Several times during the past 30 years, editors have pinned my ears back from getting too political—mostly—telling me to stick with hook-and-bullet stuff. What follows is my opinion, not necessarily the opinion or policies of The Gazette.

Our state and nation are passing through uncharted waters. We expect our leaders to do exactly that, for the greater good acting within the parameters of the Wisconsin and U.S. constitutions. Our leaders are granted power to operate with the consent of the governed.

Authority to act is stated in the U.S. Constitution. The COVID-19 pandemic Americans are dealing with is clearly within the power and purview of the states. Our guy is Gov. Tony Evers.

The DNR answers to the governor. But the DNR also answers to “We, the People.” One reason our state excels in resource management is through response to public hearings and the Conservation Congress. This year, the government ordered this discourse to be online instead of eyeball-to- eyeball.

Our primal instincts still allow us to see nuances like fear or deception when our tribe is meeting face-to-face. I have serious doubts about any results that will eventually be mandated out of this year’s virtual confab.

Last week, the DNR announced closure of DNR-managed boat ramps on the lower Wisconsin River.

I reached out to Sarah Hoye, DNR media coordinator, by email. I wrote that this measure was a bridge—actually a boat ramp—too far.

Hoye responded quickly with essentially, “what’s open is open and what’s closed is closed,” adding ramps managed by townships, counties and other entities might be open and DNR policy at this point encourages citizens to fish.

Wisconsin folks, especially outdoor types, will always find a way.

Closing multiple access points to our constitutionally assured right to enjoy God’s waterways has the unintended consequence of concentrating anglers at the few points where they are now allowed to get on the river.

I visited one of these newly closed sites near Muscoda the other day. There was nobody there, so I didn’t don a mask and gloves. I just launched the boat and went fishin’.

Had the zombie apocalypse been there holding a weenie roast, I would have found another place to put the boat in, provided river conditions appeared safe enough to navigate.

This behavior is just American common sense and exploratory wanderlust. It hearkens back to the pioneering days of Daniel Boone, an outdoors icon who looked a lot like Fess Parker.

It was reinforced by another icon, Davy Crockett, who said, “be sure you’re right, then go ahead.”

Crockett also looked a lot like Fess Parker—at least in my childhood recollection dating back to the 1950s when common sense was a common virtue.

These were the days when sportfishing and hunting recaptured America’s soul, as we had both disposable income and freedom to spend it thanks to recently shed blood of the greatest generation.

The government says stay indoors. We say OK.

About a month ago, Gov. Evers announced his safer-at-home initiative, with a sunset that was supposed to happen a couple of days ago.

It has since been extended, with even tighter restrictions on our constitutional rights.

Government will never be able to fix stupid. I’ve never been a “for the greater good” kind of guy. My generation came of age questioning authority.

One of my childhood mentors was a crusty old game warden from the greatest generation. He said, “Put the resource first and you’ll never be wrong.” It has been my mantra ever since.

Michigan relaxes boating restriction

Gov. Evers would be wise to monitor the situation in that state to the east that developed last week. The Michigan governor said fishing was OK from a canoe, but not a boat with an outboard motor.

On Friday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lengthened her stay-at-home order through May 15, but she lifted the boating restrictions and said the public can participate in outdoor activities such as golf and motorized boating.

I hope Gov. Evers takes notice.

Most Wisconsinites are not stupid, although there are a few amazing knobs in the Wisconsin outdoors.

We have been apprised of the risks and consequences moving forward.

Remove the padlock and let us exercise our casting muscles and constitutional rights.

Ted Peck, a certified Merchant Marine captain, is an outdoors columnist for The Gazette. Email him at