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Winter 2019


It's Not
the Buck
On the Ground: A year in review
Sustenance hunting in, trophy hunting out
Adult Onset hunter

$5.99 US | Winter 2019

Please Display Until March 1

Official Publication of Michigan United Conservation Clubs

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in action.

Find a VOLUNTEER WILDLIFE HABITAT project near you and sign up at
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Each Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine features
one or two cartoons drawn by Michigan's-own
Jonny Hawkins. I hope they make you laugh as
much as they did us.




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bAsecamp Nick Green, Editor



In recent months, we’ve seen a major collision

between passion and reason: two things that we
work every day to catalyze in this state — and the
results haven’t always been pretty. We respect and
need the passion that Michiganders bring to hunting,
especially deer hunting. At the same time, decisions
that impact hunters need to arise from scientific Editor Nick Green helps his nine-month old pup,
analysis. Annie, get a retrieve during an October duck hunt.
Social media coupled with the newly-reinstated this year.
baiting ban has created the perfect storm giving rise Change is scary — especially when it involves
to a vocal, even strident, minority. You know, the breaking the tradition set forth for you by
folks who know all there is to know about chronic generations before.
wasting disease (CWD), transmission and longevity; I'm not sure I will even see a deer this year.
yet, their credentials seem to be lacking. Despite putting in the time to scout my hunting spots,
Natural resources science and research is a hanging stands along travel routes and looking for
messy, complicated process. But, it is one that is best natural sources of water and food, I'm still not sure I
undertaken by those with degrees in biology, wildlife will harvest a deer. I am okay with that.
and natural resources. What's best for the resource is not what is best
In middle school, we all learned about the five for me. And I will concede that my assumptions
steps of the scientific process: make an observation; and hypothesis about CWD carry zero weight when
form a question; form a hypothesis; conduct an regulations are established in the face of the disease.
experiment; and analyze the data to help draw a In 2008, when the last baiting ban was established,
conclusion. we did not lose more hunters beyond the normal,
Things get messy, especially in the context of annual decline. Hunters did not harvest less deer,
white-tailed deer, when we start to let our emotions with 47 percent of hunters harvesting a deer in 2008
and personal loss affect what we deem to be sound and 44 percent harvesting a deer in 2010.
science. In fact, after talking with biologists and hunters
The most important part of the scientific method much more invested in deer hunting than me, the
is peer-review and replication of an experiment. resounding opinion is that deer will likely transition
Without data and a conclusion that can stand up to back to their natural movement patterns. They will
the scrutiny of other scientists, we would not have move during the day, not at night from bait pile to bait
sound science. pile.
Placing all of this within the context of CWD is This issue is an eclectic mix of deer hunting, fall
important in Michigan. We are at the forefront of fishing, bird hunting, guns and outdoor recreation.
CWD research and management. The decisions we Please send me your thoughts on the magazine to
make in the coming years could be scrutinized for I look forward to
decades as researchers across the country try to find the winter season, late archery and grouse hunting,
an answer. and ice fishing. I hope you do, too. Get someone
Remember those emotions we talked about? outside with you, pass on the heritage and do your
To me, those emotions that flood social media, my part to create one new hunter or angler this winter
email and come to the table at Natural Resources season. Our livelihood depends on it.
Commission meetings prove hunters care deeply
about deer in our state. They care about the health of
the herd, and they care about what we leave behind
for the next generation of hunters. Yours in Conservation,
I grew up hunting over bait. That's how my
stepdad hunted. That's how his dad hunted. That's
how his grandpa hunted. But, I won't be using bait

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 3

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Just finished reading my fall edition

of Michigan Out-of-Doors, and
wanted to get with you on the new
design of the magazine.

Call me old school, but I enjoyed
the magazine better the old way.
When I normally read the mag-
azine its from cover to cover,
although my passion is mostly deer
hunting ,and fishing I enjoy reading
about some of the other passions
as well.
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
And I liked it better with the shorter
by generations of conservationists preceding us, and these generations are ever changing, ever
stories that I could read in just a
flowing. Here we honor the passing of one generation of conservationists to the next.
few minutes in the morning before I
head off to work.

I do like the larger print now that

In memory of
the years have been added to my
birth date, and the eyes don't do Ken Horton
so well. But that could be obtained from
by reducing theJohnpicture sizes.
& Jan I have
Fuzak, Mark & Deborah Hansen, Bev Hundley, Thomas & Mary Ziara, Joshua & Jami
been reading the magazine for Cromley
probably over 40 years now, and
hunting, and fishing the out doors
for probably 10 years more than In memory of
that, and still find them both to be
refreshing, and joyful. I also liked Eric &Kaitlynn Scott
the smaller paper size of the old from
magazine, and soft covers for this Scott, Seaver, Mosher, Poynter & Hoffman Families
allowed you to fold the pages and
hold it in one had comfortably. I
know I'm only one person and like In memory of
your final story different from all
others, but I really like the old mag-
Richard Iacovoni
azine much better. And truly agree
James & Judy Sterling, J. McKenzie, Douglas & Karen Todd, Beverly Ring
to Hunt Your Own Hunt.

But do it ethically and honestly.

In memory of
Sincerely, DeLoy C. Clark Art & Nancy Dittmar
Muckegon, MI from
Alice Kitson in the form of a $280 TRACKS donation

If you have recently lost someone you would like to honor here,
Having recently finished reading the please contact Sue Pride at
new format magazine, my first im-
pression in a word is "slick". Upon

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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 Life Members
of Michigan United Conservation Clubs:

William Bowerman of Hyattsville, MD

Roger Sheldon of Lakeport, MI
Mike Gillespie of Allen, MI
Patrick Hogan of Temperance, 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."

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Nick Green 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.
PRESIDENT Representing more than 50,000 members and supporters and
approximately 250 affiliated conservation clubs, MUCC is the
largest state-specific conservation organization in the nation.
THOMAS HERITIER MUCC members determine the organization's conservation
policies through a robust grassroots process, which MUCC
VICE PRESIDENT staff works to implement by working with elected officials, state
GREG PETER and federal agencies, its members and the public. MUCC has
published Michigan Out-of-Doors since 1947 and operates
TREASURER the Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Camp in Chelsea, MI. Learn
FRAN YEAGER more about the full range of programs MUCC uses to advance
conservation in Michigan and become a member at www.mucc.
MUCC Staff
JACK VANRHEE Executive Director Public Information Officer
DOUG KRIZANIC Wildlife Co-op Coordinator Digital Media Coordinator
Habitat Volunteer Coordinator Education Director
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 Membership Relations Camp Director, Educator
membership information, call 1.800.777.6720. Single copies available
to the public for $5.99 each. Periodicals postage paid at Lansing,
Michigan, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address EMMA NEHAN
changes to Michigan Out-of-Doors, PO Box 30235, Lansing MI 48909.
All advertising communications should be sent to PO Box 30235. Policy and Special Events Assistant On the Water Coordinator
Views expressed by freelance writers are their own and do not nec-
essarily express those of Michigan Out-of-Doors or Michigan United
Conservation Clubs. Copyright 2017 by Michigan United Conservation KIRK RILEY
Clubs (MUCC). The Copyright Act of 1976 prohibits the reproduction of Deputy Director
Michigan Out-of-Doors without written permission from Michigan United
Conservation Clubs. MUCC members may reproduce one copy for
personal use without permission. For permission to reprint a specific
article, and for inquiries, contact the editor at editor@michiganoutof-

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Holiday Giving Director's Desk
Amy Trotter, MUCC Executive Director use this to employ 12 dedicated, full-time staff members,
at least 20 seasonal camp staff and a few interns,
Some of our readers simply know us by our brand, throughout the year to get things done in Lansing and
Michigan Out-of-Doors — the magazine you have come in the forests, waters and fields throughout the state.
to look forward to each quarter. You may know us from As the holiday season approaches, many people
our activities to enact the country’s first bottle deposit consider gifts to causes they support. I encourage
law in 1976, which has helped keep clean the public lands you to consider MUCC in your charitable year-end
and waterways from beverage containers. Still others contributions:
know us as advocates for changes to hunting and fishing • Buy memberships for the outdoors friends and
regulations at the Natural Resources Commission. family members in your life.
Maybe you are a member of one of our affiliate clubs or • Purchase MUCC calendars (suggested donation
your children or grandchildren attended our Michigan $20) to give to friends and family.
Out-of-Doors Youth Camp. Or, maybe you are one of • Consider deepening your investment in conser-
the nearly 3,000 volunteers who have joined us on a vation in Michigan through a monthly donation
habitat project or are a member of the more than 120 of $10 or more per month.
wildlife cooperatives around the state. We reach you, • Make your lifelong conservation commitment
our members and friends, in many wonderful ways, all into a Lifetime Membership to MUCC.
united by a love for our beautiful state. • Name MUCC as a beneficiary in your estate
Regardless of how you came to interact with MUCC, planning.
you may not realize that Michigan United Conservation We try not to ask too much of any one person, but for
Clubs is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. We do all of this work those who are able, we ask for your support for the long-
because it is within our mission: uniting citizens to term financial health of the organization. Unrestricted
conserve, protect, and enhance Michigan’s natural funding is the lifeblood of a nonprofit organization and
resources and outdoor heritage. But, as a non-profit, allows MUCC to be more responsive, more agile, more
we rely on the generosity of our members, donors and independent and more forward-thinking.
foundations and on several fundraisers that we run As Executive Director, I have taken many arrows
throughout the year. for this organization (not literally, thank goodness) to
One-third of our annual revenue comes from uphold our members' commitment to good conserva-
memberships and fundraisers, while nearly 44 percent tion policy. We fight every day to ensure that there are
of our annual income is restricted funding from grants fish and game and the habitats they rely on, that public
and agreements with partners to operate specific lands are open, and that there is access to clean water
programs and do outreach work. The remainder comes to support your hunting, fishing, trapping, paddling
from subscriptions and program revenue, such as our or whatever else you do in the great Michigan out-of-
TRACKS magazine, sending a child to camp, attending doors. To build the next generation of conservationists,
our Annual Convention, rental groups at our youth we take in nearly 400 youth each year at our camp. And
camp, magazine advertising and newsstand sales. We we directly work in the woods and waters you enjoy by
bringing together volunteers to give back to the habitats
directly. None of this is possible without our members,
our partners and our donors. Join with us in this work

Yours in Conservation,

MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter testifies in opposition

to HB 4867 which would allow the baiting and feeding of
white-tailed deer in Michigan. MUCC has had member-
driven policy opposing the baiting and feeding of white-
tailed deer for more than a decade.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 7

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In each issue of Michigan Out-of-Doors, we highlight
some of the recent cases our brave Michigan Department
of Natural Resources conservation officers handle. You don't
want to find yourself on this list.

August 11 to August 24, 2019 CO Cherry discovered it was testing, which the driver was
not a residential fire and that a unable to perform. A preliminary
On being neighborly man had lit a large, fiberglass boat breath test was given, which
on fire in an attempt to dispose of resulted in a 0.12 blood alcohol
CO Adam LeClerc investigated it. content. The subject was arrested
a firearm safety zone complaint In addition to burning illegal for OWI and lodged in the Lake
in Emmet County. Neighbors material, the man was burning County Jail.
were concerned after they heard on a prohibited burning day due While arresting the subject,
numerous shots fired and found to high fire danger. A ticket was another subject in the group
dead birds in the suspect’s issued. began complaining that they were
driveway. almost to the hotel and that they
CO LeClerc responded and The party is over were just celebrating the arrest-
found evidence of several dead ee’s birthday. The subject also told
sparrows left in the driveway, CO Josiah Killingbeck did a CO Killingbeck that they couldn’t
along with numerous aluminum joint ORV patrol with the Lake see what harm the subject was
cans with holes in them. County Sheriff’s Department doing if he was driving an ORV
An interview with the suspect during the free ORV weekend while intoxicated because it’s not
revealed he was shooting a pellet targeting OWI operation. While an actual car.
rifle and had a good backstop. on patrol, CO Killingbeck and The group was educated
He also had a valid base license Sgt. Meyers of the Lake County on ORV regulations and that
needed for taking nuisance Sheriff’s Department observed drunk driving of any kind is not
sparrows. several ORVs operating at a high acceptable.
He said that he would stop rate of speed on a county road.
shooting the pellet rifle on his Sgt. Meyers was able to catch Falling on a different kind of ear
property since his neighbors were up to the group and get them
concerned. stopped for careless operation. COs Chris Reynolds and Ed
When speaking with the subject, Rice interviewed a hunter who
Where there's smoke... CO Killingbeck detected intoxi- is suspected to have shot a large
cants coming from the driver. 9-point buck while hunting under a
CO Kyle Cherry was on CO Killingbeck asked the crop damage permit for antlerless
patrol in Otsego County when he subject how much he had to drink, deer in Hillsdale County.
observed a large amount of black who responded, “Only two,” but The officers were able to get
smoke billowing above the trees in they were almost back to the a confession from the individual
the distance. CO Cherry was able hotel, so it did not matter. on shooting the buck. The officers
to follow the smoke to the source, CO Killingbeck asked the gained consent to check the property
believing it to be a residential fire. subject to submit to sobriety to search and try to locate the deer’s

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carcass and antlers. Since it was Shortly after arriving in the area, The list goes on and on
later in the evening and low light CO Brosky was able to locate the
conditions, the officers were unable vehicle and occupants. CO Joseph Deppen was checking
to locate a carcass or any parts from The overdue persons did not for marine activity along Lake St.
the deer. have good cell reception and needed Clair.
The next day Officer Reynolds assistance with driving directions CO Deppen noticed a person
called in the assistance of COs Nick from the maze of roads they found drive into the launch at a high rate
Wellman and James Nason and once themselves in to get back out to the of speed and he was not wearing a
again received consent to search the main road. seatbelt. The person dropped their
farm for any parts of the deer. boat in the water and parked their
The officers spent several hours The eagle has landed vehicle.
searching the farm and were able to The person entered their vessel
locate a carcass from the deer but CO Cody Smith was on patrol at the docks and started to motor
were unable to locate the head and when he received a call from the away when CO Deppen conducted
antlers. Report All Poaching (RAP) room. a stop. The vessel returned to the
Officer Reynolds has been They informed CO Smith that a dock and the driver did not have any
calling several contacts in the area bald eagle had been hit by a motor- identification on him.
and has several leads as to where cyclist and was injured at the scene. CO Deppen asked about driving
the head and antlers are located. A Upon arrival to the scene, the a motor vehicle without a license,
search will be conducted in areas motorcyclist informed CO Smith and the driver said, “I live just down
for the head and a report will be that the eagle had a visibly broken the street. I forgot it.” He gave CO
submitted for charges for taking an leg and had flown over some trees Deppen a verbal name and date of
antlered deer out of season. and appeared to land behind them birth. CO Deppen had a photo of the
roughly 100 yards from the roadway. name given and the registered owner
Shelling out some justice CO Smith along with an Iron of the vehicle sent to his computer
County deputy searched the area for verification.
CO Sam Schluckbier received a but failed to locate the injured eagle. The information and photos that
complaint of a snapping turtle being came back matched a brother of the
killed illegally in Allegan County. Job opening: tubing spotter wanted individual. The driver was shown
A Facebook post was uploaded the evidence, and said, “Okay, that’s
by the suspect after he struck the CO Mike Wells was on marine me, I have a suspended license and
turtle in its shell with a hatchet. The patrol at a Newaygo County lake warrants.”
post was quickly taken down after when he observed an adult male The driver was detained, and the
much displeasure from social media towing a juvenile with no observer warrants were confirmed. The man
onlookers. on the PWC. was cited for operating a vehicle with
CO Schluckbier interviewed the CO Wells observed the oper- no seat belt and operating a vessel
suspect that same day. He confessed ator looking back several times with no Type IV PFD.
to killing the turtle and posting the attempting to observe the juvenile Warrant requests and reports
photograph online and claimed he being towed while operating the were submitted to the prosecutor’s
didn’t realize it would upset so many PWC. office for driving with a suspended
people. CO Wells contacted the subjects license and giving false information
The carcass was confiscated, and the father on the PWC who to a police officer. The driver was
and evidence was collected during advised CO Wells that they were not picked up on his outstanding
the investigation. Charges for getting ready to leave their cottage warrants and he was released.
unlawfully taking a snapping turtle to go back home and his son just
are being sought through Allegan wanted to go for a ride before they
Prosecutor’s Office. left.
CO Wells asked the subject if
A reason to carry a map anyone was at the cottage that could These reports are
have been a spotter.
CO Brian Brosky assisted The subject advised his wife is
randomly pulled from the
Mason County units on a radio present cleaning the cottage before DNR Law Enforcement
call to attempt to locate an overdue they leave. CO Wells explained Division's bi-weekly
motorist. the safety issue of not having a
CO Brosky was able to use the spotter and a citation was issued reports.
information obtained by the local to the father for towing without an
dispatch from an Illinois police observer.
department to narrow down the
search area in Mason County.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 9

