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Outdoors writer/editor, weekly columnist for 17 Wisconsin newspapers, regular contributor to American Hunter magazine, and former editor of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine.
Whitetail Deer (18)
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When Hunters Find Dead People
Jun 10, 2020
People who disappear in woods and marshes are often found by those not looking for them—like hunters.
The hunters are seldom named in news reports. More often they’re identified by what they were hunting that day, be it deer, ducks, turkeys, shed antlers, mushrooms, or wild berries. The lead sentence in this 2007 Alabama newspaper article is typical: “A bird hunter found the body of a woman in a Macon County woods Saturday.”
A North Carolina TV...
What is Killing America’s Fawns?
May 27, 2020
Many hunters picture coyotes scouring woodlots from May to June, snatching newborn fawns between sun-dappled trilliums, and heading home with a hindquarter clamped between their jaws.
Why wouldn’t we envision such scenes? Trail cameras across the U.S. often snap grip-and-grins of coyotes, bobcats, or black bears with freshly killed fawns. But those pictures seldom tell the full story. Recent research suggests fawn predation is much more about...
Biblical Flood Causes Wildlife Apocalypse in South
May 11, 2020
Turkeys starved in treetops. Ravenous raccoons killed nesting turtles and newborn fawns. Countless other wild animals perished during a record 219-day flood last year in Mississippi’s Yazoo Backwater Project.
The Yazoo Backwater’s surrounding levees provided the only high ground for displaced wildlife, but all those miles of manmade barriers provided little sanctuary throughout the unprecedented deluge. The Backwater, or South Delta, covers about...
The Ride Home: Show Your Deer or Cover It Up?
Dec 18, 2019
Long before Tom Heberlein was old enough to hunt deer, he watched for his father’s blue, snow-encrusted 1952 Ford pickup to return home from northern Wisconsin each November. It would usually be loaded with dead whitetails tucked among the Christmas trees they’d sell at the family’s gas station.
Heberlein never thought someone could be shocked or offended by the stiff legs, glazed eyes, and slit carcasses of dead deer. After all, his dad wasn’t...
Do Antler Point Restrictions Work?
Oct 30, 2019
Hunters who push for antler-based regulations often dream of record-book bucks or bulls shredding the bark off thigh-thick pines and aspens across their region.
However, great expectations of antler restrictions often shrivel to disappointment. After all, Western states mostly credit record-book elk to limited-access hunts, either through long hikes, restricted license allotments, or combinations of both.
And, like it or not, the top-10 states...
Shots Fired Per Deer Killed: An Evolving Trend
Sep 17, 2019
Opening mornings of gun seasons in whitetail-rich states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania often sound like Civil War re-enactments. It makes me wonder how the woods can hold enough deer to trigger such fusillades.
Some deer get shot at more than once, of course, given that hunters typically carry autoloaders or bolt-, lever- or pump-action rifles or shotguns for quick follow-up shots or a coup de grâce.
Despite all the shooting, the...
How Well Do Deer Hear?
Jul 30, 2019
Hunters tend to overestimate a whitetail deer’s hearing abilities, maybe because we constantly–and mistakenly–marvel at their red-alert reactions to sounds we barely hear.
Those comparisons can be deceiving. For one thing, most adult hunters have abused their hearing for with decades of chain saws, leaf-blowers, hair dryers, lawnmowers, power-tools, deafening music and rifle blasts.
In contrast, deer live in relatively quiet...
Hunting Is Safer Than Ever
Jun 25, 2019
Hunting has grown safer in America since states sparked long-term improvements a half-century ago by making hunter education courses mandatory and blaze orange standard garb.
Those safety advancements still continue. In Wisconsin, no hunters died from gunshots in seven of the past nine firearms deer seasons, even though the state sent an average of 610,000 hunters afield annually during those nine-day events. In contrast, 13 of Wisconsin’s 50...
The False CWD: Cranial Abscess Syndrome
Mar 19, 2019
From 1938 to 1962, trucks regularly drove nonstop from central Wisconsin to the Deep South with cargos of whitetail deer for rebuilding wild herds from Florida to Louisiana.
Many of those deer were released from their plywood box-traps into central and south-central Georgia during the 1950s and early 1960s. The trip from their home woods at the Sandhill Game Farm near Babcock, Wis. covered nearly 1,050 miles. Wallace Grange, Wisconsin’s first...
Pricing the Priceless: What’s Wildlife Worth?
Feb 28, 2019
Aldo Leopold once pondered Canada geese calling from high above and asked what goose music was worth, and wondered where we’d be without it.
As Leopold wrote in his Round River journals: “Some have attempted to justify wildlife conservation in terms of meat, others in terms of personal pleasure, others in terms of cash, still others in the interest of science, education, agriculture, art, public health, and even military preparedness. But few...