2016 FALL EDITION

MICHIGAN’S PREMIUM OUTDOOR

JOURNAL SINCE 1947

Deer
Michigan
TOM NELSON
| Rule the rut
ToNY HANSEN
| be a better
bowhunter

BEAST OF THE EAST:
Michigan’s own Ray Bickel
won the first Train To Hunt
Challenge held east of the
Mississippi River.

Train to hunt
A NEW GENERATION OF HUNTERS
IS TAKING PREPARATION
TO THE NEXT LEVEL

MUCC

TM

$5.99 US | FALL 2016
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Bears | pheasants
waterfowl | bass
firearm suppressors
hunting dogs | gear review
stickbait | conservation | MORE!
Official Publication of Michigan United Conservation Clubs

VOLUNTEER
for WILDLIFE
with

Volunteer to improve public land wildlife habitat
with Michigan United Conservation Clubs!
Through hunter, trapper and angler-funded wildlife habitat grants
from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, MUCC
organizes multiple wildlife habitat volunteer workdays on public
hunting land throughout Michigan. Sign up for one of our upcoming
projects at ww.mucc.org/ontheground!

Learn more at www.mucc.org

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Thursday, August 25 we will be closing at 5 pm to make
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Prices good August 26 - Sept. 5, 2016. Limited quantity available on all items. Not responsible for
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bAsecamp
by Drew YoungeDyke, Editor
Michigan Out-of-Doors

WELCOME TO MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS,
Michigan’s premium outdoor journal. You may
have noticed a few changes in our design, content,
schedule and even the size of the publication you
hold in your hand.
I'll explain the updates we have made, but first let me
thank you for the opportunity to edit your magazine.
Honestly, editor of Michigan Out-of-Doors is a dream
job for me and it's a responsibility I take seriously.
Since I came on board at Michigan United
Conservation Clubs in 2012, I have poured through
our archives dating back to our first issue in 1947,
amazed at the quality, the history, and the influence
it has had in shaping Michigan's conservation past
and future, all the while maintaining its best quality:
telling the story of Michigan's out-of-doors through
great writing. Continuing that tradition will be my first
priority.
We've taken many forms in our almost 70 years of
existence, from a glossy cover with newsprint to a
pocket magazine, from a monthly newspaper to an
oversized tabloid, a monthly glossy to bimonthly
with a quarterly digital edition. We have continually
updated our format to meet the demands of the market
so that we can best deliver the information that the
outdoorsmen and women of Michigan can rely upon
to enhance their time afield and on the water. We are
making a similar transition now.
Readers can - and expect to - receive the most recent
news instantaneously online; whether monthly,
bimonthly or quarterly, a print periodical cannot
meet that schedule. However, Michigan Out-ofDoors has the digital tools to do that, so that is where
we will deliver that instantaneous information:
through our websites, www.mucc.org and www.
michiganoutofdoors.com, our social media platforms,
the weekly Michigan Out-of-Doors Update e-news
(formerly the Conservation Insider) and our monthly
Michigan Out-of-Doors Podcast.
2

MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

Editor Drew YoungeDyke with his hindquarter of whitetail.

However, there is still an important place for the
printed word in outdoor writing. It's not the latest
information; it's the most enduring information. It's
the stories of the outdoors, the biology of the species
for which we hunt, fish and trap, the methods we can
employ to pursue them, the gear that will enhance
our time afield without dishonoring our quarry, and
the policy insights that you can only get from the
professional staff at Michigan United Conservation
Clubs.
To accomodate this information, we have increased the
size of each issue and moved to a quarterly schedule to
include the full range of pursuits that Michigan affords
us each season. This results in 40 to 50 additional
pages of content each year for readers like you.
So let's get to that content:
In this issue, MUCC Executive Director Dan
Eichinger explains a new way to look at hunting
recruitment, retention and reactivation.
We've added a Firearms columnist, and who better to
write about firearms than a Marine veteran, former
machine gunner and marksmanship instructor? We met
Scott Crawford through Zero-Day and the Michigan

Operation Freedom Outdoors
program. In this issue, I'm certain
you'll appreciate his insight into
suppressors, which are now legal
for hunting in Michigan, as much
as I did.
Tom Nelson, host of Cabela's
American Archer on the Outdoor
Channel and our longtime Full
Draw columnist, shares how to
make the best of warm weather
whitetail hunting during the early
bow season and how to take
advantage of the rut later in the
season. This is part of our new
Deer Michigan section, where each
issue will feature the tips, gear and
insight that you can use to prepare
for the upcoming deer season all
year long.
With archives spanning almost 70
years, we decided to share some
of our best content through a new
feature called "The Throwback."
In this issue, we pulled the story
of the first hound hunt for bears in
Michigan from our first issue in
1947.
Jeff Lichon wrote a really special
article about opportunities
for hunters with physical and
nonphysical challenges to getting
outdoors.
Access to the outdoors is, in my
opinion, the biggest issue facing
hunters today. That's why public
land is so important: simply having
a place to hunt. Brad Nicoll and
Anna Mitterling's article about
trespassing is about access; how
private property owners can protect
their own, and how hunters, anglers
and trappers can avoid crossing
property lines inadvertantly.
Enough public land, of course,

reduces the instances of trespass
because it provides a place to hunt
with the certainty that we're where
we're allowed to be.
Bob Gwidz has an excellent article
about public land waterfowl
hunting opportunities in Michigan,
as well as pheasant restoration
efforts in our state.
The cover feature is about access,
too. The growing hunter-athlete
movement grows out of the desire
of a new generation of hunters to
be able to access the most remote
country game is found, places that
are sometimes only accessible on
foot. But it's also about making
sure that we can keep hunting as
we get older, so that, to the extent
that health and good luck allow, our
own bodies will not deny us access
as long as there's something we can
do about it.
We also have two features from
my predecessor, Tony Hansen,
who was recently named assistant
editor at Outdoor Life, following
in the footsteps of Ben East. He
has a different take on the hunterathlete movement, and he has the
experience to know what works for
him. More importantly, he is one of
America's best outdoor writers, and
I'm proud to feature his writing.
There's much more in this issue,
as well. Let me know what you
think by writing to editor@
michiganoutofdoors.com.

PUBLISHER
DAN EICHINGER
EDITOR
DREW YOUNGEDYKE
editor@michiganoutofdoors.com
ART DESIGN & TEMPLATE
SOLO 71 / DAVE BEHM
ADVERTISING
TYLER RIDENOUR
sales@mucc.org
PRESIDENT
THOMAS HERITIER
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
RON BURRIS
VICE PRESIDENT
GEORGE LINDQUIST
TREASURER
JIM DECLERCK
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
RICHARD P. SMITH
BILL MALLOCH
JANE FINNERTY
CAROL ROSE
JACK VAN RHEE
CHUCK HOOVER
DAVID VAN LOPIK
BRUCE LEVEY
GREG PETER
BILL KREPPS
Michigan Out-of-Doors is the official publication of
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), 2101
Wood St., Lansing MI 48912, and is publicshed
quarterly. Telephone: 517.371.1041. Receipt of this
publication is through membership in MUCC. For
membership information, call 1.800.777.6720. Single
copies available to the public for $5.99 each. Periodicals
postage paid at Lansing, Michigan, and additional
mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes
to Michigan Out-of-Doors, PO Box 30235, Lansing MI
48909. All advertising communications should be sent
to PO Box 30235. Views expressed by freelance writers
are their own and do not necessarily express those of
Michigan Out-of-Doors or Michigan United Conservation
Clubs. Copyright 2016 by Michigan United Conservation
Clubs (MUCC). The Copyright Act of 1976 prohibits the
reproduction of Michigan Out-of-Doors without written
permission from Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
MUCC members may reproduce one copy for personal
use without permission. For permission to reprint a
specific article, and for inquiries, contact the editor at
editor@michiganoutofdoors.com.

FALL 2016

VOLUME 70, ISSUE 5

48

20

DEPARTMENTS

2 | BASECAMP DREW YOUNGEDYKE
7 | DIRECTOR: A NEW LOOK AT AN OLD PROBLEM DAN EICHINGER
8 | AROUND MICHIGAN STATEWIDE CONSERVATION NEWS
13 | ON PATROL DNR LAW ENFORCEMENT
14 | FIREARMS: SUPPRESSORS SCOTT CRAWFORD
48 | THE CAMPFIRE SHAUN MCKEON
51 | YOUTH STORY: RAISING A HUNTING DOG FISHER PHAM
68 | THE THROWBACK : MICHIGAN'S FIRST HOUND HUNT FOR BEARS 1947

31 | DEER MICHIGAN SPECIAL SECTION

32 | FULL DRAW: WARM WEATHER WHITETAILS TOM NELSON
34 | RULE THE RUT TOM NELSON
38 | 5 WAYS TO BE A BETTER BOWHUNTER TONY HANSEN
40 | 5 MISTAKES THAT WILL KILL YOUR SEASON DARIN POTTER
43 | YOU CAN OWN YOUR OWN HUNTING LAND TONY HANSEN
46 | GEAR REVIEW: KWIKEE AIR QUIVER DREW YOUNGEDYKE
4

MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

16

60

54
31
FEATURES

16 | DIS ABILITY IN THE OUT-OF-DOORS JEFF LICHON
20 | THE HUNTER ATHLETES DREW YOUNGEDYKE
54 | MICHIGAN'S WATERFOWL LEGACY BOB GWIDZ
60 | CAN MICHIGAN SAVE PHEASANT HUNTING? BOB GWIDZ
72 | HOW TO GET LOST TRACKING BEARS AT NIGHT RICHARD P. SMITH
76 | KNOW TRESPASSING BRAD NICOLL & ANNA MITTERLING
83 | FALL BASS BOB GWIDZ
92 | STICKBAITS FOR FALL VISITORS JIM BEDFORD NEXT ISSUE | WINTER 2017
STEVEN RINELLA,
97 | THE GRAND TOUR DENNIS EADE
WILD GAME & MORE!
102 | THE WILD LIFE DREW YOUNGEDYKE
JUST IN TIME FOR DEER CAMP!
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS

5

Uniting citizens to
conserve, protect and enhance
Michigan's natural resources and
outdoor heritage since 1937

MUCC

TM

MICHIGAN UNITED
CONSERVATION CLUBS

Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1937 by sportsmen's
clubs from around Michigan to protect conservation from politics. Representing over 50,000 members and
supporters and approximately 250 affiliated conservation clubs, MUCC is the largest state-based conservation
organization in the nation. MUCC members determine its conservation policies through a robust grassroots process,
which MUCC staff works to implement by working with elected officials, state and federal agencies, its members
and the public. MUCC has published Michigan Out-of-Doors since 1947 and operates the Michigan Out-of-Doors
Youth Camp in Chelsea, MI. Learn more about the full range of programs MUCC uses to advance conservation in
Michigan and become a member at www.mucc.org.

MUCC Staff

MUCC

TM

save the date
CONSERVATION POLICY BOARD
SEPTEMBER 24, 2016
Saginaw Field & Stream Conservation Club
1296 N. Gleaner Rd.
Saginaw, MI 48609
www.mucc.org

6

MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

DAN EICHINGER
Executive Director
deichinger@mucc.org

AMY TROTTER
Deputy Director
atrotter@mucc.org

DREW YOUNGEDYKE
Chief Information Officer/
Michigan Out-of-Doors Editor
dyoungedyke@mucc.org

LOGAN SCHULTZ
Digital Media Coordinator
lschultz@mucc.org

STEPHANIE RUSTEM
Project Manager
srustem@mucc.org
ANNA MITTERLING
Wildlife Co-op Coordinator
SARAH TOPP
Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator
TAYLOR RENTON
Gourmet Gone Wild Manager

SHAUN MCKEON
Education Coordinator
smckeon@mucc.org
LINDSAY ROCHEFORT
Membership Coordinator
llaserra@mucc.org
SUE PRIDE
Membership Relations&
Tracks Coordinator
spride@mucc.org

Director's Desk |

Photo: MUCC Executive Director Dan Eichinger
(right) admiring a woodcock with Marc Smith
(center), Great Lakes Policy Director for National
Wildlife Federation, and Brian Preston (left)
National Wildlife Federation
Board of Directors and member of
MUCC affiliate Tomahawk Archers.

Many of our
organizations
by Dan Eichinger, Executive Director
offer all kinds of
Michigan United Conservation Clubs
programs, workshops
and events to get
WHEN I WAS A KID, we had a basketball hoop
people to hunt, to
nailed to the roof of our garage. I loved shooting
keep hunting, or
hoops. I’d shoot hoops anytime of year, anytime
start hunting again.
of day. But I wasn’t a basketball player. Now how
could a tall kid who loved shooting hoops not be a What we need
basketball player? It’s actually quite simple: I never to start doing is
took the next step to develop as one. I never learned recognizing which
programs are really
how to dribble well or play defense. I just kept
good at recruitment,
shooting hoops in the driveway.
which programs
are
really
good
at retention, and
Our community’s approach
which programs are really good
to recruitment, retention, and
at reactivation. At a summit
reactivation (R3) is a lot like my
in early August, organized by
basketball hoop on the top of our
Michigan United Conservation
garage. We might be really good
Clubs, Michigan State University
at one aspect of the R3 process,
and the Michigan Department of
but we don’t know how to get
Natural Resources, we started to
someone to take the next step, the
look at those connections. The first
right step. Even more, for a lot of
challenge we have is understanding
years, we didn’t even know that
where our current programs are
was the problem.Thanks to a new
succeeding and where along the R3
model that has been developed
pathway we are missing programs.
by Matt Dunfee of the Wildlife
Then we can move strategically
Management Institute, we have
with new programs or pivot current
some new insight that should
programs to meet those gaps.
improve our hunter recruitment,
retention, and reactivation
In other words, if all of our
programs. And we are putting it to
programs are teaching people how
good use here in Michigan.
to shoot hoops, but not how to
dribble, pass, or defend, then we’ll

never have a winning basketball
team. Looking at things in this new
way, we are able to see more clearly
and for the first time who can coach
shooting, who can coach dribbling,
and who can coach defense.

A New Look at an Old Problem

The opportunity that this approach
presents is really exciting as well.
Our R3 programs should be aimed
at making more hunters, anglers,
and trappers; Not necessarily more
turkey hunters, deer hunters, or
trout fisherman. If we are not
proprietary about feeding people
to programs that work rather
than “our” program, we will be
taking collective action to grow
the community. That, more than
anything, gives me the greatest
reason for optimism about growing
our ranks.
By building on the strengths of one
another and strategically looking
to close gaps that exist in our
current offerings for R3, we will
build a durable and sustainable
path forward for expanding our
community. Doing so not only
benefits our ranks, but creates
the foundation of collaboration
that is vital when our heritage is
challenged by our enemies.

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS

7

AROUND MICHIGAN

CONSERVATION NEWS FROM TWO PENINSULAS AND FOUR GREAT LAKES
DNR SIGNS WITH USFS ON
GOOD NEIGHBOR AUTHORITY

UP

(Department of Natural Resources)

The Michigan Department of Natural
Resources has long managed state
forests to provide both timber and
wildlife habitat. Now, the DNR is
working to do the same thing on
federally managed lands in Michigan’s three national forests.
To do this, the DNR has signed on
to a program authorized in the 2014
federal farm bill.
The “Good Neighbor Authority” allows state natural resource agencies
to assist the U.S. Forest Service
and the federal Bureau of Land
Management on timber and watershed restoration projects across the
country.

DNR forest inventory and planning
specialist for the western Lower
Peninsula. “We may start writing
some (forest) prescriptions too –
(but) that’s something to be worked
out in the future.”
The Good Neighbor Authority’s
cooperative agreements allow
federal land managers to access
more resource professionals without expanding federal budgets. The
DNR will be paid for its work on
federal land through the proceeds
from timber sales.

The Good Neighbor Authority
allows foresters to more easily
work across borders and take a
landscape-scale approach to management.
Foresters mark timber for harvest
and set up sales through the typical
DNR process.

“It seems like it could be a good
relationship for both of us, helping
them get things done that they haven’t been able to do in the past,”
Cross said. “We’re able to (get)
work (done) in some of the smaller,
harder-to-get-to (forest stands) with
our contacts.”

In the Lower Peninsula, the DNR
currently is working on a project
in Wexford County, near Cadillac,
on a 118-acre red pine plantation
that is approximately 70 years old.
DNR foresters are marking trees
for removal to improve growth of
the remaining forest.
Other upcoming projects in Lake
and Newaygo counties involve
additional pine thinning.

Michigan was the second state in
the country to sign an agreement
and the DNR is working on projects in all three national forests in
Michigan – the Huron-Manistee in
the Lower Peninsula and the Ottawa and Hiawatha national forests
in the Upper Peninsula.
“Our foresters are setting up timber sales on national forest lands,
setting them by Forest Service
prescriptions, but using our timber
sale process,” said Derek Cross, a
DNR Forester Mark Hall marks trees for thinning.

8

MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

On the east side of the Lower Peninsula, the DNR has entered into
agreements with federal officials
for projects involving oak, aspen
and mixed pine-hardwoods tracts.
Susan Thiel, the Grayling unit
manager for the DNR, said the
work on the east side of the state
is just getting under way. After
waiting for signed agreements and
paint delivery, crews are now set to
begin their work.
Thiel said DNR foresters out of the
Mio field office will be working on
about 400 acres in multiple stands.
“They (the projects) range from
clear cuts to thinning,” Thiel said.
“We’re managing for aspen
and we’re managing for oak.
Some of the oak (harvest) is for
regeneration, and thinnings are
to promote growth of the existing trees – it’s the exact same
management as we’re doing
on the forests here except were
following the feds’ prescriptions. The sale will be administered
through our process.”

Neighbor Authority projects currently under way on the Ottawa
National Forest in the western U.P.,
totaling 285 acres.
A crew is working on a 191-acre
project in the DNR Forest Resources Division’s Baraga Unit, marking
a 76-year-old red pine and white
pine stand for a selection cut.
“I took their information and wrote
the prescription using their form
and it was approved by the feds
before weA stand of red pine trees
marked for cutting. translated it
back into our system,” Tylka said.
“It’s mostly a red pine thinning, but
we’re opening it up enough to turn
it into a mixed-pine stand.”

TIMBER SALE WORK IS
ALSO UNDER WAY IN THE
HIAWATHA NATIONAL FOREST
IN THE EASTERN U.P.

Thiel said the federal paint color
protocol is different than the colors
the DNR uses.
“That’s the biggest difference,” she
said.
Cross said the DNR would like to
have more than 600 acres of timber
cuts in the Huron-Manistee National Forest prepared for bidding by
Oct. 1.
Bob Tylka, a DNR timber management specialist for state-managed
forestlands in the western Upper
Peninsula, said there are two Good

The other U.P. project is about 94
acres near Iron River and is being
administered from the DNR’s Crystal Falls office.
“We anticipate the program growing,” Tylka said.
Timber sale work is also under way
in the Hiawatha National Forest
in the eastern U.P, with about 480
acres of timber sales being prepared by DNR foresters from the
Sault Ste. Marie and Shingleton
offices.
Mike Stimak, the timber program
manager and contracting officer
for the Huron-Manistee National

Forest, said the folks he’s been
working with at the DNR have
been “great.”
“Overall I have been exceedingly
pleased with the willingness and
cooperation of the DNR,” Stimak
said. “They have been fantastic. I
see Good Neighbor Authority as
an opportunity to get more of the
forest plan implemented. It takes
time and planning to get all this
together – it can be almost a threeyear process from the time we start
the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA) review process until
timber sales are sold. I can see
Good Neighbor Authority as being
positive in moving this along.”
Stimak said he can envision an expanded role for the DNR in terms
of helping to get NEPA environmental review surveys completed,
implementing restoration projects
and in the planning of future projects.
“To me it’s a wide-open field for
opportunities that will be opened
through this new authority,” Stimak
said.
David Price, who oversees forest
planning and operations for the
DNR Forest Resources Division,
said the Good Neighbor Authority
is “absolutely a positive development.”
“This will help all three national
forests in Michigan accomplish
their goals,” Price said. “And the
timber sale revenue the Forest
Service realizes will remain in the
state, so they can use those dollars to conduct additional work on
those forests.”

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS

9

DNR, MSU
MONITOR U.P.
FOR INVASIVE SPECIES

UP

The Michigan Department of Natural
Resources and Michigan State University
partnered together over the summer to
monitor crayfish populations in the Upper
Peninsula. Approximately 140 sites across
the U.P. were sampled by field crews to determine the
distribution of native and invasive crayfish.
The DNR’s Fisheries Division and MSU have been
working together since 2014 on a crayfish study to better
understand populations throughout the state. Crayfish
populations are often under-represented when it comes to
natural resource sampling, but these organisms have a big
influence on the communities they inhabit.
So far the study has focused its sampling efforts on the
waters of the Lower Peninsula, resulting in detailed
information on the distribution of Michigan’s eight native
crayfish species, along with the one known invasive –
rusty crayfish. The project will now expand to include the
U.P. with field crews beginning their sampling efforts this
month.
“This study is primarily evaluating potential introduction
pathways for invasive crayfish,” said the project’s
principal investigator, Dr. Brian Roth from MSU. “The
U.P. sampling will provide the DNR with statewide
information on crayfish populations that can be used to
inform invasive species management and evaluate current
status of the native populations.”
Rusty crayfish are the most widespread invasive crayfish
in Michigan, initially introduced to the state’s waters via
the live release of unused bait. Native to Ohio, Indiana and
Kentucky, the rusty crayfish has the ability to negatively
alter aquatic habitats and organisms.
“The rusty crayfish’s feeding behavior reduces the
native plant community and removes spawning, feeding
and shelter habitats for many of Michigan’s popular
fish species and can lead to population declines,” said
DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator Seth Herbst.
“Understanding the distribution of this particular species
can assist with targeted prevention efforts.”
10 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

FEDS OPEN HUMBUG MARSH
TO BOWHUNTING IN DETROIT
RIVER INTERNATIONAL
WILDLIFE REFUGE

interactions and are tame. Aerialwinter surveys show the population on Grosse Ile and
Humbug Marsh is grossly above the limits
required to maintain healthy natural areas.

SLP

The Refuge is providing the public a fair and
equitable structure to annually harvest the
maximum number of deer within established
quotas, while ensuring a quality and safely
conducted hunt. The program is using a
transparent, science-based approach to
deer management which includes annual
surveys. The Refuge is conducting the hunt
and deer monitoring in partnership with the
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
(MDNR).

Last year, the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife
Service proposed
opening Humbug
Marsh in the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge to a limited
draw bowhunt to control a rising
population of deer that was having
a detrimental impact on vegetation.
Michigan United Conservation
Clubs submitted a letter of support
in favor of the plan, citing the additional hunting access it would provide on federal public land close to
southeast Michigan's urban core.

DNR PARTNERS WITH MSU ON
ELK STUDY; RMEF AND MUCC
ON ELK HABITAT

NLP

Elk management
is a partnership
effort with the Department of Natural Resources.

Predictably, an animal rights organization from California was quoted in opposition to the plan, saying
In March, they commenced a joint
essentially that "coyotes would take
study with Michigan State Univercare of it."
sity under the leadership of Professor Rique Campa, of the DepartIn July, the U.S Fish and Wildlife
ment of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Service announce that Humbug
Marsh would be open for a limited
Researchers netted and fitted coldraw achery hunt. The drawing
lars to close to 40 elk both within
application period closed on Authe Pigeon River Country and
gust 15, but it is encouraging to
further east toward Atlanta.
see addditional federal public land
opened up for hunting opportuniThey also set trail cams and are
ties. Here is part of the USFWS's
conducting surveys to determine
statement announcing the hunting
the impact that recreational activopportunity:
ities, specifically mountain biking
and horseback riding, have on elk
The Humbug Marsh Unit of the Detroit River
International Wildlife Refuge (Refuge) has its movement.
fair share ofwhite-tailed deer. Today’s herd
is so large that deer grazing is reducing the
quality of this natural area as conservation
land. Increasing deer will raise the risk of
deer-vehicle collisions along West Jefferson
Avenue. The beauty and mystique of whitetailed deer – of which a sighting is a valuable part of a visitor’s experience– is lost as
some have become accustomed to human

Clubs' On the Ground (OTG) program partnered to plant mast-bearing trees, like oak, around elk
clearings close to a mile from the
nearest open road.
The clearings provide elk refuge
and an open area where bulls like
to herd cows; the trees, when mature, will provide additional food
resources in that area. Volunteers
spread mulch around the trees, watered them, and installed fencing to
protect the saplings from elk rubs.
The project was organized by the
DNR's Huron Pines AmeriCorps
member Hunter Fodor, MUCC
Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator
Sarah Topp, and RMEF Michigan
State Chair Dan Johnson. It was the
third year in a row that RMEF and
MUCC teamed up for elk habitat in
the Pigeon River Country.
RMEF is hosting its State Rendezvous in the Pigeon River Country
September 9-11 at the Johnson's
Crossing campground, where they
will perform a yet-to-be-determined wildlife volunteer project on
Saturday, Sept. 10.
The January 2016 elk survey
yielded an estimate of 1,372 elk in
northern Michigan, well above its
500-900 elk goal in the Michigan
Elk Management Plan. Accordingly, the Natural Resources Commission increased the elk licenses
available this year.

