Wild Wisconsin - Off the Record

Wisconsinite’s love the outdoors. But for families, it can be challenging to find the time for adventures while balancing responsibilities at home. John Stellflue, a Sun Prairie resident and avid outdoorsman, recently headed out for the youth hunt with his nephew – on his wedding anniversary. How did he pull that off? Compromise and respect. From the day they said I do, John and his wife, Caralyn, have had a few simple rules to balance his love of the hunt and their marriage.

Listen to the latest episode of Wild Wisconsin -- Off the Record as we sit down to learn a bit more about those rules and how John is able to balance his outdoor lifestyle with the rest of life in general.

Show Notes

Wisconsinite’s love the outdoors. But for families, it can be challenging to find the time for adventures while balancing responsibilities at home. John Stellflue, a Sun Prairie resident and avid outdoorsman, recently headed out for the youth hunt with his nephew – on his wedding anniversary. How did he pull that off? Compromise and respect. From the day they said I do, John and his wife, Caralyn, have had a few simple rules to balance his love of the hunt and their marriage.

Listen to the latest episode of Wild Wisconsin -- Off the Record as we sit down to learn a bit more about those rules and how John is able to balance his outdoor lifestyle with the rest of life in general.
ANNOUNCER:  Welcome to Wisconsin DNR's Wild Wisconsin "Off the Record" podcast. Information straight from the source.

[00:00:09] KATIE GRANT: Welcome back to another episode of Wild Wisconsin "Off the Record". I'm your host, DNR's Digital Media Coordinator, Katie Grant. Here at the DNR, we use social media to help inform the public about the many facets of Wisconsin life that we touch on a daily basis. It's also a great source for us to hear your Wisconsin stories.

[00:00:35] One of those stories came from John Stellflue, a Sun Prairie resident who tagged us in a Facebook post about heading out for the youth hunt with his nephew... on his wedding anniversary. John and his wife, Carolyn have from the beginning of their marriage, had a few simple rules in place to ensure he'd be able to hunt and fish as often as possible.

[00:00:56] We sat down to learn a bit more about those rules and how John is able to balance his outdoor lifestyle with the rest of life in general. So sit back and listen in.

[00:01:05] JOHN STELLFLUE: My name's John Stellflue. Born and raised in Wisconsin. I'm a lifelong outdoorsman. Hunting, fishing... everything Wisconsin. You know, ultimate dream is to be able to live by doing something in the outdoors. You know, unfortunately, not unfortunately,  I mean, I have a job now, but it'd really be cool if someday I could you know, just make a living, doing what I love, you know? In the meantime I work hard and weekends and vacations are mainly spent hunting and fishing, you know... all Wisconsin stuff.

[00:01:45] I've been fortunate to get a bear tag. A few years back I got a bear.  Deer, turkey,  lots of fishing. Many, many years it was almost exclusively musky fishing. Kind of graduated now into doing a little bit, a little bit more multi-species things, but I still mainly musky fish. But,  many years I was a Hunter Education Instructor.

[00:02:09] I haven't done that in a long time, but I miss that. So that's a little bit about myself. 

[00:02:15] CARALYN STELLFLUE: And I'm Carolyn Stellflue.  Like John, lifelong, Wisconsin resident. In fact, we grew up in the same town. I am not the outdoors person, at least not his kind of outdoors person. I mean, I love my gardening and walking and stuff like that, but I don't hunt.

[00:02:36] I hunted once. I do like to go fishing with him, but yeah, I'm a little different type of an outdoor person. 

[00:02:42] KATIE: Fantastic. So you guys recently celebrated a 30th wedding anniversary, correct? 

[00:02:49] CARALYN: 31 

[00:02:49] KATIE: 31?

[00:02:50] JOHN: 31. Yep. 31. 1988. 

[00:02:53] KATIE:  All right:

[00:02:54] JOHN: We're rocking the national average every day we get up.

[00:02:58] KATIE: There you go. How did you guys meet?

