Elevating Conversations Around Hunting Culture and Conservation

Show Notes

As an outdoorsman, why do you do what you do? Why do you care about the things you care about? Better yet, why should anyone else care about what you care about? Is the outdoor lifestyle, and all its accoutrements, one that's worth preserving, promoting, and even passing on? These questions, at their core, are worth wrestling with, and they inform the conversation on this week's episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast. 

In this episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, Josh & Pierce talk with Robert Rosenberger about the intersection between mentorship, hunting, and conservation. Robert, with decades of experience engrossed in Wisconsin's outdoor culture, is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom gained by experience, and to top it all off, he's a salt of the earth kind of guy. This is very likely the richest and most profound episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman so far. We hope you enjoy!

Check out the Sportsmen's Empire Podcast Network for more relevant outdoor content!

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Show Transcript

Josh Raley: [00:00:00] What is going on, everyone? Welcome back to another episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, which is brought to you by Tacticam. This is your home for all things outdoors in the Badger State. I'm your host, Josh Raley. And I've got my buddy, my co host, Mr. Pierce Nellis. Pierce, how you doing? Doing great, man.

How are you?

Pierce Nelles: I'm good. You you spent a little time in the woods this morning. How'd that go for you? It was from my goal, which was to stick an arrow in a nice fat dough and, it was, it didn't go well, but I did I, I did have, of course, the time that you go out and you're just only after a dough. You see nothing but bucks and so I, I had a little nubbin and a spike come in and then out of nowhere I had a pretty nice, I'm going to say two and a half year old. I was sending you some pictures. We were joking that we may need to [00:01:00] do a did Pierce pass a shooter part two? I don't think it was a shooter yet.

I'll be honest. He was tempting. And I got to watch him munch some apples for 15 minutes at 30 yards broadside and work a scrape that was on that tree, but it just wasn't what I was after today.

Josh Raley: Yeah, he's what, a hundred and, 110 inch deer, 115 inch deer, somewhere in there probably? I'd say so, yeah. Yeah, he looks a lot bigger

Pierce Nelles: in those pictures, but I got one, he actually walked right in front of my cell cam afterwards and turned his head back away from it so you could see his rack from behind.

Josh Raley: He's pretty narrow real tall though. Yeah, it's all good to see him next year pretty narrow didn't have a ton of mass I mean wasn't no, you didn't look at it and think oh, that's a that deer's got some girth to him left

Pierce Nelles: g2 was

Josh Raley: real nice. Oh in his Like I was surprised like, man he does not look like a September deer.

No, like he did not. His neck was still

Pierce Nelles: thin, but he had a big freaking head and his body was, yeah,

Josh Raley: He was [00:02:00] sick. You're going to, you're going to look back and you're going to see him in. And November and be like, Oh my gosh, it's going to be a

Pierce Nelles: repeat of last year, man. I'm going to see him when

Robert Rosenberg: he's all fired up and then be like,

Pierce Nelles: Oh, look at that guy.

That's awesome. And then I'll get up to him. Oh,

Josh Raley: same guy, even better. You got to encounter him twice and have a good time. Pierce, man, we've got a treat for folks today. We have probably one of my favorite shows that we've recorded. This was. Now, I'll say this. We had technical issues throughout. Guys, if you're wondering what happened to the audio quality, it has been an absolute circus on our end.

We had some internet issues dropping out. A USB C port on my MacBook Pro burned out in the middle of the show. And that happened to be the one with my power cord and with our Ethernet cable plugged into it. And so that one fried up, my computer got super hot, so things got a little weird and laggy.

Yeah, we got all kinds of problems, but despite all of that, if you can hang around[00:03:00] and actually the audio doesn't get a little scratchy until towards the end, but fantastic episode. We had Robert Rosenberger on and the guy worked for the DNR for what? 20 something years or something like that.

Fantastic guy. And things didn't go as we'd planned. No we went into this podcast because

Pierce Nelles: by the time this airs the Northern zone Wisconsin waterfowl season it just happened. We'll have just opened, I should say. And the Southern zone season will be coming up this Saturday and.

We thought, it'd be great to have just a cool guy on who's, he's an avid waterfowl hunter. And just, sportsmen in general we'll have him come on. We'll talk about duck hunting in the Northern region and stuff like that. And, we'll talk strategy and gear and decoy setups and all that stuff and all that, and

Josh Raley: We covered none of that at all, none whatsoever.


Pierce Nelles: What we did cover was geez, growing up [00:04:00] in the state of Wisconsin how formative early years of hunting are especially when you're, we spoke a lot about, when you get off the bus and you've got. Two hours to hunt before before dark and stuff like that. And you're running out there solo and the learning curve and trying to make your way up that and just figure things out as a young outdoorsman by trial and error.

And from there, we stemmed off of that a number of different directions. And, we we talked, ethics and responsibilities of us as stewards of the land. And conservationists in general, the dichotomy between conservationists and hunter and, where those meet and where those separate and, which one's more important.

Not necessarily more important, but just the different viewpoints of each. From, it's a long list, man we get into, like I said, the ethics, the the responsibilities that we have as, as mentors and role models and ambassadors of whatever pursuit we're we're engaging in and really just treating one [00:05:00] another well and finding common ground to break bread over and share.

Outdoor pursuits over and with, and just, it's a conversation I think everybody ought to hear this time of year as we're going into duck season, which everybody knows can duck spots are sacred, man. You do not want to get in another guy's duck spot and, more and more. Folks are going to be out on getting into public land here, whether it be for pheasant or deer hunting or, all turkey hunting.

What the hell? Why not? Salmon, steelhead seasons coming in, coming in hot too here. And it's something that I think is just excellent food for thought for everyone. Yeah. Whether you're a hunter, non hunter, conservationist, angler, whatever you are, everyone's going to benefit from this, and I think everyone's going to really enjoy this conversation.


Josh Raley: I agree. No matter what your pursuit is this is a good conversation for you to hear out. And towards the end, we got into some of the best public land discussion I think that I've, that we've [00:06:00] had on the show. By far, just talking about you alluded to it with the hunter ethics piece, but just how we interact with each other on public land, and how we often view other people as a threat to our experience.

Whereas a slight shift in our mindset could really create something that turns out to be an enhancement. Of our experience and make things that much better while we're out there hunting on public land. Pierce, before we jump into the episode, I did just want to quickly remind folks, if you're following me on Instagram at the Wisconsin sportsman, you need to jump over to the new page at the Wisconsin sportsman pod.

That is going to be our new landing page on Instagram for all things, Wisconsin sportsmen. We've got probably next week, the old Wisconsin sportsman. page will be swapping over to to be the page for the new show, because I had so many family and friends and things like that, that are following that page.

I wanted to just take that one with me to the new podcast that I've been hosting called the Southern Way on the Sportsman's Empire Podcast Network. And that's just my Southern outlet, right? Like I'm [00:07:00] in Georgia living, I'm still hunting Wisconsin. I'll be there in, not too long from now get out trail cameras and do a little bit of hunting and then back in November and it'll be great.

But I did need something where I could talk about hunting in the Georgia pines. And I didn't think you guys would be would be too keen on listening to that stuff too much. It's hard to relate. Yeah. We've never seen a persimmon up here. Yeah, that's right. That's right. I'm going to be talking about hot persimmon trees and where I'm hanging my cameras and you guys are gonna be like what are you, no, that's not it.

Anyway, but yeah, if you haven't already. Jump over to the new page at the Wisconsin Sportsman pod, and that will get you everything you need to know. Pierce has been pretty active on there. And yeah, go check it out. You can see a picture of the buck that Pierce passed this morning on on there.

Right now it's just in a story. We should do a post on that. Yep, we'll get that up. Maybe just a quick reel or something like that where it can, get the video. Because it was cool seeing him munching on apples. Oh yeah, that was pretty sweet footage. Pierce, anything else that news we need to cover or should we just jump right in?[00:08:00]

Before we go

Pierce Nelles: here, just another reminder that we've got another sponsor on the network here and another code for you guys to save some money. Rebo Sunglasses is now a sponsor of our podcast here. I'm a huge fan of their glasses. I've been running them for about a year and a half now. Awesome lenses there.

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So be sure to go and check that out. And also we are officially less than a month away from the end of our inland trout season. I had a [00:09:00] couple cancellations and I'm always looking to get folks out on the water. So if you want to do that, if you want to try fly fishing, if you want to get in on the the awesome fall fishing, the water's low and the water's clear, but it's starting to pick up as we're getting these cooler evening temps and I think we're in for a pretty darn good end of the trout season here.