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For more than 25 years Mike Avery has
informed and entertained hunters and
anglers across Michigan. His experience
and common sense philosophy have made
Outdoor Magazine the Number One
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MUCC's OTG ("On the Ground") program is
in its eighth year, with multiple projects planned
across all ages and experience levels throughout
Improving Michigan's Public Lands Since 2013 the state. Volunteers participate in a variety of

wildlife habitat projects on public land and are
provided an opportunity to engage in hands-on
conservation while learning about wildlife habitat

2,199 3,000
About 3,000 volunteers have improved fish
and game habitat through weekend projects that
involve building brush piles, removing invasive
Acres Improved Volunteers trees, restoring grassland habitat through native
flower and grass plantings, hinge-cutting trees for

deer and snowshoe hare, installing wood duck
boxes, regenerating aspen stands, performing
river clean-ups and planting a variety of trees for
Volunteer Hours wildlife food and cover.

This winter, we are beginning to organize

*Data prior to 2016 is not available
events in the Gladwin and Gratiot-Saginaw
State Game Areas involving rabbitat. Each of
these projects will involve felling and limbing
trees that will then be assembled into brush piles.
These brush piles provide habitat and cover for
rabbits and a variety of other small game and
non-game species. We are also beginning to
plan for the spring season, so keep an eye out for
wildlife volunteer opportunities near you!

There are plenty of opportunities to get outside

and volunteer for wildlife, no matter the season!
For more information on event dates, details
and to register, please visit
the-ground or contact MUCC Habitat Volunteer
Coordinator Makhayla LaButte at mlabutte@ or 517-346-6456.

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Fighting Chronic Wasting Disease
Requires Science, Not Celebrities
Lawmakers attempting to circumvent Proposal G
could be setting a dangerous precedent

misperception is the assumption role of baiting in spreading wildlife

By Drew YoungeDyke, National that the Michigan DNR is acting disease has long been known to
Wildlife Federation alone in its CWD management wildlife biologists. A December 2006
response. Nugent called Michigan technical review by The Wildlife
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) “the anti-hunting state” in the Society summed it up:
is a serious threat to Michigan’s Detroit News because of its baiting “Supplemental feeding and
wild, white-tailed deer herd. It is an ban. Across North America, 23 baiting of wild ungulates alter
always-fatal nervous system disease other states and provinces ban epidemiologic risk factors associ-
caused by misfolded proteins — one baiting, and 15 others restrict it in ated with disease prevalence. The
of the transmissible spongiform some way. In fact, the Association number and density of animals in a
encephalopathies family of of Fish and Wildlife Agencies – group and the frequency of contact
diseases. Reducing the rate of its with representatives from all the between susceptible and infected
spread is a critical function of our state wildlife agencies – issued animals strongly affect rates of
Department of Natural Resources a technical report on the best spreading of infectious disease in
(DNR) to conserve an important management practices for CWD a population… Because CWD is
species of wildlife in our state as prevention, surveillance and readily transmitted among captive
well as the future of our hunting management in 2018. One of those deer and elk, it is thought that CWD
traditions it supports. Addressing it best management practices states: transmission may be facilitated
requires the applied use of scientific “To reduce the risk of CWD among free-ranging cervids by
knowledge, not rhetoric. transmission and establishment of concentrating animals through
In 2018, the Natural Resources CWD through unnatural concentra- baiting and feeding.”
Commission approved regulatory tions of cervids, states and prov- Wait, but don’t deer and elk
changes to slow the spread of inces should eliminate the baiting congregate at natural food sources?
CWD, reduce its prevalence and and feeding of all wild cervids using That’s the argument from many
prevent it from reaching new areas regulatory mechanisms such as opponents of the baiting ban.
of the state based on Michigan’s jurisdictional bans.” Nugent, himself, portrays the
CWD Management and Response This section of the report alone example of a hunter moving apples
Plan. One of these regulatory cited 10 peer-reviewed, scientific from under one tree to another
changes banned baiting or feeding publications in support, finding that and claims that hunters putting
deer in the Lower Peninsula and “there is currently no evidence that out corn isn’t any worse than corn
parts of the Upper Peninsula. It’s baiting and feeding of free-ranging spilled from farming activities.
impossible to consume any sort cervids can be conducted to miti- These arguments all hinge on
of hunting media in Michigan – gate increases in the opportunity presenting bait as a substitute for
including social media – without for disease transmission.” natural concentration points, but
encountering a staggering amount This directly counters the baiting and feeding is in addition to
of misinformation spread by argument Nugent claims in his natural sources of concentration.
people who are opposed to the Detroit News opinion piece that the Deer will naturally concentrate
ban, including Texas resident Ted DNR “failed repeatedly to provide under an apple tree, at spilled corn
Nugent. Some of that misinforma- any sound scientific evidence to from farming activities or from
tion needs to be addressed. support the feed and bait ban.” In natural food sources. And the DNR
The first common fact, the scientific evidence of the can’t regulate those concentration

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Winter 2019.indd 14 11/5/2019 3:44:18 PM

points. But every bait pile put out Violating Proposal G is as was formed in 2002 by the Boone
by a hunter is a source concen- anti-hunting an action when done & Crockett Club, the Mule Deer
trating deer in addition to what by politicians who claim to be pro- Foundation and the Rocky
already exists, which increases hunting as it would by those labeled Mountain Elk Foundation, and is
the odds and rate of the spread of as anti-hunting because who’s now sponsored by the National
disease. really defining what those terms Wildlife Federation, Wildlife
The DNR can control that, and mean? Out-of-state celebrities? Management Institute, Quality
by banning baiting and feeding, If you want reliable informa- Deer Management Association,
they can reduce the odds and rate tion about CWD, don’t look for Safari Club International and more.
of CWD spreading. it from out-of-state celebrities. They provide objective and scien-
As hunters who care about the Look to sources like the Chronic tific information and news about
wildlife we hunt and the ability of Wasting Disease Alliance, which CWD at
future generations to hunt deer
in Michigan, we should be willing
to give up one specific tactic of
hunting deer to ensure the future
of herd. Previous generations of

hunters gave up much more to
ensure the wildlife populations we
have now.
What do you think the response

would have looked like when the
first game quotas were adopted
or the first hunting license fees
required if social media was around
more than 100 years ago? It would YOUR ACTIONS MATTER!
probably look a lot like the baiting-
ban debate looks like now. But they
were just as necessary to provide us • Keep Michigan wildlife healthy for
the deer we have now as the baiting current and future generations.
ban is to provide healthy deer for
• Help slow the spread of chronic
future generations to hunt.
We can’t cherry-pick the
wasting disease (CWD) to new
science to fit our personal recre- areas.
ational preferences if Proposal
G is going to have any relevance
moving forward. Proposal G, and
later the Scientific Fish and Wildlife WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Conservation Act, established that
Michigan would make professional • Keep hunting.
wildlife management decisions
• Get your deer checked. Find locations at
with sound science at the Natural
Resources Commission. We can’t
just claim “sound science” as • Avoid long-distance movements with your
a defense against anti-hunting deer carcass.
attacks from animal rights orga- • Handle and dispose of your carcass in a
nizations and then ignore it the responsible manner.
moment we’re asked to change our
tactics to conserve the wildlife we • If you hunt out-of-state, only bring back
hunt. allowed cervid parts.
And if we allow politicians to • Stay up-to-date with the latest regulations,
interfere with a science-informed especially if hunting in or near CWD area.
Natural Resources Commission
wildlife management decision in
this instance, what’s to stop politi-
cians from interfering in other
Natural Resources Commission
orders, piece by piece, until we To learn more about CWD visit
can’t hunt anything in this state?

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 13

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Michigan United Conservation Clubs
Meet the Staff
assists in tracking and engaging
in discussions on more than 70
legislative bills each session. Her
other responsibilities have included
grant management and oversight
for more than $600,000 in active
grants and agreements each year,
including applying for new oppor-
tunities, tracking and reporting on
grant-funded activities.
Prior to joining MUCC in
2007, Amy was a consultant for
natural resources at Public Sector
Consultants, a non-partisan, public
policy research firm in Lansing.
Trotter earned a Bachelor
of Science from Michigan State
Amy Trotter University at Lyman Briggs Kirk Riley
School-Environmental Science and Deputy Director
Executive Director
Management and an additional
Amy Trotter is the executive Bachelor of Science in resource At MUCC, Kirk helps guide
director for MUCC, the nation’s development-environmental the future of the organization,
largest, most effective state-based studies and applications. She including strategic planning,
conservation organization. Having also completed the Natural budget management and partner-
served in this role since December Resources Leadership Project ship development. He assists
2018, Amy had served as deputy and the Michigan Society of the executive director in donor
director since 2015 and on MUCC Association Executives’ Academy development and engagement and
staff since 2007. She is responsible of Association Management. works with program and education
for carrying out the strategic objec- Trotter is from Cheboygan, staff in grant research and applica-
tives of the organization in all its Michigan and resides in Haslett tions. He helps ensure that MUCC
phases: policy/program; outreach/ with her husband Marc and two achieves its conservation mission
education; communications; admin- daughters. She enjoys spending and goals through sound financial
istrative; and fundraising. Trotter time with her family in the management and reporting.
provides staff leadership and outdoors including camping, Prior to joining MUCC in 2019,
development opportunities for up panfish fishing, waterfowl hunting Kirk served as executive director
to 12 full-time staff and oversees the and is dabbling in native plants and of the Lansing-based Information
business operations, works with the perennial gardening. She is also a Technology Empowerment Center,
MUCC Executive and Conservation longtime member and volunteer for focused on providing STEM educa-
Policy Boards and leads the annual Ducks Unlimited. tional opportunities to at-risk youth
budget development (~$1.4 million from 2007 to 2018. From 1994 to
operating budget). 2006, he managed an environmental
Amy is best known for her role engineering outreach program at
in advocacy on behalf of MUCC's
grassroots members and conserva-
MUCC employs Michigan State University that
provided assistance to communities
tionists in Michigan. Since 2007, she
has worked to advance the organi-
12 full-time staff with serious pollution problems.
Kirk holds a Bachelor of
zation’s policy agenda within the
Michigan Legislature and Michigan
members at its Science in Lyman Briggs College
and a Master of Science in environ-
Natural Resources Commission.
She is a registered lobbyist agent
headquarters in mental policy and economics, both
from Michigan State University.
in the State of Michigan and Lansing, MI. Kirk lives in Haslett with his

14 |

Winter 2019.indd 16 11/5/2019 3:44:19 PM

wife Katie and is the father of two Calvin. Since, Green has developed organization.
sons. Their family includes an a deep passion for upland and McKeon graduated from Lake
Australian Shepherd rescue named duck hunting with his three dogs: Superior State University in 2011
Ruby, and they enjoy camping, Calvin, Summit and Annie. with three degrees. They include a
hiking and kayaking. Kirk and his Green is also an avid fly angler, Bachelor of Science in parks and
family proudly cheer on Michigan deer hunter, mushroom hunter and recreation, a Bachelor of Arts in
and Michigan State in their house. dog trainer. history and an associate degree in
Kirk serves on the following natural resources technology. In
committees and councils: 2016, he also completed a Master of
Science in conservation education
- Teach, Talent, Thrive (T3), Capital from Michigan State University.
Area Michigan Works, Lansing, MI. When not working on Education
- Coalition for College and Career Island, McKeon enjoys chasing
Readiness, Lansing Community waterfowl throughout the streams,
College. marshes and Great Lakes of
- Computer Information Michigan. He also enjoys fishing,
Technologies (CIT) Advisory hiking, rustic camping and reading
Committee, Lansing Community a good book. McKeon can also be
College. found cheering on the Lions, Tigers
and Maple Leafs.

Shaun McKeon
Education Director
Shaun McKeon joined the
MUCC team in February of 2013,
coming on board as the camp
director and environmental
educator. In the fall of 2013, he took
over responsibilities as the editor
of TRACKS Magazine. In 2016,
McKeon advanced to his current
role here on staff as the education
Nick Green director.
His current duties include
Logan Schultz
Public Information Officer
supervising the camp director Digital Media Coordinator
Nick Green was hired on at and administrative level tasks
MUCC in June 2017. He started his regarding the oversight of the Logan Schultz has been
career at Cadillac News as a beat Cedar Lake Outdoor Center, employed at Michigan United
reporter writing about the area's outreach program development and Conservation Clubs since early
natural resources, Cadillac Area implementation, editor of TRACKS 2015. He has a background in
Public Schools, court cases and magazine and contributing writer technology and small business
breaking news. to MOOD magazine. development.
At MUCC, Green handles the McKeon also supervises the As digital media coordinator at
organization's communications, MUCC field programs helping to MUCC, Logan handles the develop-
including press releases, design of guide On the Ground, On the Water ment and maintenance of websites,
forward-facing materials, speaking and the Wildlife Cooperatives blogs, social media campaigns and
engagements and staff training programs and their staff. He other digitally-produced mate-
related to writing for mass media. coordinates the partnership with rial. Logan also oversees MUCC’s
Green is also the editor Huron Pines through an MUCC technology infrastructure and the
of Michigan Out-of- Doors — AmeriCorps member. Finally, organization’s data storage and
Michigan's premium outdoor he serves on a statewide R3 task retrieval systems.
journal since 1947. force focusing on recruiting Outside of work, Schultz and
In 2017, Green and his wife, and retaining new hunters and his wife own and operate a small
Emily, rescued their first dog, anglers and writes grants for the business employing several people.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 15

Winter 2019.indd 17 11/5/2019 3:44:20 PM

They live as far away from the city and waterfowl hunting, fishing, his time outdoors. Growing up
as they possibly can with their two hiking, showing her horse with with a last name like Bass, he was
German shepherds. the American Quarter Horse raised as a fisherman, but now a
Schultz enjoys spending his Association and farming cash majority of his time is consumed by
time bear hunting over hounds, crops, hay and livestock with her disc golf. Max also enjoys camping,
duck hunting, coyote hunting, ORV husband, Mike. hiking and outdoor photography.
riding and recreational shooting.

