History Afield

World War II Vet Returns For Deer Season
4:00 am
Fri November 21, 2014

History Afield: Home for the Hunt

Credit Joyce Bong Erickson

Saturday is opening day of Wisconsin’s annual gun deer season.  For many families the hunt is about much more than taking a deer - it’s a time of family bonding, camaraderie and tradition.  In today’s History Afield, Writer Bob Willging has the story of a famous World War II combat pilot, who made deer hunting with his family a priority while home on leave in 1943.

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History Afield
9:57 am
Thu October 23, 2014

The Once-Popular Art of Hunting With Live Decoys

It was once common practice for duck hunters to use live decoys to lure waterfowl.
Credit Wisconsin Historical Society

It’s duck hunting season in the northwoods and while plenty of artificial decoys will be used by waterfowlers to lure birds within gun range one thing they won’t be using is live decoys.  

  This technique of waterfowl hunting was regulated out of existence in 1935, partly because of the severe drought of the early 1930s that devastated waterfowl populations.  But the practice was once common and even celebrated. 

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History Afield
4:00 am
Thu August 28, 2014

Summer White House on the Brule

President Calvin Coolidge, accompanied by his guide, John LaRock, frequently fished for trout on the Brule River during the summer of 1928.
Credit Wisconsin Historical Society

The President of the United States endures a demanding schedule.  But it wasn’t always this way. In today’s History Afield writer Bob Willging tells the story of the summer of 1928 when President Calvin Coolidge moved the center of American politics to the quiet shores of northwest Wisconsin’s most famous of trout waters, the Brule River.

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A Northwoods Institution
4:00 am
Thu July 10, 2014

History Afield: Duke's Outboards

Duke Montgomery repaired and collected motors in his Boom Lake shop.
Credit Jim Montgomery

An outboard motor hung on the back of a well used fishing boat is an iconic symbol of summer in the Northwoods.  For years in the Northcentral Wisconsin lakes country of Oneida and Vilas counties, if someone had an outboard motor in need of repair, there was no question of where to take it - Duke’s Outboards.  Dukes was a Northwoods institution for more than 60 years. 

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History Afield
4:00 am
Thu May 1, 2014

One Morning in March, 1933

Vern Frechette (left) grew up in Chequamegon Bay.
Credit Wisconsin Historical Society

It’s May and we’re still waiting for the ice to melt on most lakes in the Northwoods.  Lake Superior is still about halfway iced over.  But even when it’s thoroughly covered with ice, conditions can be treacherous.

In today’s History Afield essay, we hear the story of Vern Frechette’s memorable trip out on the ice…one morning in March 1933.

    

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History Afield
4:00 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Trapping in the Blood: the Carl Schels Story

Young Carl Schels in the wilderness.
Credit Wisconsin Historical Society

When the stock market crashed in late 1929, ushering in the Great Depression, the prosperity of the 1920’s screeched to a halt.  As factories and mills closed their doors, millions of Americans found themselves unemployed.  

In today’s History Afield, WXPR Contributor Bob Willging tells the story of one man who left Chicago during the Depression to make his mark in the Northwoods.

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A Resort Like No Other
9:18 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Northernaire: Waldorf of the Wilderness

Carl Marty was famous for befriending wild animals at the Northernaire.
Credit Wendy Robinson

The resort industry in Northern Wisconsin goes back over 100 years to when tourists were first lured to the lake country on the heels of the lumberjacks.  Small family owned resorts with cottages lining lake shores catered to fisherman in the early days. 

 In the midst of Mom and Pop operations one man had a vision to build a Northwoods resort like no other.  In today’s History Afield Bob Willging tells the story of the rise and fall of the Northernaire, the Waldorf of the Wilderness.

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History Afield
10:08 am
Thu December 26, 2013

The Mysterious Death of Edward Keeler

Edward Keeler and his renowned boat, the Pelican.

Hunters and trappers spend a great deal of time alone in the woods, and outdoor activities in remote areas have their share of inherent dangers.  

Those dangers were even more apparent in the 1930s, a time of limited communication, large tracts of remote country, few heavily traveled roads, and the occasional gangster, moonshiner or poacher.

In today’s History Afield, Bob Willging tells the story of one man’s mysterious death in the woods in 1931.

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History Afield
4:00 am
Thu November 21, 2013

Sixty Years Ago, A Bloody Gun-Deer Season

The shooting and death of a state game warden shook up hunters during the 1942 deer hunt.
Credit Rhinelander Daily News, November 19, 1942

Wisconsin’s gun deer season is approaching.  It’s a time when many hunters across the state look forward to getting away from the pressures of work, spending time in the woods.  

But as WXPR’s Bob Willging relates in today’s History Afield essay, the 1942 murder of a conservation warden in Florence County had deer hunters in northeast Wisconsin anything but relaxed.

In the autumn of 1942, America was becoming deeply involved in World War II.

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Conflict Over Local Control
4:00 am
Thu October 31, 2013

1930 Deer Revolt: When Oneida County Took On the State

We’re heading into November, and that means deer hunting will soon be in full swing. 

It’s a cultural phenomenon in the state, with deeply rooted traditions that go back 100 years or more. While there has been much change in Wisconsin deer hunting over time, controversy and disagreement have never been far away.

In the first of a series we’re calling History Afield, WXPR Contributor Bob Willging has the story of one of the oddest deer hunting political battles of the last century.

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