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Josh Raley: Instagram. Awesome guys, go book your trip. Hunting is going to get real good around that end of October. So go ahead and get your get your fishing out of the way.

Now skip the, if, if early season whitetails aren't your game, don't feel bad about it. I'm early season. Whitetail is not really my game either, man. I want to be out there in the rut. I want to see those bucks fired up. I want to still have a tag in my pocket at, and yeah, go out and do a little fishing right now.

Good chance, flyfishing. com. So Pierce, with that said, we'll jump right into the episode. Get ready to share your hunt this season with the Tacticam 6. 0 point of view camera. Featuring a built in one inch LCD [00:10:00] touchscreen, one touch operation, weatherproof housing, and mounts to fit any style of hunting, the Tacticam 6.

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This tool will help you grab the right camo no matter what season or species you're hunting. To check out their full camo line, head over to hunt worth gear.com. Now let's get into this week's show. [00:12:00] All right, joining me for this week's episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast. I've got Mr. Pierce, Nellis, my co-host, and Mr.

Robert Rosenberger from Wisconsin. Guys, how are we doing today?

Robert Rosenberg: Doing great. Thank you so much, Josh and Pierce. I'm really appreciate the opportunity to join with you today.

Pierce Nelles: Absolutely. Doing great as well, Robert. Thank you for joining us. I've been excited for this for quite a while. Josh I've told you stories about, conversations I've had with Robert or our Northwoods turkey hunting that we did this past spring, but I'm glad you can finally put a face to a name and we're going to learn a lot more about Robert here on today's episode, but I met Robert, geez.

A little over a year ago, about a year and a half ago, probably last summer when I was teaching in a fly fishing school and Robert his wife and their new little Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Nessie came into the school and Robert and Nessie were on the side there.

And [00:13:00] his wife was a student in our school and broke for lunch after the first day. It was a two day school and we start. Sitting down and chatting together. And Robert and I just start BSing about all sorts of different things from fly fishing to Turkey hunting, to deer hunting, and you name it, we got into the whole saddle hunting discussion that first day even.

And we just hit it off. And so the two of us, we stayed in touch and everything and we. Chatted throughout throughout the fall last year and our deer seasons together and discussed grouse season a little bit. Now he was doing up in up in the North woods there.

And this past spring, then we were able to finally connect and do a little turkey hunting together and. As many of you all know if you've been listening for the last really since this past spring, I was horrible at getting my turkey tags application in this year. And so I was scrambling the entire season and wasn't able to get a zone five tag but Robert did.

And so I, I still made it up [00:14:00] there. We were able to do a little hunting together in the big woods, which was like nothing I'd ever experienced before. And just these dance. Dense, like unbelievably thick just massive hardwoods. But I just had an absolute ball of a time and Robert and I got to hunt together and hit it off for a weekend and all that.

And we shared stories and talked about our backgrounds and sort of our philosophies on hunting. And we just really, we seem to really align in that sense. So I've been talking to Josh here for a while about how, you know what, we need to get this guy on. And I've thought that since, literally since that first weekend that you and I met, Robert, I've been thinking like, he needs to be on the podcast.

He definitely should be. So with that, Robert, why don't you give us a quick intro just, introduce yourself here. Tell us a little bit about where you grew up, where you're out of and just just general overview of who you

Robert Rosenberg: are. Great. Yeah. Thank you, Pierce. It was a real pleasure to meet you at the fly fishing school and I'm glad we had a chance to share some time in the turkey woods together.

And it was a really neat weekend. I've been hunting and fishing pretty [00:15:00] much all my life. It's been a main passion of mine ever since I was a young boy. And I don't know exactly why I became interested in hunting and fishing and a little bit of trapping. But I can remember as a boy, my father he was a fairly casual hunter.

He wasn't obsessed with hunting. Like we are. But he was a casual hunter, maybe more of a gentleman hunter. And he would do a little bit of hunting. He'd go to Missouri every fall with a customer of hers, of his and do some quail hunting. And I can, I remember being about eight years old and watching my father packing his bag and his Browning over and under shotgun and the boxes of shells and his hunting pants.

And. Canvas jacket, and I thought this is pretty neat. He'd tell me about hunting before he left, and then how his trip was when he came back. And I think that sort of introduction to the outdoors and some of his friends were a big influence in getting me started in in in, in the outdoor direction.

I'd say in grade school and high school, I was a lousy student. I really didn't [00:16:00] find school to be particularly. interesting or relevant. I probably read sports of field and stream during class more than any textbook that that the teacher was trying to instill upon me. I had a few teachers that were avid hunters and anglers, and they took me under their wing also.

And that I think really got me going on the outdoor journey. I grew up in Southeast Wisconsin, north of Milwaukee in a city Mequon and Mequon is probably half at that time was half city and half rural. And I was lucky to grow up in the rural part of Mequon. And I could get off the school bus in the afternoon, in the fall, in October.

Grab my shotgun and a hand, a pocket full of shells and go out and go pheasant hunting and rabbit hunting and squirrel hunting. And pretty much from mid October and until rabbit season closed in January or February, I was out hunting and lucky enough that we had some land and our neighbors had some land and it was relatively easy to get permission in those days to hunt.

And that was just a great. great childhood experiences and great opportunities.[00:17:00] Really didn't know what I wanted to do through high school. I played some football. I had some colleges reach out to me to play football at college. And it's one of those, there for, but the grace of God go I, I don't, I could have ended up doing a number of different things or going to a number of different colleges.

And I just didn't know what I wanted to do. But luckily I was recruited by UW Stevens Point to come and play football. And I thought point that's a neat school and they've got a great College of Natural Resources program. And I like hunting and fishing and ended up going to school at Stevens Point, in the mid 1980s.

And that was a great experience. Stevens Point is a great college, made some friends that are still friends for life. Really fortunate to have that opportunity after college again, I was wandering and wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. Join the Peace Corps, went to Africa for 2 years, working in a fisheries pond project, a small country in Africa, Burundi between it's located between Tanzania, Zaire, Rwanda, sort of East [00:18:00] Central, Thank you.

Africa. And I think volunteering is incredibly important. And in getting out, there's an old saying when you volunteer, you end up receiving more than you give. It opens your eyes to so many opportunities. People are, you get to meet people you'd never get to meet before. And there's a real level of satisfaction and volunteering.

So I worked two years in Africa, working on a fish farming project. Yeah. Came back to Wisconsin. I missed Wisconsin the whole time I was gone. Just missed the Northwoods, missed the upper peninsula of Michigan. Came back and again, still didn't know what I wanted to do, but now I had some experience.

I have a natural resources degree. I have some experience in fisheries. And I started applying for jobs with the DNR. I thought it'd be pretty cool to work for DNR. Back in the early 1990s, the hiring process was a lot different. And Basically, you would have to take an exam, a test.

It was a multiple choice exam, an hour or two long, and depending upon your results of that test, you would be ranked as far as the eligibility to receive an interview. So [00:19:00] on a Saturday afternoon a couple hundred people would show up at a university to take an exam that the DNR was.

was putting out, and you'd have to answer multiple choice. And for fisheries, there's a lot of questions, obviously, about fish. And, when do lake trout spawn and give you a list of months to choose from? After you took the exam, you had to wait a few weeks, and you'd get a letter in the mail explaining what your score was on the exam and where you ranked in to competition with everybody else who took the exam.

And if you were lucky enough to get an interview, then you'd interview with the DNR. And I went through that process and was hired working in Northeast Wisconsin out with the Marinette DNR office in a program at the time that was known as water regulation and zoning. And it dealt with a lot of.

Projects in and near waterways and wetlands landowners who'd want to build a bridge or put a culvert in a stream or build a road through a wetland or improve habitat for fish and wildlife or do certain projects in or near lakes, rivers and wetlands requires a permit from DNR.[00:20:00] And the permit process is the DN r's opportunity to review the project and determine if it's gonna have a negative impact on fish habitat or wildlife habitat, or water quality or navigation or other public interests.

It, it was a great job and I worked in that capacity for about 20 years. Got to meet a lot of landowners, work with other agencies. I also worked with the relicensing of hydroelectric dams on the larger rivers in that area. After a number of years, I promoted through the department, became a field supervisor managing the program that I worked in and deputy bureau director for the program had statewide responsibilities.

Worked for a short time as a section chief and customer service, which was a fascinating part of the department. Incredible work folks do, it became pretty apparent. It was ready to retire after 28, 28 years with DNR retired and right during turkey season, which was great timing.

