Your CWF3 Board has been asked to contribute articles for one of our local papers, the Sentinel & Rural News in Owen-Withee. We are proud to bring the outdoor perspective to our communities!
Sportsman’s Lake – A hidden gem
By Vanessa Cwikla
It is that time of year again, the opening of the new fishing season! Where can you do some fishing and yet not drive for miles? Right here outside Owen. Sportsman’s Lake has been undergoing some recreational enhancements.
According to Matt Zoschke, County Conservationist, Sportsman’s Lake is a “hidden gem”. The entire system covers almost 1,300 acres with 300 acres of open water. What makes the lake so special? There are no homes on its shores and the county intends to keep it that way. The only other lake that has the same criteria in our area is Diamond Lake outside Lublin in Taylor County.
Also, the lake creates no tax levies. All maintenance and support of the lake are supplied by cropland and other resources that are part of the lake system. However, the renovations and updates to the lake are being matched dollar for dollar by the CWF3, Central Wisconsin Fish, Fin and Feather. The CWF3 is a local nonprofit organization that has also been supplying the needed labor.
The mission of Central Wisconsin Fur, Fin and Feather is “to strive to protect, renew and build safe habitats for all creatures to flourish in Wisconsin’s great outdoors”. They also promote safety and ethical sportsmanship among their members and to the public by informing and modeling best practices. They encourage experienced and emerging outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the outdoors through their funding of projects to make the outdoors accessible and safe for everyone. In keeping with this ideal, two new docks have been installed for fishing. One is off Center Road to the north of the lake and the other is next to the boat landing. Handicap accessible walkways are being built so everyone will be able to enjoy the area. Jeff Hill, president of the CWF3, says that while many organizations only work with hunting or fishing, or a particular animal, this organization focuses on every aspect of being able to enjoy the outdoors. You can find out more information by going to www.cwf3.com.
Another activity that the county plans to promote is birdwatching. Birdwatching platforms are being built along the trails so people can take full advantage of what the wilderness around the lake has to offer. In 2014, a bioblitz was done to determine how many kinds of birds are in our area. Over 165 different species of birds were seen in the area of the lake and its adjoining properties. A proposed picnic area will be built off the trail in a spur type pattern. This would allow small areas to be opened up for a picnic table or two in each area, but still support the solitude and keep that wilderness feel.
Another suggestion for the area was to support a fishery. Water testing revealed that the lake is perfect for bass, northern, perch and other panfish. The oxygen levels in the lake are good so a one-time stocking of the lake should allow the fishery to be self-sustaining.
While Sportsman’s Lake was originally created to manage flood control in the Owen area, it is easy to see why it has become so popular. With the enhancements being done it will become more family friendly. Come out and see the improvements this weekend, you will be glad you did.
The boat landing area. To get to the landing, you need to follow an access road off Center Road. (Courtesy of Vanessa Cwikla)
Raising Funds To Do Great Things
Each March, Central Wisconsin Fur, Fin and Feather entertains sportsmen and women from around our area at it’s annual fundraising banquet. This event has been the primary source of funding the projects completed throughout the year.
In 2015, 180 attended the banquet hosted by CWF3, an increase over past years because of the new larger venue. Consistent with the goals of the group, additional opportunities to win were added because of the growing attendee list. This would not have been possible without the support of our 33 business sponsors.
“The Board of Central Wisconsin Fur, Fin and Feather owe our sponsors, volunteers and banquet attendees a debt of gratitude for their ongoing support of our annual event,” comment Jeff Kellnhofer, Vice President and Banquet Coordinator. “Without everyone’s dedication, we would not have the funds to complete current projects and invest in new ones. Sportsmen and women always step up to get it done in our area!”
Being true to the “Leaving It Better Than We Found It” motto, the Board selects a local sportsman each year to receive the Dylan Crabb award. This honor represents a dedication to outdoor education, conservation and mentoring our youth on all aspects of ethical use of our resources. In 2015, Gene Knoll was selected for his ongoing and diverse volunteering efforts that have helped so many through the years.
Central Wisconsin Fur, Fin and Feather is an organization founded locally; supported by local businesses and individuals, and dedicated to investing in our area. The board is proud of habitat rehabilitation projects such as cutting tag elders, enhancing Sportsmans Lake with the addition of boat docks, and educating the next generation of outdoorsmen and women through Youth Days and Trappers Courses.
Visit www.cwf3.com for information on current intitiatives and to learn how you can volunteer to “Leave It Better Than We Found It”. If you would like to get on the waiting list for the 2016 banquet, visit www. cwf3.com/waitinglist.
Projects That Benefit Everyone
Central Wisconsin Fur, Fin and Feather, by their own definition, is a group dedicated to “leaving it better than we found it”. Most would think that relates only to issues that affect those that hunt and fish – this is not the case. The most recent, and potentially most extensive, project undertaken by CWF3 is for everyone that enjoys Sportsman Lake.
