Sports and the outdoors were a big part of my youth, and they still are.
So when legendary Major League Baseball pitcher James “Catfish” Hunter was named the first honorary chair of National Hunting and Fishing Day (NHF Day) in 1976, I was thrilled.
Celebrated the fourth Saturday of September ever since Richard Nixon signed the first presidential proclamation in 1972, National Hunting and Fishing Day highlights the conservation contributions of hunters, anglers and target shooters.
Back to that in a moment.
Through the years, many diehard – and famous – hunters have held the honorary-chair title: Terry Bradshaw, Arnold Palmer, Hank Williams Jr., George Bush, Louise Mandrell and Dale Earnhardt are among them.
With two teens and a 20-year-old, I like to think I stay fairly up to date on what’s happening outside my bubble. But this year’s selection for chairs of the special day – Dude Perfect – sent me straight to Google.
It turns out that the social-media superstars who make up Dude Perfect are known for their viral videos, which have garnered nearly 10 billion views. Big deal? Well, it just might be, especially if they can help to get more young people off their phones and into the forests this fall.
Through the purchase of licenses and excise taxes on guns, bows and ammo, hunters and target shooters have raised more than $62 billion for wildlife and conservation since 1957. With five times more participants, fishing has raised about half of that since 1952.
Research shows that a majority of participants who grow up hunting and fishing have many positive memories of spending time outdoors with family and friends. There’s also a connection to the environment that fosters a love of other outdoor activities such as wildlife watching.
The proclamation that President Nixon signed 48 years ago said this: “I urge all citizens to join with outdoor sportsmen in the wise use of our natural resources and in ensuring their proper management for the benefit of future generations.”
You can learn more about NHF Day, being celebrated this weekend, at nhfday.org. And if you’re a sports fan, check out the life of the day’s first chair, “Catfish” Hunter, at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catfish_Hunter. I bet you didn’t know he was wounded during a hunting accident while in high school, or that he discovered the symptoms of the disease that ultimately took his life way too early while hunting.
Wolf Population Soars
After months of COVID-19-related delays, the DNR has announced a record minimum overwinter wolf-population estimate of 1,034 to 1,057 wolves: a 13 percent increase over last year’s figure and three times larger than Wisconsin’s wolf-population goal.
With at least 256 packs documented – 13 more than last year – it’s likely the count is currently well beyond 2,000 wolves after this past spring’s new litters.
Going forward, the agency said it would no longer use the long-standing territory mapping method and instead release estimates using only an occupancy-based model that it has researched, developed and tested during recent years.
Biologists say the new model produces a more realistic estimate of the total population size. In addition, it efficiently makes use of state resources. The DNR, tribal biologists and more than 100 trained citizen volunteers came up with this year’s last-ever minimum-count estimate.
Using the new occupancy model, the DNR estimated that there are between 957 and 1,573 wolves in Wisconsin, with the most likely estimate being about 1,195 wolves.
Occupancy modeling was first implemented for a state wolf population in Montana in 2007 in response to that state’s rising wolf population. Two years later, Idaho followed Montana’s lead by adopting the occupancy-based approach, and both states have been using occupancy models to monitor their wolves ever since. The Wisconsin DNR has built off the work of these states to develop an occupancy-based approach tailored to Wisconsin.
onX Map Update
The team at onX recently released a new streaming offline map technology for hunting season – a complete replacement of its older offline map experience. Maps download twice as quickly, and partial downloads will still load. You can pause and resume offline map downloads and queue up multiple maps to start saving.
One of the features exclusive to onX is the ability to update saved maps. This means no more deleting and resaving the same maps every year to make sure your ownership, public lands and hunting units are updated.
Imagine sitting at home scouting in Web Map on the onX website and being able to send offline maps directly to your phone. Well, onX built it. Offline maps now act like a waypoint or track, and now they’re attached to your account and not just your phone.
Hunting Regulations All in One
In an effort to simplify and modernize how it outlines its hunting regulations, the DNR has combined them into a single, larger, colorful booklet. Pick one up from a license agent, or check it out online at dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/regulations.