After I write this column, my 19-year-old daughter Selina and I will be heading to the Mississippi River with our golden retrievers Ruby and Fire for three days of fishing and winter camping.
This week I am writing my annual year in review story which, for the last 31 winters, has made it so I do not have to travel on Christmas week.
Before I go any further I want to thank the staff of every newspaper that runs this column. COVID-19 has been devastating to our business but all of us in this incredible industry keep on producing content and printing papers.
Before COVID-19, Kids and Mentors Outdoors (KAMO), which was started through this column, was a solid get it done organization that was in the process of starting its newest chapter which will be in Beaver Dam. What we do in KAMO is get kids outside in both one-on-one and group activities. In March, our Board of Directors agreed unanimously that for the time, most KAMO activities needed to be put on hold.
I have spent much of my adult life volunteering, and everything from our schools to the YMCA has taken a direct hit when it comes to helping our youth, which in the end makes the world a much better place.
This past spring I created a food plot in the forest behind my house. It was a project that was extremely physical as I used a chainsaw, rototiller, and an ATV to clear out almost an acre of oak wilt forest and hazel nut brush with the real project being the roots.
I learned a lot and had at least seven bucks coming into it all summer. I had one buck that messed me up big time.
This buck was a true monster that had at least a 21-inch spread and was massive in every way. From late-May until mid-September, I got at least 100 separate photos of him. There were times that I had pictures of the buck of a lifetime five different times in one day.
While hunting the plot, I passed up a 10-pointer twice and an 8-pointer once that would have been my biggest with a bow.
Almost everyone in my life told me I was a fool. Other than wanting a crack at the big buck, here is my real reasoning for the pass. I travel for a living and much of what I do in the fall is chase ducks and bucks. Had I filled my bow buck tag on Oct. 5, what I do for a living would had to have been altered and I love those canoe, camping/hunting trips.
This summer I tried to help Michelle Chiaro, a very important part of my life, harvest a bear by running baits with her. Michelle had never hunted before and the 90 days of baiting was brutal but we both loved it. No bear for Michelle, but she applied again for next fall and I think we have a very good chance of getting a tag.
The grey wolf has been removed from the endangered list in Wisconsin and the WDNR is in the process of creating a management plan which means hunting and trapping is in our future. About all I can say about this is common sense prevails!
Like today when Selina and I go on our fifth trip of the year, I am about to have a blast with my daughter in the outdoors and that is because all of her life, I did things in the outdoors with her. Now it is just another year of our lives; like my friends in KAMO or with your kids, get our youth into the outdoors.