The study will last for three years,
after which the radio collars are
programmed to fall off the elk.
In June, volunteers from the Rocky
Mountain Elk Foundation and
Michigan United Conservation
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS

11

Thank You!

to our 2016 mucc conservation partners!
Without the support of generous partners like these, we could not bring you this publication nor accomplish the
work we do to unite citizens to conserve, protect and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.
Please thank and support our Conservation Partners!
Learn more at www.mucc.org.

WELL, ALRIGHT...

JUSTICE SERVED

CO Steve Speigl and PCO Travis
Dragomer were patrolling Antrim
County when theynoticed a car
heading towards them with something amiss. When the car passed
them they noticed the spare tire
(between the rear wheels of the car)
had been lowered and was dragging on the paved surface creating
a very loud noise. The COs turned
around to stop the car and advise
the driver of the mishap. When the
driver pulled over, an elderly man
exited the car and started yelling at
the COs saying, “NOW WHAT’S
THIS ALL ABOUT?!” The COs kindly
pointed out the spare tire dragging
on the ground. The man, who had a

CO Steve Converse reports a
successful outcome in a jury trial in
Lake County. The case involved a
subject that had killed a 9-point buck
and then purchased the tag the next
day. The subject was found guilty of
hunting without a license and taking
a deer without a license. The judge
imposed the penalty by statute,
sentencing the subject to 5 days in
jail, $6,500.00 in restitution, and no
hunting privileges till 2021.
(MUCC worked to pass legislation in
2013 which set higher penalties, like
this, for poaching antlered bucks)

he would, but not until after he was
done fishing for the day and they
headed back out to on the water
AND ONE FOR YOU...
CO Quincy Gowenlock appeared
to testify for a bench trial at the 70th
District Court of Saginaw for a defendant who was arrested for recreational trespass. Halfway through
the trial, the defense attorney began
to realize that the case was not going so well for his client and asked to
take a recess. During the break, the
defense attorney requested a plea
deal with the prosecutor. During the
negotiations, it was brought to CO
Gowenlock’s attention that the subject seen walking in to the courtroom

THE BEST (OR WORST) OF THE BIWEEKLY DNR LAW ENFORCEMENT CONSERVATION OFFICER REPORTS

ON PATROL

IF YOU WANT TO GET YOUR NAME PUBLISHED IN MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS, THIS IS NOT THE PLACE.
hearing impairment, said he couldn’t
hear the tire dragging and then
told the COs, “You guys are alright.”
The tire was secured inside the car
and the man was sent on his way.
HOPE THEY DIDN"T HAVE CWD...
CO Chris Lynch and Mike Evink
conducted a POC facility inspection
on a facility that had let its license
expire. Through the inspection it was
discovered there were no deer at
the facility. Upon interviewing the
facility owner he stated all 28 of his
deer had escaped and he failed to
notify the proper personnel. Charges
are being sought through the Delta
County Prosecutor’s Office.

CATCHING MORE THAN FISH
CO Phil Hudson was checking boats
coming into the Pine River launch
when an excited angler ran up to
CO Hudson from the dock stating
that he had a deer in his boat. CO
Hudson asked if it was a small deer
and the angler advised it was a full
size deer. The angler stated that the
deer was swimming approximately
three miles off shore and kept
going under water so they pulled
it into their boat and brought it to
shore. During the release, one of the
anglers was struck by the mature
whitetail deer’s hooves and left a
deep gash on his arm. CO Hudson
cleaned and bandaged the wound
and advised the angler to get it
checked out. The angler stated that

with the defendant was his unidentified accomplice in the original crime
and was there to testify on behalf of
the defendant. Unknown to the defense attorney, the accomplice was
never identified during the investigation of the crime and therefore was
never issued a ticket. The CO made
contact with the unidentified suspect
and obtained his information. When
questioned, the suspect admitted to
being with the defendant that night
and trespassing. A plea agreement
was then reached, and the defendant pled guilty to the original
charge and was assessed $700 in
fines and costs. The CO then had a
warrant issued for the second subject
and his court case is pending.

FIREARMS | SUPPRESSORS
Photo courtesy of the American Suppressor Association.
DISAPPOINTED: That would be the one word I use to
describe my first experience with a suppressor.
It was 2012, and I was conducting a range with our
Battalion’s Surveillance and Target Acquisition
platoon, more commonly known as Scout Snipers. The
platoon brought out their issued M4s with Surefire
suppressors and conducted a
familiarization range. Now,
we’ve all seen movies where
the actor screws on a silencer
and fires a gun without a sound.
In reality, that is simply not the
case. There was still a “Bang”
when you pulled the trigger.

by Scott Crawford
equation it alters the balance of your firearm which
may change your point of impact. The change in the
zero was the main purpose our Snipers conducted
their range that day, to find new hold overs where they
would know their point of aim and point of impact.
Despite inaccurate representations by Hollywood, a
suppressor does not directly turn an average shooter
into a more lethal and silent movie
assassin. Reality may prove the
opposite.

Fast forward to February 2016:
That “D” word I used earlier
instantly vanished and turned to
excitement. The Natural Resources
Commission voted 4-1 in favor of
allowing suppressors for hunting
in the state of Michigan. The
American Suppressor Association and the National
Rifle Association led the initiative with support from
the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation and the
Michigan Trapper and Predator Callers Association.

“The Natural Resources
Commission voted 4-1 in
favor of allowing
suppressors for hunting in
the state of Michigan.”

The next disappointment came
when I did not hit the target with my first few shots. In
the Marine Corps we use Trijicon Rifle Combat Optics
(RCO/ACOG) with a bullet drop compensator. With
62 grain “Green Tips,” you hold the reticle on target
for the corresponding distance and fire a shot. Simple
and effective. When we introduce a suppressor to the
14 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

With the aid and assistance from organizations such
as the American Suppressor Association, Michigan
United Conservation Clubs, Safari Club International,
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, and the
National Rifle Association, the firearm and conservation
communities are improving our hunting quality one order
and piece of legislation at a time. If you are interested in
supporting those who have done much for us, look into
becoming a member of these great organizations. The
progress they are having on a local, state, and national level
is very exciting.
I consider myself a realist and with any topic of debate.
I must acknowledge suppressor use has advantages and
drawbacks. I immediately thought about the advantage it
would give me on wild game, more specifically a coyote,
for a follow up shot should I miss. Adding a suppressor
helps tame the report of the firearm and would make them
less intimidating to youth, women, and elderly hunters.
To me this is huge. Recruiting more hunters that enjoy
our passion is a great benefit to our community. A third
advantage would be protecting our hearing. Our hearing
will not improve over time, protecting one of our five
senses is crucial for enjoying life later on. Even non hunters
may enjoy the benefits of suppressor use by hunters.
With an expanding population, noise complaints grow. A
waterfowl or upland hunter may keep the neighbors happier
with less noise.
Poachers give a horrible name to the members of the
hunting community. I dreaded the thought of having an
entire hunting season ruined by a poacher who cannot be
caught because they use a suppressor. As I have personally
spoken with several DNR employees about poaching, I
was informed that although it is harder to catch a poacher
using a suppressor, it is typically the boastful poacher that
gets caught. As sportsmen, we need to police ourselves
respectfully and deter poachers who use suppressors
illegally. We also need to set the ethical example for future
generations. Lastly, purchasing a suppressor requires an
FBI background check. That said, anyone who wishes to
purchase a suppressor would be a law abiding citizen that
typically wouldn’t commit a crime like poaching. The
more I thought about poaching the less I believed it would
be an issue. If you suspect any poaching report it to the
DNR’s Report All Poaching hotline at (800-292-7800).
If you have read this far, the thought of owning a
suppressor is growing on you. There are a few steps you

Scott Crawford
I was born in the Capital City (Lansing) but raised
in a small town just south of town. Family traditions
set in early as I was in a tree stand or box blind
before I started school. When I turned five I received my first firearm; a Weatherby chambered in
.270 Winchester. Although it was taller than me I
still had to wait a few years to shoot it.
In the meantime, my curiosity took me to the
outdoors. I spent as much time as I could with a
BB gun and my buddies walking the woods and
having shooting competitions. Competition lead
me to dive deep into sports where I lettered in four
sports by junior year. After high school, I continued
the family tradition of becoming a United States
Marine. While on active duty I had the privilege
to earn the title of ‘Grunt’. My primary job was
employing machine guns but I also became a
marksmanship instructor, martial arts instructor,
and designated marksman.
Since returning from active duty, I found a part
time job working behind the gun counter. This opportunity let me enjoy a passion for firearms and
passing on knowledge or experience. I currently
work for a nonprofit called Zero Day. At Zero Day,
I have the pleasure of working hand in hand with
the DNR and other conservation organizations
through Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors
(MiOFO).

will need to take and a little waiting (typical wait time
is about 4-9 months currently) and you too can own
one. There are several different ways to purchase a
suppressor, i.e. as an individual or a trust. I will give a
general outline of the process for an individual. Step one
is to conduct your research; Find a reputable local dealer,
use Google to find and read reviews, and learn all you
can before you take the next step. After you find a local
dealer, you will need to fill out an ATF Form 4. Then you
will need to take passport photos and fingerprints. Next,
would be to get the local chief law enforcement officer to
sign approval. After receiving written approval, return to
the local shop and pay a one-time $200 fee. The waiting
game comes next. Once you receive approval back
from the ATF you may take your new (and awesome)
suppressor home.

Now remember my story about the Snipers who had to
refamiliarize themselves with their rifles? This stage is
when the real fun happens. There are two types of ammo
to consider when using a suppressor; sonic and subsonic.
The difference between the two is velocity. Sonic
ammunition travels faster than the speed of sound or
above 1126 feet per second. If you wish to get the most
sound suppression you will need subsonic ammunition
that travels below 1126 fps. Keep in mind that the weight
of the projectile is another important factor to an ethical
kill. Shooting different velocities and projectile weights
will change your point of impact. Many ammunition and
optic companies and local gun shops will gladly assist
you with finding the correct ammo and zero for your
intended purpose.
Take the time to get to know your rifle and suppressor. It
would be unethical and unsafe if you did not practice. A
great day afield can quickly be ruined by a poor shot on
wild game.
Stay safe, have fun, fight the good fight.

16 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

DIS
by Jeff Lichon

I WAS CRUSHED. PHYSICALLY, YES.
Three of my vertebrae at chest level were broken when
the small pickup truck hit a tree and I was thrust across
the bed, hitting the steel truck bed and shattering more
than my bones. They’re called dreams. We all have
them, and sometimes, they can be shattered, too.
What was next for a 15-year-old in the prime of
his life who sustained a life-changing spinal cord
injury? How was life going to be when I had to
relearn Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs as they
are known in the Physical Rehabilitation field, such
as getting dressed, showering and getting around in
a wheelchair? I quickly learned that my immediate
focus would be on the basics, and everything else
like hunting and fishing, sports and chasing girls
would come later. Oh, and school, of course.
That was April 1994 and a lot has happened since
then. I would say I have been successful in life. The
gap between my wheelchair and the seat of a car
that seemed as wide as Lake Superior has narrowed
considerably since then and I recently bought my
first full-sized pickup truck, which is an indicator
that I have also been successful in getting through
college, finding a job, saving up some money and
being a contributing member of society. It was not,
and is not, always easy, but I would not settle for
less. I was getting back into the outdoors come hell
or high water because that is what I loved to do and
I had an incredible support network of friends and

ABILITY
in the Out-of-Doors

family that helped me along the way.
Our nation, since the mid-1990’s, has seen an increase
of people with disabilities (PWDs) due to a number of
factors, including the advancement of medicine and
science that helps PWDs live longer, more fulfilling
lives, as well as many of our military men and
women returning home who have sustained physical
and mental injuries who want to remain active by
returning to the outdoors and to meaningful careers.

Those factors, along with the respectable advancement
in technology of wheelchairs and other adaptive
equipment that allows these men and women to do
what they love, has been nothing short of welcoming
in the eyes of these aspiring individuals.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the increasing
number of opportunities that are available in the state
of Michigan for people with disabilities, some of

Jeff Lichon, Kelly Gotch and Jeff's dad
Chuck Lichon with Jeff's buck at the
Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge.

which were inspired simply by
people close to an individual with
a disability or by a number of local
conservation organization chapters
wanting to make a positive impact
to people with disabilities

end or simpler types of adaptive
equipment, when you step back
and compare the fact that adaptive
equipment is a ‘medical expense’
and that there is a lot more
development cost that goes into an
outdoor scooter, for instance, and

‘attitude’ can often be more
disabling than any physical or
mental disability, but from the
viewpoint of a person aspiring to
be back among the tall timbers
of the Michigan wilderness, any
progress is better than no progress
at all.

Hunts for PWDs in
Michigan

EQUIPMENT
I have had the opportunity to test
out a number of different types of
adaptive equipment (AE) that were
designed specifically for taking
PWDs into the woods or marshes.
You may think of it like shoes –
different shoes are required for
different purposes. Running shoes
are for running; boots are for snow
or mud. Different wheelchairs
exist for wheelchair tennis, rugby
or basketball. Hockey ‘sleds’ are
designed for chasing pucks on the
ice. Not one piece of equipment is
practical for every sport and there
are even different types required
for the various terrain one might
encounter hunting different species
depending on the habitat in which
they live.
The metaphor between shoes
and adaptive equipment paints a
picture to show that ‘not one size
fits all’, but it stops short when
you start talking price. While it is
true that some designer shoes I’m
sure cost more than some lower

adaptive equipment costs soar far
above that of the various shoe types
needed to fulfill even the most
active person’s lifestyle. In fact, the
cost of adaptive equipment is likely
the single-most prohibitive factor
that a PWD faces in getting back
into the outdoors.
It’s true, adaptive equipment
manufacturers put a lot of
development and material cost
into their designs but it also takes
much effort for them to engineer
something that a) is available for
broad use across different types of
disabilities, and b) that insurance
companies ‘approve of’ and will
purchase for someone in need of it,
whether in part or in whole. Lastly,
while advancement of AE has
been by leaps and bounds in recent
years, there is still a long ways to
go in this field that has been largely
underserved for decades, in part
due to societal perceptions and
unconscious biases that still exist
today that say PWDs lack the same
abilities as able-bodied individuals
have.
All that can be said to that is,

18 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

A number of accessible-type hunts
exist throughout Michigan, and
I have been fortunate enough to
participate in some of them. There
certainly may be more than this,
so if you are aware of others or
have comments in general about
accessing the outdoors with a
disability, send me an email at
accessoutdoorsllc@gmail.com.

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge
Non-ambulatory Whitetail deer
hunt – Two hunts take place
during the opening four days of
the Michigan firearm deer season.
Ground blinds and support staff
enables hunters who use a power or
manual wheelchair an opportunity
to take an antlered or antlerless
deer based on an annual application
process. Contact Shiawassee NWR,
6975 Mower Rd., Saginaw, at (989)
777-5930.
Michigan Army National Guard
(ANG) Fort Custer Training
Center (FCTC) – Fort Custer
offers an annual Michigan
Whitetail firearm deer hunt in
October for PWDs. Visit their
website at www.fortcusterhunt.
org or email Jonathan Edgerly at
jonathan.w.edgerly.nfg@mail.mil.

Wolverine Lions Club MI Whitetail deer hunt

Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors

The Wolverine hunt was started by a hunter with a disability
named Paul Bunker who aspired to provide individuals with
an opportunity to hunt on beautiful private land in the northern
Lower Peninsula. This firearm deer hunt takes place during two
days in October. Contact Paul Bunker at (231) 833-0019.

Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors
(MiOFO) is a collaborative partnership whose
mission is to provide outstanding outdoor
recreation opportunities to wounded veterans
and individuals with health challenges; and, to
coordinate a support network that facilitates
their recovery through connecting with nature.

Michigan DNR Liberty Hunt
Veterans and hunters with a disability may hunt Whitetail deer
during two days in September with a firearm if they fit one or
more criteria found on the MI-DNR website. For qualified persons with disabilities, valid licenses include a deer or deer combo
license. During this two-day hunt, a deer or deer combo license
may be used for an antlered or antlerless deer. Antler Point Restrictions do not apply. A Deer Management Assistance (DMA)
permit may also be used to take one antlerless deer only, if issued
for the area/land upon which hunting. The bag limit for this
season is one deer. All hunters participating in this season must
wear hunter orange. Visit www.michigan.gov/dnr and search for
Liberty Hunt.

Michigan DNR Independence Hunt
This 4-day firearm deer hunt will take place on private lands or
public land requiring an access permit, and open to the Independence Hunt by lottery in October of each year. Specific season
dates are available on the MI-DNR hunting season calendar
page. Veterans with 100-percent disability or rated as individually unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs may
participate in this hunt. In addition, hunters who possess a permit
to hunt from a standing vehicle or to hunt using a laser-sighting
devise, and hunters who are legally blind may also participate.
During this hunt, a firearm or combination license may be used
for an antlered or antlerless deer. Antler Point Restrictions do
not apply. The bag limit for this season is one deer. All hunters
participating in this season must wear hunter orange. Visit the
MI-DNR website and search for Independence Hunt.
The main difference between an able-bodied person and a person
with a disability is how obvious the differences are in the way
that PWDs do things. For that matter, everyone, whether they
have a disability or not, does things in a way that works best for
them. For people with disabilities, the challenges that they face
are just a little bit greater to get there, and many are just looking
for the next perfect ‘pair of shoes’ to do what they love doing in
the great outdoors.

MiOFO activities are centered around DNRmanaged Sharonville State Game Area. The
property is near several population centers:
Ann Arbor, Jackson, Lansing, and Detroit.
The partners in this effort include the
Department of Natural Resources (DNR),
Brain Injury Association, Zero-Day, the
Passing Along The Heritage (PATH)
Foundation, the Eisenhower Center, Safari
Club International (SCI) Foundation, Michigan
Building and Construction Trades Council,
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC),
Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American
Legion, and others.
ASSISTIVE RESOURCES AVAILABLE FOR
USE:
TRACKED WHEELCHAIR RESERVATIONS
- Limited number of chairs available for use at
Sharonville State Game Area and other areas as
arranged
Accessible Hunting Blind Reservations Limited number of accessible blinds on public
land available
HUNTING GUIDE TO ASSIST
OUTDOORSPEOPLE - MiOFO certified
volunteer helpers are available on scheduled
days to provide one-on-one assistance
Contact Tom Jones, MiOFO Project
Coordinator, to inquire about availability
of services and resources from events to
individual outdoor opportunities. Call 734-6126677, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(unavailable on state holidays).

The
Hunter
Athletes
BY DREW YOUNGEDYKE

A NEW GENERATION
OF HUNTERS IS TAKING
PREPARATION TO THE NEXT LEVEL

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out
how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds
could have done them better. The credit belongs to the
man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred
by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who
errs, who comes short again and again, because there
is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does
actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy
cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high
achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails
while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with
those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor
defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt, April 23, 1910

TIME WAS, HUNTING PREPARATION
meant pulling the deer rifle and flannels out
of the closet a few days before the opener,
sighting in at a few cans and buying your
back tag. Maybe it included a spring or
summer weekend at deer camp to build box
blinds and trim some lanes.
Lately it has also evolved to setting trail cams,
planting food plots, and practicing or shooting in
3D archery tournaments, ensuring that the hunter is a proficient shot with his or her equipment.
Now a new generation is taking hunting preparation to the next level with a focus on tuning the
most important piece of equipment a hunter has:
the human body.

Photo by Damaris Schuler

The modern “hunter-athlete” movement, as it’s
called, started out west where mountain hunters
have always needed to be in top physical condition to go after backcountry elk and mule deer,
and, most importantly, get both themselves and
their game meat back. The movement is catching
like wildfire and spawning entirely new sub-markets of the hunting industry marketing to athletic
hunters through companies like Mtn Ops and Wilderness Athlete. Hunters are sharing their workouts with each other on social media and listening
to podcasts about how to train better and eat right
for peak physical performance. They’re competing in contests that fuse shooting with physical
conditioning, like a Tough Mudder or Spartan
Race with bows and arrows.
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 21

Beyond all the hype, though, runs
an undeniable constant: hard work.
That’s what was on display at the
Train To Hunt Challenge this July
at the Ambridge Sportsmen’s Club
in the hills on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I went to the
Train To Hunt Challenge not just to
write about this growing subculture
of hunters, but to compete with
them in the most grueling competition ever devised for hunters. And
that’s where I met Ray Bickel of
Vasser, Michigan. At least, that’s
where I met him in person.

inspired the entire movement by
running ultramarathons, hunting
the most remote backcountry on the
planet, and sharing his “Run, Lift,
Shoot” lifestyle for anyone interested in following. I soon learned
there was a whole nationwide
community of hunter-athletes, and
Train To Hunt is where they tested
their progress against each other in
the offseason.
Train To Hunt is a competition that
fuses 3D archery, trail-running with
a heavy pack, and a CrossFit-style
challenge course. It grew out of

Phil Mendoza, and Gritty Bowmen
podcast host Brian Call.
When Bradley, who’s from upstate
New York, told me there would
be a Train To Hunt Challenge in
Pennsylvania, the first east of the
Mississippi, I signed up for it and
got to work.
I joined Spartan CrossFit in East
Lansing, where I worked out (and
still do) three to four days a week.
They let me set up a 3D deer target
outside the gym so I could shoot
immediately following workouts

Train To Hunt Challenge contestants at Ambridge Sportsmen’s Club in Baden, Pennsylvania. (Schuler)

Ray and I already knew each other
from our Instagram accounts.
When I started trail-running to get
in shape for hunting in the early
Spring of 2015, Ray was one of the
first people to start following the
posts of my runs, which helped to
keep me accountable for staying on
track with them.
I started following his. We both
followed Cameron Hanes, who has

a training program developed by
Kenton Clairmont of Oregon and
Dan Staton of Idaho. I first got
really interested in Train To Hunt
after attending a CrossFit workout coached by Staton during the
Archery Trade Association (ATA)
Show last winter, which also included Cam Hanes, Josh and Sarah
Bowmar, Train To Hunt eastern
director Will Bradley, his Natural
Born Hunter podcast co-host and
2014 Train To Hunt Champion

22 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

while my heart rate was still high. I
wore a backpack with weights in it
during my trail runs. And that was
just to try to keep up.
Take Ray, for example. He was
the only contestant other than me
from Michigan at the Pennsylvania qualifier. He trained by running with a 120 pound pack and a
Training Mask set to 15,000 feet
that simulates the thin air at higher
elevations.

This might make sense for western elk hunters packing out of
the mountains, by why would
Midwestern whitetail hunters go
through all this?
“Some people don’t like to work
out, and that’s fine,” said Bickel. “I
think it’s going to help, I honestly
do. You know, being under pressure, getting your heart rate up. I
mean, you get in your treestand,
just climbing to the top of your
treestand, and then you have this

of three events. On the first day,
contestants shoot a 20-target 3D
archery course, but one unlike any
other. In addition to the difficulty
of the shots, which can range out
to 60 yards, everywhere in between and at steep angles, certain
targets require specific shots based
on realistic hunting situations. For
instance, one shot is point blank.
Others require a kneeling shot, or
draw while kneeling, stand up and
move left, right and forward before
shooting. One requires two shots
in ten seconds, another requires the

Bickel didn’t hesitate. “Shooting.
You really have to focus on your
shooting.”
“You can’t outrun your shooting,”
added David Celano, from Wildwood, Florida, who finished second.
Zach Smith, from eastern Pennsylvania, finished third and had the
top score on the 3D event.
“Shooting is key,” he said, “and
being able to tell some distances.”