Max Bass Makhayla LaButte

Morgan Jennings Camp Director and Educator Habitat Volunteer Coordinator
Willdife Cooperatives Coordinator
Max Bass started with MUCC Makhayla comes to MUCC
Morgan Jennings joined MUCC in November 2018 as the camp from the Upper Peninsula and
in May 2018 as the coordinator for director for the Michigan Out-of- was hired on at MUCC in May
the Michigan Wildlife Cooperatives Doors Youth Camp. After gradu- 2019. Previously, she held positions
program. This program is ating from the University at Buffalo with the Michigan DNR Wildlife
supported by the MDNR, Quality with a Bachelor of Science in Division, the Michigan DNR
Deer Management Association, environmental studies, Max spent Parks and Recreation Division
Pheasants Forever and MUCC. two years as an environmental and the U.S. Forest Service. She is
Jennings' role is to assist educator for New York State Parks now the MUCC habitat volunteer
private landowners in creating, and three summers as the director coordinator and is responsible for
maintaining and expanding wildlife of Camp DeBruce, a New York State planning, promoting and carrying
cooperatives throughout the entire Department of Environmental out field operations for the On the
state. A cooperative is a group Conservation summer camp. Ground (OTG) program. Started
of landowners and hunters that At MUCC, Max's main role in 2013, this volunteer program
work collaboratively to manage is directing the Michigan Out-of- performs wildlife habitat improve-
a species and its habitat. About Doors Youth Camp. During the ment projects on public land
346,000 acres are currently being summer, he is responsible for throughout Michigan and is fully
managed through cooperatives, the day-to-day operations of the funded through a memorandum of
with 5,000 landowners and/or summer camp. He spends most of agreement with the DNR Wildlife
hunters involved. This coordination his time making sure that program Division.
focuses mainly on deer and pheas- is running smoothly and that the When she is not in the field
ants, but a diverse group of wildlife campers have a safe, fun and educa- completing habitat projects with
and environmental factors benefit tional experience. Once the summer MUCC volunteers, she can be found
from cooperative efforts, including ends, Max's time is consumed by promoting the OTG program at
pollinators and water quality. the rental groups that use Cedar education and outreach events,
Educational workshops and Lake Outdoor Center, planning and coordinating with DNR Wildlife
outreach events are also a signifi- developing new curriculum for the Division staff on future project
cant part of the program to keep next summer, traveling the state details and attempting to grow
cooperative members engaged and looking for the best summer staff the success and recognition of the
informed on management tech- and doing outreach for MUCC at program. A typical OTG season
niques, wildlife diseases, hunting hunting and fishing shows across results in 25-30 wildlife habitat
regulations and more. the state. projects on state-managed land
Outside of work, Jennings Outside of work, Max, just like across the state.
enjoys deer, pheasant, turkey the rest of the staff, loves to spend Outside of her natural

16 |

Winter 2019.indd 18 11/5/2019 3:44:21 PM

resources career, Makhayla can Ian began his full-time work at pool with family.
be found pursuing a variety of MUCC starting in February of 2019,
interests and activities. In addi- and prior to that, he was an intern
tion to hunting and fishing when for MUCC through the Glassen
visiting the Upper Peninsula, she Scholars Program at MSU.
is also an avid birder and outdoor In his free time, Ian enjoys
photographer. She enjoys kayaking, exploring and geocaching at local
hiking, spending time with family parks with his girlfriend Morgan
and friends, traveling and rooting and Tommy, their dog. He also
for the Detroit Tigers. enjoy cooking, reading, hunting,
fishing on Lake Erie and the occa-
sional video game session with his
three older brothers.

Emma Nehan
On the Water Coordinator
Emma Nehan is the On the
Water Coordinator (OTW) for
Michigan United Conservation
Clubs. The mission of the OTW
program is to have a direct impact on
Ian FitzGerald Michigan watersheds by improving
aquatic habitat on a statewide level.
Policy and Special Events Asst.
This can be accomplished through
At MUCC, Ian's responsibilities trash pick-ups, watershed outreach
consist of planning events like Sue Pride and awareness, and invasive species
Annual Convention, Policy Board Member Relations and TRACKS removal.
Meetings and the Michigan Out-of- coordinator Along with the program’s
Doors Youth Charity Shoot. He also mission, On the Water hopes to
is an integral part of the organiza- Sue has been with MUCC for educate the public by teaching them
tion's policy work that goes on at more than 31 years. Her two main how to be responsible users of our
the Capitol and Natural Resources job responsibilities are member state’s waterways, thus creating a
Commission. relations and coordinator for stewardship ethic for their public
Ian's interest in conservation TRACKS Magazine. Sue maintains lands and waters.
and the natural resources world the MUCC database, including This is a great way to practice
started as a young lad growing address changes, phone numbers, conservation in your area while
up in boy scouts. From picking email addresses for all members, connecting with other volunteers
up bugs to fishing with his father, donors and other contacts. She also who share a similar love for the
there was never a moment he completes the data entry for calen- outdoors.
wasn't looking for the door outside. dars, raffles, donations, renewals OTW is new to MUCC,
Ian still vividly remembers a for individual club members and funded by the Consumers Energy
wilderness survival outing in individual magazine subscriptions Foundation in April of 2019. Nehan
scouts where he was handed a can for club members. As TRACKS was hired in July of 2019. So far,
of spam and an egg and told to go coordinator, Sue coordinates annual OTW has successfully completed
forth and prosper. TRACKS renewal letters, contacts eight events, and Nehan is looking
Years later, FitzGerald clubs about TRACKS sponsorships, forward to what's in store for the
obtained his Eagle Scout Award enters TRACKS membership for OTW program in the near future.
and began his path to Michigan individuals and schools and sends For the past few years, Nehan
State University. He graduated in out TRACKS gift cards. has lived in the southwest United
December of 2018 with a major in Sue is a mother of two children, States, and she is excited to trade in
environmental studies and sustain- Melissa and Chad, and a grand- the desert for watersheds. In her
ability, a major in sustainable mother of four grandchildren who free time, Nehan enjoys hiking and
parks, recreation and tourism, and are the sunshine of her life. Outside camping with her fiance Danny, yoga
a minor in sustainable agriculture of MUCC, Sue loves gardening, and reading a good, true-crime or
and food systems. warm summers and enjoying the thriller book.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 17

Winter 2019.indd 19 11/5/2019 3:44:22 PM

How Natural Resources
Policies are Created

Part 3: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources

By Charlie Booher make policy). As a trust manager, the department is
mandated to inform and execute the decisions made by
MUCC Policy Intern the trustees. As such, the mission of MDNR is commit-
ment “to the conservation, protection, management,
Over the last three issues, we have covered how
use and enjoyment of the state's natural resources for
the Natural Resources Commission (NRC) and the
current and future generations.” So, the MDNR plays
Michigan Legislature influence natural resources
a critical role in creating and administering natural
policy, but how does the Michigan Department of
resource policies. For the sake of this article, I will
Natural Resources (DNR) fit into the picture?
mostly focus on how MDNR fits into the policy-making
The MDNR is a part of the executive branch of
process, as everything else that the department does is
government and, as such, is responsible for the execu-
the execution of those policies.
tion of laws created by the legislature and wildlife
The department is led by a director, with a suite of
conservation orders approved by the NRC. However,
assistant and associate directors helping the director
the MDNR is also tasked with providing advice and
administer duties. These department-wide leaders
research to build these policies.
oversee seven distinct divisions: law enforcement;
In the context of the Public Trust Doctrine that I
wildlife; fisheries; forest resources; parks and recre-
have written on in the last two issues, the department
ation; land and facilities; and administration. Each of
serves as a “trust manager.” You might remember that
these divisions is led by a chief who reports directly
in the United States, wildlife and sportfish cannot be
to the director. These leaders are responsible for
owned by an individual. Thus, they are held in a public
overseeing their employees and executing the policies
trust for the citizens of the state in which they reside.
set forth by the NRC and the Michigan Legislature.
In this case, the citizens are the beneficiaries of the
However, they also have a responsibility to provide
trust, and the state legislature and the NRC serve as
research and offer their knowledge to inform the
policy-making process.
These two bodies, as trustees, have the authority
For this, the MDNR houses numerous research
to make decisions about natural resources (i.e.
professionals who are tasked, specifically, with helping

18 |

Winter 2019.indd 20 11/5/2019 3:44:22 PM

to inform the formulation of natural resource poli- government.
cies. In the context of the NRC, MDNR specialists The uptake of advice and consideration of MDNR
commonly assist in developing wildlife conservation recommendations varies from year to year, legislature
orders, as appropriate. For example, the MNDR upland to legislature and NRC to NRC. While their advice
game bird specialist is tasked with helping to write is not always taken in full, it is important to know
wildlife conservation orders for wild turkey harvests that it is always present and is informed by the best
in the state. The same process occurs with all of the available scientific research. MUCC fully supports
specialists to craft these orders, and the end result managing natural resources in ways that are backed
is what impacts you and I through hunting license by sound science, and it is often the case that the
quotas and bag limits. This is where the science enters MUCC staff advocates using research conducted by
the process of science-based wildlife management. the department. In this way, the scientific method
MDNR professionals also advise the Michigan remains a hallmark of natural resource management
Legislature and are commonly asked to provide in Michigan, and MUCC works daily to make sure that
comments on legislation that is relevant to the depart- it stays that way.
ment. This usually involves having an employee of
the MDNR testify before a committee of the Michigan
House or the Senate alongside the department’s legis-
lative liaison. Like all other state agencies, including
the Office of the Governor, MDNR has a designated
person to communicate between employees of the
department and state legislators. This liaison works
to provide advice and consideration to members of
the legislature in the policy-formulation process and
acts as an intermediary between these institutions of

DNR Director Dan Eichinger, left, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, center, and Lt. Gov. Garland Gilchrist II, behind Whitmer, listen to
Dr. Kelly Straka, supervisor of the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Health Division, explain wildlife disease during
a meet-and-greet between the governor's office and DNR staff.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 19

Winter 2019.indd 21 11/5/2019 3:44:22 PM

Winter Stream

Winter 2019.indd 22 11/5/2019 3:44:23 PM

Trout Fishing

By Jim Bedford

hen the wind is it was a beautiful brown trout. It was adorned with
howling, the bright red spots, indicating that it was a resident
temperature is in brown. It measured almost 26 inches, and I lamented
the single digits that I hadn’t hooked it on ultra-light trout tackle
and the snow is coming down heavy, during the regular season. But it was “not to worry,”
trout fishing is usually not on the mind of even a as I caught the same brown again in late May, hooray
die-hard river angler. But, every winter we have many for catch and release.
days when the air temperature rises to near freezing Many of Michigan’s best winter trout streams
or above, and the itch to be on a trout stream becomes will be described and the tactics used on them will
strong. Luckily, Michigan anglers have lots of trout be explained. We will concentrate on the Lower
water that is open to year-round angling. All Type Peninsula because often river ice prevents fishing in
3 and 4 streams are open all year, and most of the the UP even when the weather breaks.
gear-restricted rivers are fishable in the winter. This The Clinton River in southeast Michigan is
is usually catch-and-release time, but rainbows can be primarily a warmwater stream, but the reaches just
kept on some streams. Be sure and check the current below Pontiac and the confluence with Paint Creek
Michigan Fishing Digest for regulations. down to Ryan Road does hold trout all year. Browns
I will admit that I am usually double-dipping are stocked just below Pontiac, and there are steel-
when fishing for trout in the winter, as I typically fish head smolts that don’t migrate and become resident
water where steelhead are also a possibility. Catching rainbows along with a few browns that probably
nice trout along with the steelhead is always a special moved down from Paint Creek. Like many streams
treat. This was especially true a couple of winters ago. described, the Clinton receives a run of steelhead, and
I was fishing a southern Michigan creek where I fish this is the prime reason the river is open all year.
all year-round and had a large fish leave a log jam, Moving north on the east side, the Rifle River
chase my spinner and engulf it. I was sure it was a is open all year for trout fishing below Sage Lake
steelhead, but when I was about to net it, I discovered Road in Ogemaw County. This river is prone to

Fall 2019
Winter 2019 || Michigan Out-of-Doors 21
Michigan Out-of-Doors 21

Winter 2019.indd 23 11/5/2019 3:44:24 PM

freezing in the winter, but it will of a problem in the Pigeon and The Platte River in Benzie
open up during extended thaws, Sturgeon rivers. The Pigeon is open County is open from the US-31
especially the upper reach which from M-68 down to Mullett Lake bridge downstream. There is a
also happens to offer the best trout in Cheboygan County and offers good population of resident brown
fishing. The size limit on all trout is fishing for browns along with a few trout between the upstream limit
15 inches. Similar regulations exist brook trout. Just to the west, the and Platte Lake. Single hooks are
on the East Branch of the Au Gres, Sturgeon River is open in the winter required here, and the browns must
which flows parallel to the Rifle from Afton Road down to Burt Lake. be released. Just to the south, the
about 20 miles to the east. The best Brown trout are the primary resi- Betsie River flows through Benzie
trout fishing is found in the first dent species here, but you will also and northern Manistee Counties.
few miles below M-55, which is the encounter many small rainbows The best trout fishing is between
upstream limit for winter fishing. and maybe a large one that has the upstream limit for winter
All of the flies-only reaches of moved up from Burt Lake. fishing at Kurick Road and U.S. 31.
the Au Sable and its branches are Continuing a counterclockwise You will find browns, rainbows and
open to fishing all year. Catch and circle, two Lake Charlevoix tribu- occasional brook trout here. Unlike
release rules are in effect in the taries are open in the winter. The the upper Platte, river ice can be
winter. The Main, North and South Boyne River can be fished from the a problem here when we have
branches tend to stay ice-free except P. H. Dam south of Dam Road down prolonged cold weather.
during very cold weather. Brook to Lake Charlevoix. More water is There are many miles of
trout are present in all three, and open on the pristine Jordan River water open to the winter angler
they tend to be a bit more active where you can fish from Graves on the Manistee River. The lower
than the browns in the cold water. Crossing down to the lake. It is river below Tippy Dam is open all
At the top of the Lower catch and release for both browns year and the best trout fishing is
Peninsula, there are three more and brookies in these streams, but between the dam and High Bridge.
trout streams open for catch and you can keep a rainbow or two for a Large numbers of browns are
release winter brown and brook winter trout dinner. Further south, planted at Tippy, and there is a
trout fishing. The Ocqueoc River the Rapid River offers similar 15-inch size limit. Upstream there
in Presque Isle County is open fishing. It is located just north of is catch and release angling for
from Barnhart Lake all the way to Kalkaska and is open from Antrim browns and brookies in two long
Lake Huron. The best trout fishing Pond down to its confluence with sections. It is lures and flies only
is found in its middle reach, but the Torch River. All three of these between County Road 612 and flies
you must wait for mild weather streams have strong groundwater only from M-72 to the CCC Bridge
to thaw it out. Ice is much less influx and seldom freeze. in Kalkaska County while you

