KAMO August, 2020 Newsletter
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Hello to all KAMO members and Friends,
This is Mark Walters with my monthly part of The Newsletter. Folks as in the past five months, I simply don’t know what to say. I see our organization slipping away simply because we cannot do what we annually do with our youth in the outdoors.
Our annual “Joe” deer hunt is not looking good but we are in the highest of hopes that in the next two weeks we hear something positive, so that we can hold it. All of us have put years of our lives into making this organization what it is and I am asking you to please hang in
there. When Covid is past we will need each and everyone of you to get KAMO back on its feet.
I myself am getting into my truck in about two minutes for a duck and goose hunting trip that will also include walleye fishing.
I wish you all a great day!
The pandemic has been a major wrench in other outdoor groupâs works, not just ours.
Two La Crosse area outdoor groups – Friends of the Upper Mississippi (FUM) and the North American Squirrel Association (nasa), for example, have been very quiet and havenât been meeting that I’ve heard.
The nasa group offers pontoon rides on Lake Onalaska to the local handicapped and elderly populations. The volume of group pontoon trips on the lake has been around 350 between May and September. Yes, you read that right – 350. This year no rides have been offered at all.
Hunters education internet field day classes are being offered sporadically throughout the state. The demand for the classes is quite high at a time when many instructors have been reluctant to teach them. I was one of those reluctant instructors, but changed my mind. Only two classes were offered in La Crosse County last year and I wasn’t an instructor in either of them. Another year of scarce classes would put us in a deeper hole. Kids wouldn’t be able to trap shoot or hunt without supervision.
Our class used the Brice Prairie Conservation Association’s cabin in Onalaska as a place for parents to wait and for all to use the bathroom. The class was run outdoors. The cabin hadn’t been opened since December and the building just reeked. This building and the grounds around it are often the site of meetings, bird/ waterfowl house construction, and other conservation projects, but the BPCA has been in the same boat we have been in activity wise.
While setting up equipment outside for the morning class, a man came by with his dog. It turned out to be an old friend who purposely detoured to talk to me and tell me that he is retiring in October and wants to help KAMO out. This is not the first time he has mentioned this and he went out of his way to tell me this time. His message was a most welcome one right now.
Our group taught two safety classes in one day under condensed Covid protocol. Participants came to Onalaska from as far away as Wisconsin Rapids, Madison, and Hudson to attend our classes because ours was actually the closest one offered. The students from the cancelled spring class comprised 15 of the 24 morning class. Some parents reported having searched for a hunter safety class for their child since 2018.
What is going on here? High school trap leagues have taken off. The pandemic has rekindled interest in outdoor recreation and entire families are even taking Hunter’s Safety together. More people than ever are getting into hunting for the first time while others are returning to it. Some are preparing for a hunting trip to some state that requires the certificate.
People who have spent a lifetime selling fishing tackle, camping and backpacking equipment, R.V.s, canoes, kayaks, bicycles, firearms, and other outdoor equipment say they have never witnessed a demand for outdoor equipment like there has been in 2020.
So what does this mean for our group?
There should be a high demand for our skills and activities in the future. When it becomes safer to interact, people will still be eager for natural activities.
If we can ride out this magnum storm we are in, KAMO could enjoy easier sailing ahead. Perhaps it will be easier to get new mentors? As Mark stated above, please be patient about your chapterâs future prospects.
Chapter Reports –
Baraboo – Rick reports that the DNR has suspended all LTH activity for the remainder of 2020. This means that a December group hunt as we usually operate will not be possible. Greg Wagner got some kids out canoeing and camping. Jon Hilmer has had kids stop by his rental business and do projects.
Beaver Dam – The group is hoping to meet on September 16th and is looking at a incorporating their chapter on January 1st. If you are looking for an enthusiastic perspective on the future, look no further than these individuals.
They are poised for an amazing start.
Coulee – Mentors in the La Crosse area have been pretty quiet. As mentioned above, Mike has been running some internet field days. The good news there is that these shortened classes work! Additionally, we are certifying more instructors (more people are becoming interested in being one) and some of our students could be future kamokids.
It has been a pleasure to watch birds staging in the area on their way south. Egrets and nighthawks have been present in god numbers in the evenings.
Northwoods – Due to Covid and group outing protocols changing weekly, it was decided for everyone’s safety to cancel our October pheasant shoot.
We will try to hold a meeting in December for some direction as to where to go from here and to elect a new president and vice-president for 2021.
Yellow River – Our chapter held elections 8/31/20, Dana Anderson stepped down as Treasurer and Mike Merkel will take over that role, April Onsager has stepped down as Secretary and Brad Allen will take over until a replacement steps in. President and Vice President roles will continue as is with Brad and Randy Dragt. We will be researching and implementing a fundraising raffle for next year, but are going to look into doing destination type prizes (hunting, fishing, cabin stay type things) as opposed to a traditional gun raffle. We are all looking forward to brighter days ahead!
Insurance – The market has tightened during the pandemic and our agent thinks now is a poor time to search the market for a policy offering more coverage at a reasonable value. If anyone has strong feelings about this, we can talk about it.