CG Schuler, from Texas and stationed in Virginia, takes aim during the 3D Shoot. (Schuler)

buck of a lifetime walk in a minute later, you’re out of breath. Pull
your bow back, now you have to
hold it back for thirty seconds. Not
a lot of people, I don’t think, could
do it.”
Ray should be able to do it, though:
he won the men’s individual open
division at the Pennsylvania Train
To Hunt Challenge.
The two-day challenge consisted

archer to hold at full draw for thirty
seconds before shooting. Oh, and
no rangefinders.
I personally did terrible on this
portion of the course. While I
missed few targets completely, I hit
few fives and threes (bullseyes and
outer rings). I was sitting in last
place at the end of this event, by
a lot, which was bad news: When
asked about the most important
part of winning the competition,

So, pretty much like real hunting.
Except that Train To Hunt doesn’t
stop there, as most off-season
preparation does. The next event
tests conditioning for the pack out:
the aptly-titled “Meat Pack.”
For the men’s open division (under
40 years old), contestants had to
carry a 100-pound sandbag in their
backpack, as well as their bow,
over a hilly trail course about a
mile long. For time.

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 23

Ali May Kelly, of New Jersey, celebrates completing the meat pack...

There is nothing so humbling as
a 100-pound meat pack. Whatever kind of shape you thought you
were in, the meat pack will let you
know that you were wrong.
“It’s very humbling,” said Derek “Tex” Grebner, who won the
traditional division. “You cannot be
over-prepared for it.”
The thing about the meat pack is
that once you’re out on the trail,
there’s no way out. You have 100
pounds plus a bow on your back,
and your legs have to move it and
yourself downhill, uphill, downhill,
uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill,
uphill, downhill, and uphill again. I
mean, you could quit, but the kind
of people who would quit generally
aren’t the hunters who sign up for
this kind of thing. The last time

I felt like I did during the meat
pack was when my cousin, Scott
Youmans, and I dragged my threeand-a-half year-old eight point
buck uphill, downhill, uphill, and
downhill again from where I shot it
back to deer camp last November.
As close as my cousin Scott and I
were before that drag, we certainly
built a stronger camaraderie during
the course of that drag because we
were suffering through it together.
Somewhere during the meat pack,
you realized the camaraderie you
were building with the other contestants, too, for the same reason.
You were no longer competing
against the other contestants, you
were competing with them. The
only thing you were competing
against was the temptation to stop.
Which is just as it is when you’re
hunting.

24 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

No matter how far from camp, or
the road, or your truck, or how
many hills in between, you owe it
to the animal you’ve killed to pack
it or drag it out and to make use
of it. Hunter-athletes are not just
training to be more efficient killers,
we’re training to be ethical and safe
hunters by making sure our bodies
are conditioned to get the animal
and ourselves out of the woods or
off the mountain.
I made up a little ground in the
meat pack, finishing sixth out of
eight in that event. I was still in
last place in my division, but I had
closed the distance going into the
second and final day.
This is where the camaraderie
revealed itself: Zach Smith, who
had the highest score on the 3D ar-

...while her dad and teammate John Zeiselmeijer expresses how most of us felt!

chery event, had shot in my group
during that event. Zach works at
an archery shop, and noticed some
issues with my form. Even though
we were competing in the same
division, he shared with me that
he noticed I was gripping the bow
too tight and that I should relax my
grip more. That night, after getting some new arrows, I spent two
hours working on it with my dad,
who accompanied me on the trip.
And it helped.
Imagine you’re hunting elk out
west, or even still-hunting whitetails in a public land state forest
up north. You climb up a hill. You
glass them across a valley and jog
a little to close the distance out
of sight and downwind. You get
to the top and there it is! Can you
make the shot? Maybe you just
helped drag your buddy’s deer out

of the woods, start down the trail,
and there it is: can you make the
shot? Maybe you just had to haul
firewood for the camp stove, or
carry your treestand, or climb your
treestand, or climb down, or make
a long stalk uphill, or your heart’s
just racing because “Oh my God
look at that deer!” or you just did
any of the million different tasks
requiring physical exertion while
hunting and then there’s your opportunity: Can you make the shot?
That’s what Day Two of Train To
Hunt is all about: the Challenge
Course.
It’s different every year, but it
always combines physical challenges, trail-running and archery.
It’s worth double the points as the
other events. Contestants had to
wear a pack during this event too,
a relatively light 20 pounds for the

men’s open after the previous day’s
meat pack.
This year, the Challenge Course
started with a tire pull. Then you
picked up your bow, sprinted to
the first target, and took your shot.
A 3D doe at about 35 yards. Then
you ran up the trail to the second
station, shot the target, took off
your pack and did 15 backpack getups, which are like a sit-up while
holding the 20-pound pack to your
chest, standing up, crossing a line,
turning around and doing it again.
Then run down the trail to the next
target, shoot it, and do a sandbag
shuttle run. You put down your
bow, pick up a 60-pound sandbag
on your shoulder, pick up your
bow, and run it around an obstacle
and back. Of course, they placed
the obstacle downhill, ensuring that

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 25

you had to run it uphill to return
it! The last time I felt like that was
when I packed out my button buck
on my shoulder (which I mistook
for a doe) on last year’s archery
opener, while carrying my bow.

equipment out whether anyone was
around or not. I would never expect
any of them to steal a treestand, or
a trail cam, or claim a downed buck
that wasn’t theirs, or anything like
that.

Run down the trail to the next
target, shoot it, and do 15 groundto-shoulder-to-other shoulder-toground lifts with a 50-pound sandbag. Run and shoot, 15 burpees
(down-ups for my old high school
football teammates), run and shoot,
15 box step-ups, run to finish the
course.

I think it’s partly because of the
work they’ve all put into hunting
and training for hunting. Whether
it’s the type of people willing to
put in that work or how the work
itself tranforms people, no one
who’s worked that hard would take
away what others have worked for.
Wouldn’t that be great if the whole
community of hunters behaved like
that? Imagine what that would do
for the image non-hunters have of
what we do?

Accuracy mattered even more in
the Challenge Course. For any
bullseye, 30 seconds was deducted
from the total time; for any body
shot outside the vital zone, 30
seconds was added; and for any
complete miss, 30 seconds was
added and you had to do 20 additional burpees.
It was physically brutal, maybe
even harder than the meat pack.
Personally, I did a little better on
this one. I had only the sixth fastest
time but I didn’t miss a target
and even got a couple 30-second
deductions by hitting the bullseye,
though I had one 30-second addition by hitting the leg on a 50-yard
shot. Zach’s advice from the day
before and my dad’s help practicing it paid off and I moved up a
couple spots to sixth in men’s open
in the final standings. But by then,
that didn’t even matter as much as I
thought it would.
It was the people, the community
of hunter-athletes that mattered
most at that point. It’s funny, but
I don’t think anyone locked their
vehicles at the event. We all left our

ACCURACY
MATTERED
EVEN MORE
IN THE
CHALLENGE
COURSE
The hunter-athlete movement is
having a positive impact on the
image of hunters, though.
“As we try to move hunting, and
the image of hunting, I think this is
where it needs to go,” said Cerrano.
“I think a lot of anti’s – whatever,
you don’t have to hunt, I understand that – but they just picture

the old image of hunting, people
cracking a bunch of beers, cruising
around in the truck and shooting
out of the truck, and that has had
a bad image on hunting. I think a
lot of that is going to change – and
there’s some people you can’t turn
– but I think [the hunter-athlete
movement] is the way it’s going to
go.”
Watching my new friends win medals in the shape of compound bow
cams, I couldn’t have been happier
for them. We had cheered each
other as we crossed the finish line,
helped each other take our heavy
packs off, offered each other water
bottles, shared trail mix, compared
protein shake recipes, offered and
accepted tips on shooting better and
how to rig up a pack to carry 100
pounds, and were genuinely happy
for each other’s successes without
jealousy from below or condescension from above.
I hope this movement catches on,
because I want to see that dynamic
at play throughout the entire hunting community. Where hunters are
happy for each other when they get
a big buck and don’t look down on
small ones, where everyone helps
each other because they know their
success is dependent on their own
hard work, and there’s nothing to
gain by putting anyone else down.
There are some critics of the hunter-athlete movement. In a recent
post on his Antler Geeks blog,
Tony Hansen, who also writes for
this magazine, wrote:
“Just because it’s all the rage these
days to load a backpack up with
rocks, to run around a trail with
a bow in your hand and shoot

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 27

Jerry Orlovski of Pennsylvania races Ray Bickel to the finish line of the Train To Hunt Challenge Course (Schuler)

arrows at extreme distances as
part of the ‘Ultimate CrossBite
Bowhunting Road Warrior Pound It
Until You Puke Challenge’ doesn’t
mean it has anything at all to do
with killing a big buck this fall...
What will help you? Confidence.
Repetition. Preparation.”
He’s right to a point, and he’s
certainly put enough mounts on
the wall to prove it, but the hunterathlete movement is about more
than just “killing big bucks,”
and confidence, repetetion and
preparation are exaclty what
contestants build through the Train
To Hunt Challenge and the training
leading up to it. It is, after all,
“Train To HUNT.”
There’s more to hunting than the
killing part, though. And while
shooting is the most important
element of Train To Hunt, the
physical challenges train the body
for other elements of hunting like
getting there, performing under
pressure, and getting out.
“I’ve been out West, I’ve been in
Canada, on the West Coast,” said
Celano. “To prepare for those
hunts, I used the Train To Hunt
training program on a lot of that.
And without that, a lot of those
hunts probably would have been
unsuccessful.”
“I have to agree with that,” added
Bickel. “You’re shooting from a
treestand, still shaking and you’ve
got that buck of a lifetime, if you
can’t hold for 30 seconds, that’s
going to make or break you.”
Personally, I’ve experienced
more hunting success in the year
and a half of training my body in
preparation for it than I ever had

before that. I was 0-for-the-decade
before I started running trails,
lifting and shooting more often. For
my style of hunting, still-hunting
public land as far from a road as
I can get, it made the difference
both in bow and firearm seasons. It
wasn’t about “killing big bucks,”
but it put venison in my freezer that
lasted until summer. My goal this
year is to get enough venison to
last until the next season, and that’s
what I’m training for.
You don’t need to work out to kill a
deer, but it won’t hurt.

YOU DON’T NEED
TO WORK OUT TO
KILL A DEER, BUT
IT WON’T HURT.
If you’re healthier, you’ll be able
to hunt longer, both on a given
day and longer into your lifespan.
You’ll be able to help get yourself
and your game out of the woods
without a heart attack. You’ll have
more energy to move a stand or
take the long way around to stay
downwind of your quarry. That
doesn’t mean you have to run trails,
or pack 100 pounds, or do CrossFit,
though.
Since we returned from Train To
Hunt, my dad has been walking
around the block nightly with
my mom. At first it was a couple
blocks, then it was up to a mile.
I think he’s up to a couple miles
now. That effort makes him part
of the hunter-athlete community,

too. The effort, and the mental
toughness to put forth that effort
even when it’s hard. And that’s
what Train To Hunt is all about.
“Truthfully, it’s a very humbling
experience,” said Tex Grebner, “but
it’s worth it. It is intimidating, but
all you’ve gotta do is make up your
mind that you’re going to do it and
not quit.”
“It’s 90% mental,” said Zach
Smith. “You get to that point, you
get halfway, you’re looking at the
ground going ‘I’m not making
this,’ but you’ve just gotta push
through.”
“It’s a lot of right foot, left foot,”
added Celano.
“You can’t let a bad shot, or a
bad day get to you,” said Bickel.
“You’ve just got to forget about
it and go, and I think that’s
the biggest part of the mental
challenge.”
Ultimately, it’s all about hunting.
The physical endurance, the
training, the preparation, the
shooting; it’s about being more
prepared in the field and putting
as much work into making sure
your body is just as prepared for
hunting season as the rest of your
equipment.
For this generation of hunters,
that’s as much a part of preparing
for the season as checking trail
cams, scouting, planting food plots,
and pulling the camo out of the
closet.
To sign up for a
Train To Hunt Challenge, go to
www.traintohunt.com.

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 29

.com
Subscribe, become a member, and get MUCC and Michigan Out-of-Doors gear at
www.mucc.org and www.michiganoutofdoors.com!

Camo MUCC hat: $15
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Can't help you!

Jaron Bensinger, 7, Otsego County
The elimination of the minimum hunting age, allowing
youth like Jaron, above , to hunt with their parents at
an earlier age, was the result of a Michigan United
Conservation Clubs policy resolution.

Tom Nelson | Warm Weather Whitetails & RULE THE RUT
TONY HANSEN | 5 Ways to be a better bowhunter
Darin Potter | 5 Mistakes that Will Kill Your Season
Tony Hansen | You Can Own Your Own Hunting Land
GEAR REVIEW | KWikee AIR Quiver

by Tom Nelson

Full Draw
warm
weather
WHITETAILS

Tom Nelson, host of Cabela’s American Archer on the Outdoor Channel, with a warm-weather buck.
I SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME, I TOLD MYSELF.
The heat was more akin to a July or an August day, not
early October in Michigan. I was clad in a camo t-shirt
and thin camo pants, but I was still overly warm as the
last of the setting sun’s rays tried their best to make me
uncomfortable. If I was hot and uneasy, I was sure the
local deer were feeling the same. Looking at the small
thermometer that is always attached to my pack, I was
not the least bit surprised to see the mercury pushing
75 degrees. I really was not expecting to see any deer
movement until well after the sun had set. With this
thought in mind I really was not paying that much attention and not at all observant. It was the barely audible
sound of water splashing that drew my attention. 25
yards off to my left was a small creek and wading right
down the middle of it was a young forked antlered buck.
He seemed completely comfortable as he slowly walked
through the knee deep water. As he entered my first
shooting lane he was a mere 18 yards away and totally unaware of my presence high in a maple tree above
him. It was at this point that he stopped and glanced
back behind him down the creek. He stood staring down
stream for some time then once again proceeded forward. Although I could not see anything coming with the
32 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

thick foliage that still remained in the early fall woods,
I surmised that another deer was approaching. I grabbed
my bow and positioned myself just in case I was correct.
In a few minutes I could make out the features of a
whitetail approaching then I could hear it. I struggled to
identify whether it was a buck or doe, shooter or otherwise. Then it cleared the leafy cover that hid it. Big
doe, all by herself, exactly what I was hunting for. As
she entered my shooting lane, I drew, settled into my
anchor point and settled my first sight pin on her vitals.
As she stopped in the same place the young buck had, I
released and watched my broadhead tipped arrow disappear behind her shoulder. With a kick, then a jump she
was up on the opposite bank and heading away. A mere
second or two later I heard a loud crash as she hit the
forest floor.
It was no accident I arrowed this whitetail on such a
warm and uncomfortable late afternoon. Whitetails do
not like heat. When the mercury rises, deer movement
drops. By October, Michigan whitetails are beginning
to transform from thin summer into their heavier winter
coats. Moving about in warm to hot temperatures is not
pleasant for whitetails and a big reason they restrict their

movements when the temps heat up.
Sure whitetails still move about, they just do so closer
to sunset or after. They still need to feed but just not as
much as when colder temperatures rule and their need
for calories increases. One item that they do require,
and more so when it’s hot, is water. Whitetails have
to water daily, often twice a day. I have been actively
bow hunting whitetails near water sources and have
been successful at it.

“When the
Mercury
Rises, deer
activity drops.”
s
It was over a decade ago when the thought hit me. I
was in Wyoming bow hunting pronghorn antelope. It
was early September and the weather was hot and dry.
Our method of bow hunting was to erect a blind near a
waterhole and ambush the antelope as they came in for
a drink. It worked to perfection. As the mercury rose
so did the antelopes’ need for water.

From that day on, I was a believer in hunting near or
over water sources when conditions are warm. Even
into late October and November I have arrowed whitetails from these stand sites over waterholes, creeks and
ponds. Hunters oftentimes ask me how they can hunt
over water when they have a creek or river running
nearby offering whitetails numerous locations to drink
from. In this case scouting is a must, Deer have their
favorite spots to water. Often they are locations where
the river of creek bank levels off or a well-worn trail
leading down to the water’s edge. Deer want easy
access. They do not want to struggle to get at water. If
you scout along a river of creek bank, you will locate
these locations that deer prefer to water from. Many
times they water at the same places they cross from. A
bonus of hunting along a river of creek is that you can
wade through the water to gain access to your hunting
site, thus cutting down on the scent you leave as you
enter or exit your stand.
This fall do not be discouraged when Mother Nature
decides to throw you a curve ball and turn a fall day
into summer. Locate and place a stand or blind near a
water source and enhance your warm weather whitetail hunting.
Tom Nelson is the longtime author of the Full Draw column in this publiccation as well as the host of Cabela’s
American Archer on the Outdoor Channel.

A month later, back in Michigan, I was hunting whitetails
in conditions near that of
what we had in Wyoming.
I knew of a spot along the
creek where the bank leveled
out and granted thirsty whitetails easy access to the liquid
that flooded down the small
creek. I hung a portable tree
stand there the next afternoon
and was hunting from it that
same evening. While I did not
arrow a whitetail from it that
evening’s hunt, I did observe
several deer come and go. All
of them came for a drink of
life-sustaining water.
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 33

Rule The

RUT

TO THIS POINT, this afternoon’s bow hunt had been
fun, to say the least. With the sun just beginning to
disappear in the western sky, I had so far observed 3
different bucks and several does. This early November
action had me rotating my head left, right and behind
me, scanning my surroundings for the next whitetail
that might appear. I was sitting in a ladder stand some
18 foot up a now leafless walnut tree that was situated
in a brushy fence line. I felt somewhat exposed but
so far none of the passing whitetails had spotted me,
partly because each buck I had witnessed was pushing
a doe or trailing the same.

by Tom Nelson
This was my first time sitting in this particular ladder
stand. It had been erected into place just prior to Labor
Day weekend. I had spent the time to trim shooting
lanes at the same time thus prepping this stand well in
advance of bow season. With shooting light waning, I
was beginning to think that the action was over for this
stand inaugural hunt.
Glancing to my right, I caught sight of white antlers
coming over a rise in the hay field not 60 yards away.
The rolling terrain had hidden the buck’s approach.
Without taking my eyes off the approaching deer,
I attached my release to my bowstring. Unlike the
previous bucks I had seen this evening, this guy was
by himself and walking down the fence line with a
purpose.
As he neared I drew my bow as he went under a few
sparse branches. I held my breath hopeful he would
not spot me drawing back. The buck was now a mere
15 yards away and broadside. I debated on voice
grunting to stop him but he was so close I elected

Tom Nelson, host of Cabela’s American Archer, with a North Dakota buck.

not to. As I began to settle my sight pin on his chest,
the buck stopped and glared straight up at me. Too
late! The Black Eagle arrows hit him perfectly and I
watched as the big buck collapsed in the hay field.
Some may say I was lucky. It was my first time sitting
in this stand. I had not even set foot on this farm all
fall. I say luck had nothing to do with it. Whitetail
bucks spend most of their lives in what is called their
core areas. This is the area that bucks tend to spend
the vast majority of their time in. Often core areas for
bucks can be as little as 250 - 300 acres. Sure they
wander out from these core areas occasionally, but for
the most part this is where they feel safe and secure.
In the fall when male hormones begin to increase,
bucks begin to travel further, thus increasing their area
to several times their normal core area. This is why
we often have bucks suddenly
disappear that we have observed
all fall. The same can be said
of bucks that show up that had
never been captured on trail
cameras or seen while scouting
or hunting previously. Basically,
these bucks have one thing on
their minds come the rut and that
is the urge to reproduce.

core area that bucks are cautious to call home. Perhaps
it is a spot too close to a home or barn. Maybe cover
is just not suitable for a clever old buck. Whatever the
reasons, come the rut. Bucks start seeking out these
does, oftentimes in areas they would normally avoid.
I like to set up several what I call “rut stands” in
the summer that I will not venture into until the rut
begins. These stands are placed in areas that have a
good population of does. Often they are situated near
a food source such as a food plot, picked corn field,
etc. However, many of my most proven rut stands
are placed within somewhat thicker cover that does
tend to seek out when bucks are relentlessly harassing
them. This past fall I had a dandy buck chase a doe
across a large grass field and into the small half acre
thicket that I was hunting. Albeit I had the 140 class
buck within 10 yards of me twice
as he pushed the doe around in
circles, I never had an unobstructed
shot. With one last lunge he pushed
he out into the open field and off
they went out of my life forever.

“YOUR FIRST SIT
IN ANY STAND IS
YOUR BEST BET TO
FILL A TAG”

To a hunter, this urge to reproduce can be good
and bad. The good part is that bucks tend to be less
nocturnal, thus increasing their daylight activity. In
my opinion, they also become less wary and are more
apt to make a mistake that they normally would not.
Such as following a doe into a food plot or bait pile
during daylight hours. Something he would normally
never do. Bucks bed later if at all and spend most of
their time cruising for receptive does. The down side
of this rutting behavior is that bucks tend to forego any
travel patterns. Bucks that once habitually visited
this field or that, now is traveling with his nose to
the ground some three miles away. Hunting scrape
and rub lines becomes futile as bucks now become
obsessed with chasing does.
So, how can you as a hunter take advantage of
a rutting buck’s erratic behavior? Start hunting
where the does are. Often times areas that tend
to harbor does, but lack bucks, become hot spots
come the rut. Does oftentimes will live within a

The key to having a productive rut
stand is to not educate the local
does to its locale. Thus the reason
do not hunt these stand location
until the rut is clearly underway. I am a firm believer
in the fact that your first sit in any stand is your best
chance to fill a tag. Deer are unaware and uneducated
to any earlier human presence. Save back a couple
potential hunting spots until the rut. Have them in
place or at least prepped well in advance. Leave them
undisturbed until you climb into them come the rut.
Adhere to these simple rules and there is a good
chance your rut stand will pay you back in tenderloins.

BDR

Farm Services

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Contact: Kellen YoungeDyke
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FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 35

5

ways to be a
better
bowhunter

It seems to happen every single
year. Bow season sneaks up on us.
It’s not that there is any lack of
anticipation. There isn’t.

1 | KNOW THE
DEER YOU HUNT

I start thinking about the next bow
season as soon as the previous one
ends. Truth be told, the only change
for me is that I can’t actually kill
deer. But there is no “off” season,
there’s simply a change in tasks
and approach.

This is easily the most important
lesson you can learn as a deer
hunter. And it’s also the one most
people play plenty of lip service
to without actually doing any
appreciable work.

Hunting deer isn’t something that I
do, it’s who I am and bowhunting
is far and away my preferred
method.
Bowhunting isn’t easy. Killing
any deer with a bow can be a
challenge. Killing a mature buck
– that’s about as tough as it gets,
particularly in areas where hunting
pressure is high and few bucks live
to maturity.
For our purposes here, we’ll focus
on five things that will make you a
better bowhunter in general.
Some of the tips will apply to those
chasing old deer as well.

If you don’t understand what deer
do, you’ll have a hard time hunting
them. Sure, you can sit a stand on
the edge of a field and see deer.
That’s not terribly difficult in most
areas and it’s a decent enough
strategy. But understanding how
deer use fields, where they are
most like to enter from, that’s the
difference-maker.
If you hunt big timber or
wilderness-type areas,
understanding how deer use that
area is paramount. The only way
to know that is to study up on how
deer behave in such settings.
Thing is, each situation and area is
different. While whitetails do share
some common traits of behavior,
they’ll apply those traits in slightly
different ways depending on the

36 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

by Tony Hansen

areas they live, the available food
sources and the level of hunting
pressure.
Trail cameras are my top tool
for learning how deer behave in
the areas that I hunt. I use them
extensively and allow them to
“hunt” when I can’t. Taking photos
of deer is fun. But using those
photos to teach you more about
the deer you’re hunting? That’s
learning.

