by Mark Walters
The Joe “2014”
The following is a story about KAMO (www.kidsandmentorsoutdoors.org) and our annual “Joe” deer hunt, which was recently held at Mackenzie Environmental Education Center and the State Game Farm at Poynette, as well as, several private properties!
I am going to write this week’s column a bit differently to try to show you how many people volunteer for this awesome three-day experience.
Friday, December 12th
There are 20 hunters, about 25 mentors, around six kitchen helpers, and three whatever the heck we can get out of them volunteers.
Jerry Absher is a mentor and today is a bonus day for the young hunters, as perhaps ten of the twenty kids were able to miss a little school and hunt this afternoon. Under almost balmy conditions Jerry, who is in KAMO’s newest chapter The Lake Wisconsin Chapter of KAMO, guides 13-year-old Cody Colstad into a successful shot and our first deer is on the pole for our 2014 hunt.
Friday night all the kids go through the final hour of a safety class, which is given by Columbia County Conservation Warden, Ryan Volenberg, and also a biology class given by Sarah Kerhli who is WDNR’s wildlife biologist for Columbia County.
After words it’s brownies and ice cream for everyone, earlier it was homemade beef stew. As is always the case, these kids who come from all over the state and do not know each other have become a pack and a weekend long snowball fight begins.
Saturday, December 13th
High 46, low 34
Its 4:00 a.m! The unsung heroes of this event are Jeff and Patti Rouse, Cheryl Manning, Rachel Voecks and Jeff Anderson.
These folks cook all weekend and the food is excellent. They ask for nothing and put in very long hours. Each young hunter signs up on the chore list and they help with dishes, sweep floors, and clean bathrooms.
Daylight, I am up in a 20-foot tower stand with first time hunter eleven-year-old Megan “Meggie” Jones. Meggie’s twin sister Madison “Maddie” is on her first hunt with her dad, A J, mentoring her. Maddie and A J are in another tower stand on the same piece of private property.
Mike and Colleen Murphy are the landowners whose property we are hunting. To say the least they really want the girls to harvest their first deer.
A very rare occurrence takes place and it is possibly due to the balmy conditions. No one harvests a deer.
At Mackenzie, “Hunt Master” Kevin Seymour who is mentoring Seth Anderson sees a monster buck with five doe. Kevin knows his deer and figures the buck is in the 160-170 inch class. The deer are close but a safe shot is not available.
Two hours later, Pete Goethel and 15-year-old Kate Onell see the Mackenzie Monster and it’s girlfriends and it comes within 15-yards but a shot is not available.
Kate Onell wanted her first deer and hunted every hour of daylight but the one for lunch.
Saturday afternoon hunt! Megan Jones is the definition of tough and positive! She can climb this tower stand like a monkey and has no fear. She has not seen a deer after three hunts and always says, “maybe the next hunt” and she is now aware that her mentor is kind of crazy!
Rick Miotke is the President of the Baraboo Chapter of KAMO and another person that puts in some major hours putting this hunt together. Rick is mentoring Brent Littlegeorge and tonight Brent harvested two mature doe.
No other deer were harvested this afternoon, which is very rare. Tonight it was lasagna and then a presentation by Jerry Bethke, who manages Soaring Eagle Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. Jerry has brought in a Great Horned Owl and a Screech Owl and gives the kids an excellent presentation on injured birds of prey and how they live their lives before and after an injury.
The following morning only one deer is harvested and that is by Kate Onell, as she made an excellent shot on a nubby buck. Kate was so proud of her first deer that she was going to get a European mount done on it.
If there is anyone out there that does not understand why a weekend opportunity like this should be offered to our youth perhaps you should come join us next year. You will change your mind.
KAMO rocks please help us grow! Sunset!
THIS WEEK’S COLUMN IS SPONSORED BY: Cedar Country Cooperative