Had jumped right into turkey hunting and jumped into trout fishing and then salmon [00:21:00] fishing, but. By the end of the summer, I thought I miss work. I miss working. I miss working with people and you have that sense of purpose and meaning that good work can bring. So started a consulting business fly fishing and consulting started guiding, started doing some teaching, started working on some projects.

And that's been a great transition from working for DNR and getting into. Doing some consulting. So that's the background. Maybe not, maybe not a short introduction, but it's a kind of the background of how I got to where I am today. So

Josh Raley: that that is really fascinating to hear.

And one of the first episodes that I did, I'm curious about that time you spent working in the customer service department, because one of the earliest episodes that we did of this podcast, I had Pat Durkin on. Who I'm sure you're aware of and one of the things that he talked about in that episode was one of the things he mentioned, he said, we're from Wisconsin.

We did, we give a damn about things. And his point was the importance that we've always placed [00:22:00] on public input in the state of Wisconsin and public investment in the natural resources. You mentioned that was a unique opportunity that you had. I'm curious to hear. Maybe some of the feedback you guys got or, some of the daily issues that you were having to navigate.

As really the face almost, or the front line of public input with DNR.

Robert Rosenberg: So I think I think there's been a, there's been a pretty major evolution that's occurred in the last 20 or 30 years, not only within DNR, but just in society in general. And I think the social expectations have changed quite a bit.

Being responsive, being courteous, being polite, being helpful. Those I think are much more at the forefront than they were maybe two or three decades ago. And I think maybe taking two steps back to what you're talking about, Josh, Pat Durkin is absolutely right. Wisconsin has a very strong legacy.

Of citizen involvement, citizen participation, the [00:23:00] conservation Congress, the natural resources board local groups that are interested in natural resource issues Wisconsin waterfowl association, for example, and this is supposed to turn into a duck hunting podcast at some point. WWA, for example, a great organization of citizens who care deeply about our waterfowling heritage.

I've worked with a number of folks from Ducks Unlimited in Wisconsin, fantastic folks who are dedicated to wetland conservation and continuing with the duck hunting heritage. I'm probably going to miss a whole bunch of people and I'm sorry. But there's a, just a strong tradition in Wisconsin of people who really care about the natural resources.

Sometimes maybe I'm wandering a little bit. Sometimes that can be a great benefit. And then sometimes it can be a little bit of a hindrance because sometimes an analogy I use is. Pretend you're at a concert and you're at a concert down on the dance floor and you're watching the band and maybe you're dancing or, in the mosh pit or wherever you're at.

But if you're down on the dance [00:24:00] floor, you can only see what's going on right around you and maybe only a few feet away from you. And sometimes people, when they get really caught up in issues, are on that dance floor and they can't really see the big picture. But if you get up, if you leave the dance floor and you get up on the balcony and now you're looking, now you can see the band, you can see the people that are dancing.

Continuing with the concert analogy, you can see people selling t shirts or getting beers or whatever other sort of things people do at concerts. But when you're on the balcony, you can start seeing the big picture. And I really encourage people, yeah, the issue you're working on is really important, but...

Sometimes it really helps to get up on that, get up on that balcony and take a look at the big picture. And I don't want to cast aspersions on any one particular group of people, but sometimes people become too passionate and they don't see the big picture or they become too passionate about a single cause.

And sometimes end up doing a little unintentional harm by maybe being a little overzealous or a little single focused. I think [00:25:00] building relationships with people is incredibly important. I think bringing in that input I think listening to voices maybe you wouldn't wanna listen to. I'll give an example.

There was a conservation war and a good friend of mine was dealing with. This is a number of years ago, it was pretty popular at one time for kids to jump in a car, in August or September with a spotlight and a rifle and drive around fields and, start shooting at deer in fields or just drive by shootings, just disgusting.

But, there were some kids that would do that. And the word got out that, farmers were finding dead deer in the fields and the wardens were trying to figure out who was doing it. And speaking of unusual voices the humane society reached out to the local warden and said, you know what, we're willing to, we're willing to put up a reward, 5, 000 to help you catch these kids.

Cause we don't agree with it either. And the warden took a really big risk. Because partnering, normally we partner with DU, we partner with NRA, we partner with local hunting and fishing [00:26:00] groups, and now the Humane Society wanted to join this effort to catch these miscreants. And the warden did something very risky and he said, sure I'll partner with the Humane Society.

We'll listen to an unusual voice. And did he catch hell for doing that? People, law came completely unglued. How dare you partner with our enemy? And his point was yeah, sure. They may be an anti hunting organization, but we share a common goal of catching these kids and improving the hunting culture in Wisconsin.

Maybe it wasn't their goal to improve the hunting culture in Wisconsin, but that, that was certainly the warden's goal and he caught health where people wanted him fired for doing that in. And I think he was a real, real visionary to see, we can't just speak in an echo chamber.

We've got to listen to other voices. Hunters, hunter numbers are declining. It's getting to be a, we're a smaller group than we used to be. And I think we need to start reaching out to maybe non traditional folks that, that we either didn't listen to or actually made fun of.

[00:27:00] Again I think it's a great question and I really love wandering around like this. So I'm glad you brought it up. No, that,

Josh Raley: that was really good. Being willing to at time take bold steps, make bold alliances towards a common goal is necessary. And we end up seeing huge benefits from it but you're right.

When we're on the dance floor, it's hard to see a big picture that we can all be working towards anything, any encouragement that you would give people towards that end of, maybe stepping out or trying to. Inform themselves so that we can get up on the balcony and gain greater perspective.

Robert Rosenberg: Yeah. It's hard and it's risky. You can quickly become a a pariah by not just repeating what everybody else is repeating and it's risky. It's dangerous. And It's something you'd want to do. You'd want to have some allies and you'd want to have some confidants and you'd want to have some mentors and you'd want to really understand [00:28:00] what your purpose is.

What are you really trying to achieve? And, let's talk about duck hunting. In preparation for the podcast, I refreshed, did a little research and looked in a number of states are dealing with declining duck hunting numbers and South Dakota right now is trying an effort to Encourage more hunting, more duck hunting in Wisconsin, in South Dakota and that's a big issue.

So what are we really, maybe we need to step back, take step to take two steps back and ask we're really, what are we concerned about? Are we concerned about hunting and more hunters, or are we really more concerned about conservation? Are we concerned, more concerned about shooting ducks or having healthy duck populations?

And those go hand in hand. But maybe isn't, maybe it isn't getting more hunters on the landscape. Maybe that doesn't need to be our primary goal. Maybe our primary goal is making sure we have public lands that we can recreate on. Maybe it's making sure we have good wetland conservation practices occurring on the landscape.

Maybe we need to make it, easy for [00:29:00] landowners to do projects on their land so they can improve habitat. Maybe those are areas that we should focus on maybe a little more than... Being concerned about recruiting hunters. And I think if we reach out to other people who are concerned about our natural resources, particularly people in urban environments, I don't, I just don't see a lot of folks in urban environments picking up a deer rifle and going hunting or going duck hunting.

I just, I have trouble imagining how that becomes a sustainable population, but maybe if people in urban environments care about. having clean water to drink and having clean air to breathe and land that isn't contaminated and having good wetlands and floodplains to help protect against flooding.

Maybe we can achieve those common goals by again reaching out to folks that we normally wouldn't talk to. And I think society is headed that way. That that, that's what I would encourage. It's a difficult conversation though. I started it with someone really smart man a few years ago, and he got pretty mad at me when I started suggesting recruiting hunters might [00:30:00] not be our number one focus.

Pretty upset. And It's risky to have these types of conversations,

Josh Raley: right? And I bet too if we're conservationists first and then hunters yes, they go hand in hand, but if we're conservationists first, and if we start taking care of some of the issues such as habitat loss, we start taking care of some of the issues such as access loss or increasing access.

I have a feeling that some of those hunter recruitment issues. May start to take care of themselves because I do think in a lot of ways, those are largely responsible for the decline in hunter numbers that we have seen when we have fewer places to access when hunters go out and their experience is less than thrilling, less than exciting, less than an adventure, less than fun.

People start dropping out at higher rates than they would if they'd gone out and had a quality experience. They talk to their friends less about poor experiences than they do great experiences. They're less inclined to take their children out if they're having poor experiences as [00:31:00] compared to great experiences.

I think if we start to address some of those issues, that hunter recruitment thing that we're all gung ho about and the initiative is all focused on, that all of a sudden might begin to solve itself. I'm not saying it will, I'm just wondering out loud. Would that begin to take care of itself if we begin to, change our focus?