22 |

Winter 2019.indd 24 11/5/2019 3:44:25 PM

can use any method
between U.S. 131 and
M-115 in the middle
part of the river.
The Sable River is
open in the winter for
catch-and-release angling down-
stream from Freesoil Road with
the best fishing near the upstream
limit. The Pere Marquette is open
to year-round fishing below M-37, this
as is the Big South Branch. Only part
flies are allowed down to Gleason’s of the state
Landing and good trout fishing are Augusta and
continues down to Walhalla. Check Portage creeks and the
the fishing guide for special regula- Gun River near Kalamazoo.
tions below Gleason’s Landing. The Winter water temperatures will
mid-reach of the Big South Branch always be below the most active
range for browns and brookies. warm hat and
offers the best winter catch-and-
But these fish still feed through the make sure the top
release angling for brown trout.
winter. Fishing mild periods when garment is a wind and
While the White River freezes rela-
the water temperature is on the rise waterproof hooded jacket. Boot
tively easily, you can catch browns
is critical to your success. Plan your foot neoprene waders are ideal for
in the first few miles below Hesperia
trip for the later part of a January wading icy water. Using a wading
during mild spells. Its North Branch
thaw so that the shelf ice will be staff will help prevent a frigid
is less prone to icing up and there
gone or reduced. And, concentrate dunking.
is catch-and-release winter angling
your fishing on the warmest part of You can get recent informa-
from Arthur Road to its confluence
the day from mid- to late-morning tion on stream conditions and
with the mainstream.
into the late afternoon. This is one fish activity by calling the DNR
The Muskegon River between
time of year when sunny days are Management Unit for the stream
Croton Dam and Newaygo offers
often better than cloudy ones. Pick or streams you are interested in
ice-free conditions for good winter
lures or flies that will be a substan- fishing. The phone numbers are
trout fishing. You can keep fish
tial meal for the trout and give the listed in the Michigan Fishing
here that are over 15 inches in
browns and brookies a long look at Digest that you get with your
length. Upstream, two of its
them. license. You can also visit the DNR
tributaries, the Little Muskegon
Always dress in layers, wear a on the web at www.michigandnr.
River and Tamarack Creek, are
open to catch-and-release winter
trouting. Moving south, there are
several Grand River tributaries
open all year. The Rogue River is
one of the best bets and lies just
north of Grand Rapids. The best
fishing is in the few miles upstream
from Rockford. Crockery, Buck,
Coldwater, Fish, and Prairie creeks
are smaller tributaries that you can
fish in the winter for trout. These
are all catch and release, and you
should check the regulations for the
sections that are open.
In southwest Michigan, the
Dowagiac River is the only sizable
stream where you can fish for trout
in the winter. You can keep browns
greater than 15 inches below the
dam near Niles, but the upper river
is catch and release. Some addi-
tional small streams where you can
wet a line for trout in the winter in

Winter 2020
1919 | Michigan
| Michigan Out-of-Doors2323

Winter 2019.indd 25 11/5/2019 3:44:26 PM

I It's not about
t was a gloomy, rainy
Thursday afternoon as
Dennis Keck left the school

the Buck
board office in Gaylord. But
that was no surprise. It had been
gloomy and rainy all October
in northern Michigan. The bow
season was a washout, literally.
A father of three boys,
Keck wasn't planning on going
hunting that day. Things
changed when he got home.
As Keck drove down his gravel
driveway through a stand of
By Greg Frey
red pines and pulled up to the logic of a cut-rate attorney, "we to look for signs. Nolan finished
house, five-year-old Nolan raced should go hunting!" his snack and fell asleep. Despite
out to greet him. That's when Marlana, Keck's his pessimism with the weather,
"Dad, let's go hunting!" Nolan beautiful, soft-spoken and (quite Keck was grateful for where he
said. frankly) tired wife entered the was headed and for what they had.
Keck had only been out three debate. She had spent the day wran- The property had always meant
times that season, all with 12-year- gling four-year-olds at an early so much to him, even if it rarely
old Cayden. They had seen one childhood education program. The yielded a buck.
button buck. Keck looked at the older boys had football practice. 160 acres with a sign at the
sky, felt the rain and glanced at his She would take them. gate reads The Double 80. It was
watch. It was 4:15. "Dennis, why don't you take purchased by Dennis' grandpar-
"Well, geez bud, I'd like to, but him hunting?" ents, Jack and Nannette Keck, back
it's really late. It's raining. And it's It wasn't a question. Keck's in 1982 when Dennis was two years
an hour drive to the property." marital instincts were more finely old. Keck had left a job at Michigan
"Yeah, but dad," Nolan tuned than his hunting instincts. State University to heed the call of
insisted, Keck compromised. He took Nolan the north and take a new job with
mustering hunting. the intermediate school district
all the Keck's gear was ready, but in Indian River. The original 80
persua- Nolan's was not. He scrambled acres they purchased is in Hebron
sive around the house grabbing Swamp, a stone's throw south of
camouflage clothes, boots, gloves, the Straits of Mackinac. Hebron
snacks and last, but not least, an Swamp and its lowland partner,
iPad. Keck knew he didn't just have Dingman Marsh, sit in a large,
to overcome the cold and the rain roadless area of about 4 square
and outwit the eyes, ears and nose miles.
of a whitetail deer. His greatest Years later, another 80 went for
challenge was going to be the sale. Being lowland and untillable,
attention span of a five year old. it went cheap, so Jack Keck bought
The iPad was fully charged and that, too. Hence, The Double 80 was
muted. Keck made sure of that. born. It's a mix of aspen, balsam,
He and Nolan climbed into cedar and birch with a small patch
the SUV, got on the interstate of high(er) ground on the west end
and headed north. Between where an old pole barn sits next to
the swishing of the wind- a dilapidated camper. The camper
shield wipers and the hum provided a place for Dennis, his dad
of tires on wet pavement, and his grandfather to sleep during
Keck kept thinking, "It's so the early years of deer camp. But
late. We have so little time. the camper has been condemned;
We're not going to see any no telling what sleeps in it now.
deer." Dennis and his boys commute to
But he and Nolan the property. The pole barn is home
remained positive, to an old Case tractor that Dennis'
talking about deer grandfather liked to get stuck in
hunting, how to stay Hebron Swamp, but only when his
quiet and how son and grandson were available to

24 |

Winter 2019.indd 26 11/5/2019 3:44:27 PM

get it unstuck. ridge. Along the ridge stood a few hour in, they'd be lucky. He'd first
Dennis' father, Bob Keck, loved aspens, their yellow leaves now let Nolan watch and listen for as
the property, too. When he wasn't turning brown. Young balsams long as he could. The second step
bailing his father out of a tractor formed a sort of thick curtain would be to break out the iPad, and
predicament, Bob enjoyed building surrounding the perimeter of the once his interest in the iPad was
blinds, fishing with young Dennis clearing. Nearby, a wooden deer gone, it was game-over for both of
on the pond and roasting hotdogs blind was slowly being reclaimed them. Settling into the blind, Keck
over a campfire. He hunted, too, by the swamp. glanced at his watch. It was 5:25. To
but he seemed to enjoy caretaking Grandpa Jack's deer blind was actually head out to the blind with
more than hunting. In all his years a bit unusual considering there was an hour and a half of shooting light
is questionable at best. To drive an
hour to do it with a five year old
borders insanity.
Keck tells it best, "I'm back in
the blind, it's pouring down rain
and it's not a good wind. We're
sitting there. Nolan is looking and
looking and nothing's happening.
He stands up, and he starts moving
around. He's getting restless. He
makes it probably 15 minutes
before I say, 'Okay, it's time to get
the iPad out.'"
Keck handed Nolan the iPad.
He knew what games were on it.
He knew it was on mute. Keck then
inserted the trail camera chip into
his phone and began looking at
pictures of deer, coyotes, squirrels,
falling leaves and blurry, ghostlike
things — anything that triggered
Bob Keck (left) holds a buck harvested at the property bought by Dennis' the camera's sensor in the last
grandfather and dubbed the Double 80 by Dennis when Dennis Keck (right) week. About 10 minutes later, the
was young. silence was broken by a screeching
chainsaw sound bursting from his
hunting it, he shot one buck on The a doghouse sticking out the side of son's iPad.
Double 80, and he was fine with it. Jack had an old hound named "I look over and Nolan is
that. Teabury (just like the gum). He playing Garage Band. Somehow,
Nolan woke up when Keck never went anywhere without his he's taken the mute off, and he's
stopped the suburban to unlock the hound; so, naturally, when he went just wailin' on this guitar. Wha!
gate. Keck helped Nolan get dressed deer hunting, Teabury went with Wha! Wha," said Keck. Dennis
in his hunting clothes. Then, he him. If Teabury got cold, he could frantically grabbed for the
loaded his crossbow, and they step through the small hole in the iPad,trying to find the mute button.
began the quarter-mile walk to the wall and snuggle up inside his That can be infuriatingly hard to
blind on a trail that meandered insulated doghouse content, sleepy do considering those devices rotate
through the swamp. The rain hadn't and quiet. Dennis spent many 360 degrees and the screen always
let up. happy hours hanging out in the stays up. Finally, Keck silenced it
Finally, they came to a clearing blind with Grandpa Jack, watching without throwing it out the window
about 25 yards wide and 50 yards and whispering. or smashing it across his knee.
long. It ran the length of a lowland Dennis and Nolan bypassed "Nolan, you CAN'T do that!"
the rotting blind for a tent blind Keck hoarsely whispered to his son.
that offered a better vantage of the "You've got to be quiet when we're
"Deer hunting has always length of the clearing. Before they deer hunting."
entered the blind, they quietly slid Nolan shrugged with the
been about the love of a place the SD card from a nearby trail innocence of a small child who was
camera as an indifferent porcupine neither defensive nor fully compre-
and the people with which looked on. hending, "Okay, dad."
Keck had hunted with Nolan "That's when I look up, and
we share it." before. He figured if they got an 40 yards out front is the biggest

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 25

Winter 2019.indd 27 11/5/2019 3:44:27 PM

the bolt hits the target. I remember I'm there." Pearson hung up and
"But the story's not over, it's pouring down rain, and I hear stepped back into his meeting. He
the string thunk and then a second was in a suit, tie and shiny black
because it's only partly thunk. Its butt drops down, and dress shoes. He knew the weather,
it takes off into the marsh. So, I'm and he knew the swamp. He had no
about the buck." like, Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!" other clothes in his truck, and he
deer I've ever seen in the woods. Keck and Nolan sat in the blind, meant exactly what he said.
Just this big, beautiful, chocolate- exhaling, shaking and grinning as Exerting what can only be
horned eight point." the adrenaline coursed through described as Herculean self-control,
The deer was frozen and their veins. Keck first texted Keck and Nolan sat in the blind
standing broadside, his head Marlana. "I just shot the biggest for 30 minutes, not wanting to
turned at a 90-degree angle and deer I've ever shot in my life." spook the wounded deer and cause
staring straight at the blind: As Then he texted his boss, Brian it to flee further into the swamp.
in LOCKED on the blind. Hunters Pearson and said, "I just shot a Keck shot the buck at 5:55, only 30
know the look. It means something monster." Pearson, for his part, minutes after getting into the blind.
just spooked me, and I don't know is the kind of boss any hunter It was now 6:25, and with the low
what it is. I'm trying to figure out dreams of having. He was at a ceiling and pouring rain, darkness
what to do, and it's probably going board meeting about 30 miles south was falling fast. Finally, he turned
to include bolting in the next few of Keck. He stepped out of the to Nolan and said, "Okay, let's go
seconds and getting as far away meeting and called Dennis. look at what we've got."
from here as I possibly can. "You need me? I'm in Indian They crept up to the spot where
Keck's voice gets animated as River. I'll come up." the buck had been standing at the
he tells the next part. "Nolan is Dennis assured him he'd be edge of the clearing. Trails disap-
sitting next to me, and I put my okay. peared into the swamp on one side
hand on his chest. I'm whispering, "Well, if you do, just call and and the marsh on the other. There
'Don't move... Don't breathe... Don't Shannon Smith and her tracking dog Tag pose with the deer after they tracked
do ANYTHING... There's a huge it through swampland on the Keck family property.
buck right out front."'
While trying not to move or
breathe, Nolan willed his neck to
grow a few inches as he stretched to
peek over the blind window. He was
breathing hard. Keck was breathing
harder. Keeping one hand on
Nolan's chest, Keck tightened his
grip on the crossbow with the
other, hoping upon hope that the
deer would turn his head and offer
a shot. Hoping it would do anything
but disappear.
"I bet that deer stared at us for
three minutes. It just sat there and
stared until it spooked itself and
did the stomp. Then it whipped to
the left and stopped one step into
the marsh. I couldn't see its head,
but I could see its entire body from
the shoulder back. I brought the
crossbow up."
Keck debated the shot. He knew
it was long, but he also knew his
crossbow. He had never shot this
far at a live deer, but he had prac-
ticed out to 50 yards. If he did his
part, the crossbow would reliably
do its job. He took the shot.
"When you shoot a crossbow
at that distance, you hear the shot.
Then there's a delay and a whack as


Winter 2019.indd 28 11/5/2019 3:44:27 PM

was no blood, no hair and no arrow. hunted for almost 40
Nothing. Keck knew they needed years. She gathers
to get out of the area and get some extensive informa-
help. He called Marlana and asked tion before making
her to meet him in Indian River, a hypothesis and
the halfway point, so she could making a decision.
take Nolan home and put him to That information
bed. Then he called his friend Gary can be very helpful
Matelski. in knowing whether
"Gary, I wouldn't do this on to get on a track
a school night if it wasn't such a immediately or wait.
special deer, but I need your help." That information
Matelski agreed to ride up with is also collected and
Marlana so he could help search shared within the
before a blood trail washed away. group for an acceler-
Keck and Nolan started walking ated education that
out of the swamp. cuts the individual
"Where are we going?" Nolan learning curve to
demanded. shreds. They share
"We've got to go home," Keck pictures of the
explained. arrow, the hair, the
"No, we've got to go find my blood and the actual
deer," Nolan burst into tears of GPS track that the
anger and frustration. animal took, as well
Keck did the best he could to as detailed records
explain the situation and to console of where the animal
his son, but Nolan was inconsol- was hit, how far it
able. At Indian River, Keck carried went, whether it
Nolan to Marlana's car and hugged crossed water, how
him. many times it laid
"Love you, buddy." down and whether
Nolan got in the car, and Gary they had to push the
Matelski got out. A half-hour later, deer or let it sit. The sign marking the Keck family cemetery at the
Matelski and Keck were back at "It's really nice to Double 80. Dennis' parents and grandparents have all
The Double 80. have the cooperation been laid to rest at the property.
"It was an hour-and-a-half after of the group," Smith spirits.
the deer had been shot, and it was said. "We've learned over the last "The clump of hair was lying
pouring. It keeps raining harder few years how to handle a situation where the trail ends and the
and harder, and I'm getting that so when hunters call us and we swamp begins. The swamp is deep,
sick feeling in my stomach," Keck can't go on a track for whatever nasty and turns into a marsh.
explained. Finally, he turned to reason, we can at least give them It's not good, and I'm just sick to
Matelski, "I think we should get advice over the phone as to how to my stomach. I feel terrible. We're
a tracking dog on standby, just in handle their track. And we've made not going to find this deer. It's
case." a lot of progress about tracks that raining..."
Keck had seen a page for The we wouldn't take before that we They called Smith and told her
Michigan Deer Tracking Network would take now." about the clump of hair. She asked
on Facebook in September. He "She' very intelligent," Keck them where they put it, and they
pulled it up and called Shannon said. "She says, 'Here's what you're told her they left it right where it
Smith, one of only two trackers in going to do. Go out to where you lay. She said, "Perfect," and prom-
the Tip of the Mitt. Luckily, she shot it and don't go farther than ised to meet Keck the next morning
answered. a 10 yard circle. If you don't find at about 8:30. Keck and Matelski
Smith talked with Keck for good blood, the arrow or the deer, trudged back to the suburban. It
a long time, asking a seemingly get out of there. I'll come up in the was a dark, quiet drive home.
unending list of questions ranging morning."' In the meantime, a group of
from the angle of the shot to the So that's exactly what Keck and friends had gathered at Keck's for
broadhead used. Like a good Matelski did. Upon further inspec- an all-night vigil. To pray for the
detective, that's what she does. tion, they found a little clump of success of the recovery? No. To
She's a knowledgeable and experi- hair the size of a quarter but no support Keck in his time of need?
enced hunter herself, having bow blood. It did little to boost Keck's Not actually. To play poker in his