[00:03:00] JOHN: How does anybody meet in Wisconsin? In a bar. [Laughs} Yeah. I was, one of us was making a pool shot... she was going to make a pool shot. And then she asked me what my advice was and I really had no advice. She thought I was cute. So...

[00:03:20] KATIE: The rest is history. When we talked John, you said, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Carolyn as long as I could hunt and fish that entire time.

[00:03:33] So, [To Caralyn] you said you're not quite as outdoorsy as John.

[00:03:36] CARALYN:  No. 

[00:03:37] KATIE: Have you come further than you were when you first met? 

[00:03:41] CARALYN: Well yeah, cause I think that my not being the same type of outdoorsy he is probably just a different generation. Like I was around hunting. My brother's hunted, my dad hunted, my uncles. I mean, I knew that, you know, when hunting season was and pheasant, my dad fished, my uncles fish.

[00:03:58] I was around all of that, but I was a girl. And I don't know they just never took me along as much. Took my brothers, but, you know, not so much me. Then when John and I got married and we started going... we started going camping before we even got married. And then we bought the boat the year that Carissa was born or a little bit before.

[00:04:21] And so, yeah, that's when I started, you know, doing any of that kind of stuff at all was after we got married. 

[00:04:27] KATIE: So you said musky fishing. What are your other absolute Wisconsin outdoors favorites. 

[00:04:35] JOHN: So Whitetail hunting of course, but a couple of years ago I was lucky enough to draw a bear tag. And that to me was probably one of the coolest things I've ever done in a Wisconsin woods.

[00:04:48] I did a DIY hunt. I spent that whole summer driving from, you know, we lived down here near Madison driving to Rusk County. I mean I get home from work Friday night, throw the gear in the truck and I... from the 4th of July on, I was gone every single weekend baiting bear. And then I just stayed in a tent and camped.

[00:05:08] I left my boat right up there so I could fish, but we saw, I saw a fair number of bear during my hunt. I was able to get, you know, your standard run of the mill middle of Wisconsin bear. Not a giant, but you know, shot it with my bow. So I was excited. That was fun. That was something I really, really enjoyed, but you know, the problem is, is everyone wants to do it. And it's, you know, seven, six to seven, eight years to get a tag. But...

[00:05:29] CARALYN: Yeah. Interesting story about getting the tag. 

[00:05:32] KATIE: Alright, go on. 

[00:05:34] CARALYN: Because I don't remember. He maybe had mentioned wanting to go bear hunting and stuff. I don't recall if he had or not.

[00:05:44] JOHN: I probably didn't.

[00:05:45] CARALYN: Well, if it was the seven year thing he could have and I could have forgot, but, and then I don't know where you were... 

[00:05:53] JOHN: I was at my mom's. 

[00:05:54] CARALYN: Oh, okay, because we were talking on the phone and I had grabbed the mail out of the mailbox and I was kind of flipping through it as I was talking to him and I'm like... what is this?

[00:06:05] And I looked at it or I looked at my phone and I like, did you apply for a bear tag? And he's like, why is there one there? And I'm like, yeah, it appears to be a bear tag here. 

[00:06:18] JOHN: So my kill tag showed up in the mail and I figured I was a year out yet.  You know, so I was I was a little early and and I'm like, you gotta send a picture of it, you know?

[00:06:29] So I made her, I made her take a picture and send it to me and I was so excited. So then I said to her, I said, didn't I tell you about this?  She said, No, you never told me about this. 

[00:06:39] CARALYN: Didn't I tell you about this wink, wink. 

[00:06:41] JOHN: Which that's something that happens as a man, a husband, guy like me who who's been married for 32 years.

[00:06:49] Cause if you truly told your wife everything that goes on in the outdoor world, that marriage would have ended many years ago. I've always said my biggest fear in life is that if I die before her... she sells all my hunting and fishing gear for what I told her I paid for it.