Absolutely. And, it's got me thinking there too. We're already

Pierce Nelles: experiencing this sort of I think across the outdoors, a lot of people have seen in the past three years or so now when COVID hit and everything went into lockdown and everybody was working from home. The outdoor industry was, it was a heck of a time for the outdoor industry, right?

The number of folks that we saw out on public land and who were buying bows and buying fly fishing gear, fishing gear in general, it was incredible. Just the spike that we saw in license sales and the number of people getting into stuff,

Josh Raley: but... And podcast downloads. And podcast downloads.

That was a great time to be a podcaster. Exactly. [00:32:00] But what

Pierce Nelles: we're seeing here is not in the podcast sense here, because we're going strong, but what we're seeing here is now that not everyone's working from home and everybody's back in the office and all that stuff, our recruitment's not necessarily always sustainable.

However, had we maybe put more effort into, like you said, Robert, we're recruiting conservationists and, putting more emphasis on that as opposed to You should all get out here and start hunting. You should all start fishing and, get into this at a certain point. It's not sustainable.

Your retainment of conservationists is so much higher than it is of just hunters or just fishermen or, just all that stuff. But when you can really establish that appreciation for, you. The process and the whole of getting outside and sharing Robert, you and I, yesterday we were, we discussed sharing experiences with other people and the appreciation that you can gain from the land and the amount that you can learn from the land and just how much more you're seeing the more time you [00:33:00] spend outside and you see how all these different things are connected and pretty soon you're, you Maybe you're hanging a stand in a river bottom and all of a sudden you see some rising fish and you're like, oh, I'm gonna come back here and I'm gonna, I'm gonna fish that come springtime or vice versa.

You're out there late season trout fishing and all of a sudden you see a really heavy crossing and there's a scrape. 10 yards off the bank. That's all just torn up. And you're like I'm going to drop a pin and see what I can do here. When you're looking at the hole and you're not getting so locked into just one thing, like you said, Robert, it really does it from a longevity standpoint and also just an all encompassing standpoint where you're so much more likely to.

care about and, invest your time and interest in multiple things when you're looking at the whole from the balcony rather than being down in the dance floor. Absolutely.

Robert Rosenberg: People protect what they love. And I think you both are making great [00:34:00] points. Absolutely.

Pierce Nelles: So we've mentioned waterfowl hunting a little bit here.

I know we got off track. They're not off track. That's not it at all because that was a great track to be on. I want to go back to when you were you're talking about, getting off the school bus growing up and everything and, running up and grabbing your gun and a handful of shells and, walking the fence lines and stuff.

I couldn't relate more to that as you were saying that, and I was just sitting here reminiscing on yeah, I remember getting off the bus and running into the house as fast as I could, grabbing my hunting stuff and running up the hill to, try and get a couple hours in before before dark and everything, and just the amount that you learn and you figure out at that age to, And, you're just a sponge and you're figuring it out.

And, maybe dad's still at work. So you got nobody to hunt with or anything like that. And you're just out there and you're doing it. And just the trial and error and all that it, that, that kind of like almost, it warmed my heart to hear that too, because that was, there's just fond memories there.

Like I think so many people have. But on the topic here of, [00:35:00] not getting so keyed into one thing now, I know there's a lot of everybody, I don't want to say everybody, the vast majority of people in Wisconsin, we love our deer hunting, waterfowl hunters, they love their duck hunting, all that kind of stuff, but you're a really you're an all around sportsman.

You and I were chasing turkeys. You're an avid grouse and woodcock hunter. You're chasing waterfowl, deer turkeys. Like I mentioned, you're making trips down to Florida to go after sharks this past winter and spring as well. How is that just shaped? Where did you start?

Did you start with the pheasant and grouse hunting right after in high school at that young age? Or how did you branch out into the different the different pursuits?

Robert Rosenberg: And I really don't know. It just seemed to me it was just in the maybe it's just in the in my DNA because my brothers and sisters certainly don't have that interest.

Actually, we have some pretty differing opinions on animal rights and that sort of thing. So [00:36:00] come from a family of really diverse people. Diverse background. We're very respectful of each other's opinions and we've learned to politely agree to disagree on some topics, but I'm the, maybe the outlier in, in that, in the family because I'm really very enthusiastic about hunting and fishing and Again, used to do a little trapping and that sort of thing.

And I think what we've talked about in Josh, you really drove the point home. It's important to have a place to hunt. And we're talking about, getting off the school bus and being able to go hunting. And I think the other element that's really important is the other thing we're talking about is having someone to do it with and having a mentor or a wiser person who can guide your journey.

And I started hunting back in the seventies and eighties, and it was a whole different ball game, trying to get that knowledge and, you Pierce, you were talking about making mistakes and learning and that sort of thing. And for me, my, my father was a, again, a casual hunter certainly helped me out.

There's a couple of great lines from Hemingway in this short story, fathers and sons. And he says having a father who can provide you a gun [00:37:00] and a place to hunt is, a place to go fishing is. really most essential item to getting into the outdoors. It's just a great line from a Hemingway short story.

But my folks divorced when I was about 11 or 12. And my father I only saw every other weekend for a while. And I've got to give a lot of credit to my mother. My mother and my stepfather really stepped in. And one thing about my mother is She was always dedicated to helping her children with whatever interests they had.

And I have a brother who's passionate about playing chess. He's played chess his entire life. It was my mother would take him to chess tournaments, down to Chicago and over to Minnesota and anything she could do to help him with that. It got to the point where this is during the height of the Cold War.

We nicknamed him Boris. Cause he was such an avid chess player named the Russian chess player. So my sisters were in a riding horses and my mother was very dedicated to whatever her children wanted to do, she'd help them, down those avenues. And much to her [00:38:00] chagrin, I really wanted to get into trapping and last thing she wanted to, and I was too young to, I was.

1415, I obviously didn't have a car and she would get up at five o'clock in the morning, late October, early November and drive me on my trap line in the dark, the last thing she wanted to do. But she did that for her son because she knew it was something I wanted to do. So we get up in the morning and she drive me to a couple of different farms where I had permission to trap and I'd wander off into the woods with a flashlight and come back with a couple of Raccoons that were muddy and bloody and she was driving a BMW at the time and she reluctantly opened the trunk of the car and put the carcasses in the back and she's just Oh my God, what is it?

But she was just so supportive. My stepfather also of helping me into the outdoors and. I was maybe 13, 14, had a dentist who was the neatest guy in the world. Doc Darling was his name. Just [00:39:00] one of, one of these great people you meet in your life and I look forward to going to the dentist, which is really rare to say, but I, I get in the chair and he'd start telling me about this hunting trip he'd been on or that fishing trip he was on and.

He was into black powder pretty heavily in the mid seventies. And, I think that's when Jeremiah Johnson came out as a movie and just a wonderful movie, highly recommend it. And there was a big boom going on in black powder. And I thought I want to try black powder hunting. So I saved up my money and I bought a Thompson center, renegade 54 caliber, just a huge bear rifle.

And Dr. Arlene would take me shooting and that sort of thing. And again, my poor mother. Agreed to take me deer hunting. And, again, like you were saying, Josh, it's access to lands. We found some public hunting land near West Bend, Jackson Marsh, and neither of us knew anything about deer hunting.

And it's in its opening day of deer season. It's again, five in the morning and it's dark and it's cold. It's one of those 19 degree mornings, no clouds in the sky, just bone chilling. [00:40:00] cold. We weren't dressed adequately at all. This is the mid seventies. This is before all the, good clothing like Sitka and other brands were out.

We're just dressed probably in our blue jeans with a pair of cotton long johns sitting on a boat cushion in the marsh on the ground. And I remember in the dark, you just had a crappy flashlight. And, I guess I didn't pay attention that it was a marsh in the first 200 yards of walking our feet are wet, or you have these lousy Sorrell, Sorrell is a great brand, but had these lousy, felt liner boots that are full of water and it's 19 degrees.

And it's okay, mom, stay right here. And I had a bottle of Pete Rickards fuck lure, so I walk into the big circle around dropping all these drops of scent, like the deer are going to come running in as soon as they smell it. And by then, we're both freezing and shivering. Sun came up and her feet are so cold.

She ended up taking her boots off and I had this sheepskin rifle case and she's shoving her feet into [00:41:00] my rifle case, trying to warm them up because there's some sheep, sheepskin. Just so she's waiting in the car while you're doing all this. Yeah no. She's out in the woods with me. Oh, no. She's out in the woods.

