Will Maines - Vilas County News-Review
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  • AS A PARTRIDGE hunt it didn’t amount to much. As a turkey hunt it didn’t amount to much either.

    Together, Gordie the golden retriever and his master put on about 4 miles of walking, on what started out as a cool crisp morning that turned into a sweat-machine heat wave by noon the
  • I MAY BE wrong, but I know I’m right.

    What do I know I’m right about? Hunting and fishing; that’s what.

    I know I’m an old guy, out of tune with the generation running around the woods and waters today, with
  • FOR EVERY PERSON in this world there is a special place or a few special places they love more than any others; at least there should be. Over years of rambling and roaming much of the United States and two Canadian provinces, I have seen and enjoyed many special places.

    In 51 years of marriage, my
  • LAST WEEK, A fellow I know, a friend who lives just a few miles down the road from me, wanted to bet me $100,000 that I couldn’t go one month without writing something about dogs, ducks, duck hunting or North Dakota.

    I declined to
  • IF THERE’S ONE lesson I’ve learned from being a fisherman for about 69 of my 73 years, it’s that the most important thing to remember about fishing is that it is all about having fun.

    For me at least, much of the fun comes from

    Ever since I saw my first waterfall at somewhere around the age of 10, I have been fascinated by volumes of water falling over the edge of a precipice, and thrashing down over rocky ledges and boulders until
  • IN MY MIND a lake always lies quietly in a shroud of fog, the early riser’s cheek kissed by the cool wetness. Cattails stand silently in the “breeze-less” air of dawn.

    The calm waters are
  • THERE ARE PLACES and times when I know I am in the perfect place at the perfect time. Such was the case for me one day last week.

    Having gone through a miserable week of getting the flu, then adding the annoyance of conjunctivitis — more commonly known as pink eye to the miserable — I was
  • THERE ARE SEVERAL things in life I hold to passionately. Camping, fishing, hunting and generally anything else to do with the outdoors are some of them.

    I also am passionate about writing and reading. “ ’Rithmetic,” maybe not so passionate, except when it comes to figuring how much of my monthly allowance I can spend on
  • THEY SAY YOU can never go home again, but they are wrong.

    On the other hand, going home again sometimes means several hours of effort without a single fish on the stringer to show for it.

    Having nothing better to do one day last week, though my lovely wife insisted
  • OLD DUCK HUNTERS never die. They just buy several boxes of No. 2 and 4 magnums, and start planning for the next hunt.

    One might think an old duck hunter would be crazy for having loving moments of nearly impenetrable forests of cattails; icy November water cascading over the top of waders, mud- and muck-knee deep to fight through; and
  • IN MY 72 YEARS on planet Earth, I believe I have only met one Amelia in person. I know of Amelia Earhart, but that doesn’t count. To the best of my knowledge, the only women named Charlotte that I have known includes a honey of a high school classmate, known more generally as Char; and Charlotte Tameling, the
  • I FIND IT amazing how any given fisherman’s life as a fisherman can change so much over a period of several decades.

    Take myself, though you probably don’t want to take me. When I was in grade school, my main goal was just to catch a fish each time I went fishing; any fish. It
  • WHEN IT COMES to waterfowl, ducks and geese, I can talk all day about them and never get tired of talking. Much to the dismay of some of my friends, I often do just that.

    Thing is, if
  • “WHEN GREEN IS all there is to be, it could make you wonder why. But why wonder? Why wonder? I’m green and it’ll do fine. It’s beautiful and I think it’s what I want to be.” —Kermit the Frog

    Looking around
  • FISHING IS LIKE a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.

    In the case of a box of candies, I always shoot for the dark chocolate ones which have a nut of some kind in the middle or maybe a raspberry type of filling. What I usually get is
  • I HAVE BEEN very fortunate to have had several good dogs wander through my life. Most of them were around for at least 10 years; three of them, including Molly, our current “golden wonder dog,” for 14 years.