It has taken two years and the efforts of countless volunteers to build and position two boat docks on Sportsman Lake. The docks were built for those that fish, enjoy boating, watch birds, and generally like spending time outdoors. They were designed for everyone to use.
The project would not have been possible without the major contributions of time and talents of Matt Zoschke from the Clark County Land Conservation in sharing the expense, Trinity Trailers welding all of the frames, and Cole Szparza and Slobdnik Excavation preparing the site.
On January 17, at team from CWF3 along with the Owen Fire Department, moved the completed docks into position on the ice. As the ice melts in the Spring, the docks will settle into their final floating position and be available for all that enjoy Sportsman Lake.
The quality of the work and materials will ensure that the docks are available for the next generations to enjoy. Parents bringing children to the lake to enjoy our outdoors creates a tradition of conservation, respect and contributions to the natural environment we live it.
Outdoorsmen and women are the best stewards and advocates for our local environment.
Follow us on Facebook (Central Wisconsin Fur, Fin, & Feather) for updates on current and future projects.
Fun on Ice
The early cold weather made many ice fishermen very optimistic of a long a season, and then Mother Nature decided to throw a warm-up into the mix causing a slushy mix on the ice on many lakes. Now that the cold is back – what seems to be for good – ice conditions are prime for those looking to catch some fish.
As with any outdoor sport, safety needs to be a first consideration when ice fishing. Be cautious in approaching early season ice. If you plan to fish where there is typically a current running, always be aware of the potential for thin ice. Taking vehicles on the ice may be a very convenient (and warm) way to get to and from your favorite ice fishing spot, but be sure that the ice is at least 12-15” thick before attempting to drive on it.
Your gear and how you set up for the afternoon can completely depend on how you tolerate cold weather and how actively involved you want to be in the fishing process. It goes without saying that you need to dress warm, but pay close attention to your boots. Starting with a warm base when standing on the ice can save you hours of shivering. Another consideration would be warm water-proof gloves so you can grip your gear and the fish.
The variety of fish you can catch ice fishing depends on the body of water you are fishing and the type of set up you are using. Many winter anglers enjoy jigging for crappy or blue gill from the warmth of their ice shacks. Others enjoy the camaraderie of setting tips ups and sharing stories on the ice until larger species such as walleye strike.
To get started with this great winter past-time, simply stop by your local sporting goods store or bait shop. Odds are they will have what you need for your first adventure out on the ice. They will certainly have some great pointers on how to make it a good day fishing!
On your way to the lake, be sure to check the Wisconsin DNR Pocket Ranger App to see what the limits are and to check out current conditions.
Have fun on the ice!
The 2014 Wisconsin Whitetail hunting season is fast approaching! Many have already been in the woods after this beautiful animal bow hunting or mentoring the next generation as part of the youth hunts. This is the time that traditions are made and carried out.
The hunt itself is important for two reasons. First, it has helped to control the deer population through the years. This has been an issue that has touched hunters and non-hunters alike: controlling the deer herd helps to reduce the instances of car-deer accidents. Although the deer population appears to be down significantly in some areas compared to the past, good ethical hunting can contribute to creating a healthy herd. Population control helps to limit the spread of diseases such as CWD.
Second, whitetail hunters provide food for their families with the deer that they harvest. Venison has been a staple of Wisconsin menus for generations. It is a lean and healthy meat and a great source of protein for our diets.
Traditions within the whitetail season help create the excitement that we all have seen within our families through the years. It is not just the hunt that is important – there are the memories, the camaraderie, and the joy of sharing with the next generation of hunter.
This season brings families and friends back together that may not see each other at all throughout the year. Stories are shared around the table each night after the hunt, and the outdoorsmen/women bond stays strong no matter the distance that each person has to travel.
Our young hunters learn vital lessons during the week-long season. A grandfather sharing time and teaching a young boy or girl why it is right to pass up a deer and how to make the most humane shot possible is priceless. The time a father takes with their young hunter to talk about safety when hunting close to others lays the groundwork for responsible hunting for years to come.
As you see the sea of blaze orange this November, think of the traditions being honored and about what your families’ may have been. For stories about hunting traditions throughout our state, check out www.blazeorangebook.com/wisconsin-deer-hunting-stories/.
Safe hunting everyone!
Trapping: Sport That Supports A Healthy Environment
Hunters and fishermen typically get the most attention in the world of outdoorsmen and women. Yet, quietly protecting our outdoors and keeping populations in check are our area trappers.
Trapping is an important part of our sportsmen’s heritage and plays a vital role in our local environment. It helps maintain a healthier population, keeps diseases from spreading, and protects our lakes & ponds from undermining. Some furbearers are also predators of game species which makes trapping important to most avid hunters.
