Another hunting season brings back memories


Lorna Marquardt, Leader Columnist

Aristotle said, “If some animals are good at hunting and others are suitable for hunting, then the gods must clearly smile on hunting.”

My dad is always in my thoughts during deer-hunting season. It seemed he was “getting ready for the hunt” for weeks. Back in the 1950s and ’60s when he hunted, many of the stay-warm conveniences of today were not available. No electric socks, no sophisticated hand-warmers, no thinsulate.

I remember my mother ordering dad long-johns from the catalog. He had some warm wool socks, gray with a red top. He wore red- and black-checkered wool hunting pants, a hat with ear flaps, and warm gloves. His red hunting jacket (in those days it was red, not blaze orange) was heavy and warm. Hunting boots completed his attire. You would have sworn he was headed to the North Pole; he was a big man and looked a little like Santa without a beard.

Dad always took a pail filled with charcoal along with him. He would find himself a tree in our woods to sit under, and then wait … and eat. He always packed his own lunch, and it was generally enough to feed a small hunting party. No matter how warmly dressed, he would usually look half frozen when he returned home.

It seemed in those years, by the time November rolled around, there was snow and bitter cold.

When I married, my dad invited my hubby to hunt with him. They were a pair to draw to. Dad would fix a big breakfast: ham, eggs, fried potatoes and toast. I would stay overnight in Marion, too. They made enough noise to wake up the whole house, including the little ones. They laughed and chattered excitedly about the big buck Dad saw periodically. They always left the kitchen a mess, and Mom and I grumbled as we cleaned up after them. But at least we didn’t have to get up with the chickens like they did.

My brother Pat and his buddies (Jim Rowan, Al Elandt, Jim Anklam, etc.) were avid hunters, often doing drives. Their families all loved venison and hoped the hunt would be successful. They were good hunters and they often filled their quota. Dad and my hubby weren’t nearly as dedicated. I think they enjoyed the experience more than success.

When Dad and my hubby returned from hunting, Dad made what he called “mulligan stew.” He put in everything but the kitchen sink: potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, onions, stew meat and whatever else could be found. I must admit, it was pretty darn good. My hubby still mentions it.

I only went hunting once. It was the first year we were married. He wanted me to come with him. I was not too excited but didn’t let on. Hating piling on all the clothes, I could think of a lot of things I would rather be doing than sitting on a stump in the woods freezing. But, as a loving newlywed, I went. What an experience it was. A beautiful buck, probably a 12-pointer, came out in the clearing. It was magnificent. My hubby took aim and shot three times as the deer bolted to safety. My hubby turned to me and said, “Darn you, Lorna.” He claimed I made him nervous. Well, as you might guess, that was my first and last experience hunting.

My hubby no longer hunts, but my brother Pat and his four boys are all avid hunters. Our son Dan and grandson Mason come to Shawano to hunt. In fact, right now our house is filled with blaze orange clothing, guns and hunting boots. I love this time of year, and enjoy having my boys here.
American author, deer hunter and television host Fred Bear said, “Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person.”

To quote my friend Tom Mehlberg, “Keep it safe out there.”

Answer for last week: Zimmerman Aggregates Limestone was established in 1940. Its president in 2009 was Dohn Zimmerman.

This week’s question is: In Wisconsin, in what year was red clothing for deer hunting first required and what was the first year blaze orange was required?

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.