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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published June 5, 2012

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2012 spring turkey harvest up 6 percent from 2011

Hunters encounter mild weather, new registration options

MADISON - Turkey hunters took advantage of comfortable hunting conditions this spring, judging by the preliminary registration total of 42,612 turkeys, a 6 percent increase over the spring 2011 turkey season. A total of 201,984 permits were issued for this year's hunt, down slightly from the 2011 total of 210,384.

Unseasonably warm weather characterized much of the season, in stark contrast to last year when snow, wind, and rain hindered hunters during the early time periods.

"It really was an amazing contrast, weather-wise, from last year's hunt," said Scott Walter upland wildlife ecologist for the Department of Natural Resources. "Last year, there was snow on the ground, below-freezing temperatures, and high winds during the first time period. This year, spring was at the other extreme, probably two or three weeks ahead of normal, and the green-up was already quite advanced by the first week of May. Those who hunted later in the season definitely had denser vegetation and more mosquitoes to deal with than they likely expected."

Zone 1 again produced the highest overall turkey harvest at 12,075 birds, followed by Zones 2 and 3, where hunters registered 10,486 and 10,283 turkeys, respectively. The highest hunter success was in Zone 2 with a preliminary success rate of 26 percent, followed by Zone 3 at 21 percent and Zone 1 at 20 percent. Success rates were between 16 percent and 19 percent for Zones 4 through 7. Overall, the statewide success rate was 21.1 percent, up from 19.1 percent last year.

The very different weather conditions during the 2011 and 2012 seasons may also have influenced how hunter effort was distributed throughout the season. Harvest during the first time period was 29 percent higher in 2012 than in 2011, but tapered off more steeply throughout the season.

"After the first time period, I was expecting a big jump in overall harvest," Walter noted. "We did end up 6 percent higher than last year, but we actually harvested fewer turkeys during the last two periods than we did in 2011."

Turkeys spread quickly from the initial 1976 stocking in Vernon County, and today are found statewide in areas with suitable habitat. As the number of both turkeys and turkey hunters increased in the state, so have annual harvests. Turkey populations have now stabilized across the state, and Walter says hunters should expect to see annual harvest levels nudge upward and downward from year to year in response to factors that tend to regulate turkey populations; weather is one such influence.

"Successful reproduction by turkeys is dependent upon suitable conditions during the May nesting and June brood-rearing periods, and turkeys in the northern part of the state can be impacted by severe winter weather," stated Krista McGinley, assistant DNR upland wildlife ecologist. "Given dry spring weather and mild winters, turkeys can increase quickly in number, but wet springs and harsh winters can slow population growth from one year to the next. Hunters should expect to see this sort of annual variation in turkey numbers and annual harvests now that turkeys have saturated the available habitat."

"With the weather cooperating as it did, the 2012 spring season was exceptional in the opportunities it created for camaraderie with friends and family," Walter said.

That was reflected in a 16 percent jump in the number of turkeys registered during the two-day Youth Hunt.

"The legion of folks out there who served as mentors or in other capacities to introduce folks to hunting this spring really deserve credit," Walter added. "They really cast hunting in its most positive light. Their actions serve not only to introduce people to the outdoors, but also to the experiential, spiritual, and community-building aspects of hunting that are all too often neglected in the public's eye. The National Wild Turkey Federation and its members perhaps best exemplify this emphasis, through their strong support of hunter education and Learn to Hunt programs around the state."

Telephone, online registration working well

This season was the first spring turkey hunt in which hunters didn't have to transport their turkey to a registration station to get it registered due to phone-in and online registration systems, first introduced with the fall 2011 turkey hunt. Hunters seem to have transitioned to the new systems well.

"The majority of hunters have expressed satisfaction with the new systems, frequently citing their convenience; quite a few stated that they were able to register their turkey via cellphone right in the field," McGinley said.

Hunters are reminded that these remote registration systems will be in place for all future spring and fall turkey seasons. No in-person registration will be available.

2012 fall season

Biologists say the recent mild winter bodes well for turkeys in Wisconsin, as well as prospects for this fall's season.

"The fact that hunters were frequently harvesting exceptionally heavy gobblers this spring suggests that turkeys came out of the winter in good condition. This is especially important in the northern zones, where harsh winters can lead to mortality, and suggests that turkeys statewide likely entered the spring in good condition for breeding," McGinley said.

