Rangers of the Woods



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When the French in the early 1600’s established a system of fur fairs at Montreal, Indians brought the product of their trap lines for sale or barter. Samuel de Champlain, founder and governor of New France, originated the idea of sending young Frenchmen home with the Indians to study their language, customs and the geography of the region. Thus it was that Etienne Brule, in 1618, became the first white man to see the greatest of fresh water lakes and paddle a bark canoe along the shores of Lake Superior.

A new and anomalous class of men gradually grew out of this trade. These were called Coureurs des Bois, in French or Rangers of the Woods; They were men who had accompanied the Indians in their hunting expeditions, and made themselves acquainted with remote tracts and tribes; and who now became, as it were, peddlers of the wilderness.  These hardy pioneers, inured to hardship, were a strong and sturdy set, tireless and fearless, resourceful in emergencies. With muscles of steel they guided their frail canoes through the waves of the big lake when in storm and ran the perilous rapids of fast moving streams. They roamed the trackless wilderness in search of furs, helped the missionary on his way and for 200 years were lords of the vast northwest wilderness.  In the early 1800’s these Rangers traveled a large river from Lac Vieux Desert in the Michigan territory to Prairie de Chien on the Mississippi river.  They named this river and the region around it “Ouicosee” or Wisconsin.
In the early 1900’s, Stanley Raflik, a woods ranger of Polish descent, hunted, fished and trapped along a tributary of the Wisconsin river that the Indians called “Webita Seba” or Tooth River.  This stream is more commonly know as Mill Creek.  Stanley 1903-1995, the patriarch of the Raflik clan along with his sons, Richard, Ray, Dennis and Marv, soon answered the call and lure of monster whitetail bucks and headed to the wilderness areas of Oneida county.  The Raflik deer camp soon became the birthplace of the Rangers of the Woods conservation club in 1965.

The Rangers of the Woods soon became incorporated as a non-stock, non-profit, charitable and educational conservation club.  As it’s object and purpose, the Rangers became involved in teaching hunter safety and the clean-up of area lakes and streams.  To accomplish these goals, they joined the Milwaukee County Conservation Alliance, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation and the National Rifle Association.

In the mid 1970’s the Rangers of the Woods conservation club was named the Conservation Club of the year, by the Milwaukee County Conservation Alliance.  The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation also awarded them the Hunter Safety Organization of the year for their having taught hundreds of students in the state of Wisconsin.  Another credit the Rangers achieved, was getting the state of Wisconsin to change the back side of deer hunters back tags.  The back of these tags had always been white.  Then one windy opening day in Waupaca county, a 16 year old girl was shot in the back being mistaken for a white tailed deer.  Ranger delegates to the legislature convinced the state to change the color.


For any comments, corrections or suggestions, contact Ray Raflik at:  raflikra@difbeats.com