With thousands of hunters out in the fields on Opening Day Saturday, conservation wardens with the Department of Natural Resources had their hands full – but they did a lot more to help out hunters than to punish them.
Dale Houchousen and Ed McCann, both conservation wardens in La Crosse County, didn’t get to join in on the hunt - but they were still out battling the cold to enforce the law of the land. More than 150 wardens across the state were out Saturday, enforcing hunting regulations and double-checking licenses – but these two spent most of their day lending a hand to hunters.
"If they have a deer that they shot, a lot of times we'll register it for them, so they don't have to drive to a registration station,” Houchousen said. “It kind of adds that little convenience for them."
By 6 p.m. Saturday, neither had given out a single ticket – but they’d helped several hunters register their prized deer.
Aside from helping out their fellow outdoorsmen, Houchousen said coming across families of hunters is a perk of the job.
“That’s what I grew up doing, is that family camaraderie and stuff, spending time with the family and friends and going out and enjoying the hunt," he said.
While Houchousen won't have any deer to show for his long day of work, sharing a great hunting story or two with the people he came across was reward enough.