[00:07:05] KATIE: Well that perfectly leads us to my next question. So early on you guys set some ground rules to make sure that John could still get outdoors. So... One, he had to hunt and fish where he said he was going to hunt and fish so that you would know where he was in case of an issue... That he would always come home at the agreed upon time. That he would always wear his safety harness when he was in a tree.

[00:07:29] That he would never spend ridiculous amounts of money on equipment without discussing it with you first...

[00:07:34] CARALYN: Clearly he's broken that rule. 

[00:07:38] KATIE: And that holidays, anniversaries with one exception, the youth hunt, birthdays, families, all of that stuff comes before hunting and fishing. Were these the original rules that you guys set or have you guys added to them or altered them kind of throughout the years? 

[00:07:54] CARALYN: No, it was pretty much the original. And honestly you got to remember too, 31 years ago, there was no cell phones. I mean, that sounds so bad to say, but there weren't. And so, I mean, that was very much... those first rules were very much a safety issue and we lived in our hometown. We..my sister and brother in law own a farm. John hunted on a friend's farm. 

[00:08:24] JOHN: Well, a couple different farms, several places early on. 

[00:08:27] CARALYN: Yeah. There were several places to hunt and I didn't want him ever leaving, not coming back. And then I'm like, okay, which of the six places...

[00:08:35] KATIE: Could he possibly...

[00:08:36] CARALYN:  Could he possibly be? Right. So, I mean, it was very much a safety thing that was first and foremost on my mind and I don't, I mean, I don't think we've ever really revised anything too much. It was, those are just practical concerns. 

[00:08:51] KATIE: Well, we certainly appreciate the safety aspect of that. 

[00:08:54] JOHN: I lived up to my end of the deal, except once. 

[00:08:57] KATIE: Why don't you tell us a little bit about the, the one time that I hear you broke these rules?

[00:09:02] JOHN: I have a man room at home and there is one piece of furniture in there that I absolutely despise. I hate it. I can't stand it. But I will never take it out of the man room because that furniture is the end result of the one day that I didn't come home when I said I would. So I was with a  good friend of mine and his cousin, and we were musky fishing up in northern Wisconsin. We'd been fishing all weekend. We started to fish Friday night, fish all day Saturday and without asking what time we are going to be home on Sunday, I said to her, I said, well I'm sure he's going to be wanting to heading back to Madison by, you know, probably noon. This was when he lived in Rhinelander.

[00:09:42] And so I said, I'm sure I'll be back, you know, right around noon. And so we get fishing and I mean this guy's a machine. I mean, he's got he, this guy fishes. I mean, I, we did one trip in a boat where we fished 18 hours. And I'm not exaggerating. 18 hours in a boat. 

[00:09:58] KATIE: Wow. 

[00:09:59] JOHN: Yup. And so this guy, I mean, back then we could fish and we could fish long hours.

[00:10:05] And he's like, I got nothing. We got on the water Sunday morning. I said, I've got nothing to get home for. He said, I'm going to fish til at least dark. And I'm going, and we all rode out to the landing together and I'm going, this ain't gonna be good. And I finally talked him into coming off the water. We weren't having much luck that day thank God. If the fish were going  I'd probably still be on the water. We caught one early in the day and then it just kind of died. We couldn't get nothing to going so it was probably 5:30 or six o'clock I finally got off the water. 

[00:10:31] CARALYN: Well, I think it might've been earlier than that even. I seem to recall only like three in the afternoon.

[00:10:36] JOHN: Okay. So, but even then I knew I was in trouble. And the funny thing is, is we're driving back into town. And at that time, my personal vehicle, I had a St. Croix rod sticker on the back of it. And we're driving into town, and I see my wife and my two daughters pull out of the grocery store and they stop at a stop light.

[00:10:58] And we slide in right behind them and my buddy who kept me out way past my curfew said, Hey, there's a Saint Croix rod sticker on the back of that Ford Explorer right there. And then my wife turns around and flips us the bird. And my buddy says, my buddy says... That lady just whipped us the bird. I said, yes, that's my wife. I am really, really late. 

