Mark Walters, Contributor
Follow along each week on the adventures of Mark Walters, a syndicated outdoor adventure columnist who lives in Necedah, Wisconsin. He began writing his column, An Outdoorsman’s Journal, in 1989. It includes hunting, fishing, lots of canoeing and backpacking. He currently writes for around 60 newspapers on a weekly basis. He hopes you enjoy reading about his adventures!
After I write this column my 19-year-old daughter Selina and I will be heading to the Mississippi River with our golden retrievers, Ruby and Fire, for three days of fishing and winter camping.
This week I am writing my annual year in review story, which for the last 31 winters has made it so I do not have to travel on Christmas week.
Before I go any further, I want to thank the staff of every newspaper that runs this column. COVID-19 has been devastating to our business, but all of us in this incredible industry keep on producing content and printing papers.
Before COVID-19, Kids And Mentors Outdoors (KAMO), which was started through this column, was a solid, get-it-done organization that was in the process of starting its newest chapter, which will be in Beaver Dam. What we do in KAMO is get kids outside in both one-on-one and group activities. In March, our Board of Directors agreed unanimously that, for the time being, most KAMO activities needed to be put on hold.
I have spent much of my adult life volunteering. Everything from our schools to the YMCA has taken a direct hit when it comes to helping our youth. Helping the youth makes the world a much better place.
This past spring, I created a food plot in the forest behind my house. It was a project that was extremely physical, as I used a chainsaw, rototiller, and an ATV to clear out almost an acre of oak wilt forest and hazel nut brush, with the real project being the roots.
I learned a lot and had at least seven bucks coming into it all summer. I had one buck that messed me up big time. This buck was a true monster that had at least a 21-inch spread and was massive in every way. From late May until mid September, I got at least 100 separate photos of him. There were times that I had pictures of the ‘buck of a lifetime’ five different times in one day.
While hunting the plot, I passed up a 10-pointer twice and an 8-pointer once that would have been my biggest with a bow.
Almost everyone in my life told me I was a fool. Other than wanting a crack at the big buck, here is my real reasoning for the pass. I travel for a living and much of what I do in the fall is chase ducks and bucks. Had I filled my bow buck tag on Oct. 5,what I do for a living would have to have been altered and I love those canoe, camping and hunting trips.
This summer I tried to help Michelle Chiaro, who is a very important part of my life, harvest a bear by running baits with her. Michelle had never hunted before and the 90 days of baiting was brutal, but we both loved it. No bear for Michelle, but she applied again for next fall and I have a very good chance of getting a tag.
The grey wolf has been removed from the endangered list in Wisconsin and the DNR is in the process of creating a management plan, which means hunting and trapping is in our future. About all I can say about this is common sense prevails!
Like today, when Selina and I go on our 5th trip of the year, I am about to have a blast with my daughter in the outdoors and that is because all of her life I did things in the outdoors with her. Now it is just another year of our lives, my friends like in KAMO or with your kids, get our youth into the outdoors.
In closing and on a serious note, I have been writing this column every week since 1989. I earn a living by newspapers running An Outdoorsman’s Journal on a weekly basis. Before COVID-19 struck, I was just getting by financially, but was going to make it until I retire in about a decade.
COVID has been hard on everyone, including myself. There has not been one paper that stopped running this column that still exists. What has happened is that some of my papers no longer exist and in some cases three papers have become one and I only get paid for one.
It may sound crazy but in reality I am cheap, interesting, reliable content for a newspaper. Here is my deal to you the reader or staffer at a paper. If you find a new paper to publish this column, I will negotiate the deal. After one month, one check and an agreement from the publisher to keep running this column I will pay you $100.00. Find me two and I will double your money, I am a single income homeowner and I have taken a large hit in my income. Contact me at email@example.com
My guess is that one way or another this will work out!
Check out previous weeks’ columns at: www.outdoorsmansjournal.com