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  • Tuesday, October 17, 2017 10:41 AM
    WHEN ONE RAMBLES around the woods and waters of northern Wisconsin and other wild areas for more than six decades, it is not surprising that every once in a while one might see something out of the ordinary. Sometime it’s something rare, other times something humorous and sometimes something awe-inspiring.
    In my time of wandering, I have seen a host of curious and interesting things. They remind me of a chapter from the book “Trout Madness,” by one of my all-time favorite writers Robert Traver. Actually, the writer’s name was John Voelker, but he used Traver as a pen name.
    For those of you not into trout fishing stories centered in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (U.P.), you
  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017 12:22 PM
    I DON’T KNOW what the Chinese are calling this year, but for me and my North Dakota duck camp crew this would definitely be the year of the pup.
    Three young pups of the Labrador retriever ilk and two young pups of the teen-aged-boy ilk provided most of the highlights of this year’s hunt. The boys shot the ducks and the pups, ranging in age from 6 months to 10 months, did the retrieving.
    Oh and don’t worry about the old guys; they did all right, too.
    But it was the young pups who were the stars of the hunt. I hunted with Nick and Nate Lofy for the first two days of the hunt before turning them loose on their own. Opening morning was
  • Tuesday, October 3, 2017 11:17 AM
    “WHEN CHEKHOV SAW the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life.” — Phil Connors, weatherman in “Groundhog Day.”


    Chekhov may have seen a winter bleak and bereft of hope, but never did he see one longer than the one I endured this past winter, yea verily every winter for the past 26 years. And though my winters have been long and bleak, they have never been bereft of hope. Through each and every one of those long, bleak winters, I have 
  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 11:21 AM
    LAST SATURDAY WAS the opening day of duck season in north Wisconsin. I decided to be a nonparticipant when the opening hour struck. Sunshine and temperatures rising to 87 or so is simply not duck hunting weather.
    In the afternoon, I changed my mind. Two men and a young yellow lab pup changed it for me. Granted, my hunt was a halfhearted affair, during which I had no real desire to kill a duck, but for the three of them I did not have it in my heart to not hunt.
    As I reflect today, a day that would have been
  • Tuesday, September 19, 2017 12:34 PM
    SOMETIMES YOU HAVE to leave home to realize how good you have it there. It’s an age-old lesson, but one that needs to be repeated every once in a while.
    Last weekend, my wife and I left home for a couple of days, learning on our abbreviated camping trip that up here in the North Woods we truly do have it better than anywhere else.
    Understand me, we had a good time and our camping destination of Hartman Creek State Park near Waupaca is a lovely oasis of trees, trails and small lakes. It
  • Tuesday, September 12, 2017 11:00 AM
    THE TIME IS at hand.
    Come this Saturday morning, it will be time to hitch up well-worn light hunting pants, the ones with patches on the knees and sorely worn cuffs, and it will be time to head for the woods in search of the wily ruffed grouse.
    There are really three parts to every grouse season; beginning with the season opener through about the end of September, when temperatures will oftentimes be in the 70s or even 80s; then through early October into early November, when the leaves come down and shooting gets to be a little easier; before finishing with
  • Tuesday, September 5, 2017 11:24 AM
    FOR THOSE OF you who remember country music when it wasn’t fake country music, you might remember a John Denver tune from 1981, that philosophized “Some Days are Diamonds (Some Days are Stones).”
    While that philosophy applies to almost any day, it oftentimes identifies very much with days spent on the water fishing. I recently spent a day on the water with two friends, who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent, that fell in the “stones” category.
    We started our day
  • Tuesday, August 29, 2017 2:18 PM
    IF YOU DRINK coffee, you probably remember a popular coffee jingle that went “The best part of waking up, is Folgers® in your cup.” Not being a coffee drinker, I couldn’t tell you if Folgers is great, good or downright lousy coffee, but as someone who once sold newspaper ads for a living, I have to say it was a pretty catchy jingle.
    In my world, the slogan fits just fine, except that I would modify it a bit to say “The best part of hunting, is a full belly after a great meal of wild game.” Yeah, yeah, it 
  • Tuesday, August 22, 2017 10:47 AM
    IT’S A WARM day as I hit the trail, perhaps in the high 70s. And yet, as I begin my trek through the woods on this odyssey which will give me temporary escape from humanity, I know the hike is a job that needs to be done.