2019 20
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19 | Michigan 27 27

Winter 2019.indd 29 11/5/2019 3:44:27 PM

call all of us know can come at any
moment, but none of us believe
will. Keck's mother died of an
aneurism. No one saw it coming.
To make matters worse, Keck's
grandparents had just left Traverse
City, Michigan the morning their
daughter died. They were on
their way to see their grandson in
Florida. They had no cell phone
and had left no motel itinerary.
There was no way to contact them
and therefore nothing to do but
wait the three days for their arrival.
"They got to our condo so
excited and so happy, and I had to
tell them the news. That was the
worst day of my life, honestly,"Keck
Keck's mother's grave is at
The Double 80. So are his father's
and his great grandparents'. Here,
family members rest, and each
resting place is marked with a
Dennis and Nolan pose with Nolan's buck taken off the Double 80. unique headstone that you won't
find in a cemetery: puddingstones.
amazing pole-barn, man-cave? Well, idea of hauling all the stuff out of Puddingstone is a sedimentary
yes. your garage in the first place that and metamorphic rock that was
At a time when Keck might seems overwhelming. There's even formed years ago in river channels.
have wished to be alone with his a love seat facing a big screen tv. The soft-gray matrix of the stone
self-doubt and inner torment, he It's no wonder that the card club is filled with red, black, white and
couldn't. Pulling into his driveway, asked to crash in the pole barn. So brown but mostly red pebbles.
he was greeted by a small fleet of there they were when Keck arrived There are special varieties found
trucks parked willy-nilly about the well after dark, emotionally drained in parts of England, Massachusetts
barn. He then remembered a friend and surrounded by a few acquain- and the Straits of Mackinac. It was
had asked to use the pole barn for tances but mostly strangers. Keck the English who gave it the name
his monthly card club. could have been annoyed. He could puddingstone. It looked like their
To call it a pole barn is some- have fled to his home. Instead, he Christmas pudding made of boiled
what of a misnomer. Technically, stayed up until 1 a.m. playing poker suet with cherries and currants in
the 40-by-60-foot structure is a and wondering if he'd ever be able it. The infinite rock cycle slowly
pole barn on the outside. But a full to live with himself. When the poker pushes them to the surface of the
two-thirds of the inside has been players left, Keck walked across the earth where their rounded snouts
sectioned off and insulated. It's yard into his home where he tried poke out of the ground like brown
heated, too, with radiant, in-floor to sleep but couldn't. He laid in bed trout sipping emergers from the
heat. Keck spent the better part of a and waited for daylight to come. surface of a backwater eddy.
summer ripping rough-sawn maple It might have been the longest, Over the years, the Keck family
and ash with a circular saw to make most-difficult wait of his life, but has made it a point to look for
siding. He cut cookies from great there had been another wait worse, these treasures in the woods. The
pines to make bar stools. Mounts far worse. A three-day wait. And puddingstones are dug up, and a
and antlers from special deer hold it too had ended at The Double 80. plaque is attached to each one. One
places of honor. The floor is coated Keck was 23 at the time and starting of them reads, "Jennifer Keck 1954
in gray-flecked epoxy paint — the his first job in Naples, Florida. He - 2004."
kind we all wish we had in our had just walked in the door after By morning, the steady rain
garages but don't. Painting the school when the phone rang. It had weakened to a misty drizzle.
floor would be okay. It's the was Uncle Huey, the fire chief in Keck got dressed; then he woke
Northport. the boys for school. Upon further
"I've got to tell you something.
"This is a good sign; this is Your mom passed away."
reflection, he woke the boys for
deer tracking. It was the biggest
It was shocking. The kind of
a dead deer." deer he'd ever shot, and they had a

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Winter 2019.indd 30 11/5/2019 3:44:27 PM

Members of the Keck family roast hotdogs over a fire at the family property in the northern Lower Peninsula.

special deer tracking dog coming and stormed back into the house to the clearing. Keck pointed out the
in. He told Cayden he could miss await the arrival of the school bus. tiny patch of hair to Smith, and she
school to go. Jaren, the hesitant As promised, Shannon and her picked it up.
non-hunter, said he wanted to black lab, Tag, arrived at 8:30. Tag "This is a good sign," she said.
go, too. Nolan insisted that he go. was even more enthusiastic than "This is a dead deer."
After all, in his mind, it was his Nolan. At five years old himself, "But you don't ever really
buck. Keck had his doubts. In his Tag had been playing with deer legs know," Smith said. "So many
mind, they were about to track a since he was a puppy. Smith had factors go into it. There's never a
deer possibly 2 to 3 miles through a used a training method that began guarantee that we're going to find
swamp. with throwing a deer leg, then your deer."
Nolan protested, but Keck was hiding the leg, then adding obsta- However, they do find a lot
right. Even the strongest five-year- cles and challenges such as aging of them. In 2018, The Michigan
old heart might not be able to will the track, crossing water, making Deer Tracking Network (roughly
five-year-old legs to walk through turns, etc. Slowly, she would try to 50 trackers) found 500 deer. Smith
3 miles of wetlands. The buck that add all the things he might come and Tag found eight deer out of 24
Nolan inspired, that Nolan helped across when he was tracking. searches.
hunt and would become known Smith texted a photo of Keck's Smith was unconcerned about
as Nolan's Buck, would not be hunting license to the DNR. Within
recovered by Nolan. Young Nolan
Keck was getting his first lesson
five minutes, they got approval to
begin the track. Keck, Smith, Tag
"You can cry. There are no
in the injustices and practical
realities of life. He burst into tears
and the boys followed the trail
through the swamp until they got to
rules to this."
Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 29

Winter 2019.indd 31 11/5/2019 3:44:27 PM

the rain. "The rain usually is not taken on The Double 80.
a problem unless it's a torrential Keck would never have found
downpour. The rain usually holds it without Tag and Smith. He knew
the scent. Dry and hot are the he would never be able to thank
worst conditions to track in. So them enough, but he did his best.
are really cold and frozen days. Smith works for gas money. Keck
You try to time your tracks when gave her everything he had in his
there is a little moisture in the air. wallet, about five times what she
If it's snowy, you try to wait until it would have asked him to pay. After
warms up a touch, the sun comes all, how do you put a price on such
up and hits the snow. It's a little bit a service? As for his part, Tag got
easier for the dog," Smith said. to chew on the deer for a while. He
Smith asked Keck which direc- seemed pleased with the reward.
tion the deer ran and then told Smith handed Tag's 30-foot lead
Keck and the boys to stay there rope to Cayden and Jaren. Then she
so they wouldn't contaminate the helped Keck drag the buck back to
scent trail. Smith stepped into the his SUV while Tag dragged Cayden
swamp. She moved perpendicular and Jaren. Back at the vehicles,
to the breeze so Tag could get Smith wished them well and drove The skid loader lies trapped in the
downwind of the countless trails off. Keck turned to the boys. It was deep mud of Hebron Swamp.
coursing through the water and time to christen the knife. to Jaren. "This is not fun. It's not a
brush. Suddenly, Tag lifted his The knife was a Buck folder. It pleasant sight. If at any time you
head, paused and moved purposely was given to Cayden as a birthday want to walk away, just do it."
down a trail. It didn't take long. present from his grandfather, Bob Keck started field dressing,
"The dog and Shannon go in. Keck. It was the same winter that showing Cayden how you hold the
It's such a thick swamp that they Grandpa Bob developed a cough. back legs apart with your knees and
go in five feet and I can't see them It was no big deal, just a cough. cut through the skin, keeping the
anymore. I have no idea where But it got worse. It turned out to blade up so you don't puncture the
they're at. But finally, she calls, be cancer. Everywhere. Grandpa stomach. Jaren turned white as a
'Found it! It's right here.' I said, Bob lasted 10 days after going into ghost.
'No way. In my mind, the deer was the hospital. Dennis' father died on He said, "Dad, I want to cry."
gone.'" February 3. Cayden's birthday was "You can cry. There are no rules
Even after Smith reassured him two days later. in this," Keck said quietly.
with the hair, he doubted because "The day before he died, I said, "I don't want Cayden to make
of the rain, the long shot, the lack 'Dad, what do you want to get fun of me."
of arrow and the lack of blood. Cayden for his birthday?' He said, "Cayden won't make fun of you,"
Hunters know the feeling. The 'Why don't you get him a knife?'" Keck told him. "This is a moment.
pain and guilt of wounding a deer Keck said. Do what you have to do."
is greater than the satisfaction of It was a good suggestion, a He cried. And he walked away.
humanely bagging one. special suggestion, a clear and For Cayden, the smell was
The buck had run about 100 prescient thought from a dying awful, but the knife was beautiful,
yards into the swamp. It died in man who wanted to leave someone sharp and efficient. He took his
an area of thick tag alders and he loved something of value. Bob's turn and joined in the process.
brush. The crossbow bolt had father Jack had given Dennis a He wasn't in school, but he was
passed through a lung and the knife for his birthday when he was learning biology and anatomy and
liver, stopping when it hit a rib. younger, and Bob wanted to do the where food comes from. Real food.
Unfortunately, the buck was under- same thing for his grandson. Later And Grandpa Bob was there with
water. Only one side of its antlers that winter, Cayden and Dennis him all the way.
and a rounded bit of hip protruded picked out a special, wood-handled Grandpa Bob had other
from the swamp. There was no Buck folder from Grandpa Bob. thoughts before he died, and they
blood between where the deer was Cayden had been waiting two years too revolved around the camp.
shot and where it now lay. to use it for the first time as he "The night before he passed, he
Keck knew the buck was big, learned to field dress a deer. was going in and out because the
but he didn't know how big. When Eight-year-old Jaren had never cancer was in his brain. I said, 'Dad,
he got to it, he simply said, "Oh my seen a deer gutted, and at this time, what do you want for dinner?'"
gosh." The buck dressed out at 180 might have been wondering why "And he said, 'Gosh, I just want
pounds. Not only was it the biggest he came along for the ride. Keck, a a hot dog.'"
buck he had ever seen, but it was sensitive father, was aware of this. At The Double 80, Bob's favorite
also the only buck he had ever Before he started cutting, he turned thing was to build a campfire and

30 |

Winter 2019.indd 32 11/5/2019 3:44:28 PM

roast hot dogs over it. So, Dennis
ran out and got some hot dogs
puddingstone on The Double 80.
The buck was hung, the boys "At the end of the day and
from a local Coney Island joint. He
brought them back to the hospital
were back in school, and Dennis
was back in the board office by the end of a life, it's really
room, and he and his father
watched the Michigan vs. Michigan
noon. Photos were shared and
backs were slapped. The buck will not about the buck. It never
State basketball game while they
ate their final meal together.
be mounted with a place of honor
in the mancave. Friends, family and was."
Finally, Bob said to Dennis, pole-barn-crashing card players I could sell it. I could make $100,000
"Come here. I want to talk to you." will admire it. Nolan may someday or whatever. It's not worth it; that's
Dennis slid his chair close to his forgive his father for ditching him. my family property. Just being out
father. But the story's not over, because there and doing stuff — that's more
Bob said, "I got two wishes." it's only partly about the buck. valuable to me. Deer hunting is just
Dennis leaned in. "What's that?" Now that Dennis' father has passed something to spend time with your
"The first one is I want my ashes away, he has taken over caretaking family — to learn patience, appre-
spread in the Straits of Mackinac. the property. He's working with ciation, hard work and nature,"
And I want you and the boys to the DNR on a project to improve Keck said.
build a cabin at the farm (what Bob gold wing warbler habitat that How do you explain that to
called The Double 80)." will benefit deer, grouse, rabbits, people who don't hunt? How do
"Okay," was all Dennis managed mice and other songbirds as well. you share the depth of meaning
to choke out. They're opening up some roads and behind a picture of a smiling father
Then Bob said, "Those are my clearings. A tracked skid steer with and son alongside a deer? How
last two wishes. I love you." a brush cutter broke through the do you explain that the buck is a
He went to sleep and didn't ice in the swamp. A gargantuan symbol? It's a symbol of love that
wake up. At about four o'clock in tow truck and an excavator were is being passed on from generation
the morning, Dennis' father died. It required to extract it. Hebron to generation. It's love for the deer
was all very peaceful, but certainly Swamp does not like to give up and love for the chickadees, jays,
not just. Bob Keck was 56. Later anything it claims — big bucks and squirrels, mice, grouse, raccoons,
that spring, Keck held a memo- skid steers alike. possums, porcupines and coyotes
rial hot dog roast around a new Dennis' grandpa, Jack, the who share the land where the
founder of The Double 80, is not deer live. It's love for the swamps,
well. He has Alzheimer's. Dennis marshes, thickets, fields, hardwoods
visits him often up in Cheboygan. and pine groves. It's love for the
"So, he'll come in and out and people who first took us to those
forget that my dad has passed places and love for the people we
away. He'll say something like, take there now.
'I haven't seen Bob in a while.' Deer hunting has always been
Then it'll click, and he'll about the love of a place and the
start crying." people with which we share it.
"So, yesterday, we Whether it's state land at the edge
were talking, and he has of a trailhead or your private
these moments when cabin in the woods, we all have our
he's really locked in Double 80s. They are the places we
and knows what's go to be surrounded by family and
going on. I was friends, and the places we go when
talking with him we need solitude. They are places
and explaining the of excitement and laughter and joy
habitat improvement and places of grief and healing.
project. They are places where strained
He said, 'Promise family relations can find common
me that you'll always ground. This is the story of deer
keep this property. I hunting and the story I've been
want to keep it in the trying to tell all along. At the end
family. I never want it of the day and the end of a life, it's
to go.'" really not about the buck. It never
Jack Keck needn't was.
worry. Dennis isn't about
to sell The Double 80.
"That property up there?

