Remembering bow hunting experiences of the pastRon Roettger, a good friend of mine, is an avid outdoorsman and hunter.
Ron Roettger, a good friend of mine, is an avid outdoorsman and hunter.
He heads up the New Richmond Hunter Safety classes and has been an active member of several conservation organizations and clubs including the Willow River Rod and Gun Club, St. Croix County Alliance of Sportsman’s Clubs, Friends of the St. Croix Wetland Management District and member of the St. Croix County delegation to the Wisconsin Conservation Congress where he served as county chairman for many years.
He is a dedicated bow hunter and has taken the less tread path of traditional bow hunting using at times a long bow and recurve in his pursuit of the elusive whitetail.
Recently he sent me a short overview of his first bow hunting experience which I would like to share with our readers.
By Ron Roettger
They say you can’t go back, but you can come close enough sometimes.
On a wet, foggy, late September morning, my father, older brother and I went bow hunting on the opening day of the 1972 Wisconsin archery deer season. I recall many of the details of my first bow hunt, including the weather that morning and the doe that ran in front of us as we pulled over to park. Because of that sighting, I was sure there were going to be deer everywhere I looked.
And there was my first bow. I had received it the July prior and it was purchased at the Penney’s outlet store in the Twin Cities. Our family had gone shopping and with my 12th birthday just days away, my folks said I could get whatever I wanted for $20 or less.
The store had a large sporting goods area, and when I first saw the 55 gallon drum of recurve bows, I headed right to it. They had some that were $20 while others were more. I found a 62” Ben Pearson Colt with a 45# pull. I told my folks that was what I wanted. My older brother also got one as an early gift because he would turn 14 in October. To our surprise our dad also bought one, but his was a Mustang model instead of the Colt.
I hunted with that bow for a while before moving on to other bows. I even lost the bow for a while when I was 17. I had just purchased a different bow and a friend and next door neighbor wanted to get into bow hunting and asked if he could buy my old recurve. I said it was not for sale but he could use it until he got a different one. We agreed that he would give me $20 to hold while he used the bow to be returned when I got the bow back.
One day he came over to practice shoot but had with him a different recurve bow than the one I had loaned him. I told him to bring back my bow and I would give him his money back. He explained that he traded bows with his uncle Greg. I was upset but did not make an issue of it.
About four years later I was going fishing with a buddy from work. He asked me to go into his parent’s house and grab his fishing pole from the closet just inside the door and there it was in the closet, my bow! I grabbed the fishing rod and asked my buddy about the bow and how he got it. He told me that his uncle Greg had given it to his younger brother. I asked if they shot it and he said no but that their mom had been telling them to get rid of it. I explained the history of the bow and asked if I could buy it back. They would not take any money and gave me the bow.
But now back to my first archery hunt. This year is now my 40th Wisconsin archery season. I wanted to relive some of the memories from that hunt so long ago. These past couple of years I have reshaped the grip and arrow shelf of that old bow. I made some wood arrows for it and shot it at a few shoots. It is a nice shooter and this past June I shot the 10th highest score out of hundreds of shooters at a large traditional archery shoot.
When I woke up today with a light rain ending and fog in the air, it was just like I remembered that September morning in 1972. I knew where I was going hunting, where I would park, and what bow I would carry. Today no doe ran in front of me as I parked, there were less leaves on the trees and it was a good 10 degrees cooler.
The land was no longer private but was now owned by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. That same field edge I sat on had alfalfa in it years ago but now has prairie grass and golden rod. The fence along the field edge has grown up a lot but I found a spot to put a stool (my knees are not that of a 12-year-old and kneeling on the ground was not going to happen this morning). I sat in the same general area as I had all those seasons ago.
Like that first hunt, much was the same. The sounds of waterfowl in the wetland behind me, the fog that had moved in were similar but I no longer wanted to get a shot at a deer more than anything. If a doe would have stepped into my shooting lane I would have taken the shot. Looking back now, I am glad one did not because to keep it like the first hunt I would have to return home empty handed.
The most rewarding part of that first hunt was the long walks in and out with my dad and brother, plus the excitement and anticipation of that hunt and future hunts. Today the long walk again was the best part with the memories of that first hunt, the others that followed and the anticipation of hunts yet to come.
Warden Paul’s Corner
With the fall hunting seasons in full swing, questions often arise about hunting from roads.
A highway is defined as the entire width between the boundary lines of every public road, but does not include private roads and driveways.
A roadway is defined as the portion of the highway which is improved or ordinarily used for vehicle travel, excluding the berm or shoulder.
A public road means those roads shown on the current, official county highway map available from the Department of Transportation.
Therefore, it is illegal to: Hunt within 50 feet from the roadway’s center, discharge a firearm, shoot an arrow from a bow, or a bolt from a crossbow, from or across a highway, or within 50 feet of the roadway’s center.
However, anyone hunting small game with a muzzleloading shotgun or shotgun loaded with shot size BB or smaller is exempt from these prohibitions if the roadway is unpaved (dirt, sand or gravel).
With the 2011 deer season nearly underway, hunters are reminded that during any gun or muzzleloader deer season (including the statewide Dec. 8-11 antlerless hunt), no person may hunt any game unless at least 50 percent of the person’s outer clothing above the waist is blaze orange. A hat, if worn, must also be at least 50 percent blaze orange. This blaze orange requirement includes archery deer and small game hunters. Waterfowl hunters (duck and goose) are exempt from wearing blaze orange clothing.
Faded or stained blaze orange clothing is unsafe and may not meet law requirements. Camoblaze which is 50 percent blaze orange is legal, but is not as visible as solid blaze orange clothing. 100 percent solid blaze orange clothing is recommended.
For questions or to report a violation contact Conservation Warden Paul Sickman at 715-684-2914, ext. 120.