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'Outdoor Happenings': Eight years and counting

Lola guards her stash of dog treats.

It was back in February of 2005 when the first Outdoor Happenings column appeared. Jeff Holmquist, who was and still is editor of the New Richmond News, Chet McCarty, who was the manager of the St. Croix Wetlands Management District (SCWMD) at that time, and I met to formulate an outdoor column for the paper.

The idea was to solicit various individuals to write columns on pertinent outdoor subjects that would be of local interest. We brainstormed and came up with a few subject ideas and were able to get input from a few individuals, but after a time the ideas dried up and we were faced with the dilemma of discontinuing the column.

Ever since I was a youth, I had written a journal which documented outdoor activities, which included everything I felt was important. I decided to take over the writing of the column as a replacement to my journal.

We decided to submit a column every other week until the ideas or subject matter dried up. Current SCWMD Manager Tom Kerr and DNR warden Paul Sickman contributed periodically with timely subject input. Tom and Paul's contributions are now separate columns.

Amazingly, over the last eight years, there was never a lack of subject matter upon which to address. Most times I have to limit the length of the column to keep within the parameters that have been agreed upon. There is always interesting "Outdoor Happenings" to write about!

Going forward, I would like to continue to examine the current outdoor issues and present them in a fair and concise manner. I do have some very deep seated opinions and convictions and I am open to any suggestions on subjects to address in this column.

My wife, Sal, proofreads all I write and keeps me focused. I really enjoy writing this column and will continue to have fun doing so as long as Jeff allows me the opportunity. As I mentioned in one of my earlier submissions, if it is of an outdoor nature and you don't read about it in this column, it didn't happen!


Over my entire life, we have always had a dog and as many as four when certain situations have come together. We have never purchased one outright but, in the majority of cases, have been the recipient of many that have either showed up at our door or were hand me downs.

Only three were purebreds. Jake was a Chesapeake Bay retriever who we received from a good friend, Ollie was a Jack Russell Terrier that was my mother-in--law's dog and the third is Tyson, who was my son's golden lab.

All except two were hunting dogs or thought they were. Some of the best hunting dogs are really mixed breeds where at times the best genetic combinations manifest themselves. Each of our dogs was and is a valued member of our family.

My son Matt and his family are in the process of moving to North Carolina and needed a caretaker for their 12-year-old boxer mix. Her name is Lola and she was already accepted by our other two dogs, Xena and Tyson, both 10 year olds and quite laid back.

We have now had Lola for a month. She was a rescue dog from Chicago who had been a member of my son's family since she was a puppy. At her age she has developed a bit of arthritis, which makes it necessary for her to be helped up the stairs and to be lifted into the back of the truck on her frequent runs.

With the interaction of our other two dogs, she appears to be rejuvenated at times but does spend a lot of time napping in her oversized dog bed that is situated at the foot of our bed. She also is a hoarder and has taken up the habit of stealing our other dog's chew treats and bringing them back to her bed where she protects them as her private possessions. She has fit in perfectly.

Winter Ecology Walk

On Saturday, Jan. 19, the Friends of the St. Croix Wetland Management District and the St. Croix Wetland Management District will be sponsoring a Winter Walk and free program on Oak Ridge Waterfowl Production Area (WPA) from 10 a.m. until noon. Free hot chocolate will be available at the end of the walk.

Join them as they discover the sights and sounds of nature and the history and management of this WPA. Meet at the gate on the north end of Oak Ridge WPA on the south side of County Road H about two miles east of Star Prairie. RSVP at 715-246-7784, ext. 111. Bring the kids and have a great time in the outdoors.


Phenology is defined as the study of periodic life-cycle events in nature that are influenced by climate and seasonal changes.

I recently received a calendar of Wisconsin Wildlife Phenology through an ongoing partnership between the Aldo Leopold Foundation, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Xerxes Society for Integrated Conservation, the UW-Madison College of Agriculture Studies, and the UW-Extension Environmental Resources Center.

This informative calendar has been claimed by my wife as her personal scheduling calendar and it now hangs in a prominent place on our kitchen wall. Beside some phenomenal wildlife photographs it also contains phenology wildlife facts set throughout the monthly date boxes.

According to information provided, the dates in the calendar correspond to data collected primarily in southern Wisconsin. "Hopkins Law" states that phenological events vary at a rate of one day for each 15 minutes of latitude, 1.25 days for each degree of longitude and one day for each 100 feet of altitude. This means that there is approximately a 22-day difference between southern and northern Wisconsin. There is also an approximate 10-day difference between the east and west portions of the state due to Lake Michigan's cooling effect.

I find the east/west state difference a bit confusing because the lake effect would cool in the spring/summer but warm in the fall and winter. Using the above information, however, I plan on adding some phenology to our outdoor calendar.

Making an executive decision, I will add 10 days to the date listed on the official Wildlife Phenology calendar to localize the events to our area. This should provide a bit of interesting outdoor information to our upcoming events calendar.