[00:11:23] CARALYN: From my perspective. We were sitting at the lights and I knew they were right behind us. And so I'm looking in the rear view mirror and I see this timid little man waving really little cutesy and I, and that's when I lost it. and that's when I flipped him off, and then just continued to, I must have went somewhere.

[00:11:51] JOHN: Yeah. You did. 

[00:11:52] CARALYN: I think I knew how mad I was. I figured I'd better go for a drive.

[00:11:55] JOHN:  So, this green cabinet that I mentioned  at the start of the story had been sitting in a box in our sun room for, I don't know, most of the summer. And so I walked inside and I'm like hey, she's not here. I got to get this cabinet put together and maybe that will save the day. And I had it about half together when she got home, I did finish it. And you know as mad as she was, and I don't blame her for being mad, we, you know, as we tell this story now we're laughing about it, but I learned my lesson then and there. And from that day on I was always home when I said I'd be home so...  

[00:12:31] CARALYN: And I did get the cabinet put together on the deal. So...

[00:12:34] JOHN:  And we still, me and my buddy, we still talk about that story to this day. So yeah, that's a great story.

[00:12:41] KATIE: Those are some of the best ones. Talk to me about taxidermy in the house.

[00:12:50] CARALYN: I am not a fan. And this, I might, this might've been one of my rules even when we started, because I don't remember ever really agreeing to any sort of taxidermy.  It's just not my thing and that was before I knew what it costs... for people to have taxidermy done because I was, I was reasonably stunned at, and this is with the John factor in there.

[00:13:19] I'm quite sure what I've been told a lot of those things cost, is not what they actually cost. 

[00:13:25] John: I think I've been, I think I've been pretty truthful about the taxidermy. When we lived in Rhinelander my job brought me down here. And so we commuted and I ultimately bought the house and I lived down here for a number of months before I bought the family down.

[00:13:41] And as I was commuting back and forth, I would bring car loads of stuff down. Well, one of the things I just, I mean, the easy stuff to bring was all my stuff, you know? And so I was bringing my taxidermy down. All of a sudden, just all my taxidermy was going up and I sent her a picture and I said, I think I just claimed the man room.

[00:14:01] So that was one story. Then there was another story. And this was one where I truly asked for forgiveness instead of permission. A number of years back, I shot an extremely rare turkey. It is called a Smoke Phase Turkey. And what it  is... it's a turkey that doesn't have any black pigment in it. No, I'm sorry. It doesn't have any brown pigment in it. Doesn't have any brown. And I mean, if I see a wild turkey and was, what color does it, I mean, it pretty much looks brown. Right? 

[00:14:31] KATIE: Right. 

[00:14:31] JOHN: So this turkey is void of any brown. So it's white and blue and black. The back, the back of the turkey is iridescent blue and theres...

[00:14:44] the rest of the turkey is white and black. And when I shot it, I really didn't know what I had. I was by myself. And I shot it right away in the morning. And I come out of the woods and I texted the group I was with, I said, oh, I shot a black and white Jake. Well, they thought, you know, black and white, meaning, you know, run of the mill, you know, standard Jake it's true.

[00:15:03] That truly was a color. And so my buddy shot a bird and he come out and he said where's that bird you shot. And I told him, and then he said, well, let me see it. And I held it up in a way... I held it by the feet and the wings kind of fell open and he took a picture of it and he said, He said, oh my God John, he said, this thing's beautiful. Look at this picture. And so he showed me the picture and I said, I'm getting that mounted. And immediately we were making arrangements, calling taxidermists and you know, to do a full body mount of it. And I never even asked her. I didn't even... that one I just, I just, she said, what are you doing to that turkey?

[00:15:38] I don't want no stupid fan hanging in the house. Well, good. You're not going to get a stupid fan hanging in the house you're going to get a full bird hanging in the house.

