Send Letter to Editor

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

August 1998

Readers Write

Boat Trailers

The spring boating article (Get ready for spring boating April 1998) was timely and informative. As an extra hint, I recommend that boaters check that their trailer is equipped with true trailer tires. As most boaters trade up to a bigger boat, they also need heavier boat-trailer packages. Car size tires, especially those with radial construction, have thin sidewalls and these are vulnerable to sharp gravel and stones at launch sites. Get heavier tires.

Boat ramps around Wisconsin present a real mixed bag of conditions. Some are horrendous, others are predictable, paved launches. Many owners who have invested more than $50,000 in a fancy bass boat and Sports Utility Vehicle prefer the better launch sites.

You also suggest safe boating courses. I think Wisconsin should follow the lead of eastern states that now require operator training for boaters of all ages. That would help.

John Bartosz
Lac du Flambeau

As an auto mechanic for more than 10 years and a parts man for 18+ years, I saw and learned many solutions to some of the problems described in your boating maintenance article.

My solution for preventing loose bolts on trailer tires was to use a silicone grease on the bolt and nut. I had particularly good luck with American Grease Stick brand's Syl-Glide. We used to install these bolts with self-locking nuts, the kind that have nylon inserts. I never saw one of these shake loose and once that grease coated the bolt threads, it never rusted.

I used this same grease to coat every electrical connector that pushed together. A thin coating seems to effectively exclude water and oxygen which either prevents or certainly reduces corrosion. Long-term corrosion is a major downfall of both auto and boat electrical systems. I even applied a thin coat of silicone grease to the base of the lightbulbs on the trailer to stop corrosion of the socket.

I'm also a great believer in soldered electrical connections rather than crimp-style terminals. Almost all crimp terminals are aluminum. It's difficult to find tin- or cadmium-plated brass terminals, but that's what you need for soldering. Aluminum terminals won't stay soldered to copper wires. In the presence of moisture, aluminum and copper set up a galvanic action and the result is poor electrical performance. The crimp-style terminals don't exclude moisture and there are very few good, reliable crimping tools. One of the best (and most expensive) I used was an over-center locking-type crimper. Every crimp was uniform whether you made one or 500.

I am also a great believer in wire grounding trailer lights. I don't advise grounding the lights to the trailer frame – there are too many metal-to-metal joints in a trailer. If you take the time to run a soldered ground wire from each light to the trailer connector and then run a wire ground from the trailer connector to the ground cable clamp of the towing vehicle, you can eliminate almost all grounding problems.

Boat trailer springs are also prone to breaking and corrosion, probably due to frequent immersion in water. It's worth the strenuous effort to remove the springs from the trailer, disassemble them, remove dirt and rust, coat each spring with silicone grease, assemble and reinstall them.

There are some very good wheel bearing greases for boat trailers. Fiske Brothers Refinery makes a white grease, Lubriplate No. 70, which is highly resistant to water. Also, if it's necessary to replace a trailer wheel bearing, make sure you replace the entire bearing including the chase. Seating a new bearing inside the ring of an old chase is a waste of time and money–the repair won't last.

Finally, I found that batteries work well for a longer period of time if they are kept charged – either with a trickle charger or a solar panel battery maintainer, which keeps the battery charged, but not overcharged.

Robert J. Albers
Green Bay

Bear Permits

I'm a Conservation Patron and I like that you have separated bear hunting permits from the CP license because it should reduce the number who are assumed to be interested in hunting bear but never send in a permit request.

I think the DNR is unfair to bear hunters who use dogs. It sure seems they are required to spend an extra $8 to hunt with their dogs. If your reasoning behind this is to let the public know at a glance what type of hunting someone is doing, why not issue different colored back tags for the different hunting methods – one for hunting with dogs, one for bait hunters and one for combination?

Joe Peterson
La Crosse

Assistant Big Game Ecologist Kevin Wallenfang responds: All people participating in the bear hunting season or summer bear-dog training sessions must purchase the $8 Class B bear license. The rule applies to everyone, whether one is training dogs or not. This is not an additional fee, it is simply the fee required to assist the holder of a Class A bear harvest permit. Even those preparing for the bear season in other ways are required to purchase a Class B license.

There is no fee for back tags; it's included in the license fee, regardless of the hunting method. However, those who are running bears with dogs are required to wear the back tag. Many people who hunt bear with dogs also place bait in the woods, and those hunters are not required to wear the back tag while placing bait. Why? Because someone might also be in the woods placing bait for deer hunting as the two seasons overlap. We are unable to determine who is baiting for deer rather than bear. If bear baiters had to wear their back tags when placing bait, then deer baiters would have to meet the same mandates; that seems like an unnecessary restriction.

The back tag came about to relieve confrontations and identify those hunting with dogs. Most of the hunters using dogs agree with the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association that a back tag is a small inconvenience if it helps reduce conflicts with nonhunters.

Weasel Tale

I wanted to add to your enjoyable article on weasels (You little weasel! February 1998). Last winter I observed and photographed a short-tailed weasel as it ran down and killed a cottontail in my yard – amazing considering the size of the rabbit. After a week or so of watching the carcass, I picked it up. There was nothing left except the hide and legs. It had been completely consumed from the inside out.