The species generally targeted by trappers have a big impact on all creatures in the area. Beaver droppings in lakes causes bacteria that makes the water dangerous if ingested. Fishers kill many grouse and turkeys. Coyotes, fox, bobcats, and wolves prey on various big and small game species. Otter kill a lot of fish. Muskrats and beaver damage ponds and timber that surround them. Responsible trapping helps solve many of these issues.
Mid-October through the natural freeze up is when most trapping occurs. However some species can be trapped through April. This season allows the animals to breed safely, and the timing is right for high quality “prime” pelts, that are more valuable.
Muskrats are the most abundant, and the easiest to catch. Mink are normally a byproduct of muskrat trapping. Beaver trapping is gaining popularity as more people want their ponds and streams free of them. Otter, bobcat, & fisher are more valuable, and require a special permit (tag) to harvest. Fox & coyotes are the true challenge, and can be rewarding at the fur buyer. Wolves are proven to be the latest craze in trapping, they require a permit that is very tough to draw. Once the permit is acquired, they are susceptible to some of the very basic fox and coyote methods.
A DNR sponsored Trapper’s safety course is required before a license can be purchased. This course will help you determine what traps are needed, how to set them safely, and proven tactics. In some classes, a trapping starter kit is given to all graduates.
There are trapping seminars above and beyond the required Trapper’s safety course. Some of these courses are species specific, and go in to great detail on how to capture the target species. Contact your local warden, or go to the DNR’s website to find classes. Also, many videos and books are available on the internet or public libraries.
To learn more about trapping in Wisconsin, visit www. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Trap.
You may find yourself getting caught up in a new pastime!
Are you prepared for the early fall hunting seasons?
As summer is starting to show signs of coming to an end, every outdoorsman and woman is beginning to prepare for the early fall hunting seasons. Whether bow hunting or bird hunting; a lot of preparation is necessary to make it a safe and successful experience.
It goes without saying that every hunter should be reviewing the current regulations for the species that they are planning to harvest. A quick review of the DNR website or downloading the Wisconsin Pocket Ranger App on your phone could save you a great deal of money and trouble this season. Not to mention, it will save your reputation with other hunters who are stewards of the outdoors.
If you are planning to hunt in a new area, spend some time getting to know the terrain and who else may be hunting next to you. A few morning walks in the woods to scout the area will not only help you find the best locations for your tree stands or ground blinds, it will let you plan for the safest routes in and out of the woods. Getting to know your fellow hunters in the area provides a great safety network in case something unforeseen happens and you need help.
Take the time to knock the dust off of your shooting skills as you prepare for the fall hunts. The 15 minutes a day you take to shoot your bow into an archery block may be the difference between making the ideal shot and missing your trophy buck. If you are heading out bird hunting, consider setting some time to shoot a round of trap or sporting clays to improve your timing and accuracy.
Never forget that your most important piece of equipment for a day outdoors is your body. If you are planning more strenuous hunts, build your endurance up over time. Outdoorsmen and women are naturally athletic because of the time you spend outdoors. Treat yourself like an athlete with rest and plenty of water; and you can see a safer and more successful hunt.
As you go out to enjoy all that Fall in Wisconsin has to offer: remember to carry out what you carry in, be safe in all you do, and be the outdoor enthusiast that leaves it better than you found it!
A View From A Different Vessel
Many of us spend a lot of time on the water during the summer. If we’re not in or on the lakes or streams, we’re enjoying life from the shoreline. Most often, our fellow outdoors-men and women are in canoes or boats. Now, we’re seeing an increased number enjoying the view from kayaks.
If you haven’t given kayaking a try, it’s something to consider. This is not the whitewater rapids version, unless you’re game for that adrenaline rush, it’s a peaceful way to get to your favorite outdoor spot and activity.
Kayaking offers a silent way to observe nature and take pictures without intruding on the species you’re watching. You can get closer to most wildlife silently and spare them the startling motor sounds. It becomes easy to get that photo of the Great Blue Heron in the marsh next to the river or the river otter family swimming around next to shore.
The size and easy of use for most kayaks make them ideal for solo trips fishing, trapping, or sight-seeing. They are easy to navigate on streams, larger rivers, small lakes and close to shore on larger bodies of water. Fishing from a kayak is exciting depending on the species of fish biting that day. The bigger the fish, the more interesting the fight. The size of the kayak can help you navigate through small streams to get to your favorite trapping location.
Whether you check out the view from a kayak or stay with your boat and canoe, get outside and enjoy our beautiful Wisconsin scenery and activities. Pack in only what you need for your travels, pack out everything you took in, and help everyone leave it better than we found it!
You have a lot of great bodies of water right here in Wisconsin where you could take a kayak for a test run. Check out this great resource to identify a paddle trail near you!
Editor’s Note: Not only is this a great adventure for adults, this is a great learning experience for kids. Take time to show them how beautiful it is on the water.