Christmas in Wisconsin


Happy holidays and best wishes for 2010

Shivani took this photo of hoar frost on a crabapple tree she planted in our yard in memory of her dad.

December 23, 2009

As I write this, we’re seeing the very start of what forecasters say will be a nasty snow/sleet/rain storm that will last through Christmas. Godspeed and safe travels to all who are on the road this week. We will be staying put here at home, far from family, but safe and warm.

Here are some highlights from 2009.

2009 was anything but a quiet year in or household. Shivani and I both continue to work harder than ever. I spent last winter like so many others making appearances at boat, fishing, hunting and sports shows for Outdoors Radio and Outdoor Wisconsin. The most common comment from TV fans, aside from “We love your show!” was probably “When did you shave your beard?” (or “When are you going to grow it back?”) Truth is I shaved it on Christmas Day 2000 and I don’t plan to grow it back any time soon.

Outdoor Wisconsin celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2009. Our season premiere show (a special on Wisconsin black bears) was nominated for an Emmy, thanks to the hard work of producer/videographer Michael Garvin and reporter Judy Nugent. We did not get the award, but the nomination (our second) was a nice honor.

We headed to New York again in May for our annual Mother’s Day turkey hunt week. While Shivani helped her mom get a start on her flower beds, I joined brother Mike and son Jon for several days of turkey hunting. I managed to shoot a jake on Shivani’s home farm, but we struck out on several hunts in Chautauqua and Erie counties.

On June 9, Ben Hobbins, inventor of IronClads soft baits, and I were invited to a celebration of the restoration of Lake Delton, exactly a year to the day after severe flooding washed a section of county highway, five homes and all the water and fish into the Wisconsin River. Ben and I co-founded the Lake Delton Fisheries Restoration Project, which to date has raised more than $300,000.

I took the Lake Express Ferry across Lake Michigan for the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference in Grand Rapids in June, where my TV and radio shows garnered several awards. I made a post-conference swing with my Web guru, Les Booth, to two of Michigan’s prime trout waters. We toasted the founding of Trout Unlimited on the banks of the AuSable River a half-century ago and fished the Manistee from AuSable River boats, with guides Sam Surre and Jerry Regan. I continued my swing north to visit Bob Jacquart, owner of Stormy Kromer Mercantile in Ironwood. Bob gave me a tour of the plant and I bought several Stormy Kromer hats. From there, it was on to Ashland to visit Roger LaPenter and Carolyn Swartz, owners of Anglers All. Roger, Carolyn and I joined Bob and Denise Jacquart for a rollicking Opening Night at Big Top Chautauqua.

In July, son Jon flew out from New York City for a visit. We spent a day bowfishing for silver carp on the Illinois River with my friend Mark LaBarbara, his brother-in-law Jerome Hindermann, Forge Bow president Steve Pagel and our guides, Zach Nayden and Eric Selph. This outing will appear on Outdoor Wisconsin sometime this year, but to get a taste of it, log onto YouTube and search for “flying carp.” (These are the big invasive Asian carp that jump and whack boaters and water skiers. We all got clobbered by jumping fish.) Jon and I also took in a Milwaukee Iron Arena Football game and shot a round of sporting clays at Wern Valley Sportsmen’s Club. Jon was tickled that he beat me for the first time. We wrapped up our weekend fly fishing for smallmouths on the Milwaukee River with no luck. When Jon’s in town, we really try to pack in the fun!

In September, I headed back to Michigan for the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers conference in Gaylord, where Outdoors Radio and Outdoor Wisconsin won a few more awards. After the conference, I spent a day with Dave and Kay Richey near Traverse City. Dave and I fished the Betsie River for Chinook salmon, then I headed home through the U.P. again. Of the four ways to get to Michigan from Wisconsin, the northern route is my favorite. The high-speed Lake Express comes in second. Taking the Badger from Manitowoc to Ludington requires about as much time as driving, but this would be my third choice. Last choice, hands-down, is the southern route through Chicago. We take this option when heading to New York, but only because it’s cost-effective.

October is never long enough to taste all the outdoor activities the month offers. I spent a weekend hunting grouse up north with Jerry Solsrud. We got into birds on private land near Ogema with Andy Weiland and again in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest with Randy Matis of Classic Bird Hunts. Our shooting stank up the woods, but we saw some pretty country and got plenty of exercise. On the return trip, I dodged deer under a full moon all the way home and then hit a doe just five minutes from my house. Tough way to get venison, but at least you know it’s fresh!

Good thing I hit that deer and picked up three other roadkills this year because gun deer season was a bust. Jon flew out again and we drove north to hunt our home property in Bayfield County with Jon’s friend, Alex Blaine. On opening morning, Jon passed up a longish shot at a decent buck and I missed one when Shivani’s rifle failed to fire! (Jon was using my rifle, and I had not test-fired Shivani’s since she killed a deer with it two years ago. Big mistake, as it turned out.) That buck was on a death march, however, as Alex shot him ten minutes later. Jon and I stopped in Ironwood to say hi to Bob Jacquart. Bob gave Jon a Stormy Kromer hat and we took a few photos in the outlet store to post on my Flickr site.

Aside from those highlights, I got in a few muskie and steelhead outings and made-for-TV pheasant hunts, which Shivani calls “target practice with live birds.” It’s a little tougher than that, but not much.

In December, I have been playing catch-up with radio sponsorship sales and year-end business-related stuff. As the year ends, I’m taking a hard look at where I should spend my time and energy.  Shivani is encouraging me to focus on a future that might force us to live much more simply than we already do: bigger garden, less travel, less spending on non-essentials and preparing for a possible collapse of society as we know it. It’s hard to keep my mind on that, while maintaining efforts to make a living in the world as it is now. These are certainly exciting and challenging times. I just hope we live long enough to see how the current socioeconomicenvirosituation plays out and are able to prepare for whatever the future might bring.

Blessings and Holiday Greetings to all.


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