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Muskie Hunter: Todd Hess has knack for catching lunkers

When Todd Hess was a kid in North Hudson fishing off the shores of Lake Mallalieu, he dreamed about becoming one of those TV show fishermen.

The dream is coming true.

Hess, 37, is becoming a regular on Keyes Outdoors Television Show that airs on FSN North at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays. His success with a rod and reel and the noble muskellunge are making the dream a reality.

"Muskie fishing and bow hunting for deer are my passions," Hess said during a conversation last week in his Hudson home.

"The first fishing experience I can remember, I was about 6 years old. We lived in North Hudson and fished in Lake Mallalieu. We would catch enough fish to feed the whole neighborhood," he said.

Even an accident at age 7 -- when a fish hook was stuck in his left eye, threatening his life and significantly reducing his vision -- has not deterred Hess from a love of fishing and hunting.

"I had a bow when I was 6 and got into a lot of trouble with my dad when I shot the neighbor's pet rabbit. I didn't kill it -- they took it to the vet and got it fixed," Hess said.

Those early experiences led to a lifelong love of the outdoors and some specific skills.

Hess, who sells advertising part time for Keyes Outdoors, said his break into getting on the show happened about four years ago. He was along with a couple other guys to shoot a piece on fishing in Lake of the Woods, Canada.

"I caught a 54-inch muskie and made it into the show," he said.

And his luck continued. "It seemed like I caught a muskie every time we filmed," he said.

The muskie has been labeled the fish of 10,000 casts, but apparently not for Hess. In one of the shows, he caught five muskies during the filming, including a 49-inch monster. He also has a 52-inch muskie to his credit caught in Yellow Lake near Siren.

But his equal passion is bow hunting for deer. "I didn't get my first deer until I was 14," he said. "I've probably shot 70 deer since then."

His basement is lined with some nice trophies, including a number of mounted deer heads with impressive racks. There is also a wild turkey; he shot a 28-pound gobbler while hunting with a muzzleloader, and the 54-pound muskie plus a nice-sized brown trout he caught in nearby Trout Brook.

The first pheasant his 7-year-old golden Labrador, Charlie, flushed is included among the trophies.

Hess said his father, John, died of a heart attack in 1993 at age 42. "I learned a lesson that life is short and you better enjoy it while you're here," he said.

"He was a great inspiration and I carry a picture of my dad with his biggest buck in my pocket on all my hunting and fishing outings."

Hess graduated from Hudson High School in 1988 and earned a bachelor's degree from UW-Stout in business administration in 1995. He and his wife, Amy, who has a 46-inch muskie to her credit and understands his passion for the outdoors, have two children, Hailey, 6, and Brayden, 4.

He hopes to make the outdoor TV show a full-time career, and it would seem a given if his luck with the rod and the bow continues.

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