2 | BE READY
I’m not talking about preseason
weight training or conditioning.
Sure, I suppose there is some level
of value to that but I’m active
year-round and tend to do plenty
of physical labor as part of my
everyday life. When bow season
comes in, I’ll walk plenty of miles,
usually with a couple of treestands
and climbing sticks on my back.
And, thus far, I’ve been up to the
task.
But I’m much more interested in
preparing myself mentally.
When bow season opens, the real

There is no shortage of banter these
days about long-range practice
sessions, “extreme” training and
at-home bow tuning.
I set up and tune my own bow.
That’s a personal choice and I
enjoy doing the work.
But I don’t go overboard.
My setup is pretty basic. I shoot
a newer compound with a basic
6-inch stabilizer, a drop-away rest
and a multi-pin sight.

learning begins. I am much more
reactive now than I was years ago.
Which means? I spend less time
scouting in the summer months and
more during the first few weeks of
the season. Deer here face plenty of
hunting pressure and have adapted
accordingly. I’ve seen plenty of
change in the way deer – especially
mature bucks – behave in response
to hunting pressure.
What deer do in the summer is not
at all what they will do in the fall.
So I have to be ready to decipher
the signs and react accordingly.
All of this is made possibly by
being in a state of readiness. I’ll
have several tree stands in place
for anticipated movement. But I’m
ready to adjust those stands at any
time.
I realize my goals are probably
different than others, but I’m
looking to kill the biggest, oldest
buck I can find. That doesn’t

I’ll shoot about a dozen arrows a
week leading up to bow season,
usually broken into sessions where
I shoot just three arrows – one each
at 25, 40 and 50 yards.
Darin Potter
happen by chance very often.
That’s it.
Being prepared makes it happen.
I don’t tinker and fool around.

3 | KNOW YOU
CAN SHOOT
I get to talk with and interact with
a lot of bowhunters over the course
of a year. And they can usually
be put into one of two categories:
Those who kill deer and those who
talk about it.
The difference?
The most consistent bowhunters I
know are not overly technical when
it comes to their bowhunting setup.
They choose quality equipment that
works.
They can shoot and know it.
That level of confidence can’t be
understated.

If my arrows are hitting where I
want and look “right” in the air, I
don’t paper-tune my bow. I shoot
broadheads exclusively.
If anything is amiss, then I’ll papertune and adjust.
I don’t want to allow any level of
doubt creep into my head regarding
my – or my bow’s – ability to
deliver a lethal arrow.
I keep it simple and I keep it
consistent.

4 | DON’T BELIEVE
THE HYPE
If I have learned anything over

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 37

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my career in the outdoors it’s
this: There are an awful lot of
pretenders out there.
Believe it or not, some of what you
read in outdoor publications or see
on TV may come from someone
who doesn’t exactly have the
background or experience that you
may think.
Ads, testimonials and “sponsor”
messages may not be entirely
accurate. I know that’s shocking,
right?
Every year companies release
some helpful tools for hunters. And
others release stuff that doesn’t
belong in the woods.
Each year you’ll hear new advice
and strategies from guys that may
fall a tad bit short of “expert”
status.
The point? Hunt the way you
have confidence in. Use what you
believe in.
The only way to truly know if a
product or piece of advice holds
water is to put it use. Obviously,
you aren’t going to run out and
buy every new piece of gear just
to test it out. But identify sources
of information that you have had a
good experience with and trust.
Then make your own decision.

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cardboard target at MUCC-affiliated
Tomahawk Archers in Temperance, MI.

When it comes to advice on
strategies and tactics, read
everything you can. But don’t be
afraid to question what you read or
try things in a new way.

5 | INVEST
THE TIME
This is arguably the most difficult
lesson to put into practice.
If you truly want to be a better
bowhunter, you need to spend
more time doing it. There are no
shortcuts. There are no “secrets.”
I’ve learned what I’ve learned by
screwing up. A lot.
You can’t screw up enough to
improve if you only spend a few
days in the woods each fall.
Trust me, I understand just how
hectic life is. Finding the time to
hunt can be a real challenge. I face
the same challenge. The difference:
I refuse to let it stop me.
I’ll work long into the evening to
free up a few hours the following
morning.
I stockpile as much completed
work as I possibly can in the
summer months so that I can steal
a few extra hours during the fall.
I’ll hunt the most productive days
based on weather conditions and sit
out those that aren’t quite as good
– and on those days I pack as much
work in as I can so that when the
right weather hits, I might be able
to go.
The very best learning happens on
the fly. So get out there and start
learning.

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25

5

Each fall I join the ranks of
thousands of other bowhunters
across the state who head to the
woods with bow in hand hoping to
get another crack at taking a mature
whitetail.
After twenty-six archery seasons
spent on stand you would think
that I would be an expert by now,
however that is far from the truth.
Every time I set foot in the deer

mistakes that
will kill your
season

by Darin Potter

woods, there is no guarantee that I
will be dragging a deer behind me.
However, there is a guarantee that
I will add more knowledge to my
deer hunting memory bank through
experience along with good oldfashioned trial and error, which will
help me improve as a bowhunter.
The following are five mistakes
that I have made through the years
and tips on how to make those
corrections so that you are more

successful in the deer woods this
archery season.

1 | Tardiness
With bow in hand I began the
long journey towards one of my
treestands, which was located in
a stand of hardwoods. Along the
way I reached a small three acre
alfalfa field where I bumped three
deer that had likely been feeding
during the early morning hours.
The deer quickly exited the field
leaving me disgusted and doubtful
of seeing any deer while on stand.
Have you ever found yourself in
a similar situation, pushing deer
out of an area while traveling to
your stand wishing that you left
earlier? Unfortunately, I’ve spoken
with many other bowhunters who
have made me feel a little less
embarrassed when they tell me that
it has happened to them as well.
The good news is this problem can
be easily remedied.
The solution: arrive at your
treestand one to two hours before
daylight. You might be thinking
that this is way too early, however

40 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

if you want to be successful in the
deer woods you must step outside
of your comfort zone and try
something new. Sacrificing a few
hours of sleep is well worth it when
a mature buck steps into shooting
range.
The reason we must head to the
deer woods this early is simple.
Typically, deer will spend time
feeding throughout the evening
so by arriving at our stands early
enough we have a better chance
of intercepting them as they travel
back to their bedding areas.

2 | BLAME IT ON
THE RAIN
It’s cold, raining, and you would
rather stay home and sit on the
couch and drink coffee in the
comfort of your home than be
exposed to the elements. I may
sound like a motivational speaker,
but don’t be a fair-weather

bowhunter: grab your raingear
and hit the woods. After all,
bowhunting in the rain has its
advantages and has proven to be
very productive.
Rain causes many bowhunters to
stay out of the woods allowing
deer to feel less pressured and go
about their business in more of a
natural state. Also, with the ground
wet ,deer seem to be less cautious
than during dry conditions when
the leaves are crunchy. Rain not
only softens the footsteps of deer,
but ours also as we enter and exit
the deer woods or do some still
hunting.
As you know, rain can come in
many different forms. I’ve found
that the most productive time to
sit on stand is when there is either
a drizzle or light rain. Whitetails
have a tendency to head for cover
if it is raining hard mixed with
thunderstorms or high winds.

3 | WRONG STAND,
WRONG TIME
Another frequent mistake made
by bowhunters is hunting from a
treestand during the wrong part
of the season. There are specific
treestands on the property where
I hunt that I reserve strictly for
the rut. These locations typically
have active scrapes and numerous
rubs, which bucks visit during this
timeframe.
The last thing I want to do is burn
out one of these treestands before
they have a chance to blossom.
Doing so can drive does out of the
area and take with them any mature
bucks in the vicinity. The same
goes for my early stands, which are
located near some type of seasonal
food source such as an apple or
oak tree. I take advantage of these
stands by hunting them during the
first week of archery season when
these food sources have produced

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 41

mast.
If you are unsure when deer are
using a specific location, attach
a trail camera to a nearby tree
overlooking a scrape or runway.
This will remove the guesswork
and allow you to choose the best
time and place to hunt a particular
stand.

4 | TRAILING Deer
TOO EARLY
When I was fourteen years old
(my third bow season) I made the
mistake of getting down from my
stand after five minutes of shooting
a buck. As I was lowering my
bow to the ground I bumped a
five gallon pail that I used as a
seat, spooking the deer, which had
bedded down a short distance from
where I had shot it. My dad and
I spent several hours on the blood
trail that evening and the next
morning, however we were unable
to recover the buck.
Twenty-two years later I still think
of this hunt every time I connect
with a deer. This was a valuable
lesson that I’m glad I learned early

on in my bowhunting pursuits,
which has helped me to avoid
repeating this frustrating scenario.
After the shot pay careful attention
to how the deer reacts, where the
deer was standing, and where it
was last seen before disappearing.
These three things are critical in the

beginning stages of tracking your
deer. Upon releasing an arrow use
a landmark such as a tree, rock, or
fence post to identify where it was
standing and also where you last
saw the deer before it vanished.
Depending on where you hit the
deer it is essential that you give the
deer enough time to expire before
tracking it. For a double-lung and
heart shot (30 minutes), Gut shot
(18-20 hours), Liver (12-18 hours),
and a single-lung shot (6-8 hours).
In certain circumstances you might
want to wait even more or less than
these timeframes.
When you have given the deer
a sufficient amount of time,
walk over to where the deer was
standing when you made the shot
and look for your arrow. Finding
the arrow will help you determine
what kind of shot you made. For
example, an arrow that penetrates

42 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

the lungs will be a reddish pink in
color and may have some small air
bubbles on the shaft or feathers.

5 | NOT
PRACTICING
ENOUGH DURING
SEASON
Hundreds if not thousands of
arrows are sent down range
during summer practice sessions
in preparation for the upcoming
archery season. Why is it then
that so many hunters lessen their
practice shots once the season
begins? Don’t worry, I have been
guilty of this one, too.
Even though you’ve been placing
arrows in a tight group prior
to the season, it is essential
that you continue to shoot
throughout archery season to
keep your shooting skills sharp.
Whenever possible I make it part
of my routine to take at least
one shot while wearing all of
my bowhunting clothes before
heading out on an evening hunt.
This allows me to get the feel of
releasing an arrow with bulkier
clothes on opposed to a shortsleeved shirt during summer
practice sessions and keeps my
shot sequence in tune.
In the deer woods rarely are you
offered a second shot at the same
deer so this is the reason I like
to take just one practice shot
beforehand and try my best to
make it count.

You

CAN own your own hunting land
some digging to find it.

I THOUGHT I KNEW a thing or two about hunting
land.
And then I embarked on a pretty incredible journey.
Recently, I became a land specialist with Whitetail
Properties. If you’re not familiar with Whitetail
Properties, it’s the largest hunting land brokerage in
the United States and specializes in hunting and farm
land.
I’ve long been interested in hunting land and in the
hunting land business. It just seemed like a natural fit
with my background and there are few things I like
better than looking at deer ground.
What I didn’t fully understand was the benefit
someone trained in land-focused sales brings to the
table – for both the buyer and the seller –
and the amount of assistance an agent that
specializes in land sales can offer.
A few years back, I bought my first piece of
land. It’s a small 17-acre parcel but I’m pretty
proud of it and I’ve had a ton of fun trying to
turn it into my own slice of whitetail heaven.
I got a heckuva deal on the place because I
was willing to do the legwork many others –
including the listing agent – wouldn’t.
I used a buyer’s agent when buying the land
and I’m glad I did. My agent was able to save
me money by knowing the ins and outs of land
sales and I saved myself money by digging
into the history of the title and deed.
The land was originally listed as a landlocked parcel and that the buyer would
need to secure/purchase an easement from a
neighboring landowner.
The fact of the matter, was that an easement
was already included in the original deed – it
was just buried back many years and it took

by Tony Hansen

That’s the type of benefit an agent brings. And it didn’t
cost me a dime because the buyer’s agent is only paid
when the property closes and the payment is made by
the seller.
With fall nearly upon us, plenty of folks will be
looking for a great place to hunt. Finding one, as
you likely know, isn’t easy. Gaining hunting access
by permission is certainly still possible. But it’s not
nearly as easy it once was.
Leasing is an option but a good lease is nearly as hard
to find and, of course, you’re not going to see any
long-term financial returns on the money you spend.
Buying land gives you long-term hunting opportunity
and the ability to manipulate the land to your
liking. And, of course, land is one of the very best

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This is great hunting property or has
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Boyne City, MI 49712
231.582.9555
lynda@lyndasrealestateservice.com

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 43

investments going right now.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m trying to force a sale
here – I’m not. Would I love to be able to help you
find your dream hunting property? Or to find a buyer
for land you’re selling? Absolutely.
But not for the reasons you might think: I love
hunting. I love everything about the process and land
is a big part of that.
Being able to share some of the experience I’ve gained
over my career in the hunting world is something I
truly enjoy. Michigan is different from most other
states where deer hunting is popular.
We have a ton of hunters and our deer understand
hunting pressure like few others.
Over time, I’ve gotten a fairly good handle on the type

of land that can produce mature deer and learned a
thing or two about how to manage the property for the
best results.
That’s what an agent who understands hunting and
hunting land can offer – they can see the possibilities
and potential in a chunk of dirt that others might not.
If you’re looking to buy hunting land, hooking up
with a buyer’s agent means you rid yourself of the
paperwork and hassle that goes into it. The agent
handles that and makes the process much more
enjoyable.
You can often find a better property, often get a better
deal and, perhaps most importantly, you can get
invaluable advice on how to improve the property over
time to meet your specific hunting goals.
The agent also handles the price negotiations – which
makes things more comfortable as well.
And it doesn’t cost you a dime.
If you’re selling land, choosing an agent that brings
hunting-focused buyers to the table can often mean a
higher selling price because those buyers are willing to
pay for the type of land that you’re offering.
I learned a lot buying my property – but I’ve learned
even more through my training with Whitetail
Properties.

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When I first started to search for land to buy, I was
adamant that I didn’t need a buyer’s agent and that I
knew enough about what I wanted to broker my own
deal.
I was wrong and I’m glad I swallowed my pride and
brought an agent on. It was the best decision I made.
For most hunters I know, buying their own hunting
land is a life goal – a dream.
But the truth is, it doesn’t have to be just a dream.

700 W Main, Gaylord MI

44 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

Hunting land might be more affordable than you think
– it can produce income from tillable ground, timber
value and more. Those are the things a good agent

can explain and help you work
through which makes it all the
more important that you choose
your agent – whether buying or
selling – carefully.
The same goes for selling
ground you own – there is a
special market for hunting land
in Michigan and it only makes
sense to choose an agent that
focuses specifically on the
market.

The season is upon us...

TAKE AIM

The bottom line is this:
Hunting is a passion for many
of us and the dream of land
ownership is one many hunters
share.
When it comes time to make
that dream a reality, you can
save money and likely find the
best ground for your needs by
being smart and employing
the help of an agent who truly
understands the type of land
you’re looking for.
Believe it or not, the late
summer/fall period is actually a
great time to buy hunting land
because the demand is slightly
lower than at other times of the
year.
I didn’t believe that either until
I started studying sales trends
and price charts.

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There’s still time to make this
deer season a truly special one
– the first on your own piece of
whitetail heaven.
Tony Hansen is the assitant editor of
Outdoor Life, a licensed agent with
Whitetail Properties, and the QDMA’s
2016 Communicator of the Year. He
can be reached at tony@boonermedia.
com or 269.420.9510.

www.greenstonefcs.com

by Drew YoungeDyke

GEAR REVIEW | Kwikee air
Walking through the aisles of the Archery Trade
Association (ATA) Show in Louisville this past January,
I obviously saw a lot of cool gear for bowhunters. One
of the coolest, at least for a still-hunter like me, was
hanging from a balloon. No joke. Kwikee Kwiver’s new
Air quiver was suspended from a balloon.
Made from ultralight closed-cell foam, the Kwikee Air
is promoted as being 70% lighter than most quivers
and being very quiet, two things that are extremely
important when carrying your bow all day and trying to
get a close shot on a whitetail from ground level.
I talked with Nickolas Bailey of Altus Brands, the
Grawn, Michigan-based parent company of Kwikee
Kwiver and other outdoor products like iHunt predator
calls and BenchMaster shooting equipment. I was
skeptical of how well the foam would hold up to the
extreme weather conditions encountered while hunting,
though, and he offered to send me one to test out.
True to his word, a four-arrow Kwikee Air arrived a
couple weeks later, just in time for a winter scouting
/ backpacking / small-game hunting venture I was
planning into the Pigeon River Country. I replaced my
stock PSE hard plastic quiver with the Kwikee and
was happy with how securely it fastened to my bow,

adjusting it around my rest and sight housing. It can use
the classic Kwikee attachment or the snapless one that
comes with it, which makes for a very easy and quiet
detachment for treestand hunters who hang their quiver.
I didn’t get a shot on any squirrels or rabbits that
weekend, but the same nasty northern Michigan winter
weather that kept the squirrels in the trees offered the
conditions that would put a closed-cell foam quiver
to the test. And it passed, shedding snow without a
problem and not retaining moisture. Couple that with a
lighter and quieter quiver that securely held my arrows,
and I couldn’t find a downside to it.
I’ve used the quiver on countless practice sessions, a
few subsequent shoots at my archery club, Tomahawk
Archers, on a spring turkey hunt (no shot opportunities)
and during the Train to Hunt competition in western
Pennsylvania, where I reallly appreciated its lightness
during the meat pack event, which consisted of a hilly
trail run carrying a 100-pound sandbag in my pack
along with my bow, quiver and three arrows. When
you’re already carrying a 100-pound pack, every ounce
counts.
As a still-hunter, though, I pay very close attention to
the noise that my bow makes when shooting. And I

Left: The Kwikee Air on dispay at ATA.
Above: The author tests the Air during
the Train To Hunt meat pack event.
(Photo: Schuler)
have neither the time nor a place to detach and hang
my quiver when still-hunting, so all of my shooting
is done with the quiver attached. It must be quiet.
I've spooked deer on the draw from the ground, and
that's not a mistake I want to repeat. The secure
attachment of the Kwikee Air does that, but I don’t
think I realized how much quieter it was until the
Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus event at the Capitol
Area Sportsmen’s Club in May.
This is an event where legislators
mingle with sportsmen’s clubs and
conservation organizations like
MUCC while shooting shotguns,
rifles, pistols, learning to cast fly
lines, and, of course, shoot bows
and crossbows, often for the first
time. I never left the archery range
until the wild game dinner was
served.

thought the “Whoa,” I heard was for my shot. Not so
much.
“That’s a really quiet bow!” said Mike Thorman of
the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation. An anecdotal,
off-the-cuff comment for sure, but an honest one,
and that’s what counts. I have the full PSE package
of aftermarket dampeners on my bow, but between
the secure mount and the closed-cell
foam absorbing vibration and sound,
my setup is as quiet as can be. And
since the Kwikee Air is made from
that closed-cell foam and not hard
plastic, and contains no metal parts,
inadvertent contact with tree limbs,
broadheads or a tree stand will not
give you away.

“When You’re
already carrying
a 100-pound pack,
every ounce
counts.”

While shooting, some members of the Michigan
Hunting Dog Federation and Michigan Bear Hunters
Association came over to the archery station to, I can
only assume, give me grief about my shooting (I am a
notoriously bad shotgunner). Archery is another story,
though, so when I drilled the target in the kill zone, I

As I continue to improve as a
bowhunter, I’m confident that my quiver won't be an
issue this season. It’s just one small part of the whole
mix of scouting, training, preparation, practice, fieldcraft and equipment that goes into hunting, but every
ounce counts, including the ounces that aren’t there.
The Kwikee Air is light, secure, quiet and can handle
Michigan’s nastiest weather.
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 47

The CAMPFIRe

by Shaun McKeon, Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Camp Director

As the camp season begins to wind down and the
summer campers all go home to get ready for another
school year, we are left with the memories and stories
from the 2016 season. While there are enough stories
to fill a book each week, for this column I will try to
highlight a few of my favorites from this past season.
The first story comes from our second week way back
in June. This is a story from our nurse, but it is not an
injury story. On Thursday afternoon, right before the
hunter safety test began, one of the kids who had been
in the class all week started crying. He was so worried
about taking the test he decided he wasn’t even going
to try. He threw a temper tantrum and refused to enter
the lodge to take the test or follow directions from any
of the counselors.
After his refusal to take the test, he was sent up to the
health office where the nurse and I tried to figure out
48 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

what was wrong with him and why he had changed his
mind so suddenly. After about 15 minutes of talking
to him and finding out about his test anxiety, the nurse
decided she would give him the chance to answer a
few questions.
She decided she would proctor the test and asked
the questions to him out loud instead of him having
to read them. The nurse asked the camper three test
questions and he answered all three of them correct
with no problem. After this boost to his confidence
the camper and the nurse made a deal. They decided
the nurse would read the questions and the camper
agreed to take the test.
An hour into the test, I heard a shout from the medical
office. The nurse had just told the camper he scored a
94% on his test and was now officially a hunter safety
graduate! The best part of this story is two weeks

later I received an e-mail from
this camper’s family and it was
a picture of the camper with his
hunter safety card and his brand
new 2016 small game license.

they find in the woods they think
would help them spend a few
nights in the woods safely and
comfortably.
This group of campers was a pretty

He will be out in the woods this fall rowdy group during the week
hunting rabbits with his family and and there was a lot of bickering
couldn’t be more excited about it.
between campers during the
day. Since this is a team building
Our next story comes from week
activity, as well as a survival skill,
three and our group of primitive
the counselors were expecting
skills campers. The bulk of our
to have to deal with a lot of sass
primitive skills camp revolves
and attitude once this activity was
around wilderness survival.
introduced.
A prime skill to have during a
survival situation is being able to
find or create shelter. So during
this program we split our campers
up into groups of 3-5 and send
them off into the woods to create
a survival shelter. The goal is to
create a shelter out of only things

To combat this attitude, the
counselors came up with some new
rules and picked certain members
of each group to have restrictions
to their abilities. Some campers
were not allowed to talk and others
could only use one arm.

Giving these restrictions forced the
campers to work together and build
their shelters as a team. After the
initial gripes were out of the way
the teams really got busy making
shelters and they were doing so

well the counselors extended the
time for the activity.
The result of this quick thinking by
the staff and the teamwork by the
campers turned into some of the
best shelters we had built all year!
Finally, the last story for the year
is dedicated to the staff of the 2016
season. This year we operated with
22 people on staff and we typically
have a staff of 24. So all year we
were understaffed and the staff
we did have had to do extra work
to fill in the gaps and make sure
they still provided a quality camp
experience.

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 49

These dedicated and passionate individuals ranging in
age for 16-27, worked with over 350 kids during their
6 weeks at camp.
Camp is a constant battle and battle they did. They
battled the weather: thunderstorms, hail, extreme
heat and humidity. They battled Mother Nature:
bees, deer flies, poison ivy, stinging nettles, and
falling tree branches. They battled through injuries:
pulled muscles, heat exhaustion, dehydration, sleep
deprivation, and burned fingers. At times they even
battled each other (living together for 2 months can
wear on anyone’s nerves).

In the end however, the staff bonded and grew
together to be one of the best groups I have worked
with here at Cedar Lake. They supported each
other when needed and did a great job teaching the
conservation curriculum to the campers. Every day
they went above the job requirements to ensure the
campers had what they needed and could learn in a
safe and fun environment.
Thank you to the 2016 “Cedar Lake Crew” for being
the best you could be and making my final season at
Cedar Lake a special one!

Learn more about the Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Camp at www.mucccamp.org

50 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

RAISING A
HUNTING DOG

YOUTH
Story

by Fisher Pham

My family has always had hunting dogs. Before I was born, my parents
only had experience with beagles. Two years before I was born, they got
a German shorthaired pointer. Then, when I was nine years old, we got a
pointing lab.
When our German shorthaired got old, we started planning our next
dog purchase. After some research, we decided on a Pudelpointer. It is a
versatile hunting dog that can point, retrieve, swim, hunt antler sheds, and
blood-trail. Additionally, it has the disposition of a lab, is family-friendly,
hardly sheds, and can live longer than labs.
The next step was to see the breed in action. On a hunting forum, we found
someone with a Pudelpointer near us. He was willing to let us watch the
dog as it demonstrated its wide range of hunting abilities. It could point as
well as our shorthaired and was able to scent a duck drag and retrieve the
duck after trailing it a couple hundred yards like our lab.

Fisher Pham sent a Facebook
message to us about an idea
he had for an article about a
hunting dog. This is not a unique
circumstance, except for one
thing: Fisher was only 13!
Which got us thinking: if there are
enterprising youth in Michigan
like Fisher with an interest in the
out-of-doors and writing about
it, what better place to showcase
and encourage them than in
the pages of Michigan Out-ofDoors?
So we decided to create a Youth
Story section in our journal.
Fittingly, Fisher's story is the first
to be featured.
Youth under the age of 18 who
have an outdoors article they
would like to be considered for
publication can send an inquiry
to editor@michiganoutofdoors.
com.
We will select one Youth Story
for each issue, for which the
youth will receive $50, a oneyear subscription to Michigan
Out-of-Doors, and a Michigan
Out-of-Doors basebal cap.

