Deer Hunter’s Honor Roll

Nick Owens didn't set out to do a good deed. He was just driving toward a tract of public land on the fourth day of Wisconsin's firearms season. Then he noticed a young lady dressed in blaze orange. She was crying, her head cradled in one hand, the other clutched a cell phone. Owens pulled up, fearing the woman was in trouble.

Turns out the lady had shot at a deer, but her boyfriend--his butt planted in a nearby tavern--wouldn't come to help her look. So Owens volunteered and, after a short track, found the huntress' buck; a 17-point goliath that would field dress over 200 pounds. Owens helped her tag, gut and drag the buck, then load it on her truck. He refused the woman's offer of money, and just accepted a heart-felt "thank you" before leaving.

When DNR warden Dave Swanson heard about Owens' kindly act, he nominated the 18-year old for La Crosse Tribune/Wisconsin DNR's annual Hunter Ethics Award. Owens won, and will accept the department's official "thank you" this summer. This award, started in 1997, has always struck me as an exceedingly cool idea. Too often, the only time we hear about other deer hunters is when they perform on one of two extremes; either they kill a record-book buck, or they get nailed for some poaching offense.

Obviously, most deer hunters do not shoot world-class bucks, nor do they break any game laws. So it's a great thing when a few individuals are recognized for the random acts of kindness they perform in the deer woods. So what about ethical hunters in your area? Do you hear enough about what they do? Are there awards for honoring acts like Owens'?