[00:15:46] CARALYN: And I know that was a no, I mean I might have bent on deer heads, but I know I never wanted a bird. That is, oh my gosh. Beautiful is not the term that comes to my mind. It is... obnoxious. I keep hoping the cat will eat it and the cat hasn't come through for me. My one funny taxidermy story that I, uh...well, when we lived in Rhinelander, we rented. When we first moved up there, we rented a house so we only had, um, we had two bedrooms living room and dining room. It was just the first floor of a house and we had our two daughters that shared a bedroom and it wasn't a whole ton of room as they got older and bigger toys. And we'd given one of them a bouncy rocking horse type of deal and it wouldn't fit in their bedrooms so it was out in the front room of the house. And I don't know why. Well, I know that the mounts were all out there cause that's where there room for them, but why they were right above that bouncy horse I'll never know. And I think it was both of them on the horse really bouncing and the next thing I know the deer head is on the floor and it was one that had a nice drop tine, which promptly snapped off. And I can't say that I felt real bad about it. 

[00:17:10] JOHN: The good thing is, it broke off clean so it was very easily fixed. You can't even tell it, so... 

[00:17:16] CARALYN: Yeah and as my other little way of dealing with the taxidermy in the house, I always hang Christmas bulbs off of the...

[00:17:26] KATIE: There you go.

[00:17:27] CARALYN: Off of the horns. 

[00:17:28] KATIE: So your daughters, did they ever get in on, on the outdoor life with you at all? 

[00:17:32] JOHN: So they did. Neither one of them so much anymore. Carissa is our oldest and she got into hunting. Not, you know, not avid, but she'd go with me. She didn't like getting up early. That was  one thing. She didn't like the kick of the gun.

[00:17:50] You know, those were the two things. But, she loved what I have now moved to. She loved that part of the hunt, which is the memories that comradery, the friends, the people you go with. And as a young girl for her to pick up on that and for her to enjoy that aspect of it as much as she did was always pretty special to me.

[00:18:12] That was back before my dad passed. He was, he was alive and then there was a landowner... we hunted on his farm and, you know, sadly they're both gone now. But she hunted for four years with me. And prior to her fifth year of hunting, our landowner, who was a family best friend, he died very suddenly, very unexpected, and I'll never forget the phone call.

[00:18:35] I was actually in my boat. I just backed the boat in and I just got up musky fishing and I don't remember. I was in, I just got done with a guide trip and I was in retying and sharpening hooks and my mother called and she said that he had passed and I went inside and I was crying and they said, what's wrong? And I said, well, Nels died. And immediately, Nels was a gentleman on the farm, immediately Carissa said, I'm not hunting anymore. So I give it a few weeks, maybe even a month. Then I said, what's the deal? You know, she's no Dad I'm done. I'm done. And she's never hunted since. You know, so... 

[00:19:10] CARALYN: Nels made things pretty special for her though too.

[00:19:12] JOHN: He did.

[00:19:13] CARALYN: The one year he gave her, that was the, was the first year she hunted and he gave her this deer camp award. He typed it up and had a picture...

[00:19:21] JOHN: She got a deer her first year. 

[00:19:23] CARALYN: Yeah. And she was allowed to bring beers to them. All these little things that were her deer camp duties. I mean he made it real special for her.

[00:19:32] JOHN: So she hunted for a couple of years. And then my youngest really got into fishing. Especially when she was younger and... oh, she lives in town here still. But she's busy and we were going to fish all this summer and of course I'm up early and they're not. And then we can never get the scheduled arranged.

[00:19:47] But when we were younger, one of her, one of her and one of my favorite things, one of our favorite things, she'd call me in my office or on my cell phone. And she would say, Dad what are we having for supper? And I said, Oh, I don't know. And, and she said, well, let's have nibblers. So what nibblers were...that was bluegills. That's what you called them.