    Some of the dogs were great hunters, while
  • MEMORIAL DAY IS a day to remember. Monday of this week, I and millions of other Americans paused their activities of the day to honor and remember those who fought and gave their lives to keep this country free. 

  • AT TIMES, IT was a bit on the wet and cool side, but it was a beginning.

    Last week, my lovely wife and I hooked up our now 5-year-old “A” frame pop-up camper and began our first camping trip of the year.

    The destination was
  • FOR MANY PEOPLE, the Wisconsin fishing season began May 7. For one intrepid angler, the season did not begin until a few days later.

    On a morning with a gentle breeze blowing, this intrepid angler departed the shore of an unnamed lake in his fishing kayak, armed with two ultra-light rods, a container of
  • IT’S PROBABLY A silly thing to compare turkey hunting to the lyrics of a huge song hit of 1967, but that is somehow the incongruous thing I found myself doing last week as I tried to bring home a gobbler despite seven days of cold, rainy, sleety, snowy weather.

    The first evening of my hunt, when a
  • “THE TIMES THEY are ‘a-changin’.” Bob Dylan wrote those words a long time ago and today, they are as relevant as they were the day he wrote them.

    And what are those days and times of change?

    Well, discounting days like my wife’s birthday, the days on which my children were born and such; the
  • I KNOW A place; a good place. It is a place I find myself heading for several times a year, whenever I need to rejuvenate myself. It never disappoints me. It never fails to lift up my flagging spirits if my spirits are flagging.

    Then again, there
  • A FRIEND OF mine the other day exclaimed that there were only 260 days left until winter. Then, he said “Excuse me, there are zero days ‘til winter.” Winter or no winter, the calendar is inexorably counting down the days until my “spring” turkey season starts April 27.

    I had hoped to have had two or three weeks of serious turkey scouting under my belt already, with
  • DURING THE QUARTER-plus century that I have been writing weekly missives for this newspaper, I have done my best to stay away from anything remotely controversial.

    This week, I
  • As Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan would say, I am “happy, happy, happy.”

    After four months of being torn apart, my boys and girls have returned home to me. The  
  • THERE WAS A time, years ago, when I would fry my eggs over hard. There was a time when I went about most of my outdoor ventures as hard as a granite boulder.

    Times have changed. Call me a softie if you will. I figure it’s OK if
  • FREEDOM,” THAT WAS the last word bellowed by Mel Gibson, playing Sir William Wallace — just before he was eviscerated, quartered and hung by the forces of King Edward I “Longshanks,” the evil king of England — in the movie “Braveheart.”

    In real life, Wallace was a Scottish warrior who fought for Scotland’s freedom from England way back when. Freedom then, as it is now, is
  • IT WAS A fine morning in mid-March. The sun was shining brightly and the breeze was but a quiet whisper.

    The old guy slipping and sliding down the long, steep hill to the lake had
  • AS I SIT here watching snow sifting down on top of a North Woods covered with a thick, icy crust, I take heart in knowing that there are only three weeks remaining in March.

    This is the month that
  • “MAMA ALWAYS SAID ‘life was like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.’ “ —Forrest Gump

    “Into each life some rain must fall.” —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

  • LIKE SANDS THROUGH the hourglass, the sands of time are rapidly dropping through the hourglass until the start of this year’s 55K American Birkebeiner and the 29K Kortelopet.

    I will be one of
  • LAST WEEK MARKED another anniversary for the Plum Lake ice fishing tournament held annually for two decades by the Sayner-Star Lake Lions Club.

    As usual, it brought out around 200 anglers. They braved temperatures hovering in the way below zero neighborhood at the start of fishing at 6 a.m., and it
  • RECENTLY, I HAVE begun having grave reservations about reservations.

    My lovely wife finally retired at the beginning of January, so now, we are 
  • THE PERSON WHO coined the term “time flies” knew what he or she was talking about.