A successful nesting and brood-rearing season will help propel turkey numbers upward. Generally speaking, dry conditions during June keep newly-hatched chicks from getting chilled and suffering from exposure, and lead to good production in all upland game bird species.

"Things were relatively dry during the nesting season. Most turkey nests hatch around the first of June in Wisconsin, and though we've had a bit of rain lately, dry weather over the next few weeks will help those chicks survive the critical first few weeks," said McGinley.

The 2012 Fall Turkey and 2013 Spring Turkey regulations are included in the 2012 Wisconsin Small Game Hunting Regulations pamphlet, available on the Hunting Regulations page of the DNR website and in hard copy at DNR Service Centers and license vendors. For more information search for "turkey" on the DNR website.

The fall 2012 wild turkey season will run from Sept. 15 through Nov. 15, with an extended season in Turkey Management Zones 1-5 only from Nov. 26 through Dec. 31. The deadline for applying for a fall permit through the lottery process is August 1. Applications cost $3 and can be purchased over the internet through the Online Licensing Center, at license sales locations, or by calling toll-free 1-877-WI LICENSE (1-877-945-4263).

State turkey management plan revision underway

DNR staff are currently summarizing results of a survey of public attitudes and opinions regarding turkey management in the state. The goal is to incorporate this information into a revision of Wisconsin's Wild Turkey Management Plan, a document that will essentially serve as the foundation for turkey management in the state for the next decade. Surveys were administered to attendees at eleven public input sessions held at various locations throughout Wisconsin in late April and early May, and an online version of the survey was available through May 31.

The survey asks for input regarding hunter satisfaction with various components of our current turkey hunting season structure, with respondents able to provide their reactions to a variety of possible alternatives.

"Data are still being analyzed but hunters who attended the sessions expressed very strong support for the six separate spring time periods, largely I think concerned by the threat of interference and competition that would occur if we had a single spring season," McGinley said.

The full revision process will likely extend well into 2013.

"If all goes well, we'll work with all of our partners to move forward with the plan, hopeful of taking it to the Natural Resources Board for approval sometime next spring," Walter said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Scott Walter, Upland Wildlife Ecologist: 608-267-7861 or Krista McGinley, Assistant Upland Wildlife Ecologist: 608-261-8458

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Northern bass zone harvest season opens June 16

WOODRUFF - Long story short: despite one of the earliest ice-outs on record, anglers will find smallmouth and largemouth bass in their typical late spring haunts when the 2012 northern bass zone harvest season opens June 16, state fisheries biologists say.

Moose Lake largemough
Big largemouth bass await anglers in Iron County in 2012, DNR fish surveys show
WDNR Photo

"Even though we had one of the earliest ice-outs in history for this area, steady and cool water temperatures persisted through mid-May, slowing the timing of bass spawning to near-normal," says Mike Vogelsang, Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor in Woodruff.

Bass will be done spawning by the harvest season around the Woodruff area, he says, "so expect fish to be off the nests and a bit more difficult to target. Don't let that stop you for trying for them, however, since bass are one of the easier fish to catch during summer."

Vogelsang advises anglers to look for smallmouth bass on rock bars in open water, cruising rocky shorelines, or holding tight to woody cover. "Live bait is always a great option, with jigs and leech combinations working well. Plastic baits such as crawfish colored tube jigs are excellent too because they simulate one of their favorite prey items...the crayfish. They are almost always rigged 'weedless' too, so you can pitch them into tight spaces and not worry about getting snagged as much."

Largemouth bass tend to favor more weedy cover and anglers should target them in shallow bays near weed edges and pockets, Vogelsang says. Bog edges, brushy shoreline, and downed trees are also good places to start. Safety-pin style "spinner baits" are commonly used and work well, as do surface baits, and plastic tubes.

Vogelsang's counterpart in Hayward, Dave Neuswanger, also marvels at what he calls "the earliest, most on-again, off-again bass spawning season" in his 10 years in Hayward.

"The water will warm, the male bass will come into the shallows and build some nests, and then frequent cold fronts will send them sulking back offshore," he says. As of May 22, bass have done some spawning in only the warmest, shallowest lakes in the Hayward area. Many female largemouth and most female smallmouth were still full of eggs.

