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Jerry Davis: Baraboo man’s hunting memories now on display in Sauk City

July 30, 2018

SAUK CITY – John Schubring, 72, began gun deer hunting in 1958.

Five years later, he shot his first buck, and since that time he’s been taking a deer now and then, picking up a skull and a few shed antlers, too.

All the Baraboo man’s hunting has been in Sauk and Columbia counties.

The antlers from bucks Schubring shot all seemed to go in a box or pile, so when he heard of a blind man, Ralph Barten, from Ladysmith, who made zipper pulls, lamps, canes and racks out of the antlers, he figured that would be a great use of these old antlers.

Schubring and his hunting buddy and son, Darin Schubring (UW basketball (‘85-‘89) loaded up dozens of antlers, took them to McFarlanes’ in Sauk City so Wayne Whitemarsh could pass them on to Barten.

“Wayne told us Ralph had died about a year earlier, so that was the end of that, but Wayne had another idea, one that fit well with our desire for young deer hunters to see and hear about days of past hunting,” Schubring said.

John Balfanz, 72, a licensed hobby taxidermist in Prairie du Sac agreed to clean up the antlers so Whitemarsh could mount the skull plates on his outdoors display in McFarlanes’ store during the deer seasons this year.

“I change the display every few months so these antlers will stay up until the gun season is over and ice fishing begins,” Whitemarsh said.

Schubring estimates he shot about 60 deer during his years of hunting, and most had small racks.

“I believe that every deer is a trophy,” Schubring believes. “In fact, I’d like to have young hunters look at these and remember that these deer were taken as trophies back then and should still be considered trophies.”

Whitemarsh, Balfanz and Schubring all agree those past years were some of the glory days of deer hunting. Then it wasn’t all about “horns” and more about the meat, camaraderie and being excited to have taken a deer and displaying it, regardless of the body size and the size of the rack, if it even had a rack.

“Almost all of these are spikes, forks and sixes,” Schubring said.

“It disappoints me when I hear others embarrass a hunter, young or old, when they register a deer of this quality.”

Schubring has a story about each of the hunted deer and the ones he’s found, too.

While these hunters suspect Wisconsin deer hunting is unlikely to get back to some of those early traditions, anticipations and excitements, hunts when hunters were asked, “did you get a deer.”

Instead, today hunters are often asked, “how big was the rack or why did you shoot something so small?”

“Those were the days of traditions,” Schubring said. “The trophy is still in the mind of the hunter. Every deer is a trophy; that hunter’s trophy.”

To these old-time hunters, those were the good old days.

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