    Besides, I erroneously reason, it should be cooler back in the woods under a canopy of oak, birch, maple, and assorted pines and fir. Cooler than out here in the hot sun, where I have parked my truck. “It had better be cooler,” I mutter aloud, because I’m looking at a hike of about 8 miles, depending on which turns I take. “It had better be cooler,” I mutter aloud again, because the single, 16-ounce bottle of water I’ve brought with me is looking quite small.
    As I walk, I 
  • Tuesday, August 15, 2017 10:49 AM
    IT IS A work in progress. As the budding saga of Gordie the yellow lab wonder pup continues, the work of developing him into a working duck retriever is still very much in the beginning stages of progress.
    As with any pup, much of the success, or failure, associated with developing it into a reliable working dog lies with the trainer. To be honest, I don’t aim to finish up with a dog any reputable field trial dog handler would want in his stable, only a good working dog who just happens to like me and my wife, who can work and play hard all day, spend the evening next to me on the couch watching a ball game and finish by curling up on the end of my bed all night.
    As far as training goes, I guess you could
  • Tuesday, August 8, 2017 11:48 AM
    FISHING IS NOT just catching. Fishing isn’t even all just fishing. Fishing is personal time, quiet time, easy time; fishing is a time for renewal and getting away from it all.
    That was the case for me when I was, say, 8 years old or so. At that age, I was lucky enough to have the privilege of using a resort owner’s boat, my cousin’s grandfather’s, any time I wanted to all summer long.
    From that age on, I would 
  • Tuesday, August 1, 2017 10:50 AM
    A LAKE LIES quiet in an early morning shroud of fog. The early riser’s cheek is kissed by the cool wetness. Cattails stand silently, not so much as a breath of breeze to stir a gentle rustling.
    One cannot see far from shore and small balsams at the water’s edge across the small bay look like hazy mountaintops through the gloom.
    It may look and feel like something out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, but through the damp coolness, this is a morning to fan the fires within the heart of a duck hunter.
    Although it is only August and the hunt still
  • Tuesday, July 25, 2017 10:48 AM
    IT MAY NOT be a good thing to live in the past, but for certain places, there is good cause to often revisit one’s roots.
    One such place is a small lake of 100 acres, give or take a few, which is not too many miles from my house. It is, among all the places in this world, the one place that is more deeply ingrained in my soul and my heart than any other.
    I fell in love with it in
  • Tuesday, July 18, 2017 11:09 AM
    FISHING IS A nasty, dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. Being of noble carriage, I decided last weekend to make the sacrifice and went fishing. Not once, but twice I sacrificed. If I weren’t so darned modest, I would say my actions were worthy of knighthood, if not sainthood, but shunning the spotlight, I will forego such recognition and let the knowledge that I fell on the sword for others be reward enough in itself.
    The weekend began
  • Tuesday, July 11, 2017 10:22 AM
    IT TOOK A while, but finally, after a bunch of weekend rainouts, my wife and I got to take our new camper out for a weekend family campout; the family consisting of two humans, a dog who thinks she’s human and a wild yahoo of a 14-week-old yellow lab pup who we are quite sure is 75% devil and only 25% angel at best.
    For me, it was a second outing with the camper; the first having been the day I picked it up at Coates RV in Cloquet, Minn. That was a very peaceful, pre-puppy camping trip with just Molly, “the Golden Wonder,” along for company. On that overnight test campout we caught trout and bluegills, slept very peacefully at a 
  • Monday, July 3, 2017 11:09 AM
    I TALKED TO a fellow the other day who wanted to know what section of Plum Creek would be best for fly fishing? My flippant answer was none of them.
    Then, to my amazement, he said that he had just finished fly fishing a section of it where he had caught a few trout, all of them quite small. He wanted to know which section might hold bigger trout. Again, my flippant answer was none of them.
    For a while then, we talked about 
  • Tuesday, June 27, 2017 11:10 AM
    “IF YOU WANNA catch fish, you gotta do it right.” That is advice I have been given almost my entire life, even to this day, and it is advice I have given on many occasions.
    Wanna know something? That advice is a bunch of baloney.
    The instances are many of that saying being false, but the instance that sticks out in my mind more than any concerning the old adage came about long enough ago that the bag limit on walleye was still
  • Tuesday, June 20, 2017 10:33 AM
    IT MAY ONLY be late June and for sure there are 13 weeks until the opening day of North Dakota duck season, but surely you didn’t think I could go very long without a column that had at least a reference or two to duck hunting. Today, I have a special reason for including a little bit about the ducks.