"This is what we should expect at a time when spring-time water temperatures are rising faster than ever into the upper 50s when bass feel the urge to nest," Neuswanger says. "More 'false starts' seem likely under this scenario, and we can expect to see a wider range of dates at which bass spawn, starting much earlier than even a decade ago when most bass did not spawn in northern Wisconsin until early June."

Neuswanger says that this year, if the weather stays stable, he expects almost all bass nesting, spawning, and male brood guarding to be completed weeks before the June 16 harvest opener in the Hayward area.

Peter Stevens, fisheries supervisor for Lake Superior, reports that ice-out arrived early to Chequamegon Bay but cooler temperatures prevailed throughout spring keeping water temperatures low and creating a spawning season that has proceeded in fits and starts.

"Fish have moved into the shallows during periods of warm days and then offshore into deeper water during cool evenings or cold snaps. However, the bite has been consistent lately and has picked up within the last few weeks. Anglers are catching fish on live-bait suspended below a bobber and on plastics fished in and around spawning flats. On colder days or when storm fronts are moving through, fish can be caught in deeper channels or congregating around offshore structure using lipless crankbaits or deeper artificial presentations."

Mike Donofrio, a fisheries supervisor based in Peshtigo and whose waters include those in Oconto and Marinette counties, says bass populations are in good shape for anglers in that area, based on what DNR crews saw during spring fish surveys. "It seems like any water we go into we find nice bass - both size and population-wise."

He advises anglers that there are very nice largemouth populations on the flowages on the Peshtigo system, and says Cauldron Falls and High Falls are the best bets.

On the Menominee River system, there are 11 dams and anglers "could go to any one of the impoundments created by those dams and catch a lot of legal-sized smallmouth bass."

21-inch largemouth
Bass, like this nice 21-incher Sandy Neuswanger caught and released opening day in northern Wisconsin, can be kept when the northern zone bass season opens June 16.
WDNR Photo

"I'd like to encourage people to start harvesting these bass. So many of the anglers are practicing catch and release and we have a lot of stockpiled big bass. Eat a bass and enjoy it, especially a smaller one."

Find more tips and tactics for fishing for bass in "Bassin' basics," in the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.

New regulations for some waters

The northern bass zone essentially includes those waters north of Highway 64 and 77 and allows harvest from June 16, 2012, through March 3, 2013. People can keep five bass in total, and the minimum length limit is 14 inches unless special regulations apply, so check the 2012-13 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations or search for regulations on your favorite lake using DNR's new online fishing regulations tool.

New this year, the minimum length limit for bass has been removed on most waters in Washburn and Burnett counties. There are a few exceptions.

"The reason we've removed the minimum length limit is in those two counties there is a widespread abundance of bass affecting bass growth rates," says Steve Avelallemant, fisheries supervisor for northern Wisconsin. "We need to thin them out a bit so the growth rates get back to where they should be."

Also new this year, bass on the Minocqua Chain of Lakes in Oneida County will have no minimum length limits and there is an 18-inch minimum length limit on walleyes.

Bass fast facts

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Grant boosts investigations into why bass are booming, walleye waning in some lakes

MADISON - Work to help understand and respond to why bass are booming and walleye waning in many northwestern Wisconsin lakes just got a big boost.

A consortium of researchers and fisheries biologists from the University of Wisconsin's Madison and Stevens Point campuses and the Department of Natural Resources have received a $760,000 federal grant over five years to help investigate the shifting fish populations and tease out the most likely reasons behind the shift.

Apple River Flowage largemouth

Largemouth bass are booming in northwestern Wisconsin. DNR's Travis Holte shows off a nice fish captured during a spring survey on Polk County's Apple River Flowage.
WDNR Photo

"We're excited to have a large-scale, collaborative research project underway to tackle our key questions and help inform our management decisions," says Jon Hansen, one of the DNR fish biologists involved in the study and leader of DNR's bass committee.

"The issue is very complicated, and identifying the causes of these changes requires various approaches and the expertise that the different partners bring to the table."

Says Steve Carpenter, a UW-Madison limnologist and a principal investigator in the study, "At this point, we have nothing but hypotheses. Now we can get to work on gathering real information and figuring out which of the many hypotheses might be right."

