Fungi inspiration for art
Detroit Lakes, Minn. 'Trapper Dave" Hagen looks at a tree fungus and sees art. About 12 years ago, the rural Detroit Lakes man was deer hunting when he spied a mushroom-like fungus sprouting from a tree trunk. "I thought, 'What can I do with that...
Detroit Lakes, Minn.
'Trapper Dave" Hagen looks at a tree fungus and sees art.
About 12 years ago, the rural Detroit Lakes man was deer hunting when he spied a mushroom-like fungus sprouting from a tree trunk.
"I thought, 'What can I do with that?' " Hagen says. "I'd look for deer, and then I'd look at that tree."
He collected the fungus - which he calls toadstool - and others and mounted them on wood, the first of 36 displays he has crafted over the years.
Hagen is an avid trapper with a penchant for collecting antiques and bits of nature.
His garage wall is full of pelts, and garage shelves have old jars and an antique car horn. Hagen, who said his nickname is "Trapper Dave," posted a sign on his garage that reads, "Trapper Dave Hagen's Labor Camp." He built nature trails on his property and posted signs naming each section.
The displays, though, are perhaps the most unusual part of his meandering collection.
"Have you ever seen anything like them?" Hagen asked, motioning to several wooden displays on his basement pool table.
Toadstools of varying sizes jut from one board. A plastic bat decorates the top of the display, and fake lizards rest on some of the toadstools.
A butterfly rests on the largest of fungi screwed to another wooden display. Two small red toadstools are at the bottom.
"These are rare as hens' teeth, these red ones," Hagen says.
Each fall, Hagen walks for miles with two 5-gallon buckets. He also takes a saw to remove the hard fungi off the trees. Sometimes, though, the toadstools are soft and need extra care.
He cleans the fungi and dries them over the winter. Then he sprays coats of polyurethane and screws them onto displays.
Hagen has just a few of the displays in his house on Holbrook Lake. He gives most to family and friends and has one on display at the Becker County Historical Society building in Detroit Lakes.
"This is the kind of thing people would have done in the old days," said Virginia Weston, a research volunteer for the society. "They used whatever materials were at hand."
Hagen, 71, grew up in Granite Falls. He joined the Army and later worked in construction. He worked as a supervisor at Northern States Power for 14 years.
He and his wife, Leona, moved nine years ago from Little Falls to the yellow house on Highway 59. They wanted to be closer to their son and his three children, Hagen said.
"If you've got to have a neighbor, Dave's about as good as you can get," said Dave Jensen, a neighbor who has one of Hagen's fungal creations hanging in his bedroom.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556