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Recent entries


Versatile Hunter

Northwoods Adventure

Mon, June 12, 2017

Is it just me or are our lives spiraling out of control these days in that as we age we seem to have more and more responsibility and stress—be it families, work, home upkeep, hobbies, bills, and the countless other things pulling at our time—and with that, time seems to just move faster and faster.  Each week goes faster the older we get and the stress of being a good husband, wife, co-worker, and friend only increases. 

As we become more involved in the things we need to do, we lose more time from the things we want to do, be they hobbies in the outdoors or other things.  I’ve spent a good deal of time since starting a family contemplating these things and by no means do I think I have it exactly right.  What I do believe is, based on my experiences, and those of some prominent writers and experts on the subject of leadership and time management, we need to strike balance between what we as individuals need and what we as parents, workers, and the various other pulls we have needs are met.  Balance is easy to talk about and hard to achieve. 

What the outdoors provides for many of us is a chance to get away and to forget all of those things that stress us out in our daily lives.  What my friends and I experienced in the Northwoods recently was only one such example.  The four of us decided to attempt a 4 day canoe camping adventure and began planning months before.  We had grown up canoeing, camping, fishing, and hunting together and back in the day it was easy to get out and do those things.  As we’ve aged, and as our responsibilities have mounted, like many of us, our time outdoors has shortened.  We all have children, wives, homes, jobs, and the like.  Prioritization is key these days, and sometimes the outdoors just doesn’t make the cut. I do believe that getting outdoors is still a priority for me and my family and I do a lot of it just in different ways.  These days, that time is often logged in minutes rather than hours.  A hiking trip to a local creek here, a short fishing trip to the local pond there, and even a few short hunting trips with the little man.  All of those trips, however involve much preparation, thought, and at least some level of stress given that children and family’s safety is always paramount.  Truly “unplugging” is just so difficult to do.

Our trip was planned to a tee given that we would be starting 30 miles above our takeout with not much opportunity for miscalculation.  This would be very similar to a boundary waters experience in gear planning and obviously primary mode of transportation.  The Flambeau River State Forest was intentionally left as a wild and scenic area, nearly devoid of development for a reason that we would soon come to understand.  We packed what we thought we could fill 2 canoes with and that would last us the 3-4 days on the water.  We also rented an extra canoe just in case we got there and had more gear than we could fit in 2 canoes as a backup plan.  Having never done this before we needed to have some basic outs.  This stretch of river contained 8-10 rapids and although they were considered Class I and II (the least dangerous), we were in canoes and at least two of the rapids would trip up all but the most experienced canoers without portage.  A dump on day one would potentially spell disaster for the rest of the trip but we were also prepared for that with a ton of bungees, dry bags, and industrial strength, double wrapped garbage bags. 

My suggestion on a trip like this is to call ahead—the WI DNR, like many State DNRs, can be extremely helpful when it comes to planning.  The particular people at the Flambeau River office went out of their way to provide us with helpful, up to date information for things like water levels, preferred campsites, fishing tips, and more.

The fishing was slow given that the water was about a foot high and we were unexperienced on this river.  That being said, piloting a canoe down a river, manipulating rapids, making sure you keep on time and ensuring you don’t miss take outs for campsites doesn’t mean full time fishing. We managed to catch a dozen or so smallies and two really nice channel catfish on crank baits.  We kept one of the channels approaching ten pounds and I must say that it was one of the cleanest and best tasting catfish I’ve ever eaten (and so thought my four year old when I brought it home).  We also had a follow from a Muskie.  Talking to the locals it’s pretty obvious that the River is a real sleeper for big Muskie (mention them and you get the old nod and smile but little discussion on the topic).

The campsites were absolutely amazing with freshly mowed spots right on the river and outhouses for each one.  The sites were set up in some great spots along the river with the most amazing one we stayed at being literally right next to one of the major rapids.  That might have been my best night’s sleep as the rapids did a good job of drowning out the sound of multiple dudes snoring in symphony. Ha.
The last day’s paddle was rough given some lack of sleep, a four foot drop Class II shelf rapid, a lot of open water with a headwind, and knowing that our adventure was soon to be over.  We ended wisely, however, deciding that instead of making the 7 hour trip home mid-day we would instead stay at a local cabin on the river, enjoy a hot meal in town, and then hit up the country bar that lay on the banks of the river to top it all off.

With no cell phone coverage to speak of, 6 people seen in 3 days, and being in the outdoors with some good old friends, this trip is ripe for an annual follow up adventure.  Perhaps we find a new adventure each year and perhaps the next trip is the Boundary Waters or something similar. I know my boys will be with us in the not so distant years to come.  Regardless, the ability to unplug and leave responsibilities behind, even if for only a few days, was something every person needs to experience more often.  Once again, the outdoors does its job as a soul-cleansing, life changing place that brings us back to sanity and reminds us of just what “the good life” should perhaps really look like. . . . .