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 51

After contacting several
Pudelpointer breeders, we found a
breeder with a great reputation and
health guarantee for his dogs. We
wanted to wait until there was a
spring litter so we could spend the
summer training the dog.
Unfortunately, we had to wait two
years for a spring litter and our
shorthaired passed away at age 15.

have a beard and mustache, so we
decided to call the dog Fu Manchu.
Last spring, we drove to Minnesota
to pick up the 7 week-old puppy.
The breeder had two male puppies
available. After watching them play
in the breeder’s yard, we noticed
that one was very laid back and
kept close to us, whereas the other
was curious and outgoing. We
chose the latter.

parents' responsibility while this
Pudelpointer would be mainly in
my care.
The first couple weeks were pretty
easy. Fu Manchu slept a lot of the
time. As he got more active, it got
harder. He was either trying to play
or was dead asleep. When I took
him outside, he would run off and
explore. When I tried to get him
back inside, he would roll on his
back and bite whatever came near
him. My hands had red marks from
his sharp puppy teeth.
One day, my parents had company
over to play volleyball. They were
outside, out of view of the house.
Fu Manchu desperately wanted to
go meet them, but he would have
gotten in the way of their game.
I refused to let him out, until he
started peeing on the floor, so I
quickly rushed him outside. Instead
of using the bathroom, he took off
towards the volleyball game. I was
able to outrun him and catch him;
unfortunately, he would soon be
able to outrun me.
Only a few weeks after getting
him, I was to be home alone with
Fu Manchu for a whole week. I
had to take care of him and all of
my family’s other animals---all
by myself. Despite my parents’
concerns, I really wanted to do this
alone and felt confident.

During that time, we had to decide
on a name. Pudelpointers have
mostly short hair, except for long
hair on their face and legs. The
longer hair around the face and
mouth make the dog look like they

My parents said that this could
be “my” dog; I was going to take
care of the dog so I could form
a strong bond with him and gain
experience raising a dog. The
previous dogs had been mostly my

52 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

That week was horrible. Every
day, Fu Manchu woke me up at
5:00 am. I had to take two or more
walks with him everyday to wear
him out. He was not fully pottytrained, and one time he pooped
inside six times in half an hour.
One night, I smelled the

unmistakable smell of dog poop. I found Fu Manchu
next to a line of it. I rushed him outside, then came
back in and began cleaning up the mess. I sprayed
and scrubbed the area, then turned on our automatic
vacuum cleaner. I went back to what I was doing.
A few minutes later, I found brown splatter marks on
a rug. I checked on Fu Manchu. He had been asleep
since his last accident, so how was As it turns out, I
had missed some, spread it around with the vacuum
cleaner and short-circuted it after cleaning! That was
probably the worst part of the week alone with that
spawn of the devil.
After all this, you would think Fu Manchu was a
terrible, misbehaved dog. In fact, he was the best dog
we’ve owned.
He was a social dog and was
very friendly to new dogs and
humans. He was also a great
family dog. Whenever any of
us came home, even if it was
just a short trip, he was always
excited to see us. He was pottytrained shortly after the vacuum
disaster, which was quicker than
our other dogs.

Training Fu Manchu was easy and fun. He was a
great natural hunter; he was retrieving and pointing
as soon as we got him and he was water-retrieving
two weeks later. He had many of the basic commands
mastered after only a few repeats. I was able to help
in his training by shooting some training quail, which
he pointed, held still with the shot, and retrieved very
well for being only twenty weeks old.
We have even taken him on a cross country trip
around America---going through the Dakota Badlands
to the Pacific Northwest, redwood forests, and around
to the Southwest, Texas, and Florida. He was a great
traveling dog on our trip. It was on this trip that I
started writing this article about Fu Manchu.
When we reached Florida, I entertained Fu with water
retrieves and a bumper in an enclosed pool as he loved
the water so much. Fu had to use
the bathroom and whined to be
let out of the pool lanai. When
he finished his business, his
adventurous personality led him
to jump into the canal behind the
house. My mom was with him
and heard him yipe in the water.

"TRAINING
FU MANCHU WAS
EASY AND FUN"

He was extremely calm and tolerant. He would let
us brush his teeth, comb the burrs out of his hair,
give him baths, and trim his nails. Even in new
experiences, like camping and going in a swimming
pool, he never got too excited.
We took him duck hunting on the youth duck hunt
when he was 5-months old. At first we were worried
that he would have a hard time going through the
water, but he did well. When we chose a spot to sit, he
remained calm and quiet.
When my dad used the duck calls, he got concerned
and tried to grab the call out of his mouth. After I shot
a duck, my dad held back our older dog and let Fu
Manchu go after it alone. He went out, grabbed it, and
started to bring it back, but got distracted and dropped
it when a great blue heron flew over. Luckily, our lab
was waiting to finish the job.

Before we saw what happened,
Fu was gone! He was snatched by a large alligator
in the canal. We never saw a trace of him again. We
were all devastated and are still trying to get over his
loss. He couldn’t have been a better dog and had a
great life during his short time with us.
Overall, raising this dog that I could call my own has
been a great experience. It taught me responsibility,
how to properly raise a dog, and how much work it
takes to raise a dog. I’ve also felt the heartbreak of
losing a beloved pet and family member. On our
way back to Michigan, we stopped to visit another
Pudelpointer breeder along the way and hopefully
will be on the list for another puppy soon. It cannot
replace Fu Manchu, but I hope I can have as much fun
and many adventure-filled years with my next dog.
No matter what happens, I will never forget this first
dog that I could call my own, even in the short four
months that I had Fu Manchu.

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 53

michigan’s wat
by Bob Gwidz

Once a mecca for waterfowlers,
Michigan doesn’t get the attention it used to.
It offers exceptional opportunities for duck and goose hunting,
though, especially at its public land managed waterfowl areas.

FALL 2016 Michigan Out-

erfowl legacy

DNR biologist Joe Robison with a quartet of geese.

WHEN YOU START listing states that are noted for
attracting waterfowl hunters, it takes a while for
Michigan to make that list. It wasn’t always that way.
A century—or even longer -- ago, Michigan was a top
waterfowling destination.
“The Eire Shooting Club is the second oldest waterfowl
hunting club in North America,” said Joe Robison,
a wildlife biologist with the Michigan Department
of Natural Resources and waterfowl hunter
extraordinaire. “It was founded in 1857.
“And people used to take the train to Lake St. Clair.
There was a trolley from Toledo, Ohio, and most of the
people came from cities further south.”
And it wasn’t just the hunters who visited that knew
about Michigan duck hunting legacy. The Mason
Decoy Factory, in Detroit, was one of the premier
suppliers of wooden decoys nationally, from when
it was founded in the 1890s, until it closed in
1924. Besides the most popular decoys – mallards,
canvasbacks and bluebills, Mason churned out wood
ducks, old squaws (now called long-tailed ducks) and

white winged
scoters.
The company didn’t go out of business because of a
lack of demand; its owners ventured into the more
lucrative automotive paint business and abandoned
decoy making. But Mason decoys remain among
the most collectible of hunting accessories; a Mason
premier grade wood duck sold at auction in 2014 for
$690,000.
It makes sense that Michigan should be a waterfowling
mecca; the state’s surrounded by water on all but the
southern Lower Peninsula border and its interior is
a mosaic of lakes and streams that harbor and hold
waterfowl. The vast stretches of the Great Lakes gave
rise to a number of hunting techniques – sneak boating
and layout shooting among them -- and in some ways
it’s gotten even better. Michigan’s managed waterfowl
areas are the envy of most other states.
On top of which, Michigan is split into three different
management zones so duck hunters can start early
– in the Upper Peninsula by late September -- and

hunt late into the year in the state’s southern
counties. And that doesn’t even consider geese. .
“Our Canada goose hunting makes us nationally
known,” Robison said. “We’re in the top three in
the harvest in the country.”
So what happened that Michigan faded from the
fore?
“Waterfowl hunting has certainly changed,” said
Robison, who headquarters at Pointe Mouillee
State Game Area and helps run all the managed
waterfowl areas in the Lower Peninsula. “The
distribution of harvest has changed and where
the ducks are being produced has changed. There
are more ducks being produced in the prairies of
the United States now and those ducks go straight
south from there. They never come through here
now”.
The Canadian Prairie migrants still do, of course,
and hard-core waterfowlers can hardly wait until
late season when those “red-legged mallards”
come through the managed waterfowl areas. In the
meantime, there are plenty of locally reared ducks

that can be found in marshes, on small lakes, and even
in beaver ponds deep in the woods. And there’s often
good hunting for diving ducks on big water – Lake St.
Clair and the Detroit River, for instance, or in Saginaw
Bay, when redheads are among the top species taken on
opening weekend – throughout the season.
Hunters, who are willing to adapt their game from time
to time, can have productive hunting all season long.
Take Drew Blackall, for instance. A 26-year-old social
worker in Kent County, Blackall hunts about three days
a week all season long and often spends parts of the day
when he isn’t hunting scouting for his next destination.
“I hunt ponds and lakes creeks that hold early- and lateseason birds, but during migration when big numbers
of ducks come through, I tend to hunt big water – the
Great Lakes, Saginaw Bay or a something adjoining
the Great Lakes like Muskegon or White Lake,” he
said. “Almost every day of the season I’m driving along
looking – one of my favorite parts of waterfowl hunting
is scouting, finding birds, and gaining access to where
they are. It’s all a big process and it’s part of the fun.”
Blackall isn’t afraid to put some miles on the truck to get
his waterfowl.
“To hunt divers, I definitely need to travel from where I
live,” he said. “There’s limited opportunities for divers, so
we generally travel to big water in search of big flocks of
birds. I think big water calls to the biggest flocks of birds
and I want to be around as many birds as possible.”
He’s also not afraid to leave his boat at home.
“This past year, 2015, was our best year for dryland hunting,” Blackall said. “We had a phenomenal
population of both Canada geese and mallards that
stuck around for a long duration. With dry land, you
can keep picking on those birds and picking on those
birds, and they don’t tend to leave the area. Because we
hunt different locations, we can keep working on the
same birds in different fields. When you hunt the same
location a couple of times, the birds tend to smarten up
to it. But when you burn up one corn field, you can find
another and get into those same flocks there.”
Early in the season, when hunters mostly take advantage
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 57

of locally reared ducks, they can
be found almost everywhere, from
small farm ponds to Great Lakes
marshes. Later, when the migrants
are coming through, more ducks
can often be found on big water
– say, Houghton Lake – or on
the Great Lakes. But even small
inland lakes located near the Great
Lakes get their share of travelers,
especially when the wind whips up
and the birds seek refuge on smaller
bodies of water.
Then there are the managed
waterfowl areas, which offer
outstanding opportunities. At
most, the DNR plants crops – corn
and buckwheat – then floods
those fields as the season nears,
drawing in birds like metal filings
to a magnet. Michigan operates
seven managed waterfowl areas
where hunters are assigned hunting

zones by lottery. It offers the kind
of outstanding opportunity that
would cost hunters thousands of
dollars to get by joining a private
club and it costs only the price of a
hunting license and duck stamp to
participate – the same as it costs all
waterfowl hunters in Michigan.
I’ve personally hunted six of the
managed waterfowl areas in the
state and have enjoyed good to
outstanding waterfowl hunting at
all of them. It’s not shooting ducks
in a barrel – the guys who take the
time to learn the area and scout
do better, of course – but it does
offer even neophytes the kind of
shooting that you only used to read
about.
“Guys come up from down south
and say, ‘We couldn’t afford to
belong to a club to get hunting like

58 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

that,’ ” Robison said. “And they
ask, ‘You do that for waterfowl
hunters?’”
My favorite of the managed areas,
Shiawassee State game Area in
Saginaw County, gets my attention
a number of days a year. It isn’t
always a slam dunk; I’ve had days
when there when I’ve never fired
my shotgun. But I’ve also had days
where I shot limits – sometimes of
both ducks and geese. Generally,
early in the season, it’s so popular
that you can’t get a good draw. But
late in the season, especially after
firearms deer season opens, it’s
not very crowded at all and you’re
almost certain to get a good slot.
Two other managed waterfowl areas
in the Saginaw Bay watershed have
been good to me, too, Nyanquing
Point State Wildlife Area and Fish

Point State Wildlife Area. Both are hard by the bay,
which offers the option of striking out on your own in
the marshes if you don’t get a good draw. You can find
good hunting by walking in with a bag of decoys on
your back in each case, though it certainly doesn’t hurt
to have boat and motor.

season opens September 1 and runs for 107 days, into
mid-February in some places some years. You can
find geese everywhere from picked grain fields to golf
courses and though competition for good hunting is
intense, you can always find some place to hunt geese if
you scout and knock on enough doors.

Same goes for the managed areas further downstate –
St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area and Pointe Mouillee
State game Area. I’ve had good hunting at both, but
there’s excellent opportunity outside the managed area
as well.

Michigan may never enjoy the national reputation as a
waterfowling destination that it enjoyed a century ago,
but do you really care? There are more duck and goose
hunting opportunities here than in many states. And if
hunters elsewhere don’t know about them, well, that’s
their loss, isn’t it?

There’s also outstanding waterfowl hunting at many
state game areas that are not managed hunting areas.
I’ve had good shooting at Maple River State Game
Area and Erie State Game Area. And there are dozens
of other state game areas with floodings that offer good
waterfowling if you take the time to investigate them.
And have I mentioned Canada geese? Once thought
to be extinct, the giant Canada goose population was
rebuilt by the DNR with game farm birds until we
now have fairly large goose populations statewide. The

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Can

i
h
c
i
M

Pheasant

by Bob Gwidz

n
a
g
i
h

Save

hunting?

CAN MICHIGAN SAVE PHEASANT HUNTING?
To many of us, that’s the $64,000 question.
As most upland hunters know, pheasant hunting isn’t what is
used to be. It was dynamite in the 1950s and ‘60s and, up until
the mid-decade, even more popular in Michigan than deer
hunting. (You could look it up.) Pheasant hunting gradually
diminished – and deer hunting ascended -- but it was still fairly strong in the ‘80s and ‘90s. But after that, it started sliding
downhill, both in terms of popularity and productivity.
There were more than 500,000 pheasant hunters
in Michigan during the glory days. In 2010, the
Department of Natural Resources’ small game
harvest survey showed there were an estimated
27,450 pheasant hunters in the state and they killed
an estimated 22,224 pheasants – fewer than one per
hunter.
So what happened? A perfect storm.

And I personally believe that
insecticides have a lot to do with it.
Young pheasant chicks depend upon
insects for a fair portion of their diet.
You just don’t see the grasshoppers and
other bugs that I saw as a lad.

On top of that, commodity prices – corn
and soybeans – went through the roof.
Prices were so high that farmers with land enrolled
in federal set-aside programs began bailing out
because they could make significantly more money
by planting, so much so, that they began planting
even marginal land that had poorer yields. By the
peak of commodity prices, it wasn’t unusual to drive
through rural southern Michigan and see the last of the
fence rows coming out, to see swales that were never
planted being tiled.

NOW IT’S ALL CONCRETE AND
ASPHALT. WHICH WE ALL KNOW
WON'T GROW PHEASANTS.

It begins with
development. Back
in the glory days, the
best pheasant hunting
in Michigan was in the
southeast – Oakland,
Macomb, even Wayne
County. Now it’s all concrete and asphalt. Which we
all know won’t grow pheasants.

Then there were gradual changes in agricultural
practices. Modern fertilizers made it unnecessary for
farmers to fallow fields. Clean farming eliminated the
habitat; instead of farms fields that were surrounded
by overgrown ditches and crisscrossed with fence
rows, growers started planting road to road, removing
that valuable edge habitat that held birds.
On top of that, herbicide-resistant strains of crops
were developed so that farmers could practically
eliminate weeds in the fields. If you’re old enough to
remember back to the good ‘ol days, before Roundup
Ready crops, you had to fight your way through corn
fields because of chest-high ragweed that was growing
between the rows. These days, the ground in the corn
fields looks like the surface of the moon.
62 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

Commodity prices have
since fallen, but they were
high enough long enough
that the damage was done.

None of this went unnoticed
by the wildlife staff at the
Department of Natural Resources, which announced
it was putting together a coalition to rehabilitate
pheasant hunting in Michigan. The DNR assembled
an impressive array of partners to address many
of the problems that led to the declining fortunes
of ringnecks. Now, halfway through the 10-year
project, partners in the Michigan Pheasant Restoration
Initiative (MPRI) say the program has made
significant headway.
“We are seeing enhanced partnerships, excellent
teamwork, habitat improvements, and increased
enthusiasm for pheasants and pheasant hunting,” said
Al Stewart, the DNR’s upland game bird specialist.
The MPRI began by establishing three, three-county
pilot focus areas – in the Thumb, central Michigan and
southeastern Michigan – concentrating its efforts in
areas that offer some of the best remaining pheasant

There were
more than 500,000 pheasant
hunters in Michigan during the
glory days.

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habitat in the state. Since that time
the DNR has enhanced or restored
some 7,400 acres of grasslands on
state game, wildlife, and recreation
areas and established 3,160 acres
of food plots. An additional 556
acres of enhanced grasslands and
203 acres of food plots have been
completed around the Sharonville
State Game Area, just to the north
of the Hillsdale-Lenawee-Monroe
County focus area.
In addition, the DNR has acquired
an additional 742 acres to add to
existing game areas within the
focus areas. (Another 765 acres of
grasslands and 2,000 acres of food
plots have been established at the
Allegan State Game Area, which is
outside the existing focus areas.)
“Things are really starting to
happen,” Stewart said.
That work continues apace. This
year, much of the focus of DNR
Habitat Grants was on grasslands.
Pheasants Forever, for instance,
received four grants totaling
around $225,000 for work at Lake
Hudson State Recreation Area and
Coldwater State Park, Sharonville
State Game Area, Verona State
Game Area, and Maple River State
Game Area.
“In southern Michigan expanding
big grasslands is a big deal and
we’re prioritizing those efforts as
an agency,” said Clay Buchanan,
who manages the grant program.
“Pheasants Forever tends to do
larger projects that have broader
goals – regional goals – and
they have a good record of
accomplishment.”

Other projects that involved
grassland restoration and
establishment on public land were
awarded to the Lapeer, Gratiot,
Ingham and Sanilac Conservation
Districts.
But state land improvement is
only a small part of the equation as
southern Michigan – Michigan’s
prime pheasant range – is largely
privately owned. The MPRI has
helped establish co-ops and hired
a cooperatives coordinator in
the focus areas so private land
owners can meet with like-minded
others to help improve habitat for
pheasants across the landscape.

THIS YEAR, MUCH
OF THE FOCUS
OF DNR HABITAT
GRANTS WAS ON
GRASSLANDS
To that end, the DNR has funded
five conservation district farm bill
biologists – with more to come
-- to assist private landowners in
habitat improvement projects, with
money raised from the restructured
license schedule. Jason Myers,
who covers four counties in the
Thumb working out of the Tuscola
Conservation District, says 80
percent of his efforts are directed
toward pheasant projects.
Myers said much of his work
is finding cost-share programs
for landowners and providing
technical assistance for managing
Conservation Reserve Program

and Conservation Reserve
Enhancement Program set-asides.
“I do a lot of habitat plans for
guys,” Myers said. “We’re kind
of like therapists in a way – kind
of hold their hands through the
process and make sure they do it
right. I spend a lot of time visiting
CRP and CREP lands to help
landowners maintain them in the
shape their supposed to be in.”
The work is paying off, he said.
“A couple of guys in the pheasant
cooperatives have said they
wouldn’t have done what they’ve
done in the last few years if it
wasn’t for the initiative,” Myers
said. “Tuscola County had about
200 CRP and CREP contracts when
I started. About 190 of them have
re-enrolled and about half of those
have added acreage.”
Bill Vander Zouwen, the Michigan
Region Representative for
Pheasants Forever – who spent
more than 30 years as a biologist
and chief of the wildlife ecology
section of the Wisconsin DNR
before returning to his home state
-- said he has been “very impressed
with all the cooperation between all
the agencies and the hunters.
“I’m impressed with the attention
pheasants are getting and
I’m happy to see it,” he said.
“Pheasants are a priority of the
DNR, a focus of the Bang for Your
Buck program. The DNR has really
stepped up.”
Pheasants Forever has 30 active
chapters in Michigan and focuses
most of its attention on private
land, dispensing seed for food plots

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 65

to its members, “though about 15
chapters put their money up for
matching grants from the DNR
to improve habitat on public land
where anyone can hunt,” Vander
Zouwen said.
Other members of the MPRI
coalition include the Department
of Agriculture and Rural
Development, the National Wild
Turkey Association, the Quality
Deer Management Association,
Ducks Unlimited, Michigan
United Conservation Clubs, the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
U.S. Department of Agriculture –
government and non-government
agencies that often focus on other
priorities. But they value grasslands
for everything from biodiversity to
improving water quality.
“Doing work for pheasants is
central for wildlife on the ground,”
Myers said. “It helps everything
from songbirds to white-tailed
deer.”
And, of course, it helps pheasants.
Cooperative landowners say
they’re hearing more crowing
roosters in recent years and
some hunters report seeing more
pheasants on state land.
Not everyone is convinced,
however. Brian Gross, president
of the Shiawassee County chapter
of Pheasants Forever -- and my
occasional hunting partner -doesn’t know what to think. He
says the programs on state lands
are working well, but that’s a tiny
piece of the puzzle.
“People are saying they’re seeing
more birds than ever, but I didn’t
see it myself in pheasant season,”

he said. “In all my spots, only one
produced many birds. All the others
produced maybe one, but that was
it.”
Gross said he thinks the feds will
have to kick the set-aside programs
up a notch to make much of a
difference.
“The only thing that can save it
is more CREP ground,” he said.
“If they don’t have that kind of
set-aside, there’s no place for the
pheasants.”
Gross said set-asides are having an
impact some places, not so much
others.
“I think they helped the program
in Saginaw County,” he said.
“This year with renewal, they were
paying enough that people signed
on. But in Shiawassee County
the set-aside payments are so low,
it’s not worth it. And I’m only
comparing the two because that’s
the two I hunt in.”
Biologists who have
enough gray in their
beards to remember
the glory days
acknowledge that
Gross has a point.
Back in the glory
days, the federal soil
bank subsidized a lot
of fallow fields.
But some folks
remember pheasant
hunting as better
than it actually was.
Although nearly
everyone my age
has a story about
walking out back,

66 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

killing a pair of roosters, and
being back home in time for the
college football game on TV, that
occurrence was more the exception
than the rule. According to DNR
statistics, long-term, hunters
harvested roughly half a bird per
hunter/day.
Last year I hunted eight days
(ranging from nearly day-long,
big-party, private-land sorties to
short one- or two-man ventures
onto public land. I shot four birds,
which, if my math is correct, is
right in line with the long-term
average.
So can Michigan save pheasant
hunting? It’ll never be what it was.
But for those of us who still think
of pheasant hunting as the ultimate
southern Michigan hunting.
experience, there is reason to be
optimistic.

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Michigan’s First
Hound Hunt for Bears
You wouldn’t realize it now, but Michigan didn’t always have a
separate bear season. Bears were regarded as a nuisance and
taken opportunistically during deer season. It wasn’t until they
became a sought-after game species in their own right that they
became managed with an intent to conserve them. So how did that
happen? The story of Michigan’s first organized bear hunt actually
appeared in our first issue, January 1947, penned by Grand Rapids
Press outdoor writer Jim McKenna.
Well, the editors of your new magazine asked for it
and here it is . . . my candid opinion whether
Michigan’s first organized bear hunt was a success
and, if not, why.
But first a bit of background. It will help you
understand and appreciate certain phases of the hunt,
including the reason why I should be singled out to
pass judgment.
The idea originated with my predecessor, Ben East,
now of Outdoor Life. He witnessed a hunt with
hounds in Tennessee. He was thoroughly convinced
that here was a way to get maximum sport from
our bears which, normally, we shoot if and when
we stumble across them (or it) in the course of deer
hunting, to the tune of from 500 to 800 a season.
Ben imported some of his enthusiasm to me. I talked
about the idea, casually, to some of the conservation
department officials. They indicated willingness to
co-operate in a test hunt but they thought, and rightly
so, I believe, that the department should act only in a
supervisory capacity, with some responsible group of
sportsmen carrying the promotional torch.
68 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

Frankly, I can look back now and see that if I
had shoved the issue along a bit faster some
of the last-minute rush and turmoil might
have been avoided. At least that’s what I
think. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered too
much.

