Mandatory Antler point restrictions: Pro & CON 2017 SPRING EDITION


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Michigan native about venison diplomacy,
public lands, trapping, catch and release
fishing and much more!

Turkey Hunting
Deer Sterilization
$5.99 US | SPRING 2017
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Mandatory Antler point restrictions: Pro & CON 2017 SPRING EDITION


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VOLUME 71, ISSUE 2 Turkey Hunting
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DEPARTMENTS Official Publication of Michigan United Conservation Clubs





Kyle Rorah (at left) of Ducks Unlimited sent us this picture of a pair of nice bucks harvested near Ann Arbor.

MUCC Vice President George Lindquist shot this nice bull elk on federal public land in Colorado.
by Drew YoungeDyke, Editor

Michigan’s premium outdoor journal.

It's been a hectic winter, but I hope this spring finds you
rejuvenated and ready to get outdoors. And I hope this
issue of Michigan Out-of-Doors inspires you, informs you
and entertains you on your excursions. We cover a lot of
ground in this one.

Our cover feature is an interview with Steven Rinella,
host of the MeatEater television show on The Sportsman
Channel. Steve is from Michigan and a personal hero
of mine. He shares something in common with another
Michigan hunting legend. Fred Bear used the fame he
earned through his pioneering hunting television show to
promote conservation. So does Steven Rinella.
It's not all serious conservation issues, though: we have
You'd be hard-pressed to find a stronger advocate for a lot of tips from the experts, including a few different
public lands and wildlife amongst "celebrity hunters" articles on turkey hunting and steelhead fishing. Kevin
than Steven Rinella, and that was part of why I wanted VanDam also tells Jeff Nedwick why we're seeing
to interview him for this magazine. The other part was smallmouth bass records fall over the past few years.
the message that he's best known for, and that is the wild
game value of hunting; after all, the name of his show is Our friend Rob Harrell visited with Michigan-based
"MeatEater." And his message couldn't be more timely. Bohning Archery to get a look at how they produce
some of the most recognizable archery products in
In the Michigan Wildlife Council's baseline survey in America, and longtime Full Draw columnist Tom Nelson
2015, the number one reason why non-hunters support lets you know what he keeps in his hunting pack so you
hunting is when it's done for food. Jeff Helsdon, from can stock up now.
Ontario, has an excellent article examining the wild
game trend, which ties well into MUCC's Gourmet In our Throwback column, we selected an account from
Gone Wild partnership with the Department of Natural Michigan Conservation Hall of Fame writer Ben East
Resources, Michigan State University, the Boone and about how an ardent conservationist named Ray Dick
Crockett Club and the Cabela's Outdoor Fund. crusaded to make the Porcupine Mountains the best
public land wilderness in Michigan. It's a tremendous
Hunters face big challenges in our state, so rather read, and it shows why Ben East deserved the acclaim
than ignore them, we take them head on in this issue. he received.
Darren Warner went down to Ann Arbor to document
the troubling sterilization program the DNR allowed Which brings me to our last issue of the magazine. I
there. Perhaps the most contentious issue amongst deer received a couple notes pointing out some typos is the
hunters in our state is that of Mandatory Antler Point copy of the last issue.My job as editor is to catch those
Restrictions, so we asked two respected outdoor writers mistakes, so any I missed are completely my fault, not
from opposite sides of the issue to take their best shot at that of the writers. I've done my best to catch them in this
convincing you, the reader, why they're right. I think they issue. Let me know what you think by writing to editor@
both made compelling cases. with the subject "Letters." DY

DEAR EDITOR, second impression is "another outdoor
magazine bites the dust".
Just finished reading my fall edition of
Michigan Out-of-Doors, and wanted to I get it! Publishing costs sky rocket,
get with you on the new design of the the need for instant communication,
magazine. expanded format, reaching a wider DREW,
audience and on and on.
Call me old school, but I enjoyed the Just a short note to once again comment
magazine better the old way. When I feel you are alienating the boomer on the new look of the magazine. It
I normally read the magazine its from population who has just enough tech looks fantastic. This last issue was well
cover to cover, although my passion is savvy to be "dangerous" but still thrives laid out and filled with entertaining
mostly deer hunting ,and fishing I enjoy upon the printed word and rewards of articles. I am impressed with the chang-
reading about some of the other pas- a good publication in hand. Many of us es and I am sure the vast majority of the
sions as well. also see the magazine as our concrete readers are as well. Hope you are get-
reward for supporting MUCC. ting a bit of time to be out in the woods
And I liked it better with the shorter bowhunting. I arrowed a pretty good
stories that I could read in just a few The National Wild Turkey Federation buck in Saskatchewan and filled my
minutes in the morning before I head off also took this route. After a couple of Michigan tag with a good buck taken
to work. years of wading through that revised over a mock scrape this past weekend.
publication I have dropped the hard Both my wife and daughter also placed
I do like the larger print now that the copy subscription as it no longer holds their tags on a Michigan whitetail this
years have been added to my birth my interest. fall. I am leaving for Kansas this week-
date, and the eyes don't do so well. end and then N. Dakota immediately
But that could be obtained by reducing I sincerely hope it is not the ultimate goal after. Just following the bowseason and
the picture sizes. I have been reading of MUCC to go completely on line/ the rut.
the magazine for probably over 40 electronic. For the next twenty years or
years now, and hunting, and fishing the so (hopefully longer) those of us who Tom Nelson, The American Archer
out doors for probably 10 years more are perhaps the
than that, and still find them both to be bulk of your sub-
refreshing, and joyful. I also liked the scribers/contrib-
smaller paper size of the old magazine, uters should be able
and soft covers for this allowed you to to continue receiv-
fold the pages and hold it in one had ing a magazine at
comfortably. I know I'm only one person least bi-monthly
and like your final story different from all instead of quarterly
others, but I really like the old magazine and one with con-
much better. And truly agree to Hunt tent emphasizing
Your Own Hunt. hunting and fishing
along with conser-
But do it ethically and honestly. vation information.

Sincerely, DeLoy C. Clark Just an opinion from
Muckegon, MI a retired but active
and avid outdoors-

DEAR SIR, Thanks for your
Having recently finished reading the
new format magazine, my first impres- Chuck Yonker
sion in a word is "slick". Upon finding Norton Shores, MI
out it is now a quarterly publication and
wading through the content (50% of
which held little or no interest for me) my


DREW YOUNGEDYKE 2101 Wood Street | PO Box 30235 | Lansing, MI 48909 | 517.371.1041 P | 517.371.1505 F |
Uniting Citizens to Conserve, Protect and Enhance Michigan’s Natural Resources and Outdoor Heritage
SOLO 71 / DAVE BEHM 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
PRESIDENT is the largest state-based conservation organization in the
THOMAS HERITIER nation. MUCC members determine its conservation policies
through a robust grassroots process, which MUCC staff works
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT to implement by working with elected officials, state and federal
RON BURRIS agencies, its members and the public. MUCC has published
Michigan Out-of-Doors since 1947 and operates the Michigan
VICE PRESIDENT Out-of-Doors Youth Camp in Chelsea, MI. Learn more about the
GEORGE LINDQUIST full range of programs MUCC uses to advance conservation in
Michigan and become a member at

MUCC Staff
BILL MALLOCH Executive Director Deputy Director
CHUCK HOOVER Chief Information Officer Digital Media Coordinator
BILL KREPPS Project Manager Education Director
Wildlife Co-op Coordinator Membership Coordinator
Michigan Out-of-Doors (ISSN 0026-2382) is the official publication of
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), 2101 Wood St., Lansing
MI 48912, and is published quarterly. Telephone: 517.371.1041.
Receipt of this publication is through membership in MUCC. For SARAH TOPP SUE PRIDE
membership information, call 1.800.777.6720. Single copies available Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator Membership Relations &
to the public for $5.99 each. Periodicals postage paid at Lansing, Tracks Coordinator
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. TAYLOR RENTON
Views expressed by freelance writers are their own and do not nec- Gourmet Gone Wild Manager ASHLEY BUR
essarily express those of Michigan Out-of-Doors or Michigan United Policy Assistant
Conservation Clubs. Copyright 2017 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 TYLER BUTLER
Conservation Clubs. MUCC members may reproduce one copy for Youth Camp Director
personal use without permission. For permission to reprint a specific
article, and for inquiries, contact the editor at editor@michiganoutof-
Director's Desk
permits available for “nuisance” bears.
This is dangerous territory for these an-
imals. Our conservation laws and hab-
itat conservation priorities are oriented
around these dynamic animals and if
we allow them to be categorized as
nuisance animals, inconvenient and
incidental to the space they occupy,
bad things will follow.

Hunting is and remains the most viable
way for managing wildlife. What is so
odious about the decision to allow this
sterilization project to go forward in
Ann Arbor is that it creates legitimacy
around the idea that sterilization is a
viable and humane way to deal with
human-wildlife conflicts. How anyone
could construe the idea that removing
portions of the reproductive organs of
a deer is somehow more humane than

Adapting to a new the ethical harvest of a game animal
that is revered by its predator is a
horrible bastardization of our own role

perspective on Wildlife
in the food web. As the non-hunting
public’s attitude has changed some in
regard to these animals, we too must
think of ways that we can inspire new

he paradigm has been shifting over anglers and trappers have a more honest generations to support wildlife, game
the last few years and the deci- and deeply personal connection to wild- and hunting as the proper manage-
sion by the Michigan Department life than any non-hunter/angler/trapper ment tools for them. We will have to
of Natural Resources to authorize I know. Collectively, our efforts speak for adapt some of our messaging about
the surgical sterilization of free-ranging themselves: abundant deer populations, the value of recovered wildlife on the
white-tailed deer has brought that shift record numbers of waterfowl, plentiful landscape and how there is more than
storming to the front. The shift I’m referring populations of wild turkeys, elk and a just inherent value in having healthy
to is the change in how the public - and host of other fish and game have all been and abundant wildlife and game
even some of us hunters and anglers - successfully restored because of our animals.
view the fish and wildlife we have toiled advocacy.
for decades to restore. The wildlife man- The paradigm shift away from a recov-
agement profession has arched toward ery perspective for our iconic game
But the revered place many of these icon-
recovery actions. It has been slower to animals to the more fickle dynamic of
ic species hold in our hearts and minds
move toward meeting the challenge of managing game and wildlife popula-
is not shared by all. How often have you
managing a recovered population. tions to ensure maximum support and
heard deer referred to as a nuisance
esteem from the public is a real chal-
animal? Wild turkeys, which represent
This organization and our partners were lenge confronting game and wildlife
perhaps one of the most triumphant of
all founded upon the notion that fish, populations.
all modern conservation victories, are
wildlife and their habitats required careful now common in many corners of the
stewardship and conservation. Hunters, -Dan Eichinger, Executive Director
state. Heck, there are even crop damage

The bedrock of conservation is taking care of our natural resources so that they can be passed
down to future generations. The natural resources that we conserve today were conserved for us
by generations of conservationists preceding us, and these generations are ever changing, ever
flowing. Here we honor the passing of one generation of
conservationists to the next.

In memory of
Billy Yates
from David and Mary Price

In memory of
Dick Wisniewski
from Jeff and Emily Woianin

In memory of
James A. Mulka
from Danny and Ellen Latal, Kurt and Ruth Kapala, Chad, Ray, Olivia Kapala,
Aaron, Shannon, Bentley, Bryce Kapala, Simone Kapala and Levi Hincka

In memory of
David E. Skrobot
from Douglas and Betty Jane Cook, Marlene Lewis,
James and Laura White and Philip Racy

In memory of
Bill Wiltse and Doyle Eckhardt
from Drew YoungeDyke

In memory of
Dana Gretzinger
from the entire Michigan United Conservation Clubs family

If you have recently lost someone you would like to honor here,
please contact Sue Pride at

Thank you to the following conservationists who have made a lifetime
commitment to conserving, protecting and enhancing Michigan's
natural resources and outdoor heritage by becoming a Life Member
of Michigan United Conservation Clubs:

Jay Lynch of Traverse City, MI

Kurt Gollinger of Holland, MI
William Simonds of Battle Creek, MI

Alex J. Beachum of Royal Oak, MI

If you are willing and able to make a lifetime commitment to conservation, you can become a Life Member of
Michigan United Conservation Clubs with a $500 contribution to the organization.

Life members receive a lifetime subscription to Michigan Out-of-Doors, a Life Member MUCC ballcap,
a Life Member patch, and a certificate commemorating your commitment to conservation.

Contact Sue Pride at or visit and select "Life Membership."

At each Annual Convention, members of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs who have recently passed away are recog-
nized in the Convention Book and in a short ceremony.

If you are interested in having your MUCC members recognized, please fill out the following information on MUCC member(s)
from your club who have passed away since the 2016 Annual Convention. Please return the form to MUCC Headquarters no
later than April 1, 2017 in order for their name(s) to be included in the Convention Book. Names returned after this date will NOT
be included in the Convention Book, however, they may be read during the ceremony time set aside on the agenda.

Mail, fax, or email this form to:
MUCC Moments of Memory
P.O. Box 30235
Lansing, Michigan 48909
517-371-1505 (fax)

Club Name: _______________________________________________________________________________________

Your Name: _______________________________________________________________________________________

Phone: ___________________________ Email Address: ___________________________________________________

Name(s) of Member(s) to be remembered:

1. _______________________________________________________________________________________________

2. _______________________________________________________________________________________________

3. _______________________________________________________________________________________________

4. _______________________________________________________________________________________________

5. _______________________________________________________________________________________________

6. _______________________________________________________________________________________________

7. _______________________________________________________________________________________________

8. _______________________________________________________________________________________________
On Patrol relays reports filed by Conservation Officers from AN ENTERTAINING RIDE-ALONG...
the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Law Enforce-
ment Division, though some are edited for length. This is not CO Steve Speigl worked a decoy patrol in Antrim County.
how you want to get into Michigan Out-of-Doors, unless, of CO Speigl had 105th District State of Michigan Representa-
course, you're a Conservation Officer! In 2015, poaching tive Triston Cole along for the patrol Shortly into the decoy de-
fines for elk and other species were increased as a result of ployment, a truck stopped and the driver got out with a rifle in
a Michigan United Conservation Clubs resolution. MUCC hand. The hunter was not wearing hunter orange, shot the de-
is working with Rep. John Kivela (D-Marquette) to increase coy and waited for a reaction, shot twice more and reloaded
fines for illegally bringing back deer and elk carcasses from his rifle. This happened, shooting and reloading multiple times.
CWD-positive states. Thank you to the brave men and women The hunter then put his rifle in his truck and tried to stalk the
of the "thin green line" who protect our natural resources by ‘deer’ with an extremely large bowie knife. CO Speigl made
enforcing our fish and game laws! contact with the shooter before he could reach the decoy and
asked if he had any more ammunition left, which the hunter
THE APPLE DOESN'T FALL FAR... produced one live round. Enforcement action was taken.

CO Andrea Albert, CO Steve Speigl and CO Scott Mac- A HAT TRICK PLUS ONE...
Neill were running the deer decoy in a remote area of Antrim
County. A subject drove by and quickly turned around and CO Josiah Killingbeck was on patrol when he observed an
came back to the decoy. The subject shot two times from his ORV parked in an area where ORV use is prohibited. CO
vehicle at the decoy. The subject was cited for the violations Killingbeck followed the tracks to a deer blind on public land
and his rifle was seized. The COs noted that six years ago that had no name or address. The hunter was not wearing
the subject’s adult son had also shot at the decoy in the same orange and had more than two gallons of bait on the ground
location. to attract deer. Enforcement action was taken.

A ONE-BUCK RULE WOULDN'T STOP THIS GUY... sin. CO Russell and CO Justin Ulberg then made contact with
the subject in Kent County. Enforcement action was taken for
CO Brian Lebel concluded a lengthy investigation involving a bringing an unprocessed deer into Michigan from a CWD
subject who shot four large bucks this deer season in Mecosta. state.
Follow-up at a deer processor revealed all of the bucks had
been taken there to be processed under two different names. CO Andy Bauer conducted a deer processor inspection and
A follow-up interview led to the suspect confessing to shooting located a deer that had been shot in Illinois and illegally
three large 8-points. The suspect stated that he had used two brought into Michigan in violation of the CWD regulations by
tags belonging to another person which matched what CO bringing the whole deer intact into the state. CO Bauer was
Lebel had found at the processor. When CO Lebel asked the able to arrange to meet the Illinois resident in Michigan and
subject to show him his unused portion of the combination the subject was cited for the illegal importation in violation of
license, the subjects chin went to his chest and stated he had the CWD regulations.
used it on another 8-point he had shot with a crossbow. With
the help of CO Ken Lowell, all four bucks were located and MUCC RESOLUTION IN ACTION...
seized from a taxidermist in Montcalm County. The subject
was charged with taking an over-limit of antlered deer COs Kelly Ross and Brad Bellville, Montmorency County,
report a 44-year old Marlette man pled guilty to taking an
CAN WE INCREASE THE FINE ON THIS ALREADY? elk during the deer season. He fled the area after shooting
the cow elk, and did not report the incident. He paid nearly
CO Josh Russell received a complaint from a local processor $6,000 in fines and costs and his hunting privileges were
that a subject had dropped off a whole deer that was taken revoked for 15 years. He is the first to be sentenced under the
in Wisconsin. CO Russell had the deer seized immediately new increased elk poaching penalties enacted last year.
and taken to the local biologist headquarters. CO Russell then
made contact with CO Jason Wicklund, who helped verify
with Wisconsin DNR that the deer was indeed from Wiscon-


BILL RUSTEM INDUCTED INTO Presenting speakers includ- deer from a Mecosta County deer
THE CONSERVATION HALL OF ed MUCC Executive Director Dan farm. CWD is a fatal neurological dis-
FAME BY MUCC Eichinger, Department of Natural Re- ease that affects white-tailed deer, mule
sources Director Keith Creagh, former deer, elk and moose. This is the second
On the 40th Anniversary of State Senator Kerry Kammer, who flew time the disease has been found in a
Michigan’s Bottle Bill, Michigan Unit- from Arizona to attend, Bill Milliken, farmed deer facility in Michigan. In
ed Conservation Clubs inducted its Jr., and former Michigan Out-of-Doors 2008, a white-tailed deer from a Kent
champion into the Michigan Conser- TV host Bob Garner, who had worked County deer farm tested positive.
vation Hall of Fame. Bill Rustem, who with Rustem on the land trust fund as “Chronic wasting disease is a
led the campaign to pass the citizens’ a staffer for Senator Kammer in 1976 serious disease affecting both farmed
initiative into state law which created and was inducted into the Michigan and free-ranging deer,” said MDARD
the ten-cent deposit and return for Conservation Hall of Fame in 2013. State Veterinarian James Averill, DVM.
carbonated beverage containers, was “Bill Rustem completely un- “We are following the state’s CWD
praised for his role in numerous con- derstands that in Michigan, our soul response plan and taking the necessary
servation, environmental and outdoor is not to be found in strip malls, but steps to protect the health and well-be-
recreation successes in Michigan. in the gentle whisper of the headwater ing of all of Michigan’s deer popula-
“It was such a wonderful stream,” said Garner, in a pre-recorded tions.”
experience to have Republicans and video. Samples from the two deer
Democrats working together to do Following his service with were submitted for testing as a part
good things for the people of Michigan Governor Milliken, Rustem became of MDARD’s mandatory CWD sur-
back then,” said Rustem. the first Executive Director for the veillance program. All farmed deer
Also in 1976, Rustem, who Center for the Great Lakes in Chicago, facilities licensed with the Michigan
worked for Republican Governor Bill the Director of Grants and Programs Department Natural Resources must
Milliken, collaborated with Sen. Kerry at MUCC, and enjoyed a long and participate in this program.
Kammer (D-Pontiac) and former productive career with Public Sector “Any discovery of chronic
MUCC Executive Director Tom Wash- Consultants, from which he retired as wasting disease in free-ranging or
ington to pass what became the Mich- President and CEO in 2011. He was farmed deer is disappointing,” said
igan Natural Resources Trust Fund, appointed as Governor Rick Snyder’s Chad Stewart, DNR deer and elk spe-
which has since exceeded $1 billion Director of Strategy in 2011, help- cialist. “It will take significant time and
in public recreation land investments ing to win passage of regional transit effort – through immediate, targeted
through the development of state- legislation and Detroit bankruptcy surveillance and mandatory checks
owned oil, gas and mineral royalties. reform before retiring in 2014. Even in during the upcoming deer seasons – to
“MUCC and conservationists retirement, he serves the state as the understand the current situation. The
have always been at the forefront of all most recent appointee to the board of Michigan DNR remains committed
the great environmental issues,” said the Michigan Natural Resources Trust in our efforts to contain this disease
Rustem to a room packed with poli- Fund he helped create 40 years ago. and safeguard our valuable wildlife
cy-makers and representatives from resource.”
conservation organizations. “Today MDARD and DNR are
we face another threat, globally … and DNR/MDARD: CWD FOUND IN implementing the Michigan Surveil-
that is the question of climate change, TWO CAPTIVE MECOSTA COUN- lance and Response Plan for Chronic
and I’m encouraging everyone here TY DEER Wasting Disease of Free-Ranging and
who cares about conservation to begin Privately Owned Cervids, and are
to understand the issue of climate Chronic wasting disease was taking the following steps:
change.” confirmed this January in two female -Quarantine the affected farm.

-Complete trace investigations to iden- free hunting and fishing licenses. In
tify the potential sources of infection CONSERVATION GROUPS AP- November, the Michigan Court of
and possible areas of spread. PLAUD GOVERNOR SIGNING Appeals ruled that this provision was
-Work with the producer to depopu- BILL TO RESTORE SCIENTIFIC not closely enough related to the rest
late the facility. WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT of the initiated law to be included in it,
-Test all deer from the affected herd for and invalidated the entire law, failing
CWD. Conservation groups applaud- to apply Michigan’s severability rule.
-Identify all other deer farms in a ed the legislative passage of Senate Senate Bill 1187 simply reinstates the
15-mile radius, which will undergo Bill 1187 of 2016, which restores portions of the initiated law passed by
a records audit, fence inspection and Michigan’s vital natural resources the Legislature which the Court of Ap-
increased surveillance testing. management process for making fish peals did find were sufficiently related
-Conduct targeted surveillance testing and wildlife conservation decisions to be included in the Scientific Fish
on free-ranging white-tailed deer near with sound science. After passing the and Wildlife Conservation Act.
the facility. state Senate 27-10, in December the Without passage of Senate
-Have mandatory deer check for hunt- House of Representatives passed it by a Bill 1187, the State would find itself in
er-harvested deer in a nine-township vote of 69-39, with support from both the position of having already spent
area. Republicans and Democrats. money on aquatic invasive species
In May 2015, CWD was found Senate Bill 1187, introduced prevention it is not authorized to have
in a free-ranging deer in Ingham by Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba), spent, as the Court of Appeals deci-
County. Since then, the DNR has test- restores the authority of the Natural sion removed the statutory appropri-
ed nearly 12,000 free-ranging deer for Resources Commission to designate ation which originally authorized the
CWD; nine deer have tested positive in game species and issue fisheries orders spending. Additionally, the Court had
Ingham and Clinton counties. with a requirement that they consider removed the authority of the Natural
CWD is transmitted direct- sound science, including a $1 million Resources Commission to issue orders
ly from one animal to another and appropriation to protect Michigan fish- related to fisheries management and
indirectly through the environment. eries from aquatic invasive species like to use the recommendations of profes-
Infected animals may display ab- Asian carp, and the addition of wolves sional biologists to determine whether
normal behavior, progressive weight to the game species list. wildlife species should be classified as
loss and physical debilitation. To “While opponents and me- game or not. The bill now heads to the
date, there is no evidence that CWD dia have focused solely on wolves, Governor's desk for signing.
presents any risk to humans or other SB 1187, like the citizens’ initiative it A letter to legislators urging
animals outside the deer family, either restores, focuses much more broad- passage of SB 1187 was endorsed by
through contact with an infected deer ly on the process by which fish and Michigan United Conservation Clubs,
or from handling venison that came game decisions are made,” said Dan the Michigan chapters of Safari Club
from a CWD-infected deer. However, Eichinger, executive director for International, the National Wildlife
as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Michigan United Conservation Clubs, Federation, Ducks Unlimited, Delta
Disease Control and the World Health “Placing that authority with the Nat- Waterfowl, the Michigan Hunting Dog
Organization recommend that infected ural Resources Commission ensures Federation, Michigan Bear Hunters
animals not be consumed as food by that DNR biologists’ recommendations Association, U.P. Bear Houndsmen,
either humans or domestic animals. are considered, rather than having vital Michigan Fox Hunters Association,
conservation decisions about our fish Michigan State United Coon Hunters
Editor's Note: After this press release and wildlife resources politicized.” Association, Michigan Salmon and
was issued, an article from MLive In essence, the bill simply Steelhead Fishermen’s Association,
reported that an Amish deer processor reauthorizes sections of the Scien- Michigan Trappers and Predator Call-
claimed the tested heads came from a tific Fish and Wildlife Conservation ers Association, U.P. Whitetails, Inc.
pile at his facility, which the deer farmer Act (SFWCA), a citizen-initiated law of Marquette County, the Straits Area
had submitted as his own. As of press which the Legislature passed in 2014 Sportsmen’s Club, Hammond Bay Area
time, no further information has been after grassroots conservation groups Anglers Association and the Upper
confirmed. collected over 370,000 citizen signa- Peninsula Sportsmen’s Alliance.
tures in support of it. The SFWCA had
also included another section related
to the funding of fish and wildlife
management which allowed active
duty military members to receive

Conservation Nation

NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDER- portunities for public input and more this is far from the last battle we'll see
ATION: SPORTSMAN GROUPS comprehensive planning to address for our public lands, the withdrawal
CHEER END OF SELL-OFF BILL, conflicts upfront and consider the im- from HR 621 is a crucial victory for all
VOW CONTINUED VIGILANCE pacts of development on water, air, fish Americans.”
ON PUBLIC LANDS and wildlife.
Sportsmen joined members of
DENVER – Sportsmen and women conservation and community organi- NWF: GROUPS CALL ON U.S.
and other conservationists and out- zations and other outdoor enthusiasts EPA TO STAND UP FOR A CLEAN
door advocates voiced appreciation from across the political spectrum LAKE ERIE
Thursday after a plan to sell more than to pack the statehouses in Montana
3 million acres of national public lands and New Mexico this week for rallies Columbus, OH – In Decem-
was halted, but pledged to stay vigilant in support of keeping public lands in ber, a coalition of fishing boat captains,
as other bills to dispose of or under- public hands and conserving hunting, Lake Erie businesses, environmen-
mine the management of public lands fishing and recreation opportunities. tal and conservation advocates, and
advance at the state and federal levels. "The grassroots spoke on HR sportsmen groups threatened to sue
The decision by Utah Rep. 621, and Rep. Chaffetz listened. It the U.S. Environmental Protection
Jason Chaffetz to not pursue HR 621, is heartening in a time of such deep Agency because of the agency’s failure
which would have sold a total of 3.3 political strife to have our leaders in to abide by its obligations under the
million acres of public lands in 10 Washington respond to the voice of the Clean Water Act. The legal action is
Western states, came as welcome news people," said Dave Chadwick, execu- part of an effort by groups to protect
to the sportsmen and women for tive director of the Montana Wildlife Lake Erie from harmful algal blooms,
whom public lands “are the backbone Federation. "There are lots of ideas fly- like the 2014 bloom which poisoned
of our sporting traditions,” said Aaron ing around in Washington about how drinking water for more than 400,000
Kindle, the National Wildlife Federa- to change public land management. I people.
tion’s Western sportsmen’s campaign hope that our elected officials continue “We’re prepared to do what it
manager. to recognize that people in Montana takes to protect Lake Erie from toxic
“We hope this decision signals and across the West love our public algae,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle
that Rep. Chaffetz and his congressio- lands and want to see them protected Executive Director at the Ohio Envi-
nal colleagues are starting to under- so that future generations can hunt, ronmental Council. “We need those
stand how important these lands are to fish, and enjoy the outdoors." in power to do all they can to actually
Americans and that they’ll cease their “At a time when more and solve this problem. Lake Erie, and ev-
efforts to seize them from the public more elected officials are calling to sell eryone who depends on it for drinking
trust,” Kindle added. off our public lands, the decision by water, jobs, and a place to fish and
However, Kindle and other Congressman Chaffetz to pull HR 621 swim, need the U.S. EPA to step in and
sportsmen noted that a new House after a huge backlash from Westerners do its job.”
rule makes it easier to sell or transfer is a strong reminder that our voices The notification to file a civil
public lands by claiming their dispos- matter,” said Garrett Vene Klasen, lawsuit under the Clean Water Act is
al wouldn’t negatively affect federal executive director of the New Mexico in response to U.S. EPA’s failure to per-
revenue. Plans are also underway in Wildlife Federation. “Thousands of form its duty to accept or deny Ohio’s
Congress to rescind improvements outdoor enthusiasts in Montana and and Michigan’s decisions on whether
that have been made to public-lands New Mexico and across the West orga- Lake Erie is “impaired,” which means
management. That includes the Bureau nized and sent a clear message that our that the water quality does not meet
of Land Management’s Planning 2.0 public lands are not for sale, and that legal standards for fishing, swimming,
initiative, which provides more op- message was heard this week. While and drinking. Michigan has sought

approval to designate its portion of the ministrator of the U.S. Environmental Great Lakes.”
western basin of Lake Erie as impaired Protection Agency, to reject Ohio’s list, "The waters of Great Lakes are
under the Clean Water Act, while accept Michigan’s list, and designate all the most critical asset we have," said
Ohio continues to refuse to list all of of western Lake Erie impaired. Dan Eichinger, executive director of
its portion of the western basin of Lake “The impaired designation is Michigan United Conservation Clubs,
Erie as impaired. In the meantime, needed to ensure that Lake Erie gets "we are committed to finding a solu-
the U.S. EPA has sat on the sidelines good science, an implementation plan tion to Lake Erie algae, and we can't
and refused to weigh in on either plan, and as much funding as possible to find a solution until we acknowledge
despite a legal obligation to act within reduce the algae that threatens the the problem."
30 days (which has passed). drinking water of millions and pro-
“Foot-dragging by the U.S. tect a resource that generates tens of Background:
EPA has to stop,” said Mike Shriberg, billions of annual economic impact,” Under the Clean Water Act,
Great Lakes regional executive director states Sandy Bihn, Executive Director a 60-day notice and waiting period is
of the National Wildlife Federation. of the Lake Erie Foundation. required before filing a Citizen En-
“People, communities, and business- “This summer, we were given forcement Lawsuit. During that period
es are counting on federal and state some relief because of favorable weath- U.S. EPA will have the opportunity
public officials to act with urgency to er, but we can’t rely on the weather to to reject or approve Ohio EPA’s and
put an end to harmful algal blooms rid Lake Erie of toxic algae,” explained Michigan Department of Environmen-
that threaten our drinking water, jobs, Captain Paul Pacholski, President of tal Quality’s list of impaired waters. If
wildlife, and way of life.” the Lake Erie Charter Boat Associa- the U.S. EPA fails to make a decision,
In October the Ohio EPA tion. “We need the EPA to step up and the groups intend to file a citizen suit
failed to designate all of the Ohio do its job so charter boat captains who in Federal District Court against the
portion of the western basin of Lake rely on a healthy lake can do ours.” Administrator of the U.S. EPA. That
Erie “impaired.” The Clean Water In November of 2016, the lawsuit would seek a judgment requir-
Act requires Ohio to determine if the Michigan Department of Environmen- ing the U.S. EPA to fulfill its mandato-
state's rivers, streams and lakes are tal Quality (DEQ) listed its portion of ry duty. The organizations filing today’s
clean enough to provide safe drinking the open waters of western Lake Erie notice include the Ohio Environmental
water, fishing, and swimming. If they as impaired under the federal Clean Council, Alliance for the Great Lakes,
do not, they are required to be listed Water Act. Reacting to deteriorating National Wildlife Federation, Mich-
as "impaired," followed with a plan water quality and the ongoing threat of igan League of Conservation Voters,
that sets pollution limits and detailed harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie, the Lake Erie Foundation, Lake Erie Char-
actions to meet them. Lake Erie clearly DEQ included the waters of the Great ter Boat Association and the Michigan
meets the definition of impairment. Lake that fall within Michigan’s bor- United Conservation Clubs.
“The Clean Water Act provides ders in its report to the United States Under the Clean Water Act,
powerful tools to protect our drinking Environmental Protection Agency every two years states submit to the
water, public health, and economy. (EPA). Michigan’s decision relies upon EPA lists of waters that are unhealthy.
It’s time to use them to clean up Lake clear science and many organizations The lists help the EPA work with states
Erie,” said Alliance for the Great Lakes have been encouraging regulators in to target resources and expertise to re-
President and CEO Joel Brammeier. Ohio and at the EPA to follow suit. store sick waters to health. Groups are
“We can solve this problem, but it’s “Michigan League of Conser- announcing their intent to sue the EPA
going to take action. State and federal vation Voters urges the EPA to ac- because of the agency’s failure to act
leaders have said the right things, and knowledge the growing threat of nutri- on Ohio’s and Michigan’s lists, delaying
now they have to follow through.” ent pollution to the health of Lake Erie action to help Lake Erie.
Istead of looking at the entire by declaring all the waters of the lake’s
western basin within Ohio’s borders, western basin as impaired under the
Ohio EPA only evaluated and gave the Clean Water Act," said Lisa Wozniak,
impairment designation to Lake Erie’s Executive Director. "The EPA needs to
shorelines and included the drinking step up and address one of the region’s
water intake area for Toledo and Ore- top public health concerns; toxic algae
gon. The agency said it does not plan blooms that threaten our access to
to analyze the rest of Ohio’s portion of safe drinking water. Now is the time
the lake, instead saying the US EPA in for us all to work together and launch
Chicago should. That is why groups new, innovative efforts to clean up one
are calling on Gina McCarthy, Ad- of our beautiful, yet deeply damaged,

FIREARMS | Marksmanship
by Scott Crawford

Marksmanship is a motor skill. A motor skill is a function before you shoot. For example, look for targets that
which involves the precise movement of muscles with depict a silhouette or the classic hostage/criminal
the intent to perform a specific act. A motor skill is also target. I enjoy shooting paper targets I buy online from
perishable. Similar to fitness, it takes consistent training RE Factor Tactical (The Essential target and IQ target
to improve or maintain. The old adage, “If you don’t use are my favorites) or download a target pack from
it, you lose it,” applies to marksmanship. If you carry for Another option may be to purchase
self-defense, the level of your skill a steel target. Steel targets come in
could mean life or death for you
or a loved one. Long gone are
the days where regular trips to the
“Slow is smooth, all shapes and sizes… and prices.
Although they have a higher price
they will last longer with proper
range and shooting off a bench
will give you the skills needed in a smooth is fast, maintenance. Steel targets also
add a new dimension: an audible
self-defense scenario. Alas, there
are many fun and creative ways to
keep your skills sharp as a razor.
and fast is sexy.” responsive. It gives a shooter quick
feedback on a successful shot. A
downside of shooting steel is that
after a few shots, the paint wears
A simple and cheap way to increase your marksmanship off and it is near impossible to see exactly where the shot
skill and get the most out of your training is to change impacted. Keep this in mind: shooting steel targets may
up the targets. Instead of using the classic bullseye be more entertaining than paper but paper targets keep
target, look into targets that challenge you to think you honest.

