CLEAR LAKE - As a boy growing up in Decorah, Vince Evelsizer loved the outdoors.
"My dad took me along in the outdoors a lot, hunting and fishing. Probably a story you've heard before but it was true with me as well. I was fortunate to have parents that got us outdoors," Evelsizer told the Globe Gazette.
"And then my interest, I just had an unquenchable thirst for the outdoors."
That passion for nature turned into a career which eventually landed him the position of furbearer and wetland biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in Clear Lake.
Evelsizer has held the post for about two years.
He took a circuitous route through the United States and Canada careerwise before coming back to Iowa.
After graduating from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a major in wildlife, he worked some temporary jobs in fisheries and wildlife, including a stop in Lewiston, Idaho.
Eventually he and his twin brother decided to work on getting their masters degrees.
As part of the coursework, he was hired to work with a wetlands project in Manitoba, Canada. The two-year project included classes at Clarion University in Pennsylvania.
While working in Canada, he met his wife, Andrea. The couple married and moved to Bismarck, N.D., where they both worked for North Dakota Game and Fish.
Their next move brought Vince back to Iowa. They lived in Clear Lake for 18 months and then North Liberty for several years.
Their children, Ethan and Alana, were born in North Liberty.
Then in 2010, longtime DNR employee Ron Andrews retired, opening up the position of furbearer biologist.
It was a good time from a family standpoint for a move.
"Our kids hadn't started school yet. We both liked Clear Lake. It was a few hours closer to Canada. That is important," he said.
Adam Anderson, of Fertile, met Evelsizer 10 years ago while working on a wetland project on Anderson's Forest City-area farm.
The pair have become fast friends and share a love of hunting and fishing.
"If he's going fishing he calls me and if I'm going hunting I call him," Anderson said.
As a furbearer and wetland biologist, Evelsizer watches populations and harvests of critters like beavers, muskrats, mink and bobcats, coyotes and foxes.
"He is my go-to guy for all outdoors questions," Anderson said.
Evelsizer also answers questions from the public about large predators like mountain lions, black bears and wolves.
"There's a lot of media attention with those three critters every time one of them comes into our state," Evelsizer said. "And a lot of interest from the public about those big creatures. It's kind of a headline grabber when one does come in."
Work and family leave little time for other hobbies. But Evelsizer said he does enjoy reading. History is a favorite topic.
And he always makes time for camping and hiking with his family.
"Right now it's all about doing things with them," he said. "That's fun and we're very fortunate to have two healthy kids."