1/12/2018 7:30:00 AM Youth hunts experience not dependent on harvest
Dean Hall/lakeland times
Tim McMahon and his 11-year-old son Tyler, on the left, discuss the need to follow up on every shot with Chris Thielman and his eight-year-old son Nathan at the Deer Recovery Contest table during the 14th annual Northwoods Youth Deer Hunt Challenge Awards Banquet on Monday, Jan. 1, at Lakeland Union High School in Minocqua.
On Jan. 1, over 200 youth hunters gathered with their families at Lakeland Union High School for the Northwoods Youth Deer Hunt banquet. All resident youth hunters, regardless of whether or not they had harvested an animal, were welcome at the banquet. They gathered to tell their stories, get involved in contests, and win prizes. The theme of the night seemed to be - no matter if a youth was able to harvest an animal or not - the experience of being in the woods and, for many, spending time with family. The excitement of getting a chance to take an animal reigned supreme, but being in the woods in general seemed to be the draw, and what will keep these youth coming back for years to come.
Jordan Wildes had been hunting for three years and was able to harvest a six-point buck this year. She got her deer on opening day.
"It came up, and I shot it," she said. "It was like 260 yards away. It only ran for a couple yards." She hunts with her dad and said the thing she loves the most is the quietness of the woods.
Leo Rotar hunted in Marshfield on his uncle's land this year. Rotar has been involved with the youth challenge before. Hunting season was getting pretty short by the time he was able to harvest his deer.
"It was the last day," he said. "It was getting towards the end and I shot a deer. It was following four does with another buck and it was about the same size as the other buck, just larger antlers." He said he had to wait a bit, as the does first appeared from the woods two-by-two. His deer, he said, did not go more than 20 yards after he hit it, making it easy to find. He also took a trapping course this spring and started trapping this year. Rotar said he has been able to get one muskrat since he started trapping. Both hunting and trapping are things he plans to continue.
"You're always at the edge of your seat if you see a couple deer coming. So it's fun to go out," he said. He encouraged other youth who had not yet tried hunting to get out and be part of the excitement.
The four boys of the Towle family are now all hunting together with their father, Dale. Kaleb Towle said he and his brother Matthew both shot the same deer.
"We were out in a field and he shot it first," Kaleb said, pointing to his younger brother. "He kind of nicked it in the chest and I was on the opposite side of the field and as it came running across, then I shot it and it fell about 50 yards away." The boys shared that experience during the youth hunt. He said the family also does some goose hunting together, which he also enjoys.
Eleven-year-old Matthew Towle said he likes almost everything about hunting. He said kids who have not tried hunting should just get out there and try it. He enjoys being in the woods.
Malakai Towle hunted with his family during the youth hunt, but was not able to get a deer. He said he would still definitely keep hunting, though.
"I just like the quiet and being out there," he said. "And I like the excitement, if you do get something."
Daniel Towle said he wounded a deer this year, but they were unable to find the deer. As with his brothers, he said he feels as though getting out in the woods and being out in nature is the best part of hunting. For these four boys, the hunt is less about harvesting an animal and more about enjoying time in the woods and with each other.
Dale said hunting has always been a part of his family. He says he feels very good that all of his boys head out into the woods and enjoy hunting.
"It is a skill that is profitable," he said. "It's better than just sitting around playing video games. As Christians, I think it's a part of stewardship as well, maintaining what God has made. And it puts some meat in the freezer."
Each year the Northwoods Youth Deer Hunt Challenge brings together youth from across the Northwoods, all with varying degrees of hunting experience and who have had varying degrees of success in the woods. While they are all as different as hunters can be, similar threads run through each of them - the enjoyment of being out in the woods, the excitement of seeing an animal an the time spent making memories with family are as important as the harvest itself.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.