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Dick Ellis Blog:
7/16/2019
Kevin Wallenfang and his tournament winning, 46-inch musky just prior to release Fishing has been as hot as the weather for our circle of family and friends, and anglers participating in the 16th Annual Bob Ellis Row Trolling Classic. The Classic was started in 2003 by fishing guide Patricia Strutz to memorialize Bob Ellis, a legendary northern Wisconsin row troller inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2008 for his im...
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Gary Greene’s Memories from an Old Hunter….…#8

In my grade school library, I can remember more than one teacher scolding me for always reading the current issues of Outdoor Life and Field and Stream rather than a book. I read about trips to the pheasant fields of South Dakota, the flooded timbers of Arkansas, and the open sea and the ducks on the east coast. Those trips that I read and day dreamed about, all became a reality as an adult.  In my youth, those magazines promoted and magnified my love of the outdoors.  I truly believe that hunting magazines and the Milwaukee Journal Sports Section were influential in developing my reading skills. Today, teachers, and I was one of them, are working hard to find a subject that stirs the interest in children to develop reading skills. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, I found my passion back on the magazine shelves in the library at Franklin’s Country Dale Grade School.

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Waterfowl scene on an old saw blade by Lorraine Greene. (1995)

 

I didn’t know my father’s father very well. I hardly thought of him as a grandfather, just a distant relative that we only saw once every couple of years. I never received any Christmas or birthday presents from him. Then after one visit, after we had talked about hunting, he mailed me an old Outdoor Life magazine rolled up in a brown paper bag.  As I tore off the wrapping and unrolled the magazine, I could see that it had been read often and it had his name on the address label. There was no personal note attached. It was the only gift he ever gave me.

Another magazine that influenced me was Boy’s Life because of local author, Walter “Ben” Hunt (1888-1970) who wrote about four articles every issue.  Most of his articles dealt with hunting and Indian crafts, whittling, log cabin building, and other outdoor projects for a young boy.

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Lorraine Greene (age 92) with her carving from the late 1950's. (2016)


Because of Ben Hunt’s articles…………….

 I attempted to make my own bow and arrow shafts by using young tree branches and tying bundles together to straighten them out….they never did!

I used our giant, foot pedaled, workbench, grinding wheel to shape my own arrowheads out of common gravel, driveway stones. That wheel shook the garage and was so loud, I couldn’t hear myself think!

For my slingshot’s hunting, cat’s eye marbles, I sewed my own deerskin pouch.  From that same skin, I tried to make my own fur cap.  That project never materialized due to me repeatedly puncturing my fingers with the needles.

 I tanned my own squirrel skins and using those skins, I sewed my own arrow quiver. I lost arrows as they fell through the cracks in my quiver.

 I made a box trap from old boards and used chicken wire.  I checked it every morning for a week, after catching one opossum, I stored it away.  

During the spring flood of our river next to our home, my mom, dad and I collected old fence posts that came floating down the river.  We attempted to make for me a small log cabin (6’ X 6’). We got to about four logs high and ran out of logs, or possibly, it was just too much work.  With my cabin being the main resource, and using my crooked arrows as kindling, my mom built a real nice bonfire.

Only a handful of my outdoor related projects that I started from Ben Hunt’s columns ever made it to completion. Those failures never stopped me from trying because there was adventure in the trying. To this young boy, Ben Hunt was a celebrity.

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Gary and his mom on mother's day. (2013)

 

I researched Boy’s Life on line and found that it still included some articles on adventure and the environment. The emphasis seemed to be on more current trends such as buying guides for cars and MP3 players, and a large video game section. Boy’s Life may still be a good magazine. I ‘m just sad to say it isn’t the magazine of my childhood that I remember, but now, most things in life are not as I remember.

My mother (Lorraine) loved the outdoors. With my father, she started out hunting and fishing. In later years, still enjoying the experience, she put down the gun and just walked along. Before we could drive, my mom would take my friends Steve and Mike, and me squirrel hunting at Fred’s farm in Waterford. Through the years, she has continued to fish.  At age 90, she still was catching pumpkin seeds off our pier. Her fishing rod of choice was always her father’s three piece cane pole.

One afternoon, during the late 1950’s, my mom came home with a wooden box full of wood carving tools. She had gone to see Ben Hunt and purchased those knives from him in his Hales Corners log cabin that he still used as a shop. She had decided, she wanted to try wood carving and made a free standing bear that was quite good.  She masterfully carved an Indian’s (1960 term) bust on a wood plague from a picture on an old, 1949 postcard.  My mother actually was a gifted artist. For many years, my mom went on to sell her primitive paintings of the outdoors at numerous art fairs. Most of her paintings were on old saws and old mink stretch boards. Each painting, in some format, depicted waterfowl, deer, and/or pheasants.  Off in one corner in her paintings, in some field, there usually was a young boy with gun in hand, following his English Springer Spaniel. To my mom, that boy with the gun was always me. Oh and of course, that carved Indian plague still hangs on my wall along with many of my mom’s paintings.