That's a dedicated mother. That's a dedicated mother. So it's just things like that. Having those people that are willing to invest in you and my father and his friends and friends I made in high school and college. Those are the, having that, I'll call it a support network, having those people.

People to do something with, as you were saying, Josh, sharing good times together that's really, a big part of the outdoor experience. And again, Pierce, like you were saying it, it was, there was such a tremendous steep learning curve, and today it's. Today, it's great.

I can go on YouTube and learn how to tie a, fairly complicated streamer, and I can hit rewind and play it again, and there are five different videos on how to tie a streamer. It wasn't like that, back in the 70s or 80s, [00:42:00] and I can remember wanting to learn more about trapping, and there was FurFish Game Magazine, and that was about it.

There weren't even VCRs at the time, to watch a tape. So you'd go to the library. And, I remember it was in the 799 section is where the hunting and fishing section was, and you'd read every book that was in the library, and then you'd want to order another book, and in order to order a book, you had to talk to the librarian, and they had these huge volumes of reference books, and you'd have to go alphabetically to find trapping, and I'll never forget it, it was right after, right near the Von Trapp family singers and Trappist monks, and then you got to trapping, and there were three or four selections you could choose from, The librarian would fill out a slip of paper and mail it to the library that had the other book and then two weeks later the book would be mailed to your library and then you'd get a postcard in the mail from your library saying your book has arrived.

I mean that, that's how you got information in those days. It was just, you earned it.[00:43:00] It was, had its positives and negatives.

Josh Raley: I think to an extent too

Pierce Nelles: You retain it better at that young age, too. When you're putting

Josh Raley: in the work

Pierce Nelles: To go out and find the information or you're putting in the work to go out and talk to someone or do whatever it may be, you retain it so much better than, like you said, the YouTube video now where I can watch it five times and I can just rewind and rewind or I can bookmark it.

I don't have to retain it anymore. But even I remember it. Growing up and like you said, having that network of people who you could look up to I remember as you mentioned earlier, like you said, you had some teachers and stuff. I remember my third grade teacher, Mr mall.

He had a poster of it was Wisconsin's game fish. And I remember I would just sit there in third grade and I would just Daydream and stare at that poster and looking at the musky and like memorizing all the fish names and all that. And he had a couple of shed antlers and going into, after gun season and everything, asking him, Oh, Mr.

Mr. Did you get anything this weekend? And, being able to have [00:44:00] those people at such a young age to look up to is critical, right? And I think that's what helped fuels the passion, especially from such a young age. And you alluded to it having mentors. in the field as well is so huge.

And that's why, I, I really believe that, organizations like you'd mentioned there with the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association and, these youth hunter weekends and stuff like that, they're so critical for establishing that that passion in kids at such a young age circling back to, Finding information and stuff.

I think to you, you retain it better. When you're having that conversation with your third grade teacher or your, or with your dentist or for me, it was my chiropractor when I was in high school, looking forward to the appointment and going in and being able to share, Oh yeah, I've been seeing this and I haven't seen that yet, hopefully here's some trail cam pictures nowadays, but back then and I remember it.

When you're trying to figure it out at that young age, and you've got, it could be someone's dad, it could be your dentist, or your teacher, or something like that, and they said, oh you need to try this, try doing this instead, and, look [00:45:00] for, look for these out in the woods, and, set up off of those, and all that, and just, it's so important and it sticks with you, for better or for worse, it could be great advice, it could be crappy advice, but, it, really.

It's so critical for shaping yourself as a hunter and an outdoorsman and just giving it it's those things that are the stepping stones to get up the learning curve, right? And I

Robert Rosenberg: think, yeah, you're just hitting so many neurons in my memory right now, seventh grade teacher, Mr.

Schrank, who it's some crazy things that teachers could never get away with today, first day of class, he did a slide show and he showed us all the Deer, he'd shot that year and all the fish

showed us all the Oregon brought in venison sausage he'd made and just stuff you could not do today. I [00:46:00] probably not get away with it, but all that stuff is stuff that I've

Pierce Nelles: joked with my buddy about. He's an elementary school teacher down in the Chicagoland area, but he's a big, he's in the central region of Wisconsin is where he hunts.

But he, I'm always joking with him. Oh, you should bring this in and dissect it. Or you should, show this off or, bring whatever. And he's yeah, I don't know if the parents would be on board with that these days.

Robert Rosenberg: That's so great. He was the first person that explained how bullets mushroom and he'd show us pictures of a deer.

He shot and he showed the bullet going, how the bullet went in one. He was hanging on the deer pole. He said it's a small hole going in and a big hole going out.

Pierce Nelles: Josh and so many other people. It's one of those things. Like you said, you don't really know how it got [00:47:00] started, but it's just something that's in you. And I don't remember it, but my my, my mom tells me that when I was like two or three I got hooked on it because I, my, my dad and a couple of other people were hunting out at our property.

And one of them shot a doe and the thing ended up running straight down the hill towards the back door. And Dropped five feet from the back door of our house. And I watched the whole thing through the screen door and was just like, Oh my God, I want to go out and see it. I want to go see it. I want to go see it.

And I think Josh, you said you said last week when we were talking with the okayest hunter about how your son loves he likes Turkey hunting more than deer hunting because you get more stuff. You get a fan, you get a beard, you get spurs and all of that. And there's definitely something to be said for at such a young age.

Just, and to this day, still, you want to, for better or worse, you want to put your hands on, on, a wild animal and you learn so much from that, you want to put your hands on a squirrel you got, or you want to [00:48:00] hold the fish, whatever it may be, there's something just internal about it's just ingrained.

I wish I, we might need to get like a psychiatrist or something on here after this, and we'll see about dissecting the

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Pierce Nelles: They're,

they're almost how do I word this? They're they look at hunting and the image that it has, and everyone's got their own image in their mind of what hunting is for better or for worse. And. I think the importance of having good role models who are treating animals with respect, who are practicing good conservation, who are not, it's, it is a classic Wisconsin move, right?

To be strapping a deer to the hood of the car and driving through town and stuff like that and having your big buck with the head hanging out of the back of the pickup. To an extent that is just [00:50:00] Wisconsin, right? That's part of our deer hunting culture and everybody loves a big buck. We've got our camo and blaze orange beer cans and all that, that,

Robert Rosenberg: it is culture.

You just need the 30 pointer. Yeah, exactly.

Pierce Nelles: And it, you're right though, because from a standpoint of maybe somebody not. As into they're thinking about hunting, but they're not necessarily, they don't know how to get into it. They don't know who to talk to about it or who might be a good role model.

If they don't have a good role model and, it's been said multiple times across, I don't know how many different platforms that, that hunting in many ways PR issue right now. And, the number of people getting out in the woods and hunting is decreasing. Somewhat steadily now and it's, I couldn't agree with you more that it's so important for hunters and role models and really just ambassadors of being outdoorsman and sportsman that [00:51:00] it's so important to, to be portraying hunting in a good light.

And in a, in an ethical light and Josh and I were, we're talking about on the how to hunt deer podcast. We never got to it, but we were discussing some crazy deer camp traditions and stuff like that. And what are the best and the worst and, taking a bite out of the heart and stuff like that, of your first buck or your Josh was saying down South, it's the smearing of the blood on your face and stuff like that.

That. Go into an urban environment, like you said, and try and recruit some kids to come hunting, and they hear that you're, okay, you're gonna smear blood on my face, and I gotta eat a raw organ, what the hell?

Robert Rosenberg: I'm not, I don't wanna hunt, no way, I'll stay home

Pierce Nelles: and play Xbox. It's it's, you really hit her on the head there, how important it is to To just portray everything well,

Robert Rosenberg: right?

Frankly, just taking some notes. So I and again, I just love all this conversation is just feeding off of itself. But. There's the old thing, you only get one chance to make a good first [00:52:00] impression, and I always threw that off as just a platitude but someone much smarter than me explained it, explained here's how your brain works and you really need to understand this because and frankly, this helped explain to me why a lot of things are occurring.

And I think I asked the question out of frustration once and I said, I'm working with some individuals and I'm working on some culture change issues and trying to get folks to look at things from different perspectives. Why is this so hard? Why are some people so resistant to change? And the person.

explained it to me. He said, You have to really understand how the brain works and how thought patterns work through the brain. And once that pattern and path has been established, how hard it is to change that. And he said, picture a cattail marsh. And it's, Tick Cattail Marsh and you and you want to get out to the water.