    See, last week, I was honored and saddened to be able to write and deliver a eulogy for a very good friend. I never actually duck hunted in the same blind with this friend, but I did share several days of youth season for about four years with his oldest son.
    Paul Lofy was 
  • Tuesday, June 13, 2017 11:10 AM
    THEY SAY YOU can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can teach him a new fishing lake.
    Last week, fishing with a friend from New Mexico who wanted to catch some Wisconsin bass, I headed for one of my old standby lakes that “never” fails me. You can guess what it did.
    We started fishing shortly after noon and after two hours of tossing assorted plastics, crawlers and jumbo leeches along the shoreline of the small lake, I had caught a grand total of two largemouth, one 14 inches, the other 8. My friend had none.
    Between us, it was
  • Tuesday, June 6, 2017 11:51 AM
    THE JURY IS in. The votes have been counted, although the only one that really counted was that cast by my lovely wife. My vote was worth a little influence, but ultimately, as I have learned over the last 46 years, the final word is given to her.
    As a result, our now 9-week-old yellow lab is officially Gordie; not my wife’s first choice, but the only one of mine she deemed acceptable.
    As I wrote last week, I was tossing several names around; some of them good, some admittedly atrocious, but in the end, it was a tribute to my favorite all-time outdoor writer, Gordon MacQuarrie, that we settled on Gordie.
    For my hockey fan friends, you are welcome to believe he’s named after
  • Tuesday, May 30, 2017 11:34 AM
    HOUSTON, THE BOY has landed. After a series of machinations, and joking phone calls and Facebook posts, a little 9-pound bundle of yellow fur, sniffing nose, bright eyes and unbounded energy has landed in my lap.
    Still without a permanent name, the 8-week-old yellow lab is 
  • Tuesday, May 23, 2017 11:29 AM
    WHENEVER I FIND myself at a loss for words while trying to describe my innermost feelings, my intense passion, my absolute love for ducks and duck hunting, I turn to the master.
    Gordon MacQuarrie, a Superior boy, who was born in 1900 and died far too soon in 1956, is still regarded by every literary scholar I know of as one of the three greatest outdoor writers ever to put words to paper.
    When it comes to ducks, many
  • Tuesday, May 16, 2017 10:38 AM
    AS MAIDEN VOYAGES go, this one was a winner. Last Friday was a lovely day for a voyage, a voyage that began at an early hour with my truck pointed northwest to Duluth, Minn., thence southward 15 miles to Cloquet, Minn.
    After an hour at 
  • Tuesday, May 9, 2017 11:44 AM
    FISHING SEASON IS officially open.
    While a tiny portion of the fishing fraternity probably started the season at the stroke of midnight, Saturday morning – night, if you will – in hopes of being the first to 
  • Tuesday, May 2, 2017 10:54 AM
    YOU WOULD THINK that with my wife being mere months away from age 66 and with yours truly being even fewer months away from age 68 that we would not be having a baby. But we are, sort of.
    First off, there definitely was 
  • Tuesday, April 25, 2017 11:16 AM
    THERE IS MUCH to be said for the quiet-man approach to the outdoor.
    While there are some people who believe it takes something with wheels and a gas engine to have an outdoor experience, and while there are others who enjoy motorized and quiet-man outdoor experiences, I am of the old-school type who believe the greatest rewards of the outdoors are only found while walking on one’s
  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017 10:44 AM
    I CAN THINK of 200 things I love about turkey hunting. On the flip side, I can think of only two things about turkey hunting I do not love.
    The first would be dragging myself out of bed at 4 a.m., every morning. I am one of those who feel some time like 9 a.m. is a gentlemanly time for rising, while 10 a.m. would be even better. Few things can make me willingly rise at the wee hour of 4 and turkey hunting is one.
    Easing the pain of rising last weekend during my Illinois turkey foray, was the familiar voice of Wisconsin’s beloved Bob Uecker. So how in the world did I get Uecker to handle my wake-up call? Simple. Last summer, the Milwaukee Brewers, at one of their fan giveaway days, gave away
  • Tuesday, April 11, 2017 11:30 AM
    ’TIS THE SEASON. No, not that season. The jolly elf is still many months away. This is the season for some serious bird-watching.