Anyway, I eventually suggested the hunt
idea to MUCC President Hy Dahlka, just before
the directors met in Muskegon in early August.
He went for it. He sold the directors. He left it to
me to see that contact was mad with the Tennessee
conservation department. That agency advised that the
only available dog-pack owner it would recommend
was that of H.T. (Hack) Smithdeal, business mansportsman of Johnson City, Tennessee, whose hobby is
bear dogs and bear hunting.
Phone calls and letters whizzed back and forth
between Smithdeal and myself until, I suspect,
we both were dizzy. He fairly drooled to come to
Michigan with his dogs, but he was all tied up with
fancy cattle exhibitions at state fairs. The hunt was
“on” and “off” half a dozen times. Finally, Smithdeal
said he would sidetrack something else and come
to Michigan for a four-day hunt October 22 through
October 25.
It seemed to me the time was too short to get things
organized. The small game season would be on. Deer
season was just around the corner. Bear hunting
interest, by all odds, ought to be pretty slim. But Hy
Dahlka wouldn’t say no.

“Go ahead and tell him it’s a deal!” said Hy.
From that second on Harry Gaines, MUCC secretary,
took over details. In a short time the details all but
took over Harry. You talk about your one-armed
paperhangers!
At Harry’s suggestion we put out a publicity “feeler”
to the effect that the hunt now hinged on sportsmen
willingness to take part. There would have to be a
registration charge. It
might be as much as
$5 per man. Nobody
knew, or could know,
what expenses might
run. All that was certain
at the start was that
Smithdeal (a sportsman
and a gentleman if we
ever saw one) wanted
no money except for oil
and gas for his cars and
trailers and food and
lodging for his handlers.
Any sportsmen guests
he brought along would
pay their own way.
It’s too bad that every
MUCC member
couldn’t have seen
the stream of letters,
telegrams, phone calls
and what not that poured
in after that publicity
“feeler.” It was a
deluge. Five dollar
bills and checks floated
around like snow in a
whirlwind, it seemed. Somebody even tucked on in the
Gaines’ doorknob.
You just couldn’t handle that many people on a bear
hunt. You couldn’t lodge ‘em and feed ‘em and place
‘em where they might get a shot. So, between racehorse trips to Cadillac to confer with that go-getting’
Carl Johnson, MUCC big game committee chairman,
and trips to the Houghton lake area to line up possible
accommodations, Gaines simply had to call a halt.

A quick decision was made to split the hunt into two
groups, two days each; to limit the number in each
group to 150; to list reservations in the order in which
applications had been received and to notify the
other applicants, with regrets, that no can do.The
preliminary phase of the test question had been
answered:
Tremendous public interest existed in the idea of
hunting Michigan bears with bear dogs.
Lateness of the season,
curtailment of resort
facilities in the Houghton
lake section, a lodging
conflict with duck hunters
who patronize that area,
and other elements entered
into a bit of confusion
and unpleasantness which
ultimately arose on some
angles of accommodations,
but they have nothing to
do with the practicability
of hunting bears with
dogs, and we pass them
over here with this one
comment: It strikes us that
MUCC went all-out to
prove its good faith in the
arrangements made.
Well, by Tuesday evening,
first day of the hunt,
it looked like a dud. A
late start. Considerable
confusion in placement
of hunters. Unsatisfactory
signals and contact
between the groups. No
bears. Note even a hot track. Mainly, for most of
the fellows, just standing around and waiting and
wondering. A gripe meeting Tuesday night, plus
an informal forum with Hack Smithdeal answering
questions, cleared the atmosphere in good shape and
by Wednesday morning darned few of Tuesday’s
enthusiasts were missing.
And Wesndesday brought action! The hunt moved
from the Gray’s ranch section –where, on the first day,
it had been hoped to connect with a sheep-killing bear
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 69

or two which had recently ranged that section – into
the Dead Stream swamp area of Missaukee county. (At
this point, in case any reader is wondering about why
Missaukee county was chosen, it was because
Missaukee is one of the few counties in the lower
peninsula which has bears and which also permits
hunting of bears in advance of the deer season.)
Well, north in the swamp Otto Failing and Warren
Shapton, area manager for the game division, jumped
a bear. A hurry-up
message via conservation
department radio brought
the dogs. I traipsed
along on the heels of
the handlers, but the
dogs never got to the
spot where the bear had
humped. They hit a track
a few rods away and
they wouldn’t budge. All
that mattered to them
was that here was bear
smell in a big way! They
howled and they yowled
and tugged and yowled
some more.
I’ve seen and heard
hounds track rabbits,
‘coon and bobcats,
but I never heard or
saw anything like
this. That bear scent
just made these Plotts
hounds fighting mad!
I saw Dempse Vance,
Smithdeal’s No. 1 dog
man, turn “Old Heavy,”
the strike dog, loose. I
heard him call back to
cut in the other hounds, and I heard the pack take off
with its wild song for points south.
Space simply won’t permit going into much more
detail. Two registered hunters, young chaps, Gerald
Sprenger of Coleman and Bill Whitehead of Saginaw,
killed that bear after the dogs had put it up a tree
after a 5-mile chase = we learned later. Meanwhile,
whizzing around in a conservation car with Dick Price,
70 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

Missaukee county officer, it was our good fortune to
be the first car to arrive beside a parked car where
two excited hunters from Kalamazooo shouted that
a second bear had just crossed the highway ahead of
their car.
Eventually, some of the dogs ran that second bear clear
out of Missaukee county and into closed territory, so
they had to be picked up and brought in. But when
that was happening I
was starting on a twomile climb and fall and
stagger trek into the heart
of the big swamp to the
point where the first bear
was killed. The hunters
came out with us, a la
flashlight, but the bear
stayed there until next
day. We brought “Old
Heavy” and a companion
dog which were keeping
the bear up a tree when
Sprenger and Whitehead
reached them. Sprenger
had brought the third
hound when he worked
out of the swamp for
help.
Thursday’s hunters had a
lively chase, too, and one
of the men wounded a
bear but it got away.
The climax came
Friday, the last day.
When Smithdeal and his
handlers compared notes
of the day, that evening,
they agreed that 8 different bear had been pursued by
the dogs at one time or another.
For my money, it IS practical to hunt bears with
trained bear dogs in Michigan, and to do it without
interfering with anybody else’s sport. There are some
“ifs” and “ands.” Here are a few:
The hunts should be staged earlier in the fall, certainly

by early October or possibly late September, to avoid
any possible conflict with partridge hunting and
deer disturbance. They should be limited to fewer
men, or, if attempted again on such a large scale, the
territory should be mapped in advance in great detail
and hunters should be assigned to specific points –
not just along the roads but back in the woods and
swamps where the pursued bear will spend most of his
time. Definite signals should be agreed on and fully
understood. The whole group should be thoroughly
drilled on the general procedure of a bear hunt and
some means should be worked out of getting work
around to the waiting hunters from time to time.
No use discussing the kinks in accommodations.
In the light of experience, they can be handled like
clockwork next time.
The thing which worried a lot of us most was what
the bear hounds might do about deer. I believe every
doubter who had a chance to see actual handling of
the pack came away convinced that it isn’t really a
problem. Only one hound, the strike dog, is permitted
his freedom. That dog is absolutely deer-proof.
Handlers with the other hounds follow as closely as
they can. They cut the pack in, one animal at a time,
as the trail gets hotter. They wait for that dog to join
in the bear chase before freeing another. After that the
handlers keep following the dogs as best they can. If
one goes astray and starts deer chasing, his handler
knows it soon and rounds up his charge.
But if there is to be bear chasing in Michigan, come
county boards of supervisors may have to be
convinced that it will do no harm to open their
counties to this new sport, and certainly bear hunting
with dogs shouldn’t be even considered without the
fine kind of supervisory co-operation given the test
hunt by the field administration and game divisions of
the conservation department. They really clicked.
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AFFILIATE CLUB EVENTS

Photo: The Tri-County Sportsmen's CLub in Saline
held a "Women on Target" event in July.

HARBOR SPRINGS OUTDOOR CLUB
6975 W Robinson Rd, Harbor Springs, MI
September 20, 22, 24 | Hunters Safety
October 8, 9 | Fall Gun Show
(Petoskey Fairgrounds)
October 18, 20, 22 | Hunters Safety
GERMAN-AMERICAN MARKSMEN CLUB
2650 Auburn Rd, Auburn Hills, MI
September 9 | Traditional German Oktoberfest at
the Schützenpark with live band, imported beer,
German food.
October 22 | Kingsball, honoring the King and
his court who earned it at the shootout at the
"Schützenfest" with a horse-d-ordeuvres,
delicious dinner, live band, and good fun!
BIG 9 SPORTSMAN CLUB OF CONCORD
12000 Folks Rd, Hanover, MI
September 10, 11 | Hunter Education Class
October 15, 16 | Hunter Education Class
MUCC affiliated clubs may send events
scheduled between Nov. 15 and Feb. 15
to editor@michiganoutofdoors.com
with the subject line "Club Events."

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 71

the weather was warm, with temperatures in the
70s, which tends to reduce daytime activity of
bears. We were still optimistic about seeing some
bears. Photos from a trail camera at the bait indicated as many as a dozen different bears were
visiting the site, with some of them stopping by
every day.

THERE’S A WORLD
of difference between I was hunting with
night and day when it Ralph Pisani from
comes to doing many Rochester Hills. He
bagged an average
things in the outdoors. had
size bear on a previOne of those things is ous hunt years earlier.
tracking a wounded
When he obtained a
bear in a thick UP cedar bear license for the
first hunt in the UP
swamp, especially if
during 2015, he was
you make a mistake like interested in shooting
I did last fall.
a larger bruin while

In spite of the optimistic outlook, we failed to see
a single bear on the first day of hunting. We were
hunting from an enclosed blind and took precautions to reduce our scent, but bears have an excellent sense of smell. The fact that there was thick
cover all around the bait site reduced the chances
of seeing a bruin until it was almost at the bait.
Bears that smelled us would not have to expose
themselves before leaving.

hunting over bait,
preferably an adult male. He was hunting out of
Lac La Belle Lodge in Keweenaw County, which
is in the Baraga Bear Management Unit. I agreed
to video tape Ralph’s hunt and help him judge the
size and sex of bears that he saw to increase the
chances he would get one the size he wanted.

We hunted the next morning, when temperatures
were cooler, in an effort to change our luck. The
fact that the bait had not been hit since we left
the evening before was not a good sign, however.
When we hadn’t seen any bears by 11:00 a.m., we
headed back to the lodge for lunch.

Bear season began on September 10, but Ralph’s
first day of hunting was the 14th. Unfortunately,

How to...

t
s
o
L
t
Ge

Tracking
Bears
at Night
FALL 2016 Michigan Out-

by
Richard
P. Smith

A yearling bear over bait (Photo by Richard P. Smith)

Ralph Pisani of Rochester Hills (Photo by tRichard P. Smith).
The fact that such a hot spot can
go cold when it’s hunted frustrates
many bear hunters who use bait
especially those with little to no
experience hunting bear over bait
who might think it’s easy. Besides
less than ideal weather conditions,
the keen senses of black bears
simply enable them to determine
when there’s something different
at a bait site such as the presence of a hunter or hunters. With
plenty of experience at this type
of bear hunting, I knew patience
was the key to success.

On day three, we saw a yearling
male that came and went four different times over a period of four
hours. We also saw a young female.
There was even more action on
day four. An adult female weighing
about 175 pounds arrived at 5:00
p.m. She was followed by a pair of

“THAT’S THE BEAR
WE WERE
WAITING FOR.”

Even though temperatures
reached the 80s during the 15th,
we managed to see a female with
three cubs that afternoon. We got in
position about 4:00 p.m. and they
showed up a half hour later. It was
a relief to finally see some bears
and they put on a great show.

fishers, one of which was almost
blond in color. Then an adult male
bear that I estimated would weigh
between 275 and 300 pounds made
an appearance about 15 minutes
before the end of shooting time.

That’s the bear we were waiting
for. I gave Ralph the green light
and told him to take a shot when he
had a good one and he was ready.
We had discussed shot placement
previously. Ralph was hunting with
a .35 caliber rifle and 200-grain
bullets. He tried to break the bear’s
shoulder to drop it quickly, but
when the bullet hit, the bear
jumped in the air and was gone
before Ralph could take a followup shot.
I was confident Ralph made a
good shot and the bear probably
wouldn’t go far before dropping.
I also knew it would be dark soon,
so I wanted to try to find the bear
as quickly as possible. Ralph was
supposed to head for home in the
morning. A quick recovery would
make it possible to process the bear
that evening, so the hunter could

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 73

take it home with him.
We grabbed flashlights and a roll of
orange flagging to mark the blood
trail with and hustled to where
the bear entered the thick swamp.
The flagging would make it easy
to find our way out of the
swamp after we found the
bear. Before we entered the
swamp, as a precaution, I
also took a compass reading
to determine which way we
were heading. All we would
have to do when exiting the
swamp is reverse directions.

I was focused on trying to find
what I thought was a dead bear as
quickly as possible. Even though it
was still light enough to see by the
bait, it was dark in the swamp, so
the flashlights we brought with us
proved to be necessary to look for

“TIME MOVES
SLOWLY SITTING
IN A U.P. SWAMP
IN THE DARK.”

I’ve had plenty of experience following wounded bears
in swamps after dark, so I wasn’t
concerned. I’ve also done my share
of raccoon hunting in the dark, but
this time things were different. This
was my first time hunting that particular spot and I wasn’t as familiar
with the surroundings as I should
have been.

blood. We hadn’t gone far when I
found first blood and I had Ralph
mark it with flagging. He did the
same thing to mark additional
blood sign. We hadn’t gone far
when we came to some blowdowns
along a creek with undependable
footing. At different times, we both
stepped in holes and fell.
Rather than risk
injuring ourselves,

I decided it would be best to back
out of there and return in the
morning to recover the bear. So we
backtracked, following the orange
flagging that Ralph hung from
branches as we followed the blood
trail. We backtracked ourselves so
far and then could not find any
more ribbons. I tried circling
ahead a number of times to
look for another ribbon or the
bait, and I found neither.
I knew we had to be close to
the bait at that point, but the
cover was so thick that flashlight beams couldn’t penetrate
the darkness very far. Certainly, not far enough. I even tried
following bear trails, knowing at
least one of them came out at the
bait, and that didn’t work either.
I’m sure I came within a matter
of feet of the bait, a distance that I
would have seen it during hours of
daylight, but, in the dark, the bait
remained out of sight.
Being in a swamp occupied by
bears in the dark was a situation

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74 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

Ralph was not too happy with. It was
a foreign experience to him, filled with
imagined fears, and he didn’t want me
to stray too far from him. We eventually decided the best thing to do was
to stay where we were and wait for
someone to rescue us.
I was obviously responsible for getting
us in that predicament and I apologized to Ralph a number of times for
the situation we found ourselves in.
Although I’m comfortable in the woods
after dark and knew there was nothing
to worry about, that did nothing to ease
the stress Ralph felt.
Troy Westcott and his wife Cathy own
Lac La Belle Lodge. Troy knew where
we were and I was confident he would
come looking for us when we didn’t
return. Troy was anxious to hear how
the bear hunting was going each evening when we got back to the lodge.
When we didn’t return, he would know
something was wrong.
I knew we weren’t in any danger from
bears. All of the noise we had made
and the scent we left following the bear
Ralph shot would have cleared any
bruins out of the area. Any bears that
got near us in the dark would smell us
and leave. I conveyed that information
to Ralph to help ease his mind, but I’m
not sure how much it helped.
Time moves slowly when sitting in a
UP swamp in the dark. It’s tough to sit
and wait. Only about a half hour had
gone by when we decided to follow
a compass reading toward the road.
We headed north into the swamp, so
I figured if we went to the south, we
would have to hit the road by the bait.
By then, we agreed it would be much
better to find our way out of the swamp
on our own rather than wait for Troy.

At least that plan gave us something
to do while we waited for rescue. With
compass in hand, I plotted a course to
the south. Ralph marked our course of
travel with orange flagging to make
sure we could find our way back to the
point where we first knew that we were
lost. We plodded along until we ran out
of orange flagging. Once the flagging
was gone, we decided, once again, to
wait for Troy to come to the rescue.
Ralph was convinced we were going
to spend the night in the woods when
I heard a horn honk, and it wasn’t far
away. I hollered and Troy responded.
We homed in on the sound of his voice
and we were on the road in a matter of
minutes.
If I had taken a compass reading from
the blind instead of before entering the
swamp, I would have saved us from the
extended nocturnal visit to the swamp.
The road was to the west instead of the
south. We were paralleling the road by
going to the south. That’s a mistake I
won’t repeat.
When returning to the bait the following morning in the daylight, I walked
right to the ribbon marking first blood
and easily found where we left the
blood trail. What a major difference
daylight makes. Unfortunately, we did
not recover Ralph’s bear. He made a
nonfatal hit. We followed the blood
trail until it petered out.
As luck would have it, I saw the bear
Ralph shot during November while
deer hunting and it was doing fine.
Something I didn’t find out until Ralph
went home is that one of his biggest
fears was becoming lost in the woods.
He got more of an adventure than he
was expecting, and so did I!

MUCC POLICY
At its Annual Convention
in June, Michigan United
Conservation Clubs considered
several policy resolutions
concerning bear bait submitted
by its members.
Delegates representing
MUCC's 50,000+ members
and over 200 affiliated local
clubs adopted two resolutions
addressing chocolate in bear
bait, which can be toxic to
bears and other wildlife in large
quantities.
One adopted resolution,
sponsored by Life Member
Richard P. Smith (author of
the preceding article)calls for
the education of the public to
refrain from using it.
The other resolution, sponsored
by the Michigan Bear Hunters
Association and the Michigan
Hunting Dog Federation, goes a
step further and asks for a ban
on the use of large quantities
of bear bait when bear hunting
regulations are updated by the
Natural Resources Commission
in 2017.

Deer hunters Bow or Gun huntprivate land excellent success
meals lodging and guide three
day hunt $600 231-266-5102

KNOw
trespassing
by Brad Nicoll and Anna Mitterling
Trespassing ruins hunts,
gives sportsmen and women a bad name,
and comes with stiff fines.
Attorney Brad Nicoll and Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives Coordinator
Anna Mitterling take a look at recreational trespass from all sides law enforcement, property owners and sportsmen and women so that you know how to protect your rights and stay out of trouble this fall.
NOTHING IN THIS ARTICLE SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE.

LAW ENFORCEMENT
We sat down with Conservation Officer (CO) Kelly
Ross to talk about issues of recreational trespass from
Law Enforcement’s perspective. Officer Ross explained that COs take reports of trespass very seriously and that a call to the Report All Poachers (RAP)
hotline will usually result in a CO on the scene of a
reported trespass. However, there are some problems
that COs face when investigating a trespass report.
Officer Ross says that if a CO responds to a trespass
call, they do so with the intention to pursue criminal
charges against the trespasser. COs do not view themselves as bouncers whose job it is to shew trespassers
away from private property. If a landowner calls Law
Enforcement to deal with a trespasser, the landowner
had better be ready to cooperate with an investigation,
and prosecution of the suspect. Property owners who
“cry wolf” will get much less sympathy from Law
Enforcement. It is a serious matter to charge a person
with a crime, and should be taken seriously by the
landowner.
Landowners who plan to call Law Enforcement on
trespassers should keep some things in mind. In general, it is very common for each county in Michigan
to be patrolled by only one or two COs. Each county
is a very large geographic area, and a CO may not be
able to respond to a trespassing call as quickly as the
landowner may like. If the landowner wants the CO to
pursue the trespasser, there are some ways the landowner can help.

your neighbor as well. If it turns out later that a person
thought to be a trespasser was really a guest, no harm
was done by gathering evidence. Finally, in order to
prosecute a trespasser, a landowner MUST have their
property marked as described in the section below
about preventing trespassers. The statute specifically
states that recreational trespass may only be charged if
the suspect is trespassing on marked property.
If you report a trespasser to Law Enforcement, be willing to testify at trial. The more willing a landowner or
witness is to testify, the less likely he or she will actually have to because the trespasser will be more likely
to accept a plea offer, or simply plead guilty. Evidence
is the key to successful prosecution of a trespasser, and
witness testimony IS evidence.
Landowners who are experiencing an influx of trespassers should invite their local CO to tour their
property, and let them know who is and is not allowed
to be there. A CO on routine patrol is more likely to
stop a suspected trespasser if he or she knows whether
that person is supposed to be there. Officer Ross says
that COs have enough bad encounters with sportsmen
in the field. They want (and are encouraged by the
Department) to cultivate good encounters and good
relationships with landowners and sportsmen.
The bottom line is that if landowners want Law Enforcement to pursue trespassers, they should do everything they can to help win a conviction.

laNDOWNERS

First, it is important to keep in mind that safety is the
As a landowner, there are several things you can do to
first priority. If you plan to report the trespasser to Law keep trespassers off of your property.
Enforcement, it is best not to confront the trespasser.
Allow the COs to do their job and handle confrontaPOST YOUR PROPERTY
tion, especially if the trespassers are carrying firearms.
If you are looking to establish that your property is
The landowner may help by gathering evidence for
private and not open to any sort of recreation or acthe CO. Document what you see. Write down license
tivity, you will want to start by marking your property
plate numbers and the description of the suspects
with NO TRESPASSING signs. These signs must be
immediately. Do not depend on your memory. Take
visible at any given point of access to the property, and
photographs of the trespassers and their vehicle, if you the text should be about two inches high, and legible.
can do so safely. Take note of where the the trespassThe entire perimeter of the property should be marked.
If your land is not marked, the trespasser will have a
ers enter and leave the property, the time of day, the
legal defense, and prosecution will be difficult - if not
weather conditions, and any other detail. Do so for
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 77

impossible. Make sure to use a
ladder to post the signs so that it
will be difficult for a trespasser
to tear them down.
If you have a river on your
property, you should post along
the river as well, to ensure that
boaters, fishermen, etc. are alerted ahead of time that they are
near private land. When placing
signs, it is also advisable to use
a ladder to place the signs high
and out of reach, yet still easily
visible from the ground.

RETRIEVING HUNTING DOGS
It’s important for landowners to know that it is legal
for dog owners to retrieve their dogs; this does not
constitute trespassing.
Here is how the relevant statute reads:

“A person other than a person
possessing a firearm may, unless
previously prohibited in writing or
orally by the property owner or his or
her lessee or agent, enter on foot upon
the property of another person for the
sole purpose of retrieving a hunting
dog. The person shall not remain on the
property beyond the reasonable time
necessary to retrieve the dog.“
Further, landowners should remember that only
dog owners may remove the collar of a hunting
dog. Often these tracking collars are critical for the
safety of the dog to be retrieved.

Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the
Mchigan Hunting Dog Federation have worked
with Representative Triston Cole (R-Mancelona),
on legislation, House Bill 5215, to increase the
fine for the removal of a dog collar by anyone
other than the dog’s owner or authorized agent.
As of publication, the bill had passed the Michigan
House of Representatives and was in the Senate
Judiciary Committee.

