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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 12-19-12

“The Joe” 2012

by Mark Walters

Hello friends,

This is one of those weeks that I have way more to write about then space to put it, so here goes! Kids And Mentors Outdoors (KAMO) is an organization that was started in 2007 by readers of this column to get more kids into the outdoors, more often.

KAMO ( has blossomed from some grassroots meetings in three different parts of Wisconsin to five chapters, which are located in Wisconsin Dells, New Lisbon, LaCrosse, Florence and Ladysmith.

We take kids on both one on one outdoor experience’s and as you are about to read, group events!

Saturday, December 8th
High 36, low 22

This would be our fourth annual Mackenzie Hunt, which in short, is a weekend where The Baraboo River Chapter of KAMO hosts a weekend of deer hunting and lodging at the Mackenzie Environmental Center, and on private lands around the Poynette area, in Columbia County.

This year we renamed our hunt “The Joe” after our great friend Joe Stecker-Kochanski, who passed away this past summer. Joe was a core member of KAMO and did most of the work preparing this hunt, which several of us found out this fall is a huge task.

Lodging is at The Mackenzie Environmental Center (a very cool place to learn about the outdoor world). This year we ended up with 16 hunters ranging between the age of 10 and 16, with one mom also hunting.

The food was prepared over the course of a Friday-Sunday by Jeff and Patti Rouse and Marlene Shaw, three squares a day and plenty of snacks for 40 people is a huge task.

Back to the hunt, Learn to Hunt, Mentored Hunt, it can all be confusing but the bottom line is these hunts were designed by The Department of Natural Resources to get more people in to the woods.

The sun is coming up; I am sitting in a box stand with 11-year-old Jeffery Van Meter of Necedah. We are watching a logged-over forest that is now made up of scrub oaks and has lots of deer sign.

In Jeffery’s case, he can shoot a buck and an anterless deer (more then one anterless deer, we are in CWD land) but if he shoots a doe, first he cannot shoot a buck.

My buddy, Keith Crispell is sitting back at Mackenzie in a double ladder stand with his 14-year-old son Hunter. In Hunter’s case, he is only allowed to shoot an anterless deer because of past hunting experience.

First, Jeffery’s experience, I saw the deer first and it was only the flicker of an ear. I got Jeff positioned in the stand with my BAR 30:06 and soon he saw the deer. Then his gun started weaving, than the deer was no longer in site because of the dense scrub oaks.

We kept picking small openings; the deer would appear and vanish. The gun is wobbling all over the map. I told my young friend to think of something not so good that happened once in his past. The gun steadied, the deer was spotted, and just about gone for good. The 30:06 barked, the deer collapsed and after a ten-minute experience, Jeff Van Meter had dropped two, with one shot, and we did not even know that there was a second!

Hunter Crispell is sitting with his dad, and gets a clear shot at The Mackenzie Monster, which is a buck that is so large it has been rumored to be attacking local packs of wolves.

The massive 10-pointer gets a free pass, as it did two years ago by Owen Seymour, who at the time, was hunting with his dad Kevin.

By days end, there are 4 deer on the pole! This year The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation donated a “Marlin” 243 with a scope to KAMO that had to be given to a kid. KAMO member Brian Gruber, who is also a member of RMEF, set this up for us.

Every young hunter gets their name in the hat once. If at least two KAMO members see a youngster doing some extra chore, that KAMO Kid gets an extra name in the hat. After dinner tonight, we had our drawing and Jeffery Van Meter wins the gun, Jeffery had helped with dishes and his odds were doubled.

The following morning KAMO member Jon Hilmer, who came up with our motto “Tradition Forward” is hunting in a solid snowfall with 14-year-old Sierra Schmidt of LaCrosse. Until our training session, Sierra had never fired a gun. This morning Sierra was not to keen on getting out of bed, Sierra pulled herself out of bed, sat in the woods with her mentor and shot her first deer.

Hunter Crispell, drilled two anterless deer! The Mackenzie Monster escaped once again and folks, we want to thank all of the volunteers, DNR employees, especially Bob Nack and Sara Kehrli, the landowners and the folks at D and G Processing as well as a ton of other people.

Get a kid or yourself involved in KAMO, start a chapter, we keep everything simple!