Outdoor Notebook: End of year reflections
What a great time of the year! We get to enjoy the beautiful landscape covered with pure white snow without the need to drive any distance. We have been spending some time walking in the woods, trying to follow the tracks left behind by a variety of animals. One area where we walk is all tracked up by turkeys. They have torn up the snow in their digging for acorns. A major disappointment is that we are seeing very few deer tracks. Where we see wolf or coyote tracks, there are no deer tracks. In other areas, it is obvious that the deer are also digging for acorns and there are no wolf or coyote tracks. Certainly is fun searching the woods on a sunny day.
The unspeakable, terrible killings in Connecticut recently have opened the topic of gun control again. This situation will continue to dominate discussions and create additional proposals for additional regulations. More rules will not solve the problem and there is no quick fix.
Presently gun restrictions are some of the most stringent in Chicago, Washington D.C. and New York. These three cities continue to have some of the largest incidents of deaths by guns. By restricting gun ownership, those persons who want to get guns to commit a crime will continue to get guns. The law-abiding people will follow the rules while criminals will continue to have guns. I believe in the trite statement, “Guns do not kill people, people misusing guns kill people.” Although some who read this column may disagree with me, I believe that some of the guns that are available for sale do not belong in the gun collections of hunters. Also, the use of the long clips and fully automatic guns are not, in my opinion, needed by hunters.
I do believe that some of the video games encourage the concept of killing groups of persons. It should be mentioned that the mass killer in Connecticut tried to purchase guns but did not wish to delay that purchase while background checks took place; thus, he used guns that were purchased by his mother. Perhaps guns that are stored in homes should be locked in a gun safe with a very limited number of people having access to the safe.
One thing that many of us can do is to spend time with youngsters who want to shoot. The mandatory gun safety courses that are taught in Wisconsin are a very positive action that has helped to reduce the misuse of guns. An illustration we have used to show the effect of guns is to fill a gallon milk bottle with water colored with food coloring and then freeze it. Peel off the plastic and set the frozen, colored ice block near a safe backdrop. Then step back. Allow a youngster to shoot the ice block with a rifle. The colored ice will fly apart and the youngster will be able to see how much destructive power one rifle shot can deliver.
It is that time of the year when all kinds of thoughts are fighting for consideration as we enter another year. The notes in my fishing journal remind me that 2012 was the least productive year I have had since I began to keep track of musky fishing. The high temperatures, along with drought conditions, are being blamed for the low number of muskies that found a place in our boat.
Perhaps the most notable occurrence in the outdoors of Wisconsin is the first wolf hunt in modern times. Not everyone feels that the wolf season was needed. Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan, along with Western states, each had a successful wolf season. Last weekend the wolf season was terminated since the predetermined number of wolves killed had been reached. With the conservative number of wolves that were permitted to be taken, the wolf population will not decrease. Once the pups are born, we will see an increase in the number of wolves in Wisconsin.
Wolves are tremendous animals that will grace trophy rooms across the area where the hunt took place. The state of Wisconsin will have a healthy population of wolves; however, we now have a wolf population that is larger than the habitat of the Great Lakes States can handle.
The topic of regulating our wolf population will continue to be discussed for many years.
Have a happy and safe New Year.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.