MINNEAPOLIS-After 23 years, Ron Schara and his dog Raven have stepped down as hosts of "Minnesota Bound."
"I've got to thank you, the viewer, because without you, we wouldn't be around," Schara said in the 854th episode of the show, which aired Saturday on KARE-TV. "I ask you to just keep watching because this is a great show, and you've made it that way."
Schara made it clear he's not "riding off into the sunset" and told viewers "Raven and I will be doing some stories occasionally and maybe a 'Minnesota Bound' special a time or two." His daughter Laura and Bill "The Man About the Woods" Sherck - longtime fixtures on "Minnesota Bound" - will take his place as hosts.
The Iowa native grew up fishing the Des Moines River with his three brothers. A childhood hobby and love for the outdoors blossomed into a career for Schara, who went on to take a communications job with South Dakota Game Fish and Parks. He moved to Minnesota in 1967 when he landed the outdoors columnist beat at the old Minneapolis Tribune.
In 1995, inspired by "60 Minutes" and "20/20," Schara decided to try his hand at television and launched "Minnesota Bound" with his 6-month-old black Lab, Raven. The show took off, spurring Schara to found Ron Schara Productions. The company now employs a staff of 18 and runs a fully stocked local production facility.
In addition to "Minnesota Bound," Ron Schara Productions has seven other shows airing both regionally and nationally, including "The Flush" (Outdoor Channel), "Destination Polaris" (Fox Sports Networks and Wild TV), "Made for the Outdoors" (Fox Sports North and Wisconsin) and "Operation: Fishing Freedom" (Discovery Channel).
Schara used his burgeoning fame to advocate for hunting, fishing and conservation and became a familiar face to the state's outdoorsmen and women. For Minnesota's fishing opener this weekend, he'll rejoin his siblings at Bowstring Lake, a longtime annual tradition for the family.
But Schara has long claimed his dog is the real famous one. (Raven is the third dog of that name to work with Schara and is the granddaughter of the first Raven and daughter of the second.) The pair are familiar faces at the Minnesota State Fair, where Schara ran a "Minnesota Bound" store and used the Fair as the site of special episodes of the show.
"Raven likes to sleep," Schara told the Pioneer Press in 2009. "I tell you what's amazing. Over the course of the Fair, thousands of people gather around the dog while she's sleeping. They stand there and just look at her. I could be a cardboard cutout, but people wouldn't notice. They're just there to see the dog."