Wilderness Pursuit Suffers Severe Storm Damage, Horses OK

Photo By Bianca Fischer.

NEILLSVILLE, WI (OnFocus) – Wilderness Pursuit Horseback Adventures in Neillsville was one of the area organizations that was impacted by the tornadoes that rolled through central Wisconsin last week.

The organization has been providing guided horseback rides to people from all over the country since 1982. The group provides well-trained horses with guides through the Clark County Forest.

Lynette Mitte and her granddaughter Bianca Fischer live in a house on Mitte’s Wilderness Pursuit property and were home at the time of the storm. Mitte has owned and operated Wilderness Pursuit for over 40 years and she said her and her granddaughter were surprised to see the extent of the damage that occurred as a result of the storm.

“It came through here at about 9 o’clock at night and I was standing by my kitchen window and looking out at my barn and the horses,” Mitt recalled. “I was just standing watching the lightening because I kind of like storms. Finally, Gabe (Bianca’s boyfriend) said, ‘Maybe we should go downstairs.’ When we came back up, we didn’t have any power. Gabe went out and when he came back in he said, ‘Granny, your power lines are down and your barn is gone.'”

The facility where the horses are kept sustained heavy damage from the storms that ravaged both the Neillsville and Stanley area. The riding stable also took the brunt of the damage. Luckily, the horses made it out of the storm without any major injuries.

The organization had been using the surrounding woods as a camp area where patrons would ride out into the woods and camp or have a picnic. A majority of the shelters, structures or picnic areas have been destroyed.

Many trees around the property were uprooted or sheared off due to the high winds. Fencing that had been installed just last year was blown down during the storm. Mitte said people have been contacting her to make sure that the horses are OK.

“I had a lot of people call or text and ask if the horses are okay and that’s the big thing,” Mitte said.

Out of the nearly 80 acres of forest and trails, Mitte estimated that two-thirds of that is gone or destroyed.

Cleanup efforts have already begun with the group getting a lot of help from community members.

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Mitte said seeing all of the support that she previously had not known was there was heartwarming.

“We’re really grateful for the people that came out here,” Mitte said. “It’s just been unbelievable. People are calling and writing and I don’t even know them or you don’t even think about them until this happens and there they are. That part is amazing.”

The group has organized a GoFundMe to try to offset some of the costs of the repairs. Mitte said they have quite a bit of cleanup left and plan to rebuild everything they had. Future weekends will be spent clearing the barn and trails as much as winter and snow cover allows them to.

Mitte also said they plan to re-open on schedule when the snow clears in Spring of 2022. If you are interested in helping with future cleanup dates or would like to keep updated on the progress of the cleanup, check out the Wilderness Pursuit Facebook Page for more information.

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Neal Hogden
Author: Neal Hogden