The grant is funded by the U.S. Geological Survey and will be led at UW-Madison by Carpenter, at Stevens Point by Dan Isermann, and at the DNR by a team of DNR Bureau of Science Services researchers and Fisheries Management biologists.

The work will build on, and draw data from, ongoing state efforts to adjust bass and walleye fishing regulations and attempt to determine how much anglers affect these populations. Bass are the fish Wisconsin anglers reported releasing most often in a 2006-07 statewide mail survey, with only 5.4 percent of bass harvested, while 30 percent of all walleye were harvested.

"These traditional approaches (changing regulations and collecting data) are important to do, but if that is all we did, we've never be able to figure out what this is happening," says John Lyons, the DNR fisheries researcher who assembled the collaborative research team. "We'd still be speculating. What this study will do is not necessarily provide the solution, but it will narrow down the explanations from 10 plausible reasons to two or three that are highly plausible, and which of our management tools could work."

Work underway and more to start this summer

Bass populations in some waters historically managed for walleye are at historic highs while adult walleye populations are dropping in these lakes and natural reproduction is sputtering. The stocking of small fingerling walleye is not as successful as in the past.

Starting in 2011, DNR adjusted regulations in many of these waters, including removing minimum bass length limits on 21 northwestern lakes and increasing minimum walleye length limits and doing the same this year on lakes in the Minocqua chain.

Those waters are being carefully monitored to see how the fish populations and anglers are responding, but the changes in regulations alone and the data collection wasn't going to be enough.

"We felt there was a need to take a closer look at the interaction between bass and walleye, and to assess what fisheries management options were viable and available," says Jake Vander Zanden, a UW-Madison zoology professor who will be working on the project. "We're also considering whether bass-walleye interactions are likely to be affected by our changing climate and water levels."

UW climatologists who have analyzed weather data collected in the last 50 years have documented that winters in northwestern Wisconsin have warmed as much as 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The partners will be working on different aspects of the study, with DNR and UWSP researchers conducting field studies and feeding the information into a sophisticated modeling effort at UW-Madison.

Some of the work will begin this summer when Isermann and graduate students conduct fish surveys to estimate the size and age of largemouth bass in Lac Courte Oreilles, Big Sissabagama, and Teal Lakes near Hayward. "The information will be used to simulate the potential effects of different fishing regulations on largemouth bass populations," he says.

Isermann's team also will be collecting information on the diets of all the largemouth bass and walleyes they are collecting, flushing the content of the fishes' stomachs and then releasing the fish live back into the water.

Later in the summer, Isermann and his crew also will also collect largemouth bass hatched this spring and use daily ring counts from otoliths (fish ear bones) to determine hatch dates. The goal is to determine how climatic conditions influence largemouth bass hatch timing and whether potential differences in hatch timing could explain fluctuations in adult black bass abundance, Isermann says.

"This is a great collaborative effort among DNR, the Center for Limnology at UW-Madison and the Fisheries Analysis Center at UWSP and the Wisconsin Cooperative Fishery Research Unit," Isermann says.

DNR brought the groups together as a team to apply for grant funding and has provided funding to help answer some of the research questions the team is tackling. DNR staff also have assisted with sampling design and lake selection, and the staff of the Hayward DNR office has provided in-the-field support over the last few weeks of sampling, Isermann says. Results from the collaborative study are expected in 2014.

More information on bass and walleye can be found in the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine article "Sustaining a fishery or fighting natural change?."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Hewett, DNR, (608) 267-7501; Mike Staggs (608) 267-0796; Steve Carpenter, UW-Madison (608) 262-3014; Dan Isermann, UWSP, (715) 295-8878

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Wisconsin receives $1.4 million to work on brownfield sites

MADISON - Wisconsin has received $1.4 in federal funding that state environmental officials will use to assess and clean up contaminated properties around the state.

Each spring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provides grants to states, local governments and tribes to work on contaminated properties, called brownfields. This year the Department of Natural Resources netted $1.4 million for its brownfields program.

"These dollars are key to turning around dilapidated sites and boosting local economies," said Darsi Foss, DNR brownfields section chief.

