November 1, 2011
LA CROSSE, Wis. -- Be safe. Be ethical.
Those four words represent two essential elements to a successful hunting trip.
"We must always remind ourselves about the importance of safety and ethical hunting each time we head into the field," said Bob Lamb, retired La Crosse Tribune outdoors editor and co-founder of the Tribune/Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Hunter Ethics Award. "In turn, by acknowledging safe and ethical hunting when we see it, we are encouraging more of the same."
Safe hunting reigns supreme and goes without saying. Ethical hunting also goes without saying, but is rarely talked about. That's why Steve Dewald, Jerry Davis and Lamb developed the state award in 1997.
Dewald, who retired as DNR conservation warden supervisor in the La Crosse area earlier this year, said the 15th annual award signifies the qualities of hunters helping others. It's also about hunters engaged in behavior that positively reflects on Wisconsin's hunting tradition.
"All hunters want to have an enjoyable hunt. In many cases, how their hunt goes, depends on the kind of interaction they have with other hunters," Dewald said. "The Hunter Ethics Award provides positive examples for all hunters to follow. These actions reflect positively on the tradition of hunting, and leave good memories with the hunters who are fortunate to encounter these individuals in the great outdoors."
Davis retired from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse several years ago and lives near Barneveld.
"We are usually writing, hearing and reading about hunters doing bad things, illegal things. But those cases are the minority, the tiny minority," Davis said. "We need, now more than ever, to write, read and recognize the great things that the majority of hunters are doing when they're in the fields and forests. It makes us all feel good when we hear of a hunter who took some of his or her own time to help a fellow hunter or landowner."
Dewald said nominations for the 2011 adult and youth hunter ethics awards must be submitted by December 15.
Past award winners have been recognized for restoring wildlife habitat, making private lands available to new hunters, assisting a warden who was dealing with a dangerous person, providing opportunities for disabled hunters, rendering aid to a citizen in a serious car accident, and helping find the rightful owner of a large buck that had fallen off the back end of a pickup truck.
Dewald said the award is about what you can do for the sport, not what you can do for yourself.
Last year's co-recipients were David Kobbervig and his son, Dustin, of Shullsburg. They helped warden Jeff King of Darlington uncover illegal hunting during the gun-deer season.
"Dustin and David both recognized that poachers steal wildlife from ethical hunters," Dewald said.
Davis added: "The actions of this father-and-son team in organizing a group of other hunters to help a warden collect evidence suggest that the overwhelming majority of hunters are concerned that everyone is safe and does things as lawfully as they do when killing a deer."
Conservation Warden Todd Schaller, who serves as the DNR Section Chief of Recreation Enforcement and Education, joined Dewald, Davis and Lamb on last year's selection panel. He remains an active member this year.
"The vast majority of our hunters are responsible and ethical, and support Wisconsin's hunting and conservation heritage," Schaller said. "However, the incidents that the public reads or hears about often puts hunters in a negative light. The Hunter Ethics Award is a way to highlight what most hunters are about."
To become eligible for the award:
Written nominations must contain the name, address and telephone number of the witness or witnesses to the behavior that lead to the nomination and mailed to Todd Schaller at Todd.email@example.com, or to Department of Natural Resources, Attention: Warden Schaller LE/5, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, by Dec. 15, 2011.
Nominations will be considered for any DNR regulated hunting activity in Wisconsin.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Todd Schaller - (608) 267-2774; Steve Dewald - (608) 781-9774, Bob Lamb - (608) 526-3925
La Crosse Tribune/Wisconsin DNR Hunter Ethics Award Winners
(All are Wisconsin residents unless noted)
Youth Division (began in 2000)