Report of a Successful 2017 Convention

Bear Hunting Magazine | May-June 2017
WBHA Vice President, Lucas Withrow

Greetings Members,

I am happy to report the 53rd annual WBHA convention was another successful event. We started the convention on Friday where our entire board of directors worked very hard to get everything and everyone just where they needed to be for the duration of the weekend. Signs hung, tables set up, puppy room arranged, lots and lots of prizes and auction items logged in and put on display, followed by final details of the convention center.

After a few hours of preview Friday, we were headed to the banquet dinner where we were joined by some very important friends from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the state legislature. I’d like to thank Kurt Thiede, Deputy Department Secretary, Dave McFarland, Large Carnivore Specialist, Todd Schaller, Chief Warden, and also State Representative Kathy Bernier (Chippewa Falls, WI). We had a nice dinner and some great conversation.

Saturday morning came early, especially for those who took full advantage of the after hours entertainment. Before the doors opened we laid out and planned an 81-item auction for the main attraction of the day. As the doors opened we were busy immediately with membership renewals increasing by roughly 26% and new member sign up increasing by 45%. The selling of many different types of raffle tickets and the collection of the annual raffle tickets; we were all very busy doing our part for our members to enjoy.

We started the annual meeting with the very, very important pledge of allegiance to show appreciation and display our love for our free country and all it stands for. We then recognized some great iron clad bear hunters, Bruce Potter and Ronnie Schneider, and presented them an award for there accomplishments. Following that were awards for Jr Big Bear Recognition, Big Bear Recognition, field trial awards, and scholarship achievement awards from the WBHA foundation.

Next we took nominations for next years WBHA leadership. Our current president, Carl Schoettel, was nominated for president next year and several others were nominated for board of director’s positions for 2018.

Around noon, newly hired WI DNR Director of Wildlife Management, Eric Lobner, gave a speech about his perceived direction for the future of the department. We would like to thank him and wish him the best accomplishments in the future. Following that were several guest introductions from our lobbyist, Bob Welch. Our guests were State Representatives Bob Kulp (Stratford, WI), Pat Snyder (Wausau, WI), Adam Jarchow (Balsam Lake, WI), and our newly-elected very own Rob Stafsholt (New Richmond, WI). All gave powerful inspirations for the future and their intentions to support the WBHA for the benefit of the state and its hunting communities.

Then we were very fortunate to be able to give thanks to our veterans in the crowd by honoring them with a couple of offerings of our gratitude for their service to our great country. Thank you veterans!!

From there we talked about the importance of our membership where I stressed:
“If you enjoy hunting and hunting with Hounds then you should be supporting the WBHA. If you care to have a part or voice in the future of hunting in this state, then I would suggest you support a organization, with at the very least a membership, because the fight for hunting land, hunting rights, and hunting with Hounds is very, very real. The WBHA is the strongest hunting affiliated organization in the state of Wisconsin, not only because the number of members we have, but also because of our fierce determination to stay involved and informed on many issues regarding many activities. You may also know that we are one of the very few hunting affiliated organizations that have a state lobbyist to help us to stay involved and informed at the legislative level. We need to strengthen our organization not only with funding but most importantly with members. The more members we have, the larger our voice. The more people that we can reach with our unified voice, the better the outcome. The future of hunting and hound hunting will rely on the people of a unified organization to stand tall, be involved, and represent one another by being committed members of this organization. One by one! Side by side! We will continue to be the driving effort to not only sustain and expand bear hunting and training in Wisconsin but to also advise others abroad to become unified and do the same. Everyone does count! This will ensure that strength of the WBHA will continue to represent our passions for our sport!”

Then followed the annual WBHA auction given by our good friends Wayne Smith and Scott Gunderson. Thank you both so much for your devoted support to the WBHA. I’d also like to once again thank our members for the support they continue to bring to our organization. I would also like to say great job and thank you to all of the dedicated board of directors who continue to not only defend our sport of bear hunting but who also give their time and effort for our organization. I wish all of you good races with your hounds and successful hunts in your future.

WBHA Vice President,
Lucas Withrow

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