Want to comment on a story? Email Readers Write and include the name of the community from which you are writing.
I thought you folks at Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine may enjoy the attached photo. While fishing the Wisconsin River near Lake Delton, my daughter Ashley, age 6, reeled in this 33–inch pike with only minimal assistance. It’s no record breaker but it is a memory she will have for a lifetime. I also greatly enjoy reading about how the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources makes responsible use of tax dollars and fees to manage its public lands and waters.
WINTER FUN IN CENTRAL WISCONSIN
When I think of winter fun in Wisconsin I think of rabbit hunting in my woods. Rabbits are not as commonly hunted as when my dad was my age. When I go rabbit hunting I bring my shotgun and I usually go with my dad and hunt in a brushy patch in our backyard in the country. We have seen a lot of rabbits over the years. After we shoot rabbits we let them sit in a pot of salt and water in the fridge overnight. Then we coat them with flour, and with salt and pepper. Everyone in our family loves to eat rabbit and we have been eating them for a long time. When you go rabbit hunting remember the rules of firearm safety. Rabbit hunting can be dangerous because rabbits run every which way and it is important to know your target and beyond. Plus, if you are hunting with other people you need to communicate and we use whistles. Everyone in my family has taken a hunter safety course. I recommend rabbit hunting to anyone who is looking for something to do during the winter and to take a break from playing video games and texting. It's a great hobby that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.
WE MISSED A TRAIL
I have been a reader of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine for many years. With maybe a few exceptions, the October 2013 issue was the most interesting and well done. The article on deer research was especially well done as were all the other items. I liked the piece on mountain biking and places to bike. The Underdown Recreation Area was missed for some reason. It has over 50 miles of well-marked trails for biking, skiing and snowshoeing. This Recreation Area is on Lincoln County land. The article on the Blanchardville buck was very touching in that last year my grandson, 14, shot his first buck. His radio call to me will always be remembered, "Grandpa, I shot a deer." Thanks for the good work.
The beautiful, well written story by Ron Weber ("Nine days in November, "October 2013) should be read by every Wisconsin deer hunter. It expresses very well the real meaning of what the hunting experience should be. I am 85 years old and bagged my first buck in 1952 and have hunted deer ever since. I have not bagged a deer every one of those years, but I have had a successful hunt every one of those years. The hunts were always with family members, first with my wife’s father, brother and uncle and then later with my son, grandchildren and various nephews. The time spent was treasured and many wonderful hours viewing all of the different aspects of nature in the deep woods will always be remembered. Thank you for publishing this article in your excellent magazine.
SPHINX MOTH CAMBELLSPORT
This is the first year that I had seen these small hummingbird-like creatures that appeared always late in the day around dusk and hovered around my impatiens and wavy petunia flowers. I heard other people talking about the same sightings they had encountered. I was able to get some decent pictures of the hummingbird moth and I thought it might be of interest to your readers. They are fascinating to watch and very difficult to take a picture of. The multi-colored body was a spectacular hue and the proboscis was photographed in many positions from curled up to partially extended to the full extension into the flower.
Editor's note: Within days of each other, two readers sent photos of these elusive moths. We’re pleased to print both of them here.
SPHINX MOTH LYONS
In 75 years, I had never seen one of these. Over the past month, one or two are regular visitors to the petunias. I took this photo during the day, but usually they show up at night. Are they common?
The white–lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) is common in our state and you are correct that it is more active from evening to dawn. According to the Bug Lady at UW–Milwaukee’s Field Station, individuals from the 125–member family they belong to have a long, coiled proboscis to aid in nectaring on tubular flowers like petunias, columbine and honeysuckle. The blog reports that they "can get pretty big, with heavy, spindle–shaped bodies and wingspreads of up to 6 inches. The front pair of wings is often narrow and quite a bit longer than the second pair, and many species have dramatic markings or color blocks on their wings. Sphinxes are strong flyers, difficult to capture, and some can fly up to 35 mph. Their rapid wing beats, ability to hover, and largish size cause them to be mistaken for hummingbirds in the late afternoon."
