back to MUSEUM

Habitat preservation and enhancement can restore biodiversity and perhaps even species thought extinct. The above picture from October 1997 features Lloyd A. Schneider (on the left) and James A. Schneider (on the right) with a young hen Giant Canada Goose taken on Hook Lake just east of Dunn #4 and southeast of Dunn #3 by James A. Schneider. Once thought extinct, Giant Canada Geese have recovered dramatically so that the three large flock concentrations:

  1. south of Madison, WI (particularly on Mud Lake, Hook Lake and the wetlands in between where MāHUNT’s five properties are located)
  2. southeastern Wisconsin near Kenosha, and
  3. east of Minneapolis, Minnesota

are now legally hunted each fall. The above hen weighed sixteen (16) pounds—the lower end of the size range. The largest specimen can reach nearly thirty (30) pounds.

These Giant Canada Geese:

  1. nest in wetlands, preferably on a muskrat house or other water surrounded high spot,
  2. raise hatchlings in nearby large early green fields that have been low cut in the past and offer long views for predator buffers,
  3. require year round open water (the Yahara River upstream of Mud Lake) since they do not migrate and are attracted to areas near residences where predator pressure diminishes.

The dramatic comeback of this gigantic wild stay, that adapts to man’s invasion if it is ameliorated by places of near pristine solitude, creates a paradigm for the wild’s survival in a balance with man’s advancing civilization.

Please visit this Web site’s Properties page and pull up Aerial pictures–Dunn #1 that shows the Capitol Building for the State of Wisconsin in the background and how near pristine property/habitat can be preserved as places of solitude within ten minutes travel time from over 300,000 people.

Please visit this Web site’s Properties page and pull up Aerial pictures–Dunn #3 and Plat Map to locate Hook Lake. Hook Lake is a unique relic and tamarack bog with no inlet or outlet formed on its southern edge by the terminal glacial moraine and on its northern edge by the retreat of the Wisconsin glacier about 18,000 years ago with a new stationary moraine that engulfed a 600 acre lake as a kettle hole depression deposit 20 to 80 feet thick in the Wisconsin terminal glacial moraine. The only geological feature in the world that approximates it is located in Russia in a terminal moraine.

The bog is a floating island in the middle of the lake which surrounds a solid soil island (5 1/2 acres—Dunn #4) in the east central portion of the lake that is termed a “kame” formed when a waterfall came down through a crack in the glacial ice mass carrying gravel that accumulated at the bottom. This “solid soil island” supports rare flowers and shrubs, a relic of the past, because its isolation has protected it from grazing.

The floating island (the bog) is dominated by sphagnum moss which, along with pitcher plant, thrives on low nutrient water. Other plants growing on the bog are found nowhere else in Dane County. They include insectivorous sundew, pipewort, and one variety of bogsedge, and some that are uncommon such as pickerelweed, watershield, leatherleaf and bogbean.

The Schneider Family has been deeply involved in hunting, trapping, and preserving the wild natural character of Hook Lake for over a century. Joseph/Elizabeth Schneider came to America on August 21, 1882 from Liverpool, England with his eleven (11) month old son (Harold A. Schneider),  and settled in the Town of Dunn. Joseph purchased two properties in the Town of Dunn in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. One bordered the north shore of Hook Lake contiguous to the east of MāHUNT (Dunn #3) and the other was just north across Schneider Drive from the other property. The January 2002 Oregon Newspaper recounted articles from 100 years before with:

“Joseph Schneideer (SIC) recently trapped a badger on the Keenan farm. The animal was a fine specimen.”

Milo Schneider (Harold A. Schneider’s oldest son) recounted in a newspaper article in 1986, that “Duck hunting was fantastic when I was young, but when commercial (market) hunters came in to shoot, area farmers decided to organize to control the hunting and trapping pressure on the area. They formed the Hook Lake Hunting Club. Outsiders who wanted to hunt or trap paid for the privilege, and the money went to those members of the Club who didn’t hunt or trap. The other club members were satisfied with their catch in lieu of money.”

Market hunting (in the past)/poaching (now) denotes the killing of wild birds/animals by the most efficient means (killing the most creatures with the least cost or time expended) and then selling the whole or parts (from flesh/hide to long tufted feathers from Egrets that fetched a higher price per ounce than gold) to a commercial market for cash or barter. Methods included shooting an entire herd of buffalo without them stampeding by placing a kill shot that dropped each animal immediately in place, shooting wild turkeys, Great and Snowy Egrets out of their breeding roost trees at night aided by the illumination of a lantern, skulking low in the water in a boat within close distance of a large flock of waterfowl on the water and discharging a cannon like gun in the bow loaded with large amounts of diverse/odd shaped pellets prior to the birds taking flight.

