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Lee Fahrney: A girl, a prairie and a dog
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Hunters' Checklist

Important deadlines:

Aug. 1

Fall turkey (apply for drawing)

Bobcat (apply for drawing or preference point)

Fisher (apply for drawing or preference point)

Otter (apply for drawing for preference point)

Aug. 23

State Park Deer Hunting Access Permits go on sale

Antlerless deer permits for regular deer management units go on sale Sept. 6

Post drawing fall turkey permit sale begins

Dec. 10

Spring turkey (apply for drawing)

Bear (apply for drawing or preference point)

I like the feeling that comes with a walk through the tall grass of a prairie - the small, four-acre plot behind the barn satisfies the need.

The big blue stem makes a soft swooshing sound as it brushes the body from toe to shoulder. Indian grass, timothy, brome grass, yellow coneflowers, black-eyed Susans and wild bergamot sway to and fro with the intermittent breezes of a mid-summer afternoon.

Three-year-old Sydney Pearl (AKA the Pearl) is here for a short vacation but seems reluctant to venture into the denseness of the prairie. An appeal to empathy does the trick; she will have to "help" Grandpa explore its diverse ecosystem.

Once afield, she swoons over the prospect of gathering a "bootiful" bouquet of flowers for Grandma. In addition to the assortment listed above, the floral arrangement includes campion, fleabane, Queen Anne's lace, Turk's cap lily and an already-brown cluster of curly dock.

The discussion expands when her dad joins us for a few hours at the end of the vacation. As a former biology teacher, he never misses an opportunity to foster respect and admiration for the natural world.

He helps us identify several more species of vegetation - wild asparagus, sneezeweed, cup plant and milkweed, the names of which Pearl adds to her vocabulary, if only briefly.

Already schooled in the lore of wild things, Pearl describes to Dad the "nocturnow" behavior of the deer we observed over the past few evenings. And, she eagerly presents him with the "roseberries" plucked from the thorny vines growing thick along the west trail.

Pearl has come joined at the hip with a couple of family pets, the likes of which are something to behold. There is Ace, a German shorthair tornado on four legs, and Anchor, an arthritic old mutt, saved from the streets of the inner city years ago by daughter-in-law Sara when she worked at the Milwaukee County Humane Society.

The "boyth" as their young admirer refers to them, will provide both mirth and mischief to the household.

The feeding regimen is the worst. The largely disinterested Anchor is slow to respond to the call to dinner. Somewhat bewildered, our Major wanders from dish to dish, while Ace tries to wolf down all three rations before the others get a whiff.

Exercise has its challenges as well. Anchor tires easily and stiffens up after even the shortest walk. Ace on the other hand is an aggressive hunter and can cover an acre of ground in a matter of seconds.

We devise a plan whereby Marilyn entices Anchor into the house while I run the other two around in circles. He seems to understand the situation and appreciates a few quiet moments of gentle stroking and soft-spoken affirmation.

If it were possible for animals to achieve wisdom in their old age, Anchor would be among the wisest. So-named for the casts on his broken and beaten body lifted from the street, he has enjoyed a somewhat sheltered life with caring adult companions and a non-judgmental, if somewhat addled, kennel mate.

An intelligent dog with saint-like social skills, Anchor earned a hospice certificate enabling him to go into hospitals and nursing homes to bring comfort to the aged, the sick and the dying. Now, in the final stages of his own life, he seems ready to accept whatever fate comes to pass.

We should all be so content with our lot in life.

- Lee Fahrney can be reached at 608 967-2208 or at