A tool many professional shooters use are shot timers. Shot timers allow AFFILIATE CLUB EVENTS
a shooter to measure an essential aspect of marksmanship skill: time.
If you are new to shooting, I would suggest waiting to purchase a shot
timer. I would recommend practicing the fundamentals before taking the
next step of purchasing a shot timer. Having a solid understanding of
the fundamentals before using a shot timer is critical in your long term
development of skills. If you’re reading this article, you may already know
who the legendary Wyatt Earp is. He has a quote that says, “Fast is fine,
but accuracy is final.” A shot timer promotes a shooter to accelerate his or
her shooting and sometimes, unfortunately, at the cost of fundamentals.
To help new shooters, I relay a catchphrase the Marine Corps taught me:
“Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, and fast is sexy.” Take the necessary time
to master the basics before adding in the element of a shot timer. It will pay
to be patient.
With a solid understanding of the fundamentals and new tools in your
6975 Robinson Rd
tool bag, another step to take your skills to the next level would be
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
competition. Competition is a great training aid. I view competition in two
separate groups when it comes to shooting: formal and informal. Informal HUNTER SAFETY CLASSES
competition would be a game between friends with rules made on the
spot. Typically they are very simple, flexible and can quickly be adapted April 25, 27, 29, 2017
to many different circumstances. A formal competition would be an IPSC,
IDPA or a 3-gun match. These formal types of competition have local, September 19, 21, 23, 2017
state, and national levels. They have rule books that each competitor
needs to follow. Formal competitions are a great way to test your skill and October 24, 26, 28, 2017
find weaknesses in your marksmanship skill set. Although these types of
competition require more initial investment than an informal competition,
the benefits can be greater.
March 11-12, 2017

With the increasing complexity of terror or criminal active shooter attacks, October 28-29, 2018
the average marksman's level of training also needs to increase. The
thing to avoid with training is complacency and building a comfort zone. Emmett County Fairgrounds
Shooting, as with other motor skills, needs consistent and incremental Over 70 tables!
exercise. Start slow and build up from there. If you carry, train as often Buy, sell or trade!
as possible. It is better to shoot 50 rounds every week than to shoot 500
rounds every other month. Using new training methods could help identify Visit
weaknesses which you may have overlooked. Training can be fun but do for more information.
not forget that every time you go to the range there is a goal to achieve,
whether that is recreational or improving skills for competition or self-
defense. Stay safe, have fun and fight the good fight. SC If your club is affiliated with Michigan United
Conservation Clubs and would like to
feature club news or events
in Michigan Out-of-Doors Magazine,
email with
the "Subject" line filled out as "Club News."
by Jeff Lichon

In 2015, I won a hunting trip to South Africa through the Safari was a continent largely unknown to me as being “accessi-
Club International (SCI) Houston chapter. The hunt was for ble?” Actually, I didn’t wonder at all. If there is one thing I
four people and included two animals each – a gemsbuck have learned since I was injured in 1994, it was the fact that
and a springbuck. Call it my “Bucket List Item No. 12,” but an while there is a lot of upfront research you can do to prepare
African plains game hunt was very high on my list, and now, yourself when traveling with a disability, you’re never really
thanks to SCI and a lucky raffle ticket, a dream was about to going to be fully prepared and thus it is always a learning
come true. experience, not inasmuch as it is about the trip as it is about
yourself. The overarching lesson I seem to learn is this: It is
The above is true in that I had literally been dreaming about possible.
going to Africa at some point in my life. I believe that if you
dream enough about something, those things have a tendency Along with my Dad, outdoor writer and photographer, Chuck
to eventually manifest themselves in our lives, whether it’s to Lichon, outdoor photographer and German Shorthaired
be cured of an illness or for the Lions to win the Super Bowl. pointer breeder, Tim Lintz, and former Sanitarian and current
Ok, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. I had, howev- recreational pilot, John Texter, we headed to South Africa in
er, been considering which African plains game I wanted to June 2016, at which time it was winter in the southern hemi-
pursue as early as when I was still in high school and a mere sphere. Their winter was closer to Florida weather than Michi-
one to two years following my life-changing spinal cord injury gan, much to our satisfaction.
that left me paralyzed from the chest down.
The flights we booked were long, however I had to prepare
At what point after winning the hunt did I wonder just how, myself as best as I could and to understand how my body
exactly, I was going to make this momentous journey to what might react to being largely immobile for as long as a twelve-

hour flight, which it was from Amsterdam to Cape Town, emergency flight back home as well as any medical attention
South Africa. For those with physical mobility limitations I you might need along the way. All of this preparation, and
would strongly recommend paying a little more for a little then some, is well worth the advance work to help make your
extra leg room in order to stretch out. Then, there is always the trip the adventure of a lifetime. To summarize a best practice
consideration of having to use the infamously small airplane for preparing for a trip into the unknown, ask as many ques-
bathroom. While I miraculously avoided the need to use it, it tions as you can, and when you’ve exhausted everything that
is always a good idea to talk you can think of, ask some more.
to the airline you travel with – It is worth it.
in this instance it was Delta/
KLM – to make them aware of
whatever your needs might be "THE OVERARCHING At the request of Ken Whiley, I
determined in advance which

during your flight so they can animals I wanted to pursue
help you prepare as best as during the trip, those being
possible. I found that the best kudu, blue wildebeest, impala

scenario for me was to chain- and African porcupine (don’t
watch movies, and when I laugh – they are Africa’s biggest
wasn’t doing that, I was catch- rodent and the quills make an
ing up on some of the sleep
I missed out on when I was
younger and more active.
IT IS POSSIBLE." impressive lampshade). These
animals were in addition to the
already-included gemsbuck and
springbuck. The response from
An outfitter can probably make or break a hunting or fishing Ken I would say was above and beyond the “call of duty” for
experience for you, particularly if they don’t make an effort to accommodating my needs as he asked me early on some of
accommodate your disability. I say “probably,” because I’ve the measurements of my manual wheelchair as well as what
never had a particularly negative experience because of the the height was from the ground to my rifle once I raised it to
critical two-way communication that has taken place between my shoulder. These figures would be critical to transforming
me and the outfitter to ensure that they understand my limita- the back of one of his pickups - known in South Africa as a
tions and how best to accommodate them. It is as much your “bakkie” - into a shooting platform for me. Before we would
responsibility to set up an outfitter for success in accommo- venture out in pursuit of the animals on my list, we tested the
dating you as it is their responsibility to make every concerted platform that Ken and his team had built for me on a shooting
effort to make you comfortable during your trip once they range, also ensuring my comfort with the rifle I rented from
commit that they are able to accommodate you and whatever them during the hunt.
your needs might be.
As you can imagine based on what has been covered thus
I was in contact with Ken Whiley of Gamka Safaris (www. far, the part of this adventure that is supposed to be the most almost immediately following my winning important - the hunt itself, the friendships that developed over
the trip to start the proverbial ball rolling, especially since an evening ‘braai’ (African barbecue) and the memories that
not a single one of our hunting party had ever been to Africa will last a lifetime - went as smoothly as one could ask for. It’s
before, which seemed like the perfect setup for a comedy safe to say that familial bonds were formed between guides
movie with a title starting with “National Lampoon.” I spoke and guests, and in the end I did wind up getting all six species
with people who have been to Africa before, particularly
South Africa, since that was the destination we were head-
ing to, and I also spoke to doctors to see what vaccinations
I would need as well as how best to travel internationally
with any medications and medical supplies that I would need
to take along. Last but not least, I, as well as others in our
hunting party, purchased, for a modest amount,a two-week
membership to one of the available health protection and
travel transport companies – in our case, it was MedJet Assist
( While in many countries the medi-
cal advancements may be fine, in the event you have a health
issue that requires you to be taken back to the U.S., or if you
are in an area where receiving medical attention is not in your
best interest, this insurance is priceless in that it will cover an

that I had set out for, much in part to the hard work put in by
Ken and his staff, who understood in advance what it would
take to provide the adventure of a lifetime to “just another
hunter” who had slightly different needs to pursue game

I’m not going to say it was easy, because getting all of
the species I wanted to take required getting me in close
MiOFO is a cooperative partnership between enough range to take shots at each of them, but that is what
the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, hunting is all about. I have heard it said that, “If it was easy,
Camp Liberty, Zero-Day, Eisenhower Center, it would be called shooting.” We still hunted in every sense
the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, Pass- of the word, and in some cases (gemsbuck) getting in close
ing Along The Heritage Foundation, Safari Club enough range would prove the most challenging aspect of
International Foundation, Michigan Building all.
and Construction Trades Council, Michigan
United Conservation Clubs, Disabled American Our trip ended with a couple days in Cape Town, an
Veterans, American Legion and more. incredibly beautiful city with the picturesque backdrop that
is Table Mountain. Our party had the opportunity, as a part
The mission of MiOFO is to provide improved of the overall trip package, to spend some time exploring
outdoor recreation opportunities for wounded and more appropriately adventuring around the city to
veterans and individuals with health challeng- places such as Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela
es; and, to coordinate a support network that was imprisoned, Cape Peninsula to see an African Penguin
facilitates their recovery through connecting with colony and of course, to the top of Table Mountain by way
nature. of a cable car. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that just
outside of Cape Town are some of the most scenic vineyards
Visit to learn more and wineries, outside of Old Mission Peninsula, of course.

If I had to bet, more people get into outdoor activities such as
hunting and fishing, camping and hiking, because they love
the outdoors. Being in the outdoors is meant to be enjoyed,
and it is meant to be enjoyable. That is why we love it so
much. Just because you happen to have a physical limitation
doesn’t mean it should be any less enjoyable. Take some
time to dream up your outdoor adventure, whatever it may
be. Begin to ask questions of people, learn about what that
adventure entails and how you can do it. While it may have
taken me roughly 20 years for one of my dreams to finally
happen, hopefully yours will manifest itself faster than you
can say, “Springbok braai.” That’s Afrikaans for “springbuck
barbecue,” by the way. JL


March 11, 2017 at 1pm – 5pm
Munising Township Hall
E9630 Prospect St
Wetmore, MI 49895

The Conservation Policy Board Meeting is where members and affiliate clubs
can introduce and discuss policy resolutions while hearing presentations on
pressing conservation issues for hunters, anglers and trappers in Michigan.
5 ways
to scout
by Darin Potter Turkeys
1 | WAKE UP CALL possible and take note of the locations where you have found
gobblers. Later on, use a plat book so that you can determine
Does life ever slow down? A forty-plus hour work week, after land ownership and secure permission to hunt these areas
school activities with your kids, family functions, daily chores before the season begins.
and unexpected events can oftentimes put your spring turkey
scouting on the back burner. However, there is a solution: Two of the most important items that should never leave your
Set your alarm clocks a little earlier and do some scouting on vehicle in the months leading up to spring turkey season are
your drive to work. Dedicating ten to twenty minutes in the a good pair of binoculars and a locator call. You never know
early morning at daybreak can mean the difference between when a gobbler might make an appearance.
filling your spring tag and walking out of the turkey woods
Take a route through turkey country while driving to work,
stopping at higher vantage points along the way. This Nothing beats good old-fashioned legwork when scouting for
will allow you to listen for gobbles from several different spring turkeys. Glassing turkeys from afar in the early morning
directions. Secondly, scan the tops of tree limbs with hours and later in the evenings is only half the battle. Now it is
binoculars or a spotting scope for any roosted turkeys that are time to put some boots on the ground and burn some calories
sky-lined against the morning sky. Once you exit the vehicle, in the turkey woods. Although birds are still in flocks, any
spend a couple of minutes listening for any gobbles. If toms information that you can gather now will put you that much
remain silent, use a locator call such as a coyote call or an closer to tipping over a gobbler. Your ultimate goal should be
owl hooter to reveal any toms if they are present. to find as many places to hunt as possible so that you have a
variety of options once the season gets underway. Relying on
Driving into work isn’t the only time to take advantage of only a couple of places to hunt can result in disappointment
scouting. If your shift ends in the late afternoon or early and an unfilled tag. Stubborn toms, pressure from other
evening, glass open fields on your way home. When hunters on public land and birds that travel to neighboring
commuting back and forth to work, take multiple routes if properties are just a few of the problems that can put a

damper on your hunt. fields, logging roads, and creek beds. To find these areas,
scan the ground for tracks, droppings, and wing drag marks.
Before heading out the door and putting those miles on your Droppings left by toms and jakes resemble a J-shape and
hiking boots, grab an aerial map of the areas you plan on can be easily distinguished from the spiral-shaped droppings
scouting so that you can highlight roosting sites, strutting of hens. When finding tracks, pay attention to how long the
zones, travel routes, and feeding areas. Find these four things middle toe is. A tom’s middle toe will measure around two
and you have found the ticket to an opening day paradise. and a half inches or longer.

A GPS unit is also an invaluable scouting tool that will allow As the temperatures begin to warm, turkeys will begin feeding
you to mark areas showing turkey sign so that you can return on green grasses, insects and seeds that are available. Fields
to these locations once the season begins. planted with clover, winter wheat or picked corn fields with
leftover kernels on the ground can be magnets for spring
One of the most important pieces of information that you can turkeys searching for food. If you find turkey sign in these
find in the turkey woods is where the turkeys are spending areas, set up a tent blind and return on opening day. Turkeys
the night. Locate a turkey roosting site and you stand a good generally feed in the early morning and afternoon hours.
chance of filling your tag opening morning. They can be
easily identified by searching out the tallest trees in an area
with horizontal branches. I have noticed that large stands 3 | TRAIL CAMERAS
of white pines and mature oaks and maples are a popular
choice among turkeys in the areas I hunt. While walking About three years ago, I decided to place a couple of trail
beneath roost sites, scan the ground for clumps of droppings cameras along the edge of a fifteen-acre field that I had
beneath branches, tracks, and primary wing feathers. permission to hunt. Up to this point, I had used them only
for deer hunting. Judging by the tracks and droppings that I
Other important places to pay attention to while continuing found, I knew that birds were spending time in the area, but
on with your search for prime turkey hunting real estate are I was uncertain which sides of the field they preferred and
areas where birds spend time feeding and strutting. Toms the time of day they traveled through. Therefore, I wanted
prefer areas with higher visibility when strutting such as to pinpoint the best location to place a popup blind. After

Jody Potter with a 2013 tom
called with a slate call.

checking the cameras a few weeks
later, I was able to catch several nice
longbeards passing through the area
on camera. They didn’t smile, but
their long beards sure put one on my
face from ear to ear.

I quickly found out that the deer
woods isn’t the only place for trail
cameras. These scouting tools have
now found a permanent place in
my turkey hunting arsenal. In our
fast-paced lives, they save time and
remove unnecessary guesswork on
where to set up a tent blind or lean
up against a tree.

The best places to mount trail
cameras are along field edges, food when I decided that I would rely solely on my memory. I
plots, old logging roads or two-tracks, roosting sites and strut learned quickly, though, that it is impossible to remember
zones. Before mounting cameras, take into consideration every little detail of each hunt, especially after sixteen years of
the size of a turkey compared to a deer along with the turkey hunting. That’s when I decided to start keeping a turkey
surrounding area. Hang your cameras about chest high hunting journal.
when placing them at the edge of a large field or opening to
capture birds that are further away. In places where birds will
be closer due to terrain features or along a small two-track, This type of journal is an invaluable scouting tool that will
strap them around two to three feet off the ground. To increase allow you to record a variety of information prior to the
your turkey sightings and cover more territory, consider season, such as: roosting sites, feeding areas, strutting zones,
hanging multiple cameras in separate areas. This will allow turkey sign and locations where birds have been spotted.
you to figure out their travel patterns, the size of toms in the Recording this information will allow you to return to these
area and the best time of day to set up in these locations. locations once the turkey season opens, removing any
guesswork. You can write as much or as little information as
you would like. However, the more detail you include, the
4 | NETWORKING better your chances are of pinpointing where gobblers are
spending time throughout the day.
I use to think that networking was only for recent college
graduates looking for a job. However, as I became more Once the season gets underway, set aside a few minutes
serious about turkey hunting, I soon realized that networking each evening after you are finished hunting for the day to jot
is the key to finding out where turkeys are spending time and down some basic information. Details should include date,
helps you land permission to hunt them on private property. time, weather conditions, location, type of hunting (tent blind
One of the easiest ways to figure out where you should hunt or run and gun), number of turkeys seen and if you shot a
turkeys is by talking with the mailman, farmers, Department of turkey (including weapon and type of call used). Lastly, I like
Natural Resources wildlife biologists, National Wild Turkey to include trophy information about the gobbler I shot. For
Federation chapter members or bus drivers. People in these example, I measure and record the length of the beard and
types of occupations cover a lot of territory and can be your spurs.
“eyes and ears,” helping you speed up the time it takes to find
areas that hold longbeards. Keeping a turkey hunting journal may sound like an
inconvenience, especially after a long day in the turkey
woods, but it is well worth your time. However, all of the
5 | KEEP A JOURNAL useful information that you have gathered each spring turkey
season can be used to help you become a better turkey
When I was a teenager, I kept a journal of camping trips hunter. Most importantly, it will allow you to reminisce about
with my family, along with hunting and fishing adventures. your time in the turkey woods with family and friends. DP
However, as the years passed my journal writing dwindled

First Call
By Darin Potter
There are many “firsts” throughout our lifetime. Some we purchased three mouth calls, a box call and instructional CD’s
remember in great detail while others are captured only in to play in my car every day on my twenty minute drive to and
the minds of nearby loved ones who watched as our “firsts” from work. My goal was to call in every turkey that I played
unfolded before them: first steps taken, first words spoken and my call to. I quickly learned my goal was impossible because
the first time riding a bicycle alone to name a few. For custom every turkey and every situation is different.”
turkey call maker Jeff Hand of Niles, Michigan, the memory
of calling in a turkey for the first time during the 1982 spring In areas that are pressured by other turkey hunters, especially
turkey season vividly comes to life as though it happened on public land, turkeys can become call shy in a hurry,
yesterday. ignoring every attempt you make to lure one into shooting
range. Chances are, by the time the late season arrives,
“I drove within 50 yards of where I planned on hunting gobblers have heard numerous calls and are educated either
about 9:00am on the first day of my first turkey season in by turkey hunters who call too much or use the same call over
Cass County, which is located in southwest Michigan. I and over again.
then walked down a wooded farm lane and clucked on my
ten-dollar Primos Beatty slate call. I clucked because at the Jeff adds, “No two turkeys sound alike, just like every person
time that was the only sound from a turkey that I had learned sounds different. You don’t have to sound perfect as long as
to imitate on my call. Soon a tom gobbled and I sat down you keep your calling cadence and your volume similar to the
against the nearest tree and within a minute a jake showed birds on your hunting property.”
up at 40 yards, becoming the first turkey to come to my call
and the first turkey I ever harvested. As soon as I pulled the To remedy this, have in your possession several different types
trigger, I instantly became a turkey call addict,” Jeff said. of calls and practice with them religiously prior to the season.
Having an old stand-by in your turkey hunting vest can also
Like many turkey hunters, this particular hunt opened Jeff’s be just the ticket to enticing an old gobbler close enough for a
eyes to the effectiveness of turkey calls when used properly. shot opportunity.
“This hunt made me realize what a powerful tool a turkey call
can be and started my obsession to become a really good “A fact from the NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) that
turkey caller. Before my second turkey season closed, I had is ignored by most turkey hunters is that 90% of the harvested

turkeys over three years old are taken by hunters using friction
calls,” Jeff noted. “If you want to be successful and take
bigger, wiser turkeys get a good friction call and learn how to
play it well. YouTube has hundreds of videos that are free and
are a great place to start learning how to use your call.”

Every turkey hunter has their favorite call and Jeff is no
exception. “My favorite turkey call is a scratch box. They
aren’t popular because they are one of the hardest calls to
become proficient on and they aren’t available at most sports
shops. I love them because they cluck and purr better than
any friction call on the market if you take the time to learn to
play them. They are small, easy to carry in a shirt pocket and

Jeff’s obsession with turkey calls continued to grow and in
2000 he decided that it was time to start making his own.
“After spending too much money and time trying to buy the
perfect game call, I finally realized I was never going to be
satisfied with the available choices. My obsessive pursuit
led me to develop FatBoys Custom Game Calls, calls even a
perfectionist like me is proud to put my name on.”

Jeff specializes in making copper, aluminum, slate and
ceramic-topped pot style calls, one-sided box calls and
scratch boxes. Every pot call that he sells includes a hand-
turned striker. In 2010, Jeff was featured on an episode of
Sportsman Channel’s Factory to Field, where he showed
viewers how to make a laminated copper-topped pot style

Besides turkey calls Jeff also makes custom grunt tubes,
predator calls, and duck/goose calls. “My passion has
always been to hunt animals that respond to a call.” He said.

Although Jeff loves nothing more than to create turkey music
in the woods, he warns that hunters should not rely entirely
on calling. “No call or calling ability will ever replace
woodsmanship, scouting and patterning the birds you are

Whether you are hunting turkeys this spring for the first time
or returning to the turkey woods where you once closed the
deal on a gobbler or called in a bird for someone else, there
will continue to be many “firsts.” Each one will capture the
essence of the hunt and continue to fuel the passion for turkey
hunting that lies deep within. For Jeff Hand, this passion keeps
growing with each spring sunrise and every call that he makes
and places in the hands of a turkey hunter.

I had the opportunity to speak with John Miller, another
turkey hunting fanatic. He has spent the last 28 years chasing
gobblers with both shotgun and bow in Michigan and
Photo: John Miller
throughout the United States including Ohio, Indiana, South

Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama and the John’s favorite type of call is a diaphragm (mouth) call while
Canadian Providences of Ontario and Saskatchewan. John, hunting in the spring turkey woods. However, he has a box
who resides in southern Michigan with his wife and two kids, call in his turkey hunting arsenal that has proven to be very
was the 2008 Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association successful. This call is a Primos Heartbreaker call, which has
state turkey calling champion and has been a pro-staffer called in 118 birds within shooting range so far for him, along
for Bully’s Game Calls since 2005. He was also featured with others whom he has called for through the years. He
on a past episode of Michigan Out-of-Doors Television in especially likes using this box call on windy days when turkeys
2007, when host Gabe VanWormer killed a double-beard have a harder time hearing calls further away.
tom on public land using a muzzleloading shotgun. In our
conversation, John easily recalled the first bird he shot, which While talking to fellow Michigan turkey hunters such as Jeff
was called in by his dad in 1988 when he was just twelve Hand and John Miller, it doesn’t take a person long to see just
years old. how passionate they are about turkey hunting. Each spring
the turkey woods calls to them much like a turkey call to a
“The very first turkey I killed was up near Glennie, Michigan gobbler. Who knows, this call could create a “first” for a new
during the second hunt in 1988 when I was twelve years. turkey hunter creating memories that will last a lifetime. DP
My dad did his job of calling the toms to within thirty yards.
However, I was so shell-shocked at the loud
gobbling and the sight of them strutting that I
never thought to shoot. The bird walked off and
we had a good laugh even though I felt like an
idiot. But later that morning we located some
birds that came right in and I shot my first bird - a
jake - and became instantly hooked to turkey

Since the age of twelve, John has been fortunate
enough to shoot a turkey every single spring. He
described some turkey calling tactics to me that
have helped him tip many birds over. John also
hopes that these tips will prove to be effective for
turkey hunters across the state who hope to tag a
bird this spring.

“My number one calling tip would be your calling
rhythm or cadence. Listening to real bird rhythm
and cadence when you are in the woods is
essential. Don’t worry about the pitch or sound of
your calling. Every bird sounds different, but the
rhythm of the call tends to be more consistent.

"My favorite tactic on a mature henned up bird
is to be the rude loud-mouth hen in the woods.
Like people, boss hens hate it when an outsider
talks over them or cuts them off every time they
start to talk (yelp). So every time the hen yelps or
cuts back at me I cut her off with my own louder
and faster sequence of calls. I don’t let her get
a word in. And if all goes well she gets madder
and madder until she stomps over looking to start
a fight, bringing the tom along with her. At times
it even appears that she is so mad she is stomping
the ground as she comes in looking to start a

Photo: John Miller
Wild Turkey
A Conservation

The comeback of the wild turkey is one of the greatest picking up steam in the public consciousness and in the
conservation stories in Michigan history. government. Hunting and fishing regulations were carefully
established to ensure that wildlife populations didn’t grow too
Once prolific, these iconic birds had been wiped from the small or too large.
landscape by the turn of the 20th century as European settlers
cleared forests and grasslands to build towns and cities.Then in 1937, a national coalition of conservationists –
virtually all of them hunters – persuaded Congress to direct
“By 1900, you couldn’t even find a the receipts from an excise tax on
wild turkey in Michigan,” said Jeff hunting arms and ammunition into a
Poet, vice chair of the Michigan "... It's actually hunting and special fund to be distributed to the
Wildlife Council. “Today there are fishing license sales that states for wildlife restoration.
more than 200,000 of the birds generate the primary
found in every corner of the state. funding for conservation ..." Had it not been for this key legislation
That’s an amazing story.” called the Federal Aid in Wildlife
-Matt Pedigo, chair of the
Restoration Act (also known as the
Michigan wildlife council
But the birds didn’t do it alone. Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937), wild
turkeys and a variety of other wildlife
would have been reduced to nothing more than local lore.
FACTORS “These dollars have made all the difference in the world
when it comes to conservation,” said Matt Pedigo, chair
The return of the wild turkey is a great example of the power of the Michigan Wildlife Council. “Wildlife management
of public and private wildlife management, officials say. is not funded through state taxes. It’s actually hunting and
fishing license sales that generate the primary funding for
In the early 20th century, the conservation movement began conservation work here in Michigan and across the country.”

This funding cleared the way for turkey management, too.
The Michigan Wildlife Council was created in
Because the birds won’t migrate on their own, the Michigan Department 2013 to implement and oversee a public educa-
of Conservation (now the state Department of Natural Resources) tion campaign about the importance of conser-
purchased 50 turkeys in the 1950s from Pennsylvania and released them vation and wildlife management to Michigan’s
in West Michigan. natural resources and outdoor traditions.

That’s when the real work began. The council is a governor-appointed, nine-mem-
ber public body established by Michigan Public
“Managing wild turkeys in Michigan involves the complex relationship Act No. 246 of 2013. The legislation updated
between turkey populations, their habitat and people,” said Poet. the hunting and fishing license fee structure and
“Michigan has done a great job striking that balance to create a vibrant requires the state Department of Natural Re-
and abundant environment.” sources to use $1 from the sale of every license
to fund the Michigan Wildlife Council public
Thanks to public and private organizations, hundreds of thousands of education campaign. The $1 share of each li-
acres of wildlife habitat have been conserved or enhanced for turkey and cense sale generates approximately $1.6 million
a myriad of other species. Since the 1980s, the DNR and many partners annually in revenue.
have completed numerous releases of wild-trapped birds from Iowa and
Missouri to Michigan, to further restoration efforts in the state. Learn more at

Sportsmen also play an important role in wild turkey
management and in ensuring that turkeys continue to
thrive. In fact, their activities have a direct impact on the
health of all of our state’s abundant wildlife and natural
resources. Not only do hunting and fishing license fees
pay for species conservation and wildlife reintroduction
programs, but they also are used to stock lakes and
preserve Michigan’s beautiful forests, lands and river
quality. And since wildlife is a renewable natural resource
with a surplus, all hunters and anglers help keep wildlife
populations at a healthy balance for the habitat through
regulated hunting and fishing.


Today the work continues to preserve Michigan’s outdoor

The Michigan Wildlife Council was established three years
ago to educate the public about the importance of wildlife

It’s now in the midst of a campaign to increase
non-sportsmen’s knowledge about how wildlife and
Michigan’s outdoors are managed and funded, and
the role sportsmen and sportswomen play in preserving
Michigan’s great outdoor heritage for future generations.

“We all enjoy Michigan’s beautiful forests, water and
wildlife, which is why we take great care to protect and
enhance these valuable assets,” said Pedigo.
If you didn’t know better, you might have thought Tim Riley
was, well, confused. He was wandering through a thick stand Riley’s mid-May morning looked like it was going to be
of young aspen with his English setter, wearing a hunting vest, uneventful and after a couple of hours in the woods - we’d
but he’s not carrying a shotgun. And it’s spring, not fall. made plans to fish for trout in the afternoon - he was about to
call it a day, when he heard the beeper collar on Rio, one of
Riley, a wildlife technician with the Department of Natural his setters. The dog was a fair ways off but when he didn’t
Resources, knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s enjoying a respond to Riley’s return calls, Riley went looking for him. He
day off of work during Michigan’s second woodcock season: found him several hundred yards away, locked up on point.
spring banding season. Instead of a firearm, he’s carrying Approaching slowly, surveying the brown real estate of the
everything he needs to complete his mission: a notebook, pair still not-quite-spring, he found what he was looking for: an
of pliers, a mesh bag and a string of small metal bands. adult woodcock, motionless, its belly pressed to the ground.

Woodcock banding is the province of hard-core bird hunters, As Riley slowly approached, the bird got up and flew a few
guys with pointing dogs who think their best friends have much short yards away. That’s what he hoped to see: a bird trying to
more to offer than just being afield from September 15 to lead away from the area. Within a few minutes, Riley spotted
January 1. It’s a way to continue playing with your dog (and a woodcock chick and then another. He picked them up, put
really, is there any more fun than playing with your dog?) them in the mesh bag and resumed perusing the young forest
outside the boundaries of traditional bird hunting seasons. floor. He found a third chick. And then a fourth, which meant
he’d found the whole brood.
Riley is one of about 100 volunteers who venture out into the
Michigan woodlots in spring, hoping to find broods of Working quickly, Riley recorded the pertinent information
recently hatched woodcock chicks. It is a Michigan thing to - time and date and the length of the birds beaks - and then,
do; Michigan is woodcock country. It produces more wood- one by one, he put a small band on one of the birds’ legs.
cock than any state in the union, Michigan hunters kill more Then he let the chicks go.
woodcock than hunters anywhere else in the country and
Michigan volunteers band more than anyone else in North For Riley, woodcock banding is a pleasurable pastime that
America. not only provides recreation, but also yields information that

will be helpful to biologists when it “We learned how to catch and band
comes to managing the needle-nosed them as part of a scientific study on Biologists have learned a surprising
migratory game birds. heavy metals in woodcocks. In the late amount about woodcock because of the
1980s, we expanded the program.” banding program. For instance: wood-
“In my mind, it’s all scientific data,” said cock are born with a 14-millimeter bill
Riley, who was exposed to woodcock Would-be woodcock banders must be that grows two millimeters a day. That
banding nearly a decade ago and trained by a mentor, show that they allows banders to reliably age the birds
started banding on his own three understand how to do it correctly and they find.
seasons ago. “As a DNR worker, it gives prove that their dogs are under sufficient
me a feel for what’s going on in the control not to harm the birds before they “Woodcock lay four eggs, which
woods. When the bands get returned, are certified to band on their own. The mature in about 14 days,” Stewart said.
we get good information. And it doesn’t DNR holds training sessions every other “The hens hatch the eggs and the chicks
cost the state a thing. Some
guys put in 100 hours a year
banding; can you imagine
what it would cost if we were
paying state wages?”