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 31

Winter 2019.indd 33 11/5/2019 3:44:29 PM

Sustenance hunting
in, trophy hunting out
By Chris Lamphere

esearchers have a pretty in Michigan will decrease by more cultivated by generations of
good idea of what direction than 100,000 by 2035. Even if they Michigan conservationists.
hunting participation rates take steps to slow this decline, The primary reason hunter
will go in the next 25 years. researchers still think the best-case- numbers are on the decline is the
While it’s a grim picture, it’s by no scenario involves a loss of around aging baby-boomer generation. As
means irredeemable. 65,000 hunters. more and more members of this
According to projections This loss could have a cohort become too old to hunt,
published in 2016 by Michigan significant impact, not only on the their numbers are not replaced at
Technological University, if funding available to pay for things the same level by their younger
officials take a “business-as-usual” such as conservation and habitat counterparts.
approach to hunter recruitment and management but also on the rich Aging among baby-boomers
retention, the number of hunters hunting culture and heritage leads to declines in hunting …

32 |

Winter 2019.indd 34 11/5/2019 3:44:31 PM

it’s something we’ve all read in
headlines or heard on television or
the radio.
But, that isn’t all that we’ve
learned about this topic.

The Trends
Steve Beyer, Michigan
Department of Natural Resources
(DNR) section supervisor for
biological and social sciences,
said the dominant demographic
driving hunting-related activities in
Michigan are white males.
While this group still makes up
the largest proportion — both in
percentage and sheer numbers — of
Michigan hunters, various societal
changes over the last several
decades have altered the way they
Data collected by researchers
indicates that younger teenage boys
have an increased likelihood of
being hunters. Around the age of
17, however, that likelihood starts to
decrease and continues to drop until
their mid-20s.
Beyer said it doesn’t seem to be
a loss in interest that explains the
decline in participation rates, rather
it is competition for their time. “Life
changed, not their attitudes toward Percent of hunters that strongly approve or moderately approve of hunting
hunting,” Beyer said regarding his using particular methods. Graph courtesy of NSSF.
three sons, who he used as examples
of young men who became less participation among white males roles, beginning in the 1970s, have
involved with hunting in their late increases, although not to the same made it socially acceptable for girls
teens. degree that it had dropped several and women to hunt.
Shawn Riley, Parrish Storrs years earlier. Over the next 20 years, Beyer
Lovejoy Professor of Wildlife During middle age, hunting rates said the percentage of women in the
Management at Michigan State among men drop again and don’t woods is projected to increase from
University, said hunting becomes pick up until retirement. Rates drop around 65,000 to 100,000, comprising
less of a priority for young men off precipitously among those past around 20 percent of all hunters in
due to other things going on in retirement age. Michigan.
their lives including educational One of the few demographics “Female participation is
responsibilities and employment; in in Michigan that show increasing unlikely to compensate for the
many cases, they are starting off low hunting participation rates expected loss in male hunter
on the totem pole and unable to take is females; although, this is a numbers, but women’s influence
a whole lot of time off for hunting or relatively recent phenomenon, and on hunting should be expected
any other pursuits. overall numbers relative to males to grow,” the MTU report
In the late 20s and early 30s, are still quite small. concluded.“In the researchers’
Beyer said changing gender informed opinion, female hunters
offer the most likely opportunity for
"Hunting becomes less of a priority for young men due to state wildlife managers to broaden
the appeal of hunting to new
other things going on in their lives including educational demographics and less-traditional
responsibilities and employment..." Riley said two big factors that

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 33

Winter 2019.indd 35 11/5/2019 3:44:32 PM

draw more females to the woods case. overall approval of legal hunting in
are the desire to partake in social This makes it more difficult to the U.S. at 80 percent.
activities and to harvest their own reach people in these groups, but Approval rates vary based on the
meat (more on this later). Riley said they’ve seen some small species in question and the person’s
Little data exists vis-à-vis yet promising gains among Latinos. motivation to hunt, among other
the hunting participation rates factors.
of minority groups in Michigan, The Silver Lining The species with the highest
including African Americans, those approval rates are deer and wild
of Latin descent and those of Middle Notwithstanding the contentious turkey at 78 percent; the species with
Eastern descent. national debate regarding Second lowest approval rates are African
Beyer said many of these Amendment rights, the overall lions and elephants at 14 and 7
groups don’t necessarily come from perception of the value of hunting percent, respectively.
a tradition of hunting; America is in Michigan and elsewhere is very For conservation experts, the
somewhat unique in the sense that positive. data on societal views regarding why
much of its land is available for the Surveys conducted by the people hunt is especially interesting:
public to use, whereas in many other National Shooting Sports Foundation for reasons that are utilitarian
parts of the world, this is not the and Responsive Management put in nature — such as to harvest

Public Understanding and Wildlife

Management in Michigan
In many ways similar to the findings of the National largely resides in the southeast and southwest
Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) study on attitudes corners of Michigan, the council has used radio spots
toward hunting, the Michigan Wildlife Council (MWC) highlighting the connection between hunters and
drilled down deeper into the public’s understanding of wildlife conservation.
such activities and uncovered some surprising insights. Pedigo said informing the public about the role
Matt Pedigo, with MWC, said their surveys have hunters play in preserving environmental health and
found that around 79 percent of people in Michigan protecting wildlife species is something the council has
have a positive attitude toward hunting, which is decided to focus on based on one of the other significant
consistent with the NSSF study findings on a national findings of their surveys: while the benefits of wildlife
level. management were generally viewed as important,
He said they also found that attitudes changed significant numbers of Michigan residents did not
when other factors were introduced, including the believe that wildlife required management to thrive.
motivations someone has to hunt. Even sportsmen and sportswomen were uninformed
“Acceptable motivations for hunting are stable and misinformed.
and continue to be in line with national data: for food, For example, Pedigo said one of the major
wildlife population control and protection of people and misconceptions they noticed among survey
property,” reads the MWC report. “Hunting for sport or respondents, many of whom said they were hunters
a trophy are much less acceptable reasons for hunting and anglers, was that these activities will lead to the
according to the general public, and even much less extinction of some species.
accepted by sportsmen than the leading reasons such as In addition, there was relatively little recognition
food, control and protection.” of hunting and fishing as contributors to wildlife
Again, this is very similar to what NSSF found in management, with the dominant belief being that
their study. taxpayers fund these efforts.
Pedigo said one of the interesting things they “This shows a disconnect,” Pedigo said. “Our
uncovered in their research was the percentage of the goal is to get people to understand that wildlife needs
population that is on the fence regarding whether or not management to survive.”
they approved of hunting. “Without an understanding of the necessity and
He said this differed from national studies, which importance of wildlife management activities by
showed a much smaller percentage who considered humans, any direct messaging about the benefits of
themselves neutral on the issue. hunting and fishing would be unimportant to the target
“That means there might be a larger market in audience because those benefits are most often tied
Michigan that we can persuade,” Pedigo said. to the role that hunting and fishing play in wildlife
To reach this segment of the population, which management,” the MWC study concluded.

34 |

Winter 2019.indd 36 11/5/2019 3:44:32 PM

locally-sourced food, protect Percent that approve or moderately approve of hunting for particlaur reasons.
humans and property and general Graph provided by the NSSF.
wildlife management — public
approval is quite high, ranging from
74 to 85 percent. For reasons related
to sport, the challenge of the hunt
and trophy taking, public approval
is much lower, ranging from 29 to 50
Riley said his takeaway from
these findings is this: to appeal to a
wider swath of potential hunters,
it will be important to emphasize
the values that have been found
to garner widespread public
acceptance, particularly that of
harvesting wild, local meat.
“Hunting is not going away,”
Riley said. “We just need to create
an environment that is socially
acceptable … to keep hunting as an
American heritage.”
The MTU study came to a
similar conclusion:
“Our projections indicate the
future of [the] hunting population
will be smaller, considerably older
and potentially shifting to a greater
proportion of female participation.
This means that future hunting
stakeholders may have different
values, interests and expectations
than in the past and present “We just need to create an environment that is socially
hunting population.”
acceptable … to keep hunting as an American heritage.”

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 35

Winter 2019.indd 37 11/5/2019 3:44:34 PM

By Jen Davis

Adult Onset Hunter

stumbled, rather abruptly, into the world of firearms before moving in with me and would bring it
hunting about nine years ago. As a 30-year-old up from time to time as a sign of his devotion.
mother of one, my interest in food (what was in it, At some critical point in the conversation we were
where it came from, who had touched it and why) having that day about the Second Amendment and
began to plague my thoughts. I became interested, guns, he suddenly faced me with a question: "What
first, in organic food, then free-range meat, eggs, and about guns as tools?" For example, guns' use as a tool for
dairy and then all-local food. the acquisition of meat. Venison is organic, free-range,
Ultimately, I began growing and canning as much local meat. At that moment, a light bulb flicked on in
of my food as I could. The next logical step was into my brain and has never dimmed; a hunter was born.
hunting, but I couldn't see that at the time. I decided to research everything I could about what
My husband and I had been having one of our I had to do to go from a person who knew nothing about
revolving-door-Second-Amendment conversations. guns to a person who could bring home the venison. I
These were generally plucky, lighthearted debates read-up on hunter safety training and realized I faced
about firearms, who should own them, what kinds and a steep learning curve. I didn't know the difference
why. He would generally fall on the side of the gun between a rifle and a shotgun — aren't all long guns the
owner — me, not so much. same? I certainly couldn't decipher all of the different
When we met some 10 years prior, he had been an calibers and gauges. Figuring out what gun a person
avid firearms enthusiast. But I, then the mother of needed just to get started seemed an insurmountable
a one-year-old child and never having owned a gun barrier to entry at the time.
before, was having none of it. He rehomed all of his Knowing who to ask and where it is safe to go

36 |

Winter 2019.indd 38 11/5/2019 3:44:34 PM

when you don't know the right questions to ask is very the board at WSC, managing our new membership &
important. I found understanding and patient friends programs, volunteering with NWTF, my local environ-
who helped guide me. My husband and I bought Ruger mental organizations and mentoring other hunters.
10/22s for our anniversary that year. I was raised around hunters, but it was never close
I found out through helpful women in my life at hand, and I had never been taught. It was assumed I
that my local sports- was not interested, and no
man's club, Washtenaw one I knew growing up was
Sportsman's Club interested enough to want
(WSC), was running a to share. There was one
women's weekend (Wild boy I knew who thought it
Women of Washtenaw). was funny to freak me out
The event included the with dead squirrels from
hunter safety education time to time. Aside from
training necessary to that, I came from a place of
get a hunting license. complete ignorance.
I signed up as fast as I It is amazing to me
could and jumped in with how quickly one can go
both feet. I was petrified from fear or skepticism
but exhilarated by the to full-throttle endorse-
possibilities. ment in such a short time.
The weekend was From my introduction, I
amazing. I got my hunter have learned more than I
safety certification. I could've imagined.
learned more about I am now dedicated to
shooting .22 rifles, hand- being the safe person to ask
guns, archery and what questions for anyone uncer-
it would take for me to tain like I was. Thanks to
join the club. There were the encouragement and
many amazing people and awesome adventures along mentorship of my fellow sportswomen and men and
the journey. supportive organizations like MUCC, I have come from
In just under 10 years, I went from being skep- a place of complete ignorance to being knowledgable
tical of guns altogether to a full-blown sportswoman, and encouraging to others. From mentee to mentor, I
teaching others about handgun safety, concealed pistol am so very grateful!
certification, hunter safety certification, sitting on

Squirrels can be a great quarry for first-time hunters. They also provide rich, tasty protein and are relatively easy to
clean. With practice, wild turkey can be another fantastic species of game to hunt. They often provide a test of a hunter's
ability to be stealthy and blend in with their surroundings due to the birds' sharp eyesight.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 37

Winter 2019.indd 39 11/5/2019 3:44:34 PM

Rethinkinng the Rut
By Jason Herbert

oes are really mean by chasing them or batting them continues, and to be honest, it is
to bucks." My buddy in the face with their hooves. Does good. Mother nature designed her
John's logic was tend to live in family groups made creatures to change constantly and
simple, yet profound. up of a grandma doe, her offspring to improve their genetic makeup.
"Yeah, they don't hang out at and their babies, too. Years ago, on a piece of property
all, only to breed. Old does are Doe groups are cliquey. Think I hunt, a five-year-old, dominant
&*%$@!." back to high school. In fact, a lot buck was observed being circled by a
Ever since that fateful of this information can relate back harem of does wanting his attention
conversation, I've begun to think to high school. Doe groups don't on October 18th. Not long after that,
differently about the whitetail rut like to see or encounter other doe we lost track of him. I am assuming
and what it really means. From groups. he was breeding the does somewhere
my observation, the rut as we On my personal property of 60 secluded. Scrapes started popping
know it is simply when the highest acres, half of which is tillable, I'm up, and all of the lesser bucks began
concentration of the does are in able to easily hold three doe groups to be more active, knowing that hot
heat. When a doe is in heat, she will by creating separate core areas for does were in the area.
stand for a buck and allow him to each of them. Each core doe area The secondary doe group gets
breed with her. In Michigan, our gets its own thermal and screening the second-best bedding area and
rut seems to start sometime in late bedding cover, a water hole and other resources. They will eventually
October and goes roughly until small, daytime food plots. show up at the primary food source
December. For the rest of the year, Every core area is connected to each night but will stay well away
the bucks and does pretty much the bigger destination food sources, from the alpha does. They go into
avoid each other. The following is a in my case, corn, beans or hayfields heat a bit later and also hope to be
series of collected thoughts about by a trail system. This way the doe bred by a dominant buck.
how I view the rut and hunt it. groups have their needs met and If enough deer are in the area,
only have to see each other at night the lesser doe groups will also pretty
when they all eat in the big agricul- much get the leftovers regarding
tural fields. bedding and food sources. If they're
The alpha doe group contains the lucky, these lesser doe groups will
queens of the woods. The alpha doe get the attention of a dominant buck.
group will choose and defend (with However, these does are also not
their hooves and grumpy attitudes) picky and will often breed with what-
the best bedding areas closest to the ever buck happens to be around.
best food source, near the best water Usually, this lucky fella is also
and in the safest cover. Their fawns not very dominant, and the cycle of
tend to be the healthiest and have the less continues. These fawns are often
best chances of survival. born late, victims of predation or
The fawns of the alpha doe group simply don't thrive like an earlier-
are usually born earliest as well born fawn.
because those pretty ladies go into The period when the majority of
heat first. Naturally, the fawns from does are in heat, sometime around
the alpha group are bigger than the the beginning of November, is called
other local fawns. Since the alpha the rut. This is when the average
Doe bedding areas and does go into heat first, they also tend buck has the greatest chances of
arrangements to attract and breed with the most sowing his oats.
dominant bucks because usually no As the rut comes to an end, the
Not only are does pretty other does are in heat. Think back to doe fawns from the alpha group will
mean to bucks, but they have high school when the quarterback go into heat. Some people call this a
little patience for each other. In and the prettiest cheerleader dated second rut. Eventually, the doe fawns
the summer bean fields, I've seen each other. from the lesser groups will come
mature does scare away old bucks This cycle of dominance into heat as well, usually around

38 |

Winter 2019.indd 40 11/5/2019 3:44:35 PM

So, on my personal property,
between the three doe groups and
their fawns, I have breeding activity
for about six weeks.
Hopefully, we kill a dominant
buck early and the next-man-up
theory holds true. When the boss
buck gets taken out, the next buck in
the pecking order will start to take
over and become the most dominant.
Does have a small handful of
priorities. I like to say that they try to
survive and thrive wherein their first
priority is survival and the second
is quality of life. Most does simply
want a safe place to rest in between
easy meals. The only difference
between the doe bedding areas that I
have created on my property is their
proximity to the destination food
sources. I believe that when every-
thing is equal, the alpha doe group
will bed closest to the food.

