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Buffalo resident Shala Holm has been visiting the Brainerd Lakes area for decades, but an evening out fishing with her daughter this past July was especially memorable. 

Holm and her family were staying at their usual spot, Niemeyer's Rugged River Resort, and spending their time fishing in their tandem pedal kayak. 

"That spot on the Mississippi River is probably one of my favorite spots in the whole world," she said. 

One evening after dinner, Holm and her daughter were catching crappies when Holm's daughter began to hear the sound of breathing. Holm remembers scanning the landscape for a nearby deer or beaver. 

"And then all of a sudden we saw this nose in the water," she recounted. 

A giant snapping turtle had stealthily emerged and taken hold of the kayak's fish basket. The experience was scary, Holm said, because they were so close to the water. 

"I had to shake him off quite vigorously," she remembered. 

Back at the resort with family, Holm and her daughter struggled to describe just how large the turtle was, so — feeling braver this time — they decided to return to the spot the next evening in hopes of catching another glimpse. 

It wasn't long behind the turtle returned to check out the catch-of-the-day once more. Holm was placing a fish into the basket when, suddenly, the turtle appeared. 

"And there he was," Holm said. "We never saw him, we never heard him." 

A large snapping turtle reaches for a fish basket on the Mississippi River near Neimeyer's Rugged River Resort in Brainerd, Minn. in July, 2022. Photo by Shala Holm.

A large snapping turtle reaches for a fish basket on the Mississippi River near Neimeyer's Rugged River Resort in Brainerd, Minn. in July, 2022. Photo by Shala Holm.

In all her years fishing and visiting the region, Holm said she's never encountered any turtle quite like the one they saw those two nights. 

The prehistoric fellow has recently gone viral since Holm's photos were shared on Facebook by Niemeyer's Rugged River Resort, and subsequently found their way onto Twitter.

Holm shared the photos with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, who estimated the turtle to be anywhere from 15 to 30 years old. 

Looking back, she credits their pedal kayak for the experience. 

"This encounter would have never happened in a regular fishing or pontoon boat," Holm said. 

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