    Last weekend, I saw many kinds of birds, primarily songbirds, most of which I could identify, but not all. Other friends were bird-watching too, spotting several species I would not be able to identify; accepting that when birders of their stature say they saw and took a picture of a sawtooth, purple-humpbacked warbler I have to take their word for it that they know what 
  • Tuesday, April 4, 2017 10:12 AM
    MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE, including probably a majority of hunters, that the main purpose of a hunting trip is to kill some specimen of a wild animal.
    To be sure there is. Among the many purposes of hunting, there is that of killing a wild animal for food by some, for trophy bragging rights by others.
    For those who
  • Tuesday, March 28, 2017 11:15 AM
    RAIN. WHEN YOU don’t have it, you beg for it. When you get more than a day of it, you curse it. Poor rain doesn’t stand much of a chance.
    During the past week, as I sat in my recliner watching raindrops splash the window, I welcomed the precipitation. Though the calendar tells us it is spring, there is still snow on the ground and I 
  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017 11:19 AM
    SOMEONE ONCE TOLD me college book learnin’ isn’t everything. Having spent five of the best years of my life as a college student, occasionally even going to classes, I used to disagree with that statement, but in the ensuing 45 years since I ended my college career, I have come to realize college book learnin’ isn’t everything, but it certainly is
  • Tuesday, March 14, 2017 11:03 AM
    THERE ARE THOSE who say March and April are their least favorite months here in the North Woods and you could count me in with those who say that. There are those who would say there is nothing to do in the outdoors during this time, at least until turkey season opens in mid-April and for the most part you could count me among those
  • Tuesday, March 7, 2017 10:53 AM
    IF I WERE to believe in reincarnation, I would have to believe I spent time on planet Earth at a different time as a wild duck. I’m thinking either mallard or wood duck drake. If not a duck, then a magnificent Canada goose.
    I say that because
  • Tuesday, February 28, 2017 11:30 AM
    SUMMER HAS COME and gone in the North Woods. As we all knew, winter had plenty of cards up its sleeve and for now we are back in the soup or to put it more accurately, in the snow.
    Unfortunately, for some, the return to snow and cold came too late. Chief among them would be all the people involved with the greatest show on snow in North America. Those would include
  • Tuesday, February 21, 2017 11:00 AM
    WINTER IN THE North Woods isn’t what it used to be, or is it?
    This past week might have fooled some people into thinking we will have an ultra-early spring, but for anyone who has been around here for 40 years or longer, there is no thought of winter being over just because we’ve had better than a week’s worth of May weather lately.
    Hope may spring eternal, even for those who believe “Mighty Casey” will someday redeem himself at the
  • Tuesday, February 14, 2017 10:45 AM
    “TROUT MADNESS” BEGINS where a good book ought to begin; at the beginning. This wonderful collection of trout-fishing stories from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (U.P.) has been in my possession since 1960, the year it was published under the name Robert Traver, the pen name used by a U.P. district attorney in Marquette County and later Michigan Supreme Court judge
  • Tuesday, February 7, 2017 12:02 PM
    I HAVE BEEN a camper my entire life. Many of my most enjoyable outdoor adventures have included a tent, a sleeping bag and a campfire.
    My first tent, so to speak, was a wool Army blanket stretched over a clothesline tied to two trees about 6 feet apart. It formed an open-ended pup tent about 3 feet high and 3 feet wide. Never mind that the two trees were within 6 feet of the front of our house; I was camping in the great outdoors at the age of 5.
    Our first “real” family tent was an 8-by-8 umbrella tent
  • Wednesday, February 1, 2017 8:09 AM
    SOMETIMES, IT PAYS to be an ordinary Joe.
    Like many, or perhaps most people growing up, I had dreams of being a superstar. Whether it was being an Olympic champion, the next Henry Aaron or the president of the United States, I imagined I could do any of those things and more.
    As I grew up, I realized I was not going to be another
  • Wednesday, January 25, 2017 10:38 AM
    ONE OF THE most important things I have learned in my 67 years on planet Earth is that it is far better to live in a small town than a large city.

    To me, a traffic jam is sitting at the stop sign at the intersection of Highway M and Highway 51, waiting for three cars to pass by before I pull out. In my one and only driving expedition in Chicago, Ill., it took me 90 minutes to go 16 miles and then, to get out of the city, I waited 30 minutes to get through a toll gate, where I was asked to contribute a dollar to help prevent Illinois from going broke. The dollar didn’t help.


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