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Wisconsin offers unlimited recreational opportunities

Wisconsin travel destinations are some of the best kept secrets around. While some folks view vacations as a trip to far and exotic places, we really only have to look within our state to experience some really novel opportunities. Why put up with the hassle of airport terminals and long waits in line or spending days traveling around the county when, with a bit of planning, a drive of six hours or less can put you and your family in a prime vacation location. A day here and a short drive there can take you on tour of the state that will rival any canned cruise or trip abroad and at a fraction of the cost.

For a family on a limited budget, Wisconsin has it all. An enterprising couple or family can set up a "Wisconsin Bucket List" which could include a trip to all of Wisconsin's 47 state parks stretched over several years. Wisconsin also has 41 state trails to hike or bike and 14 state Forests and six State Recreation Areas to visit. All offer unique active or passive recreation or cultural opportunities. State fish hatcheries also offer scheduled tours which are extremely informative. There is something for everyone in Wisconsin.

Several fun travel trips can be planned with the kids and/or grandkids. Many of our state's cities, towns and businesses have large statues and other physical representations that denote some positive attribute of the area. A few examples that immediately come to mind are the large musky at the Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, the statues of Curly and Vince at Lambeau Stadium in Green Bay and the world's largest six pack in La Crosse. A list of 100 or more could be compiled easily depending on the subject or category and a route could be mapped out covering a section of the state for visits. A photo of the family in front of each selected site and a short excursion of the location would add proof of the visit to be checked off the list plus a novel addition to the photo album.

Every village, city and town in Wisconsin has some sort of local celebration and with a little bit of time spent on the internet, a list of these could be compiled to lay out a plan of attack, moving between communities, experiencing the best they have to offer. Each of the 72 counties in Wisconsin will have a county fair sometime during the year so that also can be thrown into the mix. A seasonal spin can also be added to take advantage of fall and winter recreational opportunities along with hunting and fishing outings. Wisconsin has over 10,000 lakes and our lakes even have fish. Countless golf courses are scattered everywhere, so setting up a golf escape can be quite easy.

We have always been a strong supporter of Wisconsin athletics and our state has the best to offer in team sports at the college and professional levels. Whether the team is doing well or not so well makes little difference to a Wisconsin fan. Attending a game at each of Lambeau Field, Miller Park and Camp Randall is mandatory if you are to be considered a true Cheesehead. Watching Aaron Rodgers on his quest to break all the football records of that other guy, cheering on your favorite sausage at the Sausage Races during a Brewers game or participating in the fifth quarter after a Badger win is something every Wisconsin resident should experience at least once before they die. The term "Jump Around" puts a whole new prospective on fan interaction.

Over the last three weeks Sal and I have made a couple of short trips to two different sections of the state. On a recent five day trip to visit our son and his family, we tailgated at Miller Park and watched the Brewers trounce the Pirates, visited the Milwaukee County Zoo, which is truly a phenomenal zoo and spent a day at the Renaissance Festival in Bristol, where people watching was as entertaining as the scheduled events and displays. Spending time with Matt, Angela, Garrin, Brady and Hadley was the highlight of the trip however. Last week, we took the opportunity to attend the Green Bay Packer's shareholders meeting at Lambeau Field with a couple of friends. We spent time at Curly's Restaurant, toured Lambeau and left several dollars at the Packer Pro Shop. Judging by the size of the shopping bags in the back of the car, deciding on birthday and Christmas presents this year shouldn't be a problem. A day trip up the west side and back the east side of Door County, capped off the three day outing which only whet our appetite for a more extending return trip to such a beautiful area.

A family can travel from Douglas County in the northwest to Kenosha County in the southeast or from Grant County in the southwest to Forest County in the northeast and never leave Wisconsin. There are so many interesting places in Wisconsin to visit and so little time!

Wisconsin Wildlife Surveys April 2012

(Part 3)

"Wisconsin Wildlife Surveys April 2012" are published twice a year and contain information and data from a variety of sources over the previous six month period. It is made possible from Pittman-Robertson funding and contains some valuable data.

Each year the DNR compiles a "Winter Severity Index" based on snowfall and temperatures across the northern part of the state. Last year complete reports were tabulated at 34 locations and according to Christopher Jacques, the region-wide winter of 2011-2012 was rated as mild and the third mildest since 1960 scoring 21.5 (SD=9) compared to a 30 year average of 52 (SD=27). The winters of 1986-87 and 1997-98 ranked milder over that time period.

According to Brian Dhuey and Jes Rees the "Gun Deer Hunting Questionnaire" provided information on the 2011 gun deer season that indicated active hunters participated in 3.2 million days of hunter recreation. Hunter days afield did not differ significantly from 2010 levels. Gun deer hunters averaged 5.3 days afield with the majority of hunting taking place on private lands (72%). Thirty-eight percent of the respondents who actively hunted in 2011 harvested a deer.

In an online "Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey" Brian and Jes reported that 7,700 reported hunting trips by both archery and gun hunters, encompassing 43,000 observation hours in 2011 averaged seeing 0.32 deer per hunting hour statewide. This included all 72 counties and 127 of the 139 deer management units in the state. This varied from 0.45 deer seen in the southern farmland to 0.21 in the northern forest region per hour. Beside deer, the most frequently observed species of wildlife was turkey followed by ruffed grouse. Hundreds of trail camera photos were also sent in and will help in understanding the movements and distribution of several animal species.

Robert Roiley noted in the "White-tailed Deer Population Status Report" that the statewide posthunt white-tailed deer population estimate for 2011 was approximately 1,149,900. This was 45% above the statewide goal of approximately 794,200. Posthunt 2011 population estimates were more than 20% below goal in 6 deer management units while in 69 units they were more than 20% above goal. With a harvest of approximately 150,000 adult bucks (plus 2% from 2010), but only 193,900 antlerless deer (Plus 5% from 2010), the statewide posthunt 2011 population estimate was essentially unchanged from 2010.