Lloyd A. Schneider (Harold A. Schneider’s youngest son who was born November 11, 1918) recounted that as a boy he was only allowed to hunt ducks on Hook Lake on the hills north of the woods and about 200 yards from the lake. By the time Harold A. Schneider, his sons Milo and Stanley and daughter Vivian left the lake with their limit of twenty-five (25) ducks each, he would have his limit of ducks. He would then join his mother Frieda in picking/drawing the 125 ducks that evening, while saving every speck of down (absent any contamination) from each bird for pillows and covers to survive the cold Wisconsin winter nights which would soon follow.

Three days of hunting on Hook Lake in 2003 by James A. Schneider and Natasha Brookins yielded three (3) drake woodducks (all first year birds—the length of the top knot is indicative) and one (1) drake mallard. These three days’ (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday AM following the open day of the prior Saturday) bag may look like a dramatic diminution from yesteryear. In fact, 2003 saw the largest flocks of woodducks on Hook Lake during the opening week in over twenty-five years. The presence of mostly first year birds (note that all three drake woodducks were first year birds) seem to result from eleven (11) new properly protected, placed, and furnished woodduck box nests on MāHUNT Dunn #3 and #4, which upon inspection after nesting season resulted in five (5) boxes containing nesting eggshells or feathers. This nearly fifty (50) percent nesting success with each brood maximizing at approximately thirteen (13) ducklings plus five (5) newly properly protected, placed and furnished woodduck box nests at nearby MāHUNT  Dunn #1 and #5 (with three successful nests), meant that up to one-hundred and four (104) new first year woodducks could have been introduced to the area.

In 1912, Harold A. Schneider (after an unlawful homesteader in the early 1900’s tried to commandeer the solid soil island—MāHUNT Dunn #4 owns a 1/11th undivided interest) formed a group of owners of the land surrounding Hook Lake to purchase “the island” with each owning a 1/11th undivided interest to save it for hunting and trapping for the benefit of all the owners of the land surrounding Hook Lake plus their invitees. The 12 gauge (Model 12—latest patent 1913 listed on its barrel) Winchester pump shotgun that Harold A. Schneider used probably  starting around 1917 will eventually be donated to MāHUNT’s museum as a reminder that without our ancestors’/predecessors’ foresight wild places like Hook Lake would have been pavement and houses long ago.

During the 1910’s, Hook Lake periodically would fill with water and overflow into Badfish Creek to the south. Sunfish and bullheads would migrate into Hook Lake during that high water and were fished from the shores. The floating bog (an area know as the “cranberry bog”) was relatively small when compared to today, with most of Hook Lake being open water. In the middle to late 1930’s the level of water in Hook Lake began to decline. Area residents believed that the digging of the Badfish Creek sewage drainage system to the west and south caused the change, although in dry periods in the past the lake’s water level had gotten quite low. Mud minnows existed in Hook Lake in the 1970’s.

According to Lloyd A. Schneider and his older brother Milo Schneider, and their recollections with Harold A. Schneider, the biodiversity of Hook Lake has waxed and waned over the past 150 years:

1) No whitetail deer were ever known in the area back to the early 1880’s. They first appeared in the early 1950’s and now are rampant.

2) The marten (a yellowish colored animal of the weasel family slightly larger than a mink) vanished in 1892.

3) The passenger pigeon would migrate through Wisconsin and land  in the largest burr oak trees in such numbers that there would not be another limb with space to alight. Harold A. Schneider reported that he shot passenger pigeons, but that professional hunters (market hunters) came from town and shot passenger pigeons by the wagon load and took them back to town and sold them for meat. After the 1880’s, the passenger pigeon (described by Harold A. Schneider "as a bluish color, a little longer and thinner than the present day barn pigeon—a graceful bird") steadily declined.

4) Prairie Chickens in the 1920's roosted/rested in the 100 acre tamarack swamp in the southwest corner of Hook Lake. In the mornings the estimated 10,000 prairie chickens would fly in one flock across Hook Lake to feed. The flock was about 200 yards wide and one-half mile long. The introduction of the ringneck pheasant coincided with the disappearance of the prairie chicken from Hook Lake. Was it that the ringneck pheasant was more aggressive than the prairie chicken and forced them out, or was their species’ conflict even more brusque?

5) Ringneck pheasants were last seen in sufficient numbers where cocks were hunted around Hook Lake in the early 1980’s. MāHUNT consulted the Wisconsin DNR about the reintroduction of ringeck pheasants to Hook Lake. Their response was, if the habitat is right, they will find their way back to the area in noticeable numbers. During 2003 MāHUNT (Dunn #3) expanded the fenceline wild area where no crops could be planted from zero feet next to the barbed wire to thirty (30) feet on each side of its property and changed some farming practices of the remaining tillable land, especially in areas as far distant as possible from tall dead trees to minimize raptor predation in the winter.

Two cock ringneck pheasants were seen in the east fenceline of MāHUNT Dunn #3 in the fall of 2003 for the first time in over twenty-five years. A hen pheasant carcass (apparently killed by a coyote) was found in that same fenceline in January of 2004. Coyote predator control began that same month on MāHUNT’s properties/habitat.

6) Ruffed grouse were last seen in the woodland surrounding Hook Lake in the late 1890’s.

back to MUSEUM