This will help deter the theft
and vandalism of your signs.
Do not be afraid to over mark
your property line. It helps get
the message across that you take
your private land ownership seriously, and do not want people
on your property. Having larger
signs near easy access points,
or entrances to the property is
advised as well.
Consider including some of
your contact information so
that you may be contacted if a
hunter wants to retrieve game,
or a lost dog from your property. Another option would be to
put the RAP number on there
for individuals who have a need
to access something on your
property for some reason. This
provides legal options for them
to contact you and seek permission.
PARTNER WITH NEIGHBORS
If you don’t already know your
neighbors, walking over to their
home and introducing yourself
is a great first step. It is good to
build a relationship with them.
A little bit of conversation can
go a long way in starting to

establish trust with them. They
may have similar concerns as
you about trespassing. You can
work together by communicating when you see suspicious
activity, and watching each others property if the other leaves
town.
Another option is to spread the
reach beyond your immediate
neighbors and create a neighborhood watch situation where
you could meet a couple times a
year, have a Facebook page, or
simply a phone list. That way if
issues come up, you can work
together to figure out how widespread the situation may be, and
work together to collect information and present evidence to
the Law Enforcement you are
working with.
A creative approach could
include having special tags
that hang on rearview mirrors,
or some sticker you place on
vehicles so that when you are
driving around and parking off
the road, neighbors will recognize the sticker or tag and know
that the vehicle should be there.
If there is an abandoned vehicle
without the markings, the neighborhood could be notified, and
additional investigation can take
place if needed.
Opening up your property to a
few trusted friends and neighbors can help them get to know
your property, and provide
extra opportunities for people
you trust to be on the property
looking for signs of trespassing
or damage. Having the added
traffic, especially if you do not
live on the property, will help
deter seasoned trespassers who
are looking for properties with

easy access and low risk of being
caught.

up and testify in court for prosecution to occur. Officer Ross said that
retribution is rare - but it is a real
GET TO KNOW YOUR C.O.
fear many landowners have when
thinking of prosecution It is imDeveloping a relationship with the
portant for trespassers to know you
local CO is a great way for Law
mean business. If the local proseEnforcement to know who is not
cutor can count on you to testify,
allowed on your property. Officer
Ross says that he and other COs are there is a good chance the trespasshappy to have positive interactions er will agree to a plea bargain and
with outdoor enthusiasts. Consider your testimony will not be necessary. The more willing you are to
contacting your local DNR unit to
find out who the local COs are, and testify, the less likely you would
actually have to. That said, not all
invite them to tour your property,
trespassing cases are created equal.
participate in a cooperative meeting, or give them updates about
If you notice a person trespassing
wildlife in the area. Officer Ross
for the first time, you might handle
says he and other COs are always
happy to attend a wild game dinner the situation yourself. But remember, safety first! If the trespasser is
if invited, and available. The more
holding a firearm or other weapon,
local COs know who you are, the
more access you have to an investi- it’s best to allow Law Enforcement
gation when an unknown person is handle the encounter. It is certainly not a good idea to approach a
on your property. The DNR entrespasser with a weapon in hand,
courages COs to develop positive
relationships with those in the com- especially in a threatening manner.
munity they serve. As a bonus, the
COs may share their knowledge of
what activity is happening around
your property and in the area.

Assuming the situation is not
dangerous, you might approach the
person and notify them they are
on private property. Then, be open
minded and hear them out. Perhaps
they are lost, or did not see the
signs and are willing to leave right
away. Perhaps the encounter may
even be a pleasant one. But if the
trespasser becomes angry or threatening in anyway, end the encounter
and call local Law Enforcement or
the RAP hotline. There is always a
safe alternative to having a heated
and potentially dangerous dispute
with a stranger.
If the trespasser is a repeat offender, there are several ways you
can safely help yourself and Law
Enforcement deal with the issue.
1. Continue to take photos/video
(the quality is not very important
- the COs have tools to enhance

If you participate in a wildlife
cooperative, consider setting up a
meeting among the members and
your local Conservation Officer
to talk about how the neighboring
property owners can look out for
one another. The Conservation Officer can provide tips on how to be
a good eyewitness, and what to do
when you see suspected trespassers
on neighboring property.
DEALING WITH TRESPASSERS
Call the Report All Poaching
(RAP) Line! When you call a CO,
you better plan on prosecuting,
don’t waste their time. The landowner needs to be willing to show
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 79

footage and clarify the image) of the trespasser, the
vehicle and its license plate.
2. Take notes of what you see going on. This can be
used in court as long as the notetaker/photographer
testifies. The number of people in party, clothes they
are wearing, color, make/model of vehicle, other observations,
3. Encourage neighbors to take photos of the trespasser, the vehicle and its license plate.
4. Contact Law Enforcement if the trespasser is on
your land.
REMEDIES
Many landowners are unaware that trespassers can be
held civilly liable for damage caused by trespassing. If
you are experiencing a problem with a neighbor who
is a repeated trespasser, you should consult with an
attorney about your legal options. The details of your
particular situation would be important for your attorney to advise you, but the option is available in some
situations. For example, a neighbor who repeatedly
trespasses on your land and causes damage to food
plots, groomed trails, trail camera destruction, or tree
damage can be held liable for that damage.
It is always cheaper, and less time consuming to settle
disputes outside of court. So if the property damage
is the result of an accidental trespass, it may be more
neighborly to approach those responsible in an effort
to come to an agreement on how the damage may be
repaired or paid for. If your new neighbors accidentally find themselves driving their ATV through your
clover patch, it may be worth preserving the friendship
by settling the situation privately.
However, there are some situations where the trespasser is a repeat offender whose actions are purposeful.
An animal rights activist who spoils your hunt by
destroying your food plots, tearing down tree stands,
or entering your property to scare away game may
be held civilly liable for interfering with your use
and enjoyment of your land. In that situation, filing a
lawsuit may be the solution to ending the disruptions.
If your attorney can establish a good case, you may be
entitled to money damages, and an injunction to stop
the trespassing.
80 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

If you find yourself in this situation, make sure to take
photographs of the trespasser or the vehicle when possible. Take notes about the date, time, and location of
the trespass. Keep a map of your property handy and
note the location of the trespasser on each instance. If
you talk to the trespasser, write down the conversation
and keep it with the rest of your “file.” It is important
to do these things at the time they happen because
memories fade, and the rules of courtroom evidence
may cause some evidence to be excluded if not documented at the time of the event. Do not worry about
whether the documentation is admissible or not. Your
lawyer will know whether it is good, and what to do
with it.
If your property is physically damaged as a result of
the trespass, make sure to get professional estimates
of repairs. Keep any receipts or invoices for work
done, cost of parts, time spent traveling, and any other
expense that is related to the damage. If you have food
plots, tree stands, or groomed trails, take photographs

of them now, while they are in
good condition. If anything is damaged as a result of trespass, take
photos of the damage. You will
then have “before and after” photographs to show the damage.

SPORTSMEN &
WOMEN
As sportsmen, it is not uncommon
to find yourself trouncing through
the forest, following a deer trail, or
a winding trout stream. If you are
in familiar territory with friendly
neighbors, this usually is not a
problem. But in unfamiliar areas
where there are unknown property
owners, it is good to keep a few

things in mind to keep yourself out
of trouble when it comes to trespassing.
Know where you are. Make sure
you have a good idea of the area
you will be in, and where state
land begins and ends. Free internet
resources such as mich.gov/mihunt
or maps.google.com, can be used
to pick out landmarks and unique
geographical structures so that you
know where you are at at all times.
Jump onto the internet and do some
looking around before you head
out. You’ll know what landmarks
to look for in your area, and maybe
even spot a favorable area to set up
your tree stand.
The wonderful age of technology
has brought us the
smartphone. There
are a multitude of
apps available for
use while in the field
to determine your location. Take advantage of this technology to help you stay
in the areas you are
legally allowed to be
in. However, don’t
rely on electronics to
keep you out of trouble in the back-country. Anyone who
has spent time in
remote areas knows
that your batteries
always run out at the
worst time. So make
sure you have some
network and electricity-free alternatives.
In many Michigan
Counties, Conservation Districts will
publish a plat book
every few years. A

plat book is a collection of maps
of each section of a given county,
showing the ownership interest of
all private property publicly owned
land. You can also use those free
internet resources we talked about
earlier to print off custom made
maps of your area for availability
offline. Another available resource
is MyTopo.com, where you can
create custom topographical maps
for your area showing all of the
significant landmarks and geographical features that can help you
orient yourself if you should get
turned around. By taking the time
to prepare yourself for knowing
your surroundings, you’ll be able
to keep yourself out of trouble by
staying off other people’s property.
You’ll also significantly cut down
on the time it takes to familiarize
yourself with an new area.
If you know of private property
that you would like to access for
hunting and fishing purposes, or
to simply to cross over in order
to access another area, ask the
landowners for permission to do
so. However, keep a few things in
mind when doing so.
Get permission in writing. Make
two copies of a temporary permission form, and make sure both
copies are signed by both parties so
that there are two originals. Make
sure to include the date and times
you will be allowed to use the
property, as well as your specific
intended purpose. The landowner
may be more likely to allow you
access to the property if they know
that they have some control over
the scope and duration of that permission. It will benefit you greatly
to have written permission if a CO
should question your presence on
the property. If you are respectful
of the landowner, and do not abuse

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 81

your privilege, the landowner may
be more likely to allow you to use
his land in the future. If they landowner enjoys wild game, consider
sharing your bounty with him or
her. These pleasant encounters may
even lead to long lasting friendships.
If the landowner denies your
request to access his or her land,
respect their decision and do your
best to stay away. If you do not
have permission to hunt on their
property, the best practice is to set
up your stand or blind well away
from the property line. It is against
the law to kill game that is on
property where you do not have
permission to hunt, even if you are
shooting from property where you
do have permission. Game taken
in this way is game taken illegally,
and subject to all of the poaching
laws of Michigan.
The penalties for taking game illegally are severe. Jail time, staggering fines, loss of hunting privileges for years, and forfeiture of
hunting equipment (including your
weapon) are all very likely consequences if you are caught. It is far
better to miss out on shooting a
nice buck and have another opportunity the following year. COs are
not tolerant of hunters who choose
to hunt too close to areas off limits.
Officer Ross described a situation
in Montmorency County where a

hunter decided to hunt from a tree
stand only three feet away from his
neighbor’s fenced in property. The
hunter had illegally taken a deer on
the wrong side of the fence. When
initially confronted, the hunter
claimed the wounded deer had
run onto the neighbor’s property.
However, a gutpile, blood, and
drag marks told a different story.
The hunter eventually confessed to
shooting the deer illegally (poaching), and suffered the criminal
consequences.
Purposefully trespassing is obviously a bad idea, but it is also

If the landowner
enjoys wild game,
consider sharing
your bounty with
him or her.
possible to wander onto private
property accidently. If you should
find yourself in an area where there
are groomed trails, man made
structures, or other signs of private
property, immediately head back to
the last place where you knew you
were on public land. Do your best
not to disturb anything and try to
respect the property owner.
If you are approached by a land-

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owner who informs you that you
are on his property, do not get
defensive. Most property owners
are well aware of their property
lines, and you may have accidently
crossed over. Hear him out, apologize for the accidental trespass,
let him know that you will leave.
If you wish to access the property,
politely ask for permission, and let
the property owner know that you
will make sure to ask for permission next time. If you are holding
a firearm, empty your ammunition
and leave the action open throughout the exchange. Make sure that
the landowner knows that you
mean no harm. A pleasant encounter may even lead to an invitation
to use the land.
Similarly, if you are confronted in
the field by a CO who notifies you
that you are trespassing, handle
the situation carefully. Be polite,
explain what you are doing, and let
the CO know that you will leave
the area. Do not be argumentative
or combative with the CO, and understand that the CO is just doing
their job. A pleasant encounter will
most likely lead to a warning and a
possible escort off the premises.
Another instance of unintended
trespass is when the hunter finds
himself in the position of retrieving
a game animal from private property. If your deer or other game runs
onto private property, try to contact

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the property owner to get permission to recover the animal before
proceeding. If it is not possible to
do so, try calling the RAP hotline
to get CO assistance with contacting the landowner. If all else fails,
abandon the animal. As Officer
Ross says, “your obligation to pursue killed game ends where another
person’s property begins.”
Discussion of this topic provides
an opportunity to address a common misconception about fishing
access found in the language of
Michigan Codified Law (MCL)
324.73102(3), which states:
On fenced or posted property or
farm property, a fisherman wading or floating a navigable public
stream may, without written or oral
consent, enter upon property within
the clearly defined banks of the
stream or, without damaging farm
products, walk a route as closely
proximate to the clearly defined
bank as possible when necessary to
avoid a natural or artificial hazard
or obstruction, including, but not
limited to, a dam, deep hole, or a
fence or other exercise of ownership by the riparian owner.
This statute does not allow a
fisherman to access a lake or river
over private property without the
landowner’s consent. It also does
not allow a fisherman to fish from
a private landowner’s property
without permission. It is intended
to allow fishermen to go around
obstacles found in a stream that
would prevent his or her further
progress up or down the stream.
The fisherman may only access the
private property owner’s parcel to
the extent necessary to go around
the obstacle.
Overall, be respectful of private

property rights. As outdoorsmen in
Michigan, we are fortunate to have
many acres and areas of public
land. Do your homework and try to
stick to those public areas, or areas
where you have permission to be.
The best way to handle accidental
trespassing is to acknowledge your
mistake and move to another area.

CONCLUSION
Issues of recreation trespass can be
complicated, which is why if you
have questions, you should read the
laws for yourself and connect with
an attorney and CO if you have
further questions. Whether you are
a landowner or a hunter/trapper/angler, be sure to take time to understand these laws and learn how you
can protect yourself, your property,
and our resources by acting in
accordance and working with your
local Law Enforcement as needed.
Ultimately, the purpose for these
laws is to protect our rights to hunt,
fish, and trap and the resources we
deeply value.

Brad Nicoll is an Attorney in Montmorency
County in northeast Michigan. He is runs a
private practice law firm out of Atlanta, Michigan and is a part time assistant prosecutor. He
practices in the areas of real property, estate
planning and administration, and civil matters.
Brad is a member of the Montmorency County Conservation Club, and an individual member of MUCC. He is a hunter, a fisherman,
and an outdoorsman.Brad.Nicoll@bradleyjnicoll.com or (989)785-4900.
Anna Mitterling is the Wildlife Cooperative
Coordinator with Michigan United Conservation Club. She works with landowners
and partners across the state of Michigan to
promote, create and expand wildlife cooperatives where landowners work together
with other organizations to benefit hunting
and habitat on their properties. To learn more
about wildlife cooperatives, contact her at
amitterling@mucc.org or (517)346-6454.

MUCC POLICY
PURPLE PAINT LAW
This summer, Michigan United
Conservation Clubs member
club delegates adopted a policy
resolution supporting a "Purple Paint"
law in Michigan.
Purple paint laws exist in other states,
like Missouri, where Brian Towe
of the Quality Deer Management
Association explains that it provides
a low-cost option for landowners
to clearly mark their boundaries,
protecting both their property rights
and setting clear boundaries to help
hunters, anglers and trappers avoid
inadvertantly wandering across a
property line they didn't know was
there.
In other states, a purple paint mark
on a tree has the same effect as a
"No Trespassing" sign. The idea was
proposed in Michigan by legislation
in 2006, but stalled in the House of
Representatives after being passed in
the Senate.
In 2013, legislation based on a 2011
MUCC resolution was passed to
increase the restitution penalties for
poaching antlered whitetails and
for recreational trespass. In 2015,
legislation was passed based on a
2015 MUCC resolution to increase
the penalties for poaching elk,
moose, bear, turkey, waterfowl and
eagles.

fall
Bass

by
Bob
Gwidz

FALL 2016 Michigan Out-

BY EARLY OCTOBER, most anglers
have stored their fishing rigs for the
for example, a day I shared
fall. It’s deer season, bird season, Take,
with veteran fishing guide Gerry
duck season. So much to do, so Gostenik in late October last year.
of us (perhaps both of us?)
little time. But anglers - especially One
had obviously been living right. We
on Lake St. Clair and it was as
bass fishermen - who put up their were
pleasant as a June day. There was
boats to pursue other pastimes in little wind, unusual enough anytime,
especially so in autumn. The
fall are missing some of the best but
weather gods were smiling upon us
and we were determined to make the
action of the year.
best of it.
And we did. We were fishing in two to four feet of
water, targeting small depressions on the bottom (on
Lake St. Clair, a six-inch drop practically qualifies as a
major structure change) around rock piles and weeds.
It took only a few minutes to find the fish, but once
we did . . . I wouldn’t say it was every cast, but it was
at least three out of five. And these were the sort of
smallmouths that have made Lake St. Clair legendary
in the bass fishing fraternity - three- to four-pounders
with an occasional five -- big, fat, solid smallmouths.
I lost track of how many we’d caught from the area
when it got into the high 20s. When we stopped fishing
for a few minutes to take a couple of photos, I asked
Gostenik how many we’d caught. He guessed 50.
And that was just the beginning. We moved a couple
of miles, to similar (but somewhat deeper) water, and
fished there for a couple of hours. We caught another
20. Had we been going for numbers – say, 100 – we
probably could have gone back to where we started
and spanked them some more.
We caught as many fish that day as many bass anglers
catch all season. And they were great fish; Gostenik
guesstimated that our best five would have easily gone
25 pounds.

Greg Mangus on Coldwater Lake
(Photo by Bob Gwidz)

“It’s not that unusual in late fall,” he said. “I wouldn’t
say it happens every day, but if you’re in an area
where those fish are herded up and biting, you’re
going to have 23 or 24 pounds.”
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 85

Ringing them up in autumn is not unusual, said
Gostenik, who usually fishes until December. But the
real kick-butt days, like the one we enjoyed, don’t
happen after the weather gets cold, he said. We hit it
just at the right time.
“Just a couple of days ago, the bass had been spread
out all over the flats,” Gostenik said. “You could just
cover water, fling a Rat-L-Trap and catch them all over.
But two days ago we fished them for an hour and half
and didn’t have bite. So we started throwing a tube
and, whammo. That slower presentation was how they
wanted it.”
“”They’re in their fall feeding mode,” he continued.
“There’s a window when they’re putting on the feed
bag and I think we caught them at the peak of that
feeding spree. It starts in mid- to late October. I think
it’s partially water temperature dependent, too.
“The latest I’ve been out here is December 1, but I
know some people who have been out there in late
December and even into January,” Gostenik said.
“Once those fish park for the winter, they stay there
and they don’t move much. If you don’t get a lot of
wind and the water doesn’t get too dirty, you can get on
them and catch them real well. But once it starts getting
down in the 20s and you start getting ice on the launch
ramps, then you can’t get out.”
That’s the rub. Some years, the launch ramps are
practically unusable by mid-November. But other years
you can fish well into winter.

Runner’s Cicadas are among the best-known, but
these are simple baits that lots of guys turn out in
their garages.

Like last year, when I spent a December day with my
buddy Jim Horn. A hard-core fisherman – for about
anything that swims, but mostly bass – Horn says the
bass’ll bite as long as you can get a boat in the water.

Horn fishes them S-L-O-W-L-Y, picking his rod
tip up maybe a foot, then following it back down.
Though the strike most often occurs on the fall, Horn
theorizes that when the bait is sitting on the bottom,
the fish look at it and respond by striking when it
comes back to life. Though I tend to fish them a hair
more aggressively, I can’t argue with Horn; he is
among the best all-around anglers I know and it’s a
very rare day that I can keep up with him.

“They’ll go until it’s iced up.”
We were fishing with blade baits, roughly fish-shaped
stamped metal lures with a lead belly. The iconic blade
bait, the Silver Buddy is so well known that the whole
range of blades are often called “buddies.” There are a
ton of other blade baits on the market, but when Horn
tossed me one to tie on my line at Lake of the Woods
in Van Buren County in southwest Michigan, I didn’t
even know who made it. That’s because they pretty
much all look the same. Heddon’s Sonars and Reef
86 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

So, as you might suppose, Horn scored first (as well
as more often) when I met up with him that day. I
heard a “there’s one,” and next thing you know he
was swinging a not-quite keeper largemouth into
the boat. It was the start of a day Pat McManus

Gerry Gostenik on Lake St. Clair
(Photo by Bob Gwidz)
would describe as “A Fine and Pleasant Misery” –
temperature in the low 30s (and falling); non-stop rain,
snow or sleet; and wind blowing like all get out.
“That’s the thing about winter bass fishing,” Horn
said. “The wind is always blowing.”
We were fishing in an area, out of the worst of the
wind, where the bottom dropped dramatically (from
about six feet to 17 where it leveled off) and the fish
were on or near the bottom. Our bites were pretty
much coming from the deeper water – occasionally
one of us would hook one a little shallower – but it
was tough to fish as there was some dead grass on
bottom and it doesn’t take much to completely kill the
action on these baits.
We picked up a fish here and there as we made our
way along the drop, then reversed course and then

did about the same on the way back. It was never fast
and furious – as it can be as bass are often schooled
up thistightogether in cold weather – but maybe we
were just catching the hungry ones. We missed a fair
number, too, indicating that they weren’t biting that
well.
As the day played out, the bites became fewer and
further between.
“I’ve got a couple of other places where I can usually
catch them on this lake, but we can’t stay on them in
this wind,” Horn said.
So we stayed the course and fished the same stretch
and picked away at them, catching mostly undersized
fish with an occasional keeper-sized largemouth
catching our attention. We wound up over the nearly
five hours of fishing catching 19. We did almost all our
FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 87

damage on blades though Horn did catch a couple on
a home-made spade-tailed plastic grub (kind of like
the old Mann’s Stingray) that he started tossing when
it got real slow.
Pretty good fishing given the conditions, I thought.
“Tell you the truth, I’m kinda bummed,” Horn said.
“We didn’t get skunked, but I thought they’d bite
better than that. I’ve had lots of 50-fish days this time
of year, fishing by myself. The best day, two of us
caught 88 with a few walleyes thrown in. And we
should have caught some real good ones, but you get
those mostly on main-lake breaks and we couldn’t
stay on them.”
Still, Horn is sold on cold-weather bassin’.
“Twenty-five years ago, if you told me we’d be bass
fishing in December, I would have said you were
crazy. But I’d rather bass fish in November and
December than July and August. You don’t have
the jet skis and speed boats and all the other guys
moving in on you.”
No problem there; I’d bet there weren’t 10 bass
fishing in the county. Maybe the state.
And that’s the way it is in late fall. I remember
a day a few years back when I was fishing with
Greg Mangus on Coldwater Lake in southcentral
Michigan. Mangus – a Hoosier tackle rep and lure
maker, who has the good sense to do the bulk of his
fishing in Michigan – told me he’d been spanking
the bass, good ones, for several weeks.
It didn’t take long for him to prove it.
I was fishing a jig with a swim bait trailer, but was
retrieving it more like a crankbait than a jig, No
pumping, lift-and-drop action, just cast, let it sink,
retrieve slowly.
I felt the jig stop as though it were hung up on
weeds, but when I shook it, it shook back. So I
swatted it, hard, and it bent my medium-action rod
into a veritable parabola.
When I reeled it in – the fish stayed deep and didn’t
come to the surface until it was upside the boat, my

partner, Greg Mangus, announced: “You’re going to
need help with that,” as he leaned over to lip the fish.
“That’s better than five pounds, easy,” Mangus said as
he hoisted the long, fat largemouth. “This is the time
of year you catch the biggest fish. Now and at ice-out.
But at ice-out it seems like you catch more numbers.
This time of year, you’re catching bigger ones.”
We’d been working a 10-foot deep, weedy flat when
the fish hit, but when another half hour went by
without a bite, Mangus decided
to make a move. He took me to
a hump that was surrounded by
deep water but came to within
feet of the surface. I had a bite
– this one cracked it, unlike the
first, which was just there – and I
swung and missed.

day thing. You can’t count on a crankbait every day.”
Our November day corresponded to a warming trend,
which Mangus said was both good and bad. Good,
obviously, because it made it more comfortable to
fish (though it was still plenty cold). But not so good
because, Mangus said, the bite was slower than it had
been.
“Last week we caught 15 big ones, from around three
and half to five pounds,” he said. “But two weeks ago
we had a little warming trend and
we couldn’t hardly get a bite. The
fish seem to like it when it’s really
rotten.”

“That’s good
bass fishing
anywhere this
side of Cuba.”

“Sometimes this time of year
you’ve just got to keep reeling it until it feels heavy,”
he said.

Minutes later, Mangus tied into a fish that looked
every bit the equal of mine, maybe even bigger, but it
jumped off at the boat. But he connected on the next
one – a solid four pounds if it weighed an ounce -and followed that up with a fish that would have gone
about a half pound better.
I’d figured we’d do well, but we had more than
14 pounds for three fish. That’s good bass fishing
anywhere this side of Cuba.
While most bass anglers believe the reason the bite is
so good in late fall is the fish are feeding heavily prewinter, Mangus has another explanation.
“I think they’re eating more during the day,” he said.
“I think in the summer they feed a lot at night.”
I stayed with the swim jig. Mangus played around
with a blade bait, an Erie Darter (a spade-tailed grub),
and a crankbait (deep-diving C-Flash), but it seemed
like the swim jig was the ticket.
“You want to experiment every day,” he said.
“Basically, you let the fish tell you what they want.
Crankbaits are good this time of year, but it’s a day-to-

What impressed me most was where
we were catching them. Instead of
concentrating on the deepest water
in the lake, Mangus was fishing
relatively shallow.

