Weather Forecast


Return of hunting jacket — cash and wallet intact — proves ‘still good people in the world’

Owen Schipnewski never expected to see his favorite hunting jacket again after losing it four years ago, much less the wallet and cash that was tucked in an inside chest pocket. (Tribune photo by Tom Cherveny)

CLARA CITY — The phone call came four years after Owen Schipnewski’s favorite hunting jacket flew out of the back of his pickup truck.

The guy who found it called to apologize. Profusely. Trent Jorgenson felt bad that he had never dug through the jacket to discover the wallet tucked away in an inside pocket.

But now he had, and learned who owned the jacket. He wanted to make sure Schipnewski got back his jacket, wallet and the $1,700 it contained.

“It says there’s still good people in the world,’’ said Schipnewski.

He had inadvertently left the jacket in the back of his pickup truck when he took his then 12-year-old son, Joseph, goose hunting at the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area in the autumn of 2009. He didn’t discover the jacket missing until he got to his home north of Renville.

He drove back, retraced his steps, but never found the jacket. He let Steve Mitlyng at Mitlyng’s Bait & Tackle in rural Watson know about the loss, but figured it was gone for good: Hunters come to the Lac qui Parle area from all over the state, and there is no telling who might have found it.

Jorgenson said he saw it lying alongside the road not far from Mitlyng’s Shop after what was for him a rare waterfowl hunting trip with some pals in 2009. He tossed it in the box of his pickup truck.  

All he had found were 10-gauge shotgun shells in its pockets. Thinking there was no way to know its owner, he tossed the jacket in his garage. It remained unused all of these years and through the course of two moves to new homes.

Jorgenson now lives and farms on what had been his grandparents’ farm near Lac qui Parle Lake. The property includes a waterfowl slough.

 Old high school buddies from the Yellow Medicine East Class of 2001 called him a couple of weeks ago. They wanted to get together and hunt the slough.

He was more than happy to get together with friends he hadn’t seen in years, and it was raining too hard for harvest work.

“I’m not much of a hunter,’’ said Jorgenson to explain his next step. Not owning his own waterproof, duck hunting jacket, Jorgenson remembered the one he had found. He dug it out with plans to toss it in the washing machine to have it ready for the next day.

That’s when he went through the jacket to make sure there wasn’t anything that couldn’t go in the wash.

He found the wallet in the interior chest pocket, and learned the identity of the jacket’s owner. Owen Schipnewski’s driver’s license, credit cards, cell phone numbers written on paper, and his son’s new (in 2009) hunter safety certificate were in it.

There were five $20 bills in the main compartment, but as Jorgenson tore things apart he found $100 bills as well.

It never entered his mind to do anything but return it all to its rightful owner. “Bad karma,’’ he told his buddies when they asked him if he was so much as tempted to keep the cash.

Schipnewski no longer has a landline phone, but Jorgenson rang up a few of the cell numbers and tracked him down. To both of their surprise, some of the cell numbers reached people they knew in common.

To add to the surprise, they also learned that Schipnewski leases land to hunt on the other side of the slough on Jorgenson’s farm.

“Couldn’t hardly believe it,’’ said Schipewski of the phone call from Jorgenson earlier this month.

He drove over to Jorgenson’s the very next day.

“I felt good about it,’’ said Jorgenson of the opportunity to return the jacket and wallet. “Made my day probably as much as his,’’ he said.

Despite Jorgenson’s protests, Schipnewski left behind enough cash for Jorgenson to buy a hunting jacket of his own.

And in Schipnewski’s case, the return of the jacket was really a matter of what goes around comes around.

He owns Newski’s Auto Repair in Clara City, and some years ago a customer filed for bankruptcy protection and left him holding a sizeable bill for parts and work. The very next day he found a purse alongside the road. It belonged to the customer. He never checked for cash, just called her up and made sure she got it all back.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

(320) 214-4335