As is required to get a banding
permit, Riley studied the
process for a number of years
with other woodcock banders,
“got my setter to where I
thought he was good,” and
became certified as a Michigan
woodcock bander.

It was kind of slow-going at
first; Riley banded 10 wood-
cock chicks his first year, 12 the
next. But he’s hoping to gradu-
ally improve his numbers so
he’s confident that he can pass
what he knows along to others.

“I want to start mentoring guys
and get more guys in the
woods,” he said. “The more
birds that get banded, the
better.” year with an emphasis on the health and are ready to begin feeding quickly. In
welfare of the birds, Stewart said. another three weeks, they reach adult
Al Stewart, the upland game bird size. It takes about two weeks after they
specialist with the DNR, says Michigan Woodcock banding begins in mid-April hatch for the birds to fly.
is far and away the leader in the and runs through about June 10,
woodcock banding world, putting the Stewart said. “When you come across a female with
little metal leg tags on “upward of chicks, a lot of times she’ll feign like she
2,000 annually.” “The peak hatching time is around the has a broken wing to lure you away
first of May,” he said. “They nest a little from where the chicks are located, kind
The DNR’s woodcock banding program bit earlier in southern Michigan, a little of like a killdeer,” he continued. “She’ll
has been in effect since the 1960s when later in northern Michigan - around return to her brood after the danger has
wildlife biologists banded chicks as part May 15 - and even later in the Upper moved off and chicks stay with their
of the job. Peninsula. In an early spring, birds will mothers for some time after they can fly.
nest earlier. In a later spring, a little bit
“Now it’s all volunteers,” Stewart said. later.” “The chicks are very well camouflaged.

They look like the ground cover and the Riley said he has shot birds that were
leaves. It’s kind of like trying to find “We have had birds that were taken by banded by others – he’s never shot one
Waldo in a puzzle. The banders are hunters the following years, sometimes that he banded himself – but he once
trained to look thoroughly before they in close proximity of where they were got a letter from a Louisiana hunter who
even move around. They do the wood- originally banded,” Stewart said. shot one that Riley had banded.
cock shuffle: They don’t even pick up
their feet and put them down so they Chuck Riley (no relation to the afore- “He went through the trouble of finding
don’t step on them. mentioned Tim) has been banding out who’d banded it and then hunted
woodcock for more than 40 years. He me down and took the time to write me.
“Once you find one, you can usually started banding in 1975 with Andy That’s a woodcock that means a lot to
find all of them,” he said. “Your mind Ammon - who literally wrote the book me. That letter went into the scrapbook."
and eye seem to focus in on them.” on using pointing dogs to band wood-
cock - and in 1979 was certified to Band recoveries show that the bulk of
birds hatched in Michigan winter in
Louisiana and into East Texas.

Riley said in his best-ever year he
banded 106 woodcock, but most
years he doesn’t get nearly that
many. Last year, for instance, he
banded 43. But he intends to keep
at it as long as he can and hopes
more young hunters, like Tim Riley,
will take up the game.

“A lot of us are getting older, he
said. “We need some new

Tim Riley, who is 33 and takes
vacation days to band woodcock,
is somewhat envious of Chuck; he
said he can’t wait until he retires so
he can spend more time banding
Data from woodcock banders is band on his own. A retiree, Riley will go woodcock. And though he’s an avid
collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife out every day, weather permitting, bird hunter, he doesn’t spend any time
Service in much the same way it collects during the spring banding season. in the fall in the Crawford or Roscommon
data on banded ducks and geese. Band County areas where he bands along the
recoveries come largely from hunters, “When you’re out there with the dogs in edges of high-stem density woodlots in
though occasionally people find the spring, the weather’s pretty doggone the spring because he doesn’t want to
woodcock that have died from other nice and there are not many people out shoot birds that he banded.
causes - such as flying into a building in the woods, so you get to see things
- often in urban areas. you don’t usually see. You don’t have a “It’s just one of those things,” he said.
shotgun in your hands so you’re paying “You kind of feel almost like you’re a
“The information allows us to confirm more attention to what the dogs are parent and they’re your babies.” BG
and learn more about woodcock doing and what’s going on around you.
migration,” said Stewart. “We have If I had to choose hunting woodcock or
been able to identify two different banding woodcock, I’d choose banding
flyways: one for the New England birds, woodcock in a heartbeat. I’ve shot
and another for Midwestern birds.” hundreds of wood- This property has it all! A farm home, a pole barn.
cock, but the ones I 65 acres of tillable land,19 acres of woods in Cal-
The birds show some fidelity to where remember best are the houn County. Call Jim at Faust Real Estate, LLC for
they are born when they migrate, ones I’ve banded.” more information at 517-902-6655. F-651
Stewart said.

Clean Your Gear Before Entering
And Before Leaving The Recreation Site.


Help Prevent The Spread
Of Invasive Plants And Animals.
• REMOVE plants, animals & mud from boots, gear, pets &
• CLEAN your gear before entering & leaving the recreation
• STAY on designated roads & trails. IN YOUR TRACKS.
• USE CERTIFIED or local firewood & hay.
CRUSADE (1978) by Ben East
Ben East, a member of the Michigan Conservation Hall of Fame and
he knew exactly what to do when he felt a steel barb
bed itself in his bony jaw!
legendary outdoor writer for Outdoor Life, wrote this account of the
He did it. He took line away from Bud so
extraordinary effort to preserve what is now the Porcupine Mountains
fast the reel whined. He charged across the pool and
Wilderness State Park. It is an excellent example of the writing that
at the far side he came out of the water again, flailing
earned Ben East the acclaim he enjoyed, as well as the determination
and corkscrewing. When that maneuver failed to
required in any era to achieve conservation success on the ground.
free the hook, ,he raced for the drop at the tail of the
The Porkies are still much as East described them almost 40 years ago;
pool, cleared its lip in a clean, curving jump, crashed
the photos included in this article were taken just this past fall. DY
down into the welter and kept going for the next pool
It happened on about the third or fourth cast. Bud below.
Dick was standing on a shelf of rock that sloped down and Lucky for Bud, the shelf of rock where he stood
vanished in the dark water of the pool. Above him the river provided something close to a footpath. It was narrow, and
came frothing and raging in through a short steep chute. slippery in places, but better than no path at all. Bud felt
Fifty yards below it spilled out again in a three-foot drop. his way along, surrendering more line, avoiding brush,
The pool itself was foam-laced, currentless save for the fighting the fish with a high rod and after two or three
slow eddying of the trapped water, an ideal spot for big heart-stopping minutes that seemed 1- times that long, he
rainbows to lie and rest and feed, husbanding their strength wheedled the rainbow into deep water once more.
for the next lap up the untamed, mill-race river. They fought it out there, a slugging match to make
Bud was using a small spinner with a single the breath stick in your throat, and the trout lost. He swung
hook that trailed a fat pinkish dew worm as big as a small in close to shore, trounced and rolling on the leader. Bud’s
snake. He laid the rig out in the deep water in the center dad reached out from an overhanging log with the net, and
of the pool, let it settle close to bottom, started to drag it the show was over.
back across the current. I could see his line tremble as the We moved upstream a couple of pools after that
spinner began to revolve. and I put across a deal of my own with a carp River
There was no warning. The fish took worm, spinner rainbow. Mine went only 16 inches, but he knew how to
and all, the way a mountain lion puts his claws into a mule use what he had and he had a lot for a fish that size!
deer’s neck. Bud’s rod bent like a reed in a gale, and he After that it was time to go back to our camp at the
retaliated instinctively to the sudden savage tug of the mouth of the river and cook supper. We didn’t want any
strike. The next thing I saw was a heavy-bodied, silvery more trout that evening, anyway.
trout exploding out of the pool like a lightning bolt in “We’ve hit it on the nose,” Bud’s father, Ray Dick,
reverse, etched for a split second against a dark water-cone said jubilantly as we picked our way down through the big
of his own making – and then there was hell to pay all over timer beside the roaring staircase of the Carp. “Tomorrow
the place. we’ll show you what this river is like when the run is at its
That trout had come in, likely only two or three peak.”
days before, out of the cold green depths of Lake Superior. It turned out he was right, too. The spawning
He was a spring-run rainbow with a full head of steam, and migration of the big Lake Superior rainbows was in full

swing, and for the next couple of days
we had the kind of sport that fishermen I had. That’s a gem of a mountain
dream about all their lives without lake if ever one was laid down
often getting to see their dreams outdoors. It lies at the eastern rim of
fulfilled. the Porcupines, cradled in a deep,
That was my first trip into sheer-walled valley, guarded by
the heart of the Porcupine Mountains, ancient pines, locked in on all sides
there on the south shore of Superior by tumbled ridges. A road ended only
a few miles east of the Wisconsin- half a mile away, and the lake had long
Michigan border. I had done a little been a scenic mecca for visitors. To a
prowling around their edges and I handful of bass fishermen who knew
knew they were the highest and most what its waters held, it was a favorite
picturesque mountain range, north of fishing spot as well.
the Ohio, between the Black Hills of Mullet had abounded in
Dakota and Adirondacks of New York. it originally, and because the first
I knew, too, that they were a beautiful explorers and settlers in the region
region, still covered for the most part confused the mullet with carp, they
with virgin forest. But up to now I had named it Carp Lake. The Carp
had not even dreamed what they were River, on which we were camped,
really like. flowed out of it and got its name the
That was my first meeting, same way. There had never been a true
too, with Ray Dick, who in the next carp in those faroff waters, of course,
few years was to accomplish close to and somebody finally got around to
the impossible in a one-man campaign changing the name to Lake of the
to save this wild, unspoiled country Clouds, which certainly fitted it better.
from ax and fire and ruin. “We’re about eight miles from
There were five in our fishing Lake of the Clouds, as the crow flies,”
party, Ray and Bud, Ed Johnson, Walt Ray went on. “Maybe half again that
Speaker and I. We sat around a dying far if you follow the river. There’s no
fire that night and watched the round, road this side of the lake. The other
yellow, full moon of May com up over way, to the west, it’s six miles to the
the trees, square in the notch where mouth of the Presque Isle, where
the river broke down out of the hills. we stopped this morning on the way
The surf of Lake Superior rolled in down here. There’s no road there
and sighed on the rocky beach in front yet, but Gogebic County is building
of our camp, the Carp chuckled and one. They’re only a few miles away.
blustered through its last stretch of They’ll be at the mouth in another year
rapids only a few steps away. And just or two. That will still leave a strip of
as the moon rose clear of the trees a country 12 or 15 miles long.”
brush wolf howled somewhere back I He paused in his map drawing
the ridges. to jerk a thumb back in the direction
“How do you like it?” Ray where the coyote had howled. “Mirror
Dick asked me. Lake is over that way six or eight
“I’ve never had a place hit me miles. We’ll take you in there some
quite so hard,” I admitted. “How far day and show you brook trout fishing
are we from the nearest road?” that will knock your hat off. Up to
“What’s the matter,” Speaker now you have to go beyond Mirror
asked with a chuckle, “homesick?” Lake to find even a logging road.
I shook my head. “Just There’s about 50,000 acres in here, all
curious.” told, that’s still the way the lord made
Ray picked up a stick and it! A chunk the size of two townships.
began to trace a crude map on the Not a foot of road, hardly a trail. If
ground. “You’ve seen Lake of the you want to see it you walk, or come
Clouds,” he began. in by boat the way we did today. It’s

never seen an ax, never been burned. the big timber, hearing the wind in the have been preaching that for years, but
The United States Forest Service hemlocks up on the ridge. I knew all we’re not making much headway.”
says it’s the biggest stand of virgin right what it would look like when the A produce dealer in the town
hardwood left in the country!” logging crews had finished their job. of Ironwood, 30 miles west of the
I knew what the other four But I didn’t know what to do about it. mountains, Ray was also secretary
men around the fire were thinking. “Do you really think it can be of the local chamber of commerce, a
“And it’s bound to be logged,” I said helped?” I asked finally. “It never has job that carried no pay and not much
slowly. been up to now, you know, not in this in the way of thanks. But at least it
Ray blazed up. “It’s bound part of the country.” had given him a chance to crusade
to be logged unless we prevent it!” Ray leaned closer across the for the preservation of this beloved
he shot back. “If we let that happen, fire. “It’s got to be helped” he said wilderness, where he head hunted and
it will be the biggest crime the State flatly. fished for years and where he had built
of Michigan has committed in your He started to talk then, telling a small cabin (that was never locked)
lifetime or mine. This is all we’ve got of the fight he had been making, here at the mouth of the Carp where
left. The pine is gone, and in 20 years almost single-handed, in the hope we were camped.
the hardwood cut will be finished. This of keeping the loggers out of these He had talked to everybody
is the last big block that’s primitive valleys along the Carp and the Little who would listen. He had gone to

and untouched. We’ve got to save it. Carp and the Presque Isle. Now and other businessmen in the community,
Can you imagine what this place will then Ed Johnson or Walt Speaker put he had written countless letters, he had
look like 20 years from tonight, when in a word. pestered state and local officials and
they’ve finished cutting and pulled “Once it’s cut over, the whole political leaders. For the most part,
out, if we don’t?” area will go back to the state for they agreed with him, but there their
I didn’t need much delinquent taxes,” Johnson predicted. interest seemed to fade out.
imagination to answer that one. We “It will be a hundred years then before A local congressman, Frank
had 10 million acres of cutover and it will be worth anything again, and Hook, had gone so far as to introduce
burned-over land in Michigan that it will never come back to what it is a bill in Congress proposing to set
supplied the answer ready made. now.” aside $10 million to purchase the
Wisconsin and Minnesota had as many “We know what we need Porcupine wilderness and add it to the
more, and I had seen the bulk of them. to do,” Ray said, picking up the Ottawa National Forest which already
I sat for a minute, listening to the conversation again. “Our job is to took in a big share of three cutover
noises of the river, thinking of all persuade the United States or the State counties in the Upper Peninsula. But
its lonely miles without even a deer of Michigan to come in and buy the the bill had bogged down, and nobody
hunting camp on its banks, watching whole 50,000 acres before it’s too late, believed it had much chance of
the moon riding clear and high above and keep it the way it is! A few of us passing.

“Too much money,” Ray Association, nationwide?” His first step was to carry out
explained, “and anyway, Congress “Sure,” another chimed in. the suggestion of organizing a national
is against appropriating funds to buy “Invite anybody, anywhere, to join Save-the-Porcupines Association. He
forest land in individual states. They who wants to see this country kept the started with local people. Ed Johnson,
say it would set a bad example. So way it is.” the Ironwood newspaperman who
we go on getting nowhere, and we I could kinda see the idea had sat beside the fire that spring
haven’t much time left. Logging crews catching on in Ray Dick, starting to night at the mouth of the Carp, was
are nibbling at the edges right now. burn like the lightning of a slow fuse chosen president. Ray kept for himself
They’ll be coming in as fast as they on a powder keg. None of us guessed the work-horse job of secretary. The
can build truck roads and bridges. Five it at the time, but what we were letters he wrote before the campaign
years from tonight will be too late as witnessing that night was the turning was finished ran well into the
far as a lot of this is concerned.” point in the long and uphill battle to thousands.
I chewed on the problem for keep the wilderness of the Porcupines Then, as we had foreseen
a minute or two. As outdoor writer for untouched. when the plan was born, the pleas
a group of Michigan newspapers, I We sat around the fire for to preserve the biggest tract of
had seen a couple of somewhat similar hours, talking, swapping ideas, virgin hardwood left in the country
campaigns carried to a successful whittling out plans, taking inventory of began to fire the imagination and

conclusion, including one that the groups and individuals that could win the support of conservationists
culminated in the establishment of the be counted on to help. When we went everywhere.
Isle Royale National Park in upper to our bags, long after midnight, Ray Members joined from a dozen
Lake Superior. Dick was ready to move into an arena states, as far away as Georgia and
“What you need is outside much bigger than the local community Kansas, California and New York. The
help,” I suggested. “There are a lot of for the next round of his scrap. membership list read like a “Who’s
folks around the country who love this A fight of that kind is in Who of American Conservationists.”
kind of place as much as you and I do. many ways a shadow match. You It included such prominent names as
Some of ‘em have influence. If you can’t climb into the ring and slug it those of Vice President Henry Wallace;
could get them into your fight, you out with a flesh-and-blood opponent. Chase S. Osborn, former Governor
might win.” You are pitted against indifference, of Michigan; Aldo Leopold of the
“We realize that,” Ray agreed, lack of public interest, official apathy. University of Wisconsin; Newton
“but how do we go about it?” The only fighter who has a chance of B. Drury, director of the National
There was another long, winning is the sort who can tolerate Park Service; William Allen White,
thoughtful pause. Then somebody delays and setbacks, keep punching renowned Kansas editor; Willard Van
came up with a suggestion. “Why and refuse to accept defeat. Ray Dick Name of the American Museum of
not organize a Save-the-Porcupines was exactly that sort. Natural History; Jay Price, regional

forester of the United States Forest intend to.
Service, and Mrs. Edward LaBudde of World War II came on, and
the Women’s Conservation League of the attention of the nation, even of
America. its conservationists, was diverted to
Conservation groups from other problems. Less and less thought
coast to coast offered their help. The went to saving our natural wealth,
Wisconsin Conservation League, more and more to using it to buy the
with 200,000 members, threw its victory we had to have. But Ray Dick
weight into the fight, as did the wouldn’t give up. He still refused to
Izaak Walton League of America, stand by and see the wilderness he
the National Wildlife Federation, loved converted into a denuded, fire-
the American Forestry Association, blackened wasteland. Peace would
the Federated Garden Clubs of come back some day, he argued, and
America, the Emergency Conservation when that happened, the country
Committee, the National Parks was going to need places like the
Association, the National Federation Porcupines again, need ‘em for their
of Women’s Clubs, the Michigan wilderness and beauty, their forests
United Conservation Clubs, the Upper and fish and game. And across the
Peninsula Development Bureau, country members of the association
the Northern Michigan Sportsman’s that he had fathered and spark-plugged
Association and other influential never stopped preaching the same
outfits. doctrine.
Money started to come in in They kept hammering away,
sums adequate to finance the battle. harping at their pet idea, not letting
Ray Dick himself, all but knocked off the crusade lag. And at last they won
his feet by the country-wide response, a powerful ally in P.J. Hoffmaster,
gathered his forces and drove ahead director of the Michigan Department
harder than ever. of Conservation.
The Hook bill was still It had long been Pete
before Congress, pigeon-holed Hoffmaster’s beliefs that one of his
in a committee. The association department’s foremost obligations
bombarded Washington with letters to the people of Michigan was to
and resolutions asking action. provide them an adequate system of
Writers and photographers loosed a outdoor playgrounds, including parks,
flood of publicity. Stories and pictures public hunting lands and public access
of the Porcupine wilderness appeared sites on lakes and streams. And now
in newspapers in Chicago, Detroit, he came to the conclusion that the
Milwaukee, Boston, Cleveland and Porcupine Mountain wilderness fitted
other cities and in national magazines. into such a plan in a very special way.
An exciting description of the wild He took into account its lakes
beauty of the region even made its and streams, its deer and grouse and
way into the Congressional Record. trout, its possibilities for hunting,
Sportsmen in cities a thousand miles fishing, camping, hiking and other
distant came to know almost as much forms of recreation, and its beauty
about the Porcupines as they knew and primitive characters. There was
about their favorite rabbit swales, 10 nothing like it left anywhere in the
miles from home. country. It could serve two purposes. It
At the same time those who could be made into a unique roadless
were leading the fight, doubtful that park, and it could also become a
Congress could be talked into a local natural forest museum, preserving
deal of such size, turned their attention for all time a remnant of what Aldo
to Michigan officials, urging the state Leopold had fittingly named the Great
to act if and when it finally became Uncut.
apparent that Washington did not So Hoffmaster stepped up

beside Ray Dick, to champion the Hoffmaster had recommended and and condemned its land, buying
same cause, carrying with him the make available a million dollars to for $216,000 a tract on which the
weight and influence of the seven-man carry it out. company had set a price in excess of
commission that headed and made $1 million.
policy for the Michigan Conservation There were still obstacles in
Department. He made a trip to the the way, barriers to hurdle, but victory That ended it. The Porcupine
Porcupines to see for himself what the was in sight at last for those who had wilderness was safe at last from ax and
loggers were doing along the edges fought so long and in the face of such fire.
of the wilderness. They were doing great discouragement to save the
plenty, and Hoffmaster didn’t wait any Porcupine wilderness. It’s up there now, roadless
longer. Backed by his commission, In the final round open and untouched, just the way it was
he drew up a report on the mountains, opposition showed itself for the first that spring night when we camped at
their history, their scenic beauty, time. A Wisconsin lumber company the mouth of the Carp. A system of
their value as a recreation area, and that owned 8,000 acres of the forest trails has been laid out and marked for
the worth of their timber and sent and was pushing its logging operations hikers. Comfortable cabins have been
it to Gov. Harry F. Kelly with a there at top speed, lobbied vigorously built in a few key spots for campers,
recommendation for the purchase of to defeat the proposal. But by this time hunters and fishermen. Permission
46,000 acres without further delay, “in the tide of public opinion was running to use them can be obtained from the
order that what happened to our pine too strongly to be turned back by park superintendent at Ontonagon. Ski
may not also happen to the last of our private interests. runs are in operation in winter. That’s
virgin hardwood.” The Legislature compromised about all the development that is
Pete Hoffmaster died in to the extent of altering the boundaries contemplated. No roads, now or at any
1951, but not before he had seen of the purchase area and eliminating future time. If you want to see it, you
the Porcupines pass safely into state some 3,500 acres of the company’s have to go on foot.

You can walk the trails this summer, or some great-great-grandson of yours, as yet unborn, can walk ‘em
in a hundred years from now, and find the age-old solitude of the wilderness unbroken. The ancient pines
will still be standing guard on the ridges that overlook the rivers, the wind will be singing its song in the
tops of the big beeches and hemlocks. The forest of the Porcupines is going to continue to be forest and
not sawlogs. The people of Michigan own it, and that’s the way they intend to keep it.
ownership and protection, and the holdings along the border. But it then
development of the area get under proceeded to whoop the proposal You can walk the trails this
way in accordance with the plans he through, by a thumping majority of summer, or some great-great-grandson
himself had helped to draft. 76 to 10 in the lower house and an of yours, as yet unborn, can walk ‘em
even more spectacular vote of 26 to in a hundred years from now, and find
The State Planning 1 in the Senate. The tireless, patient the age-old solitude of the wilderness
Commission endorsed his groundwork that Ray Dick and his unbroken. The ancient pines will still
recommendation, and Gov. Kelly was associates had laid over a period of be standing guard on the ridges that
ready to act. By that time he, too, many years paid big dividends in overlook the rivers, the wind will be
had seen the Porcupines for himself. those closing hours of the fight in the singing its song in the tops of the big
Invited by Ray Dick to visit them, the committee rooms and on the floor of beeches and hemlocks. The forest of
Governor, a handicapped veteran of the Legislature. the Porcupines is going to continue to
World War I, had gone only as far as Even then, the Wisconsin be forest and not sawlogs. The people
the mouth of the Presque Isle, where company held out, refusing to sell at of Michigan own it, and that’s the way
the river gorge and its virgin timber a price the state was willing and able they intend to keep it.
had been converted into a park by to pay, bringing political influence
Gogebic County. to bear as far away as Washington in It makes a very pleasant
“I’ve seen enough,” Kelly told a last-ditch effort to block the deal ending to the story of Ray Dick and
Dick. “I’m for it.” and go on cutting. But Hoffmaster the one-man crusade he started and all
He convinced a special and his commission wouldn’t be the people who came in later and gave
session of the Legislature and asked stymied. They went into court, halted him a hand in winning his long fight!
the members to approve the purchase the company’s logging operations


I first heard of Steven Rinella after catching his 2011 Travel Channel show The Wild Within. It changed how I viewed
hunting and I became an immediate fan, watching him go on adventurous hunts and bringing the meat back home to
his family. After that season, he moved over to The Sportsman Channel and created MeatEater with the Zero Point Zero
production team, where since 2012 it has become the top hunting and outdoor show on the network. His focus on wild
game, public land, conservation and wildlife has revolutionized the outdoor television format and inspired an entire
generation. You can watch MeatEater on the Sportsman Channel Mondays at 8pm, or better yet, on Netflix. Listen to the
MeatEater Podcast on iTunes, Stitcher and at, where you can also find his books like the two-
volume Complete Guide to Hunting, Butchering and Cooking Wild Game, one of my favorites. -DY

MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS: How did you get How did your outdoor experiences growing up in
introduced to the outdoors? Michigan shape how you view hunting, fishing and
STEVEN RINELLA: My father was a hunter and fisherman.
Most outdoorsman are like me, in that they get introduced I grew up in Twin Lake, in Muskegon County, and was
to hunting and fishing by their father. But my dad was an surrounded by hunting, fishing, and trapping opportunities.
exception. He was raised on the south side of Chicago by We fished Lake Michigan, Muskegon and White Lakes, plus
his grandparents. They spoke Italian in the home and knew tons of other ponds and creeks and lakes in our area. My
nothing of the outdoors. They were removed from it both brothers and I could walk from our house to hunt squirrels,
spatially and financially. After serving in World War II (my and we trapped muskrats on our own lake. We even caught a
dad had me when he was fifty years old) he got interested mink about 200 yards from our house. We were generalists,
in hunting and fishing along with an entire generation of obviously, up for any kind of outdoor activity. That's still my
other returning soldiers. Today, a lot of folks don't realize this, philosophy today. I'll chase everything from bullfrogs to
but the modern blue-collar sportsman was in many ways a muskox as long as the eating is good.
creation of the guys who fought in WWII. Someone at the
time put it this way, more or less: You can't teach an entire
generation to shoot and camp and then not expect them to
become hunters.

Do you still hunt, fish or trap in
Michigan? What species and methods?

I was just hunting and fishing in Michigan
this past December while visiting my family.
We chased squirrels and rabbits, then fished
through the ice for northerns. It was great to
get my kids out on the same land and water
that I hit when I was growing up.

Did you get into cooking because of
wild game, or vice versa?

If I wasn't a hunter and fisherman, I wouldn't
be a cook. My interest in cooking was born
out of necessity. I had a lot of game on my
hands, and I wanted to know how to deal with
it in the best way imaginable.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever

It's a long list: coyote, porcupine, red howler
monkey, raccoon, muskrat, beaver, domestic
dog, rattlesnake. The list goes on, but you get
the idea.

You sometimes hunt in Wisconsin’s
CWD zone. How have you dealt with
the potential of eating a CWD-positive

The last couple of times that I've hunted in
Wisconsin we had our deer tested for CWD.
So far, I haven't killed a deer that tested
positive. If I did, I'd have a very hard time
enjoying the meat. That's not to say I'd discard
it, but I'd have to think really hard about it. I
worry about CWD and what's it's going to
mean in the future for wildlife and hunters. We
should all be paying attention to that issue "...nothing comes
and we should all be prepared to make some
hard choices. There are cases where blame close to what I call
'venison diplomacy.'"
lies on those who insist on transporting captive
wildlife. That's totally preventable.

Photo courtesy Zero Point Zero Productions.
Opposite page photo by Garret Smith.

With turkey season coming up in Michigan, we have
to ask: Is there a difference in how you prepare
and cook wild turkey verses how most people cook
store-bought turkey?

Yes, you have to be more careful. A wild turkey's flesh is much "It feels like we're
trying to turn our
less forgiving. You really cannot get away with overcooking it.
Nowadays, I brine all of my turkeys in a simple brine before I
grill, smoke, or roast them. See my guidebooks if you want to
know what I'm talking about. wild places into
Is focusing on wild game the best way for us
artificial worlds
to connect with non-hunters? What has your
experience been with converting new hunters, or
that resemble
even just helping non-hunters understand what we
do? golf courses. "
It is the best way, by a long shot. There are other things that
help, some of them tremendously, but nothing comes close
to what I call "venison diplomacy." I have served literally
dozens upon dozens of people their first taste of wild game.
Every single person was moved in a positive direction by the

What’s the most challenging hunt you’ve been on?

That's a hard question, because there are so many forms of
challenge. But in general, I'd say that Dall sheep hunting is
the most rugged and demanding hunt that I know about. It
requires a constant attention to detail, a willingness to suffer,
and the ability to get abused day after day after day. are pleasantly surprised to learn that there are hunting seasons
and bag limits. They honestly believed that it's a total free-for-all
out there. That demonstrates how much work we have to do in
Do you see virtue in challenging hunts? our public outreach.

Yes. We have a problem in this country with what my dad
described as "candy asses." It's important to learn how to What’s your take on catch & release only waters?
become comfortable with being uncomfortable. Do we miss the boat by not allowing at least a
sacramental fish for the grill?

You recently talked with Starbucks employees about Yes, I'm a bit annoyed by designated catch-and-release
hunting. Did you learn anything about what we waters. A guy who feels sanctimonious because he caught and
as hunters can do better to communicate with non- released twenty fish is actually killing way more fish than a guy
hunters? who catches one, kills it, and goes home. Depending on the
conditions, there can be huge mortality from catch-and-release.
No, it only reconfirmed what I already know to be true. It's especially weird to me when we create catch-and-release
People want straight, honest answers from hunters - and fisheries around non-native species such as rainbows and
sometimes the questions are difficult. We need to take the brown trout. It feels like we're trying to turn our wild places into
time to engage with others and to explain where we're artificial worlds that resemble golf courses. As you can see, I'm
coming from. To do this effectively, hunters need to study the a big fan of the idea that we should try to restore our native
conservation history of this country as well as the guiding fisheries as much as possible and stop worrying so much about
scientific principles of wildlife management. I've met folks who perpetuating non-natives.

Steven Rinella bowfishing on Muskegon Lake (Photo by Tracy Breen)

You used to trap quite a bit. What do most people world. And there's a bit of truth to that, for sure. But it's going
– hunters and non-hunters - not understand about to take more than antagonism to beat the animal rights
trapping? movement. It's gonna take a willingness to understand their
message and to understand how that message is received
I find that most people don't understand anything about by the general public. The die-hard animal rights folks are
trapping. They are blinded by the controversy. In fact, I very few in number. The battle lies in the minds of the "silent
know a lot of seasoned outdoorsmen who've never been majority" of Americans who make impulsive decisions at the
on a trapline despite spending a lifetime in the outdoors. voting booth.
Misperceptions abound, and there is very little fact-based
thinking going on.
What does public land mean to you?

What’s the future for trapping in America? To me, our public lands system is one of the most vivid
personifications of the American ideal. It's one of our great
It's uncertain. Trappers have a lot of work to do if they're inventions as a country. Our system is a symbolic slap in the
going to survive the next couple of decades - especially those face to the aristocracies of Europe, where hunting and fishing
trappers who live in heavily populated states like Michigan. rights are attached to wealth and social standing. When
I have ideas for them, but I don't know if they're ready to get someone questions the legitimacy of public land, they might
really serious about saving themselves. When I was trapping, as well be questioning the legitimacy of liberty.
I was blinded by my dislike for animal rights activists. I wrote
them off as whackos with no real connection to the natural

"When someone questions the
legitimacy of public land, they
might as well be questioning the
legitimacy of liberty."

Photo courtesy of Zero Point Zero Productions

What would you say to politicians trying to sell it? What projects are you working on for MeatEater that
we should look forward to?
I'd say "watch your ass. Hunters and fishermen and
conservationists are going to turn on you, and you're going to We are working on a new wild game cookbook that covers
lose your job. And you will not be remembered fondly" both fish and game. And for two years we've been working
on cranking out a documentary project about hunting in
America. It's going to be an impactful film. And then there's the
Why should Midwestern hunters, who might MeatEater Podcast, which has been blowing up in popularity.
regularly hunt private land, care about what’s going
on with public lands?
Finally, what conservation organizations do you
On the most basic level, they should know that private land support, and why?
permissions come and go, but public land permissions do not.
And they should know that the political and conservation clout I'm a member of several, including a lifetime member of Rocky
of hunters and fishermen relies on us having strong public Mountain Elk Foundation and a supporter of National Wild
participation. If you don't protect the public land hunter, Turkey Foundation. But if you want to stay on top of all serious
you will find yourself increasingly isolated in the political conservation issues that will impact your hunting, fishing, and
and cultural sphere. And that won't be a good thing for your outdoor lifestyle, you should get involved with the TRCP, or
hunting and fishing rights. Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. From public
lands issues to clean water, they are fighting the fight at the
highest levels.