WILDLIFE AND WIND TURBINES
I very much enjoyed the article about the saw–whet owl ("Whooo's in my woods," October 2013) . What a treasure. Actually all of our owls, eagles, hawks, estrels, bats and other such flying creatures are wildlife treasures. Did you know that hundreds of them are dying each year when they fly into the rotating blades of wind generators, instinctively looking down when flying so they cannot see what is straight ahead? What can be done to reduce this tragic and unintended slaughter of these flying creatures? Surely there must be a way to save them while still benefiting from wind–generated electricity
Thanks, Sharon. You raise an important concern that has perplexed renewable energy and wildlife conservation proponents for the past decade or more. Wildlife fatalities caused by spinning turbine blades have been documented since the 1990s and bat fatalities are especially alarming with the encroaching threat of white–nosed syndrome to Wisconsin's bat populations. Some recent studies suggest that bat fatalities can be reduced by stopping turbine blades from spinning during high risk periods of bat flight. To learn more about bats and wind energy, and what is being done to mitigate the problem, visit Bat Conservation International's website or Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative.
SOUNDS OF NATURE
A few nature questions for you to consider. Why is it that I can hear a cricket chirping at a distance of 50 yards? My wife says it is rubbing its rear, serrated legs together. So I took a dead cricket, removed its hind legs and holding each one in a tweezer, rubbed them together with no sounds produced. So thinking they needed something to amplify the sound, I attached each to a 2–inch square of paper, held the paper with the tweezers and again no sound. How does the cricket do it?
Then take the woodpecker whose pecking noise is audible at 50 yards. I pounded a nail into a board and hammered it against a dead tree with no loud noises resulting nor could I repeat the rapidity that the woodpecker does. My wife says the woodpecker has a hollow head and that acts to resonate the sound. So having been told that I had a hollow head, I held the nail between my teeth and tapped at the tree. All I got was some strange looks from my neighbor and a headache. How does the woodpecker do it?
Lastly, the tiny mosquito can make a humming noise that will awaken one from their sleep. I am told that it is the movement of its wings. Those tiny, thin wings make that much noise? I have my doubts, and when I kill the mosquito, it dries into parched fish food in a matter of minutes under a warm sun. But the same mosquito flew around for days in the summer heat without drying up. How come? Any answers?
The chirping song made by crickets is technically called stridulation. Crickets have large comb–like veins running along the bottom edge of each wing. They run the top of one wing along the teeth at the bottom of the other wing, while holding the wings up and open. The wing membranes act as acoustical amplifiers. Only male crickets chirp and the rate of chirping depends on the species and the temperature of their environment; the warmer the night, the faster their chirping.
As for woodpeckers, the volume of their drumming is determined by the surface they drum rather than what is – or isn’t – inside their head. Male woodpeckers try to make as loud a noise as possible to attract mates and establish territories. They choose surfaces like hollow trees and branches, or metal surfaces on homes such as gutters, chimney caps or rooftop vents to achieve maximum volume.
Lastly, the buzz of a mosquito comes from beating its wings at a rate of 300 to 600 times per second. The buzz travels with them wherever they fly and the closer they are to your ear, the louder they sound. Incidentally, when you hear that buzz close to your ear, it’s likely a female looking to suck your blood for protein to feed her eggs. Mosquitoes get their nourishment from nectar, so while females are buzzing around you, the males are off somewhere eating nectar. That’s what keeps them viable until you smack them and they dry up.
Peeling back bark on a 3–year–old oak, I took a photo of this [fungi pattern]. It reminded me of a birch or popple forest next to a bog from an aerial view, or in an oriental sense. [It’s] just a different pattern under the bark.
I just wanted to express much gratitude and praise for such excellent articles and writing (October 2013 issue. What an eye opener to Wisconsin’s deer research from the beginning to present. Recently there was an article in the Wisconsin Outdoor News about a given individual’s account while serving in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Perhaps you might research the role that the CCC may have played in regard to contributions, if any, made toward the magnificent white̵tailed herd management effort. Thanks again for such a fine magazine.
Thanks for the suggestion. Our photo archives are full of examples of buildings, trails and other structures built by the CCC. We will do some research into other roles they played in the early days of our agency and perhaps include some of them in our "Back in the Day" column in future issues.
