In the Outdoors - Vilas County News-Review
An image
An image
  • CWD positives raise venison concerns
    WE WERE hoping it would be years before a wild deer in Vilas County tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the fatal, infectious nervous system disease that’s been slowly spreading toward northern Wisconsin the past 20 years.

    But that bad news hit last month when
  • Pick a sport or two; start enjoying winter
    IF THERE is anything I’ve learned in more than four decades of “surviving” winter in the North Woods, it’s that staying active can make this a season you no longer dread.

    The winter blues are inevitable for those who don’t pick a sport or find some seasonal hobbies, because
  • New highs for DU’s wetlands conservation
    I’M guessing that many of us thought a global pandemic and canceled fundraising banquets were going to cripple the wetlands and waterfowl conservation work of Ducks Unlimited (DU), and the good news is that any such speculation was dead wrong. 

    Team DU celebrated a monumental conservation milestone last month when it
  • Family fishing: a holiday tradition
    NO SWEETER words are spoken in my outdoor world than when one of the kids proclaims they are headed for the North Woods, and they want to do some fishing.

    Our plans for the holidays this year didn’t allow for such an adventure because
  • Time to dig into that fresh venison
    AS THE deer seasons come to a close with the end of the late archery season some 10 days from now, there might be no better time to start dining on those select steaks and roasts that were held back from the cuttings that will go into
  • Wolves, turkey, deer top 2022 ‘wish list’
    IN THE heart of the Christmas season, it is time once again to formulate a “wish list” in regard to some of the nagging issues that impact those of us who live to spend time in the great outdoors.

    They call it the season of miracles and
  • Time to aid state research on bears
    IT’S interesting that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has decided to again expand research on the state’s black bear population, this time starting a new study to analyze den activity and to estimate reproductive rates in each management zone.

    The agency periodically re-evaluates portions of its animal species population models. Last time it
  • A long, unique era comes to an end
    OF COURSE it couldn’t last forever, an editorial partnership that started 36 years ago, but a unique era ends this week as Editor Gary Ridderbusch slides into a well-deserved retirement.

    We became partners on the news scene in
  • Grouse numbers don’t seem to be diving
    THE JURY is still out on whether the ruffed grouse population is headed downward, as evidence of a strong spring hatch improved hunting success this fall and may be stalling the cyclic fall predicted by state wildlife biologists last June.

    The truth be told, the
  • Deer camp is better with a buck
    THE HOPE of every deer hunter who takes that opening morning walk in darkness, heading for a blind or tree stand, is that somehow the moon and planets will align and send a whitetail buck in his or her direction.

    It’s that hope that gets us out of bed so early, eating breakfast, packing gear, making sandwiches and
  • Let’s keep winning on hunting safety
    MUCH has been taught, written about and heavily marketed in recent decades on hunting safety, and the world should know that without a doubt, it is helping make our woods and fields safer.

    It is worth celebrating that Wisconsin’s hunter safety program and every spin-off project has resulted in
  • Deer baiting, feeding ban is huge failure
    TWO DEER were playing tug of war with a yellow bag of corn they had dragged off a gas station pallet the other night, a goofy and laughable sight as I drove through Eagle River well after dark.

    The incident reminded me of
  • Pheasant adventure brings back memories

    IT WAS destined to be a treat of an adventure as the Krueger boys loaded up guns, gear and a dog named Gracie, headed east for Laona to chase some rooster pheasants around on a damp, overcast afternoon in late October.

    The drive brought back memories of high school days when my older brother, Mark “Lardo” Krueger of Appleton, encouraged me and friends to

