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Roger Drayna's article The gatherer (December 2008) touched me! Drayna's poignant recollections of his youth as recounted in his former article Behind the Pattison (August 2007) also brought back memories of my youth in the late 1940s in Superior. We must both be of similar age. I played midget league baseball behind the Martin Pattison Elementary School for several years with some of the finest athletes ever to come out of Superior – Dave Tucker, Ron Schultz, Jack Evans, just to name a few. Some of us would hunt partridge and pheasants in the brushy woods behind the Pattison and then walk to the railroad bridge spanning the Nemadji River and dive into it from about 50 feet high. We would also hunt rabbits, partridge and pheasants on Barker's Island and swim off the pristine beaches when there were no inhabitants there at all! Those were the days! Roger Drayna is a fine storyteller and I thank him for bringing back to life my youth in Superior.
I really enjoyed Roger Drayna's article in the December issue. My little lakeside cabin off US Highway 2 in the Upper Peninsula will never look the same to me again, thanks to his observations.
I enjoyed your December feature article on restoring the Great Lakes, but I believe you neglected one aspect of the lakes. You frequently wrote about the ecosystem, but you did not adequately describe the ecosystem or its members. It might help if I add a few items to your Great Lakes timeline:
Is this an ecosystem?
Our aim in this piece was to celebrate collaboration among communities to restore some of the Great Lakes finer qualities. Similarly, our timeline intended to mention a few highlights in Great Lakes protection. No one would deny that human intervention has changed Great Lakes ecosystems. Certainly people have enjoyed the benefits of creating the Welland Canal, opening the way for transcontinental shipping, lakeshore development, commercial fishing and sports fishing, and all of these have had consequences for the Great Lakes.
I live in St. Croix County and love to hunt pheasants. The nearest area where State Game Farm pheasants are stocked for us is the Dunnville Wildlife Area in Dunn County, more than a 50-mile drive; the next nearest place is at the Tom Lawin Wildlife Area in Chippewa County, more than a 60-mile drive. Why doesn't DNR stock Poynette pheasants in St. Croix County? It's becoming more and more attractive to hunt on game farms due to close availability and you don't have to purchase a pheasant license or stamp. I hope you look into changing stocking locations to include public lands in St. Croix County.
Area Wildlife Manager Harvey Halvorsen and Game Farm Director Bob Nack respond...
The locations where Poynette-raised birds are released sound correct and put-and-take pheasant hunting is available at two locations in St. Croix County where fine hunting cover in a controlled environment with stocked birds produces a certain hunt. A couple of nearby conservation clubs DO participate in programs with the game farm. Star Prairie's Game and Fish Club will be buying a few hundred pheasants for release this fall. And in Pierce County, south of Hudson, the Ellsworth Conservation Club takes part in the day-old chick program with the DNR and stocks 1,500 birds each fall. Lists of local clubs that participate in the program are available on the game farm website, as we mentioned in our story, Raising ringnecks and outdoor opportunities, February 2009.
We understand Mr. Larson's concern about stocking pheasants on public lands. Recall that one of the austerity measures instituted in 2006 was that legislators redirected 60 percent of the pheasant stamp funds that had been largely used for habitat work and bird management, to support operation costs at the game farm in Poynette. That said, we're happy to report that in 2008 the pheasant hunting season in St. Croix County was one of the best in the last 20 years on both private and public lands and that was accomplished with NO stocking of birds. We have emphasized habitat improvements in our pheasant management program in the county and it is paying off. We've found great opportunities to hunt wild pheasants in the county and encourage all pheasant hunters to seek wild birds and support the habitat they need.
Jason Fleener hit the nail on the head in his recent article on baiting and feeding of deer, "The great de-bait," February 2009. It is my hope that the right people who make the important decisions on rules and regulations for deer hunting read it. I have behind me 57 seasons and I can agree with him 100 percent that baiting deer has brought nothing but problems. We see our neighbors pouring out corn in piles that won't fit in a 55-gallon drum. This makes for hard feelings as the deer, as Jason states, go into a pattern, stay close to the food source and don't browse as is normal. I have hunted my own property all my life and have never baited. We always figured the hay, soybeans, and corn fields were bait enough. If CWD is found in a county that never has had it, the DNR will immediately stop the baiting and feeding in that county. Let's get a jump on that and stop baiting and feeding of deer in all counties, then we might prevent the CWD from starting there.
We have gone from seeing four to six deer per day during the season to my record last fall of only seeing two the entire season. I could go on about my dislike of Earn-A-Buck, but that's another story. As for now, Jason Fleener has done an excellent job showing exactly what baiting has done and I take my hat off to him.
In response to the article The great de-bait, I definitely agree that some hunters abuse the baiting policies. But there are some benefits, such as:
We read your February piece Give me shelter and my son built a roost box from the Cornell site instructions. It looks nice. If we cut the opening a bit bigger, it would allow a flock of geese to roost, it is so big! It doesn't seem right to me as it could hold hundreds of chickadees.
Thanks for taking on this project. Roost boxes can be sized to fit the available space and though it's nice to leave some room for birds to maneuver inside, they don't have to be too big as the photo we showed indicated. Let us know if your box gets tenants.