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DNR honors Point man with ‘Ethical Hunter’ award

By Patrick Lynn

A Stevens Point man has been honored as an ethical hunter after helping out a stranger during last year’s gun season.

Mark Moersch, Jr., 29, received the 2021 Department of Natural Resources Ethical Hunter Award in may. It’s the 25th year that the department has sponsored the award.

Moersch was selected for helping a fellow hunter track a wounded deer after dark and, on a separate occasion, reported a potentially lethal bait pile. Midway through the 2021 gun-deer season, he was deer hunting with his father and a family friend.

After the group harvested a deer and loaded it into their truck, they received a text saying another friend was with a stranger who struck a deer with a vehicle and needed help tracking it.

Moersch agreed to help the stranger, even though the day was late. According to the DNR, no one in the group had any flashlights, so tracking the deer was tricky. To make things even harder, the location where the deer had been wounded was about a mile off the road.

“Another pair of eyes is always helpful,” Moersch said. “Even with the poor lights, lack of snow, and thick woods, I had no regrets offering to help out.”

After more than two hours of searching with no luck, the group agreed to call off the search for the night. But Moersch agreed to return in the morning to help search more, but his friend never called.

“I don’t know if they found anything,” Moersch said.

Tayna Lauer, Moersch’s friend, said his actions show what a great man he is.

“Mark had never met this hunter and didn’t know him…this was not an easy undertaking, but it’s the kind of guy Mark is,” she said. “It goes to show his love for deer hunting and the deer. He’s willing to help others, even if it means taking away from his hunting and relaxing time.”

In addition to the search, Moersch demonstrated another ethical feat by reporting what he believed to be illegal baiting. He contacted DNR law enforcement officials with the GPS location and other details.

“This award recognizes people helping people when afield,” said Capt. April Dombrowski, DNR Recreational Safety Section Chief. “Hunter ethics is shown by a person’s actions—doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. That’s what Mark Moersch did, twice.”

Committee members presented Moersch with an official plaque and a gift from the award co-sponsor, Vortex Optics, Inc., at a May 21 ceremony held at the company’s Barneveld headquarters.

The DNR is now accepting nominations for the 2022 Ethical Hunter Award. Wisconsin hunters of any game species are eligible. The nominee must be a licensed (resident or nonresident) Wisconsin hunter, and the ethical hunting act must have occurred in Wisconsin during the 2022 calendar year. Nominations are considered for any DNR-regulated hunting activity in Wisconsin.

Written nominations must contain the name, address, and telephone number of the witness or witnesses, or be aware of the behavior which led to the nomination.

A four-person committee reviews the nominations and selects the recipient. The committee focuses on a singular action or event rather than individuals with long-term conservation-related programs.

Submit nominations by email or U.S. mail explaining the ethical action to the Department of Natural Resources, c/o April Dombrowski, 101 S. Webster St., P.O. Box 7921, Madison, Wis. 53707-7921, or by email at [email protected].

The creators of this award are Bob Lamb, retired editor of the La Crosse Tribune; Steve Dewald, retired DNR Conservation Warden Supervisor and Jerry Davis, a retired UW-La Crosse biology professor and outdoors writer.

The deadline to submit a nomination is Feb. 1, 2023.