Foss said $500,000 of the funds will be marked for site assessment work and the remainder will be used to replenish the agency's Ready for Reuse Grant and Loan Program. Wisconsin has received more than $10 million in brownfields funding from EPA since 2004.

The DNR funds are part of a larger $4.2 million pool EPA awarded to Wisconsin governments and tribes. "EPA's brownfield grants will spur redevelopment in Wisconsin," said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. "These grants will help prepare contaminated properties for productive uses."

Other federal brownfield funds awarded to the state include:

Wisconsin grants are part of EPA's $69.3 million awarded nationwide to clean up and redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies, create jobs and protect public health.

You can view a list of all EPA brownfield grants awarded by state (exit DNR), or for more information about the DNR's brownfields program, go to the DNR main page and search for brownfields.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Andrew Savagian - 608-261-6422

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Great Lakes beach improvements, free app a boon for beachgoers

Public comment open on minor changes to beach monitoring

MADISON - Improvements at many of Wisconsin's Great Lakes beaches and a free smartphone application with the latest weather and water quality information are giving people more reasons to break out the beach towel and the sunscreen and head to the water's edge, state beach officials say.

"We're fortunate in Wisconsin to have a group of innovative partners who have taken advantage of federal grants to transform beaches and really make them places that you want to go and relax and enjoy," says Donalea Dinsmore, who leads the Department of Natural Resources program that administers federal grant money available for beach monitoring along Wisconsin's Great Lakes shore.

And, with the release last week by the Great Lakes Commission and partnering states of the free, smartphone app (exit DNR) for more than 1,800 Great Lakes beaches, it will be easier for beachgoers to find current conditions, she says.

"When you go to a beach you want to have fun and also make sure you have a safe and healthy experience," Dinsmore says. "The beach app will tell you about the conditions at the beach - what are bacteria levels in the water, what's the weather like, and if there are winds that could cause dangerous riptides."

People can still learn about current beach conditions by going to the Wisconsin Beach Health (exit DNR) website, and can sign up for an email or RSS feed of beach advisories by county on that website. Or they can find a link to the site by searching for "beaches" on the DNR website.

Wisconsin has monitored water quality on at least 110 Great Lakes beaches every summer since 2003 to reduce the public's risk of exposure to water-borne illnesses. Local governments assess water quality and the DNR provides funding through federal BEACH Act funds it receives for monitoring on Great Lakes beaches. DNR also contracts with the U.S. Geological Survey to provide online results at the Wisconsin Beach Health web site.

There has been a trend of improving water quality at Great Lakes beaches due to the steps communities and partners have taken to tackle pollution sources. Such work has been accelerated as a result of grants available through the Obama administration's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the funding approved by the U.S. Congress to carry out environmental restoration and protection efforts, Dinsmore says.

The grants have made it possible to identify and correct sources of bacterial contamination that in the past may have led to beach water advisories or beach closures, she says.

"Racine and Door counties have been leaders in transforming a number of beaches into real "go- to" spots," Dinsmore says, noting that Racine's North Beach, in fact, last week was named one of 51 Great American Beaches by the national newspaper USA Today. "Bradford Beach in Milwaukee and Ozaukee County beaches are also leading by example."

Work to reduce contaminant problems differs by beach but has included work such as removing jetties, changing the slope of the beach and adding stormwater basins or rain gardens. Fencing around new native plantings to help filter contaminants before they enter the water, creating new dunes complete with dune grass, and changing mowing practices to allow longer vegetation that is less attractive to seagulls and other birds are among the other measures taken to tackle contaminant sources.

More work will be done this year to identify and correct sources of bacterial contamination in a number of other communities, with much of the work done in partnership with University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Professor Greg Kleinheinz and Racine Public Health Department Laboratory Director Julie Kinzelman. The Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission is beginning a project to address runoff that contains phosphorus, a nutrient that contributes to growth of Cladophora, the thick, green algae mats that have been washing ashore, she says.

Volunteers from the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program have also been having an impact on improving beach conditions, Dinsmore says. "Keeping beaches clean and free of litter is an important part of controlling bacteria, and volunteers from the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach program helping out in these efforts," she says.

