Weather Forecast


Wiltz: Wisconsin deer hunting full of problems

This past year, in their infinite wisdom, Wisconsin legislators eliminated the minimum age for mentored deer hunting licenses in their state. As a result, 1814 of these licenses went to nine-year-olds and under. Fifty two of these licenses went to children who were five or younger, including 10 who were under a year in age!

I'm guessing that some Wisconsin deer stands/blinds must now be equipped with cribs and bottle warmers. Were these very youthful hunters loading their camouflage diapers as dad loaded their rifles? Will masking scents handle baby powder? You don't suppose that dad would shoot his kid's deer?

What does a five-year-old have to look forward to hunting-wise? Does a five-year-old have any concept of the damage a deer rifle can do?

Wisconsin has a second deer hunt-related problem. As of this current season, Wisconsin deer hunters no longer tag their deer. Upon application, deer hunters receive a number. When their deer is killed, they have until 5 p.m. the following day to register their kill. That's it.

What would stop a poacher from processing his/her deer, not calling in, and going out and taking another deer? It appears to me that the new format enables poaching. Most states are making it tougher on poachers, as they should.

As evidenced by the October Mitchell gun show, there is a link between gun collecting and coin collecting. The two run hand in hand with collectors who have a strong appetite for 20th Century Americana. I have an interest in both, with vintage Colts, Winchesters, and early 20th Century American coins holding my primary fascination.

Today the computer serves this desire to collect and acquire. This past year I've spent hundreds of hours on the computer in an attempt to assemble a nice collection of Liberty Standing Quarters (1916-1930), a coin I consider to be America's most beautiful. Modern digital cameras have all but taken the guesswork out of online bidding. When I'm bidding on a Model 86 Winchester or a 1921 quarter, I know that an entire world of collectors is involved. A gun or coin is worth what bidders will pay, and careful record keeping will yield accurate insight into current values.

Firearms wise, the Rock Island Auction Company is a class operation. I find their presence comforting. Should I pass on and leave family with the task of liquidating my firearms collection, a call to Rock Island will serve them well.

I recently had a bidding "moment of madness" experience that was borderline stressful. I know it was stressful for Betsy, and I won't do that to her again. It began when RIAC sent me a three-volume catalog for its December 2017 auction. The accurate descriptions, close-up color photography, and accurate appraisals were highly professional. They accept computer bids, sealed bids, and telephone bids, and they keep the bidder informed as to his/her bidding status. One can also lower or cancel bids already submitted.

I decided to peruse the catalogs and see if any guns interested me. My plan was simple. I'd submit some low bids and hope that one or two might "slip through the cracks" and fall my way. As it turned out, I got a little carried away. I bid on 29 Colts, Winchesters, Marlins, Remingtons, and Krags for a total in excess of $30,000! The stressful part? I don't have $30,000! Though I kept telling Betsy that we probably wouldn't win any of the bids, she was justifiably upset. What if I was wrong? What if the guns weren't worth as much as I thought?

As it turned out, only one of my bids was successful. You can bet I breathed a sigh of relief. I did acquire the gun I wanted most, a Krag carbine in excellent condition. I have always envisioned this piece as a Teddy Roosevelt "Rough Rider" gun.

On the internet, I pulled up some actual photos from the Spanish-American War. I learned that two African-American regiments accompanied Roosevelt up San Juan Hill. In looking over the photos, it appears that the black soldiers were armed with archaic .45-70 Springfield trapdoor rifles while the Rough Riders carried the slick, smokeless powder Springfield Krag carbines. I feel fortunate to own examples of both historic rifles.

It bothers me that those brave, patriotic black soldiers, as well as all the Spanish-American War volunteers, were armed with the inferior weapons while Col. Roosevelt's cavalry carried the Krags. Think about it. A smoky cloud from a fired .45-70 black powder cartridge revealed a soldier's position to the enemy. The Krag's tenure as our U.S. military rifle was short lived ... 1892-1903 to be exact.

See you next week.