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Tags, stamps and permits are collectable

A collection of Wisconsin trap tags for the years 1923-73 is pictured in this wall display.

Wisconsin has a rich history of providing hunting, fishing and outdoor recreational opportunities to its residents and visitors.

To become a participant in these opportunities, at times it is necessary to purchase certain licenses, tags, stamps and permits. To verify that one has done this to the satisfaction of certain law enforcement individuals, the state will issue physical evidence in the form of licenses, tags, stamps and permits in the name of the participant.

These, over the 162 years since Wisconsin was granted statehood, have become quite collectable and, at times, certain items have become valuable. Support items, such as pamphlets and documents describing these activities also fall into the collectable category. Collector clubs for these items have formed. Formal gatherings such as gun shows, conventions and rendezvous are convened to actively pursue these collector activities.

With this in mind, over the course of the last cold spell, I decided to spend some quality indoor time getting my collections of valuable and unique items organized, sorted and cataloged. While my idea of "valuable and unique" doesn't correspond exactly to that of my wife's, I moved ahead with the endeavor anyway and did a bit of investigational digging to determine what to keep and what to deposit in the proper receptacle.

Deer hunting back tags were first issued back in 1942. They were meant to be displayed on the middle of hunters' backs to identify them in case an infraction was committed. The back tags were numbered and each year came in a different color.

In 1983, the tags had a detachable lower section that could be used to tag a harvested deer. This lower "paper" tag replaced the metal deer tag that was equipped with a locking ball end that had been utilized up to that time.

The older metal deer tags are also collectable and had the year imprinted directly on the tag. The use of the detachable harvest tag continued through 1998 until the advent of the Automated License Issuance System, which now prints the license and tags when the license is purchased.

Also in 1963 a new wrinkle was added with the introduction of the Party Permit in selected deer units. Four hunters went together and applied for a permit to harvest an antlerless deer. A single cloth armband was issued to identify the hunter selected to do the harvesting. In 1980, the hunter choice permit eliminated the armband.

Federal duck stamps, first issued in 1934 to generate money to promote the acquisition of duck hunting habitat and further hunting opportunities, are needed to hunt ducks in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin also issues annual stamps which allow the harvest of a variety of species including trout (1978), migratory waterfowl (1978), great lakes trout and salmon (1982), turkey (1984) and pheasant (1991). Wildlife artists compete to have their rendition depicted on the annual stamps. Since the ALIS method of license distribution has gone into effect, a purchased stamp privilege is now indicated on the printed license.

If a person desired the real stamp, they must go to a DNR outlet to pick it up or send in a request for the real stamp. Money generated by the sale of these stamps goes into segregated funds and is used to promote that species. The purchase of these stamps is an excellent way of promoting wildlife while also doing a bit of investment strategy on the side.

With the purchase of the various licenses, tags, stamps and related items come the regulation pamphlets that are provided free by the vendor. These guides list the "do and don't" related to that particular pursuit. The older hunting and fishing pamphlets were originally based on a map-like folded sheet of paper and later a small booklet easily carried afield.

In 1991 the fishing regulation booklet changed to a larger pulp offering while the hunting regulation manual followed suit in 2002. The trout regulation book began in 1990 with the introduction of the category regulation system and depicts the trout stamp image chosen for that particular year. Regulation manuals are now issued for turkey, waterfowl, pheasant, snowmobiling, trapping, early goose, bear, boating and spearing/netting along with those pertaining to many other outdoor activities. Regulation booklets are also available in other languages. All are now considered collectable items.

Trapping in Wisconsin has always been a valued, traditional outdoor activity. From 1923 until 1972-73 dated trap tags were issued to raise revenue along with keeping track of the efforts of those dedicated trapping enthusiasts. These metal tags came in various shapes and were issued uninterrupted for a 50 year period.

In 1941 two different tags were issued - one in brass and the other in copper. The copper tag is the scarcer of the two because copper was needed in the war effort. The other year that a variation was stamped was in 1930. The two tags were in the form of an oval but the 1930 tag in the rarer version was stamped across the top and called the "1930 cross." I've seen this single tag sold on eBay for more than $300.

Regular issued licenses are also very interesting and collectable. A few of my friends have framed and mounted their own licenses going back several years. This license display is very appealing and adds a special ambiance to a den or family room!


Tom Kerr's

WPA of the Week

Neotropical Migrants

As the snow continues to fall around New Richmond, many of the birds that spend the summer here are wintering far south of us where it is warm and sunny. Often referred to as "neotropical migrants," these birds breed in North America during the spring and summer and then winter in Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

There are more than 200 species of neotropical migrant birds. Many of them depend on grassland nesting habitat that is found across the upper Midwest. Perhaps you have seen some of these species on Waterfowl Production Areas in St. Croix County. The open prairie grassland habitat, once found across large areas of the county, is preferred breeding habitat for several of these species that do not like to nest near trees.

One of the most visible of these species is the bobolink. The males have a distinctive yellow patch on their heads and a white shoulder patch on their wings.

In May and June, they were a common sight on the 75-acre St. Croix Prairie WPA, which is located about two miles west of New Richmond. A walk on the mile-and-a-half loop hiking trail on the WPA in May and June would give you a good opportunity to see the male bobolinks flying low over their territories singing their long, bubbly song.

The females will nest in the prairie grass on the WPA, often laying three to seven eggs which hatch 12-13 days later. The young grow quickly and will leave the nest 10 or 11 days after hatching.

A few days after leaving the nest, they are able to fly. The diversity of prairie grasses and forbs in the planted grassland on the WPA is a great place for these birds to find insects and seeds.

As late summer approaches many of these birds begin their migration to their southern wintering grounds. Bobolinks have a round trip migration of more than 12,000 miles to reach their South American wintering grounds and then return north to breed in the spring. To put that distance in perspective, it would be like driving from New Richmond to Orlando, Fla. and back four times.

Much of the WPA habitat management that we do in the winter, whether it is seeding prairie grasses and forbs over the snow or removing invasive trees from the prairie, will benefit many species of neotropical migrant birds as they return from their southern wintering grounds.

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