Trophies’ not the focus of the new Wall of Fame

Correspondent

Madison  There’s more to deer hunting than Boone and Crockett,
and Pope and Young bucks. At least that’s what some members of
Wisconsin’s Conservation Congress (CC) and Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) believe. And so do most nonhunters.

These CC and DNR members also believe some hunters, for example,
have left hunting because of ridicule, criticism, and sarcasm they
received when they went to register a doe or jake.

Several CC and DNR personnel, along with DNR chief warden Randy
Stark, have been discussing ways of recognizing ordinary hunters,
anglers, and trappers doing ordinary things, such as catching a
mess of bluegills for supper or shooting a nubbin buck for a
month’s supply of venison burgers.

Larry Bonde, Manitowoc County CC representative, and Bill
Engfer, DNR director of recreation enforcement and education, and
other members of a congress subcommittee, have dubbed this
initiative the Wall of Fame.

The fame wall will mimic, in some ways, the DNR’s Wall of Shame
a display and program that shows outdoors enthusiasts who attend
deer and turkey expos the ugly side of hunting and the greed of
hunting. But unlike the Wall of Shame, which features deer poached
or otherwise taken illegally, the Wall of Fame is all about
ordinary hunters, anglers, and trappers doing things that give them
enjoyment. It’s also about not being competitive.

Bonde and Engfer envision, if the idea is accepted by the entire
CC and the DNR, the Wall of Fame being featured beside the Wall of
Shame at outdoors shows. On the fame wall will be several small
mounts of fish, small game, furbearers, and deer. Photographs of
successful, happy hunters, anglers, and trappers will be featured,
along with summaries of their days of enjoying outdoors
experiences.

People like Engfer will sort through photographs and stories and
find what they believe exemplifies hunting, fishing, and trapping
for most outdoors enthusiasts.

Those who visit the shows will receive more literature about the
Wall of Fame, along with a facsimile of the wall, featured
photographs, and stories. Cooking recipe cards will be available,
too, so people can discover easy ways to utilize what they take
home from fields, forests, and waters.

If the idea catches on, there could be county and conservation
club walls, too.

Why all this effort?

“The Wall of Shame highlights the big and ugly side of hunting,”
Bonde said. “The Wall of Fame will show people what normally
happens when someone hunts deer or fishes or traps.”

The subcommittee has settled on several goals for the Wall of
Fame. They are:

To change the attitude that unless you take a trophy, you have
not had a good outdoors experience;

To bring hunters and anglers back into an outdoors activity they
left;

To recruit those considered to be nontraditional, but who want
to experience the outdoors in ways other than hunting, fishing, and
trapping;

To retain current outdoors enthusiasts by removing the pressure
to take trophies, and;

To get youth involved in hunting, fishing, and trapping by
showing them the benefits of these outdoors experiences.

The subcommittee, including Bill Engfer and Robert Stroess, of
the DNR; and Jon Edelblute, Larry Bonde, and Tim Carter, of the
Conservation Congress; believe the displays will show
observers:

The memories these outdoors activities create;

The positive social aspects of enjoying outdoors activities as
members of a group;

The health and fitness benefits of outdoors activities;

The history, culture and heritage of hunting, fishing, and
trapping;

The rewards from assisting wildlife and fisheries managers in
restoring healthy ecosystems.

Bonde had an experience, while hunting turkeys this past spring,
which solidified his belief that there’s a need to change the
attitudes of some hunters regarding the importance of taking only
trophies.

“I’m not much of a turkey hunter yet, but I wanted to try to
kill a bird as an archer,” Bonde said. “I had a lot of beautiful
birds at 30 yards or less when I hunted. One day I had 17 jakes and
toms near my stand but I couldn’t get a shot. I told my wife I was
taking my shotgun along the last day and would put shells in the
gun at 8 a.m. Four jakes came in and I shot one at 8:09 a.m. When I
went to register the turkey, a kid at the station looked at me and
said, You shot a jake.’ This kid was clueless of my challenge and
he was there criticizing me. This is the mentality some youngsters
and adults are getting from the media, which is usually about big
antlers, long spurs, inches and pounds.”

Bonde and Engfer insist they, the subcommittee, and the program
will not be about being against trophy hunting.

“We shouldn’t be negative about someone who wants to hunt to
take a trophy, but trophy hunters need to understand there is
nothing wrong with shooting a doe, either,” Engfer said. “Some
businesses, like Gander Mountain, are going after the identical
thing we’re talking about. They know that if they cater only to the
trophy hunter, they’re out of business. We have to get rid of
talking down to someone who has just killed a spike buck. We should
be promoting that, and we should be congratulating these hunters,
too.”

Engfer believes this experience is about creating a memory of a
hunt, a fishing trip, or running a trap line.

“When I grew up, being in the outdoors was more of a family
activity,” Engfer said. “It was a memory of a first deer, a first
fish and who took us hunting and fishing. If you take away
everything someone has, they still have memories. This is about
creating memories.”

Wisconsin’s conservation wardens have been asked to look for
interesting examples of people enjoying the outdoors.

Bonde believes that media and television hunting shows that
feature only the biggest of the herd could come back to bite
hunters.

“In general, the nonhunting public is supportive of hunting,
even though most people don’t hunt,” Bonde said. “But ask them
about trophy hunting and acceptance drops like a ton of
bricks.”

At a time when money is scarce, Bonde hopes to get help from
state and national conservation groups to secure funding for this
project.

Bonde hopes to have at least one question on the spring hearing
questionnaire in 2004 relating to this initiative.

“If groups and the public accept the idea, then we can get more
local fame walls on display around the state and people are more
likely to see someone they know on the wall. And Wisconsin’s hunter
education program might get involved in presenting some of these
ideas during classes,” Bonde said.

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