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Will Maines


Trails & Tales


Will Maines is a native of the North Woods and an avid outdoorsman.
He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


Winter cold is all relative
By Will Maines

I HAVE LIVED in this cold north Wisconsin country all my life, and seldom have I ever seen a winter which so delights in cold temperatures and continuous snowfall.

That is not to say I haven’t seen worse, I have. I can think of other winters, mostly back in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s that were tougher than this one.

It would be hard to match the year I came home from college for semester break and shoveled roofs to make enough beer money to last out the second semester.

One of my shoveling jobs was at Molgaard’s restaurant

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 9:51 AM
 
It’s good news week
By Will Maines

DOES ANYONE remember a 1966 song entitled, “It’s Good News Week?” How about that unforgettable ’60s group, the inimitable Hedgehoppers Anonymous?

Ah, didn’t think so, but I thought of them this week, or at least I remembered the song. It rose to No. 3 on the Chicago charts but didn’t get anywhere on the Billboard Hot 100 as it was banned in several areas of the country. However, it did chart No. 5 on the United Kingdom, or as they were otherwise known, British charts.

Okay, ’60s music trivia lesson is now concluded. The purpose of the lesson,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:48 AM
 
Fewer birds eat more seeds
By Will Maines

SAY WHAT YOU will about the weather, but there is no doubt this winter is for the birds — in more ways than one.

Like many people of north Wisconsin, my wife and I have enjoyed feeding birds during the winter months ever since we built our house in 1980. In all that time I do not believe I have ever seen a winter when the birds at our feeders have eaten so much, so fast.

And the thing is it’s a lot fewer birds doing the eating than in a normal winter.

From what I’ve heard we’re not the only people seeing fewer birds and fewer species of birds

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 12:10 PM
 
We nearly killed the Rambler
By Will Maines

ALTHOUGH I HAVE  spent my entire life calling the north country of Wisconsin home, I must admit I did spend five of the best years of my life calling the campus of Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire my home away from home.

Eau Claire and the surrounding area provided me with a host of pleasant memories, with only a few exceptions like an educational psychology course and a Spanish 101 course, both of which I had to take but had no interest in whatsoever.

Many of my best memories came from prowling around the woods and waters of Eau Claire and Chippewa counties where the trout were large and both small and big game were plentiful.

Last weekend I prowled around one of my favorite areas from that time;

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 12:10 PM
 
Amen and pass the whiskey
By Will Maines

I AM NOT one given to complaining, but dadgum it, it is cold outside. Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but it seems like 10 below is the equivalent of 35 below when I was a teenager. Whatever the case, I’m liking this below zero stuff less and less each winter.

That said, I continue to get outside doing the things I’ve always done, just with a little more complaining to go with it.

Last weekend was a nice reprieve, and I took advantage of it to get in a long ski on Saturday, about a half-Birkie, which is really good for me at this stage of winter.

This week may be a different story, at least until Saturday when things are supposed to warm up a little.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 9:49 AM
 
Basketball and gravy don’t mix
By Will Maines

THE DAY IS once again upon us when kids around the world will tear into brightly wrapped packages to get at the toys Santa has delivered to them for Christmas.

Very soon after all those toys are opened, if history is a guide, the kids that receive them will begin to do the darndest things with them.

I was a kid during a time in north Wisconsin when many families, including mine, were lucky to have two nickels to rub together, but still I could always count on a toy and a few other presents at Christmas.

The things I would always find under the Christmas tree

Monday, December 23, 2013 11:56 AM
 
Just a little bit disoriented
By Will Maines

HAVING SPENT ALL my life wandering the woods of north Wisconsin, I have, as you might expect, sometimes found myself a little bit disoriented on an outdoor expedition.

It is one thing to walk through a favorite chunk of woods on a sunny October afternoon when every knoll, every valley and every ridgeline is as familiar as the back of your hand, and quite another to plod across that same terrain when heavy snow and dark, gray clouds make it look like a featureless crater of the moon.

Last Saturday as I skied through a snow-laden pine thicket I thought of a Christmas Day

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 12:59 PM
 
Thank goodness winter is early
By Will Maines

IT’S FUNNY HOW this snow and cold thing works.

For the past several years when the first snows and days of below zero weather hit north Wisconsin, I start thinking I dislike both of those conditions more and more.

Generally I start thinking that I’m getting too darned old to put up with shoveling and shivering for six months every winter, but then when it does snow I put on my skis and remember why it is I still like winter.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 12:33 PM
 
One season ends, another begins
By Will Maines

I HAVE A saying that whenever a season ends, another begins, which is pretty close to another saying that whenever one door closes, another opens up.

Sunday marked the last day of Wisconsin’s gun deer season, and the last two hours of the afternoon found me being a part of the finale.

But already the previous day I had found myself beginning a new season as for the first time this year I climbed into a groomer and packed the Razorback Ridges trails for cross-country skiing.

Even as the opening day of deer season came with high hopes,

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 11:06 AM
 
Chocolate for bait just a myth
By Will Maines

BABY, IT’S COLD outside wasn’t just the title of a favorite winter song last Saturday, it was my mantra as the first hours of deer season played out with a thermometer struggling to get out of single digits and a wind that seldom dropped below double digits.

It was six degrees on my truck thermometer when I opened the door to step into the frozen tundra, and after a brisk walk to my stand I wrapped myself from toes to chin in a thick quilt as soon as I sat down in my open air ground blind.

My little wood stove and a supply of maple and oak chunks

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 11:49 AM
 
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