[00:20:08] And we lived very, very close to Boom Lake in Rhinelander and there was one particular snag that I knew about, kind of way on the backside and up in the backwater and very few people ever went there. And you could go there in probably a half hour, 45 minutes, maybe an hour at the most. Her and I could get enough bluegill for the family to eat.

[00:20:29] So I get home from work. I'd hook the boat up. We'd stop at a bait shop, buy a 36 count box of red worms and throw the boat in the water and go fish for literally 45 minutes to an hour. Come home, clean fish, and  we never froze fish. Ever. We just, we ate them all right away. 

[00:20:46] KATIE: The way that we heard about you guys was from a Facebook post about taking your nephew out for the youth hunt. Tell me a little bit about how you got, got into bringing him into the hunting world. 

[00:20:56] JOHN: Yep. So... Going back to what Carolyn said earlier. My brother-in-law is a dairy farmer...that's, Carolyn's sister is married to Mike and they're dairy farmers and they've got a very large dairy farm over to western Wisconsin.

[00:21:12] And Mike is... Mike and his and his two boys run it now. So, and his two boys, our nephews, my one nephew, Jason, he has kids. Well, the youth hunt is right at a time where they're harvesting. They're there in the middle of chopping corn and nobody has time to take them. And so he's got his, his oldest son Johnny is now beyond the youth hunt, but I mentored him. And him and I shot several deer together.

[00:21:45] Then Jason's next, next boy is Gunnar. And I mentored him this year. He shot a real nice nine pointer and he's got two more boys coming up, but the problem is those guys can't ever get out because they're harvesting. So they call me, Hey, can you take the guy's youth hunting? And you know, so I did.

[00:22:02] And one of the first years I went, my brother-in-law Mike said, isn't it your wedding anniversary? I said, well, it's not today. It's tomorrow. And he said, all right, but how did you pull that off? I said, well, because I need to take Johnny, that's my nephew, I need to take him hunting, you know? And, uh, so.... She was gracious the first year, but then the second year she's like...they're not even your kids come on, you know? So we've kind of did an every other year thing,you know, ever since. And it's worked out well. So we've had fun with you with the youth hunt so... it's just, I just got to balance it between our anniversary and the youth hunt and God bless her for letting me kind of go every other year or so.

[00:22:48] And that'll probably happen for a number more years yet cause Tristen and Caleb are coming up so there'll be... I'll have many more years of mentoring, which I love doing. It's absolutely... I was as excited for Gunnar to shoot that real nice nine pointer that he shot this year as I would have been to a shot at a giant 10 pointer.

[00:23:06] KATIE: So, right, right. It's interesting that you are so accommodating to the anniversary aspect of it. So my Mom and... my Mom and myself both have October birthdays. And my dad goes out west duck hunting and pheasant hunting and whatever. And I have a memory of one birthday growing up where he was home because every single other one, it's the weekend of opening duck hunting out west and he would be gone every year, duck hunting.  But it was the best time because then Mom and I could just, we could go shop. We could do whatever. And Dad, wasn't there to say no. So it's cool that you guys kind of around the similar time of year  have that worked out. 

[00:23:44] CARALYN: Well, and we, that's kind of how we worked things out. Cause he... the year it did get tough when he was guiding. Because that was a lot of time gone. And then he also fished a league, musky fishing league when we lived in Rhinelander as well. But we did something similar where... it was a Tuesday night league. So the girls and I always knew that Dad was going to be fishing that night.

[00:24:12] So we had, I think it was The Bachelor. I literally think it was like when The Bachelor first came out. Yeah. So Carissa and I and Katelyn knew that that was the night that we'd watch The Bachelor and we'd make up frozen pizza or something, you know? Well, cause John cooks as well, but yeah, maybe that's the trade off. You do all the cooking. I let you fish and hunt whenever you want but you do all the cooking. But you know, so the girls and I would do our own little thing, you know? And so, even though he was gone, we had the trade off of the girls night and something special for us. So...