  • Lawmakers railroading their own agendas
    HERE WE go again with legislators attempting to ram through their personal agendas without regard to our spring fish and game hearing system, this time over the turkey hunting zones and seasons.
    A lawmaker drafted a bill that would
  • Farm country doe kicks off archery season
    IT WAS almost a month into the archery deer season before the weather turned cold enough for me, and off to central Wisconsin farm country I trekked looking for a fat, corn-fed doe to start putting some venison in the freezer for the coming winter.
    The alarm was set for
  • Surprising glory on a wet day in the woods
    WET conditions for grouse hunting have been a huge frustration since the days when I got my first hunting dog some 35 years ago.
    It’s probably just me, but it seems that grouse get mighty skittish when they can’t hear predators coming, so our combined noise in the woods causes plenty of run-offs and
  • Can’t do without in-field trapper education
    TWO years is far too long for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to sell trapping licenses without insuring that recipients pass a course and a field test, but that’s the reality and there’s no remedy in sight.
    Right now you can
  • Night crawlers can damage forest health
    DID YOU know that earthworms in Wisconsin, including the mighty night crawler used by thousands of anglers, are invasive species that can damage the health of forests?
    “Opening a can of worms” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to our forests, which
  • And so it begins, another grand bird season
    WE went 4 miles without a flush to open the ruffed grouse season Sunday morning, our opening day after other obligations pretty much kept us out of the woods Saturday.
    It was just short of 9 a.m., and
  • Count down some plastics for slab crappies
    THE COUNT went to 15 as I let the tube jig drop over a deep-water crib, attempting to run some plastic above wood structure that might be holding fish.
    I’m guessing the cast was halfway back to the boat when I felt the “tick” vibrate down the graphite rod right into my palm. Next came
  • The mystery: how many deer hunters cheat?
    THERE is no disputing the fact that electronic registration of deer and tur­keys is far more convenient than in-person registration, but it’s not without consequences.
    Whether the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wants to admit it or not, there are
  • Windstorms: a silver lining for fish habitat
    A SILVER lining is likely to be found in all the work and heartache involving lost trees and damaged property due to recent windstorms that knocked out power to tens of thousands of people.
    Driving around the world’s largest Chain of Lakes the past two weeks, the scribbler saw some shorelines that were littered with the tops of giant white pines and large-canopy hardwood trees that were either snapped off or uprooted.
    There’s no glory in losing the scenic
  • Wolf depredation: true losses for real people
    ONE error that’s been made repeatedly in addressing Wisconsin’s overpopulation of gray wolves is the vague and thoughtless way that we refer to wolf depredation, and that needs to change.
    There’s incredible polarization between people who support wolves and
  • RGS leads fight for young forest habitat
    IT’S banquet time for the organization that is solely focused on a mission to create healthy forest habitat for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and other forest wildlife.
    The Chain O’ Lakes Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society (RGS) will
  • New hunting season just around the corner
    NOT to make light of our final glorious weeks of summer, but notices showed up last week to signal that fall hunting is right around the corner.
    First the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sends out notification that antlerless harvest authorizations are available in the farmland zone. That’s where multiple “tags” are
  • Stocking data, biologists can help anglers
    FISH stocking numbers that are available on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) website are an interesting read, and they may tip anglers off to future fishing hot spots.
    There is a county- and lake-specific database on the site that provides
  • Trustworthy but old, it’s time for goodbye
    IT’S A bittersweet moment when you have to say goodbye to a boat that’s helped create memories for two decades, but the scribbler is moving on from a 1994 Sea Nymph.
    That 16-foot boat was purchased in 2001 from
  • DID YOU ever notice that some people drive with blinders on, paying little attention to their surroundings, while others are constantly waving and beeping at friends?  
    I’m not sure if that first group is too busy thinking to look around or
  • Gathering wild things: A Wisconsin legacy
    A SMALL jig suspended under a bobber, tipped with a crappie minnow, was being retrieved at a crawl when the bobber popped and plunged below the surface on a right-leaning dive.
    The rod was held by
  • Not just another night on the trout stream
    JOE Maney of Eagle River was merely following his passion for chasing brown trout on a night in late June, working the mayfly hatches that bring out the bigger fish every year.
    Not many people hear the call to fish North Woods streams after dark, sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning, but
  • Has the grouse population peaked, or not?
    BECAUSE spring drumming from ruffed grouse showed a 7% drop from 2019 levels in the northern forest, state biologists claim the population cycle has peaked and we are headed for a down phase.
    That news was delivered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) last week, the agency that says it
  • Escanaba walleye research hits 75 years
    AS THE Department of Natural Resources (DNR) prepares to celebrate 75 years of fisheries research in Vilas County, walleye anglers are cheering the overwhelming approval of revived catch-and-keep angling on Escanaba Lake.
    The lake is
  • Rich deer hunting tradition in jeopardy
    THE deer hunting adventures of Bob Wojtusik, family and friends have taken place in Three Lakes for 70 years, a tradition stemming back to the boom of potato farming in this little town.
    The sport they pursue with such passion has survived a