“You can catch them anywhere from shallow to deep
this time of year,” he said. “It all depends on what’s
going on on that particular lake on that particular day.
Deep is relative.”
We kept moving, concentrating on structure elements
– channel turns or humps – that came up significantly
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FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 89

from the surrounding depths. Most of the bites came as
the jig came down a slope, but well before it was in deep
water.
We caught a fish or two – or sometimes none – every place
we stopped, but never banged a bunch in a row, as you
sometimes do this time of year. But what was striking is
how consistently good they were. I had one that was short
of the 14-inch size limit (a fat, chunky thing, nonetheless)
and Mangus boated one that was probably just shy of three
pounds. But the rest? All big ‘uns.
“You catch the biggest fish that are in the lake you’re
fishing this time of year. At some lakes it might be two- or
three-pounders but here. . .”
He didn’t have to finish. He caught one that he slapped
on a digital scale. It read: 5.12 pounds and was about the
same size as the one I caught first. (I’d put it in the live
well hoping I could get a photo of a pair of good ones.) I
asked Mangus what our best five would weigh. He guessed
around 23 pounds.

AFFILIATE CLUB NEWS
METRO-WEST STEELHEADERS
by Adam Trenz
We gathered for our third annual Clinton River
Clean-up the morning of July 16th, teaming up
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and the Clinton River Watershed Council. The
weather this year was much more tolerable than
last year, the river was low (providing easy access
to the entire river), so - conditions played out
down right perfect!
“Home base” was set up quickly by the Bustos
family, Sarah Topp, Bethy Williams and others,
whom arrived early and didn’t even let me get in
on the fun! - (Thanks for that team!) But, we arrived
with coffee and bagels, and alongside we had a
couple of dozen doughnuts that Yate’s Cider Mill
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“It’s a Saturday and how many boats have we seen?”
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90 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

All in all, we had a relatively small headcount of
15 volunteers, but as shown in the photo below,
we were able to prove that even in small numbers,
a lot can be accomplished! We estimated our haul
of trash an unnatural debris this year to be in the
250 pound range.
After our stretch from Yates Dam down to around
the gun range was completed, we met back for
a delicious lunch, served up by none other than
“Chef Jeff” Bustos. Thanks Jeff!
MUCC-affiliated clubs can send stories of their activities, like
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"Clubs."

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Stickbaits for

by dford
e
B
m
i
J

Autumn visitors

AUTUMN IS A VERY ENTICING TIME FOR
river anglers in Michigan. All of the eight species of
salmon and trout that live in the Great Lakes migrate
into the tributary streams to some degree in the fall.
Seven of the eight spawn in the fall and many spring
spawning steelhead enter the streams in summer and
fall and reside there until time to procreate. We’ll
describe the timing of the runs and where to catch
them but first we will focus on the technique of using
lures that imitate minnows to catch them.

HOW TO CATCH THEM
Crank baits and diving plugs have been used to catch
salmon and steelhead in rivers for a long time but
usually they were of the compact, banana shaped
variety with high action and the ability to dive fairly
deep. The Wigglewort, Hotshot, Kwikfish, and Hot-nTot along with lures originally based in Michigan like
the Flatfish and Tadpolly are good examples of these
plugs. Almost always they are held against the current
92 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

and slowly backed down the river, usually from a boat.
The term hotshotting has been used for a long time to
describe fishing these plugs from a drift boat that is
rowed against the flow causing the plugs to dive as the
craft is slipped downstream at a rate slower than the
current
Until the last six or seven years minnow plugs were
rarely used for salmon and migratory trout in rivers.
However they have and continue to be popular for
trolling on the Great Lakes when the trout and salmon
are shallow in the spring and fall as well as where
these fish concentrate near the surface at vertical
temperature breaks in early summer. Based on my
experience over the past eight seasons, I think they
definitely have a place in the river angler’s arsenal for
anadromous salmonids.
Just like with the typical high action, deep diving
salmon and steelhead plugs, stickbaits are best
fished against the current. Casting them quartering
downstream and then allowing them to sweep across

the river is a great way to find and
elicit a strike from a migrating
salmonid. Once they have swung
below your position keep fishing
by slowly retrieving them upstream
with an occasional pause, back
down, and then restart the retrieve.
Suspending stick baits work
especially well for this start-stop
retrieve. Floating lures will also
work but may rise out of the strike
zone when paused.
You will find a bunch of minnow
imitating plugs in my fishing vest
at all times now. My favorites are
the suspending Bomber Long A
and the Kinchou Minnow. These
plugs dive to different depths in
the two and a half to five feet range
with the Kinchou Minnow being
the deeper diver. Even though

these lures don’t dive especially
deep they will attract anadromous
salmonids in water up to eight feet
deep. This demonstrates again
that, while these fish orient to the
bottom, they look forward and up.
The prime strike zone is a foot or
two above the river bottom and
it is better to be a bit high than to
always be snagging up on the rocks
and logs.
In addition to the above stick baits,
I also carry a Zander Shad Deep
Diver (despite the name, this lure
is minnow shaped) and Snappy
Minnow. The Snappy Minnow
is an in between diver and casts
further so I put it to use in big
rivers while the deep diver allows
me to get deeper when I fish deep
holes. I can still fish the deep diver

in shallower runs by slowing the
retrieve and raising my rod tip.
The big-lipped plug will still have
good action and get deep enough to
catch fish at a slower retrieve. This
attribute makes them a good choice
when the stream situation requires
you to make upstream casts and
downstream retrieves.
Since we are often targeting
anadromous fish in the relatively
low and clear water of autumn with
an artificial lure and downstream
from our position, it is important to
be stealthy. In small- and mediumsized streams it is best to wade
upstream to keep from spooking
the anadromous fish. Remember
that these fish have just left the
safety of deep Great Lakes water
and can be quite skittish in their

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 93

new, much shallower environment.
So you must plan ahead in order
to get in the right spot above
the holding water to cast your
lures. Usually it is just a matter
of keeping tight to the bank on the
opposite side of the stream from
where you expect the fish to hold.
Sometimes it may be best to take to
the bank to get above the fish. This
is especially true when there is an
eddy on the shallow side that may
carry sand and silt upstream ahead
of you and circle it back into the
holding water. While there may be
times when you get lucky and catch

the better plan. Most quality stick
baits come with split rings attached
to the eye. While the split ring
achieves the loose attachment goal,
it is difficult to tie a good knot to
the split ring and it doesn’t allow
you to change lures easily.

a fish that has spotted you when
using artificial lures, you are much
more likely to catch salmon and
steelhead that don’t know you are
there.

times in one outing. In addition to
allowing me to match the lure to
the depth and current speed of the
river, it gives the anadromous fish
a choice. In general, stickbaits are
great for long gravel runs, broad
flat pools and tailouts while sinking
lures like spinners and spoons are
best when you need to get down
quickly in deep pocket water and
right behind logs.

Stick baits should usually not be
tied directly to your line. A loose
attachment allows these lures to
have their maximum wobbling
action. While there are special
loop knots you can use to keep the
line from being cinched down to
the lure eye, I’ve found a small,
size 2 black duo-lock snap to be

Not only does the snap help your
plug work well, it makes you a
more versatile and effective angler
because you can quickly change
your lure to match the holding
water better. I change back and
forth between various stickbaits
and weighted spinners many, many

Because it’s so easy to switch lures
with the duo-lock snap instead of
cutting and retying, it is easy to

94 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

neglect checking your knot and line
regularly. If you are not checking
your line, you can be sure that a
chinook or steelhead will find the
nick or fray for you and it won’t
be a happy ending. I routinely
test the strength of the knot and
the last foot or so of line with
each lure change and often retie
the snap after each fish even if it
seems strong and there is not any
noticeable line fraying.

WHERE TO CATCH THEM
While our Great Lakes fish
populations have been undergoing
changes due to the alterations of
the food chain by invasive species,
we still have a real diverse group
of fish to chase on their river
migrations. Since seven of the
eight salmon and trout spawn in
the fall they have considerable
urgency to run up the tributaries
now. While steelhead are spring
spawning fish a portion of these
great game fish run the rivers in
the summer and fall. The bottom
line is that the river angler has a
great variety of salmon and trout
to tempt with his or her stickbaits
in the fall. Often it is possible to
catch three or four species of these
anadromous fish on one outing.
While Atlantic salmon and
summer steelhead may begin their
migrations in early summer, their
river numbers build to a peak in
early fall. Right now Atlantics
are pretty much limited to the St.
Mary’s River but we have started
planting them in other Lake Huron
tributaries including the Au Sable.
Since these fish have shown that
they are not dependent on alewives
I am guessing the DNR will be

thinking about planting them in
Lake Michigan as the alewives
continue to decline there.

best to look for chinook in the deep
holes of the lower reaches of the
tributary rivers. As we progress
through the month, more and more
Summer steelhead are only stocked fish will move to the spawning
in two Michigan rivers, the Big
riffles. By early to mid October
Manistee and, by Indiana, the St.
spawning activity will peak
Joseph. These fish tend to stray
and the runs and holes near the
from their stocked river a lot. This spawning gravel will be the place
happens because they don’t seem to to concentrate your efforts for the
imprint well to their planted river
big salmon.
and often their stocked river is too
warm. You can usually count on a
Pink salmon mostly run in the
strong run in September and there
month of September and is less
will be summer steelhead present
spread out than other species.
in the tributaries throughout the
These fish are all wild and
fall.
the largest runs occur in Lake
Chinook salmon also begin
their spawning migration in late
summer with runs peaking in late
September. In our northern Lake
Michigan tributaries these fish have
been running earlier and earlier.
This is especially true in the Little
Manistee River where anglers can
find fishable numbers as early as
the first half of July. These are
wild fish and the reason for the
early run is likely influenced by
the closing of the weir in August
to collect fish for egg taking. This
has affected the evolution of these
fish since they must beat the weir
closing in order to successfully
spawn in the upper river.
King salmon have been very
successful at reproducing
themselves and most stream now
experience a wild run of these fish.
The declining alewife forage base
in Lake Michigan is adversely
affecting chinook numbers. The
good news for river anglers is
that once these salmon enter the
tributaries their numbers are still
high enough for a good river
fishery. In early September it is

resulted in a late run of wild, large
coho in November. These salmon
tend to remain in good shape in
the river for a longer time than the
kings and pinks. Bright silver coho
salmon often arrive in Lansing after
negotiating more than 100 miles of
the Grand River and ascending six
fish ladders.
In general, coho salmon are quite
aggressive on their spawning
migration and will eagerly chase
down and strike your stick bait.
The exception to this trait is when
they have reached their destination
and large numbers are concentrated

Superior and northern Lake Huron
tributaries. Most of these fish will
be less than five pounds and the
smaller stickbaits you would use
for trout are the most effective.

in pools. In this situation they
seem to be most interested in their
position relative to the other fish
and can be frustratingly difficult to
get to strike.

While many coho salmon enter
tributaries in September, the
peak of the run usually occurs
in October. Migrations of this
species continue into November
and December. Just as the Little
Manistee weir closing helped the
development of an early running
strain of chinook salmon; it has

While many brown trout attempt
to spawn in the lakes themselves, a
portion of them do migrate up the
tributaries to spawn. They begin
their migration in mid-September
and most spawn in late October
and early November. They have
an interesting trait of remaining in
the river after spawning and many

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 95

won’t out migrate until early spring.
The best runs of browns seem to occur where there are
large plants in the harbor of the river. Over the years
Lake Huron tributaries have experienced stronger runs
than their Lake Michigan counterparts.
Runs of brook trout or coasters are quite sporadic.
They most commonly run in streams flowing into
central Lake Superior but you may also encounter
one in a northern Lake Michigan or Huron tributary.
Often they spawn in small trout streams that could be
closed by the time the brookies get there. These fish
will likely never be your target species but will be a
real treasure if you catch one. The DNR and fishing
groups are working on their recovery and a quick
photo and release should be your plan if you catch
one.
The vast majority of our Great Lakes lake trout spawn
on the rocky reefs of the lakes. In the past many of
our large tributaries hosted runs of these fish and they
seemed to spawn before returning to the lakes. This
laker run peaked in late October very dependably.
Then, in an attempt to improve survival and to
better natural reproduction the stocking of lake trout
yearlings was switched to mid lake reefs and river
run lake trout became scarce. About seven years ago
the decision was made to start stocking near the river
mouths again. The slow maturing lake trout that were
stocked close to shore should begin spawning soon
and it will be interesting to see if they return to their
river running ways.
Good numbers of our Great Lakes steelhead join
their summer run cousins in the rivers in October
and November. Ample fall rains will increase
the proportion of these spring spawners that add
themselves o the autumn anadromous bounty.
Since fall run steelhead are still many months from
spawning, they are in prime shape and usually put
up spectacular battle when hooked. Many anglers,
me included, target these feisty rainbows and the
other species taken become bonus fish. Since fall run
steelhead are not in any hurry to reach the spawning
gravel, the runs and holes in the lower parts of the
rivers are often the best places to find autumn steelies.

Covering lots of water will help you find active fish.
Remember that high concentrations of fish, such as
might be found just below a dam, may not yield good
fishing as these fish keep each other on edge when in
a crowded situation. Finding individual or a few trout
and salmon in a run or pool will almost always yield
better results.
As a final tip, remember that your DNR fisheries
biologists can be a great source of information on
the status of the runs of fish. They are eager to help
you be successful. Their phone numbers are listed in
the Michigan Fishing Guide you receive with your
license.
For sure autumn is a special time for the Great Lakes
tributary angler in Michigan. The rivers are teeming
with a mix of exciting battlers and you never know
which one will chase down your minnow plug next.

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96 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

The Grand Tour

Dennis Eade, of the Michigan Salmon and Steelhead Fishermen’s Association, tagged along on
a legislative tour of Ontario net pen aquaculture facilities given to legislators trying to bring the
practice to Michigan’s Great Lakes waters.
Photo: Net pen aquaculture could have severe impacts on charter boats, like this one returning to South Haven after a day of fishing.

Michigan Farm Bureau, the
Michigan Soybean Promotion
Committee, Michigan Aquaculture
Association, Aquaculture Research
Corporation and Originz, a food
systems promoter, were the
sponsors of a recent tour of net-pen
fish farms, brood stock hatchery
and processing facility in Ontario,
Canada.
The tour was designed to promote
net-pen aquaculture in the Great
Lakes and targeted Michigan
legislators and staff who have
already introduced legislation to
amend Michigan’s Aquaculture
Development Act or will be part
of the committee(s) who will be
considering the legislation in both
house and senate committees. The
tour also included invited Quality
of Life Agency personnel, (DNR,
DEQ, and MDARD), sponsors
and me, a self-invited guest that
made it through the vetting process
because I pushed my ties with the

tourism industry and wanted to
get a firsthand look at what these
operations look like and how they
are run.
The itinerary included three days
of visiting net-pen rainbow trout
fish farms, on the way to and
off the Manitoulin Island in the
North Channel of Georgian Bay, a
demonstration farm, hatchery, in
New Dundee ON. and a processing
plant in St Thomas, ON. Between
stops on the tour, we were provided
with information that extolled
the good points of farm raised
fish production and criticized
the information employed by
opponents of net-pen aquaculture.
To the credit of the tour sponsors,
the facilities visited were vibrant
operations, well run production
facilities. The second fish farm we
visited, Blue Goose Aquaculture
(Lake Woolsey) farm and
demonstration site for the new

StormSafe offshore net pen design
was impressive. The operation is
owned by Mike Meeker, a former
NHL hockey player who played
for the Pittsburgh Penguins and is a
biology graduate of the University
of Wisconsin.
He was an excellent promoter of
net-pen aquaculture and the only
fish farmer on the tour who could
articulate his operation’s fish health
plan. That’s because his operation
is permitted through the ministry
of the environment in Canada
and subject to its inspections and
protocols. The other two Canadian
sites we visited were owned or
partially owned by First Nation
operators (native people) who are
able to operate without sanctions
imposed by the ministry of the
environment.
The highlights of the fish farm
tour included the new technology
demonstrated with Meeker’s

FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 97

StormSafe offshore net pens
that can be submerged to avoid
the spring ice flows that destroy
anything in their path or in severe
storm conditions. Blue Goose
Aquaculture was also a long-term
sustainable solution operation.
Fish processing waste was
converted to organic landscaping
compost by mixing the waste with
saw dust from local saw mills and
then marketed to golf courses (it
has a natural pheromone present
in the mixture that repels geese)
and mining restoration efforts
for growing vegetation where
previously the mining industry had
issues reclaiming the land.
The low lights of the fish farm
tour were the disregard for the
accumulation of fish waste and
uneaten food beneath the pens
which can degrade the quality
of the surrounding water.
Steve Naylor, Aquaculture
Specialist, with the Economic
Development Division of
Ontario, claimed that it has
taken thirteen years and still
there is not an official policy
on fish manure accumulation
on the bottom of the pens.

No information was given as to
inspections or evaluation of the
benthic accumulation. Another
problem was water temperature
at times during the summer. It is
not unusual for the water to reach
24 degrees Celsius in the summer
and fish become stressed. They
have to stop feeding, sometimes as
long as six weeks, because it takes
extra oxygen to digest food and
the level of oxygen in the water at
that temperature is insufficient for
digestion.

Meeker was not concerned about
the impact on wild fish in the area.
He buys fingerlings that cost 1.5
cents apiece. They are “diploids”;
untreated at incubation and capable
of reproducing if they escape into
the wild. “Triploids”, on the other
hand, are incapable of reproducing
if they escape because they’re
treated during a 45 hour window
after hatching to a temperature
spike and air pressure causing them
to be incapable of reproducing.
They cost 3.5 cents as fingerlings
and some say they are harder
to raise but others prefer them
because they get more consistent
size at harvest time.
I asked Meeker for a name of a
local fisherman I could talk with
and he provided a name of a local
fisher who I contacted. His name
is Bob Martin from outside of
Columbus, Ohio and lives on
Manitoulin Island five months
out of the year.

MY OPINION HAS NOT CHANGED:
NO NET-PEN AQUACULTURE
IN THE GREAT LAKES

He said, “There can be from 3 to
5 inches of manure by the end of
the season and it will be gone after
three years”.
These farms are in operation
all year long; when do they get

recovery time from the benthic
accumulation? Naylor claims
phosphorous and ammonia are not
problems but that oxygen depletion
is a problem for fish farms if they
are not sited properly to begin with,
as was the case with the La Crosse
Channel site that suffered oxygen
depletion.

I asked Naylor about fish diseases
that could be transferred to wild
fish and he assured me that ISA,
invasive salmon anemia, could
not live in the fresh water of the
Great Lakes. That was as much
information as I received on
pathogens that could impact wild
fish.

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98 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

Bob said the fishing was “better
since the fish farm started
operation because it wasn’t much
before do to the lack of nutritional
value in the system. Perch
fishing has improved and it is not
uncommon to catch a big rainbow
trout.”
Meeker claimed that the fishing
was better since his farm was put

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into operation. He scuba dives weekly inspecting
the nets for tears or other damage but has no concern
about escapements or fish interbreeding with wild
strains of trout.
It made me realize he is unaware of the sport fishery
we have in Michigan where the wild steelhead have
genetically adapted to specific streams along our
coast lines and could be irreparably impacted by
interbreeding with escaped rainbow trout.
The next fish farm we visited was Wabano Fishery
on Mink Island run by Cole Munro Food Group in
collaboration with the First Nation tribes. This facility
was more like a feed lot than the last facility.
There was not a specific fish health plan in place and
the veterinarian was supposed to visit soon and again
at the end of summer. There was a distinctive smell
around the cages that they attributed to the higher
fat content in the feed pellets but it didn’t smell like
fish oil as much as fish mortality. The final fish farm
was in Wikwemikong, ON – a First Nation operation
owned and run by Ben Kanasawe. This too was a feed
lot. Ben explained that he buys his fingerlings from
Lyndon Fish Hatchery, feeds all year long and harvests
and sells his fish to Cole-Munro, a trout processing
operation in St Thomas, ON.
On the final day of the tour we visited Lyndon
Fish Hatchery, New Dundee ON and listened to an
impressive presentation by Clark Rieck, President,
about his farm and the broader aquaculture
opportunity he sees for the industry. His attitude
toward fish safety and health was impressive and
the innovations he has made in hatchery operation is
noteworthy. The brood stock protocol, identifying
every variable that could cause a hiccup in the
process or lead to possible recall and how it would be
addressed gave us confidence that this was a state of
the art facility.
Our trip culminated with a tour of the Cole-Munroe
trout processing plant in St Thomas, ON. Again we
were impressed with the attention to detail throughout
the operation which is more labor intensive than I
imagined but for good reason. They process every fish
received on a given day in a single shift that can vary
from eight to twelve hours depending on the quantity

of fish received.
This tour provided me with a better understanding of
what net-pen aquaculture is in Canada. As much as
proponents of net-pen aquaculture would like us to
believe that there are not problems with farm raised
fish in open systems, there are problems.
The process relies on currents to remove the benthic
accumulation and we haven’t been given any proof
it is occurring or how much manure is accumulating
on the bottom land. The process could be producing
pathogens and disease that we are unaware of and
the answer given is “it would have shown up by
now since we’ve been doing this for the last 30
years”. Escapement is a non-factor in the opinion
of the operators. Yet it is a major factor if you are
stakeholder in a 4.2 billion dollar wild sport fishery
that is Michigan Sport Fishing.
My opinion has not changed: no net-pen aquaculture
in the Great Lakes.

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FALL 2016 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 99

The wild life

by Drew YoungeDyke

HUNT YOUR HUNT
I probably don't hunt the same way that you do.
I probably prepare for hunting differently, and I
probably think about hunting differently. Not because
I'm all that different, but because hunting is an
intensely personal endeavor, humans have evolved
complex brains, and each of us thinks differently about
pretty much everything.
Hunters are no different.

Scouting in the Pigeon River Country, September 2015

to get in as good of shape as I can and to improve as a
bowhunter. After four years of making mistakes while
Each one of us has different expectations and
experiences that we wish to get out of hunting. Few of trying to still-hunt whitetails with a bow, last year I
us have only one reason, and the recipe that makes up finally brought it together on the opener and feasted on
a button buck (mistook for a doe) for a month, then
our motivations for how we hunt the way we do and
added an 8-point 3.5-year old buck with my rifle on
why is more complex than can ever be summed up in
that opener which fed me through May. I don't want to
an anti-hunter's comment on a Facebook post. We've
grown used to those comments, but the most damaging regress.
vitriol is what occurs between hunters.
But that way is not for everyone; it's probably not
for most. And it's not any better or worse than any
My preferred way to hunt is to load up a few days of
gear in a backpack, hike into northern Michigan public other hunting methods. So I don't begrudge anyone
hunting from a treestand over a food plot; that hunter
land state forest hills, and still-hunt for whitetails
probably worked really hard to plant it and spent a lot
with a bow. Why? I have a hard time explaining it.
time figuring out where to place it. I don't begrudge
It merged my love of backpacking with hunting, and
hunters hunting close to the road; frankly, that leaves
there's something about the act of stalking through
more backcountry for me to wander. I don't begrudge
the woods with an arrow knocked and all senses alert
hunters hunting from a heated blind, or holding out for
that engages some primal instinct within me that no
other form of hunting yet has. That's the reason for my bigger deer, or taking smaller ones where it's legal, as
long as they don't complain later about never seeing
"how."
big ones.
My "why," is to supply a year's worth of venison for
my paleo-ish eating habits. For that reason, I'll as
happily take a doe as a buck, and I'll take a buck with
three points on a side because, if I can help it, I want
the younger ones to grow a little bigger, but I'm not
worried about a "trophy" other than having enough
meat on the hoof to last me as long into the year as
possible so I don't have to buy meat for my lunches.
And to get the most out of the days I have available
each year to hunt, I train like crazy the rest of the year
100 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | FALL 2016

Backpackers have a saying, "Hike your hike." We
need to adopt that as hunters. Hunt your hunt. I'll hunt
mine. That doesn't mean we excuse unethical or illegal
behavior, but simply recognize that there's more than
one way to skin a buck.
Hunt Your Hunt.
DKY

thank you!

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Photo courtesy of the American Suppressor Association

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