    Yesterday, the sun was shining, it was 80 degrees and I was drifting my fishing kayak around a tiny north Wisconsin lake with fishing pole in hand.

    As I
  • THIS LITTLE TREATISE could easily be called “Confessions of a Lousy Shot.” It also could be called a tutorial in making excuses for being a lousy shot.

    Yes, you heard it here first. I am a lousy shot; always have been, always will be.

    I could write a book about all the inglorious misses I’ve managed while hunting ducks, ruffed grouse (still partridge in my book) and
  • TODAY, IS A good day. Today, I am in a forgiving mood.

    Specifically, I am forgiving the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

    Why, you may ask. Well, it began last year, when
  • SOMETIMES, I WONDER why I do the things I do.

    I wonder why I think I can carry a canoe on my shoulders for a mile to get to a spring pond where ultimately, I will fish for three hours with
  • THERE MAY BE four months, 3 feet of snow and 30 days of below-zero weather in front of us yet, but my thoughts are already turning to spring and summer camping trips.

    I have been lucky enough to
  • IT’S A FUNNY thing.

    When the year 2020 ended, I was a mere 21-year-old child. Now, as we head into 2022, I 
  • THE CHRISTMAS TREE in my house has been up, decorated and lit for two weeks now.

    I unashamedly admit that I am a Christmas tree and lights addict. I can’t help but think that there are a lot worse things I could be addicted to.

    When it comes to finding the next Christmas tree for our house, the search generally begins when
  • MY BACK IS aching from shoveling snow off my deck, steps and roof. My whole body is aching from pushing a snowblower up and down my driveway. I did it all last week.

    All that, despite putting out a generous employment offer to anyone who would listen. At least I thought it was not just generous, but
  • THIS IS THE way it’s supposed to be.

    Growing up in the ’50s, winter was supposed to start before the opening day of deer season in November and usually, it did. Lately, we’ve been lucky to see it get going before
  • MY 60TH DEER season has ended. If you measure the success of a season with a scale considering only whether you killed a buck or not, my season this year was not a success.

    My string of seasons during which I killed a buck within the first two hours of the hunt came to an end. Truth is, not
  • IT WAS A story of bad news; it was a story of good news. My opening weekend of deer season story contains the bad news of I have no buck hanging waiting for me to butcher it. The good news is that I have no buck hanging waiting for me to butcher it.

    That is, if you are lazy like me, the bad news is that if you kill a buck, you
  • FOR QUITE A while now, I have participated with several of my friends in trivia puzzlers. 

    Mostly the quizzes concentrate on oldies music, everything from the ’50s through the ’70s, with an occasional foray into 
  • BE PREPARED; THAT motto was created in 1908, and adopted by the Boy Scouts of America in 1910, or so I am told. I may never have been a Boy Scout, but whenever I head for the woods, I make sure I am always prepared; almost always.

    Last week, I
  • YOU WOULD THINK that after 50-plus years with my lovely wife that I would know enough to not try and pull any fast ones on her.

    Then again, if you thought that, you would be sadly mistaken. From our earliest days of dating, I have contrived to fool her with half-truths and outright lies. The trend has continued into our marriage, especially when it involves the purchase of

