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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. .

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
Dreaming of a season ahead
By Will Maines

WITH TEMPERATURES hovering around 60 and a smiling sun beaming down from high above, it may have seemed strange last weekend for someone to be concentrating most of their thoughts just around the corner on a cold winter to come.

You may think it would be strange to have been thinking of snowstorms and a world of white punctuated mainly by gray and black tree trunks with the deep green of pine or fir providing the only color relief in the forest during the heart of winter, but that’s exactly what I was thinking last weekend.

Two things got me into that frame of mind.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013 2:55 PM
The ducks, the land, the hunter
By Will Maines

LAST WEEK was a time for water. I waded through water — not to mention a lot of muck and mire — floated on water and, believe it or not, walked on water.

The wading and the floating were confined to seven joyous days of duck and goose hunting in North Dakota where ponds and sloughs number in the thousands.

The walking on water part might be stretching things a bit, but in a way I did, and I did it all the way across the mighty Mississippi River.

On the way back from North Dakota it was decided by my passenger

Tuesday, October 08, 2013 1:53 PM
Ducks make me happy, happy, happy
By Will Maines

AS THE Duck Commander Phil Robertsons would say, I am happy, happy, happy.

And why, you ask, would I be so happy, happy, happy?

Plain and simple, as you read this I am in the heart of North Dakota duck country and I am living the life that makes an old duck hunter nothing but happy, happy, happy.

That is, as you read this. As I write this it is still 18 hours

Tuesday, October 01, 2013 4:25 PM
Duck with a side of colonoscopy
By Will Maines

DID YOU KNOW duck hunting is just like having a colonoscopy? Whoa, betcha never saw that coming, but if you stop to think about it, it really is, at least in one respect.

For those of you who have had a colonoscopy, I’ve had two, the lead-up to the actual procedure is filled with nervousness, anxiety and yes, anticipation.

Likewise, the lead-up to the opening day of duck season is filled with nervousness, anxiety and, of course, anticipation.

The two are likewise similar, and here’s the kicker, after dealing with all

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:19 PM
Hizzoner would be proud of us
By Will Maines

THERE?IS nothing better to see on an early autumn morning than a young duck hunter grinning ear to ear while holding a nice mixed bag of ducks taken with unerring aim a scarce two hours into the season’s first day.

Okay, so technically last Saturday would still qualify as late summer and the unerring aim part might be just a bit of an exaggeration, but the wide grin on the face of a young hunter is still as good a sight to an old duck hunter as ever there has been.

Saturday marked the opening of the two-day youth duck hunt in Wisconsin, and well before the 6:06 opening minute my young partner, Nate, and I were securely ensconced in a blind built at the end of a balsam point a week earlier.

Two goose decoys had been placed by Nate according to the old hunter’s instructions

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 3:24 PM

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