Return of the Red Brush Gang
Hello friends, Because of the fact my father, the late Robert Walters, created an annual fishing trip to the Flambeau Flowage, the Mississippi River for ducks and The Meadow Valley Wildlife Area/Necedah National Wildlife Refuge for deer, all while attending UW-Madison back in the mid-’50s, I love these places.
This week’s column is in honor of a great man, as friends and family, who call themselves The Red Brush Gang, return to set up camp.
I also spent a significant amount of time at camp before the opener of Wisconsin’s nine-day deer gun season.
Saturday, Nov. 9 • High 48, Low 27
Sixteen of us met near Necedah, pulling empty trailers that would be loaded with, what I honestly believe is at least a semi load of what would soon be an 18x36 foot pole barn, 10 sets of bunk beds, two woodstoves, propane tanks and tables, to go down the middle of the shack.
Everyone knows we have to focus until the job is done and we are fighting the sun clock the entire time.
We build camp on public land near Mather and, if for some reason you cannot make it, you owe the camp three cases of beer.
Shortly after dark, camp was built, there was a dart tournament everyone gets into, good food was cooked, there was a rather brutal wrestling match and The Red Brush Gang was home.
I have watched the sun come up for 48 deer gun openers in this neck of the woods and, so far, have not found a good enough reason to miss.
Saturday, Nov. 16 • High 35, Low 21
Today was the first day you could walk in most parts of the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge (NNWR) and scout for deer. The NNWR is closed, except for the seven days prior to the gun deer opener in most sections, and with no ATVs allowed during the hunt and hunters beforehand, this is truly wilderness hunting.
I have touched on two subjects, that are basically out of the hands for man to change, and I really saw it on my five-mile hike today, and that is water. The water table is so high that, for an old-timer like me, who was walking in here, in 1971, it is almost unbelievable. Dry marshes are lakes and forests, flooded like in the south.
The other reality, and I saw it bear baiting this summer and fall, and today, it really hits home, is the immense amount of wolf sign. The No. 1 form is wolf scat with deer hair in it and where I hunted with Selina today, it was snow covered and there was almost zero deer sign. The whitetail deer in the areas of Wisconsin’s central forest that are in pack, forest bordering pack country, are being eliminated.
No matter what side of the fence you are on for this conversation, can you imagine how depressing it must be for the remaining deer in dense wolf country? What if every hunting camp vanished, and all that property was sold to become houses or farm fields?
Roughly 580,000 people hunt during the nine-day gun season. What if this was cut in half, due in part to a lack of deer in our wolf country, the public land is not getting used enough and that started getting sold?
We have to manage our turkey, deer, fish and ducks, why is the wolf exempt, when they are three times over the population goal?
If you think I am some kind of wolf-hater, I ask you to look back at the columns I wrote in the early to mid-’90s, while working with DNR biologists. I was 100 percent behind the recovery program and the management goal of roughly 385 animals. I was given a ton of flack, but stuck to my guns. Now, with roughly 1,200 wolves in Wisconsin, I say let biologists, with the DNR, section off the state and pick management numbers to be harvested each year.