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The Joe 2017

Young hunters, mentors and volunteers pose for a photo in front of the deer pole after "The Joe" youth deer hunt was held at the MacKenzie Education Center in Poynette on Dec. 8-10.

Hello friends,

I am a couple of weeks ahead with my field work so I can be home for the holidays, as I have done for the last 28 years. I hope each and every one of you have a great Christmas and a healthy new year.

This week’s column is about a very incredible weekend.

Friday, Dec. 8

High 34, low 17

Jason Day is a sixth-grader at New Lisbon Elementary School. Jason’s mom is Jasmin Denter. Jasmin is a single mother who is doing her very best to make sure her son has the option of becoming a young outdoorsman.

Jasmin works at Leer Inc., in New Lisbon, which has been very good to the Meadow Valley Chapter of Kids and Mentors Outdoors (KAMO).

I was Jason’s mentor for “The Joe,” which is a unique 48-hour experience where 24 kids, 24 mentors and at least 10 helpers hunt deer and spend the weekend at the MacKenzie Education Center in Poynette. Most of the hunting takes place on nearby private property.

Rick Miotke is the longtime president of The Baraboo River Chapter of KAMO and the original host of this hunt, which is now in its ninth year. Rick is the heart and soul of this hunt. He is the person that runs all the meetings, does the never-ending paperwork and holds a mandatory three-hour class where each kid learns to hunt and has to prove they can comfortably shoot their firearm.

There were three young hunters who I had the chance to get to know, but will not name them. Their ages range from 10-13 and each of them lost a father or grandfather in the last year who was going to take them hunting this fall. I give you my word that each of these young adventurers, and the parent that set them up, were wonderfully happy for this experience when we all said goodbye on Sunday afternoon.

Bob Brodeur has been a friend of mine ever since high school. Bob is the president of The Lake Wisconsin Chapter of KAMO. No one can match Bob’s work ethic and his ability to find land to hunt and good people to give donations. Thank you to every landowner and everyone that helped with a gift of some sort.

Luke Anderson is a KAMO Kid whose older brothers, Jack and Joe, have both hunted in “The Joe.” The kids play bingo on Saturday night and the final game is called blackout, where the winner gets a .243 rifle. I captured the look on Luke’s face when he won the .243. The average person would be amazed at the gifts these kids get over the course of this very fun night.

Jeff and Patti Rouse are two of my best friends. Patti and I sat next to each other from seventh grade through our senior year, as we were in the same homeroom. The Rouses, along with Patti’s sister Pam Seiple, order food and cook for 60 people, twice on Friday, three times on Saturday and twice on Sunday. They have done this task for nine years, and if you see them while you are out and about, please thank them for their service.

When the event finished up on Sunday, the kids had harvested 11 deer.

I have never missed a Joe, and this experience borders on epic for everyone involved.

During this event, we get to witness kids playing outside. We see kids from all over the state become a pack of 24 good friends. We see hunting taught with respect and kids freely getting up before the sun comes up, hoping to put a deer on the pole while observing nature. Those reasons are why at least 50 adults worked so hard during the last four months to make sure it happened.

All seven chapters of KAMO could use mentors and if you do not want to mentor, there are other things you could do to help. We can use kids to mentor, and your donations always help. To the best of my knowledge, this event was 100 percent free to each young hunter, and there is not a one of us on the payroll.

I wrote 10 years ago, that if we stick with it, KAMO will become a solid way of getting our kids back in the outdoors.