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Will Maines

Trails & Tales

Will Maines is a native of the North Woods and an avid outdoorsman.
He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Basketball and gravy don’t mix
By Will Maines

THE DAY IS once again upon us when kids around the world will tear into brightly wrapped packages to get at the toys Santa has delivered to them for Christmas.

Very soon after all those toys are opened, if history is a guide, the kids that receive them will begin to do the darndest things with them.

I was a kid during a time in north Wisconsin when many families, including mine, were lucky to have two nickels to rub together, but still I could always count on a toy and a few other presents at Christmas.

The things I would always find under the Christmas tree

Monday, December 23, 2013 11:56 AM
Just a little bit disoriented
By Will Maines

HAVING SPENT ALL my life wandering the woods of north Wisconsin, I have, as you might expect, sometimes found myself a little bit disoriented on an outdoor expedition.

It is one thing to walk through a favorite chunk of woods on a sunny October afternoon when every knoll, every valley and every ridgeline is as familiar as the back of your hand, and quite another to plod across that same terrain when heavy snow and dark, gray clouds make it look like a featureless crater of the moon.

Last Saturday as I skied through a snow-laden pine thicket I thought of a Christmas Day

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 12:59 PM
Thank goodness winter is early
By Will Maines

IT’S FUNNY HOW this snow and cold thing works.

For the past several years when the first snows and days of below zero weather hit north Wisconsin, I start thinking I dislike both of those conditions more and more.

Generally I start thinking that I’m getting too darned old to put up with shoveling and shivering for six months every winter, but then when it does snow I put on my skis and remember why it is I still like winter.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:33 PM
One season ends, another begins
By Will Maines

I HAVE A saying that whenever a season ends, another begins, which is pretty close to another saying that whenever one door closes, another opens up.

Sunday marked the last day of Wisconsin’s gun deer season, and the last two hours of the afternoon found me being a part of the finale.

But already the previous day I had found myself beginning a new season as for the first time this year I climbed into a groomer and packed the Razorback Ridges trails for cross-country skiing.

Even as the opening day of deer season came with high hopes,

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 11:06 AM
Chocolate for bait just a myth
By Will Maines

BABY, IT’S COLD outside wasn’t just the title of a favorite winter song last Saturday, it was my mantra as the first hours of deer season played out with a thermometer struggling to get out of single digits and a wind that seldom dropped below double digits.

It was six degrees on my truck thermometer when I opened the door to step into the frozen tundra, and after a brisk walk to my stand I wrapped myself from toes to chin in a thick quilt as soon as I sat down in my open air ground blind.

My little wood stove and a supply of maple and oak chunks

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 11:49 AM
Yuppies and camo, a bad mix
By Will Maines

I READ IN a newspaper article a week or so ago that camouflage clothing is all the rage in upscale clothing stores across the United States. Sales have gone through the roof, but not necessarily in rural areas where you would expect it. In fact, the great boost in sales has been fueled by big city shoppers.

Having read the article the thought came to mind that there are two kinds of people who wear camo clothing; longtime hunters like myself and yuppies who wear it because, well, because it is the latest hot yuppie fad.

I can remember as a kid that there was virtually no camo clothing available, even in north Wisconsin where hunting was, and for some of us still is, a way of life.

If I wanted to wear camo hunting clothes I had to make them myself.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 1:17 PM
Forget the calendar, it’s winter
By Will Maines

IN CASE YOU haven’t yet, you may want to take a peek out your window and take note that autumn in the North Woods is all but over.

The calendar and certain meteorologists may say that autumn won’t end until Dec. 21, five weeks from now, but for all intents and purposes it is about over.

Sure, it might tease us for a day or two for a little while yet, but for those of us who have lived in this part of the country for a long time know the cold, hard facts are that autumn gives way to winter sometime in mid-November more years than not.

That said, there is still much autumn stuff to get done,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 10:59 AM
Chocolates are like turkeys
By Will Maines

Turkey hunting is a lot like a box of chocolates; you open up the box, you never know what you’ll get.

A guy named Forrest uttered that line before, or at least a reasonable facsimile of it, and though Mr. Gump never hunted turkeys I’ll bet he would agree with me on my version had he accompanied me last weekend on a fall turkey hunt in Eau Claire County.

My Saturday morning hunt began at the gentleman’s hour of 7:16;

Tuesday, November 05, 2013 11:58 AM
Only 23 days to go
By Will Maines

YOU COULD SAY that my days as a fanatical, gung-ho deer hunter have come and gone, and you would be right.

If you got right down to it, you could now call me a casual fair-weather deer hunter, and you would pretty well hit the nail right on the head.

What you wouldn’t be able to say is that I no longer am a deer hunter at all. The truth is I still very much enjoy deer hunting in Wisconsin’s November woods, just with a little less zeal than 50 or 40 or even 10 years ago.

If for no other reason, the memories of 50 years of deer hunting in the North Woods will be enough to put me on a stand come opening morning this November,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 11:09 AM
Verdict is in, it was swatted
By Will Maines

IT WAS IN part an exercise in futility, but mostly it was a ceremonial rite, a continuation of a path first taken some 52 years ago.

During the last 52 years, my career as a partridge hunter has gone from wide-eyed neophyte crazy for the hunt to dedicated partridge devotee to semi-serious pursuer of partridges to an outing a year guy who has no real expectations of bringing home a bird.

What partridge hunting has come to be for me

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 2:58 PM

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