So you walk through the cattails and you trample them down and you get to the water and then you turn around to go back to land and you walk down the same path and then you turn around and go down that path again. And [00:53:00] after three or four times, you really trampled one path. And you're really resistant to go off of that path because now you're going into tough terrain.

And once someone forms an impression or an opinion on a topic or a person or an idea, it's really hard to change that idea. It's really hard to consider. Alternative facts or ideas or well, it's really hard to consider once you've made that observation. It's really hard to consider multiple interpretations of that observation.

So if I observe a deer hunter whose guts hanging out, they're drinking a beer and they're swearing and they got dizzy. Bloody deer in a pickup truck. Good luck changing my mind that's what all deer hunters look like. If that's my first impression. Because that thought has been formed in my brain.

I've got that belief. And you're going to have to take a lot of work to get me to change that belief. Because now my brain is literally created a pathway that tells me. This is my opinion, and [00:54:00] once you've formed an opinion, it's really hard to get that opinion to change, so I think that's why, as you were saying, hunters have a PR issue, and it can just be little things, I, I certainly respect everyone's First Amendment right, but Why have a bumper sticker that says if it's brown, it's down or whack them and stack them or, those sorts of things.

Your average person looks at that like you're a heathen, I don't think many people think that's cool, and If your daughter's 16 years old and a guy rolls in with a pickup truck, you know that says you know I like big boobies You really want your daughter getting in that pickup truck, probably not.

If you see a guy with some of these bumper stickers that just glorify the, the bloody aspects of hunting, I just think you're doing a disservice to all of your.

Pierce Nelles: It's interesting you say that too. And that's like you said, this conversation is just feeding off of itself.

You and I were chatting on the phone yesterday about how some of the branding and stuff [00:55:00] like that. And the image around hunting that brands are portraying is it really is not that what's the right word here for it. It almost it emphasizes the the brutality and almost the goriness of the hunt rather than, half of us, we always talk about how great it is, when you're out there hanging in a tree.

10 minutes before first light in November. And, you can hear leaves crunching and stuff and you hear a buck drawn off in the distance and the sun's just barely coming up and you think you can see him, but you can't quite see him like, that the whole experience and the reason so many people go out into the wilderness to whether it be fly fishing, turkey hunting, deer hunting, you name it, just hiking in general.

That's that in itself is, In my opinion, I enjoyed that just as much, if not more than I do. Let letting an arrow fly. You know what I mean? We're pulling the trigger,

Robert Rosenberg: right? Yeah, I was fishing with a guy yesterday, two days ago, and we were on a fly fishing stretch only, and it was [00:56:00] catch and release only, and I said, the best part of fishing the stretch is we don't have to clean anything when we get home.

There's a sort of jokingly said that, but yeah that, it's exciting. I'll just leave it at that.

Pierce Nelles: And like you said, the Whack'em and Stack'em and Brown It's Down and stuff like that. We've talked several times on the My Tag, My Hunt argument. And I think within reason, it's absolutely it's a sound argument. Because there's, when you look at it through a certain lens, yeah, there's Iowa County, Dane County, our deer population is through the freaking roof and we've got the highest concentration of CWD in the state, right?

And yeah, the herd would do well to lose a few does, and, southern farmland to I know they're offering like two free dough tags and stuff. And so it's okay one as you're an outdoors and look at it from the necessarily the standpoint of, but the brown is down, I'm going for whack them and stack them like you said.

But more so from a yeah. Through the conservation [00:57:00] lens. Okay, I'm taking this many deer off the landscape. So I'm reducing the likelihood of CWD spreading. I'm taking a little bit more impact or less impact off the land and you're having one less, two less deer out there that are, eating crops or you're just mowing down vegetation or, Running trails rampant through the, through the landscape and stuff and all that, and it's not to say too that we're not whacking them and stack them and all three of us, I know, are killing a couple of deer a year and, having fun doing it, but it's so true the way that you're going about doing it and the, Do you need a bumper sticker or a t shirt or whatever it may be that's that's showing how many that's showing how hardcore you are versus, just going out and doing it.

Do you need to let everyone know, or can you just go do it?

Robert Rosenberg: And and I [00:58:00] think one of the trends I saw in the outdoor publications, whereas for a while it seemed, remember the band kiss, and their face makeup, it's like every bow hunter had to dress like kiss. They had to smear the face makeup and look like some evil tribal warrior or something.

And I what impression does that, get to your average. Person and some people might say, I don't care what the average person thinks, or I don't, I'm gonna do what I want. I've got my rights. I can do what I want. And maybe that was true back in the 70s or 80s, or, when hunters, could pound that drum and say we're the real conservationists.

We pay for our sport. We buy the land. We pay taxes on our Yeah. Game. We buy the, on our gear that we buy, we pay for the licenses, the duck stamp and the, we support it. But take a look at what's going on in society around us. And there's a really very significant shift.

Hunter numbers are declining and it's just baked in the cake every year of looking at Michigan's numbers the other day and I think they're losing their small game [00:59:00] hunting is down 76 percent in Michigan that's continuing to decline at about two and a half percent so you know tell me how that's going to change.

There is a tremendous shift from rural to urban. Our numbers are declining also. And again take a look at, take a look. Okay, we'll talk a little bit about politics. Statewide elections, it's Milwaukee and Madison that, can determine the outcome of an election. It's just what it is.

And I'm not saying that's good, and I'm not saying it's bad, it's just pretty much a fact. When I was up in Alaska doing some hunting, I was up there with a game warden, and he said, trapping could become illegal in Alaska if Anchorage got its act together and voted against it, because the population centers in Anchorage, and most of them are separated from the outdoors, you could imagine trapping being illegal in Alaska.

Culturally unfathomable the kids who grew up reading Fur Fish Game magazine wanted to move to Alaska and run a trapline, but it could certainly happen.[01:00:00] So with Madison, Milwaukee and Fox Valley and La Crosse area can control a statewide election what sort of impression are we today making upon people living in an urban environment?

And I think in a lot of ways, it's stacked against us because I love guns. I think guns are great. I love buying guns. I love owning guns. I love shooting guns. I love, just love guns. But to the average person in an urban environment, guns represent something very different. They have a much different view of what a firearm represents.

A firearm, and again, I don't want to speak in broad brushes. I don't want to use platitudes. I don't want to stereotype people. But for a lot of folks, guns represent pain and misery and sorrow. Someone in my family was killed by a gun. Someone in my class was shot walking to school. Guns represent pain and suffering and are scary.

Or I was beaten by someone with a gun or a law enforcement officer with a gun. It just, it's [01:01:00] shot. There's just... I love guns. To a lot of people they're horrible, horrific tragedy. So I don't understand, first of all, how we would get over that barrier if we want to recruit people who live in urban environments to come over to hunting.

I, I think it's stacked against us. Yeah, I get it because then the argument is, okay what about kayaking and canoeing? And it's great. Sure. Kayaks. Great idea. Love kayaking. You live on a third floor apartment. Where are you going to store the kayak? Are you going to put it on the elevator and take it up and down?

Are you going to put it on a bus? You don't have a car. Are you going to put it on a bus? How are you going to move that kayak around? Let's stand in the shoes of the people that were trying to convert to hunting. And I'll. Take it a step further. I think it's almost a little bit arrogant is basically what we're telling people in an urban environments is I want you to become like me.

And if you become like me, then you're suddenly a better person because you're doing what I want to do. [01:02:00] And I think if we really want to start understanding. The majority of citizens in the state of Wisconsin, we as hunters need to go to urban areas and gain a better understanding of what challenges that they face and what things they're really concerned about.

There, there've been some natural resource agencies that have done surveys where they've surveyed their staff and said, what's important to you? And the staff will list those surveys and then we'll go to the public, the public that they serve, what's important to you, and the list will be completely different.

There's one example that what was number one to a natural resource agency ranked number 14 to the public. But there was that much of a divergence between what the agency thought was important and what the public thought was important. These are not technical challenges, they can't be fixed just by changing something.

Giving someone a pill and your headache goes away. These are adaptive challenges that require, again, we're talking about leadership and risky conversations. But if Madison and [01:03:00] Milwaukee can decide statewide elections why would we want to do anything to alienate those people? Why wouldn't we want to find a common ground, common interests?

Know I think Wisconsin d n r is doing a really good job in the Natural Resources magazine to, to promote, a more rounded view of natural resources more than just hunting and fishing and consumptive uses. I would imagine the person that lives in an urban area wants to protect wetlands because they understand wetlands help protect against flooding, and they don't want their property to flood.

