Back in the day, when America’s moral choices and TV broadcasts were black and white and a posse of good guys in white hats were about to get after bad guys in black hats, one of the white-hat folks would rally his troops by growling, “We’re burning daylight.”

There is a similar sense of urgency in the rapidly fading summer of 2019. Early teal, goose and dove season open one week from today, with archery deer, small game and crow seasons coming just two weeks later.

The sun rules the sky a couple minutes less every day. There are lights in the pole barn but no time to look for the tree saw, let alone cutting shooting lanes or brushing blinds.

A couple days ago I contacted the DNR looking for record of the first time I was issued a fishing guide license, to complete a biography. The clerk said they didn’t keep records that far back.

I’m pretty sure it was back in 1981 or ’82.

The docu-search was necessary because National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame luminary Tim Lesmeister called to inform me of being unanimously voted in to the HOF Class of 2020. Fewer than a dozen persons in the fishing industry receive this honor across the USA and Canada every year.

Hall of Fame is a honor

Being a Hall of Famer is a big deal, regardless of what you’re being inducted to. Even the Corn Flakes Hall of Fame is a big deal if your name is Kellogg or Post.

The official press release on induction won’t be out until Oct. 1, with induction three months after that—when hunting seasons are pretty much over and we’re real serious about ice fishing.

If you think this is the distant future, ponder how fast this summer is slipping away.

You will never meet an old-timer who tells you they wish they would have worked more. Kids grow up too fast and are too soon gone.

School has already started in some places and will start after Labor Day in Wisconsin. How many times did you get the next generation away from their shiny objects and into the outdoors this year?

The most important job a person can ever have is being a good parent.

You can’t push a rope. The only way to lead is by example. Time in the boat or in the woods—without those shiny smart phones—is great common ground for communication between the generations.

Several fishing industry “heavy hitters” nominated me for the HOF. There are seven categories under which an individual can be inducted. The committee decided to vote me in as a “legendary guide” instead of an “outdoor communicator” because of two special nomination letters—from my two beautiful daughters.

Time is a wasting

Water temperatures have already dropped down to 70 degrees on most waters across southern Wisconsin, tickling the 60s in northern lakes. We’re rapidly “burnin’ daylight” for getting the next generation out into the great outdoors.

Emily, my youngest, just completed a 20-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard. Jessica, her older sister, has a profound knowledge of the outdoors—often flaunting the Latin names of trees and wildlife.

No joke, well...

Not long ago, Emily asked if I knew the difference between crows and ravens.

They are both of the family Corvidae—as are jaybirds. One jay species which lives primarily in Mexico is revered by a certain indigenous religion down there.

Protecting the entire Corvidae family is why we now have a crow season in Wisconsin. Back in 1973, the only way we could negotiate a contract with PEMEX, the Mexican petroleum cartel, was agreeing not to shoot crows during mating season.

Jessica wasn’t impressed with this factoid. She just wondered if the old man knew the difference between crows and ravens.

She then told me one difference is the number of primary flight feathers on the wings. These are called pinion feathers.

She said the raven has 17 of these feathers, the crow just 16.

So, what’s the difference between the two species? It’s a matter of a pinion.

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