Public comment open on minor changes to beach monitoring

Monitoring water quality at the more than 100 Great Lakes beaches will continue this year with some minor changes to which beaches will have water quality tested and how often. Beaches are prioritized for monitoring, with testing frequency based on factors including accessibility, usage, extent of vegetation on the beach, and overall risk for contamination.

The changes are:

Low priority beaches may be based on several factors: accessibility, usage, extent of the vegetation on the beach, overall risk for contamination based on sanitary survey or monitoring history.

The federal Beach Act requires that people be given an opportunity to comment on the beach list. People can email or submit comments in writing by June 30, 2012. Direct email comments to Donalea Dinsmore or send them via U.S. mail to Donalea Dinsmore, Wisconsin DNR Office of the Great Lakes, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Donalea Dinsmore - 608-266-1926

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Entries sought for Wisconsin wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamp design contests

MADISON - Wisconsin artists are encouraged to submit artwork for the 2013 wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamp design contests.

After another successful event last year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has decided to continue holding the judging for all three contests August 25 at the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center in Baraboo. The Leopold Center and the surrounding 1,500-acre Leopold Memorial Reserve offer the perfect setting in which to explore and appreciate the earliest attempts at habitat restoration in Wisconsin and to celebrate the contribution of wildlife art to habitat conservation.

The DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management will be accepting stamp entries starting immediately; entries must be received or postmarked by August 15, 2012 in order to be eligible. All pieces of artwork will be on display starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 25, and the contest judging will take place at 1 p.m., followed by a small reception for the artists and public from 3-5 p.m.

"We are pleased to be able to offer our dedicated stamp artists the opportunity to have their artwork publicly displayed in this unique setting, and those attending the event will have the chance to view a fine selection of wildlife artwork from artists across the state," says Tom Hauge, director of DNR's Bureau of Wildlife Management.

In addition, those in attendance will be the first to get a "sneak peek" at the winning designs for the 2013 Wild Turkey, Pheasant, and Waterfowl Stamps. Wildlife Management staff will be available to discuss the history and accomplishments of the three programs, as well as the central role that wildlife art has played in the state's habitat conservation efforts. Funds derived from the sale of these stamps have contributed to the restoration and management of thousands of acres of important wildlife habitat.

All stamp contest applicants should review the contest rules carefully to ensure the eligibility of their entries. Artwork must meet the technical requirements specified in these rules in order to be properly processed and prepared for display at the Leopold Center. For contest rules, entry forms, and Reproduction Rights Agreements for the 2013 wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamp programs search for "Wildlife Stamps" on the DNR website.

A convenient way to stay informed is to sign up for email updates using the DNR's GovDelivery service - follow the prompts and enroll in the "waterfowl, wild turkey, and pheasant stamp design contests" distribution list. Members of the service receive occasional email reminders about contest entry deadlines, detailed event information, and the announcement of the winning artwork for 2013.

For more information about the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center and related events, please consult the Leopold Center's website at [www.aldoleopold.org] [exit DNR].

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Krista McGinley - 608-261-8458 or Bob Manwell, DNR Office of Communications - 608-264-9248

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More than 1,000 enroll in Learn to Hunt turkey events this spring

Veteran hunting mentor helps rookie fulfill Easter promise

MADISON -- Kevin Naze of Algoma didn't know he'd help a novice hunter fulfill a family promise when he launched his 11th Learn to Hunt Turkey program in April, but the episode was another "wildly rewarding experience" that he said makes these events worth the effort.

"Hosting a Learn to Hunt Turkey program takes a little planning and enough seasoned mentors to go one-on-one with beginners - but it's worth the effort," Naze says of his history with the Department of Natural Resources turkey hunt program that attracted hundreds statewide this spring. "The 2012 program again proved to be a wildly rewarding experience. There were a few missed shots and other opportunities that didn't end the way hunter or mentor would have liked. But whether or not a bird was bagged, the shared outdoors time and conversation between trips always goes down as one of the highlights of my year."

And one of those highlights for Naze was working with Melissa, one of the rookie hunters.

"Her attitude -- even after having to pass when three gobblers walked in but were too close together for a safe shot at just one of them -- remained positive throughout a week of trips with several different mentors," Naze said.

So, it came down to Easter morning - the last chance to get a turkey. And this is when Melissa dropped the promise on Naze. "She'd promised her mom a turkey for Easter dinner," Naze said.