Like that weird guy who hangs out mornings. This usually happens at
Not Hunting Mornings by the women's bathroom all night at the same time scrapes start popping
the bar, bucks know where they can up. Typically, this is right around the
Mature bucks live like college lay in wait for the does. middle to end of October.
fraternity guys and are pretty When the fall rolls around, most I got to see this theory in action
reclusive and lazy. No offense, does are concerned about packing one morning a few years ago. A buck
frat guys! Some of my best college on calories for the long winter. came in and bedded with his back to
buddies went Greek. However, as From early to mid October while the the wind on a hill. As the does came
much as bucks don't like does are out feeding at night, early filtering through from the cornfield
being battered and morning hours will bring the wise to their bedding spots, the buck scent
nagged by does, old bucks to lay in wait downwind of checked every one of them using
they certainly keep the trails that the does use between the morning thermal effect of the
tabs on the ladies' the food and their beds. That way, all warming air. For safe measure, he
locations each fall. the buck has to do is lay there and all also grunted at every single doe!
the local ladies will walk by. He will They all ignored him. He taught me
stay in his bed, scent check them all a lot, and that is why I quit hunting
for signs of estrus and basically mornings until the end of October.
stay put.
Before I figured this out, How Bucks Scent Check
I would always head out on
my morning hunts Once a less dominant buck is
to that perfect tired of laying around waiting for
spot to intercept a hot doe to walk by, or he catches
deer between food wind of a hot doe, he'll start cruising.
and bedding, only Cruising means wandering around
to bump bedded looking for a receptive doe.
bucks! Now, I stay Usually, the most dominant
out and wait until bucks become homebodies and don't
my trail cameras wander far because they don't have
indicate that to. The dominant bucks get plenty of
mature bucks are action because the does are seeking
on their feet scent- them out as well. Most bucks cruise
checking bedding by simply walking downwind of
areas in the where they think does will be.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors Win-


Winter 2019.indd 41 11/5/2019 3:44:38 PM

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Sportsmen Against Hunger

Winter 2019.indd 42 11/5/2019 3:44:39 PM

Never Trust a Fart.
True stories of grown men who have
accidentally pooped their pants.
By Jason Herbert

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hilarious stories about when, for one reason or another,
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High-traffic doe spots are wind I can hunt, and not too probably beds nearby. There is so
bedding areas and food sources. rainy, I'll sneak in downwind of that much we can learn from pictures
Bucks cruise in the thick cover from buck's trail with my crossbow and and sightings.
a safe distance. So, I don't sit directly ghillie suit and wait for him to walk Remember the biggest buck
on food plots but rather downwind by. isn't always the most dominant.
of the buck trail that is downwind Most deer in Michigan have Quite often, the biggest bucks are
of the plots. To remain hidden and been conditioned to look up in the lazy wimps who avoid all types of
save calories, bucks will cruise trees for hunters, but not many of conflict. In fact, many bucks get big
downwind of the doe areas. them look down, so a ghillie suit on and old by avoiding all of the drama
A buck trail is easy to find once the ground is still a deadly tactic. and chaos of the rut.
you know what to look for. It will Since I have been hunting this way The next-man-up theory
usually intersect a series of heavily during the rut, my success rate has dictates whenever a big buck goes
used doe trails, maybe even at some gone up drastically! down, another one is waiting on the
angle from his bedding area to
sideline for his chance. So, if you
another bedding area the buck may Odds and Ends aren't the first one to kill a buck
use. Also, remember bucks like to
on your farm, that is sometimes
travel with the wind quartering into When you get a trail camera a good thing, especially when the
their faces. Keep that in mind when picture or visual on a buck, really biggest buck isn't most dominant.
you are trying to predict where a look at him good. Sometimes, the next man up is the
buck will be moving. Is his rack white or dark? If it is bigger buck.
super white, he beds in a sunny area
Make a Plan and the antler is getting bleached My Two Cents
out already. Dark? He probably beds
Knowing where the bucks bed, in a swamp or the woods. This collection of thoughts
where the does bed, where the food Look at his legs. Are they wet? is simply what I have observed
is, wind speed and direction, you He probably has to cross water or hunting my farm and the
can make a plan! I like to wait until muck. Pretty dry? He probably surrounding area most of my life.
the barometer is going to spike, doesn't spend too much time near I have also had the privilege
while the temperature is going to the water. of being a public school teacher
drop. Some people say that a baro- What are his mannerisms? Does for almost 20 years. A lot of the
metric pressure reading of anything he chase all the other deer away? Do primal behaviors I observe in school
over 30 will get the deer moving, but other deer scatter when he arrives? translate directly to the deer woods.
I look for the drastic spikes. If so, he's probably pretty dominant. Humans, after all, are animals, and
I use a website called Does he have broken antlers and I'd argue that we're not as highly
Wunderground that lays out visible scars? He's probably been evolved as we think we are (or at
weather data in line graph form. beaten up and won't respond well to least, our teenagers aren't).
When the lines come together (temp a call.
drop and barometer rise) plus a Does he show up often? He

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 41

Winter 2019.indd 43 11/5/2019 3:44:40 PM

Protecting and
Growing our
Conservation Legacy
By Vicki Pontz
Natural Resources Commission Chair

was slated to speak at the MUCC 2019 Annual afraid to be vulnerable. Hunters and anglers are very
Convention, and unfortunately, a health issue passionate about their sport, sometimes leading to
precluded me from being there. I was disap- emotion, which can feel very vulnerable. Vulnerability
pointed to miss it and am grateful to Amy in a leader might look something like "Geez guys, I
Trotter for inviting me to share my intended remarks screwed up that deal and I made an uninformed deci-
with you in this publication. sion. I could have handled that differently and this is
Amy asked me to speak about leadership and what I learned from it."
leader succession in your organization and in the It may sound like, "I am really not understanding
entire conservation community. my role on this team. I know we need to work together
I started by asking myself what do I value in a to accomplish our goals, but please help me under-
leader? What leaders have influenced me to lead in stand how I fit in."
the manner that I do? Who is the person(s) I want to I value a leader who is not only willing to be
follow, to emulate, to learn from? You may want to ask vulnerable but can make room for others' vulner-
yourself the same questions as I walk through a few of ability as well.
the characteristics I value in a conservation leader. I value a leader who empowers others to be their
I value leaders that understand the primacy of best. You can empower others whether you are in a
relationships — ones who trust me and who I feel leadership position or not.
safe in trusting. I value transparency; I know what For those who are parents, we want our children to
they stand for, and I know what their objectives are have every opportunity to grow, to do better next time
and what they expect of me. They hold themselves and to have access to every possible tool. We can look
and others accountable to reach objectives. In the at empowering conservation leaders the same way. We
case of MUCC, making sure the members' needs are can make tools for success available and encourage,
met and all hunters, anglers and other sportsmen and acknowledge and empower a new generation of
sportswomen needs are met. leaders. How often have we heard "he/she is good but
I value being able to have an authentic dialogue
with that leader when he or she listens to understand.
I prefer a small group discussion where we all add ”I believe the capacity to lead lies within
value to the conversation and we all learn from each
other. each one of us. We can choose how and where
I prefer that dialogue even when it may require
one or both of us to be vulnerable. We don't usually to lead, and it does not require a title or a
connect vulnerability and leadership in our minds.
However, I see real strength in a leader who is not position."
42 |

Winter 2019.indd 44 11/5/2019 3:44:41 PM

So how are we doing in keeping pace with the changing
demographics in our state?
I read the primary language in the U.S. will be
Spanish by 2050. Do we know values in the Hispanic
community regarding hunting and fishing privileges?
What does a person of color from downtown Flint
want from an outdoor recreational experience? Do
they know what is available to them or what's lawful in
regards to the taking of game or fish?
How easily can one whose second language
is English find a fishing guide in their preferred
As conservation partners, we do a good job
communicating with each other, but how do we reach
a population that may be interested but have never
been invited? What about those opposed to hunting
and angling but have never had a conversation with
hunters or anglers about the continuation of our
conservation legacy?
I believe the answer to many of these questions
is to go right back to the first principle of leadership
mentioned above; it's about building relationships.
How do we do that? We listen intently, and we create
opportunities for authentic conversations with people
of color, young people and the non-hunting/angling
public. This sounds like a lot of work, but it's not too
bad if we are not afraid of what we will learn.
I value a leader who understands that we all come
too young"? Don't forget, second graders are learning to a team with our own biases, passions and unique
how to access information electronically faster than expertise and, as circumstances require, can adapt
we can sign in to buy a hunting license online. their leadership accordingly.
I also value a leader that explores, appreciates and I value a leader who creates an environment where
includes diversity. Often, when the word diversity is we can all learn from and understand each other and
used, the first thing we think about is the color of our therefore create better solutions together.
skin. Consider which of these leadership principles
When I speak about celebrating and benefitting you value. Which of these characteristics do you see
from difference, I include race, culture, religion, age, and appreciate in yourself ? Which of these would you
gender, education, ableness, social and economic like to improve upon to more effectively contribute
status, learning styles, etc. I appreciate a leader who to meeting the needs of our MUCC members and the
recognizes differences and understands the value each hunters and anglers of Michigan? Are my decisions
person brings to the team and knows how to benefit and actions aligned with what I value? Who do I know
from those differences. that exemplifies these core values and principles of
I value a leader who intentionally thinks about and leadership, and who would I like to learn from and
creates teams who are very different from each other emulate?
to maximize effectiveness. Make a plan to learn more from youth, people
So what does this have to do with MUCC or hunters of color and the non-hunting public so we can work
and anglers? I encourage you to look around the room together to conserve our precious natural resources
the next time you are in a meeting with hunters or for future generations.
anglers. For the most part, you will see mid- to late- In closing, I believe the capacity to lead lies within
aged white males. each one of us. We can choose how and where to lead,
Meeting MUCC's goals of protecting and building and it does not require a title or a position. It does
our hunting and fishing legacy can be a significant require a willingness to live in alignment with our
challenge. I encourage you to consider the strength values. It requires a sincere desire to plant the seed of
that comes to our conservation teams from each conservation into the next generation and expand the
member and make your teams as diverse as possible to privilege of hunting and angling to a diverse group
increase your chances of success. of citizens. We can each play a part in protecting and
License sales to women are gradually increasing, growing our conservation legacy. Once again, it all
which is commendable. I thank each of you who has starts with building relationships.
encouraged a woman to share your favorite sport.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 43

Winter 2019.indd 45 11/5/2019 3:44:42 PM

Dog gone Beagles:
The Wolverine
Beagle Club By Jacob Vanhouten
aving owned beagles She didn't get all that excited
while growing up about finishing the race as they
around Kentwood, say. Dixie, on the other hand, would
Michigan, the breed never give up on a rabbit once she
has forever held a special place in began the chase. She had a great
my heart while creating many fond nose and classic beagle howl, as well
memories. Chasing bunnies on the as excellent lines. She looked the
farms that surrounded my home part. Ringer was, well, she was kind was abused by her former owner
felt natural. of round and sloppy looking, but I and was gun-shy. We got another
My brother received a beagle loved her very much. rescue beagle named Bea.
for Christmas that we named Dixie After leaving for college and She was the oddest little pocket
since she was a Tennessee-bred pup. starting a home of my own, I beagle I've ever seen. Bea was timid
One of the puppies from her second convinced my wife to rescue a and also gun-shy. I know how to
litter became my beagle. beagle named Nibbles. As she had pick 'em.
I named her Ringer because of never had a beagle before, she was a But she was our favorite. She
the white ring around her tail. Dixie bit hesitant at first. She soon fell in made the strangest "oooouuuuu"
was the best hunter by far, as my love with her; unfortunately, we lost sound, and her bark was not so
dad always said that Ringer was a Nibbles too soon to cancer. much a beagle bark but more a
"lover, not a fighter." Nibbles was no hunter, as she squeaking door hinge sound. She,
too, left us early with a bad respira-
tory illness.
Having this affinity for beagles,
I was pleasantly surprised to
hear that my niece Leah and her
husband Ed had purchased a some-
what famous farmhouse known as
the Beagle Club by locals.
They both said I should learn
more about the place and visit
soon. I did.
It was the coolest old farm-
house. It was used as the clubhouse
for the Wolverine Beagle Club,
complete with a kitchen and base-
ment bar! The place was incredible.
The club had been the oldest
beagle club in Michigan. My niece
and her husband planned to refur-
bish and restore the farmhouse to
its original form, but the old place
had a broken back and could not
be saved. The barn, however, was
Members of the Wolverine Beagle Club show off their dogs in front of the sign What was really unique was
at the clubhouse. Many dogs chased rabbits on the property throughout the that they decided to utilize the
long life of the club. old farmhouse one last time as a

44 |

Winter 2019.indd 46 11/5/2019 3:44:43 PM

practice burn for local, volunteer the story alive. their demise."
fire departments. It was quite a The barn has a new roof and After several different tries
spectacular end for the beagle club, work is being done to maintain its at various grounds for the beagle
going down with dignity in the style character. Ed is starting habitat club, the Hastings area was selected.
of a Viking funeral. restoration on the land, and game Beagles were initially kept at the
It was sad, but like a phoenix, thrives once more. fairgrounds with beaglers staying at
their new home (built by my It's real Michigan hunting area hotels.
brother, Dixie's owner) rose and is history that I hope will see beagles The 30s and 40s saw a thriving
something special to see. The barn run rabbits once again. club with events held on the
and farm grounds remain intact, Below is an excerpt from "The weekend following Labor Day. They
and Ed hunts the rabbits and Wolverine Story," an old typed-up eventually became a member of the
deer as they have been for its long document written by club members American Kennel Club. It was then
history. in the 1970s. It was found in the decided to purchase a permanent
Ed and Leah said to me, "Uncle clubhouse before the demolition home, and the Bates Farm became
Jay, you should write a story about (controlled burn). available (across from their leased
this place." "The fall of 1919 saw a group property).
They were so right. What a of sportsmen gather to formulate The 120 acres became home
history this property has. With a plans for an organized Beagle with the subsequent addition of two
little research and help from docu- Club for Western Michigan, with 40s to complete the club grounds.
ments they found in the clubhouse, I an impromptu field trial held A corporation was formed, share-
was able to develop this story. that fall in Cedar Springs. The holders came on board and the club
It's sad to think it was so close following January, 34 sportsmen was off and running. The existing
to their 100th anniversary which met in Kalamazoo and founded barn was redone to act as an excel-
would have been this past fall (2019). the Wolverine Beagle Club with lent, inside kennel.
They had many starts and stops 'Captain' Joe Brown as president. In 1952, they celebrated with
along the way, including WWII, The headquarters at that time was a mortgage burning party. A
which found many members a bit located in Dowagiac, Michigan. Christmas tree farm was estab-
busy with Uncle Sam and finances These 34 charter members included lished as a means for income as
hard to come by. some very prominent (for the well as creating much-needed
One last attempt to restart the time) beaglers as members and bunny cover.
club was undertaken in 2011-12, but supporters. These included Fred The once-thriving rabbit supply
in the end, it was not meant to be. (Fritz) Wenger, Ike Carrel and A.G. had become over-burdened, and
But the family now occupying the Drake in the charter group and a solution was found by fencing a
club grounds will continue to keep all were active until 60-acre plot of ground near
the barn which was stocked
with rabbits and habitat
was improved with ground
cover and paths mowed
between rows of trees.
Forty acres were
sold off to finance
the venture.

