For 53 years, deer season has been a thrill for this Hunter

Former Sheriff Maury Straub revels in the annual ritual of the hunt with family members at his north woods retreat

Avid hunter Maury Straub posed in his Port Washington home with his favorite rifle, a Colt Sauer 7mm magnum. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Port Washington’s Maury Straub has loved the thrill of the deer hunt for more than half a century.

“Never missed a season in 53 years,” the former Ozaukee County sheriff said.

His heart rate still picks up when he sees a deer and he has to control his breathing to focus and safely shoot.

Even the anticipation before hunting season turned him into a child the night before Christmas.

“For many, many years I could never sleep the night before deer season,” Straub said.

Then, he found something that reinvigorated his enthusiasm all over again. Straub’s passion wore off on his two sons.

 “Then I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited for them,” he said.

 The sons have since grown up, but the hobby remains. The family tradition has expanded to a third generation.

Straub’s 12-year-old twin grandsons are hunting, joining Straub’s granddaughter, who at 15 is already an accomplished hunter.

Forty-five minutes into her inaugural hunting season, she shot a five-point buck. Forty-five minutes into her second season, she got a 10-pointer.

That’s faster success than her grandfather had.

 “I hunted seven years before I shot my first buck,” Straub said.

In 53 years, Straub estimates he has shot 60 to 65 deer, mostly with a gun and some with a bow. His prized deer was a 14-point buck in 2005.

Straub became interested in the hobby through a family member. His father grew up on a farm and shot rabbits and squirrels but didn’t hunt after moving to Milwaukee when he was 18. But Straub’s uncle did.

When Straub was a teenager, he talked his father into taking him to Waupaca County to join his uncle and cousins in their annual deer hunt.

“I was hooked,” Straub said.

Eventually, Straub and a friend who was a state trooper began hunting in Marinette County, and then in other counties in northeastern Wisconsin, including Florence and 20 years in Vilas.

He used to set up ground blinds using brush, but “then came the invention of pop-up tent blinds,” he said.

Heaters help keep Straub warm inside his blind, where he quietly and patiently waits.

 “You sit there for lots of hours,” he said. “As soon as you see a deer it makes it all worthwhile.”

Pop-up blinds weren’t the only improvement to creature comfort in Straub’s hunting expeditions.

In 2008, Straub and one of his sons bought 80 acres of land east of Iron Mountain in the UP. The man who sold them the land, Straub’s brother-in-law’s father-in-law, had a cabin on an adjacent 40 acres. His hunting friends had all died, so he joined Straub’s group and would let them use the cabin when he wasn’t there.

In 2016, Straub and his son bought the rest of the land with the cabin.

The building needed some work, and Straub put in the time to fix it up. Today, it has running water, electricity, a big-screen TV and a fireplace.

“It’s very, very comfortable,” Straub said. “We have beautiful accommodations.”

They just don’t have as many deer as in the past. Chronic wasting disease contributed to the decline.

As a result, Straub and his group cleared an area of trees and created food plots for the deer to help sustain them through winter. They planted apple trees, soybeans and turnips.

The group also established its own hunting rules. They only shoot mature bucks — eight-point minimum — which are typically at least 3 years old. They only shoot doe to manage the herd size.

Snow has occasionally delayed trips home, and Straub hopes for a nice dusting while hunting since snow “brightens up the woods.” Deer, he said, stand out from the white background and can be tracked easier.

After rising at 5 a.m. and hunting for a few hours, then breaking for lunch and sometimes a nap before an afternoon session  Straub and his group watch football and play poker and cribbage.

Straub’s wife Joellen doesn’t hunt but “I think she enjoys me getting out of the house once in a while,” he said with a laugh.

Hunting, however, isn’t the cabin’s only draw, and fall isn’t the only time Straub and his family visit.

Grandchildren love playing in the woods, riding all-terrain vehicles, tractors and golf carts, Straub said. Some of the family members like to go skiing at the nearby Pine Mountain Ski and Golf Resort.

 Ten days barely go by without Straub making the nearly 200-mile, three-hour trip.

“This went from a two-week hobby to a year-round labor of love,” he said.

Straub also hunts with one of his sons on private land in the Cedarburg Bog.

Straub loves hunting so much that he took up archery soon after he was married. Bow season runs months longer than gun season in Wisconsin. He started with a conventional bow before switching to a crossbow, which doesn’t require as much practice.

Straub, who retired in 2015 after 18 years as sheriff and a total of 40 years in law enforcement, taught hunter safety through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for 20 years. Parents of the 12-year-old children often stay during the classes, he said.

“I’ve always found the parents learn more than the kids,” he said.

Straub encourages parents to take the class as well, which allows them to hunt in other states and Canada.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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