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True conservationist is mourned by local sportsmen

Wild turkeys and crows share a moment at the Reiter feeders.

On Dec. 8, one of our true conservationists passed away. Greg Warner worked at the family business "Warner's Dock" for many years and retired in 2010.

Everyone in New Richmond and the surrounding area knew Greg and his friendly smile and laugh. I had met Greg when I first moved to New Richmond in 1970. He was one of the primary movers and shakers that got the Willow River Rod & Gun Club invigorated back in the late '70s.

He served as its president in 1980 and was instrumental in organizing the club's sport show for many years.

He was deeply committed to the St. Croix County Sportsman's Alliance and also served as president from 1987 through 1992. Most of the boat landings, public parking areas, the establishment of the Cylon Wildlife Area and numerous other projects in St. Croix County are the result of his dedication and determination.

He got me involved early on in the Wisconsin Conservation Congress. I consider Greg a mentor on all levels. He will be missed!

Backyard wildlife

2012 is fast coming to an end. A relatively mild fall is behind us and perhaps a snowier winter in 2013 may await us.

We need some colder weather now to make good ice for the ice-fisher-people to take advantage of ice fishing season. A few very cautious fishers have been seen venturing out on thin ice on several of the area lakes. I haven't heard any reports as yet of their success.

Pheasant season will close at the end of the month which leaves a few days to score a rooster or two. On a recent trip out to a WPA east of Star Prairie, a friend and I counted more than 120 trumpeter swans on the water and in adjacent fields. The return of these majestic birds is truly a biological success story.

Canada geese are still hanging around without the bitter cold to drive them farther south. Before Hatfield Lake froze, more than a thousand geese could be seen on the lake. It is surprising that more hunters don't take advantage of such a bountiful resource.

With the heavy snowfall, many more song birds are taking advantage of those who provide winter food for them. The goldfinches are making short work of the thistle seed while cardinals, chickadees, creepers and blue jays compete with the squirrels in my backyard over the sunflower seeds placed in a "squirrel proof" feeder a friend had given us after the bear made short work of our other feeders last spring.

It took our squirrels a little more than 15 minutes to find a way to breach the metal "squirrel preventer" on the support pole and make their way to their quarry. Sal and I feel that if the squirrels are smart enough to figure out the feeder, they deserve the seed. Squirrels need nourishment too. The juncos and mourning doves clean up the seed spread on the ground along with that dropped out of the feeders by the other birds.

Our crows show up each morning and make their presence known. They watch as I place their venison scraps on the platform feeder and return to the house. Crows are one of my favorite bird species. Once I'm out of sight they descend to the platform, grab a morsel and fly away to a safe spot to consume their bounty. They now expect this process to repeat itself each morning. If I am late, they vocalize until I appear to do their bidding.

With the last heavy snowfall, 17 wild turkeys now take advantage of our hospitality. They usually appear mid-morning and are very cautious as they approach the area of our feeders. They appear to be all young birds with perhaps a few adult hens leading the way.

A few small beards on the chests of the jakes (young male birds) indicate perhaps a couple of broods have joined forces. I have an unfilled fall turkey tag and have been threatening to fill it. It would be very easy to bushwhack one on their way to the feeder but Sal had forbidden it. She claims to know each of the birds by their first name. I forwarded their photo to my son and his reply was "mom is mean". It's best to keep peace in the family.

Lakes of Wisconsin

In the last column, I posed the question of why some lakes have the word "Lake" in front of the name and others have it after the name. Lake Mallalieu near Hudson compared to Cedar Lake near Star Prairie are examples of opposing names.

In trying to ferret out the truth, I checked the Internet and found several different ideas on the subject. Some internet experts felt it was just the luck of the draw. Others said that as a rule of thumb, if the lake was a natural lake, "Lake" would appear before the name as in Lake Superior while if it were manmade, the reverse would be true. This obviously isn't the case in all instances as Lake Mallalieu is a manmade lake formed by a dam on the Willow River.

The size of a lake also doesn't necessarily mean that "Lake" appears where it does. Using Lake Superior and Lake Mallalieu as offsetting examples disproves this notion. The most plausible explanation I could round up was a nationalistic one.

When the French fur traders came to North America, they named many lakes and as was their manner used adjectives after nouns with "Lake" being the noun. The description of the lake followed as the adjective. The Spanish had the same naming routine as the French while the Germans according to the internet gurus used "Lake" after the descriptive adjective. Very interesting.