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Morel hunt leads to a fun fawn story

The morel hunters came upon a baby fawn, that was more than friendly1 / 2
Morel hunters found quite a haul during last week's efforts.2 / 2

Last week my friend, Lee Mork, who lives nearby stopped over to catch up on current events. Lee hunts and fishes whenever he can find the time and also knows a lot about outdoor events and the timing to take advantage of them at their peak.

Because of the late spring, many natural opportunities have been moved back and the timeframe to take advantage of them will be shortened.

Earlier Lee had presented us with some fresh watercress which is extremely succulent and I find superior to any fresh lettuce or leaf vegetable when made into a salad.

After catching up on the fishing news, Lee mentioned that the morel mushrooms have been popping and now was the time to look for a few. I have searched for them in the past but lately the "finding" has been few and far between.

We jumped in his car and drove a short distance to where we located a stand of dead and dying elm trees. Lee mentioned that one shouldn't waste one's time walking all over but zero in on the most likely place to find them. We immediately located our quarry and after about 15 minutes had gathered a couple dozen prime specimens. Lee certainly has an eye for them. He was able to spy them hiding in the tall grass at a rate of five to my one.

Moving a short distance to another stand of elms and oaks, we came upon a doe nursing its fawn. The doe bounded off, but the fawn, instead of lying down motionless ambled over to us and stood between Lee's legs. We tried to move back toward the parked vehicle but the fawn tottered after us. I picked up the fawn and carried it back the 30 yards to the place we first saw it. It wouldn't take no for an answer.

On the third try to put distance between us, I carried it back to the spot and gently shoved the fawn to the ground. It immediately went into the hiding mode with head down and remained completely motionless. We made it back to the car with the fawn waiting the return of its mother.

Lee said he had never seen a nursing fawn before. I had watched one at a distance only once when turkey hunting a few years back. This was the first time I had ever carried such a small deer. The eight pound animal must have been just a few days old and the beating of its heart was quite obvious on my fingertips. What an experience.

We were having company the next day. I sliced the morels into quarters and placed them in cold water overnight. Sally sautéed them in butter and we had them as condiments on our grilled brats for lunch. What an enjoyable addition to a delectable meal plus a story to add to the flavor.

Fishing trip

For four days in early June I join two retired friends who get together to fish, tell lies, act smart and rehash memories from our days when we were gainfully employed. We even find time to partake in a few Leinies Originals after a hard day slaving over a hot fishing pole. Besides Chuck, Roy and I solving most of the world's problems, we also found out that the guy who said "never discuss religion or politics" was wrong. No topic is off limits.

Our elected officials could take a page out of our playbook and hold their meetings not in Madison but on some secluded northern Wisconsin lake. This would be much more productive and much would get accomplished! Despite not completely agreeing on most controversial topics, we were able to come to a meeting of the minds. Mutual respect overcomes difference in opinion.

This year was a bit different than usual as the weather had more early May than June quality. Rain was in the forecast and conditions were less than optimal as we set out. The northern cooperated well but the walleyes were still in their winter doldrums and none made an appearance.

We kept a few northern for eating and after flaying out the "Y" bones and being fried up by "Chef" Roy, they were indistinguishable from the more sought after walleye. Fresh fish are a treat any day.

Our late spring was even more evident in northern Minnesota. There were lots of hooded mergansers and mallards on the lake but not a single chick was seen. There was no emergent vegetation evident as in years past. The water temperature according to our depth gauge was 53 degrees compared to 63 degrees registered in our lake near Osceola the day we left for our trip. Many of the residents on the lake still had their docks and lifts sitting on the shore awaiting more comfortable wading temperatures.

As usually neither rain nor snow, sleet or hail prevents us from having a great time when we get together. Roy often adds to his log documenting the events of our trip. A few minor mishaps such as forgotten keys and a failure to correctly identify which "dock" to bring the boat to only adds to the camaraderie. The four days flew by.

Plans are in the offing for a return trip up north later this year. We have fish to catch and further issues to address and resolve. A great time was had by all.

Wildlife surveys

I just received a hardcopy of "Wisconsin Wildlife Surveys April 2013."

These reports are published in April and August each 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. Data is accumulated and analyzed for small game, big game, waterfowl and nongame species in Wisconsin. It contains a wealth of information.

According to "Bird Banding Accomplishments 2012" authored by Rick Kahl, "Through the cooperative efforts of Wisconsin Depart-ment of Natural Resources biologists within the Bureaus of Wildlife Management, Endangered Resources and Science Services, a total of 11,625 birds were banded in Wisconsin in 2012 under the DNR Master Permit. Eighteen species of migratory birds including ducks, geese, swans, loons, osprey, bald eagles, woodcock, mourning doves, terns and song birds were banded at more than 234 sites across the state."

According to "Rare Carnivore Observations" by Jane Wiedenhoeft, Adrian Wydeven and Jean Bruner, "In 2012, four reports of possible wolverines and seven reports of possible Canada lynx were received. Two hundred thirty eight reports of confirmed, probable and possible cougars were received.

Twenty-two confirmed and probable reports likely represented three or four different cougars including one collared cougar."

St. Croix County had two possible reports of cougar over that year.