The magic of Opening Day

If I had to choose, fall is my favorite season. I suspect that many of us who enjoy the outdoors share this opinion.

That’s because this season, arguably, provides more opportunities to connect with nature than any other. The final few months of the year offer fantastic fishing, foliage that serves up an incredible backdrop, and, in Wisconsin, the bulk of our hunting seasons.

From September through November, I spend nearly all of my free time outside. Between chasing river run salmon, targeting smallmouth bass that are strapping on the feedbag prior to the arrival of winter, finding “the X” for that next waterfowl hunt, and ensuring I have a few hours to sit in the deer stand on occasion, it seems that there just isn’t enough time in the day come autumn.

But it is September 1 that is the gateway to all of these wonderful things. That day marks the beginning of the early goose, mourning dove, and, more recently, the early teal hunting seasons in Wisconsin.

I have been in the field, shotgun in-hand, on the first day of September each of the last 11 years. Every one of these trips has brought varying degrees of success. But none of that dampens the excitement that comes with the first hunt of the year.

The key ingredients for this excitement are a combination of reflection and anticipation. Remembering the past while looking to the future with an eye on all the possibilities that await can stir up powerful emotions. Even the act of preparing for Opening Day gets my mind racing.

Sure, the potential of filling my freezer with game and the allure of successful hunts is exciting. But hunting is about so much more than that.

In late August, I begin to get my hunting gear in order. I purchase my duck stamp, dust off my decoys, organize my shotgun shells, and make sure my blind bag is properly stocked. Every part of the process brings its own little trip down memory lane. From hunts with those who are no longer with us to remembrances of legendary outings in brutal weather, these memories quickly transition into a glance into the future and all of the potential that is waiting to be tapped.

On August 31, I go to bed with the special feeling of knowing that I have the ability to go hunting every single day for the next 90 days or so. Each of those trips has the power to turn into something special.

The dawn of fall means the chance to find adventure in places both new and old. It brings about the chance to create new memories that will be cherished and shared for years to come.

Opening Day ushers in more opportunities to catch up with old friends and keep meaningful connections alive. It means crisp days in the field that transition into cleaning birds on tailgates which leads to campfire-lit socials with plenty of cold beer and an even steadier supply of laughs.

Perhaps most importantly, Opening Day is a chance for those of us who invest time in the outdoors to reap what we’ve sown. It’s an opportunity to realize the fruits of our labor.

All of the hours spent brushing-in blinds, scouting spots, improving our accuracy, practicing our calling, learning our craft: it’s all for this. When daylight breaks on the first day of the season, the dividends of those efforts begin to pay out.

Those who spend time and invest money in protecting habit and promoting conservation will see that first flock of birds crest the horizon and get to enjoy the realization that those efforts played a part in making that moment a reality.

There’s a feeling that comes with all of this. And I’ve learned it’s impossible to find anywhere else.

Opening Day is a chance to reflect while also a looking ahead — a reminder of all that has been and all that could be.

And that’s the magic of Opening Day.

Nathan Woelfel Outdoors Podcast – Episode 13: A game warden’s perspective

It’s Episode 13 of the Nathan Woelfel Outdoors Podcast!

Warden Kaitlin Kernosky of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources joins the show to give us her perspective on the Wisconsin outdoors.

This conversation covers a wide range of topics including: Kaitlin’s outdoor background, the day-to-day life of a game warden, what it takes to work in conservation law enforcement, trapping, and much more.

You can listen to this episode by using the player below or by finding it wherever you get your podcasts.

Like what you hear? Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button on your podcast platform of choice, so you never miss another episode.

To find contact information for your local Wisconsin DNR game warden, click here.

Why you should buy a federal duck stamp (even if you don’t hunt)

For those of us who are avid waterfowl hunters, purchasing a federal duck stamp is part of our yearly routine. It’s required by law, after all.

While it’s true that hunters make up the vast majority of those who purchase this stamp, the benefits from the revenue generated reach far beyond the hunting community. That’s why, if you love the outdoors, you should strongly consider purchasing a federal duck stamp, even if you don’t hunt.

The fact is: there is a cost that comes with keeping the wild parts of our country intact. Purchasing a federal migratory bird stamp (or “duck stamp”) is one of the easiest ways to do your part.

Stamps cost $25 and can be purchased online in most states through the Department of Natural Resources or at most local post offices.

Over 98 percent of every dollar spent on a federal duck stamp goes directly to preserving wildlife habitat. This money is allocated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. You would be hard-pressed to find an instance where the dollars of a goodwill investment work harder. In fact, the more than $900 million generated by these stamps has helped protect and restore over 6 million acres across all 50 states that birds, fish, and other wildlife call home. Approximately one-third of animals that utilize these lands are species that are listed as threatened or endangered.

This habitat produces wildlife and clean water that is enjoyed well beyond these properties. It can also help minimize the impacts of flooding and storm surges.