A Matter of Meat
by Jeff Helsdon
Hunting and putting wild game on the table was part of wild meat is all-natural, adding another menu choice for that
subsistence for early North American settlers. The abundant segment of “foodies”. Even though it isn’t certified organic,
deer, turkeys and other wild game sometimes were the only there are no chemicals in wild meat. Wild game is the original
meat to be had. free-ranging meat.

Fast-forward a couple hundred years and the hunter has And wild game, or grass-fed meat, is a staple in the paleo
changed. Hunters look at their time in the field as part of diet.
their heritage, a way to spend time outdoors with family and
friends, and the wild meat is often considered a bonus. A MATTER OF SURVIVAL

But, that is starting to change again. Not long ago, hunters were in a fight for their existence, not
against anti-hunters, but declining hunter numbers. As the
One of the major trends as society becomes more conscious baby boomers aged a startling decline in hunter numbers
of what goes into, and onto, its food is the 100-mile or local didn’t bode well for the future. Trends are beginning to
diet. change, though.

The new concept spawned the term locavore in 2005. A variety of factors are at play. Who would have thought 10
Locavores are those concerned their food hasn’t moved great years ago the number one reality show on television would
distances from where it is grown to where they purchased it. involve duck hunting? Camo is now cool and many hunters
The 100-mile diet is often a part of locavore’s criteria, but and non-hunters wear it every day. Hunting groups seeing
so too is the method of food production and whether it was the decline in hunter numbers and introducing new mentoring
grown in an environmentally sustainable manner. programs made huge strides to bring a new generation into
the fold.
Established hunters have long known both the culinary and
nutritional value of wild game. How much more local can you But one underlying reason for the resurgence of hunting is
get than the deer, moose or other game in the back 40? And the quality of wild meat as people become more and more

conscious of what they consume. the meat. He did have a theory though. “I kept meeting these hunters in my
“Since women do most of the shopping, daily routine of being a newspaper
A survey by pollster Responsive they are in tune with the value of the reporter,” she said. “Everybody I met
Management backed this. Conducted in meat -- and also while lots of men love was a hunter. I didn’t know any hunters
2013, the survey asked hunters aged 18 to cook game, women do as well.” growing up.”
and over to look at the reason they hunt.
The number one reason chosen was Michigan State University called the She was impressed of the knowledge
“for meat”. That was an increase from deer hunt “a strong tradition” and rated hunters had about wildlife and the
a 2006 survey when it was the number it as an important part of the local food environment and how they cared about
three reason and only 22 per cent chose system. A MSU Extension paper on the the animals. She eventually married an
meat as the driving factor to hunt. deer hunt also pointed out the physical angler and when she started to fish,
and socio-economic benefits of deer McCaulou saw the river from a whole
Breaking the results down further, the hunting. new perspective, she saw the waters
women hunters surveyed put meat even Other polls on public opinion on hunting fuelled life and contained a diverse
higher on their list, with 55 per cent find the public at large is more in favor ecosystem. “After a couple of years,
saying it was their largest incentive. In of hunting when it is done to put meat on it came to me that through learning to
the survey, women comprised nine per the table. hunt, the landscape would come alive
cent of the established hunters the same way the rivers did.”
and 14 per cent of new or
returning hunters. McCaulou became a hunter
at a time when the locavore
The study concluded the movement was just starting. She
increase in hunters was due didn’t start hunting because she
to the desire for healthy local wanted local food, but through
meat, financial pressure and becoming a hunter, she became
the rising number of female a locavore.
hunters. The number one factor
was the affordability of game Amy Nicholson’s story is
meat. The nutritional value of different. She has the misfortune
wild game was the second of being a victim of Crohn’s
factor, with the locavore Disease since her youth and
movement being a part of it. chose to deal with her affliction
through controlling her diet,
The fact that wild game is avoiding meat which could
lower in cholesterol, fat and potentially have steroids or
calories is widely known. antibiotics, rather than with
Left: Venison; Above: Bacon-wrapped pheasant
It’s high in protein, iron and medication. “To have the meat
Vitamin B. Obviously, there are as clean as possible is my best
no antibiotics, hormones or other drugs medicine,” she said.
in wild meat. Conjugated linoleic acid, A WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE
a dietary fat researchers believe might Growing up in a household where her
have anti-cancer properties, is found There is no better way to understand father, John Zych, hunted provided
naturally in wild game meat. the value of meat than to hear the an early exposure to wild meat, she
compelling story of a new hunter. learned it was good for what ailed
Responsive Management executive her. Nicholson moved to the city for
director Mark Damian Duda undertook Author Lily Raff McCaulou chronicled a while but found she got sick again.
the study for the Professional Outdoor her journey to become a hunter in her When she returned to the country and
Media Association. He believes the book Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt could access wild meat and local meat
lower cholesterol and health factors are My Own Dinner. She came from a she knew had no additives, her health
important in the trend. family of non-hunters, growing up in improved. Her husband Scott, took
Washington DC, and living in New York the necessary courses and became a
Duda’s research didn’t look at why before moving to small-town Oregon to hunter. Now, venison, moose, turkey,
women tended to be the majority of new work for a newspaper. trout and salmon and wild boar are
hunters who started hunting because of staples in their diet.

can reduce cardiovascular disease, but too much can in-
Nicholson recently made the decision to become a hunter as crease stroke risk. Omega-6 is an essential fat, but too much
well. “For me to be able to join them and have more tags, we can contribute to inflammatory reactions from chronic disease.
can get more clean meat to fill the freezer,” she said. “It’s also
our heritage and it’s social.” Watkins said the fatty acid ratio in wild ruminants is similar
to the omega-3 levels in fish recommended by the American
Heart Association to reduce cardiovascular disease. Cana-
FISH ISN’T JUST FOR FRIDAYS da’s Food Guide also recommends lean cuts of meat such as
deer or moose.
Anglers also seek fish for food, a different Responsive
Management study found. In the survey, 51% said fishing as a In other research, Cordain looked at the few remaining hunt-
natural or green food source was an influence in the decision er-gatherer societies remaining and found heart disease, high
to go fishing. When asked an open-ended question with no cholesterol, obesity and diabetes are rare in those people.
choices to choose from, 32% of anglers picked fishing for
fresh food to eat as their primary reason to wet a line. Cordain’s 2002 book, The Paleo Diet, is responsible for the
popularity of the diet the last few years. The concept was first
And although the focus of the study is on red meat, wild fowl suggested in 1975 by gastroenterologist Walter Voegtlin.
such as ducks, geese, wild turkey and ruffed grouse are
healthier fare than domestic counterparts. As European society evolved away from hunter-gatherer, the
game on farms and estates became the property of the person
The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend: “A variety of pro- who owned the land in most countries. This meant hunting was
tein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, not an option for the ordinary person.
legumes (beans and peas),
and nuts, seeds, and soy That all changed in the New
products”. More specifically, World. Early settlers in North
there is a specific recommen- America discovered the abun-
dation for eight ounces of dant game was a great source
seafood to be consumed per of food to feed themselves and
week. The eicosapentaenoic their families. Those in the city
acid (EPA) and docosahexae- didn’t have the same access
noic acid (DHA) in seafood to game but wild fare and fish
can reduce the risk of car- were still popular items on
dio-vascular disease. Venison backstrap on the grill urban restaurant menus. This
created a demand for market
AN EVOLUTIONARY QUESTION hunting, and combined with habitat loss, was responsible for
plummeting wildlife populations, and in some cases, extinc-
The North American scenario with settlers depending on wild tion.
game for their diet was not unique in the history of evolution.
Over a century later, humans learned the error of their ways
Bruce Watkins of Purdue University and anthropologist Loren and populations of most wildlife species are healthy. Abun-
Cordain of Colorado State University completed a study dant deer tags mean hunters can literally fill their freezers with
looking at the role of dietary fat and its nutritional analysis in venison, and at a reasonable price.
modern food versus what ancient hunter-gatherer societies
ate. Outside of the hunting crowd, people are beginning to realize
the health benefits of wild game as they become more con-
Using detailed chemical analysis, they looked at the meat scious of what they, and the animals they eat, consume.
people ate 10,000 years ago and compared it to modern
livestock fed a diet of oilseed-based feed. Their conclusion The University of Michigan’s Healing Food Pyramid fact sheet
was wild game like venison or elk, and grass-fed beef, con- summed it up well, with the comment, “Choose animal prod-
tain healthy fats. They claim the healthy meat lowers cholester- ucts that are labeled organic, hormone-free, antibiotic-free,
ol and reduces chronic disease risk. free-range, grass-fed, and / or wild whenever possible.”

More specifically, a healthy diet should have the right mix of
omega-6 and omega-3 fats. In the right quantity, Omega-3

Michigan’s Biggest & Best Sport Show
72nd Annual

Michigan Taxidermist Alaskan Timbermen
State Competition Lumberjack Show!

MARCH 16-19
Don’t miss Big Buck Night Thursday!
Features Finest Fishing & Hunting
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• Mark Zona
Turkey Calling Contest
• Mark Romanack
• Mark Martin
• Hawg Trough
• Lake Ultimate • Marianne Huskey
• Woodland Carvers • Lance Valentine
• Virtual Fishing Simulator • Dan Armitage
• Kids Trout Pond • Fred Abbas
• Fly Casting Instruction • Denny Geurink
• Antique Lure Display • Tom Richardson
• Rock Climb • Seth McCollough
• & More! • Jason Herbert

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For more details, advanced tickets, hours and seminar schedule log onto HOURS:
THURSDAY 1 pm – 9 pm
FRIDAY 11 am – 9 pm
SATURDAY 10 am – 8 pm
SUNDAY 10 am – 5 pm
Yield: 8-10 servings
Hickory cider syrup is best made using a
clean percolator. The use of a percolator is important
because it runs the cider through the bark at a hot, but Interview by Drew YoungeDyke
not boiling, temperature. If you boil hickory bark, the
tannins will release from the wood fibers and turn the In Steven Rinella's interview in the preceding pages, he discussed
juice bitter. "venison diplomacy," that is, using wild game as a bridge to connect
INGREDIENTS: non-hunters with the reasons we hunt. Inspired by an article he wrote
1 gallon apple cider
back in 2010 in Oprah Magazine, of all places, MUCC's former execu-
2 quarts hickory bark, broken into small pieces
2 quarts sugar tive director Erin McDonough and Jordan Burroughs, of Michigan State
Salt and blended pepper University Extension, came up with an idea for a program that uses veni-
1 wild turkey breast son diplomacy to connect Michigan's young urban- and surburbanites to
our outdoor heritage. They called it "Gourmet Gone Wild."
Add cold cider to the percolator and the bark pieces Today, Gourmet Gone Wild is a partnership between Michigan United
to the filter. Turn on the percolator and run a complete Conservation Clubs, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources,
cycle. Remove the liquids and remove the filter Michigan State University and the Boone & Crockett Club, and, as of this
chamber of bark. Keep the liquids and bark separate past fall, it is now fully funded by a grant from Cabela's. It's manager,
and cool in refrigerator.
Taylor Renton, actually had her first taste of wild game meat through the
Once cooled, set the percolator back up.
Add the hickory bark back to the filter and run the Gourmet Gone Wild program when she was MUCC's AmeriCorps mem-
liquids through it again. Repeat this process 5 to 10 ber serving with our On the Ground wildlife habitat projects in 2014.
times. After the last run of the percolator, strain the
liquids—the finer the strain, the clearer the resulting She graciously took some time out of her schedule planning gourmet
syrup. wild game events for young professional organizations to answer some
Once strained, mix the sugar into the hickory questions for us, too.
cider and bring it to a near boil. Cool the hickory cider
simple syrup and store in the refrigerator. If stored in an
airtight container, the syrup can last for several months. MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS: WHAT IS GOURMET GONE WILD?
The syrup can crystalize, but a quick heat through in the
microwave will dissolve any crystals.
Season the raw, trimmed turkey breast with Taylor Renton: Gourmet Gone Wild is a nonprofit outreach program that
salt and pepper. Place turkey and hickory cider syrup introduces young professionals and new audiences to hunting, fishing
in a Ziploc bag making sure to remove all air. Set in the and conservation through the local foods movement.
refrigerator to marinate for 12 to 48 hours, turning at
least four times to thoroughly coat.
Remove turkey breast from marinade and cut AND WHO ARE THE PARTNERS IN GOURMET GONE WILD?
with the meat grain into 2-inch wide strips. Preheat grill
to 500˚F, making sure to create a cool zone for slower Right now we are fully funded by the Cabela’s Outdoor Fund, but we are
grilling. a partnership between the DNR, MUCC, MSU’s Fisheries and Wildlife
Grill strips for 3 to 4 minutes on all four sides.
Department and the Boone and Crockett Club.
If the turkey hasn’t thoroughly cooked, remove to a
cooler section of the grill until the internal temperature
has reached 145˚F. Once the turkey is thoroughly
cooked, remove it from direct heat to rest. Once rested, WHAT DOES A GOURMET GONE WILD EVENT LOOK LIKE?
slice thinly against the grain. Serve with your favorite
sides. Usually we partner with a young professional group. Our audience is
usually 24 to 40 year olds. And then we plan an event - sometimes at
TIPS OF THE TRADE: a restaurant, sometimes at a gun club, sometimes it will just be at a park
The bark of a shagbark hickory (Carya ovata) – where we bring in a professional chef to cook wild game dishes, to
is very distinctive and recognizable. They prefer to give them appetizers varying from squirrel fritters to venison rib roulettes
live in the floodplains of the Midwest. The bark can
to Great Lakes fish cakes, so we provide them with that first sample of
be easily collected, and it can often be found on the
ground (under the canopy), or by wiggling loose food. Our chef does a demo on how to cook wild game to make it seem
pieces until you find ones that are ready to fall off. less foreign, and then usually we have a hands-on component where we
Before use, wash bark well, making sure to remove any bring in local mentors from the community to teach an outdoor skill, such
moss or dirt. as archery, shooting or fly-casting.

Gone Wild
Yield: 6-8 servings

8-10 quarter-inch thick venison steaks from round or loin

HOST PER YEAR? 1 small yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
We usually do 10 to 12 events a year, usually about 500 to 600 2 stalks celery, diced
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
participants a year. They’re mostly in the summer.
2 tablespoons peppercorns
¼ cup bourbon
1/8 cup soy sauce
DO YOU USE ONE MAIN CHEF? ¼ cup pineapple juice
1/8 cup lime juice
We mostly work with Chef Dan Nelson, but depending on the area ¼ cup brown sugar
we’re at, we might bring in a chef from another location. Or, if there’s 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
a restaurant we’re working with, we’ll use their chef.
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons bourbon
YOUR CONNECTION TO WILD GAME? 1 cup venison demi-glace
Molasses (optional)
I’ve been with the program for two years. I grew up in suburban Lime juice (optional)
Detroit, so I did not do any hunting. I fished up at my family’s cottage Lineapple juice (optional)
growing up, but I had no interaction with hunters. I think I had one rel-
ative, who maybe hunted, but I never tried wild game. And then I went MARINADE DIRECTIONS:
to school at Washington State to study wildlife ecology and that was In a medium saucepan, warm olive oil over
where I first really started thinking about hunting as a tool for manage- medium heat. Add diced vegetables, garlic and pep-
ment purposes, which made me go from neutral to more “pro-hunt- percorns and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and
add remaining marinade ingredients. Stir until sugar has
ing.” That’s where I first shot guns and really got involved in volun-
dissolved. Transfer marinade to a large bowl and set in
teering. I came back from school with a new idea on wildlife. I started refrigerator to cool.
as the AmeriCorps member for MUCC’s On the Ground program. I Once marinade has cooled, add steaks to mar-
think the first time I ever had a full meal of wild game was the On the inade and cover with plastic wrap. Marinate in refrigera-
Ground project with Consumers Energy at Rose Lake State Wildlife tor for 12-36 hours.
Area. That was maybe the first time I’ve had venison and bear.
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and
AND EVEN BEFORE THAT, BEFORE AMERICORPS, YOU WERE water. Place on medium heat and cook until syrup
ONE OF THE FIRST ONES TO VOLUNTEER TO COLLECT SIGNA- caramelizes to a medium brown color. Keep pan moving
while sugar water caramelizes to prevent burning. Re-
move caramel from heat. Add bourbon to caramel and
ACT. DO YOU DO OTHER VOLUNTEER WORK? stir to combine. Add demi-glace to mixture and return to
medium heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until mixture
I do a lot of volunteering with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, reduces by half. You can add molasses, more lime juice
Ducks Unlimited, the Mule Deer Foundation when I was in North or some pineapple juice to sweeten the sauce. Store
Dakota, all those groups. sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight container until
ready to use. Reheat sauce when ready to serve.

Email Taylor at if you're part of a group Remove steaks from marinade and let rest for
30-45 minutes. Grill steaks over direct heat at 400°
that would like to host a Gourmet Gone Wild event.
for 1 minute on each side. Remove steaks from grill. Let
steaks rest 5-10 minutes. Pour warmed bourbon sauce
over steaks when ready to serve.

Full Draw |
by Tom Nelson
It had been a long morning. In fact, it was approaching
noon when, after a slow and grueling track job, we found After the congratulatory back slaps, my friend pulled
the expired doe. My hunting buddy had arrowed this adult his license from his billfold and began to cut out his tag.
doe just after first shooting light. The shot looked a tad back Finished, he started fumbling about in his pockets and then
so he was reluctant to take up the tracking without some his fanny pack. “What are you searching for?” I asked.
support. A quick text had me in my truck and heading in “Something to attach this tag to the deer with,” was his
his direction. After checking out his blood-stained arrow, I weak response. He then bent down to cut his boot lace.
agreed with his assessment of a liver hit. It had now been That is when I called a halt to his action and slipped my
almost two hours since he had shot the doe. The early day pack from back. Unzipping it I did a quick scan and
October weather was warm, almost hot and we began to pulled a plastic bag with some zip ties out. My buddy
take up the trail. The tracking was a bit difficult as the blood shook his head and mumbled, “Tom you always have
spoor was marginal and our progress slow yet methodical. whatever is needed in your pack.” Zipping the pack shut, I
Finally, we located her some 200 yards from our starting thought to myself, “yeah, almost.”

Like a great majority of hunters, I carry a small day pack I have gotten my gloves wet getting into my stand or
in which I have, in my opinion, all the possible items I blind. As most of you are aware, once your hands are
may need on a solo day hunt. Some of these items have wet they tend to get cold and fast. Having a pair of dry
remained in my pack for years yet have never been gloves to put on can save you some pain later.
pulled from it. Other pieces of essential gear are utilized
on almost every hunt I make. The following is a list of BOW HOOKS | I always carry a few spare bow hang-
items I feel every hunter should carry when out in the ers with me. I use these little hooks to hang my bow and
field: pack. Many times I have climbed into a stand only to
find out that there is no bow hanger available, or there is
BINOCULARS | I cannot even imagine going bow hunt- a bow hanger but nothing to hang my pack from.
ing without them. Good optics are a must for identifying
and watching all types of flora and fauna. WIND DETECTOR | I am a freak when it comes to scent
and wind direction. I always carry some device for mon-
TOILET PAPER | Really, this item needs no explanation. itoring wind direction. I utilize the FireFly wind detector
But, besides the well-known need for it, toilet paper has quite often as it can detect even the slightest breeze.
other essential uses. For one, toilet paper is great for
marking blood trails. Its white color is EXTRA RELEASE | I am always
highly visible and easily attached to "Tom, You surprised how many archers own

always have
bushes and branches. two or three bows yet only own
one release. If you are a finger
MOIST WIPES | These handy wipes
have many uses from cleaning blood whatever shooter, this is not a problem. But, if
you shoot with a trigger or release,
off your hands after field dressing is
completed to wiping your knife clean. is needed finding out you have forgotten yours
or having it malfunction can spell a
They also work great for removing
stubborn camo make up after the
in your pack." ruined or cut short hunt.

hunt. If you are pulling an all-day hunt and are about The above are some of the most important articles that I
to eat your snack or lunch, these handy cloths can be carry when bow hunting but they are not all. Other must
utilized to clean up your hands should you not have any have items are:
hand sanitizer.
Flashlight and extra batteries
ROPE | I always carry a length of cord with me. I have Extra release
used it for a bow rope, deer drag, clothesline and more. Camo Makeup
When elk hunting, this cord works excellent for tying off Knife
a back leg to make the field dressing chore a bit easier. Deer scent and lures along with scent killer spray.
Just recently, I used the rope to tie up a wandering dog Hand Pruners or a small saw
that was disrupting my hunt and lead him back to my Rangefinder
truck where I called his owner. You just never know when Compass
it will be needed next. Chemical handwarmer

ZIPLOC BAGS | I use these to carry out deer hearts, Even after over 40 years of bow hunting, I am still find-
when I am lucky, and store candy bars and other good- ing items that I include in my pack. For instance, only re-
ies. I also use these watertight bags to store bottles of cently I have added zip ties and I am amazed how often
deer scent once they have been open. If you have ever I use these them. Garbage bag, this plastic bag has been
had a cap come loose on a bottle of doe pee in your used as a rain poncho, meat container and more and the
pack, you know why I use these bags. list continues to grow. What amazes me the most, is the
fact that 40 years ago, if it didn’t fit in my camo pant or
EXTRA GLOVES | I have been carrying extra gloves in jacket pockets, it was left at home. I like to think that now
my pack for years. More times than I want to remember, I hunt smarter not harder.

Gear | ATA SHOW by Drew YoungeDyke

In January, I attended the ATA (Archery Trade Association) Show in Indianapolis, Indiana. The ATA Show is where
archery gear manufacturers and retailers make the deals that decide what products will line the shelves and bow
racks at your local archery shop and outdoor megastore. For reviews of the best new bows and crossbows, I'll be
the first to refer you to the national outdoor magazines; they have all the gadgets to test IBO speed, etc. What I
looked for was the interesting gear that was unique, functional or just looked like something I wanted in the field
with me on my hunts. Hopefully you'll see the gear featured here at your favorite outdoor store soon!


Belmont, Michigan-based WyndScent and
Fourth Arrow are growing fast in popularity
amongst bowhunters. Fourth Arrow makes
sturdy and articulated camera arms for bow-
hunters who like to film their hunts.
WyndScent is a vapor scent-dispersal
system, which uses replacable cartridges to
disperse cover or attractant scent. New this
year is a remote activator with a range of up
to 40 yards.


Greg Misner, pictured above (and featured in Rob
Harrell's excellent piece on the company on Page 56),
shows off a new bow case with an integrated sling that
detaches from the case without having to detach from
your bow, as well as the only bow sling with neoprene
pockets to carry your gear. Bohning also showcased its
new Heat vanes, more rigid and with a lower profile than
their iconic Blazer vanes.


The Bronc Box was one of those items that
immediately captured my attention walking past
the booth. It's a gear storage crate with a built-in
bow/fiream case, internal dividers, and yes, it is
TSA-compliant. It's kind of like a YETI cooler for your
gear. If you travel to hunt often, it would definitely
be something to look into, but I could also see it
finding a semi-permenent home in the locked bed of
a pickup or in the cargo area of an SUV throughout
hunting season.


Option Archery has a few unique products, especially the
Quivilizer, shown above. The Quivilizer is a quiver that can
attach to your compound bow traditionally, or as a stabilzer,
as shown. They also have a sight that converts from a multi-
pin to an adjustable single pin sight. With both products, the
option is yours.


Gold Tip has earned a reputation as a premium
arrow, and for traditional archers, they showcased
the Gold Tip Traditional and Traditional Classic.
The Traditional Classic is similar to its Kinetic Kaos
premium line of carbon arrows, but wrapped in
a wood-grain skin and feather vanes. I used the
Kinetic Kaos in the challenge course portion of Train
To Hunt in Pennsylvania last summer and bow-
hunting this fall, to which fell a whitetail doe, three
squirrels and a chipmunk, so it's safe to say I'm a
fan. I even grouped better shooting their Traditional
Classic off a Tribe Halo recurve at the ATA Show
(pictured) than I do in my usual practice sessions
(and after a shooting form correction from "Long-
bow Dan" of the Longbow Theory YouTube
tutorials). Check out our Instagram page
@michiganoutofdoors1947 for a video showing
how Gold Tip demonstrates the toughness of their
carbon arrows.

Behind the scenes with the "LITTLE GIANTS OF LAKE CITY,"
by Rob Harrell
Most bowhunters know their name. Their products can be Doug Easton and Fred Bear to develop a product that nearly
found in almost any hunting pro shop you walk into. Tourna- every archer has used: Fletch-Tite® fletching cement. This was
ment archers rely on their quality and precision. Yes, indeed, I one of the first fletching cements ever produced and when
am talking about Bohning Archery. these two archery icons come knocking on your door to help
build their arrows, it’s a real testament to how great of a prod-
Bohning Archery has evolved from a chemical and lubricant uct it really is. To sit back and think about all of the hunts that
company to being known as the experts in archery equipment Fred and Doug went on, it’s pretty neat to say that Bohning
and accessories. Success didn’t happen overnight, though: Archery’s products were there for each one.
it has taken decades of dedication striving for perfection that
has lead them to being the industry’s best. In the early 1970’s, Rollin decided it was time to step away
from the business, so he handed the reigns over to his daugh-
Rollin Bohning founded The Bohning Company, Ltd. in 1946. ter and son-in-law, Martha Johnson and Colby Johnson,
He was a research chemist who also had a passion for hunt- respectively. After Rollin retired and the Johnson’s ran the
ing and the outdoors. As an avid bowhunter, he was less than company through the late 1980’s, Larry Griffith (another
impressed with the cements that were presently available for son-in-law) became President in 1987. Bohning Archery has
bonding his broadheads to his arrow shafts. With his chemical been under Larry’s guidance ever since. His dedication to his
background, he decided to create his own bonding agent company - and particularly his employees - is unquestionable.
and Ferr-L-Tite® was born. This recipe was specifically de- He treats his company like a family and believes in the values
signed to adhere metal to wood and aluminum arrow shafts. that a small tight-knit group atmosphere brings.
Although the batch of ingredients has been tinkered with some
throughout the years, Ferr-L-Tite® is still the industry standard As you might imagine, Mr. Griffith gets contacted quite fre-
70 years later. quently by other companies and investors seeking interest in
buying the family business. The employees at Bohning Archery
Rollin’s invention brought him some notoriety in the bowhunt- - and the entire Lake City community - are happy to know that
ing world and in the early 1950’s, he worked with his friends the last thing that Larry wants is to sell everything they have

worked so hard for and to see the business moved away. This fletching and Bowhunting Magazine has recognized them
not only provides a sense of job security, but emphasizes that with “The Best Vane Award,” for the past 10 years. Blazer®
Bohning Archery is a hometown business with core family Vanes come standard on several arrows manufactured by
values. Carbon Express, Gold Tip and Easton, to name a few. The
company has about 2,500 dealers nationwide and doesn’t
This dedication is what lured Greg Misner to join the company show any signs of slowing down. Other notable products from
two years ago, where he is now the National Sales Man- Bohning include arrow nocks, bow string wax, adhesives,
ager. Greg originates from White Cloud, Michigan, where fletching jigs, bow cases, and quivers.
he grew up and went to Olivet College to earn a teaching
degree. Shortly into his teaching career, Greg found himself “One of the real surges in the industry is the demand from
laid off due to budget cuts. He and his wife decided this was consumers for customization,” Greg explains. “Many shooters
an opportunity to look for teaching jobs out of the state and out there want to customize their setups so that they have vane
moved west to Montana. He was hired immediately and spent colors that match their bow or different designs that make their
the next 12 years as a special education teacher and football hunting equipment unique. We at Bohning are able to give
coach. Shortly after arriving in Montana, Greg saw an oppor- that to them.”
tunity to open his own archery shop. The area didn’t have a
local shop at the time and soon
this part-time business grew into
something very large.

Between running his shop, sup-
porting all of the local archery
tournaments and teaching
archery in the school, it was
inevitable that his passion for
archery and his career as a
teacher were competing for
Greg’s time. Trying to juggle
all of the activities that he was
involved in, Greg knew it was
time to choose. While traveling
and working the booths for
Bohning as a member of their
shooting staff, he always said
that if an opportunity presented
itself to work for Bohning, he
would jump on it. One day that
opportunity came when the pre-
Greg Misner
vious sales manager called and said they
were hiring a sales assistant. Greg interviewed and Bohning With over 1,500 different SKU’s and 40 color and design op-
Archery offered him the position. tions just in vanes, Bohning is able to provide their customers
with any design and color combination they can imagine.
While he was packing up and getting ready to make the The manufacturing operation producing these vanes is an effi-
trek back to Michigan, Greg received a surprise. The sales cient and stream-lined process. The raw ribbons are produced
manager who hired him had accepted an opportunity to work by mixing their special batch of colored resin through a long
for G5, thus Greg’s dream job had opened up. Greg happily extruder that cools the material. These ribbons are then hung
accepted the offer to replace him as the new National Sales and stored as raw material inventory on tall racks similar to
Manager at Bohning Archery. “I’m truly blessed to have a what you would see at a dry cleaners. When an order comes
job that I love and it’s been an awesome experience,” Misner in, the specific ribbon is pulled and run through the cutting,
says. printing and sorting machines. Bohning Archery is the only
company to master the ability to print on their vanes during
To many, Bohning is most recognized for their Blazer® Vanes, this cycle, while all other companies need to sort and then
which has been the #1 Selling Vane for 11 years running. stamp their vanes by hand. The entire process is automated
These vanes are the industry standard when it comes to arrow and the vanes don’t touch a human hand until it is time to pull

Blazer vanes in production
and ship the orders. Bohning Archery is able to produce up local Boys Scouts and 4H clubs is just a small portion of their
to 36,000 vanes per day all while maintaining the highest contribution. Getting the local youth into archery is a priority
possible quality. to Bohning, and as Greg says, “the youth are our future, so it’s
important we get them into archery early.”
Other manufacturing processes - such as injection molds
producing the nocks and the graphic design area that prints The best companies in the world are always looking for ways
out the arrow wraps - are all done in-house and controlled to improve, never being satisfied with their past achievements
by Bohning. They even have a separate tool and die area and continuously striving to remain a step ahead of their
where they make their own molds. You would never know that competition. You can certainly find this mentality at Bohning
this was all going on in these small workshops in Lake City, Archery. While the company has won many awards for their
Michigan. products along the way, you won’t find a trophy case show-
ing off these achievements.
When you approach the driveway and enter the parking lot,
you really need to slow down because your instincts tell you “Larry is proud of every award we receive,” Greg says, “but
that this can’t be the place that makes all these great products. he doesn’t want us to sit on those and become complacent, so
What looks like a small colony of pole barns and office build- you won’t find many around the office.”
ings, all similar in shape, size, and color, is the original site
where Rollin Bohning started it all seven decades ago. Yes, Bohning Archery has a lot of new products coming out in
buildings have been added as the business expanded, but 2017 including the new Heat Vanes, a non-tacky wax that
you can see that conscious efforts have been made to keep comes in a box instead of a tube, and a new bow case that
this company grounded. So much so that Larry Griffith lives in comes with an integrated bow sling (See our ATA Gear Sec-
the house next door and bought a small manufacturing facility tion).
across the street, now known as “Bohning North.”
For more information on Bohning’s line of products, visit www.
It’s important to the company that Lake City and surrounding Special thanks to Greg Misner and the entire
communities share in their success. Donating equipment to the Bohning staff. RH

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Mandatory Antler point rest
rictions: Pro & CON 2017 SPRING EDITION
PLUS: Behind the scenes with the Keefer Brothers! 2017 WINTER EDITION



Michigan Girls Exclusive interview with The
Michigan native about veniso
public lands, trapping, catch
MeatEater and
n diplomacy,
and release

fishing and much more!
TOM NELSON Gaylord, Michigan's

| Rule the rut Jada Johnson, Host of

Turkey Hunting
Big Boys Adventures TV
on the Sportsman Channel,
ToNY HANSEN Represents the Growing
Generation of Female Hunters
| be a better
Train to huntToo
Michigan’s own Ray Bickel
won the first Train To Hunt

bowhunter Challenge held east of the
Mississippi River.

