Rog's Rod and Nimrod

Roger Wiltz is an outdoor enthusiast from Wagner. He began writing a column for The Burke Gazette in 1971. He had caught a big bass and submitted a photo and brief account to the newspaper. Readers enjoyed the article and asked for more which marked the beginning of a weekly column. The avid sportsman has written three books and hunted and fished the far corners of the world.
Was there ever such a thing
 as “the good old days”?     
     Other than classical music and the Beatles, I’m kind of a country guy.  “Grandpa, Tell Me about the Good Old Days” by the Judds is one of my favorites. Today this grandpa is going to tell you about what he sees as a part of the good old least firearms wise.
When I went to SDSU in 1960, most every room in Brown Hall had a shotgun or two stashed in the corner, and it wasn’t uncommon to see a pistol and holster slung over a bedpost. Today there are rules pertaining to guns in the dorm.  
During my first teaching job at Willow Lake in the middle sixties, it wasn’t uncommon for a group of us teachers to be chasing wild geese when 8 a.m. rolled around. The superintendent encouraged us to stay with the geese as he would monitor our first period students in study hall. When we returned to school, we were told to put our shotguns in the school shop.
My next teaching job brought me to Parkston as wrestling coach among other duties. I have fond memories of the wrestling team rabbit hunts on Sunday afternoons that were organized by Wallace Eimers, and I can still picture Alvin “Woodsie” Polreis swinging his shotgun like a golf club at rabbits because he was out of ammo. Most every wrestler participated. Today would find many of those grapplers playing video games instead of toting a shotgun.
1971 brought me to Burke, SD as high school principal. Art Jones was our creative industrial arts teacher, and a popular shop project was the assembling and finishing of black powder rifles and pistols. Today it would be against the law to have those same guns on school property.
In 1976 I went to Wagner as high school principal. Though I have no gun stories, the student parking lot was a sea of pickup trucks with a rifle or rifles hanging from a rack in the back window. I have fond memories of hanging out by the lockers on the Monday morning after the deer season opener and hearing the guys and girls relate their exciting deer hunt adventures. The atmosphere was carnival like.
I ended my education career at Tripp-Delmont where I was guidance counselor as well as English, art, and South Dakota history teacher. Guns have played a key role in the history of our state, and I couldn’t imagine teaching SD history without giving my students an understanding of the firearms – from the Colt cap and ball pistols carried by Wild Bill to the Springfield rifles that armed our military outposts including Fort Randall. As a class we went out to the football field and loaded and fired these weapons. Today such an activity might be frowned upon by some administrations.
What has happened to bring us to where we are today? Certainly the mass shootings, some of them in our schools, are a part of it. So I must ask, what is it about today’s world that has so warped the minds of some? I think drugs are a part of it, and I believe that we South Dakotans have made a big mistake in legalizing recreational marijuana.  It is “the” gateway drug. In his classic, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley’s characters pop a soma pill when they are stressed. Their motto? “A gram is better than a damn.” Are we approaching that brave new world of distorted reality?
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      Do our South Dakota Game, Fish, & Parks commissioners need to think about some New Year’s Resolutions?  Yes they do, and here are my suggestions.
1. Shut down walleye fishing during the months of March and April.  Protect our spawning females.
2. Combine the Low Plains South duck unit with the Low Plains Middle unit and call the new unit Low Plains South. Use the old Low Plains opening date as Nebraskans now have an unfair advantage with their earlier start.
3. Charge the same amount for nonresident fishing licenses as charged for nonresident pheasant      licenses.
4. Don’t spend SDGF&P revenue on tourism.
5. Give 18 & under residents free hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses.  
6. Get back to the “old fashioned” fish & game road checks, and come down hard on violators!
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     Assuming we’ve had our vaccine shots and the virus is under control, I’m going to book an early summer expedition to Saskatchewan’s Wollaston Lake. We’ll need four guys, and I’ll drive as I have a quad cab pickup. Of course, we’ll meet to see that we’re compatible. I’m a little fussy. No drinkers/smokers. Let me know if you’re interested. It will cost around a thousand bucks, but as I’ve said in the past, I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a U-Haul. I once made great friends of the late gentlemen Vern Carpenter and Art Hartman by organizing such a trip.
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Grant County Review

Grant County Review
P.O. Box 390
Milbank, SD 57252
(605) 432-4516

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