Hooked on Fishing Fundraising 2017 Clay Shoot Event

Fri, April 28, 2017

Just wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming 3rd Annual Hooked on Fishing Clay Shoot event on Friday, June 2.

Hooked on Fishing is a private, not for profit organization that provides free fishing opportunities for our community.  For more on the Park, please visit  .

To register for the clay shoot, head online to

or contact Dan at 309-219-3560 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The Park is still looking for Station Sponsors if interested.

See ya there!


Aldo Leopold Quotes Part 2

Mon, March 13, 2017

Since most of mankind today professes either one of the anthropomorphic religions or the scientific school of thought which is likewise anthropomorphic, I will not dispute the point.  It just occurs to me, however, in answer to the scientists, that God started his show a good many million years before he had any men for audience—a sad waste of both actors and music—and in answer to both, that it is just barely possible that God himself like to hear birds sing and see flowers grow.

There must exist in the public mind that fundamental respect for living things and that fundamental aversion to unjustifiable killing and to unnecessary ugliness which in all lands and all times has been a necessary foundation for good morals and good taste.

The man who does not like to see, hunt, photograph, or otherwise outwit birds or animals is hardly normal.  He is supercivilized, and I for one do not know how to deal with him.  Babes do not tremble when they are shown a golf ball but I should not like to own the boy whose hair does not lift his hat when he sees his first deer.  We are dealing, therefore, with something that lies pretty deep.
The ethics of sportsmanship is not a fixed code, but must be formulated and practiced by the individual, with no referee but the Almighty.

The bag limit has become the minimum proof of prowess, rather than the maximum limit of respectability (for which it was originally intended).

The dog knows what is grouseward better than you do.  You will do well to follow him closely, reading from the cock of ears the story the breeze is telling.  When at last he stops stock-still and says with a sideward glance, “Well get ready”, the question is, ready for what?  A twittering woodcock, or the rising roar of a grouse, or perhaps only a rabbit?  In this moment of uncertainty is condensed much of the virtue of grouse hunting.

The most serious defect in the whole collection of teaching materials is the absence of the phrase “we don’t know”.  Just why are we so undemocratic in professing ignorance? It seem a special privilege of scientists.

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

Poets sing and hunters scale the mountains primarily for one and the same reason—the thrill to beauty.  Critics write and hunters outwit their game primarily for one and the same reason—to reduce that beauty to possession.

To arrive too early in the marsh is an adventure in pure listening; the ear roams at will among the noises of the night, without let or hindrance from hand or eye.  When you hear a mallard being audibly enthusiastic about his soup, you are free to picture a score guzzling among the duck-weeds.  When one widgeon squeals, you may postulate a squadron without fear of visual contradiction.  And when a flock of bluebills, pitching pondward, tears the dark silk of heaven in one long rending nose-dive, you catch your breath at the sound, but there is nothing to see except stars.

By and large, our present problem is one of attitudes and implements.  We are remodeling the Alhambra with a steam-shovel and we are proud of our yardage.  We shall hardly relinquish the shovel, which after all has many good points, but we are in need of gentler and more objective criteria for its successful use.

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land.  By land I meant all of the things on, over, or in the earth.  Harmony with land is like harmony with a friends; you cannot cherish his right hand and chip off his left.  That is to say, you cannot love game and hater predators; you cannot conserve the waters and waste the ranges; you cannot build the forest and mine the farm.  The land is one organism.  Its parts, like our own parts, compete with each other are co-operate with each other.  The competitions are as much a part of the inner workings as the co-operations.  You can regulated them cautiously but not abolish them. 

How like fish we are: ready, nay eager, to seize upon whatever new things some wind of circumstance shakes down upon the river of time! And how we rue our haste, finding the gilded morsel to contain a hook.  Even so, I think there is some virtue in eagerness, whether its object prove true or false.  How utterly dull would be a wholly prudent man, or trout, or world!

The hawk which kills my pheasants is wicked and cruel, and hence must die.  Some hawks in some situations doubtless should die, but let us at least admit that we kill the hawk out of self-interest, and in so doing we act on exactly the same motives as the hawk did.
It may flatter our egos to be called the sons of man, but it would be nearer the truth to call ourselves the brothers of our fields and forests.

The protectionist’s devil is usually the sportsman.  The sportsman’s devil is usually “vermin” or the “game hog” or some other visible malefactor.  The invisible deterioration of habitat which causes the real damage, and to which both kinds of crusaders are at least indirectly a party, is commonly ignored or dismissed as incidental.

There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm.  One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes.  I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain.  I was young then, and full of trigger-itch I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer that no wolves would mean a hunter’s paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sense that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.


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