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by Darren Warner | Photos by the author

require a police presence to fend off angry citizens? And
Editor's note: Just prior to publication, the City of Ann Arbor what’s going on here that would compel folks to leave their
released a statement confirming that one of the sterilized does daily responsibilities to come show their displeasure?
was euthanized days later after being observed
acting strange and in poor health by an area resident. Simply put, the city of Ann Arbor believes it has too many
- Drew YoungeDyke deer. The city council approved a plan that calls for using
sharpshooters to cull up to 100 whitetails, and have

veterinarians remove the ovaries of an additional 80 female
nother healthy whitetail doe darted and sedated, and deer. The plan was approved by the Michigan Department
another ovariectomy about to begin. of Natural Resources (DNR), which agreed to let a non-profit
company, White Buffalo Inc., come to Michigan and perform
An hour ago, I arrived at the maintenance building of the work.
the Huron Hills Golf Course in Ann Arbor. A volunteer
immediately asked me who I was and what I wanted. After I If you’re interested in how this controversy is playing out,
gave him my credentials, Bob McGee (Ann Arbor) softened, keep reading. We’re going to dig into the issues surrounding
explaining that Ann Arbor Police are conducting drive-bys to Ann Arbor’s contentious deer management plan, and why
make sure protestors aren’t holding up the process. the DNR would grant the city permission to do something to
whitetails that’s never been done before in the Great Lakes
What would be so controversial, you may ask, that would State.
HOW MANY DEER? her on performing the ovariectomies, and she’s anxious to get
First, a key fact that shouldn’t be overlooked: Ann Arbor
doesn’t know how many urban deer it has. That alone has “I think it’s pretty amazing what they [veterinarians] can do,
some crying foul. and I’m in favor of anything as long as it’s not hunting,” Dyer
said. “They [whitetails] were here first, and we [humans] need
“We’ve yet to see any data showing that these expensive to figure out ways to live with them.”
population reduction methods are needed,” said Wendy
Welch, communications director for the Huron Valley Humane Ah, hunting. Why not use hunting? According to Steve
Society (not affiliated with the Humane Society of the United Crawford, Ann Arbor’s chief financial officer and chairman of
States). “The only data [evidence] we’ve seen is the city telling its deer management project, no bowhunting organizations
us that deer are eating some plants in some parks, and a ever approached the city about helping lower its whitetail
survey that showed some residents have concerns about their population.
landscaping and deer-vehicle collisions.”
“I don’t think it would work, because we have too many
To be fair, the DNR doesn’t require urban communities to residents who are against hunting,” Crawford said.
demonstrate they have too many deer (i.e., they’ve exceeded
their deer carrying capacity) before allowing them to reduce Our own Drew YoungeDyke, MUCC’s public information
the number they have. officer, remembers differently

“We grant communities
permission to reduce their
"I'm in favor of anything as how the city council dealt with
the hunting proposition.

deer population based on
how comfortable and tolerant long as it's not hunting." “At two of their public meetings,
I got up and spoke on behalf of
residents are with the number our organization, and I offered
of deer they have, and whether
the deer have become a
-Veterinarian performing to help them design an urban
bowhunting program, like they

deer sterilization
nuisance,” explained DNR have in Meridian Township,”
deer and elk program specialist explained YoungeDyke, who’s
Chad Stewart. also an Ann Arbor resident.
“One lady asked afterwards
Deer-vehicle collisions in Ann Arbor are on the rise. Look what she could tell her child if a deer dies from a bowhunter’s
around on any given day and you’ll see several deer arrow in their backyard. I told her to tell them that that's where
carcasses on roadsides. While most city-dwellers agree the food comes from.”
home to the University of Michigan has more than its fair share
of deer, what to do to about them is really what has residents YoungeDyke added that the city council approved its 2017
incensed. Deer Management Plan on Nov. 14, 2016 – the night before
opening day of Michigan’s firearm deer season. It’s safe to
CONTROVERSIAL DEER STERILIZATIONS say few, if any, deer hunters were present at the meeting to
voice their concerns.
The first two does are brought into the quiet maintenance
shed. They’re dead to the world from the cocktail of drugs DEER EXPERIMENTS?
they received at capture to make them go to sleep. Each deer
is set on a non-sterile, white Formica table, and a technician The unconscious doe is laid in the supine position on the table,
immediately begins to shave an area on the deer’s hind flank a blue underpad is placed over its lower abdomen, and Dr.
to make sure the dart that was used to sedate the animal is Dyer begins the ovariectomy. I must admit that I’m a little
completely dislodged. Another technician installs a catheter in surprised by the lack of sterile conditions in which the surgery
an upper leg, in case something goes wrong and the whitetail is performed. Dyer wears no surgical cap, and volunteers
needs additional drugs to keep it alive. Dr. Steve Timm, a come and go to observe the work. The doctor makes a
veterinarian with White Buffalo, Inc., explains that it takes 10 3-inch incision in the lower abdomen and begins extracting
to 15 minutes for a surgeon to remove both ovaries. Tonight, the ovaries. Toward the end of the procedure, she instructs a
another vet, Dr. Katie Dyer, will also be sterilizing deer. Dyer volunteer with no medical training to do the final cutting that
owns two practices, Family Pet Practice in Waterford and removes the second ovary.
Wixom Family Pet Practice in Wixom. Timm recently trained Ann Arbor isn’t the first city White Buffalo has worked in.

Michigan Deer Management Plan). Stewart understands
why both anti-hunters and hunters are up in arms, but argues
that giving Ann Arbor permission to sterilize deer will help the
agency manage urban deer better.

“We really don’t know how well this method will help urban
communities control their deer populations,” explained
Stewart. “We view this as research, and if we [the DNR]
are to be considered credible and an authority on deer
management, we have to maintain objectivity when these
techniques are considered.”

The DNR may view the ovariectomies as deer population
research, but it’s unclear how the agency will fully evaluate
the project. Stewart noted that radio telemetry collars will be
placed on several deer, enabling researchers to monitor the
deer for several months after the surgery. But the technology
can only provide a small amount of information, and nothing
about how much stress the deer is under (see sidebar).
Most of the does are pregnant at the time of capture and
sterilization, and will miscarry their fetus(es) three to four days
after surgery.

A deer has its ovaries removed in a golf course maintence shed Still, the DNR believes Ann Arbor’s deer management plan
warranted approval.
Nine other urban centers have hired the company to perform
ovariectomies on 746 deer, including Cincinnati, Ohio; “We approved the plan because it includes the use of
East Hampton, New York; Fairfax, Virginia; and San Jose, sharpshooters to reduce the deer population,” Stewart added.
California. To the best of his knowledge, White Buffalo “This form of sterilization and deer culling have never been
founder and president Dr. Tony DeNicola reports that two used together by an urban community to manage deer.”
deer have died from the procedure.
“The greatest risk of mortality isn’t from the surgery, but from
the capture,” said DeNicola. “A deer may tumble down a hill The ovary that was just removed from the doe is a little larger
or fall into a pond after being darted and sedated. Some deer than the size of a quarter. I have field-dressed countless
may have a pre-existing medical condition we don’t know deer and I’ve handled the excrement of my own three small
about.” children, yet I feel a little squeamish after observing the
second ovary slide off the surgical pad and onto the corner of
Although the whitetails are sedated, handling any wild animal the table. No one seems to notice. The ovary is an invaluable
is risky business. All animals, including deer, react to stress organ infused into deer by nature to ensure the success of
with a “flight or fight” response. This response produces the whitetail population, and a moment later, it’s tossed in
adrenaline, and persistent stress keeps adrenaline levels the trash. Dyer closes the incision with surgical staples, a tech
dangerously high, which can lead to a potentially fatal sprays down the surgical area with disinfectant, then wipes it
condition known as capture myopathy. Researchers have off with an ordinary paper towel. On to the next “patient.”
found that some animals are more susceptible to capture
myopathy, including deer, rabbits and sandhill cranes. Every Ann Arbor’s deer management plan may include culling and
time humans handle a wild deer, they run the risk of inflicting sterilizing, but it’s weak in other key areas.
capture myopathy.
“One of the problems I see is that the city doesn’t realize that
The DNR’s taken a lot of criticism for allowing White Buffalo it is inadvertently inviting deer into certain area by how it
to sterilize Ann Arbor deer, particularly when its own Deer manages those areas,” McGee said. “For example, there’s
Management Plan calls for working with urban communities an area not far from here [Huron Hills Golf Course] where the
to consider using hunting as the primary tool for dealing city stopped mowing the grass. Now there’s tall grass, and
with urban deer issues (Goal 2.1, Action 4, page 20 of the deer are using it to bed in and to eat.”

The Humane Society of the United
States (HSUS) maintained a
strong presence at city council
meetings in which Ann Arbor’s deer
management plan was discussed.
McGee admits that he consulted
with HSUS staff when conducting
much of the background research
on deer population control
methods, information he then
reported back to the city council.
For those unfamiliar with the HSUS,
the powerful organization heavily
favors non-lethal sterilizations
over hunting to get urban deer
populations under control. Most
hunters and organizations like
the National Rifle Association
view the HSUS as an anti-hunting

“The HSUS has no business getting
involved in how Michigan deals
with urban deer,” said Trey Waters

Set your
(Grand Rapids). “It’s like letting a
fox guard your henhouse.”

Unfortunately, when it comes to
urban bowhunters helping Ann
Arbor deal with its deer problem, it

appears that option’s off the table.

“The city will never allow hunting
now, and other cities probably
won't now, either,” YoungeDyke
said. “By approving their permit, the
DNR made that certain.”

From Jan. 22-29, 2017, White
Buffalo sterilized 54 does, at a Own a piece of Michigan’s great
cost of $98,000 paid by Ann outdoors. GreenStone offers land
Arbor residents. The city will spend
another $85,000 for deer culling. financing on unlimited acreage with
In comparison, for the cost to terms up to 30 years.
sterilize just one deer, six dogs
could be spayed by Ann Arbor To learn more, contact a lending
vets. For $98,000, about 326 dogs
or 392 cats could be neutered.
expertat one of our 36 offices today!

I leave Ann Arbor with a sick
feeling in the pit of my stomach – all
hunters should feel the same. DW
P RO & C O N

There is literally no issue that can divide Michigan deer hunters like mandatory antler point restrictions, often referred to as
"MAPRs." Bring it up at deer camp, and someone's likely to get tossed in the snowbank. Bring it up on social media, and you'll
find yourself in a protracted debate with someone just as unwilling to listen to the other side. It's an issue which cannot be
ignored, though. After all, the Natural Resources Commission will be updating deer hunting regulations this Spring, as it does
every three years, and MAPRs are likely to be considered.

You may already have made up your mind which side you agree with, but some of you may be like me, and simply haven't
been fully convinced by either side yet. So we asked two prominent outdoor writers - both of whom we respect - with differing
views on MAPRs to each take their best shot at convincing you that their side is right.

For the "PRO" side, we asked Dr. Jim Brauker, author of "Extreme Deer Habitat," to write why he believes MAPRs would be a
good thing for Michigan. And for the "CON" side, we asked Richard P. Smith, author of "Deer Hunting" and "Great Michigan
Deer Tales," to write why he believes MAPRs would be bad for Michigan. And we didn't tell either writer who the other would
be. Each ot the following columns represent solely the opinion of the writer, and not Michigan United Conservation Clubs.

For the record, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) is neutral; for MUCC to take a position, one of our members
or member clubs would have to write a resolution asking that we either "support" or "oppose" MAPRs, introduce it at one of
our quarterly conservation policy meetings, convince our conservation policy board to pass it on to our Annual Convention in
June, and then convince two-thirds of all the voting delegates representing sportsmen's clubs, conservation organizations and
individual members around the state that they're right. No one from either side has yet met that bar, so we encourage you to
read both sides fairly, consider their arguments, and decide for yourself, if you haven't already.

Throughout the remainder of this feature, Dr. Jim Brauker's "PRO-MAPR" column will appear in the green box and Richard P.
Smith's "CON-MAPR" column will appear in the white box. Thank you to both Dr. Brauker and Mr. Smith for expressing their
opinions on this often divisive topic. Whatever your view, please be respect the views of those on the other side; after all, we're
all hunters.

Hunt your hunt,
Drew YoungeDyke, Editor

by Richard P. Smith by Dr. Jim Brauker

Freedom: That’s the principal the United States of America was Before 2006, I never heard of passing a shot at a buck.
founded upon. Most Americans enjoy and cherish their free- Like most hunters in Michigan, my goal every year was to
dom to choose all aspects of their lives. If you are a Michigan get a buck and be the first one out of the woods to show it
deer hunter, you may no longer have the freedom to choose off. Finally, in my fourth decade of hunting, while tracking
which buck you decide to shoot, depending upon where you a wounded buck on opening day of firearm season in
live and decide to hunt. Mandatory antler point restrictions 2006, I wound up talking to a neighbor, Erick, who told
(MAPRs) are slowly, but surely, eroding the freedom and tradi- me about his plan to grow bigger bucks by passing smaller
tion that hunters used to enjoy statewide and took for granted. ones. I was dumfounded. Every hunter I had ever known
was, like me, so focused on antlers that they did not pass
Loss of the freedom to choose which antlered buck to shoot is a shot at a buck. I thought he was foolish and informed
one of the negatives of mandatory antler point restrictions, but him that his goal was impossible; “How do you think you
there are many more. Most importantly, MAPRs can not only are going to be successful with neighbors like us?” I said,
reduce your chances of filling tags, the practice has negative “We’re going to shoot the first buck we see.”
consequences for deer management and there are no biologi-
cal benefits of MAPRs over traditional deer management. Erick was disappointed, but over the next two years, he
gained an ally. I started to study whitetails and learned
Since 1921, a legal buck in Michigan has been defined as that not only was it possible to grow older bucks in a
a whitetail with at least one antler that is a minimum of three neighborhood, but it was already happening and had
inches long. That’s as much a part of Michigan deer hunting been the reason I had gotten my biggest buck ever in
tradition as November 15 is the opening day of firearms sea- 2005, as he trotted from Erick’s property to ours. It would
son. Most often, spike-antlered bucks are 1.5 years old and be another two years before I passed my first buck. But I
are usually referred to as yearling bucks, which are sexually never looked back, and began to shoot the biggest bucks
mature. Whitetails are polygamous, meaning bucks breed mul- of my life year after year, with the help of neighbors in a
tiple does. That makes adult bucks that are at least 1.5 years deer cooperative.
old the most expendable segment of the population because
it’s not necessary to have an equal number of bucks and does What about hunters who don’t have like-minded neigh-
to insure does will be bred. bors, or on public land? By 2009 I heard about efforts
towards mandatory antler point restrictions (MAPRs). I was
The spike rule became popular and widely accepted as the initially opposed, thinking it would limit hunter opportunity.
definition of a legal buck in Michigan for many years. When I was wrong. In 2009, while attending an outdoor show
deer numbers were low, most hunters were happy to shoot in Leelanau County, I found out that MAPRs had been in
any legal buck. Even when whitetails became more abundant, place there for six years and that 72% of hunters support-
hunters with limited time to hunt remained content with any le- ed them in a DNR survey. I compared Leelanau data to
gal buck. Over much of Michigan’s history, one of the primary the surrounding 12 counties (NW 12). Yearling harvest
reasons people hunted deer was to get meat for the table and dropped from around 65% to 30%, while there was little
that’s still one of the primary motivations for pursuing whitetails change in surrounding counties. Mature buck harvest (3.5
among plenty of hunters today. years and older) went up, from around 15% percent to
40%. And one of the biggest fears - that it would decrease
Due to the value of venison as food historically, little emphasis hunter participation - was proven wrong. While hunter
was put on the size of whitetail antlers. Valuing the size of deer numbers fell in the surrounding counties by 19%, Leelanau
antlers over the meat they provide has been a recent phe- alone had not suffered a decline.
nomenon, although the non-hunting public does not support
this trend. Research has shown that there is strong support for Public land hunters were most enthusiastic. Clay McNitt,
hunting among the public as long as it is done to secure food, who hunted for 30 years, mostly on the 300 plus acre
but not for “trophies.” family properties in Wexford County, shot the 10 biggest
bucks of his life in Leelanau County under MAPRs. All but

one came from public land, and five came from the sandy, buck. He’s having so much fun in the woods and has so much
windswept, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Largely confidence that he will see lots of bucks that he has become
fueled by public land hunters, who were feeling the effects of more patient and is targeting only the biggest bucks.
increased hunting pressure, a successful movement expand-
ed the experiment to the NW 12. After the fourth season of As a self-described meat hunter and professional butcher, Lyal
MAPRs in the NW 12, social media is on fire with testimonials is thrilled to see that his customers are getting more meat with
from hunters having great experiences. Yearling harvest fell each buck they shoot. He says they used to bring him boned
from around 65% to under 25%, and mature buck harvest meat in little milk crates but now they need bigger contain-
rose from 15% to over ers. And as a professional
40%. Hunters sacrificed butcher, he says that the
the first year with lower flavor and the tenderness
buck harvest, but it soon of the meat comes from
returned to near pre-APR proper processing, and
levels. age is not a very important
Clay was enthusiastic
about MAPRs from the be- So, why MAPRs in Michi-
ginning but Emmet County gan? Why not a one buck
hunter Lyal Hankins was rule (OBR)? Among the
not. When Lyal heard ten states with the lowest
about MAPRs coming to yearling harvest rate, only
the NW 12, he did not one has an OBR. And
like the idea, and thought in Michigan, only 4% of
that it would hurt hunt- hunters kill two bucks, and
ers. Lyal, a professional over 40% only buy one
butcher, loves venison. tag, which probably puts
He had been a self-de- more one tag hunters in the
scribed “old school, if it’s field than all the licensed
brown it’s down hunter” hunters in Indiana. It is not
for his entire life. He had regulations that matter;
fears that MAPRs would it is hunter density and
make it difficult for him culture. In Michigan, we
and more importantly his kill 3.9 bucks per square
friends to fill the freezer. mile, compared to 0.5 in
He changed his mind. Kansas, 0.8 in Iowa, 1.2 in
Clay McNitt and his son Spencer with his top 10 bucks from 30 years Illinois, 1.4 in Indiana, and
In the first year of MAPRs, of hunting, all from Leelanau County, nine on public land and five two in Ohio. Per the Michigan
Lyal shot the second from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. DNR, we kill 50-70% of our
biggest buck of his life, an bucks every year, so only 30-
eight pointer that he feels he only got because of the MAPRs. 50% survive, explaining why we have so few older bucks.
Lyal was forced to pass smaller bucks that he would normal-
ly have shot, and therefore it was the MAPRs that led to his There is a huge cultural difference that is shared by all the
killing of this buck, since he would have disrupted his hunting traditional northern deer states of Minnesota, Wisconsin,
stand and would likely have never seen the eight-point without Pennsylvania, and New York. In the great post-war era of
the MAPRs. Michigan hunting, we killed 70-90,000 bucks per year when
there was no deer hunting in Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana,
Since 2013, Lyal says his hunting experience is much better. or Ohio. We had OBR, and the goal of most was to “get yer
He spends more time hunting because it is more exciting in the buck”. Hunters in those big buck states developed a different
deer woods. He’s passed many larger bucks than his 2013 culture. When deer huntingPro finally began, there were large

Even though spike bucks were legal, and spikehorns were practice more strict APRs than the state standard spike rule,
often the first bucks that many Michigan hunters put their first they were free to do so without impacting anyone else.
tags on, some experienced hunters started a movement to
put more stringent APRs on themselves on a voluntary basis The DNR modified their stance on MAPRs to say they support
by only shooting bucks with forked antlers, six points or eight voluntary APRs, unless at least 66% of the hunters in a deer
points. The UP Whitetails Association has promoted voluntary management unit (DMU) or region support it. The end result is
APRs for many years by posting billboards carrying the there is currently a hodge-podge of different MAPRs scattered
message, “Let ‘em go. Let ‘em grow,” and this mindset is now throughout the state, which make deer hunting regulations
widely accepted among Michigan hunters and has resulted more complicated than they should be. Only bucks with one
in the increase of older age class bucks on both public and branched antler are legal in some areas. In other locations,
private property throughout the state. No regulation changes bucks must have a minimum of three points on one antler that
were or are necessary for any deer hunter who wants to are at least an inch long. And in still other regions, spikes or
practice voluntary APRs. better are legal on one license, but not on another.

The greatest boom in Michigan’s recent deer hunting history Those same regulations make it more difficult for hunters to
occurred when the “spike rule” was in effect statewide. fill their tags. Under the spike rule, all a hunter has to do is
Between the 1980s and 1990s, the number of whitetails in the determine if a buck has a visible antler that is at least three
state increased from less than a million to at least two million. inches long before deciding if it’s a buck legal to shoot. Any
Many of those deer were bucks of all age classes. More deer time you have to take the time to count antler points before
meant more deer hunting opportunity. The annual buck bag deciding whether or not it’s legal to shoot a deer, there’s a
limit was increased from one to as many as four at one point chance you either won’t be able to determine how many
and then was wisely dropped back to the current level of two. points a buck has before it’s gone or, if you do see it has
enough points, it’s too late to shoot after you’ve made that
What happened during the ‘80s and ‘90s proves that MAPRs determination.
are not necessary to produce more and bigger bucks in
Michigan. The number of whitetails, including adult bucks, I’ve interviewed many hunters who have shot Boone and
that were harvested by hunters in the state during those Crockett caliber bucks for my series of books titled Great
decades was phenomenal. The factors that contributed to Michigan Deer Tales, and some of them have told me they
that boom were mild winters, an active logging industry and would not have been able to shoot those bucks with huge
DNR policies that supported the survival of northern deer antlers if they would have been forced to count points
during the winter. Many logging operations were planned because they could only see a small part of the rack when
during the winter to benefit whitetails and emergency cuttings they shot the whitetails. Thick cover and brush can frequently
were undertaken in winter deeryards during the worst winters obscure most of a set of antlers from view during a variety of
to make sure deer had enough food. The public was also hunting scenarios. Counting antler points on bucks that are
allowed to feed deer during the winter on both public and seen is more difficult using certain hunting methods, too, such
private property. as still-hunting, snow tracking and drives. Scoring while using
these tactics is challenging to begin with. MAPRs makes it
The state’s second MAPR was established in 1997, 76 years even more difficult.
after the first one, to keep pace with the changing times.
For hunters who were successful in bagging two bucks, at So even though MAPRs are designed to protect young bucks,
least one of those bucks had to have at least four points they often protect older bucks with legal antlers that hunters
on an antler. Like the spike rule, this restriction was widely don’t get a good enough look at, too. In the UP, where
understood, accepted and applied uniformly statewide. severe winters and poor nutrition can negatively impact antler
development of bucks, as many as 10% of whitetails as old
During the late 1990s, the DNR changed its policy regarding as 5.5 years old have less than three points on one antler and
MAPRs under pressure from organizations that wanted to close to 20% of 2.5-year-olds don’t meet that criteria.
see more stringent MAPRs applied in their management unit
or region. Prior to that time, the DNR took a strong stand in MAPRs also result in the harvest of yearling bucks with the
support of voluntary APRs, meaning anyone who wanted to best antler development, leaving bucks with poorer genetics

numbers of adult bucks. Hunters had the choice to shoot their share in controlling populations.
big old bucks with great big antlers and lots of meat, or little
immature bucks, so they opted to shoot the bigger ones, an The largest age bracket of hunters in Michigan is over 60
option Michigan hunters never had. years old. Many will no longer be hunting in 20 years. It
is they who most want to maintain the traditional culture of
During the last 4 years, a movement called “Michigan Deer shooting any buck and not shooting antlerless deer, but it is
Hunters: Let em go and let em grow” (LGLG) has grown from young people who want that culture to change, and are go-
a handful to over 21,000 members. Their mission? Convince ing to be responsible for the future of deer hunting in our state.
the NRC to implement statewide MAPRs. I polled LGLG What they want is far more important to the future of hunting
members to determine their age and over 2,000 responded. than what my generation wants.
I compared the age distribution of LGLG members (blue line
in diagram) to that of all Deer hunters reported in the DNR’s Opposition to MAPRs is based on either fear or myths. Only
Annual Harvest Survey (red). The line for all hunters shoots participation in MAPRs can remove the fear but the myths can
up after the age of 60, but the peak of LGLG members is at be combatted by facts. Here are some of the big myths.
31-35 years old.
Hunters will kill fewer bucks. This is partly true. Hunters will
I also polled LGLG members to determine their harvest choic- face one year of declined buck harvests. After APRs were
es. They killed 1.4 antlerless deer for every buck in 2016, instituted in Leelanau County there was a decrease for one
compared to 0.71 statewide and 0.79 in the southern lower year. After that, buck harvest returned to pre-APR levels, and
peninsula, where antlerless permits were widely available hunters have killed bucks at a rate at or above pre-APR num-
(2015 data). Future hunters will be asked to participate in bers for 14 of the next 15 years.
maintaining smaller herds than in the past. It is the very hunters
who are most in favor of MAPRs who are also willing to do Older bucks are harder to kill. This myth arises mainly from

for antlers to do some of the breeding, which could result in regulations improve deer hunting on all properties, which is
a future reduction of the quality of antlers. During the fall of false. I’ve interviewed hunters who own property, property
2016, for instance, I shot a six-pointer in Keweenaw County they purchased primarily to hunt deer on, in MAPR DMUs
that looked like he was 2.5 years old based on the size of who have been prevented from shooting legal bucks on their
his antlers and body. An examination of that deer by the land since MAPRs were implemented. Greg Lake, for exam-
DNR, however, proved that it was only a yearling. An easy ple, lives and hunts in DMU 122 in the southern UP, which
winter and early spring probably played a role in that buck’s includes parts of Dickinson, Iron and Menominee Counties.
excellent antler and body development. MAPRs were adopted in DMU 122 starting in 2001 and have
been reinstated at five-year intervals after limited opinion
Had the previous winter been severe, that same buck surveys.
might have had spikes or forks, making him illegal to shoot
under MAPRs. Based on MAPR data from the UP and what After MAPR were in place for more than 10 years, Lake
happened statewide during the ‘80s and ‘90s, it has been had only been successful in shooting one legal buck on his
proven that it is not necessary to protect yearling bucks to property, which was a 7-pointer he took with bow and arrow.
produce more and bigger bucks. In fact, a spike rule has the His wife had been hunting for six years without seeing a legal
potential to produce additional older age class bucks than buck.
MAPRs. It only makes sense: Under a spike rule, hunters who
are happy to shoot Antler Points on Upper Peninsula Bucks by Age Class “My wife started deer
a spike or fork do so 2001-2011
hunting six years ago,”
and many of them Greg said, “and the only
quit hunting. MAPR bucks she’s been able
focuses all of the 80%
to see on our property
hunting pressure on 70% are spikes and forkhorns.
rack bucks, reducing 60% Our property borders
the chances they will 50% one of the larger farms
survive as long. 40%
in the area. We usually
get trail camera photos of
Spikes versus MAPRs some older bucks before
on bucks requiring hunting season opens, but
three points on one 10%
when hunting season be-
antler to be legal 0% gins we seldom see them.
1.5 2.5 3.5 4.5 5.5
were compared in Age class (years)
We always hear lots of
four UP DMUs from 2 points 3 to 4 points 5 to 6 points 7+ points shooting on the adjoining
1996 through 2005. Figure 1. Antler point distribution
Antler pointby age class for bucks
distribution by harvested
age classin the
at U.P. and farm and assume that’s
Data from five years examined at deer check stations during 2001-2011.
U.P. deer check stations 2001-2011 where most of the bucks
under each type of reg- are.
ulation were compared and the spike rule produced more 4.5
and 5.5-year-old bucks for hunters than MAPRs did. Part of “We were appalled the last time QDM rules were renewed
the reason the spike rule probably resulted in additional older for our area,” Greg said. “We didn’t get a survey and I know
bucks bagged by hunters is older bucks with small antlers a lot of other people didn’t either. We don’t like the way sup-
were legal under the spike rule, but not under MAPRs. port for mandatory APRs is determined. It has ruined our deer
When mild winters coincide with MAPRs, which they did
during the five years when bucks had to have three points on And then there’s the bucks that are shot by hunters thinking the
one antler, MAPRs are often falsely credited with better buck antlers are big enough, but when the hunters reach the fallen
hunting when it was the mild winters that resulted in better deer they find out the antlers don’t meet the MAPR criteria.
buck production. Severe winters claim many of the bucks Some hunters simply walk away from the carcass, leaving the
hunters are forced to pass up under MAPRs. deer for scavengers rather than risk getting a ticket. Others
report their mistake and are ticketed anyway. Still more hunt-
One of the biggest misconceptions about MAPRs is that those ers attempt to salvage a deer with antlers that would be legal

elsewhere in the state and end up getting
ticketed. None of these scenarios results in
a positive deer hunting experience.

Fines and penalties for shooting illegal
two facts. First, older bucks are so rare in most areas of MI that they seem deer have increased since MAPRs were
hard to kill because they are seldom seen. Second, hunters don’t see older adopted for 12 counties in the northwest
bucks because they are busy shooting at the younger ones, who are more LP. Shooting a buck with antlers that are
frequent and usually expose themselves more in daylight. When hunters are too small can not only be an expensive
forced to pass these younger bucks, they see and shoot more older ones mistake, it can result in loss of hunting privi-
because they are not disrupting their hunting area shooting at younger ones. leges for up to five years!

MAPRs result in killing the bucks with the best genetics. You cannot control The wasted deer that are left to rot when
genetics in a wild herd. Bucks do not fully express their genetic potential until hunters realize they’ve shot a buck with
they are 4.5 or older. Month of birth, age and health of the mother, nutrition antlers that are too small to meet MAPR cri-
in their core zone, and health of or injury to the buck are the main factors teria are a drop in the bucket compared to
that influence first and second year antler development. In areas where we the deer that have been wasted by MAPR
have had MAPRs, the DNR has done careful studies and seen no impact on regulations in the UP. Since 2008, UP deer
antler dimensions within each age class studied. hunters who buy combination deer licenses
with two buck tags have been limited to
Most of the bucks that are passed will succumb to non-hunting mortality, like shooting bucks with a minimum of three
winter mortality. This is patently false. Most winter mortality occurs among points on one antler. Many people think
fawns. Most yearling and older deer have the wherewithal to survive. The UP that most deer hunters in the UP buy single
has the oldest buck age structure in the state, and they have the greatest win- deer licenses on which MAPRs don’t ap-
ter mortality. Biologists know that severe winters increase the relative harvest ply, but recent figures indicate otherwise.
of older bucks. Harvest of older bucks has gone up, way up in the NW 12 Approximately 63% of UP deer hunters
even after two severe winters at the beginning of the test period, while hunter bought combo deer licenses during 2014
success has remained very near the pre-APR levels. and more than 50% bought them in 2015.