In March, I saw another weasel hunting on the ground – appearing then disappearing in the snow. Suddenly the weasel climbed straight up a large tree clear into the top branches. After searching the tree, it came down head first and went up another tree, repeating the process. I had never heard that weasels climb trees and it was a fascinating sight.

Donald R. Flietner

Weasels are accomplished climbers. We have seen them at suet feeders in winter. Two of the larger members of the family tree – the pine marten and the fisher – spend most of their time in deep forest stands.

Tall Ship

Where is the tall ship being built that you described in the April 1998 issue?

Don De Clerc
Green Bay

The schooner is being constructed by the Wisconsin Lake Schooner, Ltd., 500 N. Harbor Drive along Milwaukee's lakeshore. It is scheduled for completion by April, 1999 and will start educational programs, concerts and private bookings. We wrote about the projects and the days of commercial schooner traffic on the Great Lakes in "Seafaring Days," February 1994.

Rainbow Colors

I enjoyed Anita Carpenter's Moon rings and rainbows in the February 1998 issue. As a physics teacher, one of the incorrect concepts that I discuss is how many colors the rainbow has. The red through violet range is roughly six 500 nanometer intervals we see as red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. To insert a color between blue and violet one would truly need to insert a color between each of the others as well. I teach that the rainbow only has six colors. Thanks for letting me set the record straight in an otherwise fine article which presented scientific concepts in easy-to-understand language.

Jim Huhn
Watertown High School

Mag Fan

I think you have an excellent Web site, though I like the printed version of everything better which is why I subscribe. I really like that you carry no advertising and the articles are well throught out and creative. Keep up the excellent work and continue making me homesick!

Brian Gardner
Wilmington, Del.

Liked Grouse

Your article about grouse was great (A practical grouse hunter's guide October 1997) – real information from real sportsmen and women.

I hunt grouse in Washington state and love the experience. Among growing pressure from urban growth, Native American harvests, growing numbers of hunters, deer and elk populations, our grouse population here is taking a beating.

Brad Fransen
Puget Sound area, Wash.

Killeer Korner

Killdeer seem to be popping up all over from Canada to Georgia, and many visitors are coming to our Web site for answers. They especially enjoyed Anita Carpenter's April 1997 piece A call from above and our advice from naturalists in the 1998 update Killdeer are near!! Here's a sampling of the correspondence:

I have a killdeer nest in my driveway and we watch the birds every day. The first egg was laid last Monday, the next on Thursday. I have been watching for the parents to return, but there's no sign of them. What are the chances the eggs can survive or I could incubate them under a light?

Trudi Carroll
Brampton, Ontario

I'm not a bird watcher, and I have a pair of killdeer nesting in my vegetable garden. I haven't tilled yet. What should I do?

Warren Powell
Hamlin, NY

Someone captured a baby killdeer chick and gave it to my son. I wish they had left it alone as I'm afraid it won't survive now. Your story was very informative and provided specifics on the birds' habits.

Beverly Akers
Lithia Springs, Ga.

I was looking for information on killdeer and your site was the only one I found that gave me the detailed information I needed in a short period of time.

For the last two years, my fathers has had a killdeer nest not far from his house – the first year in his gravel driveway. My father is an animal lover and was concerned that someone might run over the nest. He put up wire fencing around the nest with orange flags, then banned us from using the driveway until the three birds hatched and left. This year, the killdeer are nesting in his garden. One of the parents has striking white markings and the nest has four eggs. We are anticipating their birth and thank you for your help.

Sandra Bradley
Plattsburgh, NY

We hatched out three killdeer chicks today and needed suggestions quick on how to care for them. You had the information. Thanks!

Robert Douglas
Kirksville, Mo.

Thanks bunches for your page, I love it. It helped me find out about killdeer. I had found some eggs; we were plowing a field and ran over the nest. Luckily the eggs didn't break. I had to find out if it was possible to raise the eggs, but I guess it will be very hard to raise the chicks once they hatch.

Loni Amos
Whitehall, Mont.

Bird hunters, get HIP

Beginning this year, anyone who hunts ducks, geese, woodcock, snipe, rails, gallinules and coots anywhere in the country must complete a one-page registration form. The Harvest Information Program (HIP) form takes less than five minutes to fill out, it is cost-free and will be available when you buy your license and at other license outlets in Wisconsin. All resident and nonresident annual license holders, Senior Citizen Recreation Card holders, first-year hunter safety graduates and armed forces personnel home on leave must complete the form and keep a copy with them while hunting migratory game birds. HIP registration forms completed in Wisconsin will be honored nationwide.

HIP forms will be used by wildlife biologists to better estimate how hunting may affect future bird populations. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may also ask HIP-registered hunters to participate in harvest surveys or express opinions about hunting season regulations. Information provided will help wildlife professionals learn more about migratory game bird hunters to better manage game bird resources. Contact your regional DNR office or DNR's Migratory Game Bird Specialist at (608) 266-8204 with questions about the HIP registration.