Lauren Drapes is a graduate of UW-Madison with degrees in History and Spanish. She wrote her piece for WI-101 during her time at Madison. She was inspired to write it based on her hometown of Fort Atkinson and her grandfather’s love of duck hunting. Currently, she is working as a Project Consultant for the Eagle River Historical Society in Eagle River, WI. However, she plans to move soon to Denver, Colorado to pursue her graduate degree in History. Contact:

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A carved wooden duck with a white back and brown head in a glass case.


This object is called a duck decoy, and was intended to fool other ducks into settling into the water near where the decoy floats. Ducks see the wooden decoy and assume the area is safe. Since the nineteenth century, duck decoys such as this one have been a tool used by market hunters and sport hunters in Wisconsin to increase the number of birds they catch.

An Ojibwe man and woman on a boat in a marsh harvesting wild rice in 1966 near Ashland, WI

When Lake Koshkonong was a Marsh

Although the area surrounding Lake Koshkonong is now home to the towns of Milton, Edgerton, and Fort Atkinson, the region looked very different before the middle of the nineteenth century. The lake itself did not exist until 1851 with the creation of the first Indianford Dam, which turned the marsh land into the lake of today.