A classic example of duck stamp dollars at work is Wisconsin’s Horicon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. This 33,000-acre property is one of the largest freshwater marshes in the United States and nearly 99 percent of the land was acquired with funds stemming from purchases of federal duck stamps.

If hunting isn’t your thing, buying a duck stamp can still offer some great experiences. For instance, a current federal duck stamp can be used to gain admission into any national wildlife refuge that charges an admission fee.

For those who consider themselves philatelists, these stamps have become collector’s items. Each year dozens of artists submit their work to be considered for the stamp, with only one being featured on the new edition. Year-over-year, no two duck stamps are alike.

If you want to make an investment in the outdoors, a federal duck stamp is a great place to start.

For more information on how you can help support wildlife, check out Episode 10 of The Nathan Woelfel Outdoors Podcast below or listen wherever you get your podcasts.

How you can help support Nathan Woelfel Outdoors

Since I first launched Nathan Woelfel Outdoors late last year, I’ve been humbled by how many people have reached out asking how they can help support the site.

Personally, with my journalism background, I view it as my job to share compelling stories, helpful tips, and delicious recipes for all of you to enjoy. Hopefully, by doing this, I can help those of you who spend time with my articles and podcasts view the outdoors in a different way. I’ve always felt that if I need to ask my readers to read, I’m doing something wrong.

However, the support questions keep coming and I’m very grateful for that. So, if you take enjoyment from the content here at Nathan Woelfel Outdoors, here are a few things you can do to support the site (and most of them won’t cost you a dime).

Tell your friends!

Word of mouth goes a long way. If you enjoy what’s going on here, don’t be afraid to tell other people about the site.

“Like” or follow NWO on social media.

You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

If you see a post you enjoy, like or comment on the corresponding social media post. If you think your friends or family could benefit from something, share it. All of these actions expand the reach of the page and this content.

Visit the website.

Fact is: Most social platforms pick and choose who gets to see which posts. The overwhelming odds are that most of my followers do not see every post. I try to post at least one new article per week to the website. The only way to be sure you don’t miss out is to go directly to nathanwoelfeloutdoors.com every once in a while.

Subscribe to the Nathan Woelfel Outdoors Podcast.

Get inside tips from a host of outdoor professionals and explore the more philosophical sides of hunting and fishing.

By subscribing on the platform of your choice, you’ll be notified every time a new episode drops and the latest shows will be downloaded straight to your mobile device.

Buy NWO gear.

Occasionally, I place an order for branded hats and I put out a call for orders on Facebook. I also have Nathan Woelfel Outdoors vinyl decals available for purchase by messaging the Facebook page or by emailing me at natewoelfel@gmail.com. I also plan to explore other apparel options in the future. Proceeds from all of these items go toward covering expenses such as website licensing and podcast support platforms.

I am incredibly grateful for the level of support I have received from all of you. Frankly, if no one was reading, watching, or listening to the content I put out, there wouldn’t be much of a point to any of this. Thankfully, that’s not the case.

I hope those of you who want to assist in growing the site find these actions as a good place to start. I look forward to continuing to grow Nathan Woelfel Outdoors in the months and years to come.

Nathan Woelfel Outdoors Podcast – Episode 8: Waterfowl Recruitment and Hunting Philosophy

It’s Episode 8 of the Nathan Woelfel Outdoors Podcast!

In this show, Nathan is joined by Joel Brice, Chief Conservation Officer for Delta Waterfowl. Listen in as the pair talks about Delta’s role in conservation, discusses the importance of waterfowl recruitment, and offers some of their perspectives on the future of hunting. 

Learn more about Delta Waterfowl at deltawaterfowl.org. Listen to Delta’s Voice of the Duck Hunter Podcast here.

You can listen to this episode using the player below or by finding the show wherever you get your podcasts. Like what you hear? Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss an episode.

Introducing the Nathan Woelfel Outdoors Podcast

I am extremely pleased to announce that the Nathan Woelfel Outdoors podcast is now available on most major podcast platforms.

After much deliberation and a lot of encouragement from some impactful people in my life, I have decided to take the plunge into the podcasting space.

The show will focus on providing perspective and advice on a host of outdoor topics including hunting, fishing, and birding. The format will include a mix of solo episodes as well as appearances from guests who are involved in the outdoors.

It is my hope that this podcast will be an extension of the community I am trying to create with this website. I encourage each and every one of you to submit questions or provide topics you would like to hear discussed on the show either via email or by reaching out on Facebook or Instagram.

Follow the links below to listen. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe on your platform of choice so you can be sure you’ll never miss a new episode.

Thank you for your continued support of Nathan Woelfel Outdoors. This is an extremely exciting time, but we are just getting started.

The Nathan Woelfel Outdoors Podcast is currently available on:

Anchor

Apple Podcasts

Breaker

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts

Radio Public

Spotify

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