Hunter recruitment and retention is reduced. From 2003 until 2013, hunter Many thousands of bucks that hunters were
participation in Leelanau County, under APRs, was the best in the 13-county forced to pass up by those regulations
region. The other 12 counties had hunter losses of 19% while numbers re- since 2008 died during the severe winters
mained stable in Leelanau. There has been no increase in the loss of hunters of 2012-2013, 2013-2014 and 2014-
in the NW 12 when compared to the rest of the northern counties. 2015. The purpose of MAPRs is to allow
young bucks to survive at least one more
Voluntary APRs work as well as mandatory. This myth arises from the obser- year. That works when winters are mild, but
vation that there are numerous successful deer cooperatives, like the one I it backfires when they are severe. Severe
hunt in. But that is relatively rare, and involves like-minded neighbors band- winters claims bucks before they are able
ing together. It does not work on vast amounts of private and public land. to grow another set of antlers and results
in damage to the winter habitat from trying
SUMMARY to carry too many deer. Those excess deer
eat as much as they can before they die.
MAPRs work. Buck hunters maintain high success, while harvesting older,
bigger bucks with more meat. Wherever they have been tried in Michigan The year before MAPRs went into effect for
the majority of hunters who experienced them wanted to continue when sur- UP combo license holders (2007), hunters
veyed by the DNR. The main opposition to MAPRs comes from those who are harvested an estimated 57,988 bucks in
over 60. The main support comes from Millennials and Generation X, who the UP. The buck kill dropped to 51,769
represent the future of hunting, and whose opinion should be weighted much during 2008 and nosedived to 24,195
more than the opinions of those who will be leaving the sport in the next 20 by 2009. There was a slight improvement
years. Finally, most of the arguments made against MAPRs are based on in the number of antlered bucks bagged
campfire myths from the older generation, and not based on science and by UP hunters between 2010 and 2012
data. Fear of the unknown is a valid concern, but is quickly resolved with when winters were mild, but continued the
facts and experience. downward trend from 2013 to the present
in response to severe winters. The UP buck

kill reached an estimated 19,431 during 2014 and dropped as though they are the same. They are not the same. MAPRs
to 17,057 for 2015. simply deal with restricting the size of antlers bucks have to
make them legal. These regulations focus too much attention
MAPRs also benefits disease transmission. The same MAPR on antler size and the buck segment of the population, often
regulations in effect in the UP apply to combination deer resulting in the underharvest of antlerless deer, which is poor
licenses in the northeast Lower Peninsula’s TB Zone. Data deer management.
indicates that older age bucks have a higher prevalence of
TB than young bucks, so requiring hunters to pass up young Proponents of MAPRs often to point to neighboring states
bucks there increases the odds of those deer becoming infect- that produce more big bucks for hunters than Michigan as
ed with the disease. A major jump in the prevalence rate of TB examples to follow. Okay, let’s follow Wisconsin’s example:
in that area during 2016 confirms that. Then there’s CWD in That state produces more big bucks than Michigan, but not
southern Michigan. because of MAPRs. The spike rule is in effect there. Voluntary
APRs are responsible for Wisconsin’s availability of older age
And if the DNR and Natural Resources Commission plan on bucks.
following the deer management plan they recently adopted,
all MAPRs should be eliminated. On the first page of the up- MAPRs foster an attitude that yearling bucks with spike and
dated Deer Management Plan, which was originally drafted forked antlers are inferior deer, but they aren’t, which leads
in 2010, the mission of Michigan deer management is printed to criticism of hunters who shoot bucks with small antlers. I’ve
in italics for emphasis: “to maintain a healthy white-tailed deer personally witnessed this happen multiple times and there’s no
population, using sound scien- reason for it. MAPRs also deprive
tific management, maximizing beginning hunters of the oppor-
recreational opportunities tunity to go through the same
while minimizing negative im- phases of deer hunting that many
pacts on ecosystems and other before them have to recognize for
wildlife species and without themselves the benefits of passing
creating undue hardship to up young bucks voluntarily.
private interests.”
Supporters of MAPRs claim that
MAPRs do not meet any of the level of support for APRs has
those criteria. MAPRs were increased to such a level that it
adopted in Leelanau County, makes their case for expanding
for instance, with the goals of MAPRs in Michigan. I think it does
reducing car-deer collisions the opposite. If there is such a high level of support for APRs,
and crop damage. Instead, deer have increased along with doing it on a voluntary basis statewide is bound to protect
road kills and crop damage. MAPRs also do not maximize enough yearling bucks to make everyone happy. Why make
recreational opportunities. They reduce them. Some hunters more regulations that are not necessary to protect the re-
choose to hunt elsewhere, if they have a choice, rather than source?
put up with the negatives associated with MAPRs.
The most important thing to remember about MAPRs is they
Opinion surveys with small sample sizes like those used to are not necessary to produce additional older age class
establish MAPR in Michigan are not the way to change any bucks. Voluntary APRs work and can work even better if more
type of hunting regulations. In fact, they set a dangerous prec- hunters are educated about the benefits. If you like freedom
edent for other regulation changes. Any changes should be of choice like most Americans, it’s not too difficult to decide
based on sound biological science as mandated by the state’s between voluntary and mandatory APRs. Mandatory APRs
Deer Management Plan. penalize hunters who don’t agree with that type of manage-
ment as well as those who shoot bucks with antlers too small.
Quality Deer Management (QDM) and Mandatory Antler No one is penalized under voluntary APRs.
Point Restrictions (MAPRs) are often used interchangeably

by Anna Mitterling, Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives

There is a lot of buzz about antler point restrictions (APRs) current- The best explanation for the increased satisfaction has a lot to do
ly. With the increased age class of harvested bucks in the “North- with the relationships that are formed within cooperatives. Even
west 12” counties with their trial run of mandatory antler point in the Northwest 12, where they have been experiencing the
restrictions (MAPRs) over the past several years, many hunters are increase in harvesting larger deer, they want more. I am working
trying to rally up the support to see MAPRs statewide. Regard- with groups currently who want to develop cooperatives in the
less of how the hunter’s voice accumulates and what the Natural MAPR zone because they simply want more enjoyment with their
Resources Commission decides, there is hope for Michigan deer hunting. They want the relationships and they also want to set the
hunting either way. harvest bar even higher.

Hunting regulations are put in place as the minimum standard ex- While MAPRs can surely accelerate the process of harvesting
pected to be maintained by legal hunters. From there, especially more mature, larger antlered bucks, and they help fill the gaps
on private lands, it is up the hunter to be more restrictive voluntari- in of hunters who may choose not to participate in a coopera-
ly. For example, sometimes hunting regulations are more liberal tive, cooperatives can reach the goals attained by a mandatory
to allow for increased antlerless harvest in areas where there are regulation. In fact, most cooperatives have a higher standard than
high deer densities. If a hunter is in a pocket of that management the proposed MAPRs. More importantly, with or without MAPRs,
unit where deer numbers are down, it is the responsibility of hunt- cooperatives fill a very special niche of increasing the interactions
ers to know their area and act accordingly. Meanwhile, hunters between hunters within a local area. My hope is that whether you
ten miles over who observe a drastic browse line along the crop- are pro or con regarding MAPRs, we can see the value in rela-
land edges are able to harvest additional antlerless deer to aid in tionships and value our privilege to hunt the great whitetail here in
reducing the detrimental deer impact on the local habitat. the beautiful state of Michigan.

This is where the solution comes in for antler restrictions. While

voluntary restrictions do not require hunters to practice the harvest
behaviors that protect most young deer, cooperatives can form
and create areas that do impact the harvest of the local deer.
Cooperatives are simply groups of landowners and hunters who
seek to improve their hunting and habitat. By working together to Farm Services
Johannesburg, Michigan
decrease the harvest of young deer, in conjunction with improving
Contact: Kellen YoungeDyke
habitat conditions and available forage for deer to consume, co- 989.370.8721 |
operatives have been found to be successful in changing harvest Food Plots|Excavating
behaviors over time. In addition to increasing harvest standards,
Custom Deer Blinds
deer cooperatives are also found to have marked increases in
satisfaction relative to the typical Michigan hunter. Clearing|Shooting Lanes

Success Beyond the Shot by Rob Harrell
Was your 2016 whitetail season a It’s no secret that hunters are the access to prime hunting land. If you
success? If you didn’t harvest your trophy largest conservation group in the world took advantage of it, then you were
buck, you may not think it was, but I and we spend a lot of money trying to successful. Hopefully, you spent some
have three reasons that could prove you harvest Mother Nature’s creations. A lot time with family and friends, too. I’ve
wrong. of this money is pumped back into the been to deer camps where the happiest
We all measure success state and funds from hunting licenses are guy in camp was a guy who didn’t even
differently. According to a 2013 national used to help protect and preserve our hunt. He made the drive north three hours
survey by the Quality Deer Management outdoor traditions. In 2014, almost 1.4 to be in the company of his closest peers
Association, Michigan has the second million deer licenses were purchased by and to unwind from city life. A hunting
most hunters per square mile at 6.7; only 663,746 Michigan hunters. That revenue trip isn’t just an activity; it’s a place where
Pennsylvania has more at 20. Whitetail is used in a multitude of different ways, everything is simple and understood.
deer hunting in Michigan is like trying to but be sure that your hard earned dollars People of all walks of life come together
drink a hot coffee on a crowded New are pumping life back into Michigan’s and become hunting partners. Across
York subway train during your morning habitat and preserving our ability to all socio-economic, racial, religious or
commute without spilling it. With that enjoy the outdoors. political boundaries, we are all hunters
said, many of our hunters are not waiting looking for our own version of an
for that rare mature trophy buck to walk escape.
out in front of us. In the Upper Peninsula, 2 | EVERY TIME YOU STEP We tell non-hunters that hunting
where the deer populations are small INTO THEIR HABITAT, YOU’RE is not about the kill, but about the
due to being exposed to harsh winters LEARNING TO BE A BETTER hunt, the adventure and the outdoor
and a lack of food, success could just be HUNTER. experience. Some of us tend to forget
filling the freezer with venison. The old adage “practice makes that when things don’t necessarily go
In contrast, much of southern perfect,” applies to deer hunting, and our way and we don’t fill our tags. At the
Michigan has the ability to grow mature really any hunting for that matter. The end of the day, hunting isn’t easy and it
bucks with all of the agricultural fields best tool to have in your pocket can’t requires skill, patience and persistence.
providing an abundance of food and be bought at Jay’s Sporting Goods You could do everything right, hang
a secure habitat for deer to breed (though the best gear can!) or any other your stand in the perfect tree, have
and absorb nutrients all year. This outdoor store. The tool I’m referring to ideal weather conditions and the best
environment will facilitate more trophy is experience. Each and every minute equipment on the market, but it all comes
hunters and those who are disciplined you spend sitting in your treestand or down to having that deer walk into your
enough to manage their herds with in your hunting blind, you are growing shooting lane. You can’t control that
selective harvests. and becoming a better hunter. It might deer’s movement; you can only study
Then you have this large be something like finding deer sign in it. Food plots, mock scraps, decoys and
population of deer residing in the central an area where you didn’t think there calls can help shape that movement but
and northern Lower Peninsula, where was deer activity. It could be as little as there is nothing you can do to make that
a majority of our hunters are located. moving the chair in you blind one foot to buck appear in front of your stand at the
Some hunters own property and spend the left to get a better angle. When you time you want him to be there. Animals
long weekends and holidays up at their are outdoors and observing these little are smart, especially mature bucks. They
cottage on small parcels. Others will characteristics, you are learning. Being a don’t get big by being stupid and making
set up deer camp in the vast wilderness student of your environment will help you themselves easy prey.
of Michigan’s public land areas. The on all of your future hunts and increase
bottom line is that no matter where you’re your odds at success. So you have to eat a tag sandwich or
hunting and what your goals were going sip on some tag soup this winter: So
into the season, I can prove to you what? For all the reasons above, success
that if you purchased a hunting license 3 | YOU TOOK A BREAK FROM THE comes in different forms than just a trophy
and chased whitetail deer anywhere EVERYDAY HUSTLE AND BUSTLE photo or a taxidermy bill. You’ve created
across the state, then your season was AND CLEANSED YOUR SOUL. memories and carried on traditions that
successful. Life is hard. It throws you generations of Michiganians have spent
curveballs and it’s full of responsibilities their time and money to preserve. Be
to keep you from being able to get grateful for just having an opportunity
1 | BUYING A HUNTING away and do the things you enjoy. to hunt these elusive creatures and get
LICENSE HELPED CONTRIBUTE TO We are lucky to have the ability in this ready to go after them again in 2017.
CONSERVATION EFFORTS. great country and fruitful state to have

The Hunting Life...
Is an Extraordinary Life
by Jerry Lambert
I was in the middle of an overgrown lake bottom ing. The ground was patched with large puddles of water
with a loaded 12 gauge shotgun resting on my lap. My but- and the ground was quite boggy. I was about to quit looking
tocks sat atop a fallen log cushioned by what was known at and go get help when I noticed a wisp of steam rising from
the time as a “hotseat;” a plastic cushion that was supposed the ground about twenty yards farther out into the marsh. I
to emit heat. I remember arriving at my pre-chosen spot, walked through the tall grass and found my buck, the steam
that’s what we called our ambush sites back then - a spot - a signaling his last breath.
full hour before the fabled first light. I sat in the wildest of
wilds and felt contentment as I literally became a stargazer.
When darkness gave way to the first signs of gray
light, my eyes frantically scanned for signs of life. It was the
much celebrated Michigan holiday, the opening day of what
the hunting guide referred to as firearm season. I had a pre-
monition the day before that I was going to shoot my first
buck the following morning and I was determined to make
it happen. After all, I was much more than just an observer
of nature; I chose to be an active participant as had my dad
many years prior.
During the first fifteen minutes of legal shooting
hours the solitude of the swamp was quiet with the only ex-
ception being a couple quacking ducks. A light snow dusted
the ground and the tall marsh grass was covered in frost.
The wild tranquility was surreal.
Suddenly, without warning, the morning solitude
was broken by a loud splashing sound. A creature was
swimming Indian Creek and making a disturbing racket in
the process. Eventually I heard the beast leave the creek and
start walking through the frost-laden marsh grass. My heart
literally felt like it was bursting through my chest. I still
couldn’t see anything, but whatever it was, it was getting
closer. Adrenaline pumped through my body, my excite-
ment meter buried in the red. Then it happened. I saw him
and he looked magnificent. He was deliberately walking a
parallel line sixty-some yards distant, and I could see his
incredibly tall antlers bobbing high above his head.
I raised my shotgun, supposedly aimed and pulled
the trigger. When the powerful gun roared, the buck disap-
peared and all became silent again.
Where did he go? Did I get him?
I stood up and walked to where I thought the
buck was at when I took the shot. My eyes darted from the
ground to the horizon hoping to either find him, or find
sign indicating some clue of what happened. I found noth-

mind through often-recalled Even though I have spent
memories or through the much of my time afield alone, there
future planning of new stand are also the many memories that
locations and tactics. Imag- come from people. I remember
ine the pure joy when south- walking a swamp in an effort to push
ern Michigan introduced a deer towards my waiting father who
spring hunting season for was hidden on a pine ridge and then
wild turkeys. I no longer seeing him shoot a whitetail buck as
had to wait nine months to it ran the ridge towards him. I have
go afield in pursuit of wild helped my brothers retrieve lots of
game. shot game including my brother Jeff ’s
On a beautiful morning in trophy black bear. I watched a best
late April, I tucked myself friend’s face light up like a Christmas
into the base of a towering tree after he shot a Wyoming ante-
oak and utilized a paddled lope buck at 500 yards in the last few
box call to bring in a hen minutes of a destination hunt. I en-
which had a monster tom joyed my cross-country trip with six-
strutting behind her. When time national champion motocross
the burly male got to within racer, Jeff Stanton, when we drove
seven yards, the 12 gauge from Michigan to Montana and shot
roared and the prehistoric two trophy mule deer on the last day
looking bird hit the turf. I of a DIY public land hunt. Then there
About a half hour later, my yelled out a “Thank you, Je- was this last winter, when my 10 year
dad walked back into the swamp and sus,” and experienced the exact same old nephew shot his first rabbit. I was
found me. He saw my thick-horned adrenaline dump that I felt shooting standing right behind him when he
eight-pointer lying on the ground whitetail deer. took the shot. The temperature was 0
and said to me, “Good shooting, boy.” Eventually, my thirst for degrees that morning but he was un-
I couldn’t have been prouder. On hunting adventure took me out of daunted and shot the hare after many
that memorable day, I joined the The Mitten State to a far off land hours of trying. Right after shooting
ranks of successful hunters, an iden- steeped in hunting tradition. After a he turned and gave me a high-five
tity that remains as strong as my six 24-hour plane ride, I seized the fan- and yelled out, “my first kill.”
feet one inch height and blue eyes. tastic opportunity of hunting African Unlike me, who had my
My spot in the swamp gifted plains game. The sheer number and father say to me “good shooting boy,”
me three more opening morning variety of game was simply spectac- Eli’s father passed away from a heart
bucks, including a monster 12-point ular. To target a majestic kudu bull attack a few months prior. I was the
that would boast a coveted twenty and watch it step to within twelve fortunate soul to congratulate him.
inch inside spread and nearly foot yards of my hide was a dream come Eli’s father, Mike, taught him proper
long tines. true. Holding the tall spiraling horns gun handling and took him to his
My next move in the wild as had Teddy Roosevelt, Fred Bear hunter safety class before leaving this
kingdom was to take to the trees with and so many others before me, was earth much too early. His legacy was
archery tackle in hand. This would humbling. readily apparent all morning long
require stealth and an ability to get Hunting has given me a front with the proper care that Eli took
even closer to the wild animals. It row seat to God’s glorious creation in handling his gun on his very first
wasn’t long before a hungry six-point and I find it grand. From the bo- outing. Another hunter has been
buck was arrowed while dining on real forest of northern Canada to added to our ranks; and why not? Af-
a late afternoon meal of red apples. the western plains of Wyoming, his ter all, the hunting life is an extraor-
Bowhunting extended my season by handiwork is on full display. Sunrises dinary life!
two and half months, color me hap- and sunsets are special gifts that I For Sale in Michigan's
py. believe sportsmen experience and Upper Peninsula
Deer hunting became an appreciate more than any other pop- Two bedroom home on 40 acres, half
annual three-month adventure in ulation of people, other than perhaps
the latter quarter of the year and
good hardwoods, half open. Near Fed-
the farmers and ranchers who work
would live on in my overly-active eral land and snowmobile trails. Phone
the land.
906-630-3674 if interested.

by Shaun McKeon, MUCC Education Director

With fond memories of hunting season and the holidays Great Lakes fishery. For this event, I visited the Coldwater
behind us, emerging from another beautiful Michigan winter Middle School Outdoor Adventure Club. After the talk about
I thought I would take some time to update you on things that rules and regulations we had the opportunity to get the kids
are happening in the education wing of MUCC. out fishing. We took about 30 6th-8th graders to a local
inland lake where they were able to catch some bluegills. For
As many of you know I have retired from my role as Director several of the kids it was their first time fishing and many were
of the Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Camp. We have hired hoping to come back again with the club and try ice fishing.
Tyler Butler as our new Camp Director and he has spent the
last few months getting settled in and working on new ideas A third area the education department is expanding into and
to make the 2017 season a great one. You can flip over to the a really exciting project to be working on is the expansion of
Campfire Column to learn more about who he is and what he our On the Ground Project. Sarah Topp has been doing 20
has planned. volunteer habitat improvement projects around the state for the
last two years. Going forward in 2017 and 2018 we will be
Now that I am done with camp, I am settling into my new role expanding this program to include opportunities for students.
as Education Director for MUCC. With the addition of Tyler Using a field trip format, we will bus students to a state game
to the team we are starting to grow the education department area near their homes and have them perform a work day
and have some pretty cool projects underway and bigger to improve wildlife habitat. Students will spend the morning
things to come. improving habitat for wildlife and the afternoon participating
in an outdoor recreation activity. The students will have a
The first major change we have already implemented is the chance to go fishing, shoot archery, or watch wildlife in the
expansion and redesign of TRACKS magazine. We have area they spent time working in. 2017 will be the pilot year
changed the columns inside TRACKS to more closely align for the expansion of this program. I am really looking forward
with the new science standards in Michigan. With a goal to launching this and giving students the chance to connect
of making the magazine more useful to teachers, we have with the public lands near their homes. Plus, spending a day
also added a curriculum piece for teachers to use in their helping to improve habitat for wildlife is always better than
classroom to go along with the at home activity. So TRACKS sitting at my desk.
has gone from 16 pages to 20 pages of content. It has also
undergone a design and layout change. This change includes Please contact me If you are a non-formal educator or
a new color scheme, redesigned logo, and more pictures of teacher who is interested in having myself or Tyler come out
the animals. to give a talk about conservation at an event or in one of your
classrooms. Or if you think you have a class that would be
The next area we are growing in is conservation education interested in participating in an OTG event. I can be reached
outreach to schools. This fall I visited schools in the Lansing at
area as well as the southwest portion of the state as part
of a grant funded project. The aim of this grant is to create Big things are happening at MUCC as we continue to grow
more opportunities to bring conservation into the classroom and expand. With education being at the core of our mission
and engage kids in the management of our states natural we will continue to educate youth and adults about the
resources. Tyler and I presented the conservation success importance of Michigan’s woods and waters.
story of the wild turkey in Michigan to two second grade Remember to get the youth in your life outside! Nobody
classrooms. After teaching the kids about the importance of frames pictures of their kids playing video games!
the turkey in our state we also spent time going over the life
cycle and how to hunt for turkey. The highlight for the kids
was learning how to use several different turkey calls. They
even made their own turkey call craft to take home with them.
Learn more about the
Michgian Out-of-Doors Youth Camp at
Another classroom opportunity late last fall was to talk about
fishing regulations and why management is important to our

Meet the New Michigan Out-of-Doors
Youth Camp Director, Tyler Butler
Michigan is a state velopment in the area. I was responsible for coordinating and
that takes pride teaching lessons in natural sciences for inner city schools that
in its lands and were interested in supplementary material to go along with
waters. For that classroom instruction.
reason, I am hon-
ored to step into It also offered a chance to allow children the space and ma-
the position of the terials to perform garden related tasks like planting, harvest-
Michigan Out-of- ing, preparation and clean-up. We believed very strongly in
Doors Youth Camp letting the classes take part in the functions of the garden and
Director. letting them “get their hands dirty” in a very literal since.

Growing up in During the time of my instruction in the garden, we began a
Central, Ohio, I project that empowered the parents of students in the local
spent most of my schools with the tools and direction for preparing positive and
days in the wood- nutritious meals. This project awarded the garden the title of
lands behind my “Educational Garden of the Year” by the Franklin Park Con-
home. I remember servatory and Botanical Gardens Growing to Green Program.
in great detail
lifting stones and
rolling logs in the OCT 2016 | VOL 39 No. 1
hopes of finding a
garter snake or a spotted salamander. I could lead anyone to
the vernal pool that occurs every spring, where I would watch
the tadpoles dance around my shadow. The blackberry patch
that would hold me over until dinner is still fresh in my mind. Michigan United Conservation Clubs

I’m sure that all of our readers have similar memories of
spending time outdoors in their youth and making connections
with the land and wildlife.

As the MUCC strives for “conservation through education” it is

exciting to be able to facilitate and encourage these con-
nections between Michigan’s upcoming generations and our

a r t e n
natural recourses.

I am a 2015 graduate of The Ohio State University with a
focus of agricultural communication and animal science.
My time at OSU provided me with plenty of opportunities to
explore multiple pursuits from strategic marketing for local FOREST FAUNA
businesses to plant pathology research and data collection.
One area always felt more fitting that the rest. Education. MARTEN MANIA
In 2014 I had the pleasure of serving as the Lead Educator Sponsor TRACKS Magazine to your
and Programmer for the Highland Youth Garden of Columbus,
Ohio. This was an educational project led by members of the local school or subscribe by contacting
community to improve both the neighborhood and youth de- Sue Pride at

After my graduation in the spring on 2015, I began my work the world of running a business including budgeting and grant
in conservation education at The Wilds Conservation Center writing.
in Cumberland, Ohio.
The Beehive program sponsored by Park Avenue Elementary
Decades of strip mining in the southern portion of Ohio had School was excellent experience in formal education. I be-
left the land devastated. However, in 1984 American Electric came responsible for a group of 25 fourth grade students that
and Power had gifted over 9,000 acres to The International would meet after school each day in order to offer tutoring,
Center for the Preservation of Wild Animals, Inc. (ICPWA). reading comprehension support and thematic learning that
followed Ohio Common Core Learning Standards.
Later, the ICPWA became known widely as The Wilds.
I feel that these experiences as well as others I have forgone
The work being done there is incredible and is focused on to mention will aid me well in my pursuits with the MUCC.
land restoration and species preservation.
Summer camp is one of the most important milestones for a
My experiences over the two years involved with this orga- child. The opportunity to spend some time away from home
nization was more than I could have imagined. My position and experience the world in another way is stimulating and
allowed me to work closely with their week long WildeCamp beneficial to their development. Although camp only lasts a
programs, where we educated ages 8 to 18 on conservation week, in that time children learn to:
efforts and sciences, both domestic and international.
Toward the end of 2015 and into 2016 I had the opportunity Adapt to new persons, places, things and ideas. Our Out-
to develop even further as an educator. I became the educa- of-Doors Youth Camp is a great place for children to unplug
tional intern for the E.C.O. Center LLC and the fourth grade from their devices and electronics and enjoy the company of
Beehive instructor for the Mount Gilead Public School District. one another through leadership activities and face to face
interaction! Being able to function in new, perhaps unfamiliar
The E.C.O. Center LLC allowed me to develop educational situations will become important as children begin to age. It
programming based in outdoor exploration and sustainable is said that the most successful are not always the strongest or
living for ages 5 to 18. My work also allowed me to dive into the smartest, but the ones that are the most resilient in the face
of chance.

Assert themselves socially.
Removing children from their
day to day routine can ignite
a spark in their attitude and
well-being. Coming into a
new place with supportive
individuals gives that child a
chance to spread their wings
and fly. Often times I’ll be
warned by a parent that their
child is shy and may have
trouble making friends, but
that “shy” camper is usually
the individual captivating
everyone with a campfire tale
just a few hours later! There
will be plenty of chances for
our campers to come out of location and opportunity to inspire not only the next genera-
their shells and create long lasting friendships and memories tion of outdoorsman, outdoorswomen and nature enthusiasts
this summer. but also our future ecologists, biologists and geologists.

Develop as an individual. Our staff is chosen by personality I am most excited to dive into our programming projects over
and experience. We pride ourselves in making sure our Out- the winter. This year we will be offering a brand new 9 to
of-Doors Youth Camp is represented by intelligent, responsible 11-year-old camp, Fantastic Forests, as well as an invasive
and caring individuals. No child is to come to the Cedar Lake species awareness program to be available to our campers
Outdoors Center without receiving positive feedback and that have already accomplished both our hunter’s safety
reinforcement. In the week our campers spend with us I guar- courses and “Leave No Trace.”
antee there will be an accomplishment, large or small, made
every day. Fantastic Forests Camp will run from July 9th to the 14th. Our
focus with this program will be the importance of Michigan’s
Discover new interests. Our Out-of-Doors Youth Camp primar- diverse woodlands and related ecosystems. This program will
ily focuses on reconnecting children with nature and wildlife. help kids learn how to core trees, identify different species,
Whether that connection is built by scene, science or sport it measure crown sizes, read topographic maps, and learn more
is important that we get our campers outside and keep them about plant ecology in Michigan.
active during camp and beyond. I want to see to it that every
camper that enters the Cedar Lake Outdoor Center leaves With an increasing number of our campers returning year af-
with a further understanding of the world around them. ter year there is a need for an alternative curriculum for them
to complete. The creation of an invasive species curriculum
As we prepare for our 2017 camp season I would like to would fill the need for our returning campers. It would also
share that I am an avid outdoorsman and whole heartedly align well with school standards that are integrating invasive
support our hunting, fishing and trapping communities. These species information into lessons.
activities sprout strong relationships, grounded personalities,
humbleness and a love for the outdoors. Our community is on Finally, I would like to recognize our Camp Facilities Com-
the forefront in the efforts for Michigan conservation. There- mittee. They have worked tirelessly to provide camp with the
fore, it is important that our youth camp continue to provide most up to date building design and structures. For the spring
the education and instruction necessary to certify young of 2017, our largest project will be to finish the renovations to
hunters and trappers. B latrine and continue to make sure that Cedar Lake Outdoors
Along with wildlife management I have a strong passion for Center in accessible to all campers.
conservation sciences. As the Out-of-Doors Youth Camp
Director I plan to expand our programing to offer more di- The strongest asset to The Out-of-Doors Youth Camp is our
verse lessons and hands on activities in biology, ecology and dedicated volunteers. We truly appreciate all of the work
natural sciences. Cedar Lake Outdoors Center allows us the being and offer our greatest thanks.

r y
e r
a d
R e
How A Youth Camper
Became A Deer Hunter

by John Wlodyga

My wife, Mary Jo and I have a 12 year old grandson He had one heck of time just sitting still in the blind so he
who we think the world of. I enjoy hunting a lot and spend- played a video game while waiting that caused him to miss
ing quality time outdoors. Some of my relatives might say a good chance at shooting a small buck that walked by. Pat-
it's my passion. I'll admit it's a huge part of my life. So it's rick said after the last deer hunt, “Grandpa hunting was just
important to me that my grandson at least give hunting a too disappointing and way too much work.” At this point
good try. I know hunting isn't for everybody so I try to his interest in hunting was beginning to wane. The bright
keep an open mind on the subject. As we all know playing spot was fishing, he liked it and was often quite successful.
video games is a hindrance to spending quality time with If Patrick was going to hunt seriously it was time
kids these days. This problem makes getting kids interest- to take the Michigan Hunter Safety class. His dad, Andy
ed in the outdoors a big uphill climb. I was determined to works so much and Patrick plays sports a lot of after school
somehow get my grandson, Patrick to see the light concern- so there wasn't much time to make the “safety certificate”
ing the great outdoors in all it's beauty and wonder. Patrick thing happen. We had sent Patrick's dad, Andy, to Mich-
started shooting a BB gun at plastic bottles hanging from igan United Conservation Clubs camp when he was 12
tree limbs with my supervision at six years old. At eight years old for his Hunter Safety Certificate many moons ago
years old he started hunting rabbits with me and my field and knew what a good job the camp and counselors do
Bassets occasionally during the winter with his .410 shot- with every facet of camp activity. ( Andy is 41 years young
gun. At nine years old he started hunting ducks on open- now.) Going to camp would be the easiest most uncompli-
ing day on a small pond behind our house. Spring turkey cated way for Patrick to get his “Hunter Safety Certificate”
hunting was next at ten years old. Patrick missed a huge as well. We knew Patrick would have a good time at camp
tom turkey I called in for him that set his confidence back with other kids his age for five days while learning about
at least a full year. Near home deer hunting was tried twice the outdoors. We sent the registration fee in by the end of
with Patrick from a camouflaged umbrella ground blind. March and were surprised at how many camper slots had

been filled for the upcoming July. We only” Department of Natural Resourc- The day we were all waiting
informed Patrick about being success- es sponsored, “Hunting Weapons Sem- for finally arrived! We pulled in at my
fully enrolled in camp but it was too inar” in August held at Sharon Hollow uncle’s place in Iosco County on Friday
far in the future for him to take much Shooting range near Manchester, September 16. Patrick was excited but
notice. His dad explained to him over Michigan. Fifty kids showed up over had no clue what to expect. So Fri-
the next few months how much fun the length of a day and with supervi- day afternoon before the hunt Uncle
camp would be because there were so sion could try out all the legal weapons Jim took Andy and Patrick out to the
many different things to do and kids to used for hunting game in Michigan. army green wooden deer blind on his
meet. The DNR staff were really patient property not far from his house. The
Meanwhile out of the clear with all the kids. I won't forget when blind held two people and was four
blue my Uncle Jim called me on the Patrick walked by the shotgun shoot- feet off the ground on 4 X 4' stilts. It
phone in May. He offered Patrick a ing booth area and a small girl with had a good roof and was completely
chance to shoot a doe on his 360 acre blond hair was shooting a 20 gauge enclosed except for a small door and
farm in east central Michigan during shotgun at a target like it was a small three shooting windows. Patrick got to
the youth deer hunting weekend in .410 gauge shotgun. Patrick did a sit in the blind before the hunt and get
September now referred to as the “Lib- double take when he saw her shooting. the feel of what hunting from it might
erty Hunt.” To my surprise, my uncle It motivated him to try it too. He has be like. The blind overlooked a small
was quite excited about hay field that was as
the idea of a youth green as a summer golf
harvesting a doe on his course. The deer were
property. He's a “shoot coming everyday to
bucks only” guy so this feed there within range
generosity didn't hap- of the blind.
pen often! I jumped at
the chance because my The next day Uncle Jim
uncle's place is load- woke us all while it was
ed with deer. Patrick still dark outside. We
wouldn't have a better threw on some clothes,
opportunity to harvest horsed down a bowl
a deer anywhere else. I of cheerios with milk
wanted this deer hunt and were off. Patrick
to be successful and be grabbed his cased shot-
a memorable experi- gun and put in the back
ence. Nothing beats of the ATV. He and
success when first Andy jumped in with
starting out hunting, or my uncle at the wheel
anything else for that The author helped his grandson find his first deer. and disappeared in
matter! the darkness. I stayed
Our next goal back and listened
with Patrick was to practice shooting since gained more confidence shooting to the ATV sound slowly go out of
his new youth model 20 gauge shotgun plus gotten better about gun recoil. hearing range. Only 15 minutes or so
equipped with a slug barrel and scope. After that experience, Patrick practiced had passed and my uncle was back at
Patrick's dad had generously pur- shooting several times with his dad the house. There was a light rain that
chased the new gun for him. Patrick on full-sized cardboard deer targets to Saturday morning of the hunt but it
was leery right from the beginning hone his skills at different distances. wasn't cold at all. My uncle and I just
about the gun kicking him too hard Meanwhile in August I communicated sat outside the house in the lighted
before he even tried shooting it. It with my uncle several times before the pole barn doorway out of the rain and
took a little convincing by me and hunt and assured him we would be listened for a distant shot. Uncle Jim
his dad that the gun was safe to shoot coming. I also told my un-
if he held the gun stock tight to his cle Patrick had gotten his
right shoulder while slowly pulling the “Hunter Safety Certificate” Deerhunters Bow or Gun hunt- private land
trigger on target. I think the real game at MUCC camp, getting excellent success meals lodging and guide three
changer concerning shooting for Pat- only one question wrong day hunt $600 231-266-5102
rick was when I took him to a “youth on the written test.

was sure Patrick would get his chance at a deer as soon as continuing rain.
the morning light got bright enough. My uncle knows his Sure enough we found a little blood just inside the
deer well. brush where the deer entered. By now all of us were getting
Expecting a wait, we got to talking and didn't pay wet but that made absolutely no difference. We were on a
close attention. It seemed like only minutes went by when important mission. Here and there we kept finding a small
my cell phone started ringing. I answered, Andy said, “ Pat- amount of blood. Patrick became totally fascinated with the
rick got a big doe already come and get us!” Neither of us deer tracking process. I had to caution him to slow down or
in the pole barn had heard any shooting. I think the sound he might lose the blood trail. He dropped right down on all
of the rain drowned out any distant sounds. We fired up fours searching intensely for the next blood drops. Surpris-
the ATV and were off. On arrival, Patrick came out of the ingly with no previous experience Patrick wasn't doing too
blind with a big smile on his face. He couldn't wait to tell us bad at tracking his first deer. The rain was washing away
his deer hunting story. Patrick said, “Grandpa we were in some of the blood so we had to find the deer soon. While
the blind when two does walked in the hay field. I wanted Andy and Patrick were following the blood trail I was
to shoot the biggest deer. Dad told me to wait until it was surveying the surroundings trying to make a good guess
broadside and take good aim. I aimed behind the front which way the deer might have gone. As luck would have
shoulder. Pulled the trigger and the deer jumped up then it, just a second before Patrick worked his way close to the
ran into some brush. I think, I hit it?” dead deer. I spotted it laying on its side stone dead ahead in
Andy told us his version of the story after we got some tall grass. What a welcome sight that was especially
Patrick's. The first thing Andy added was, “He hit the deer for Patrick. He ran right up to the deer and just admired it
solid Dad, it shouldn't go to far.” Andy continued, “the for several seconds. It was a healthy mature doe and would
biggest deer was broadside less then 20 yards away when be fine eating. Patrick's shotgun slug had hit both lungs of
Patrick fired one shot. The deer immediately jump up and the deer. It went about 70 yards before it dropped for good.
ran east into that thick brush nearby.” Patrick and Andy After several pictures it was time to dress out Pat-
were two excited guys. After everyone settled down a bit. rick's deer. Andy and I wanted Patrick to do some of the
We quickly started looking for a blood trail because of the dressing so he could learn that necessary hunting skill too.
Andy patiently showed Patrick how to hold the knife and
just what to cut and not to cut. Patrick said to me when the
deer was totally opened up, “Grandpa this deer smells bad, I
can't do this!” Andy and I both assured Patrick he could do
it and the deer would smell better after the intestines were
removed. Patrick had doubts but he continued with his
Dad's help. When the job was done the three of us loaded
the deer on the back of my uncles ATV and headed for the
Back at the house, I asked Patrick if he enjoyed
deer hunting. He said, “what I really liked was tracking the
deer. Shooting was OK but following the blood trail was
more fun.” I was a little surprised at his answer but he had
more time into tracking the deer then actually shooting it.
It was a warm day and we didn't want the deer to spoil. So
Andy and I quickly quartered up the deer back at the house
and put the meat in two big coolers with lots of ice. Pat-
rick, Andy, and I had worked up an appetite. So we cut out
the tenderloin from Patrick's deer and I cooked it up for
lunch. When meal time came, Patrick had no trouble eat-
ing a big piece of medium-rare deer tenderloin, vegetables,
and a piece of buttered bread.
I was thrilled for Patrick that the hunt turned out as
well as it did. A lot of attention went into making this hap-
pen for him. Patrick is now one more step closer to being a
responsible hunter. I'd like to thank my Uncle Jim, my son,
Andy, MUCC camp, the DNR, and my wife, Mary Jo for
being so supportive.