[00:24:44] KATIE:  So I hate to throw you under the bus again. 

[00:24:46] JOHN: Yep. That's fine. 

[00:24:47] KATIE: But a seven week old puppy? At the  start of deer season. What were you thinking? 

[00:24:53] JOHN: This one was bad. 

[00:24:56] CARALYN: I did bring that on myself. 

[00:24:59] JOHN: So we've always been dog people. In fact, one of my first memories with her as we went and picked out her very first dog together,and it was a mutt from our hometown and the dog's name was Duster, but it was the greatest dog ever. She was a great, great dog of ours, you know, and she lived a good life and, and we had a chocolate lab, which I actually, we actually adopted from one, from one of my guide clients. A guy that used to musky fish with me and a chocolate lab. Um, he was getting old and  he died and I said, okay, I'm picking a dog. I want a yellow lab. So Willie died in June. Yeah. Cause Willie died in June.

[00:25:45] So we lost two dogs relatively quick. But Willie died in June and I said, well, and these two had already picked out a dog. They picked out a little one, which I never wanted that little dog, but he's now my best friend as well. 

[00:25:56] CARALYN: Larry, Larry's a 10 pound Chihuahua, but with a 50 pound attitude. So they had this little dog already in the house.

[00:26:03] So we had a little dog, you know, just for a little while. And I said, well, I'm going to get a, I'm going to get a lab. And I looked all summer. I just didn't pull the trigger for whatever reason. And then it got into deer season and I just kind of had forgotten about it. And she saw on Facebook that these people had yellow labs for 150 bucks.

[00:26:20] CARALYN: It was in our hometown.

[00:26:21] JOHN:  In our hometown, right where I deer hunt because I don't deer hunt near here. I deer hunt over in western Wisconsin. Western Trempealeau County. And I said, well, I'm going to stop on my way home to look at these dogs. And so I had a bunch of cash on me and then I pulled in and I think she had three, three males left and in this one dog, he just would not get out from underneath my feet.

[00:26:41] And it wasn't the one I had my eye on. I was looking at these two other ones, cause this dog was a runt. You know, I wasn't interested in him but he just wouldn't get out from underneath my feet. And so I brought, I brought him home and, and uh, the fact that he was a runt is beyond me because he's now 98 pounds.

[00:27:00] But the worst part about it was I had identified two really large bucks that year and I was into it that year and I brought this dog home on November 7th and I had a bunch of vacation planned. And so it wasn't like I was just gone on the weekends. I mean, I think I was gone if you take November 7th to whatever last weekend of the gun deer season I bet, I was away from home, probably a dozen of those days.

[00:27:29] So I got a seven week old lab and in the first 20 days of that dog being home I'm gone for a dozen of them. So I got home from gun deer season that, you know, Sunday, the last weekend of gun deer season. And I don't know if this was it's true, but this is what I remember. They met me at the door and they threw the dog at me and said, take care of this dog we're outta here. I mean that's kind of what I remember. I don't think that actually happened, but I mean, that's the vibe I got when I walked through the door. So there was no late season hunting for me that year, though it was me and Stormy after that. So, so that was, that was not a very nice thing to do.

[00:28:10] CARALYN: And it wasn't, it's not that Stormy is a bad dog.

[00:28:13] JOHN: It's a seven week old puppy thats a lot of work.

[00:28:16] CARALYN:  You're outside every half hour and even doing that, he's peeing somewhere at some point.

[00:28:24] KATIE:  Or finding the shoe to chew on.

[00:28:27] CARALYN:  Yes. He's eaten a lot of shoes and always my shoes. 

[00:28:30] KATIE: Always. Do you guys have any final advice for people who are trying to figure out... okay, how do I balance this whole family life thing with their love and passion for the outdoors?

[00:28:47] JOHN: Oh, it's just, there's one word it's... it's compromise. 

[00:28:50] CARALYN: And respect.

