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The Golden Age of Wisconsin Sporting Life


Eight men trout fishing on the Brule River
WHI 2206

Stories of sportsmen past come to life in History Afield: Stories from the Golden Age of Wisconsin Sporting Life by Robert Willging, an account of the many and varied sporting pursuits that are part of the Wisconsin tradition. An author and outdoorsman, Willging shares more than two dozen tales of Wisconsin sporting history, highlighting the hunt for waterfowl, upland birds and deer; trout fishing in wild northern rivers; and recreating at early Wisconsin lakeside resorts.

A Unique Slice of Wisconsin Sporting Culture

The cover of "History Afield: Stories from the Golden Age of Wisconsin Sporting Life"

Anecdotes of fishing exploits on our plentiful waterways and presidential visits to northern Wisconsin reveal a unique slice of sporting culture, and chapters on live decoys and the American Water Spaniel demonstrate the human-animal bond that has played such a large part in that history. Tales of nature's fury include a detailed account of the famous Armistice Day storm, as well as the dangers of ice fishing on Lake Superior. These historical musings and perspectives on sporting ethos provide a strong sense of the lifestyle that Willging has preserved for our new century.

Featuring firsthand interviews and a variety of historic photos depicting the Wisconsin sporting life, "History Afield" shows how the intimate relationship between humans and nature shaped this important part of the state's heritage.

About the Author

Willging is a freelance outdoor and history writer whose work has appeared in numerous sporting publications. The Wisconsin Historical Society Press published his first book, On the Hunt: The History of Deer Hunting in Wisconsin, in 2008. Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Willging didn't get a true taste of Wisconsin's sporting life until he enrolled in the wildlife management program at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. There he realized that most of his classmates not only hunted deer, but seemingly had been hunting their entire lives. As Willging recalls, "they were incredibly, insanely passionate about it."

Willging holds a bachelor's degree in wildlife management from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a master's degree in wildlife sciences from New Mexico State University. He's worked as a wildlife biologist for the U. S. Department of Agriculture since 1987. He lives in Rhinelander with his wife and two children.

:: Posted August 8, 2011

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