River Currents

by Free Speech on February 5, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
by Gary Engberg
©2010 Gary Engberg Outdoors

Enjoy the Outdoors, Even in Winter

Watching eagles at the Overlook on the Wisconsin River at Sauk City, WI

I have a friend who I regularly talk to and sometimes see during the week with problems and glitches with my computer, website, or something technical. When I have problems, he’s a genius at fixing my mistakes. He usually is my savior when it comes to fixing the problems that I encounter on a computer. But, I rarely see this person when it doesn’t have to do with work or business. This past weekend, I thought that I’d ask my “friend” (let’s call him Dave) if he’d like to join me in an outdoor experience or activity.  This past weekend looked like it was going to be a nice one, so I thought that I’d ask my friend what he had planned and see if he was interested in joining me for a day outdoors doing “something” like ice fishing, snowshoeing, eagle watching, driving the back roads looking for wildlife, or checking out the many fisherees and trap shoots that take place every weekend this time of year. Now when so many baby-boomer are stopping their participation in outdoor activities that they have taken part in for decades, its time to try and recruit or bring some new and fresh blood into all outdoor activities, not just fishing and hunting.

I asked Dave if he was interested in doing “something” in the outdoors with me over the weekend. To my surprise, he said declined and said no! He said that during the winter he rarely does much outside and usually stays home and watches movies or sports. I was disappointed because there are so many diverse outdoor activities I was sure that I could find something that might get “old” Dave fired up. We get along fine, but most of this is superficial and part of work process. Dave grew up in a big city and never was introduced to anything in the outdoors. To him, the outdoors was taking the dog for a walk in the park or driving in the country to an apple orchard in the fall.

For someone like me, most everything that I do is somehow connected to the outdoors either participating in it or writing about it. Many people complain about the winter in Wisconsin being so cold. There’s no doubt that winter is cold, but if you dress properly and wear many of the “new” products and the old standbys you can enjoy many outdoor activities besides the basic fishing and hunting activities and still be comfortable. The key is to dress properly wearing layers of cotton, wool, silk, down, polypropylene, and Gore-Tex. If you dress properly than you’re ready for anything you may encounter in the outdoors. By dressing in layers you can take off clothing if you get too warm or add layers if you begin to cool off. Here are a few winter sports that I suggest people try; cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, bird watching, winter camping, and ice skating. Most of these winter sport activities take some physical effort and combined with some clothing basics will make anyone comfortable in all but the most severe winter conditions.

Enjoying the outdoors and getting some much needed exercise can be as simple as dressing properly, going to the Arboretum in Madison, and walking a few miles at a constant pace. Or, go to one of the many state and public wildlife areas (Brooklyn, Mud Lake, Lodi, Mazomanie, Waunakee, and Deansville are close) that surround Madison and do your walk or hike on the many trails that are plowed or cleared by cross country skiers and hikers. If the area is public hunting grounds, there will be few if any hunters out in February. Wear blaze orange for safety so that you are seen in case you should run into anyone chasing rabbits or crows which are the only two hunting seasons still open. The many public wildlife areas, waterfowl production areas, and federal lands are vast with thousands upon thousands of acres for all of us to use and enjoy. More people should take advantage of these lands because they are owned by the people bought with our tax money.

A nice bluegill caught while ice fishing

You’d be surprised at the varied wildlife you’ll see if you get out in nature for a just a walk. Start out slow and with a distance that is not too strenuous. Try and get your spouse, children, or neighbor to join you in your walking and any other outdoor activities that interest you. If you’re a camera-buff bring your camera along because you never know what you may run into that you’d like to photograph. Birds are abundant and with a snow white background really standout. I see pros and amateurs in Sauk City regularly shooting photos of eagles. The new digital cameras these days make the learning curve to being a good photographer much shorter and easier to conquer.

Now, you’ll find more and more wildlife and conservation groups that are reaching out and trying to get children and adults out into the outdoors. The key for many if not all of these groups is to recruit the young because they will be an active part of the group of years to come while the “baby-boomer” are becoming less active and passing on. Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Isaac Walton League, and the Dane County Conservation Club are examples of groups reaching out to adults and the young to join their groups and partake in the great outdoors. The State of Wisconsin and the Department of Natural Resources now even have a mentor hunting program for adults who never had a chance to learn to hunt or weren’t interested in hunting at an earlier age.

Winter doesn’t have to be a time to retreat to the couch and the warmth of your home. Much of winter can be fun, entertaining, and good for you by providing activities where you can get your heart beating from exercise (at your pace) or introduce you to sports that were made for colder weather like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and brisk walking.

I’ll ask my friend, Dave, again if he’d like to do some outdoor activity with me because just because the temperature is below freezing and there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean that you have to stay inside on the couch and watch television. I hope that I can get him to try and enjoy some outdoor activity in the winter besides trying to stay warm on the couch. Get out and enjoy all the seasons that Wisconsin has to offer by doing something as simple as walking or even trying a new outdoor sport or activity like snowshoeing.

You may always contact me at www.garyengbergoutdoors.com .

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 CE Webster February 5, 2010 at 5:24 PM

Great article–have you got Dave outdoors yet?

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