Easter morning was looking dismal as far as turkeys go. There wasn't even one gobble to be heard and the hopes of fulfilling that promise were evolving into pledges from the always-positive Melissa to keep hunting because she enjoyed it.

About the time she was talking about her newfound passion, a few hens appeared and seemed to be escorting a tom turkey in Melissa's direction. "We watched what would turn out to be a 21-pounder with inch-long spurs and a 10-1/2-inch beard strut for more than a half-hour before coaxing him close enough," Naze said. "One perfect shot ... did the job. Melissa was shaking with excitement. Tears of joy ran down her cheek. Easter dinner was served!"

1,000 novices at 50 Learn to Hunt spring events; more in fall

Keith Warnke, DNR hunting and shooting sport coordinator, says Naze's experience as a mentor and Melissa's successful hunt are why there are 50 Learn to Hunt Turkey events statewide.

"Preliminary totals show more than 1,000 hunters participated in one of these learn to turkey hunt events this spring," Warnke said. "This program is fun for participants and mentors - and has the right blend of classroom and actual hunting."

Warnke says the program also features learn to hunt events for other species - including deer, bear, pheasant, mourning dove and small game. Some events are posted now on the DNR website, but more are anticipated to be organized for the fall. People can find current offerings by searching the DNR website for "LTH."

People who sponsor an event should send the completed Learn To Hunt Turkey event final roster to: Learn to Hunt Coordinator, Wisconsin DNR LE/8, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921.

Mentors are needed

"Current hunters represent an army of qualified mentors for the next decade," Warnke said.

Under Wisconsin's Mentored Hunting Program, anyone 10 or older can hunt without first completing a hunter education course if he or she is accompanied by a licensed hunter (mentor). This one-on-one opportunity gives first-time hunters a chance to try hunting in a highly controlled manner and enables veteran hunters to pass on their passion for the outdoors.

"Mentors help keep Wisconsin's hunting heritage strong. If you're a hunter and are concerned about its future, you can help by mentoring a new hunter," Warnke said. More information on Wisconsin's Mentored Hunting Program is available at DNR's website at dnr.wi.gov, search mentored hunting."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Warnke, DNR Hunting/Shooting Sport Coordinator, 608-576-5243 or Joanne M. Haas, DNR Office of Communications - 608-267-0798

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Fishing for great outdoors ideas? Let WNR magazine help

MADISON -- The cover story in the June issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, "Sharing some walleye wisdom," features tips from a veteran angler to get people excited about chasing walleye, along with some advice for how to land ol' marble eyes.

June Wisconsin Natural Resources

Tick season came early and with that emergence, is a concern for Lyme disease. The story, "Tiny menace," provides steps for reducing one's chances of getting Lyme disease.

"Fishin' for pike with Frank and Mike" pays tribute to those people who have taken the time to teach us how to fish.

Duck banding takes center stage in a feature about the Grand River Marsh Wildlife Area, "Thirty years and nearly 35,000 ducks later." The Department of Natural Resources relies on volunteers to keep the program alive.

"Reinforcing a foundation in oak" stresses the importance of oaks in the ecosystem and cites reasons the author is concerned for the future of oak growth.

"Building Bird Cities" shows why the designation of a Bird City Wisconsin can be a feather in a community's cap. This summer, the program's distinctive street signs will help welcome residents and visitors alike to 50 communities statewide.

June is Invasive Species Awareness Month in Wisconsin. Readers will learn how they can help stop the spread of known invaders and prevent the introduction of new species in "Slow the spread by hand and tread."

Creature Comforts celebrates the motley turkey vulture and its role as nature's recycler. Traveler visits the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway that cuts across the state and provides a glimpse into our rich and vibrant past.

Remember to consider the magazine as a thoughtful, inexpensive gift that can share what you value about the outdoors with family, friends, customers and professional colleagues. Six colorful issues are delivered to reader's doors all year for less than $1.50 a copy. Year-round the magazine shares ways and place to enjoy the Wisconsin outdoors for only $8.97. Subscribe toll-free at 1-800-678-9472, online at www.wnrmag.com or by mail. Subscription blanks and single issues are also available from our circulation office at P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Natasha Kassulke - 608-261-8446

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, June 05, 2012




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