Xiong to receive DNR Ethical Hunter Award

Hank Xiong

Hank Xiong, 29, of Oshkosh, Wis., will be presented the 2019 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Ethical Hunter Award by DNR Administrator April Dombrowski, and Shamus Terry, of Vortex Optics, in Barneveld, Wis.
The public presentation will be held at a later date at Vortex Optics Headquarters, the corporate sponsor of the award. Due to COVID-19, the ceremony is being rescheduled for summer.
Vortex Optics, a worldwide company gifts the ethical hunter an item from their line of rifle scopes, binoculars and range finders.  
Xiong (pictured) was able to find the rightful owner of a crossbow left in a parking lot in the White River Marsh Wildlife Area in Green Lake and Marquette counties, where Jim Bonney, of Franklin, Wis., left it the previous day.
Xiong met Bonney early the previous morning when the two parties set out to hunt deer during the Wisconsin archery/crossbow season. When Xiong returned at the end of his hunt, Bonney’s vehicle was still parked there, but he returned from the woods shortly thereafter.
“We went looking for a deer my uncle shot and by the time we returned, Jim’s vehicle was gone, but there was a crossbow setting near where he had parked,” Xiong said. “We talked about the best way to get it back to the rightful owner, who we believed to be Jim, the person we had just met.”
Leaving the crossbow there or taking it to a local sheriff’s office crossed Xiong’s mind as he talked with his hunting partners.
“We waited for an hour and no one returned that evening, so I took the crossbow, posted a note on Facebook, and then stopped by a sheriff’s office to report the incident,” Xiong said. “I agreed to try to find the owner.”
The next day Xiong returned to the parking lot, about 40 miles from his Oshkosh home.
“Jim drove in a bit later, about 2 p.m., and had a big grin on his face when I handed him the crossbow,” Xiong said. “Jim thanked me and we exchanged phone numbers agreeing to keep in contact.”
Xiong retold a story about his own bow misfortune when he was younger. He had left his archery gear in the back of his father’s covered truck box and the next morning when he drove out to hunt deer, he discovered the bow was missing.
“I was devastated,” Xiong said. “It was the most devastating thing that had ever happened to me and I didn’t want it to happen to anyone else. Hunting is a big part of what I do with my free time. I saved and saved to get that bow and finally got a day off work from my seven-day job, but couldn’t hunt.”
Bonney did kill a deer that opening morning and eventually found the doe after dark.
“I went back to the parking lot the next morning thinking maybe the bow was still there, but nothing," he said. "Then I came back that afternoon and saw Hank and he handed me my bow and took my picture.”
Bonney was relieved.  
“I liked the bow, shot a few deer with it and am grateful Hank made the effort to get it back to me,” Bonney said.
The awards committee receives nominations from the public during a calendar year and then meets in early February to select the winning nomination.
In addition to Dombrowski of the WDNR, and Steve Dewald, a retired La Crosse area DNR warden, Bob Lamb, retired La Crosse Tribune outdoors editor, and Jerry Davis, a retired biology professor, from Barneveld, make up the selection committee.
“Hank demonstrated behavior that reflects positively on the tradition of hunting in Wisconsin. His concern for another hunter losing equipment was very admirable,” Dewald said.
“Hank is the epitome of the award’s intent, going well beyond what he did for another hunter,” Lamb said.
More about the nomination process and the award can be obtained by contacting any committee member or Wisconsin conservation warden.
A Wisconsin hunter, of any age, and hunting any game species, is eligible to be nominated by another individual. Nominations for the 2020 award are due Jan. 15, 2021.

Contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 608-924-1112