[00:28:51] JOHN: Two words. Compromise and respect. Yeah. You know, I remember one year the girls were swimming. And when they were in high school I didn't get much deer hunting time cause they were swimming. And I remember getting up that morning. It was... let's just say November 3rd. I mean, it's right in the middle of, of the rut and I'm just thinking, oh my God, today's going to be great. This front blew through with a temp drop. We're going to have frost. We're going to have light westwinds. I mean, this is going to be, this is going to be great hunting and I, and we had to go to Stevens Point for a swim meet and I remember sitting there and I know Steve shot a big one that day. Brian shot a big one that day and I think Jordan shot a big one that day. And I'm at a pool in Stevens point, Wisconsin, not hunting, but I wouldn't have been any other place.

[00:29:43] That's where I needed to be. And that's the thing that I think guys who that are as passionate as I am. And I really I've witnessed it in musky fishing. I've seen guys lose their family, lose their spouses, lose almost everything over a silly green fish. And as the person who was in the outdoors you have to keep it in perspective. And you'd have to keep it in perspective all the time, because even in, because it's the rut, because it's opening day, if there's other things going on at home and the plumbing's broke or, you know, just whatever, sometimes you got to step back as a hunter and fishermen and go, I'm not going to go today.

[00:30:25] I, you know, I need, I need to be here, but, and you know, for what she did for me, she just never, ever said, you're not going. I don't want you to go. Yeah. Compromise and respect. I think that's, that's what it is

[00:30:39] . CAROLYN: Well, have the conversation. We, we talked about it and granted, we were both kind of on the same page from the beginning, because like I said, we grew up in the same town and hunting was what it was. Everybody was used to it. I never expected that whoever I married wouldn't hunt. So that helped, but that said, we did talk about it. Because bow hunting is different. 

[00:31:04] JOHN: It's a big time commitment. 

[00:31:05] CARALYN: Yeah. Try it. If you are the non hunter, the non fishermen too, you give it a try. Maybe you'll like it.

[00:31:12] I did try to go hunting one time and weirdly enough, for whatever reason it was the year I had our Carissa, our first daughter. Why I chose to go hunting when I, cause she was born October 24th, excuse me, August 24th. So it'd been the next season. Why I would choose to go hunting and when I have a baby at home.

[00:31:30] It was such a blizzard that year. It was stupid. Cause I am, I know, no matter what hunting or fishing or anything, I'm a fair weather hunting or fishing or anything. But I went and I was... the firearm thing didn't bother me and we'd practiced and stuff like that, that I was all, it was used to that. But he literally just sat me where we thought would be a good spot. But even getting that far was bad enough cause I'm short and it was a lot of snow. And so we got as far as we could get and still be in the woods and he put me against the street. He was like, shoot anything that comes along. Which you gotta when you're first going out, you can't be picky.

[00:32:12] And so I am watching and watching and all of a sudden I can hear something. So I start paying attention and sure enough, here comes this doe and I'm thinking oh no. And then here comes her fawns. I'm like, oh no, now I really can't shoot it, but I know he's coming behind them. So I am literally standing against that tree just going shoo, shoo, trying to make it go away. We enjoy going fishing together. 

[00:32:41] JOHN: Yeah.  You started that here later in life. And we had a ball this summer. Caught a lot of pilot fish's this summer. 

[00:32:47] CARALYN: Yeah. And in fact, I actually held my first fish of my own. I haven't baited my own hook yet, but I did hold that fish by myself. Never say never.

[00:33:00] JOHN: Well, yeah, that's the other thing is try and go together.

[00:33:05] CARALYN:  And he never pushed it. I didn't like it. I didn't go again, no big deal. Wasn't you know, but I gave it a try.

[00:33:11] KATIE:  To hear more of John and Carolyn's stories, follow stage four outdoors on social media. We'll be back in two weeks with another great episode, featuring more inside voices on Wisconsin's outdoors.

[00:33:23] Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss it. And while you're at it, leave us a review. Thanks for listening. 

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