Posted 10/27/21

AN OUTDOORSMAN’S BY MARK WALTERS PROUDLY SPONSORED BY STANLEY TIRE Back to Fall Camp Hello Friends, So fifty falls ago I saw the Meadow Valley Wildlife Area and The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge …

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Back to Fall Camp

Hello Friends,

So fifty falls ago I saw the Meadow Valley Wildlife Area and The Necedah National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. These large tracts of public land are located for the most part in northern Juneau County but melt into public land in Jackson, Wood, and Monroe Counties as well.

I have spent at least three years of my life camping, exploring, and enjoying life in Meadow Valley and believe I have witnessed about as much as any living person in this neck of the woods.

In the early 80’s I had a duck blind on the Meadow Valley Flowage and starting in 1987 I would build what I called Fall Camp. I started writing this column in 89 and my income was $25.00 per week and I would stay at fall camp all of October thru some of January.

My pastimes were duck, grouse, bow and gun deer hunting, as well as trapping. Ice fishing, cross country skiing, and ice skating started in December, and I would say my number one pastime was simply strapping on hip boots and exploring.

This past weekend I tent camped in Meadow Valley with my golden retriever Ruby and lived large!

Friday, October 15th High 72, low 41

I was just about to pull into my campsite when a very large grey wolf crossed the road in front of my truck. You did not see them here 40 years ago, there were a lot more deer and that attracted a lot more deer hunters then you see these days. Simply put, in this column I supported the wolf recovery program which called for a managed pack of 385 animals for the state of Wisconsin. I also support harvesting wolves in a managed plan through our WDNR biologists.

So, I build camp, my mood is excellent, I put on my chest waders, grab my 11-87 and go for a long walk to watch day become night to a flowage that I call home. Not a shot did I fire, not a care did I have.

Saturday, October 16th High 74, low 46

This morning I chose to watch night become day on the Meadow Valley Flowage. Back in the winter of 91 I trained at night on the Meadow Valley Flowage to hike The Appalachian Trail. I carried a 7-foot, 80-pound oak log on my shoulder, and my golden retriever “Ben” carried two frozen onegallon milk jugs in a pack. That spring the two of us explored 1,244 miles of the AT together and I snail mailed this handwritten column to my publisher every week without failure.

This morning’s hunt was uneventful except that I met Mike Grimm, his 11-year-old son Kyle, and Cousin Ed Smart on the marsh. We had a good talk, and it was very cool to meet three people that also have a deep love for this area. This afternoon Ruby and I went exploring by way of hip boots, compass and a 12-gauge. I wish I had more space, but the number one part of this adventure would be large scale flooded timber due to a beaver population that simply is not managed anymore due to the plummet of fur prices. We put on four miles, and I was game for anything from grouse to ducks.

What I observed was flooded timber, next to zero deer sign, and well into the hike I flushed a flock of wood ducks and got lucky, dropped one and Ruby made a fine retrieve. We took a break and enjoyed the moment; another flock flew over and I dropped another drake.

It was an awesome evening by the campfire and the next morning I hiked into woody central before it got light out. I had my limit of wood ducks in no time and then went on a literal death hike.

I had no drinking water in my pack and traveled into no man’s land, which was flooded tag alders loaded with ducks. When I came to dry land it was always less than an acre and it was absolutely loaded with wolf and black bear sign. I got myself in trouble due to dehydration and water that was ankle to chest deep for three hours in tag alders that obstructed my view. I lived by my compass and a “I can get out of here attitude” and when I made it back to camp both of my legs cramped so bad that it was impossible to walk.

Fall camp at 60 some things have changed, yet nothing has changed!