  • THERE WAS A time when I used to chuckle at the old, old-timers taking their slow daily drives around the countryside to nowhere in particular, yet everywhere that was important to them.
    Approaching old age — I refuse to
  • WHY IS IT that the times we love the most are the times that take forever to get here, and are then gone in the blink of an eye?
    Take for instance my annual trip to North Dakota; the 29th time this year. Or take the opening day of fishing season, any hunting season that is your favorite or the start of
  • TOO DAGGONE HOT; in three words, that would about sum up my days of duck hunting in North Dakota this year.
    For the 29th time, I pointed the nose of my truck west a few days before the North Dakota duck season opened, got the little white house on the prairie opened up and stocked with all the food a hungry gang of duck hunters would need, and
  • A WEEK OR so ago, a guy named Bubba, fresh from an extended stay on a bar stool at Buster’s Bar, suggested I ought to write some “how to” articles for big-name outdoor magazines.
    You know the kind, featuring
  • ASK FOUR PEOPLE what their favorite season is and you might get four different answers.
    There are good things about all seasons, but for me, there is only one season that is No. 1. That would be 
  • SUNLIT, WARM DAYS in September are meant to be fully used up. No idling around a box that shows moving pictures of oversized men slamming each other into a near senseless state on a field marked with white lines. No taking lazy naps when nature is calling. No raking leaves or such other menial tasks that are always best left for
  • THE TOURISTS HAVE had their time. The summer homeowners have had their time. I don’t begrudge them their time at all. Many of them are my friends and along with the new friends I meet each summer, I welcome them.
    But there is a time coming and that
  • “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” —Forrest Gump

    During my 72 years on Earth, I have opened many boxes of chocolate, most of the time getting a delicious piece of candy, while sometimes a bitter chunk of
  • A million things to do, and not much time to do them.
    Any sportsman who has embarked on a mission involving fish, wild animals, beer or wild women, knows that a lot of preparation must be taken care of before the trip ever starts.
    In less than a month now I will be taking a trip for the 29th time. The destination: North Dakota. The mission: catch some fish, hunt some ducks, eat a lot of food and tell tall tales that
  • In this world, there are great men who have excelled at many callings. Some are great statesmen who lead their nations. Some are fantastically talented musicians, artists, teachers and such who, like a moth drawn to a flame, follow their muse.
    Me? I’m
  • THIS HAS BEEN a pitiful fishing season for me. Not that the fishing has been poor, not that the weather hasn’t been conducive to fishing, it is I who have been lacking this fishing season.
    Oh, sure, the season started out just fine. I
  • LAST WEEK, I made three trips from my house west of Sayner to Minocqua. Each time, I arrived at the intersection of Highways M and 51, I found myself waiting in line behind a number of cars before I could continue my trip.
    The first time, I was
  • SOME PEOPLE HAVE a whole bunch of grandchildren they get to spend time with now and then, only to send them home spoiled rotten to their parents when the visit is over.
    After what most children put their parents through during their growing up years, it’s
  • FORAGING HAS ITS fruits. Last week, I foraged for my first wild fruits of this year, and when all was said and done, the end result was a very tasty wild raspberry pie.
    Along a logging road running through a recently logged area, I
  • LAST WEEK, I mowed my lawn for the third time this year, which in my opinion has been three times too many.
    That is an opinion not shared by my lovely wife, who firmly believes lawns should be mowed on a timely basis, which to her is at least twice a week, ending only when a foot of snow covers the lawn. However,
  • RETIREMENT, I THOUGHT, is meant to be years of doing no work, watching Brewers games on TV every game for six months, and unlimited fishing and hunting time throughout the year.
    I got news for you. It
  • FAVORITES COME AND favorites go.
    In my almost 72 years of living in this special part of north Wisconsin, I have had many favorites come and go. And no, I’m not talking about girlfriends, although there were several of those whom
  • SLOW, SLOWER AND slowest; in these days of fast food, fast air travel, fast everything, going slow, slower or slowest is by far the best way to go. That applies especially to the times that find us exploring and enjoying the great outdoors.
    I am not a snowmobile or ATV/UTV enthusiast. I don’t put down those who do enjoy their outings on the machines. I
  • WE WHO LIVE and play in the northern half of Wisconsin are very lucky. We have vast acres of forest, thousands of lakes large and small, hundreds of streams and unlimited possibilities for having a good time with what Mother Nature provides us with.
    Last week, my wife and I spent three days camping at
  • OF ALL THE creatures on Earth, large and small, none are more dear to my heart than ducks and geese. I know I’ve said this before, but for me the truth is that without waterfowl, this planet would be much lesser for their absence.
    With all the hours, days and weeks that I hunt ducks each year, I