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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 1-7-2015

by Mark Walters

2014 and Beyond 

Hello friends,

This is my annual summary of the past year’s highlights and some thoughts on what I will be doing in 2015.

I participate in camping trips every month of the year and last winter was brutal for man, beast, and fish. In the 25-years that I have been writing this column, last winter was the first time that I saw massive amounts of outdoorsmen just say to heck with it by mid January and spend more time inside then they normally would have.

Due to 40-inches of ice and 2-4 feet of snow on the ice there was very little oxygen left in the water which shuts down fish feeding. Simply put, when the lake you are fishing is running out of oxygen, the fish in it quit feeding. If the oxygen level gets too low the fish (shallow lakes are hit hardest) in it die. The warm spell that we just experienced should keep a good bite going well into the winter of 2015.

Last June I returned to Shultz Lake in northwest Ontario, Canada where I have flown into and fished with family and friends since 1982.There is a portage lake that can be reached by walking from Shultz and it has lake trout in it. Until the summer of 2013, no one in our gang had ever caught one.

I was fishing with my 13-year-old daughter, Selina, when we broke the ice on that subject and last year I watched my nephew Riley Schuster net a beautiful 30-inch laker for Selina.

The story behind the story is that I had a surprise for Selina in that I was having it mounted for her for a Christmas present. I was at deer camp when my taxidermist called and said that my laker was not a laker but actually a brook trout. My friends, the state record brook trout is 24-inches.

I contacted some friends in early December and was told that if this was a brookie it was going to be huge news. My taxidermist who is a very respected man put his guarantee on it that Selina had a world-class trophy. I made some calls and had a good friend with the WDNR work with another and they determined that Selina’s “brookie” was a “laker”.

On Christmas day I gave Selina her mount, which is truly beautiful and as of this writing, she has never heard the story that I just wrote.

I watched my 21-year-old stepson, Joey Dushek, go through the grueling and expensive sport of bear baiting last May through early September as he had his first bear tag.

I helped Joey out early in the game but he soon proved that he did not need me. Once the season rolled around I was Joey’s cameraman and filmed him harvesting a 260-bear with his bow and arrow. The footage is awesome, as is the memory.

Mid October, I have my first wolf tag. My buddy Jody Bigalke and I spent six-days beating the heck out of my truck and our bodies. On the last day of the season I was pulling traps and one of them had a beautiful wolf in it. Unless you pursue these critters you cannot even describe the emotion and satisfaction of harvesting a wolf.

About all I can say about the loss of our wolf hunting and trapping seasons this past December is, I do not trust our current president or anyone in his administration. They ignored biology. If you think that Wisconsin has dwindling numbers of grey wolf, you are mistaken.

This past week I hunted bobcat for the first time, as I received my first bobcat tag. I will hunt them until I put a tag on one or the season closes January 31st. I am hunting with The Bloomer Houndsmen and am very impressed.

Selina’s golden retriever or mine (ours) Fire is bred and due around the 10th of January.

Fire looks to have a belly full of pups and no matter what the numbers are we are going to have a really cool January and February, as we watch the pups next to the woodstove in our living room.

On the matter of the wolf hunting, and trapping season removal. For those of you that think it is cool that hunters and trappers cannot harvest a limited number of grey wolf, that our WDNR biologists determine works in each zone. I have spent more time camping in more locations in Wisconsin’s forests and marshes than most people. Grey wolf numbers have to be managed by hunters and trappers.

Common sense does not always rule the day! Sunset