Each year, Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) honors individuals and groups that further its mission of “uniting citizens
to conserve, protect, and enhance Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.” Please take some time to help us thank
those who have advanced the cause of conservation by nominating leaders in our conservation community. If you are interested
in nominating someone for an award, please complete the following form. All nominations must be postmarked no later than
April 15, 2017 in order to qualify for an award. Awardees will be recognized at MUCC’s Annual Convention at the 2017 Con-
servation Awards Dinner on June 17, 2017.

Please return via mail, fax, or email to:
MUCC Awards Committee
P.O. Box 30235
Lansing, Michigan 48909
517-371-1505 (fax)



Name of Nominee: _________________________________________________________________________________

Address of Nominee: ________________________________________________________________________________

City, State, Zip of Nominee: __________________________________________________________________________

Nominee Phone: ____________________ Nominee Email Address:____________________________________________


Your Name: _______________________________________________________________________________________

Your Address: _____________________________________________________________________________________

Your City, State, Zip: _________________________________________________________________________________

Your Phone: _________________________ Your Email Address: ______________________________________________

Three References: Additional people who can tell us more about the nominee’s conservation work.

1. Name: _______________________________________ Phone: __________________________________________

2. Name: _______________________________________ Phone:___________________________________________

3. Name: _______________________________________ Phone:___________________________________________

Please describe the work your nominee has done to advance conservation including where their work has taken place and a
thorough description of this work.






















thank you!50
$100 / TICKET
Dorr, MI

Family Owned & Operated Since 1967

501 Salzburg Ave., Bay City, MI
Michigan United Conservation Clubs is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization.

1380 N. Cedar St.
Founded in 1937, MUCC’s mission is to unite citizens to conserve, protect and enhance
Michigan’s natural resources and outdoor heritage.
Mason, MI | 1.800.777.6720
Photo courtesy of the American Suppressor Association
2101 Wood St., Lansing, MI 48912
by David A. Rose

Pulling spoons for a new speccies
of cisco is putting smiles back on
Great Lakes anglers' faces.

If you're an angler who loves fishing the Great Lakes,
you can't be anything but troubled by how an ever-
growing number of invasive species is altering the
environments of these huge inland seas, and, in turn,
the populations of gamefish that call them home.
Overall, the changes that have already taken place came Aggressive by nature, these silvery-sided
quickly, leaving those who love to troll for trout and salmon in fish are quite easy to catch. So much so that once you locate
a sudden state of despair. a school you stand a good chance of landing a limit. And
while the majority of anglers target them with vertical jigs,
But not every species of salmonid is in a state of doom and those who love to troll will find that limit just as easy to come
gloom. by... if not easier. To boot, they make fine fare for the table.

Take cisco (aka: lake herring or tubilee), for example, and a CISCO SCIENCE 101
subculture of these fish that are expanding their range in Lake
Michigan. The northern Lake Michigan strain of cisco that Ciscos are native to the Great Lakes as well inland lakes that
is prospering—most prolific in the waters of East and West are classified as oligotrophic - that is deep, clear, cold and
Grand Traverse Bays near Traverse City, but now found from with very little nutrients. Pelagic in nature (that is preferring to
Traverse Bay near Harbor Springs south to Muskegon—grow roam and feast within the upper reaches of the water column)
fast, and, are much larger than others in the family that call Coregonus artedi, like most of their other Salmonidae kin, can
the inland lakes and surrounding Great Lakes home. These fish be caught throughout the entire water column over water as
are averaging three to four pounds, with five-plus-pounders in deep as 200-plus feet.
the mix.
As this article is being typed, genetic testing is being done on

FALL 2016 Michigan Out-
these larger-than-normal ciscos in the lip is smaller, thus the mouth protrudes and terminal tackle he would for trolling
northeastern sector of Lake Michigan to downward in position. And ciscos seem walleyes.
determine their roots. to be adapting better to the massive
changes occurring in the Great Lakes “I like the smaller-sized spoons as there
“There are three known strains of cisco than most any other whitefish species. are fewer missed hits,” the captain adds.
in Lake Michigan, and, so far, this newly “And not only is it more fun catching
discovered strain has been difficult to THREE FOR ALL these hard-fighting fish on lighter gear,
classify as one of them,” says Heather but it also allows the tinnier lures to work
Hettinger, fisheries management Retired charter captain Jay Frolenko is more naturally in the water.”
biologist for the Michigan Department no stranger to trolling for just about any
of Natural Resources out of the Traverse species that swims in the Great Lakes, Frolenko’s gear consists of eight to nine
City Field Office. including trout, salmon and walleye. and a half-foot medium-action trolling
Lately, he’s been targeting ciscoes rods, with reels filled with 12-pound-test
“We're trying to determine if this is a in the Grand Traverse Bays while monofilament. This type of line is more
strain that's been here all along but are utilizing similar tactics to all three of the forgiving that fluorocarbon or superline;
now just starting to prosper, which we aforementioned. And his catch results the stretch needed for warding off
doubt, or, are a mix of two or all three have been staggering, with limit catches broken lines during the strike, and, to
of the ones we already know of, or for three anglers (that would be 36 fish) keep hooks from ripping free from a
even migrants from cisco’s thin membrane
other Great Lakes around its mouth. His
that have spawned spoons are connected
with the already- to the line’s end via
known strains. Right a small ball-bearing
now, however, just snap-swivel. And it’s
from looks alone, we 12-pound-test mono for
feel they are most leaders on the leadcore
definitely genetically and copper, as well.
different than what
we’ve had in Lake As for lure color, the
Michigan before.” ones that work wonders
for salmon also catch
Like any cisco, these ciscos, with metallic
big bay fish eat blues and greens,
minnows and insects glow-in-the-dark as
wafting through the well chartreuse being
upper reaches of some of Frolenko’s
the water column. favorites. Just be willing
But Hettinger says earlier studies have landed in just hours. to change out spoons every 20 minutes
shown the invasive round goby to be or so if strikes don’t occur.
one of their main food sources. And Nearly identical to his trout and salmon
seeing as gobies are bottom dwellers charter trips past, Frolenko uses spoons Also similar to fishing salmon, Frolenko
tells us these unique fish have no issue pulled behind downriggers, leadcore finds trolling speeds of 2.1 to 2.3
swimming to the lake's floor to forage. and wire line when trolling for ciscoes. MPH is what trips strikes from ciscos.
“Some of my buddies are using the As for depth, the captain’s found fish
Overall, cisco populations are cyclical, same size spoons they would for suspended within 40 feet of water all
often rising and falling opposite of their Chinook and coho and catching all the the way to well over 200 feet. And
distant whitefish cousins. In fact, the cisco they want,” says Frolenko. “But I despite the studies that prove cisco are
larger of this cisco strain look nearly like to not only downsize my lures, but eating more bottom dwelling round
identical in form to lake whitefish; the lighten up my equipment, as well.” gobies than anything else, the captain
position of their mouth being the easiest says the higher the fish are in the water
determining factor when depicting While Frolenko’s buds troll with size-2, column the more active they are.
between the two. A cisco’s is located -3 and even magnum-size spoons, he
directly off the front of their face, similar chooses the smaller size-0 and -1 baits, And ciscos are relatively easy to spot
to a tarpon’s, while a whitefish’s bottom and then uses the very same equipment on sonar as they tend to congregate

in massive schools. They have a similar look on a sonar screen
CONSERVATION CLUB SPOTLIGHT: as walleyes, but will be seen in more massive quantities. Just get
your lures in the fish faces that are suspended highest in the water
LAKE ST. CLAIR WALLEYE ASSOCIATION column, or just above them, and there’s a good chance you’ll get
by Alex Vitek
For more than forty years, the Lake St. Clair
Most anglers tend to turn their nose up at the idea of eating ciscos
Walleye Association (LSWCA) has been pro-
due to their consideration of being baitfish for other gamefishes like
moting walleye fishing in southeast Michigan.
lake trout and the like. But those who have taken the time to fillet
This group of dedicated fishermen has helped these fish, which have flesh similar to a whitefish, have found they
others catch their dream fish or learn how to go have a comparable flavor to Great Lakes salmon.
home with a limit after a day on the water.
Although not mushy in texture, a cisco’s meat is softer than other
Originally started to fight the flood of commer- game fish. Thus, proper preparation is required to keep the meat
cial netting of walleye on Lake St. Clair, now in good shape, especially when freezing them; which will more
the group has turned towards conservation, than likely happen due to the fact if you catch one, there’s a great
education and promoting better fishing oppor- chance of landing more than you can eat in a week’s time.
tunities by providing tips and help. Today, the
With an extremely-sharp knife (which a fillet knife should be at all
emphasis covers the waters from Lake Erie to
times, anyways), ciscos will fillet out like a trout or salmon; they are
lower Lake Huron, though the waters of the rest
a slightly oily fish. Keep the skin on and they make wonderful fillets
of the state are not neglected. for smoking. Skin off and they are perfect for baking, broiling,
frying, pickling or in fish chowder.
For decades, the LSWCA has raised walleye
fry for stocking by the Michigan Department Biologist Hettinger gave up one of her favorite ways to prepare
of Natural Resources throughout the state from cisco for the table: Lay a cisco fillet, skin off, on a sheet of tinfoil
rearing tanks at Selfridge Air Base. and then add several chunks of butter (yes, the real stuff, not
margarine) on top. Next, sprinkle lemon pepper, dill, garlic
The LSCWA is a club of active and relaxed powder and sea salt and pepper to taste. Next, you can either
fishermen who enjoy their outdoor sport. They wrap the remaining tinfoil over the fish, or, leave it open; place
it on a hot grill and cover with the lid. And as with any fish, don’t
will pass on the hot lures, colors and methods
overcook it. The fish will be done when the flesh flakes with a fork.
of catching the most popular eating fish in the
Midwest. HEY CISCO!

Meetings are held the third Wednesday of Not every species of salmonid is in a state of doom and gloom.
each month, except for November, and are Next time you’re trolling in Lake Michigan and start marking
open to everyone. They start at 7:30 pm at the masses of decent-sized fish high in the water column on your
American Legion Post, 401 North Groesbeck in sonar, downsize your lures and then get ‘em in the strike zone.
Mount Clemens. Don’t be surprised if the fish you catch is a huge cisco.

Learn more at or by calling Better yet, don’t be surprised if you end up landing several. Just
remember to bring a few of your favorite walleye trolling rods and
(586) 778-0480.
you’ll have a blast catching these hard-fighting fish.
Would you like your MUCC-affiliated David A. Rose is a writer, photographer and fishing guide who
sportsman's, fishing or conservation club lives in the Traverse City, MI, area. Check out his website at
highlighted in Michigan Out-of-Doors? for more information.
Email with the
subject line, "Club News."


by brian
"Koz" Kozminski

Midwinter’s frigid grip has us snug a windchill into the negative teens tend add Life-like movement,” and “irresist-
tightly in between two Polar Vorteces. to keep me close to fireside activities ible UV color,” usually sucker me into
Seems common place these days. When with my family. This is also a prime time buying at least a few packets of syn-
I was a child, it was just another winter for me to take inventory and stock up thetic glitter and dubbing from various
storm. If school was cancelled, it was on flies that were either donated to the producers. But why? Why do we tie?
a real blizzard with snow measured cedar gremlins of the Jordan Valley or And furthermore, why do I keep adding
in feet and drifts that covered the '69 so effective that voracious trout decided to my exponentially growing room of
Dragon Wagon Pontiac grocery-getter. to steal a few to place on their mantle in moth ball-laden Sterilite containers with
Lake Charlevoix had open water last some deep, dark domicile. Either way, I more beads, rubber legs, hooks and a
week and some local intel on smaller find it always exciting to attend various plethora of fur and feathers?
lakes report hit or miss panfish catch- fly shows in the short days of winter
es, but I will wait for a solid six inches solstice and pick up a few tricks, along First, let's establish that I am not a
before I meander out on the big lake with scads of ever-newly developed “good” fly tier. It's not that I am bad, or
for a walleye or burbot dinner. None- materials that seem to be erupting from lack necessary skills at the vise; it’s just
theless, temperatures in the single digits some remote craft corner of the world that I can't sit down and rip out eight to
and a howling wind that can plummet we never knew existed. Claims like “will 10 dozen articulated Red Rockets or

Viking Midges while binge-watching Charlie Adams in 1922, its world fame from Ernie Borcher had a slightly darker
Netflix or a Red Wings series on any is attributed to its immediate success body of wrapped turkey feather to
given weekend like some production at replicating mayflies on the nearby match darker mayflies near Stephan
guys I know. It is a weird dilemma, water. The Roberts Drake is in every Bridge, and can still be found in the fly
actually. My OCD personality has an guide box I know near the 45th parallel. bins today at Gates Au Sable Lodge.
internal battle with the creative left brain Clarence Roberts was a Conservation The Houghton Lake Special is somewhat
Aquarian and usually allows me to re- Officer who was not only respected of a lost treasure. Those who tie and use
produce half a dozen flies of any given because of his stature, he was nota- it know how effective it can be prior to a
nature before I begin to question, "What ble for being a stickler to the rules. His hex hatch. First tied by a school princi-
If we opted for this color, or substituted pattern had a yellow deer hair body to pal of Pinconning, Bob Jewel used to
this material?" I wish I could auto-pilot imitate mayflies near his home waters. race up to the Au Sable in a Corvette to
and bang out 30 dozen rubber-legged I would not want to be found on the fish with Calvin Gates, father of the late
Stimulators or Swisher's PMX patterns, Upper Manistee or Au Sable Rivers in Rusty Gates. They would often grease
and make them identical down to the mid-June without a couple dozen just in up the fly and strip it like a streamer,
number of thread wraps and twists of case a barrage of drakes come pouring or perhaps an emerging Hexagenia
grizzly hackle, but I lack the genetic off the silky-smooth rippled pools of the limbata. Earl Madsen fashioned a white
background. The struggle is real. I am south branch. Art Whinnie first tied the rubber-legged deer hair attractor fly
not alone. So why do I tie? It is relaxing Michigan Hopper with the most basic in the 1950's we still use today. The Au
for me. Part serenity, part man-craft and Sable Skunk is anything but. Deadly in
a dose of creativity. The history of fly midsummer’s heat whether fished dry or

fishing dates back to ancient Macedo- just under the surface as a wet fly, cold
nia. Between Beroea and Thessalonica water brook trout and the larger fish that
runs the River Astraeus, where man hunt them find this hopperish-looking fly

caught fish with speckled skins on a irresistible. So, with all this rich history
hook fashioned with a feather. But we and all these successful flies, why do we
have come a long way since those early feel the need to tie new and improved
days more than 2,000 years ago.

Here in Michigan, fly tying nostalgia
FLY TYING versions?

We have to push the envelope. The fly
dives deep. Fly boxes around the world
are stocked with patterns from local fly NOSTALGIA industry is not unlike the fashion game:
they are always searching for newer,

tyers and they have been top pro- better, stronger and more effective
ducers for the better part of a century. materials. We also have anglers in the
Lesser-known names like the Strawman game, both men and women, who are
Nymph and Whinnie Fore & Aft are exercising their fly tying muscle. The
complemented with more popular mon- streamer game has exploded like no
ikers like Roberts Yellow Drake, Michi- of materials readily found in Michigan: other. First to open up Pandora’s Box
gan Hopper, Madsen’s Skunk, Griffith’s deer hair and mottled turkey wing. Its and really expose fly anglers to a trout’s
Gnat and the Adams Fly. The Adams has buoyancy and seemingly more irresist- underwater world was Kelly Galloup
an annual celebration in Kingsley and it ible appearance as it becomes more and Bob Linsenman. They had caught
is found in nearly every angler’s fly box tattered makes it a great grasshopper and named many fish on the rivers they
in various forms. Originally tied with red imitation. This fly was later developed fished, but they were on the hunt for the
Rhode and made famous by Joe Brooks; some elusive monster fish of the rivers. Catch-
Lake Leelanau Island may know it as Joe's Hopper. Griffith’s ing a dozen twenty-inch fish every year
Narrows Resort Rooster Gnat, imitating a smorgasbord of midg- is admirable, but they had larger fish
by the bridge between
North and South lakes
and grey es, comes to us from the late George in mind. Kelly's research went deeper
wool for Griffith, who was one of the founders of than previous attempts. He actually
GREAT FISHING! the body Trout Unlimited. Conflicting reports say donned a wetsuit and dive mask to
walleye, pike, bass, perch, lake trout

•cabin rentals include boat slip
by Len he collaborated with a friend to invent watch streamer-eating trout. He wanted
•onsite bait and tackle shop Halladay it. He later denied it was his pattern, but to see what was key to the predatory
•fish cleaning station
•laundry of May- simplicity rules again with peacock herl response necessary for the take. We all
•in town location! field for and grey or grizzly hackle to fool the have theories. Big trout are very smart,
M-204 at County Rd. 643 his friend most wary trout here and in tailwater on an instinctive level. They are very
reservations call:231-256-9496
Judge fisheries out West. Borcher’s Special good at conserving energy and eat only

when absolutely needed: sometimes, It only makes sense. day? So many factors come into play.
once a week; others, many times in an
evening. Kelly broke the mold with many A client and friend from Ann Arbor was Still some ask me, “Why do you fly
patterns, most notably the Zoo Cougar. in Petoskey over the holiday break and fish?” Fishing as leisure, pure pleasure
With its deer hair shaped head and we decided to watch the weather and and pastime. My purpose is not to fill
neutral buoyancy, it replicated large try to float on New Year’s Day. The a freezer. I believe in selective harvest,
baitfish and sculpin minnows to get window of opportunity was promising. that is bringing a fish home once in a
the attention of the true leviathan trout The forecast called for partly sunny and while, a true pleasure to enjoy. I don't
for which they searched. The proper highs in the upper thirties. Not too warm have to kill everything I catch. I look
balance of marabou feathers, a little for January 1, nor the coldest I have forward to certain spots because they
flash, deer hair and duck flank give this found myself unthawing my line from hold the allure of large fish once caught
fly a rather life-like appearance. There the rod in mid-winter, either. The river before. If catching fish was a means to
is the theory that we are educating the held true to its promise of solitude and an end, providing for my family, I would
trout we pursue. After years of seeing sparkling white beauty known only to a opt for a much more productive meth-
the same Zoo Cougars, Bottoms Up, select few. After some tree-trimming and od. Fresh leaf worms in a can, usually
Circus Peanuts, Hog Snares and Sex lunch, Andrew made a usual cast with red, Hills Bros. (some may catch the
Dungeons, the trout have become wiser, a usual strip and a sudden stop in his reference). If all the previous history isn’t
perhaps more evolved. So we are ever sequence. apparent enough, nor the total oneness
tying new patterns: the Drunk & Dis- with nature, if the encompassing serenity
orderly from Tommy Lynch, the Game and peace of the pursuit of a trout on
Changer from Blane Chocklett, the Ice
Pick from Rich Strolis and theSwinging
IT IS mere fur and feathers weren't enough,
then I guess it would be the final piece
D from Mike Schultz, to name a few. But
what about the basics? ME AND of the puzzle that may make sense.

At the end of the day, after swinging THE FISH When I have all the parts of the equa-
tion figured out, the weather is perfect,

some of these seven-inch articulated the hatch is right, the fish are feeding
creations on 7 weight TFO Clouser and I don't have my mind on texts,
rods with SA Titan taper lines to get emails, faxes, schedules or due dates. It
“down and dirty,” and we don't get any
takes? That is the name of the game. OF ME: is me and the fish in front of me: all that
matters. I don't care how many “likes”
You are going for the apex predators
of the river, not the average eight- to ALL THAT I get from some previous post on my
blog. This fish has all the dopamine my

12-inch trout. If you were looking to adrenaline junky addictive mind needs,
put numbers in your creel counter, the and often, I am thinking of these mo-
Europeans have been perfecting the ments all winter to get me through to the
Polish and Czech style nymphing for next season.
decades. After reading George Daniels "It’s ON!! That's what I am talking
book Dynamic Nymphing, I was totally about!!" he exclaimed. I jokingly mut- Tight Lines,
sold on the technique. Unreal effective. tered that he had on a carp as we both
Use 30-foot leaders with sighters and watched a hefty brown roll at the sur- Koz
double or triple heavy bead-head flies face 15 yards downstream. This is what
that have “depth charger” added to it is about. We quickly netted, measured Serving you for 35 years
names like Pink Squirrel or Sexy Walt's and released the 26-inch female brown WATERS’ EDGE
Worm. Seriously want a fun day on the before the adrenaline and reality set in. RESORT
water? Dredge a couple of these flies "That was a remarkable fish. You don't Munuscong Lake/St. Mary’s River
on a 4x or 5x through some productive know how many people have chased ~ Raber, Michigan ~
Fish for Walleye, Northerns, Muskies, Herring, Bass
riffle zones and be amazed at how that trout," I responded. & Perch. Clean 2-bedroom cottages; modern camp-
grounds, boats, motors, baits. Call or write:
many feeding fish are right in front of
Bob & Bonnie Waters
you. This is the preferred method of the Then we got to thinking: Would she have 13065 E. Nicole Lane
US Olympic Fly Fishing Team, and yes, taken a woolly bugger or deceiver? Goetzville, MI 49736
one actually does exist. They compete Was it the right fly? The right color? Or 888/999-5396
against France, Italy, Spain, etc. After perhaps the right angler, the right cast,
all, fish eat 90% of their diet subsurface: the right depth/retrieve and time of

by Max Werkman
Owner/Guide ,
Werkman Outfitters

When it comes to spring, many people think of blossoming River, which is one of the most famous cold water rivers in
flowers, fresh leaves on the trees, and warmer temperatures the Midwest. I became good friends with many of the local
to bring us out of the cold winter. To me, it is the start of one guides that worked on the PM. I looked up to many of these
of the busiest times of the year. The steelhead are in the rivers guides as they taught me almost everything they knew about
and they are ready to spawn. fly fishing. Seeing the joy and satisfaction they gave others,
by just teaching them to fish and possibly landing a fish, is
I think that it would be most appropriate to begin with a little what caught my attention. Watching and learning from them,
background about myself. My name is Max Werkman and I I realized that I wanted to become a fishing guide. With the
am 19 years old. I am a current student at Ferris State Uni- help of so many people along the way I purchased my own
versity in northern Michigan and I am a fishing guide in West drift boat, took care of all the legal work, and I started to run
Michigan. My guiding business focuses on river fishing in the guided fishing trips in West Michigan. This led me to guiding
areas where I live and go to school. Although I guide clients during summers in Alaska, too.
on all game fish such as salmon and smallmouth, my favorite
fish to guide for and fish, personally, are steelhead and trout. Steelhead and trout are, in my opinion, some of the most
difficult fish to target in a river situation. Temperature, water
I started guiding when my dad became a part owner in a fly flow and clarity, colors, barometric pressure and many other
fishing lodge in northern Michigan. I already had an under- variables affect steelhead on a daily basis. The spring is when
standing of fly fishing but this is where my passion took off. steelhead are most abundant in the rivers as they come up to
As I became more involved in fly fishing, I started to work spawn and lay eggs. Whether you are floating down the river
weekends in the fly shop at the lodge. This is where I started or walking in, you will notice hen (or female) steelhead on
to get the idea of guiding and possibly making a career out of their redds (spawning nests) laying their eggs. It is important
it. The fly shop is located on the banks of the Pere Marquette not to step on these redds or harass the hens while they are

spawning. But behind these hens there will be two or more fish drift every time. You fight the fish by putting pressure on the
(including brown and rainbow trout) eating the eggs that the reel with your hand. Normally I use an 11 to 13 foot rod with
hens are dropping. a Raven Matrix XL reel spooled up with 10 to 15 pound test.

During the spawn there will be many different colored steel- With the spawn in full swing, these fish are dropping eggs,
head. I say this because some fish have been in the river all so one of the best ways to fish for them is to use an indica-
fall and winter. You can tell the difference because the males tor float (or bobber), some split shot, and eggs. When I say
(or bucks) get very dark in color with red stripes going along eggs I mean the actual eggs from fish, egg flies, or beads.
the sides of their bodies. The hens will get red and pink cheeks The purpose of float fishing like this is to get the eggs flowing
but they will not get as dark as the males. Fresher fish that downstream the same speed as the current. You want to po-
have just entered the systems will be bright chrome with little sition your float so that the rig is about a foot off the bottom,
colors on them. but you shouldn’t be afraid to keep adjusting your depth to
find where the fish are. Fishing with these eggs can be the
Regarding rods, reels, and line, there are many different op- most effective way to target both steelhead and trout due to
tions to use. When fly fishing I would hand my clients either a plentiful amounts of eggs in the river system. There are many
10 foot 7wt or an 11 foot 6wt with a size 4 or 5 reel spooled other techniques that I use in the spring like casting plugs and
up with full floating line. Spinning rods are very common and spinners, chuck and duck or bottom bouncing, and swinging
clients of mine like to use them because they are the easiest to and stripping flies, but float fishing eggs, flies, and beads is
cast and most people are very comfortable using them. Nine my most effective way to catch fish.
to 11 foot spinning rods work the best with either size 25 or 30
spinning reels. Normally these are spooled up with 10 pound Good luck to everyone this spring on the rivers. Get out there
main line. Personally, I use a center pin the most. These are and catch some fish.
reels that have no drag and free spool. This gets you a perfect

By Shawn Stafford

We all need it: An opportunity to clear our minds and reener- bait shop and gather the same supplies each year. They may
gize our souls. About 10 years ago, I found mine in the form or may not remember me but they are friendly and always
of chasing the elusive and somewhat mystical steelhead. willing to give me the latest on the river and fishing condi-
tions. I have a bit of southern accent that is easily detectable
Born and raised in Southern Indiana, trout fishing was some- (according to native Michiganders) and as a matter of fact my
thing you only read about in outdoor publications and never fishing partner has left messages for me at the bait shop about
really put much thought to. We fished for the usual bluegills, specific colors of yarn and meeting locations. His instructions
bass, and catfish which was quite enjoyable but it turns out to the clerk were, “when a guy comes in here with a south-
I was really missing some excellent opportunities. Several ern accent tell him to pick up chartreuse yarn and I’ll be at
years later I found myself transplanted into the state of Michi- the spot after I pick up some lunch”. Without hesitation the
gan. Eventually I ran into a co-worker, who I now call a dear message was delivered and later that afternoon we were im-
friend, who introduced me to the art of steelhead fishing. This mersed in the river. Small acts like this are part of the aura that
is not a how-to article as there are many more highly skilled some may never experience or appreciate but draw me back
fishermen out there, but just because you’re not a professional year after year. I find it comforting that small town America is
doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the challenges, delights, and still alive and doing what they do best.
benefits these amazing fish offer.
The first year was very tense for me on the river. I wanted
A little apprehensive at first, I asked my friend what I would nothing more than to catch a limit of these gorgeous toothed
need to join him on the Muskegon River that first April. I was fish. I was determined and fished from daylight to dusk as
bewildered and a little relieved when he said all I needed was hard as one could fish. After two days I had yet to land one.
a pair of waders, a goofy fishing hat, and a spinning rod and Finally, late into day three, success struck and I was reward-
reel. We would pick up everything else we needed at a local ed with a majestic silver trophy. I’ll never forget hoping and
bait shop for about $20. Now equipped with some leader praying I would not lose the fish and pleading to my partner
line, splitshots, hooks, swivels, some colored yarn, and spawn to hurry up and get it in the net before it gets away.
bags, I was ready to hit it! Still to this day I go to that same

We stayed with my buddy’s parents that year and for the next but more than sufficient to meet our nutritional needs. Of
several on our annual exodus to the river which served us quite course we are in a public forest on a public waterway so
well. We would hit multiple locations we could legally access there is an element of sharing involved.
along the Muskegon. Throughout the years we would drive
around sight-fishing, hoping to find some active beds and then The risk/reward here still has a positive outcome, though.
start tossing lures. We would spend time driving back and forth Ducks fly overhead, turkeys gobble, and fish can unsus-
from where we were staying to the spots we would fish. A fair pectingly brush up against your leg. On several instances I
amount of time was spent in the truck instead of what we real- was content to simply bask in the sun and take a nap on the
ly wanted to do…fish and enjoy the river. Then it finally hit us. riverbank. The best cup of coffee I ever had was on a frosty
Michigan has an extensive state and national forest system that morning after catching an early rising steely. I brewed a
should not be taken for granted. Why not utilize them? Camp- pot in a stainless steel percolator on the open fire and abso-
ing is permitted and it just so happened there was some pretty lutely savored the moment. And, of course, don’t forget the
good fishing in the National Forest along the river. So that’s chance you may actually hook into a wall hanger!
exactly what we did! I dug out an old pack frame backpack
from my brother’s Boy Scout days and loaded it with some So if you live in the frantic world like so many of the rest of
food, clothes, tent, and sleeping bag. The plan was to park at us, do yourself a favor and go steelhead fishing. Get those
a suitable public access point and hike to a promising spot we waders out, that goofy hat, and the tent that has been col-
had found the previous year and simply set up a fishing camp. lecting dust in the barn. Find that small town bait shop and
Let me tell you, this was the best idea yet. Now we never had to National Forest just waiting for you to accept their offerings.
leave the river and were basically isolated and had nothing to Savor your line going taut and the drag begging for mercy
do but fish and enjoy what God had given us. as your next scaled trophy just might be on the other end.
Your treasure awaits at the end of the trail, along the river,
Each year I anticipated the trip more and more but didn’t fully in the outdoors.
understand it until three years ago. Now I return to my opening
statement about body and soul. I had caught several steelhead
over the years but now the trip had taken on a new meaning. It
was two or three days to be away from it all with no worries.
Having experienced the scream of the drag and aerial acro-
for rent located just 5 miles west of Baldwin with
batics of a hooked steelhead I was free to simply soak in the
virgin pines that surrounded me. The mile or so hike in to camp private access to the Pere Marquette River. Great
was a once a year liberation from society. Hearing the river for fishermen. 616-891-9644 or visit our website
as I neared my little piece of public heaven still gives me goose at
bumps. The glimmer of the sunshine off the clear water had nev-
er been more magnificent. Sunlit gravel beds under the water
glowed like the campfires we have each evening. The flash of
shiny steel or the sight of a dorsal fin breaking the surface shoots PICKEREL LAKESIDE CAMPGROUND AND
pure ecstasy through my body. My journey as a steelheader has COTTAGES: Balwin Area - Over 1000' of all
gone full circle from wanting a limit on a stringer to simply being sport lake frontage offers 45 semi-rustic sites
there. That’s not to say that the objective isn’t still to hook and
and 4 clean modern cottages.
land a fish, but the enjoyment now comes from many different
Before you get too excited, fish camping in the wilderness is still
not necessarily for the light-hearted. I remember one year where
I had a leak in my waders that made things a little less than
ideal. That same year I woke up one morning to put my wading
pants on and realized they were frozen solid from the night time 888-939-6667 or 231-745-6667
temperatures. I have since invested in new waders. On one oc- • Lodging, cabins and river guide service on the
casion it alternated snowing and raining for several hours as the Pere Marquette River.
• Fish for salmon, steelhead, trout on the Pere Mar-
temps plummeted when the sun disappeared behind the trees. I quette, Manistee, and Muskegon Rivers.
have also invested in a better sleeping bag since the first year • Flyfishing or spin tackle.
out. Some things you just learn the hard way. When you’re in • Federal & State licensed and insured guide.

