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 what has become one of our favorite state parks, Brunet Island, just outside of Cornell. Brunet is located on a 179-acre island bounded by the Fisher and Chippewa rivers. It is accessed by a bridge over the Fisher River.

The entire island is populated by old-growth forest, which may never be logged again. It offers two campgrounds, one of 24 sites, each with electric service, with the other offering almost 50 rustic sites with many of them almost at the water’s edge. They do not have electric.

For the first 45 years of our camping lives together, we wouldn’t have given any thought to electric or nonelectric, but since we bought our pop-up A-frame camper and with a nod to our advancing age, we have found electricity to be a very nice thing to have.

It is especially nice when the days stretch toward the upper 80s and the nights stay up in the upper 70s. Air conditioning was a great invention. Need I say more?

Our camper, with its 12-by-7 living space is small, but it is large enough for us to have separate full-sized beds, each having room to share with a large dog apiece.

There is running water, a gas range, microwave, refrigerator, furnace and stereo system. Except for the air conditioner, electric lights and radio, we very seldom use any of the others.

I may be getting soft in my old age, but I refuse to give up cooking outside over a wood fire or a propane two-burner stove, with Yeti coolers and blocks of ice still keeping food cold.

Our camping trips are not just about modern conveniences and sitting around campfires. There is much to be done while camping in northern Wisconsin, as any camper will tell you.

One of those things for me was fishing on the Fisher River, where last year, I caught many smallmouths and bluegills. This time my over expectations concerning fish were quickly dashed.

Casually, I mentioned to my wife our first morning at the park that I would return within the hour with plenty of bluegills for a fish fry that evening. Three hours later, I returned empty-handed and humbled by such a naive species of fish. I caught but a very few, with only three large enough to fry. Those were ultimately released from a floating basket at the end of my outing to swim another day. I never saw a sign of a smallmouth.

Luckily, catching fish is not all there is of fishing. For the first half-hour of my outing, I shared my space with a beautiful doe that decided a shaded bank along the river’s edge, not more than 10 yards from where I anchored off a long dead fallen oak, was a good place to be.

While I fished, she silently watched. Since I wasn’t catching any fish in my “hot spot,” I carried on a conversation with her, although the conversation was all one-sided. I figured she was interested in what I was saying and happy for the company, although she must have eventually got tired of listening because after a half-hour, she simply stood up and strolled away with not so much as a simple thank you for all the information I passed along to her.

It was much the same early the next morning when I took Gordie the wonder lab for a walk around the boundary road of the park. Near a picnic area we walked up on another doe browsing in a patch of tall grass.

She too seemed to welcome our company. Gordie, ears alert, intently watched her while she and I carried on a conversation, though like the other doe, she had little to say. We were separated by all of 10 yards or so, but during the 15 minutes of our visit, she munched contentedly, seemingly quite at ease with our presence.

Since no hunting is allowed on the island park and since the park is virtually packed full of campers for six months of the year, the deer are probably used to having people up close foolishly trying to strike up a conversation with them.

Brunet also is a haven for squirrels and chipmunks, at least one of which decided bread we left unprotected on the picnic table one day deservedly belonged to it. Maybe the lucky critter welcomed all its relatives for a feast. At any rate, a few small chunks of the half-dozen slices which were still in the wrapper when we went for a walk was all that remained when we got back.

Along with the beauty of the park’s woods and waters, the area between Cornell, Chippewa Falls and Bloomer is home to some good trout streams, a few of which I fished back in my Eau Claire college days.

Highway 178, which parallels the Chippewa River for a goodly distance, is worth a scenic side trip with historical markers along the way welcoming a stop. We checked out three of them and took the dogs for a stroll on a quiet, heavily wooded Jim Falls Wildflower Trail.

It was a good time to spend at a beautiful park, the third destination of our camping tour this summer.

It’s good to live and play in God’s country.