2016 and beyond

When you are a self-employed career writer, what you do to give yourself an annual vacation is do a year in review column.

This career started in ‘89, I have not missed my Friday deadline yet and on this “vacation” I fell through the ice twice and got my left hand caught in a 330 body grip trap a long way (literally two hours away) from the road.

So instead of monthly highlights I will just do seasonal high points. The ice season is my favorite and someday may be my death. No matter what, I am always pulled to the ice - it may be on cross country skis, ice skates, chest waders or heavy winter boots.

Between January and sometime in March I camp on the ice throughout Wisconsin at least five separate times. I always fish and sometimes coyote hunt. The challenge of the cold and of staying on top of the ice give me an incredible thrill.

A typical example would be three days on Mississippi River backwaters, sometimes alone, sometimes not. Sometimes I use a tent, sometimes I don’t. The trips where I get back to the truck and I have either whacked a coyote or caught some nice fish are incredibly rewarding.

Something that the average person would find hard to understand is, after three days of not talking to anyone and never being too warm, getting in my truck and turning on the heat and the radio. It is incredible to feel the body warm up.

My last trip last winter I took part in an incredible ice rescue of an ice fisherman that fell through three times on very thin ice on the Mississippi River.

If Jeff Neitzel, Ross Moll and myself had not pulled that fella from Viola out three times he would have been dead.

KAMO stands for Kids And Mentors Outdoors (www.kamokids.org). I am the president and founder. You the readers of this column and I started KAMO back in 2007. We give kids in seven different parts of Wisconsin opportunities to take part in one-on-one outdoor activities and group events. KAMO eats up 10-15 hours of my week each week of the year and is worth my time.

I am a single parent raising my daughter, Selina (50 percent of the time) to enjoy the outdoors, to be active, smart and live healthy.

Last winter, Selina volunteered at the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge and loved it.

Last summer Selina worked full time at NNWR and is now thinking very seriously about becoming a wildlife biologist and working in the federal wildlife refuge system as an adult.

Last summer, Selina tore the webbing on her left knee and that has been a big issue for Selina, myself and her mom.

After an MRI it was determined that rather than a very serious surgery, physical therapy might be the answer. All three of us are trying to fix that knee.

Canada 2016! Selina is my number 1 fishing partner on that trip. Last year on the second to last day, Selina caught four northern pike over 35 inches and one of them hit 40.25, which was her first 40.

Too bad for Selina that papa caught a 40.75 that same day and won the big gator bet for the week.

Something that very few people can relate to about this way of life but I will make it easier for you to understand is re-supply, packing and unpacking. I am never done.

Think about when you go on a three-day or seven-day outdoor adventure. Now do that 40 times a year, sell advertising two days a month, help run KAMO, do the trips, hobby farm, date and most importantly spend every second you can with your soon to be 16-year-old daughter.

I am so used to being in an almost constant motion and thinking phase, that it is impossible to think about retiring. In reality, unless something changes dramatically, I will be writing this column at least another 17 years, which in the end would make it a 45-year career.

Thanks for keeping me employed!


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