BALD EAGLE RESCUE
On Oct. 18 (2013) my wife was on her daily morning walk when she discovered two adult bald eagles entangled and fighting in a ditch near Shennington (east–central Monroe County). Seeing these beautiful birds pulling each other’s feathers while continuing to cry, we felt required prompt intervention. I phoned the nearby Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and was told the refuge staff was shorthanded but someone would respond. Shortly afterwards, the refuge law enforcement officer, Mary Blasing, responded to the scene. Not having the equipment or help needed to safely handle the eagles, she said she would return with a refuge biologist. A little while later I received a phone call from the refuge and was told that Mary Blasing along with biologist Richard Urbanek had freed the eagles from their entanglement. It appeared the eagles were not seriously hurt as they were able to fly away after being released. I would like to add that these eagles were entangled for at least three hours in the ditch and the outcome may have been less favorable without human intervention.
Richard Urbanek, (wildlife biologist at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge) provided this explanation: The eagles were not entangled in any foreign material but rather locked in mortal combat. Eagle 1 had talons of both feet embedded in the thighs of eagle 2, which had the talons of one of its feet embedded in a thigh of eagle 1 and its other foot free. The eagles remained stationary and unperturbed at our approach (Mary Blasing and myself). We manipulated the eagles, which remained locked together, into a sleeping bag, zipped and tied the bag shut, loaded them into the back of our vehicle, and returned to Necedah NWR Headquarters. While in the dark during the truck ride, the eagles had disengaged their talons. When we opened the sleeping bag, they flew out one at a time with no apparent impairment.
WHOOO'S IN MY KITCHEN
I enjoyed your article "Whooo’s in my woods?" in your October issue. Another fact about the saw–whet – it’s unusually tame. One twice came into our house in Madison last winter. Here it is, perched on the kitchen light fixture.
I came in possession of a true–to–scale drawing of a smallmouth black bass caught out of Lake Mendota off of Governor’s Island back in 1898. The live weight of the fish was 8 lbs. 10 oz., length 24 3/8 inches, and girth 17 3/4 inches. The picture is accompanied by a legal document signed by the Secretary of State and Notary Public of Dane County and several witnesses. The legal document explains where the fish was weighed and witnesses to the weighing. I obtained this from Helen Kutchera the granddaughter of Henry Wissenberg, the man who caught this fish. I’ve had this for quite some time and figure it probably was a state record at that time. The current record is 9 lbs. 1 oz. I thought this might be something interesting to share with the public rather than hiding it away in my office.
GOOD LUCK CHARM
Over 30 years ago, I worked at a department store — the Friendly Book Keeper — which received a gift from a vendor. It was a plush duck, titled Lucky Duck. The owner of the Friendly Book Keeper offered me the duck as she knew I was an outdoorsman. I thought it was cute and accepted it. After placing the duck amongst my hunting equipment, I realized my hunting luck was changing for the good. My deer trophies were getting better and bigger all along. I started telling my hunting companions about my Lucky Duck. Of course I took a lot of kidding. The year 2000 found my buddy, my brother and myself headed to a wonderful caribou hunt. In my bag I gently placed my Lucky Duck. On arrival my partners really kidded me about the Duck. I ended up taking a trophy caribou with my bow. Now they are thinking maybe it is a Lucky Duck. In our hunting camp, some younger hunters played a trick and hid my Duck. Well to make the story short, I lost the duck for about four years. My luck left also. Just found my Duck late last year and immediately shot a 9-point buck with bow. Yes, Lucky Duck is back!
I thought you'd like this. The picture is of my son Eddie with 8–point buck on Thanksgiving morning. The photo was taken by my daughter Nellie who also bagged two deer this season. We live north of Owen in Clark County.
This plant was growing on our property near Stiles, Wis. It was attached to a long stem that came out under a log. Can you tell us what it is?
You found the fruit of Actaea pachypoda, also known as white baneberry or doll’s eye. It grows in mature moist forests across most of North America. A bunch of 10–15 flowers form in May and June on a woody stalk perched above the leaves. The stalk turns red in late summer when the flowers form the white fruits with black spots. Although its roots were once used to make an herbal tea to treat headaches, coughs and circulatory ailments, it is now recognized to be poisonous and can cause stomach aches and skin blisters.