Wisconsin Life host Angela Fitzgerald heads to Brule River State Forest to embark on a canoe trip down the waterway. With over 40,000 acres of land, the Douglas County state forest encompasses the entire 44 miles of the Bois Brule River within its boundaries. The river, known for its world-class trout fishing, earned its nickname “The River of Presidents” by attracting presidential visitors such as Hoover and Eisenhower. Fitzgerald and two local river guides paddle the southern part of the river.
We meet a crop duster in Waupun who soars high and low to get the job done. While widely known as “crop dusters,” Damon Reabe explains they’re formally known as “aerial applicators.” Reabe continues the family tradition at the World Headquarters of Aviation. He says the idea of being a daredevil simply doesn’t fit. “I’m in a place where all of my thoughts are focused on doing the job. And when that happens, everything else goes away. It’s just a wonderful feeling.”
Next, we connect with a veteran in Eau Claire who finds comfort in caring for a four-legged friend. Tyler Slabey joined the Marines at age 18. He was deployed to the Middle East and upon his return was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Slabey was referred to Trinity Equestrian Center that provides free horse therapy. Slabey admits he thought the idea was a joke at first, but now acknowledges that he has come a long way because of the center and his therapy horse, Sterling.
Barb Carey spent nearly two decades catching criminals as a police officer. Now she spends most of her time patrolling Wisconsin’s waters trying to catch fish. Carey rarely saw other women ice fishing and wondered, “Where are they? Don’t they realize how much fun this is?” Carey decided to create opportunities for women to fish. Carey says ice fishing turned into spring fishing, which turned into “the first ever fish camp. That was 11 years ago.” Now nearly 100 women rent out a north woods resort and reel in their catch.
For our last story, we travel to Milwaukee to meet a baker who brings the sweets to the streets. Johnathan Dye, owner of Dye’s Pies, explains what happened once he began selling his pies at local farmers’ markets and people recognized him. “The first time someone called me the pie guy, I wasn’t ready for it. They yelled across the street, ‘Hey pie guy!’ It’s awesome to be recognized for something that you do.” Pie has a special place in Dye’s heart. “Pie can remind you of your grandma. It can bring a warm feeling back. That is very necessary. It’s not a necessity but it’s close.”