the elements you’re subject to whatever they dish out. Since we Owners: Clint & Debi Anderson

carried everything in on our backs, eating is not five-star dining

Jim Bedford

As I write this in mid-De- that don’t strike very well. Examples put you into a reach where there
cember, the weather has tran- of likely crowded spots are areas might be fewer but more active fish
sitioned from a relatively mild below barriers such as dams or because they are under less angling
autumn to brutal winter cold and falls, streams that receive very large pressure.
snow. There will be mild periods plants of hatchery steelhead smolts When fishing for scattered
during the winter when you can and the spawning riffles on small steelhead, it is important to cover a
find open streams and some good clear streams where the steelhead fair amount of water. Fishing with
fishing. But most steelhead anglers are very visible. lures such as weighted spinners,
are thinking about the arrival of sil- Finding a less crowded spoons and crank baits is a good
ver bullets from the Great Lakes in stream or stream reach is fairly way to find steelhead. Bright, high-
March and April. These migratory easily done. Many of our Michigan ly visible lures will draw steelhead
rainbows are the first open water tributaries to the Great Lakes are from a considerable distance so you
quarry for many anglers in the not stocked and are dependent on can cover the holding water fairly
spring and you can count on lots a modest run of wild fish. These quickly and move on if no hits are
of competition on the stream from streams are often near heavily received. If you do find a pod of fish
other anglers anxious to be outside stocked rivers and some hatch- with the hardware, you can then
and on the water. ery fish will stray into them. You also drift fish the area with spawn
Over many years of hard can also fish the lower reaches of or other bait. Or switch to flies or
core steelheading, I have come to the rivers receiving large runs of beads.
the conclusion that fishing loca- steelhead and intercept them before Your goal with lures is
tions with high concentrations of they reach a barrier or other pop- to invade the territory of these
fish is often not the best plan in the ular angling location. Just being non-feeding fish and aggravate
spring. Lots of fish attract lots of willing to float, hike or wade a them into striking your flashy
anglers and the result is spooky fish ways from the access site can often offering. Getting the fish’s attention

and eliciting a grab without spook-
ing them is the fine line you must
travel. The size of the stream, depth
of the holding water, water clarity
and atmospheric conditions are
all things to consider as you try to
match just the right size and gaudi-
ness of your lure to the situation.
Using plugs and weighted
spinners as examples, you might
choose large, high action crank
baits containing a rattle and having
a metallic or bright fluorescent fin-
ish or number 5 silver plated spin-
ners to fish a large, fairly deep and
turbid river on a cloudy or rainy
day. Conversely, on a sunny day
on a small, gin clear creek, a Size 2
copper, brass, or black spinner or a
small plug in a natural finish would
be more likely to entice a strike
from a steelhead. Of course there is
a whole range in between and trial
and error may be necessary. In gen-
eral, smaller is better as long as the
fish see the lure in plenty of time to
strike it. However, if you see a fish
turn at your lure but not take it in a limit this presentation to fairly clear tight spot before starting your re-
relatively cloudy river on a dark day water so the steelhead can see the trieve. Even those that suspend will
then bigger might be better so that spinner coming. Casting weight- remain on the surface until you pull
the fish notices the lure sooner and ed spinners across the current or them under the water. Tradition-
can nail it. quartering downstream allows you al high action steelhead plugs are
As stated above, both spin- to sweep them across the flow with most effective when back-trolled
ners and plugs are great lures for only minimal reeling needed to from a boat so if your chosen river
covering lots of water in search of the keep the blade spinning. When is large enough, this is a great way
scattered steelhead. Spinners can quartering downstream, you may to find widely scattered steelhead.
be cast in any direction relative to want to first let the spinner sink a You can either back them down the
the current while plugs are best second or two and also be ready to river by rowing a drift boat against
fished swept across the current or give a little line as it sweeps below the current or using an electric mo-
held against the flow. You should you in order to keep it down. tor on a conventional boat to slow
retrieve spinners just fast enough Plugs have the advantage its movement with the current.
to keep the blade turning. When over spinners in that they really With several anglers on board,
casting upstream or quartering stay down when swept against the you can really put out a spread of a
upstream, you will have to crank current because of their diving ac- variety of colors and make it diffi-
pretty hard, especially in fast water. tion. Most mod-
Even though the steelhead won’t els also float at POND SUPPLIES: Live gamefish for stocking. Large
have any trouble catching up to the rest so that you selection of lake, pond and watergarden supplies. Free
spinner because they are also in the can drift them catalog! Stoney Creek, Inc., Grant, MI (800) 448-3873
same fast current, you will want to into a particular

cult for the steelhead to refuse your
offerings. By running the plugs at
approximately the same distance
behind the boat, you will also catch
fish that might move out of the
way of one lure only to encounter
another and then slam it.
Minnow-imitating plugs
are especially effective when
fishing smaller streams and when
you are in the vicinity of spawning
gravel on larger streams. Steelhead
THE TROUT OPENER that are close to spawning or ac-
tually on the redds definitely don’t
Trout season opens on April 29th this year and you can bet our trout streams
will be busy, especially the famous blue ribbon rivers. There will be cars & trucks
like have other fish in their space.
aplenty at the road crossings and access sites. Since the browns, brookies and This may be an innate behavior re-
rainbows haven’t seen an angler on many of the streams for seven months, they lated to preventing the smaller fish
are thought to be a little easier to catch early in the season. But, I believe that they from eating their fertilized eggs.
will still be wary and you won’t fool many if they are aware of your presence. A As you fish, it is important
stealthy upstream approach is usually best but that won’t help if there are other to remember that steelhead are
anglers ahead of you. migrating, so they will orient to the
current. These fish have also left a
Finding a more lightly fished stream is pretty easy in our state since we have so very safe, deep body of water for a
much trout water. Usually the smaller streams will see less pressure and they will relatively shallow stream, so they
be easier to fish if we find high water early in the season. They will also warm up
will seek cover such as logs, over-
faster if the day starts out near freezing. Our resident trout will feed at cold tem-
peratures but they become more active when the water rises into the 50s.
hanging vegetation, riffled surfac-
es and undercuts as they travel.
We have many streams that are open all year and these will usually be less While large deep holes will attract
crowded, as trout anglers rush to the newly opened Type 1 and 2 streams. fish, they also attract anglers. In
Often the year around streams also experience runs of steelhead and salmon. addition, steelhead resting in deep
In the spring, that means you might encounter a late running steelhead that will holes are often less active than
really spice up your day. Young steelhead and salmon will also be gearing up those in shallower, faster holding
for their migration to the Big Lakes and these smolts become more vulnerable water and thus less likely to strike.
to the resident browns and brookies at this time. So keep that in mind and keep Moving steelhead will often pause
some streamers and minnow plugs in your early season arsenal as you fish these in pockets and shallow runs with
good overhead cover. Fish will not

Hatches can be hard to come by and the water will be cold so live bait is a favor-
be plentiful in these lies and at any
ite of many early season anglers. Try being sneaky with your crawlers, minnows one time most will not hold fish
and eggs, though, and cast upstream with just enough weight to get them near but when you find one there they
the bottom and cast upstream. Reel in line just fast enough to take up the slack will most likely grab your lure.
and be ready to set the hook whenever there is a pause in the drift. A good way to cover lots
of water when you try an unsung
Lures can also be effective and it is probably not a surprise to most readers that steelhead tributary is to go from
I like weighted spinners. They attract trout from a distance and spin at a slow one access point to another. This
retrieve which gives the trout plenty of time to intercept them. can be bridge to bridge or a public
access site to a bridge. Obviously
Enjoy the anticipation of spring with lots of tackle tinkering as you prepare for
if it is a large enough stream, you
tangling with Michigan’s cold water treasures.
can cover a longer distance in a day
by floating. Waders will be more

limited but you can easily traverse
between two bridges that are one to
two miles apart in a day. This strat-
egy is also an especially good one
when trying to intercept steelhead
on the lower reaches of the more
popular tributaries.
As you look for lightly
fished steelhead streams, your DNR
fisheries biologists will be a big
help. Their phone numbers are in
the Michigan Fishing Guide you
receive with your license. They will
know where there are some streams
in their district or region with po-
tential, either from modest natural
reproduction or straying from
planted rivers. The biologists will
also appreciate feedback from you
on what you found in these lightly
fished streams. They don’t have the
time or manpower to assess every
stream and your information will
help them better manage our won-
derful steelhead fisheries. Whether
you get the tip from a biologist or
not, fishing a stream that is near or
a tributary of river that gets a heavy
run is almost always worth a try.
A fishing trip I’ve written ever and everyone at least having better on the tributary even though
about before describes well the idea an encounter with the big silver there were much fewer fish.
that less can be more when spring fish. While I don’t expect you to
steelheading. A number of years For a reality check, I took abandon your favorite haunts this
ago, I took my community college the group to a dam on the main spring, trying some new, less pop-
angling class for a day of steelhead river on the way home. Within view ular water is almost sure to provide
fishing on the Saturday of Easter there were easily more than 100 an- a quality outing or two for you.
weekend, perhaps the heaviest glers flailing the water with various Less definitely can be more when
fished day of the spring steelhead tackle and offerings. It was elbow to it comes to spring steelheading in
run. We went to an unplanted elbow on each bank and there was Michigan’s awesome Great Lakes
tributary of a famous and heavily a flotilla of boats in the river. While tributaries.
stocked Lake Michigan steelhead we saw several
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river. There were five of us and we fish hooked in
the hour or so we
spread out and covered over two
observed (and
Fish in comfort
in comfort from a from a Tr
miles of this stream and found a
modest number of steelhead. Only attempted to fish a Licensed and Insured
Triton Walleye Boat
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dents catching their first steelhead

Spring is for

a p p i e s
C r
By Bob Gwizdz

Spring is crappie time, when the mostly black-and- temperature was in the low 50s: still well below where
white panfish head into the shallows and become the books say the crappies will spawn, which is from
readily available to most anglers. Spring is about the the upper 50s to 60s.
only time of year crappies are the prime quarry of most
anglers, but when they head into the shallows to spawn “I think it’s these cold nights,” Leazier said. “Every time
has little to do with the calendar. it starts to warm up, it gets cold again.”

Case in point: Last year, I was unable to get the crap- Indeed, the temperature was barely above freezing
pies going at any time in April, which is when I gener- when we started that day. And though it would warm
ally enjoy my best crappie fishing of the year. It wasn’t into a beautiful spring day by noon, two days later it
until the middle of May that I finally had a decent day. snowed.

When that day finally arrived, I was fishing on Cold- Leazier is a serious angler. He’s probably more
water Lake - which is as about far south as you can go bass-oriented than anything else, but I’ve fished with
in Michigan - with my buddy Buck Leazier, a Hoosier him for a variety of finsters and he is adept at catching
who has the good sense to do a good deal of his fishing all of them. But this was the first time we were target-
to the north of the Indiana border. Lazier told me that ing crappies on open water, so I was anxious to see his
he’d had a similar experience in 2016; he couldn’t get approach.
on them, either.
I found that Lazier used a technique that is quite pop-
What was most confusing was the environmental ular in the South and, actually, was also pretty popular
indicators that I depend on to tell it’s crappie time – up this way many years ago when cane poles were still
and the most consistent I’ve ever found is when the the go-to gear for crappie fishing. He used a 10-foot
forsythias are in full bloom – had already past. The pole (fiberglass, a concession to modernity) with about
forsythias were completely green (even in Mid-Mich- 10 feet of light monofilament line and a tiny jig.
igan, many miles to the north) and the lilacs were in
full blush. But when I got on the lake, I found the water “You don’t see many people fishing with these long

poles,” said Leazier, who is semi-retired and fishes crappie - and we thought it was going to be game on.
more than St. Peter did. “To me, I can locate fish pretty But the second sac-au-lait didn’t come for a while, until
well with it. Then, if you want, you can start using min- Leazier switched to a minnow. Then he caught anoth-
nows.” er one and next thing you know, I was going for the
minnows, too.
That’s perhaps the single biggest debate in crappie fish-
ing all year long: jigs vs. minnows. Personally, I prefer We picked away at them. Lazier was using a tiny
to fish with jigs - it’s just that much less hassle - but I (1/64th ounce) jig with a tinsel tail and orange body
have, over the years, experimented with both and have wrapping. I have never been especially particular about
very rarely found the real thing to outshine the basic color – I like white, but will go to chartreuse in murky
crappie jig. water – though some fairly hard-core crappie anglers I
know have tackle boxes full of about every color in the
“I guess people aren’t that familiar with the technique, rainbow. But most agree that small jigs are better.
but it’s perfect, say, on a weed edge or something,”
Lazier explained. “You don’t think with 10 feet of line “I use the lightest jig I can,” Leazier said. “If the wind
you’d be able to catch fish like that, but crappies are gets up, I might go to a little heavier jig, 1/32nd ounce,
kind of a different fish. You can get right up on top of but I like the subtlety of that light jig. I can move it real
them.” slowly, just jiggle it and keep it in the strike zone all the
We were working weed beds, as well as boat docks, in a
backwater cove. I caught the first fish that morning, an Leazier said he figures he splits his crappie fishing be-
eight-inch redear sunfish. That in itself is bit unusual as tween jigs and minnows about 50-50, though we fished
redears (our Southern friends call them shellcrackers) them differently, hanging the jigs in the top couple of
typically feed on mollusks and are often not as willing feet of the water column and fishing minnows, un-
to take artificial lures as other sunfish. But in short weighted on a bare hook, wherever they swam. We al-
order Leazier caught what we’d come for - a 13-inch ternated all morning and never found one that worked

better than the other, though Leazi- my experience. brothers in reservoirs, where they
er said he thinks minnows are more are generally associated with brush
versatile. Typically, I’ve found crappies are or woody debris, though imme-
finished spawning by then in south- diately downstream from a dam
“Just throw it out there and let it ern Michigan, a little later as you is always a good place to look for
do its thing,” he said. “I always like head north. That’s one of the nice them. Black crappies are more often
to have some minnows with me. I aspects of crappie fishing: If you’ve dominant in natural lakes; they es-
might find them on the jig and then found they’ve moved out of the chew current and prefer clear water
home in on them with the min- shallows where you’ve been catch- and relate to weed beds more than
nows. ing them, just head to a lake or their white cousins.
river 25 miles north and you should
“Crappies feed up so if you’ve got be right back in the game. You can Both species feed on a variety of
your bait down a foot in five feet follow them right into the U.P. invertebrates but move to a more
of water, you’re still in the zone,” fish-based diet as they mature,
Leazier said. “They will come up There are two species of crappies in though whites are more dependent
and take it.” Michigan (and elsewhere), white on minnows than blacks. They
crappies and black crappies. You reach similar sizes, though blacks
Leazier fishes minnows differently can tell them apart by the way the may get a bit larger; a 14-incher
than I do. For one thing, he never spots are arranged on their bodies; or one weighing 1.75 pounds is a
uses a bobber. And he hooks his Master Angler fish in Michigan. In
minnow in the middle of the body
- I always hook them through the
lips or tail - just behind the dorsal
CRAPPIE 1995, anglers submitted 88 crap-
pies for Master Angler status and
they came from lakes all across the
state, though the majority of them

“It doesn’t hurt anything, any
internal organs or anything, but it
allows the minnow to swim more
ARE FINE were from southern Michigan.
The state records are 4.12 pound
for black crappie (Lincoln Lake,
Kent County) and 3.39 pounds for
naturally,” he said. “When you get
a bunch of crappies on boat lifts or
docks, that minnow can swim in
places you can’t cast. You pitch it in
TABLE FARE whites (Stony Creek Lake, Macomb

Spring crappie fishing typically
there and it’ll go wherever it wants: white crappies tend to have their starts shortly after ice-out, well
back in the corners and crevices spots aligned in roughly vertical before the fish make their mad dash
you can’t get to. And you can’t do bars, while black crappies’ mark- for the shallows. Typically, a good
that with a bobber. ings are more randomly scattered. place to start on natural lakes is
Blacks appear darker than whites, on the outside edge of the deepest
“Crappies can be pretty easy to because of their more mottled weed beds. As the weather warms
catch if you’re around them,” he markings. and they move up, you find them
continued. “Finding them is the scattered on weed edges and up
biggest thing. You’ve got to be You can find both species in the in the weeds. Unlike most other
around them to catch them.” same bodies of water – especial- panfish, however, crappies do not
ly in large bodies of water where necessarily relate to the bottom;
I took 13 of them home with me the habitat varies across the lake they often suspend anywhere in
that day and when I filleted them, I – thought they have somewhat the water column, sometimes just a
found that 10 were males. The other different habitat preferences. White couple of feet down in deep water.
three were full of eggs. They hadn’t crappies are more river-oriented; I like to fish them, early in the year,
spawned yet, by mid-May in south- they do well in turbid water and with a jig and a bobber, generally
ern Michigan. That is contrary to seem to dominate over their black suspending the jig about halfway

down in the water column – say five feet
down in 10 feet of water -- but higher when
they are in the weeds as you have to keep
the jigs from tangling with the vegetation.
Crappies tend to come up in the water
column to feed, so if you’re struggling with
this approach, try shortening your dropper.
Crappies are often delicate biters, especially
in cold water – they’ll take the bait and sit,
rather than charge off with it – so if you see
your float as much as shimmy, set the hook.

As the water warms, you can get rid of the
bobber and just swim the jig. Just start
fishing at various depths, counting the jig
down until you start catching fish. Then
concentrate on that depth. But that depth
can change at any time and it is always bet-
ter to be too high in the water column than
too deep.

As crappies get into spawning mode, you
can often find them in canals or shallow
back-water bays where the water warms
more quickly, especially in areas with dark
bottoms. You can find them around or un-
der docks or any other sort of cover, though
when they get to spawning great guns, they
can be about anywhere. Because they nest
on the bottom, you don’t have to worry
about being too deep. If you can retrieve
your jig a foot off the bottom, you will gen-
erally be in the strike zone.

Crappie are fine table fare, though they are
somewhat softer than other panfish, which
is one of the reasons they fall out of favor
with many anglers after spawning season
is finished. But they can be caught year-
round; it’s just harder to home in on them
in summer than it is on bluegills or perch.

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by Jeff Nedwick

Some records seem destined to last forever: Joe DiMaggio’s
Photo: Greg Gasiciel

Dam has spent years fishing for smallmouth in Michigan
56 consecutive game hitting streak, Wayne Gretzky’s 92 waters and has seen firsthand the changes that ushered in this
goals in a season and Denny McClain’s 31 wins are just a new era of bigger smallmouth.
“The slow progression began when zebra mussels started to
The same was once said of Michigan’s state record small- clear the water on places like Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair,”
mouth bass, but the record that stood for 109 years – and he says, explaining that the clearer water allowed light to
seemed destined to stand for 109 more - has been broken penetrate deeper which facilitated more weed growth and
twice in the past two years. increased the amount of available habitat. The clearer water
also made it easier for sight feeders like smallmouth bass to
Prior to the two most recent record-breaking smallmouth bass, locate food.
the state record had been a 9.25 pound, 27.25-inch fish. That
record was toppled in October of 2015 when Greg Gasiciel “The next big thing was the invasion of gobies,” says Van-
of Rhodes, Michigan landed a 9.33-pound, 24.50-inch fish Dam, adding that, “They’re just such a prolific food source
from Alcona County’s Hubbard Lake. and very easy (for smallmouth) to eat. Hubbard Lake – an
inland lake - is a great example. When gobies arrived, those
Gasiciel’s reign as smallmouth king lasted less than a year fish just exploded. Those bass were crayfish eaters for de-
before his record was broken by an even bigger smallmouth cades and obviously, while crayfish are very prolific, they’re
caught by Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida. just not as good a food source.” VanDam likens the impact
Kraemer’s bass was caught from the channel connecting the gobies have had on smallmouth growth in Michigan to the
Indian River and Cheboygan County’s Burt Lake in September higher growth rate of largemouth bass in southern California
of 2016. The fish weighed a whopping 9.98 pounds and was lakes where trout are stocked.
23.1 inches long.
This sudden abundance of big smallmouth bass may have
caught some anglers off guard, but those who’ve spent a lot Michigan’s St. Clair River is considered ground zero for round
of time fishing for smallmouth in Michigan saw the writing on goby - the specific strain of goby found in Michigan waters.
the wall. It was here in 1990 that they were first discovered, most likely
introduced when an ocean-going vessel discharged ballast
Kalamazoo, Michigan bass fishing professional Kevin Van- water collected from the goby’s native range; the Caspian or

Black Sea. Since then, their populations have spread through- that these weight-at-length increases were greatest in fish that
out the Great Lakes and are steadily progressing inland. already had better body conditions. In other words, although
all bass benefitted, healthier fish benefitted more.
Although VanDam and other anglers seemed to be spot on
in their assessment of the impact gobies have had on the The increase in growth was also accompanied by fish reach-
smallmouth fishery, few studies had attempted to scientifically ing sexual maturity a full year earlier, meaning bass from the
prove a direct correlation. That changed in 2015 thanks to a post-round goby era start spawning at an earlier age.
couple of groundbreaking studies of Lake Erie and Lake On-
tario that compared growth rates of smallmouth bass before But what makes goby-fed bass grow so much faster?
and after the introduction of round gobies.
Crane’s studies found that prior to the introduction of gobies,
Dr. Derek Crane, Assistant Professor of Biology at Coastal crayfish were the dominant prey of smallmouth bass: found
Carolina University, was a lead researcher in these studies in 53.5% of stomachs with identifiable prey. However, once
which analyzed length, weight and diet data collected from gobies became established, crayfish were found in only 5.8%
over 7,000 aged two through ten smallmouth bass during of stomachs and gobies a whopping 73.3%. The study offered
1993–2012. The data several reasons for this
was gathered from change in preferred prey
New York State Depart- and the growth advan-
ment of Environmental tages it provided.
Conservation’s (NYS-
DEC) annual assess- First, gobies are soft-
ments of warm-water rayed whereas crayfish
fish. are covered in non-di-
gestible exoskeletons;
Round goby became comprising up to 65%
fully established in Lake of a crayfish’s weight,
Erie in 1999 - the first depending upon the time
year they were found of year. Even after remov-
in the stomachs of ing a crayfish’s crunchy,
smallmouth bass – so non-digestible bits,
Crane’s research team gobies still have a higher
divided the NYSDEC energy density than the
data into pre-round relatively empty calories
goby data - collect- provided by crayfish.
ed between 1993 Bruce Kraemer
and1998 - and post-round Second, a smallmouth bass
goby data - collected between 2001 and 2013. doesn’t have to work very hard to find gobies because gobies
inhabit the same rocky bottom habitat as crayfish. Even bass
The results confirmed what VanDam and others had been that previously fed on suspending prey like rainbow smelt or
seeing; after the introduction of round gobies, smallmouth emerald shiners benefitted from a switch to gobies because
bass were growing faster and growing heavier in proportion less energy is required to catch them. Furthermore, gobies
to their length. lack the menacing – if mostly ineffective – claws that crayfish
use to fend off predators. And finding gobies is even easier in
The studies found that smallmouth bass in the post-round goby waters cleared by zebra or quagga mussels.
era reached the same or greater length as pre-round goby
bass one year sooner. Put another way, three-year old bass
from the post-round goby era are on average longer than
four-year-old bass from the pre-round goby era. The fastest
growth acceleration occurred in bass between two through
four years old. Lake Erie Walleye
& Perch Fishing
Crane’s research also revealed that for a given length, post- Monroe/Luna Pier MI
round goby era bass weighed between 7.5% and 20% more
than their pre-round goby era ancestors. The study also noted (734) 781-0030


"These are the good
old days. How long it
lasts, nobody knows."
- Kevin VanDAM

Finally, the abundance of gobies make MAKING THE CASE FOR A NEW clude that somewhere in Michigan there
them ideal prey for bass of all age class- WORLD RECORD must be a 26 or 27-inch smallmouth
es. Gobies spawn several times per year that has blown past 12 pounds thanks
which means that at any given time there Individually, the invasion of gobies, ze- to lifetime of dining on easily caught,
are various sizes available. bra and quagga mussels and a longer plentiful gobies in water that remains
growing season have likely all contrib- warmer, longer.
Although not directly related to the uted to bigger bass. But the interaction
introduction of gobies, another potential of these three factors compounds the Not so fast, says Crane. Accelerated
contributor to the production of bigger potential for growth - the kind of growth growth is often countered by increased
smallmouth bass is water temperature; that produces record class fish. mortality - sometimes referred to as the
specifically, the theory that earlier spring “grow fast, die young phenomenon.”
weather and longer-lasting summers So, what’s the ceiling on this growth? Is The result of this increased mortality is
provide an extended period of growth it possible the next world record small- fewer older individuals in the popula-
for bass. VanDam estimates that over the mouth bass is swimming somewhere in tion. Indeed, Crane’s research showed
last 20 years, this prolonged period of Michigan waters? “A couple of years a decline in the number of older (age
warmer water has added a month to the ago, I would have said ‘probably not,’ 10+) bass in recent years.
growing season of Michigan’s small- but now I’d have to say it’s a distinct
mouth bass. possibility,” says VanDam. Nevertheless, both VanDam and Crane
remain cautiously optimistic about the
Crane acknowledges that since small- Indeed, one’s imagination runs wild chances for more record class - if not
mouth bass are a warm-water species, when examining the weight-at-length world record class – fish in the coming
they would benefit from any increase in statistics of the two recent record break- years. “We have more than 10,000
water temperature. However, his studies ing fish. Given that the current state lakes, there’s bound to be a handful that
measured only the average water record fish was barely over 23 inches have the right combination of environ-
temperature – which showed little or no long and weighed a shade under 10 mental factors for really big fish,” says
change – not the length of the growing pounds and the current world record VanDam.
season. smallmouth was 11 pounds, 15 ounces
and 27 inches long, it’s tempting to con- Finding those handful of lakes is the

key to finding the next record-breaking smallmouth. Since and Dale Hollow – the location of the current world record
the effects of an extended growing season are generally the fish - were renown for regularly producing seven-pound plus
same everywhere, waters with historically strong smallmouth fish.
fisheries where gobies have recently invaded hold the greatest
potential. Even better if these same waters have increased Those lakes still produce big smallmouth but seven-pounders
water clarity because of zebra or quagga mussel invasion. are now just as likely to be caught from a northern tier lake –
especially one that’s part of the goby infested, Great Lakes
Figure A shows the extent and range of the round goby inva- ecosystem.
sion in Michigan. Noteworthy is that both recent state record
fish were caught from waters within the range of the known VanDam hopes anglers appreciate the unique window of
goby population. Both also feature clear water, rocky bottoms opportunity that’s before them. “These are the good old days.
and had healthy smallmouth bass populations prior to the How long it lasts, nobody knows,” says VanDam. “Twenty
introduction of gobies. It’s a good bet that if more record class years ago, legitimate four pounders were the top end of the
fish are caught, they will come from waters within this zone; scale through most of northern Michigan and the Great Lakes.
i.e. either Great Lakes near-shore waters or inland lakes con- Now, those three and a half and four pounders are four and
nected to or within the counties bordering the Great Lakes. a half and fives and seven pounders are fairly common in
certain fisheries.”
Although invasive species like round goby, zebra mussels
Speculating that the next world record smallmouth bass will and quagga mussels seem to have had a positive impact on
come from Michigan may be fun, but Michigan isn’t the only smallmouth bass, the long-term picture remains uncertain.
state with such aspirations. What’s happening here is happen- Crane points out that the introduction of invasive species
ing throughout the Great Lakes states. doesn’t always work out so well. The next unwanted species
unleashed from an oceangoing vessel’s ballast or escaped
Case in point: weeks before Kraemer caught his most recent from a fish farm 100’s of miles away may not be so kind to
Michigan state record, New York’s state record was also smallmouth bass.
broken by a St. Lawrence River smallmouth bass of freakish
proportions; 21.5-inches long and 8 pounds, four ounces.

While New York and Michigan have already broken state
records in the past year, other Great Lakes states seem poised
to follow suit. When the Bassmaster Elite Series held a tourna-
ment on Minnesota’s Lake Mille Lacs last fall, anglers caught
numerous smallmouth bass over six pounds. Considering Marble sized pellets. Work at any depth
Minnesota’s state record – which has stood since 1948 - is
a relatively small 8 pounds, few would be surprised if that Before After
record is broken soon.

Likewise, Pennsylvania’s 8 pound 8-ounce record seems
within reach. “It’s not just Michigan, the same thing’s happen-
ing in northern Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and even Lake
Champlain,” says VanDam.

Whether any of these states – including Michigan – can

produce the next world record remains to be seen, but there’s
a high probability that future record-class fish will be bass that
have spent a lifetime feasting on round goby.

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The wild life
by Drew YoungeDyke
At the end of January, a bill was introduced in
Congress which would have sold 3.3 million acres of
federal public land. Rather than give up and complain
later, outdoorsmen and women took action and lit up
the phone lines, inbox and social media accounts of the
Congressman who drafted the bill. Within a week, the
bill was withdrawn.
It would be tempting to say that it was
sportsmen and sportswomen who accomplished this,
but the fact of the matter is that, alone, we do not have
that kind of clout. We were joined by environmentalists
and backpackers who have probably never worked a
bolt, nocked an arrow or cleaned a deer. But they love
public land and the outdoors just as much.
This past October, I went backpack bowhunting
in the Porcupine Mountains (pictured) with a couple
friends of mine. They arrived before me, and I was
to hike in five miles from the trailhead to meet them
at the campsite. On the hike in, I met a backpacker
who, like me, had brought a hammock and tarp instead
of a tent. He had planned to pitch camp up on the
escarpment, but the high winds would have had him
swinging like a pendulum. He asked if I knew of any
campsites near where ours was farther down the trail, To subscribe through a membership to
but since this was my first time to the Porkies, I didn't. Michigan United Conservation Clubs,
So I invited him to our campsite. visit or
As we hiked toward it in the dark, I learned he
was also from northern Michigan and was a Bay City For membership questions or subscription questions,
firefighter. He was backpacking solo for the weekend, contact Sue Pride, MUCC membership
but he used to hunt sometimes. As my headlight relations, at or 517.371.1041
dimmed, he took the lead with a brighter headlight and
fresh batteries. We found the campsite, talked around For advertising inquiries,
contact Drew YoungeDyke
the campfire and we're all still Facebook friends. at
In Ben East's account of how Ray Dick
preserved the Porcupine Mountains, he didn't do it by For freelance inquiries, email
speaking only to those who hunted and fished. He was
joined by gardening clubs and audubon groups, too. In with the subject, "Submission."
Due to volume, you may only receive a reply
Steven Rinella's interview, he said that antagonism isn't if there is interest in publishing your idea.
the answer to keeping our hunting rights. It's reaching
that silent majority of non-hunters in the middle. Some To submit a Letter To the Editor, email
of them might even be those very environmentalists
or backpackers we find on the trail through the public with the subject, "Letters."
Due to volume, you may not receive
lands we all share. a reply unless your letter is selected
And if we welcome them into our camp, they for publication.
might even help us light the way. Hunt Your Hunt. DY

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