So wetlands are important for ducks, and if you live in a floodplain area, you wanna see that floodplain protected, which is where the ducks live. Has nothing to do with their concern about hunting, but I think we have those common interests and I I think it's a heavy lift, but we should start having those types of conversations.

I think not, I'm going to beg someone from the inner city to come hunting. So hopefully they'll buy a hunting license in the future. I think we have to find other [01:04:00] ways that natural resources are relevant to folks and look down those avenues. That's a heavy lift. That's going to require, and maybe I'm wrong, quite frankly, I don't want to say I've got all the solutions.

I want to say I'm right, I'm just sharing my opinion. That's what I, that's the lens I've been looking through anyway.

Pierce Nelles: And I think so much of it comes down to finding those groups like we mentioned earlier that share the common goal, that share a common they all want to see, they all benefit from healthy land, right?

Most people, most organizations, most whether it be farmers, conservation organizations, just outdoor recreationists, whoever it might be. Everybody benefits from having. More public land to go to and, another place to walk the dog, a nicer place to walk the dog, something like that and going and finding those groups who, maybe the one that comes to mind right now is the prairie [01:05:00] enthusiasts all over the southwest corner of the state here their land that's Privately owned, but it's owned by the prairie enthusiast, but, they've got their own sort of set regulations of how many people they let, hunt out there and stuff, but I've gone out there and I've seen some really nice deer out there and I chatted with one of the chapter heads there and they were like, damn, man.

All right. One, they know the property better than anyone because they're out there working on it every single week. They know, yeah, I saw a pretty nice buck down in this little thicket down here and, I've seen some people like, hang and hunt here, but, I don't see too many people go all the way back there.

It's. They understand and they are willing to, one, help you in your pursuit as long as you're out there helping them, it's a two way street and joining a local chapter of it could be anything from your Trout Unlimited chapter to your Prairie Enthusiast to your the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.

Chapters or how does that[01:06:00]

Just joining the organization, right? And just finding those groups and, as we look into if you're someone who's maybe on the fringe of on the edge of an urban area or something like that, who's living, just outside one or something, being able to find organizations where you can go in and maybe you go in once a month and you help with the cleanup day or something.

You meet some people and then maybe you start talking to some people who are there and you say Oh yeah I really love to bow hunt or, duck hunting is I'm really excited for the, for duck season here. And whatever it may be. And then, you build that relationship, you develop that kind of friendship.

And then maybe after that you invite them to come with. You just show them, hey, you want to come with and just, hang out in the boat or I'll teach you how to cast or I'll, let's just come out and, we'll go to the range or something and we'll shoot clay and I'll show you how to do that or something and just stuff like that gets people, one, it recruits them, but also it, you're doing PR work.

At the same time,

Robert Rosenberg: right? I think that's beautiful. I think it really hits the nail on the head. Where I thought you were going to [01:07:00] go when you talked about prairies in southwest Wisconsin. And I know you're a avid trout angler in the Driftless area. But if you have prairie enthusiasts who are all about planting natural vegetation, keeping invasive species out, protecting soil from erosion.

Those are three things that are really key to trout anglers. So if trout anglers could combine with prairie enthusiasts, have buffer zones along trout streams, keep the cows out of the streams, keep manure from getting into the streams, have that buffer zone, have that really nice natural scenic beauty aesthetics along the stream banks, anglers and non anglers can share a common interest, improve both of their interests, and as you say, maybe get to know each other better and learn from each other.

What could be better than that?

Pierce Nelles: Absolutely. And that's half what we're after too in the outdoors. Right now. Some of the, aside from, I mentioned, it's not about pulling the trigger for most people, right? That's a small part of the actual, process of being a.

A hunter and an outdoorsman and [01:08:00] stuff and a big part of it is it's the people you meet, right? And it's the relationships you're able to build with people and the friendships you're able to make and all of that. And you and I had, we went into this one and talk about ducks and I'm frankly, I'm glad we didn't go there today but yesterday you and I were on the phone and we were chatting about just meeting people and being a good.

A good steward of the land and a good a good what's the word for it? A good user of public land. He talked to me a little bit about, the image there and just, everybody out here, everyone listening, everyone, all the three of us on this podcast right now, we've all dealt with freaking jerks on public land who make us just either not want to go back there or if, it just leave a bad taste in our mouth and it's not, It's just not what we want.

Talk to me a little bit about that.

Robert Rosenberg: Yeah, and that's something I've struggled with a little bit. It's easy to look at other people [01:09:00] as competition, or it's easy to look at folks, other folks, as they're out, they're going to destroy my experience. Classic example, let's say duck hunting tomorrow's opening season of duck season.

And I'm just, I'm talking to some people, I'm hearing more and more user conflicts out on, out in the duck marsh and people are getting up at two in the morning and going out and staking out a spot saying, this is my hunting spot and shining a flashlight on anyone that comes near.

And I get it. I really do. Cause I've been that guy. I've gone out and I've done that and I understand it. Because if you've only if you've got if you've got a family and a job and you've only got one weekend out of the year you can hunt and you're looking forward to opening day of duck season because that's the best hunting because of the most birds around and you're really saying I've got to get out there and I've got to get my spot even though it's public land I've got to get my spot I got to keep people away and I've got to shoot my limit of birds you know you've been in many ways.

You're [01:10:00] taking your happiness and you're putting it in someone else's hands because you can get out there at two in the morning, but that doesn't prevent anyone from coming 50 yards away and throwing out decoys 15 minutes before opening hours. And then you're mad, then you're really mad and then words start flying and you can get you can get ugly and now you're, now your weekend's ruined because you set up all these expectations.

This is what I want. And those types of user conflicts happen and some, maybe some of them are unavoidable. But I think of what, what you're talking about, Pierce, is with the right mindset, you can help avoid creating, setting yourself up for disappointment. And, and I do agree that, it is Easy to look at folks and say, you're not one of my friends.

You're a stranger and there's a really good chance you're going to walk through the stream and blow all the trout out of the hole that I've been resting and getting ready to fish because you came marching upstream and walk right through where I was. And I had this happen a couple of days ago. I was [01:11:00] fishing in Michigan and this is what got me thinking about being a good role model.

There's a father and son look like a father and son. I'll assume it was a father and son team walking upstream and they were just Casting to every salmon they saw and they didn't care who was around them and in this, and I've got an area where I'm fishing and I've been staying there and they came uncomfortably close to the point where I wanted to say something like, this river is about 70 miles along.

Why do you have to be 15 feet away from me? But or when I, or excuse me, am I in your way? Just, and I just thought whether they'll pass through and this will be fine in a few minutes. But I thought this father's teaching his son just a real lack of courtesy and that sort of thing.

And I just chose not to get upset about it. Just let that pass. And I think it really comes down to what sort of a mindset you have going into the outdoors and how you view strangers and people. And I've had actually, I've gotten upset and [01:12:00] it doesn't do any good and I've had people get upset at me and that doesn't do any good and over time I've realized rather than viewing this person as a stranger or a threat, why not try to have a conversation with them and, as we've been talking about, try to find some mutual goals and I'll just give you two quick examples.

I was fishing over in Michigan a few years ago and there's a stretch of a stream that I absolutely love fishing and I got up early and I got out there in the dark and I'm all excited. Fish it and supply fishing only stretch. And there's a guy standing right where I want to be. Literally right where I want to be.

And I don't know, what do I do now? And they thought be polite. Let's just, my father always taught me you'll catch more ants with honey than vinegar. I said, okay, be polite. And I just said, Hey, don't want to interfere. Don't want to interrupt you. I just wondering how long you're planning on staying here.

I was interested in fishing here too. And he looked at me and he said. Ah, there's plenty of room just right next to me. Why not? I catch a fish, you can net it. If you catch a fish, I'll net it. It'll be fine. It was a big river. It was during [01:13:00] the salmon run. And I looked at the guy and, I don't know, after dealing, working with the public for about 30 years, Figure people out in about the first 10 seconds and I thought this guy he was wearing a pair of Orvis waders.

He looks pretty sharp. He knows what he's doing. I bet I could even learn something from this guy, and we hit it off and we talked and he taught me how he was fishing streamers and I showed him how I was fishing streamers and we caught a ton of salmon and I took pictures of him holding fish and he took pictures of me holding fish and he loved smoking a cigar and he offered me a cigar.

I didn't want the cigar, but we fished together Seven or eight hours we exchange cell phone numbers. I texted the photos to him. He texted photos to me You know, we both got back home he lives in michigan I live in wisconsin. We started sharing pictures. He showed me a fly rod he built, you know that sort of thing And then next year it was getting close to the number of an annual trip.

