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An Outdoorsman’s Journal – 10-7-2015

by Mark Walters

An important part of the Hunt

Hello friends,

There was a time, when I was in my prime and I was as a total go for it, give it everything you have individual as far as outdoor experiences are concerned.

Back in ‘87, I tried canoeing up the Mississippi River. I paddled 980-miles before I had to call it quits due to a pair of worn out wrists.

In ‘91, I hiked 1244-miles of the Appalachian Trail and loved every minute of it.

From 1987 until about 2000 I would base my life out of the Meadow Valley Wildlife Area in northern Juneau County. I would camp from September until sometime after Christmas.

Most people are not aware of this, but one of the reasons that I stayed at “Fall Camp” so long is because, as a young writer that was living on $60.00 to $250.00 a week in that era of my career; my expenses were minimal at Fall Camp.

I would hand write my column and mail it out in Mather, then each week I would drive to Tomah and have my photography developed at a one hour shop, then hit a local restaurant where I would write out cut lines and stuff envelopes for the papers across Wisconsin that ran An Outdoorsman’s Journal.

As we all know our hunting seasons are well under way. Yesterday, I scouted for the upcoming Youth Deer Hunt in Marquette County and in the afternoon I hunted for bear in Juneau County.

Tomorrow, seven of us will be heading down to Crawford County to live on an island for four-days and hunt ducks on the Mississippi River.

Like “Fall Camp” this will be my 44th year of this annual adventure!

So what am I getting at? Actually two subjects! The first is the annual, I gotta kill a huge buck or I shot that duck mentality that some folks go through.

All of us that are seasoned hunters are aware of the quarreling that can take place over a deer or a duck that from January until August would never happen, About the time the leaves start to change color, to some people the buck or the duck means everything to them and all of the sudden neighbors can hate neighbors.

I am a seasoned outdoorsman that is well aware that the real reason for the hunt is adventure and to get away from the real world for an hour or a week at a time.

There is not a family member or anyone in your hunting party that wants to listen to you talk about the jerk neighbor or guy on the marsh that sky blasted your ducks.

Is it really worth it to despise each other everytime you are at a stop sign on your country road over a buck?

Perhaps an even more important subject for this week is tree stand safety. Remember when we did all of our deer hunting from the ground? Then we evolved into climbing trees and standing on a branch. Back in the early 80’s tree stands started to become pretty popular.

In December of ’87, I was at Fall Camp and one day I went on a long hike, deep into the woods on a harsh winter afternoon for a bowhunt. Back then there was not a tree that I could not climb. I found a deer trail maybe a mile from camp that had a lot of tracks on it. I climbed about 20-feet up into an oak tree that had minimal branches and was pretty excited for my hunt.

Maybe a half an hour into the experience, with an air temperature of about ten-degrees, the branch that I was on broke without any warning. Folks, I was heading straight down to the earth, head first and would have been a goner from either the fall or a night on the forest floor due to my injuries and hypothermia.

This was one of those occasions where you realize that there is divine intervention. The only branch on my free fall came up fast and I grabbed it with my left arm and did a 180 just like that. I called it quits for that hunt and went back to camp one shook up hunter.

Between today and December 1st, many hunters are going to fall out of trees either due to the fact that a branch broke, a tree stand was not secured properly or they fell asleep.

In most cases, there is one cure for the inevitable fall and that is a safety strap/body harness or a piece of rope if nothing else is available.

Over the years I have guided on two occasions, hunters that fell out of trees and now have to spend their lives in a wheelchair.

It does not matter if you are a spouse, a kid or a buddy of a hunter. If the hunter in your life is not wearing some form of a harness in a tree, give that person a hard time.

Imagine the change in everyone’s life once the body hits the ground and the legs no longer work!

Not a fun subject but sometimes it has to be discussed! Sunset