Hello, my name is Cole Timmler. I am a 17-year-old student-athlete that lives in Central Wisconsin and will be starting as an intern at Hunter Nation this week. I’ll be working as an intern throughout this summer and into this coming school year. I was lucky enough to apply for a student-to-work program throughout my senior year and will be helping out during the school year as well.
The real reason I wanted to join the movement was that I’m a lifelong hunter who’s passionate about protecting the future of the sport I love, especially the conservation efforts that impact hunting here in my home state of Wisconsin. After hearing about Hunter Nation during the wolf hunt battles here earlier this year, I knew that this was quite honestly the perfect opportunity for me.
In February of this year, as a lot of you know, the wolf hunt was started here in Wisconsin to manage the population of the state’s growing wolf population that has exceeded our management goal since wolves were returned to federal protection in 2014. This hit extremely close to home for me, as my family has hunting land near the Chequamegon National Forest in Northern Wisconsin.
In recent years, hunters like me and my family have had to worry about not only the future of hunting and making unique once in a lifetime experiences, but also trying to make sure we don’t affect the ecosystem on the land we’ve hunted for generations. This came on two fronts, the first being the usual management ideology of letting the small bucks grow and leaving more does to increase our herd numbers; however, the second was the issue of the wolves that have steadily grown in numbers and the harm they pose to the deer and ourselves. Yes, human interaction with wolves is a real thing and I am here to tell you that it is having a negative impact on the future of deer hunting in Wisconsin. Here’s my wolf story...
Every year during Thanksgiving week, hundreds of thousands of hunters come to Northern Wisconsin to hunt during the gun season here in Wisconsin. For those of you reading this from other parts of the country, we refer to this massive migration of hunters taking to the woods as the “Blaze Orange Army.” In fact, during Wisconsin’s annual gun deer season when on average more than 600,000 hunters take up arms and head to the woods, fields, and forests in the Dairy State, we represent the 8th largest army in the world!
During Thanksgiving, part of my family tradition is that when someone in our hunting group turns 14, they have to lead a deer drive through the woods we hunt. This is usually a three-hour-long affair, where 20 or so people walk through the woods pushing the deer to other members of our group to hopefully shoot and fill their tags. This drive is slated to go from the morning until lunch. Most times though, this is only a 1-2 hour long drive because of the unknown circumstances that arise from the night before in camp!
In November of 2018, I was 14 and ready to lead my first two-hour drive through the huge timber forest. After going through at least half a mile of swamp and pines, I got to the point where I hadn’t seen my uncle to the left of me in about 30 minutes. Of course, being a very rural part of the state there was absolutely no reception on my cell phone and the batteries in my walky-talky were dead. I knew where I was and I figured everyone else had already got out of the woods. So I navigated my way back to the cabin to rally up with the rest of our group. I was the last person to the cabin, but I was also the farthest away and probably the slowest to get through the woods anyway. Nobody thought it was that big of a deal, until after lunch when we went to finish the drive, there was a massive wolf track that was layered right over my own. This apex predator had been stalking me on my track back to the cabin and I didn’t have a clue - talk about a scary encounter...
This story is one of the countless stories I could give about the increased wolf population in Wisconsin and the impact they’ve had on our hunting traditions. However, the really scary thing is what those stories can do to people like the younger generation of hunters who come up to hunt. My younger brother will turn 14 in about 6 months and will have to lead his own hunt next year. He loves to hunt, and is one of those few kids that will sit in a tree stand with his dad all day long. He has been tagging along with dad and I since he was six, even though he couldn’t hunt. Now after having heard of my wolf encounter and several others in our camp, he doesn’t know if he wants to go up north to hunt anymore. It makes me sad to know that my brother may not get to participate in our family’s hunting traditions because of a wolf population that is simply out of control.
In closing, my wolf story is one of the main reasons why I’m an intern here with Hunter Nation, and is honestly why I joined. Hunting can teach you so many things about life, family, and nature. Hunting at its core is one of the most unique things you can do in life and through my internship with Hunter Nation I hope to help preserve the conservation of hunting and to ensure that this heritage is passed on to the next generation.
I look forward to checking in with you all regularly to report on my Internship and the work we do here at Hunter Nation to be the United Voice for the American Hunter. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you.