He said hey, are you coming over? I said? Yeah, I am and He said great. I rented a cabin and [01:14:00] my son and son in law are coming. My wife will be there. Why don't you come fish with us and, come and have a couple of beers at the cabin and that sort of thing, and that was a great afternoon last year and got to meet his family and just super people.

And then this year he texted me in July and he said, I just bought a drift boat or a raft. Let's go float the river together. Really want to take you out and. Take you out on the raft and I've never floated before and so we, a few days ago, we spent a whole day on the river and he brought food and snacks and a couple of lawn chairs to sit in the river and we drank a couple of beers and just had a great time and now we're talking about taking some other trips together and it all stems from that initial contact, that first impression, like I can choose to be a jerk to this guy and try to drive him out of my spot, or I could pout and walk away, or we could try to, let's get along, and enjoy this resource together even though we're strangers.

So I think coming into it with the right mindset that [01:15:00] I'm not going to get mad at other people. There's that. Five or 10 percent that are always going to be jerks. There's nothing you can do with them except just walk away. Don't even talk to them. Just walk away. They're just jerks. And thank God you're, thank God that's not your dad or you're not married to that person.

Just walk away. And get on with your day. Don't let someone else destroy your happiness. So that that, that's what I'm looking at, from that perspective. From a duck hunting perspective, I'll just tell one other story. Really similar situation. Middle of the season, I got to the boat landing.

It was a small boat landing and getting ready to launch. And another guy, actually, I think the guy was there before I was there. And I showed up and he's just unpacking his truck. And I started unpacking my truck and getting ready to launch the duck boat. And I'm like hey it's a fairly small spot, just, wondering where you're going.

And he made it pretty clear he was planning on going where I was planning to go. And we talked for a couple minutes and again, quickly realized this is a real sharp guy. Real good guy. And we both agreed why compete, [01:16:00] why, why sit 100 yards apart? Why don't we just sit in the boat together?

And we, I jumped in his boat, we went downstream and threw out some decoys and we sat and talked and laughed and joked and missed a couple birds, never got anything, had a great. Great morning exchange cell phone numbers and we've been in touch the last two or three years and he'll send me pictures of what he's doing and I'll send him pictures of what I'm doing.

And we've hunted together a couple of times. And again, could have been an adversary could have been viewed as a competitor. I could have been upset. He could have been upset. We just decided, we've got this common love of hunting and being outdoors. Why not share it with each other instead of, just looking at each other you're destroying my experience instead, we turned it around and you're making my experience better and hopefully his experience better too.

So I think we can choose, we can make those choices and I think it's real important to make those types of choices. I almost feel like I'm preaching now, but

Pierce Nelles: no I think those are [01:17:00] such great examples of just. What happens when you try and break bread rather than throw a fit, that somebody, because again, at the end of the day, it's public land, right?

And you and I both know folks who have they've seen other folks on the river and they've thrown a fit and they're like, what are you doing out here? I'm the only one who floats this river or this stretch and stuff like that. And everybody gets bent out of shape. But at the end of the day, it's a public resource.

And we really, it's sure. It's one thing, maybe you see somebody, a guy and his kids or a guide with clients or something like that. Oh, okay. Sure. Maybe give them some space. Sure. Whatever. But you don't need to. To throw a fit and, start cussing at each other and throwing a big fit.

And cause like you said, a lot of times you're going to find yourself having a better morning or a better experience if you're able to. They, oh, you're doing this too. Shoot, you want to fish together or hunt together? Or, obviously whitetails, it gets a little different and stuff like that.

But yeah, even with whitetails, a part of the culture of deer hunting, right? Where every, everything's a secret, you don't tell anybody what you saw or where you saw it or what [01:18:00] time it was or anything like that. But yeah, I know Josh last year, you were talking to a guy and in the parking lot, he was saying, yeah, I saw that buck or, I was in here, I'm going in this way and all that.

Even if you're not trying to hunt the guy, at least you know where he's going to be and you can set up off of that, right? Or if it's not the exact spot that you want to set up and, maybe you got to go to your plan B. At the end of the day, that's going to make you a better... Outdoorsman, right?

You're going to have to, adapt and overcome and all that. So you're, so you've got, tree A that you're going in on and you're planning to sit there, opening day or whatever, or, on your rutcation and all right, we had a big storm and that tree blew down what the hell, you need a plan B, right?

And yeah, it's just at the end of the day, you're more likely to benefit from, all around by, being forced to adapt or hunting with someone else or, sharing information, with discretion. Sure. But sharing information, sharing experience with something else or somebody else, because, maybe you learned something from them or even better. Maybe they learned something from [01:19:00] you.

Josh Raley: That's something we've talked quite a bit about on this on this podcast at different times is, if you head out to a spot of public land and someone's in your spot or somebody's in the parking lot getting ready to go out, it's so much better just to stop and talk just to stop and share, you want.

You don't necessarily want to say, Hey, I was going to hang in this tree over there. But share where you're going to be. Last year, you alluded to it, Pierce. That's... A big part of how I got into the area where I ended up killing a deer a few days later is that running into the guy in the parking lot and he says, I'm going over here.

I said, okay, great. I'll go to this totally different spot that I've never been into before, and I'll go explore what's going on over there. And you end up having an encounter and shooting a deer. Worked out for both of us. He ended up tagging a deer a couple of days later in the spot that he'd been going to.

So it, it worked out for both of us, but yeah, just great opportunity to meet people, to make the right impression, to be responsible in our use of public lands and improve all of our experiences. I think we can pack into public land a [01:20:00] little bit tighter, maybe. And I think an increase, not only the amount of access that it feels like we have, but the time that we have when we're out there as well.

Guys, we've been going for quite a while here. I think this is probably a good point to, to wrap up the conversation at least for Robert's You know, first stint here on the Wisconsin sports podcast. Robert, thank you so much for your time, for coming on today. We really appreciate it. And we look forward to having you on again.

Robert Rosenberg: Great. Thank you. This has been wonderful. I love the conversation. Love all the different directions we wanted and thank you so much. Absolutely.

Pierce Nelles: Likewise. Yeah, maybe we'll get on here again soon and we'll actually cover ducks next time. But I'm glad our conversation went this way.

Robert Rosenberg: Real quick, you

Pierce Nelles: said your strategy is only like a 20 second explanation. What's the plan going into opening weekend of waterfowl season here in the northern region?

Robert Rosenberg: Okay. So well, northern region, we're not on the Mississippi flyway. It's mostly wooded. It's not [01:21:00] productive hunting area. If you get a duck or two that don't think you're going to shoot a limit.

So manage your expectations to begin with. If I get one wood duck tomorrow morning, that's great. If I get zero, that's great, but it's only going to be one or two birds. Secondly, scouting out scouting is really important. Find them. I really look for places where either where folk where no one is or places where I've gone before where I've built those relationships with people.

I've got an opening day spot. I've gone to two or three, three or four years in a row now, and I've got to know the people in the blinds in the area. And hey, how's your brother doing? We built that type of relationship. Put the decoys where the ducks are gonna land anyway is my best decoy strategy.

And wait till the birds are really close and got their wings cuffed and shoot 'em at 25 yards and have them land in open water and it's about as easy as that. And enjoy the morning, bring up thermos of coffee and a little snack and watch the sun come up and be really grateful for what we've got.

Pierce Nelles: Absolutely.[01:22:00] I'm a little jealous. Just that image you just painted there. I'm jealous. I'm not going to be able to be out there tomorrow morning as well, but good luck to you, Robert. And again, thank you for your time. I think, everybody could benefit from this conversation and just being better stewards of the land.

So be good to the land, be good to each other. And Everybody take care.

Josh Raley: Awesome. Thanks guys. That's all for this week's episode. As always. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you dig this show, be sure to subscribe to this podcast, wherever it is that you get your podcasts while you're at it, if you could leave me a five star review, I would very much appreciate that.

You can also follow along with my outdoor adventures on Instagram at the Wisconsin sportsman or at how to hunt deer. That's also the best way to get ahold of me, suggest topics, guests, or questions that you'd like me to explore on the show. Big thanks to our partners, Tacticam, Huntworth, and OnX. Please go support the brands that support this show.

And if you're looking for more great outdoor content, check out the sportsmansempire. com where you'll find my other podcast, the How to Hunt Deer podcast, as well as a ton of other [01:23:00] awesome outdoor podcasts. And until next time, make sure you make the time to get outside and enjoy the incredible natural resources that are ours as Wisconsin sportsmen.