reportedly visited their dad often at Avera Morningside Heights Care Center, where he spent the last five years.

“None of the kids live around here, but they’d visit often,” Krueger said. “There was usually one with him most of the time. It was nice that they still had the house in town where they could stay. They’re a great family.”

Bue was born Aug. 4, 1925, near Clinton, Wisconsin. He grew up on a small farm and attended school in a one-room schoolhouse. Later, he graduated as valedictorian of his high school class. At the age of 18, Bue enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was accepted into a special program for Navy pilots. He received his wings and commission just as World War II ended.

Bue then enrolled at the University of Minnesota, where he earned a degree in wildlife management and started his career in Marshall. Soon after, Bue met Francile DeReu at a wildlife feed. The couple married in July 1953 and raised five children. The couple celebrated 56 years together before Francile died in 2009.

Jerry Bue enjoyed various outdoor activities, including hunting, fishing and trapping. Along with sharing stories, gardening and playing cards with family, he also spent a lot of time educating others on the importance of preserving resources in Minnesota and beyond.

“The only reason that the land acquisition happened is because Jerry and the family donated land for Bue-tiful Acres, Krueger said. “That’s why we wanted to recognize the family. It was a really hot day for the dedication as I recall, but I’m glad we got that done. It was great he got to see that happen.”