Above: The clubhouse as it stood before it was demolished; a

proud, if aging building filled with decades of memories and
stories. Right: The foundation of the clubhouse post burn. The
barn that served as a kennel is seen in the background. It is
being refurbished by the authors' niece and her husband.

Winter 2019.indd 47 11/5/2019 3:44:44 PM

By 1969, the enclosed area was The plan worked
used in the fall trial and was quite out well for them. Willie
successful. said… By next year's
Further mowing of food strips, license trial, the newly-
planting of winter feed, sumac cleared area should hold
and thorn apple brush piles being rabbits real well.
placed all helped a great deal, and it The club members at
was reported that they had "rabbits Wolverine aren't finished
coming out of our ears." with their renovation
The mid-70s was a time of project yet. Willie said
plenty, and the club thrived. It was they have plans to clear
sometime after that when the club the rest of the land and
declined and fell on hard times. will do it as quickly as
The following excerpt is from they get the money.
an article by Larry Lee appearing He figures it will take
online on in another three or four Founding member Fred 'Fritz' Wenger with his
2011. It describes the last solid thousand dollars to finish dog at the club.
efforts to restart the club. the job… Please place the
but the place is again being utilized
"Wolverine Beagle Club, located Wolverine trial on your schedule
and is full of life. It will thrive as a
in beautiful Hastings, Michigan, for the 2012 licenses trial season.
home for a good family, keeping the
is on its way to becoming another Those hard-working Wolverine
history of Michigan's oldest beagle
pillar beagle club here in the state beaglers need our support."
club alive.
of Michigan. This is largely due to That last-ditch effort to revive
the combined effort of six Wolverine the club failed, which is a shame,
beaglers. The members are Bob
Bishop, Doug Creger, Paul Gonzales,
Willie Niewenhuis, Joe Thomas and
Mike Thomas.
The recently completed licensed
trial was a success. Rabbits came
easily and the trials were finished
by around 2 p.m. each day. The
club is one of the most picturesque
in the state. Its old farmhouse,
surrounded by huge trees, is used
as a clubhouse, and its red barn, Electronic Dog
used for kennel space, are pleasing Training and Tracking Equipment
to the eye.
The Wolverine running grounds All the Best Brands in Stock!
consists of 25 acres that are fenced.
The back 12 acres now have been A+ Customer Service!
bulldozed and completely cleared.
Club President Willie Niewenhuis
told me that the members started
clearing the land last November 30 Years!
and finished the bulldozing job by
The springtime was spent
picking up all the wood pieces left
from the bulldozing, placing them
on a tractor-drawn wagon and
hauling them away… The design Shop Local!
for the paths was laid out and they
were mowed… The club members
decided to run this year's (2011) Trade-In
trial in the old area toward the Your
front of the club because they didn't Old Collars!
think the new area would hold 1517 Northern Star Dr. 800-430-2010
rabbits as well as desired. Traverse City MI 49696
46 |

Winter 2019.indd 48 11/5/2019 3:44:45 PM

MOODquarter.indd 1 7/10/2018 3:45:58 PM



This project was funded by the Michigan Invasive Species

Grant Program (

Winter 2019.indd 49 11/5/2019 3:44:47 PM

After Bait
always tried to take off opening day
of firearm season so we would have
at least that day and Thanksgiving
day to hunt. Some harvest seasons
I have worked one or both of those
days. When we grew a lot of Scotch
Pine, we started cutting trees in
early October and did not finish
loading semis until sometimes as
By Blake Sherburne late as the middle of December.

The season is a bit more
ut for the three years tree growers, always had the compressed now as the Scotch Pine
that baiting was equipment to put in food plots; we market has all but disappeared.
suspended in Wexford just did not always have the time. The fresh-cut Christmas tree
county for a Bovine Deer season comes during harvest, market has turned to the Fraser Fir
Tuberculosis scare, I have always so time to hunt is short. That made primarily. This and a reduction in
hunted over bait. It is the way I all of the summertime work needed the number of trees that we harvest
learned to hunt whitetails. My dad to do food plots seem like a waste of per year has led to a shortened,
never made food plots or planted time, let alone that the time to work intense harvest season. Frasers
fruit trees. I started putting in on food plots comes during great cannot be cut as early as we could
food plots kind of half-heartedly a summer fishing weather, so when cut pine, and the fresh tree market
few years ago, but mostly we just we did have time we could often be has also turned into an earlier
dumped out carrots, apples and found on the river instead of on a event. Most people like to have
beets and waited for the deer to tractor. their tree by the weekend after
come to us. Things are changing Because deer season comes Thanksgiving. This means we do
now, and I am looking forward to it. during harvest, I do not always not start cutting until around the
Partly, it was practicality, I get a lot of time to hunt. We have twentieth of October, and we are
think, because we, being Christmas often virtually done loading semis

48 |

Winter 2019.indd 50 11/5/2019 3:44:47 PM

by Thanksgiving day. In theory, this
means a little more time to hunt, "But for the three years that baiting was suspended in
and with the new bait ban, it means
we have to change our tactics a Wexford county for a Bovine Tuberculosis scare, I have
I stopped taking year-and- always hunted over bait. ... Things are changing now, and I
a-half-old bucks long ago, long
before the Antler Point Restrictions am looking forward to it."
became law in the Northwest 12. few steps without falling down. I mentioned before, one of those is
As a result, I have not taken a buck grabbed my rifle out of dad’s truck having good equipment. What I had
while hunting since 2010, when I and made a good shot. Later, while a tough time finding, however, was
took a 10-point, and a seven-point dressing and skinning the buck time. Between a serious fly fishing
the year before, both taken while out, I found the business end of an addiction and two toddlers at home,
baiting was banned in Northern arrow that had been driven straight I had a tough time getting out after
Michigan for the aforementioned into the deer’s chest sometime work to turn up some ground.
TB scare. I say I have not taken during archery season. It was a Luckily, I have a son who loves to
a buck while hunting because a mercy killing and opportunism for ride along in the tractor, so I had a
couple of seasons ago, through me, and what meat was not ruined great excuse to spend some time on
a series of fortunate events, I on the eight-point fit nicely in the food plots while still accomplishing
took an eight-point while hauling freezer with the two does I also took some fatherly duties.
Christmas trees. I do not normally that season. I started in late August. My
carry a rifle while working, but With the change in the baiting main plot, that I had been tilling
I had slipped my cased rifle into law this season, I knew I would up every year, tilled up easily. Two
my dad’s truck that morning. He have to get my stuff together and do of the others had not been disced
showed up in the field we were some food plot work this summer. in years and a third had never
loading up Fraser Firs out of just There are some advantages to being been worked up. Those took more
as we happened upon an eight-point a Christmas tree grower, and as I time and more passes and more
that could not take more than a

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 49

Winter 2019.indd 51 11/5/2019 3:44:48 PM

moving away from bait piles.
This new baiting ban has been
the motivation I needed. I am not
sure whether the lack of older-class
bucks was a result of the almost
every day presence needed to
maintain a bait pile. I even moved
over to automatic corn feeders
and trail cameras for a few years
and mature bucks were not even
coming in nocturnally. My results
already had me thinking that it was
time for a change in my hunting
practices. Maybe food plots and less
human presence in my hunting
areas will be the difference.
bouncing in the tractor. I decided back blade in later before I could We are facing a shortage of
on wheat for these late-season plots think about running over it with a trees over the next couple of
as it would come up quickly and disc next year. This late summer years, resulting from the economic
continue to grow even through the mowing would also get the grass downturn in the late 2000s. We
first frosts of the year. We do not coming up fresh and green, making planted fewer trees in those years
own a grain drill, so I got out the it a fairly effective deer attractor for because of a few factors, not the
broadcast spreader. I spread seed this season. least of which was a serious lack of
on all the plots in one morning and I have never really had good operating capital. Those chickens
then lightly disced them all down luck getting mature bucks into bait are now coming home to roost, as
that afternoon. on our property, anyway. I have is said. Dad keeps warning me that
I also started working a killed a few two-year-old bucks this is going to mean a little tight-
completely new field. Five over bait. The only bucks I have ening of the belt for the next couple
years ago it was the dregs of a taken that might have been three- of seasons. Almost in the same
blue spruce plantation. We had year-olds both came during the breath, he says, “Well, that may
harvested all we could get out of last baiting ban. As a result, I was mean a little more time to hunt.”
the area and let the rest go. Harvest already thinking that, at least at my Hopefully, the work pays off.
season and Christmas came and hunting spots, it was time to start
went, and in between Christmas
and New Year’s, I went out with
a chainsaw for about five straight
days and cut down the unharvested
spruce to let them start to rot
down, knowing that in a few years I
would be able to turn this little area
(coincidentally adjacent to my rifle
blind) into a great food plot. It is
one of the best pieces of soil on our
home farm, and we had no inten-
tion of replanting Christmas trees
for the foreseeable future.
In order to till this new piece
of ground next year, I went out
this September with a tractor and
a Brush Hog and mowed over the
trees I cut years ago. It had been
long enough that even the biggest
of them disintegrated under our
heavy-duty mower. This little plot
is also full of holes from where we
had a buyer come in and dig spruce
for his ball-and-burlap market
years ago, so I needed to find all
of those and get them marked to

50 |

Winter 2019.indd 52 11/5/2019 3:44:50 PM

Game on!
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the next level? We can help! GreenStone offers a
variety of loan options for recreational land of any
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Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 51

Winter 2019.indd 53 11/5/2019 3:44:50 PM

Annual sturgeon ice fishing contest lures hundreds
to Northeast Michigan, raises funds for rare fish
If fishing withdrawal starts raffles and other entertainment so it makes sense to celebrate it in a
getting you down this winter, options. And Archambo expects an unique way.”
a weekend trip to Northeast even bigger 2020 Shivaree. As always, Black Lake’s
Michigan in early February may be “One of the biggest new events sturgeon season will last up to five
just the cure. has actually been our horseshoe days, or until the small, annual
That’s when the annual Black competition,” Archambo said. quota of fish are caught – which
Lake Sturgeon Shivaree will “We’re always trying to find ways this past February happened in less
welcome wildlife and outdoors for those who aren’t actually out on than two hours. That’s right – the
enthusiasts from across the state the ice to be having fun. This event entire season was shorter than the
– and give a handful lucky anglers is for everyone – not just anglers.” last “Avengers” movie.
a chance to nab the catch of a Although shivarees used
lifetime. If they can brave the cold, to revolve around weddings –
that is. traditionally, they were raucous Securing the Future
“Last year, it got down to nega- mock serenades held outside the
tive 25 degrees, not including wind windows of newlyweds to jokingly The window on Black Lake is
chill,” said Brenda Archambo, disrupt any activity in the honey- short because sturgeon are highly
president of the nonprofit Sturgeon moon suite – Archambo said the regulated. Their large size and
for Tomorrow – Black Lake name was picked because it had a slowness in the water make them
Chapter that hosts the event. “But “wintry” sound to it. easy pickings for poachers, who in
the folks on the ice didn’t seem “We were looking up other the 20th century nearly wiped them
to mind. They were focused on names for celebrations, and when out in Michigan.
catching sturgeon.” we came across shivaree, we knew Approximately 400 anglers
And as it turns out, sturgeon it was right,” she said. “You hear it are expected to pursue the
fishing also makes for a pretty and you go, ‘Brrrr.’ And sturgeon elusive “dinosaur fish,” so-called
great party. season isn’t like any other kind of because sturgeon morphology
“The Shivaree is a great way to hunting or fishing season out there, has remained largely unchanged
break cabin fever and give some of
the local businesses here a shot in
the arm,” Archambo said. “And the Photo Credit: Michigan Department of Natural Resources
best part is that we’re able to use
the event to raise money to protect
and study this amazing fish. But
really, it’s just a blast. It’s one of
the coolest festivals in Michigan.”
Emphasis on the word

The Shortest Season

The 2020 Shivaree will mark the
sixth staging of the two-day event.
It will run Jan. 31-Feb. 1 on Black
Lake in Onaway, near the former
Black Lake Hotel. The 2019 event
drew more than 2,000 people who
enjoyed live music, poker runs,

52 |

Winter 2019.indd 54 11/5/2019 3:44:51 PM

since the species’ appearance in the
Triassic Period.
Lake sturgeon are bottom-feeders who are
The 2019 season’s largest fish membersof a family of fish that has existed since
was 72 inches long, caught by a
Cheboygan man who credited his the Upper Cretaceous period 136 million years
lucky hat. ago.
Archambo said she’s heard
of people driving from as far
away as southern Ohio to attend Preserving a Michigan hunting licenses sold in Michigan
go directly toward wildlife
the Shivaree, but most hail from
Michigan. She said the event nearly
Tradition management and habitat restora-
tion, which help species like the
doubles the city’s population every Although it may seem counter- sturgeon,” Pedigo said. “Michigan’s
year. intuitive to those who don’t hunt or lake sturgeon wouldn’t be doing
“This area is a really popular fish, the activities actually improve this well if not for these funds,
destination for people in the Detroit the strength of wildlife species combined with the work of groups
area all summer long, so we’re used across the board. Matt Pedigo, chair like Sturgeon for Tomorrow.”
to hosting big crowds,” Archambo of the Michigan Wildlife Council, Sturgeon for Tomorrow began
said. “But the Black Lake Sturgeon said Black Lake’s annual sturgeon as a grassroots group in 1995
Shivaree blows all of that away. season elevates public awareness of that reported poachers spearing
And to know that it’s all because of the unique species and has contrib- sturgeon as they spawned in local
the sturgeon makes me so happy. uted to an increase in its numbers rivers. The volunteers’ teamwork
This event helps secure their over the last 20 years. eventually congealed into an advo-
future.” “Not only that, but fishing and cacy group dedicated to preserving

An angler shows off his catch following the 2014 lake sturgeon season. Photo Credit: Michigan Department of Natural

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 53

Winter 2019.indd 55 11/5/2019 3:44:53 PM

both the fish and the traditions of This harvest rate was agreed taking fireworks out of the Fourth
indigenous tribes that lived in the upon by both the Michigan of July.
area long before European settlers Department of Natural Resources “We’re the people of the stur-
arrived. and co-managing tribal agencies. geon. We live on the lake, and we
“For as long as humans have However, the state sets its harvest care about the water. We couldn’t
been living near Black Lake, limit at six fish because the large let them bring an end to sturgeon
there has been sturgeon fishing,” numbers of anglers on the ice season, so we took action.”
Archambo said. “That’s why and the possibility of fish being To participate in Michigan’s
we invite our Native American hauled in simultaneously could recreational lake sturgeon fishing
friends every year to the Shivaree put the quota in jeopardy of being season, you must possess a valid
to pay homage. We have a special exceeded. Michigan fishing license if you are
water ceremony and a drum circle The season’s regulations were 17 years of age or older or have a
to honor the season. It’s quite developed in part to allow greater valid Michigan Sportcard if you
moving.” participation by anglers while are under the age of 17. You must
protecting the Black Lake sturgeon register to participate in the Black
population. Lake sturgeon season.
‘Like taking Santa And while other states may Early registration will be held
have less strict sturgeon fishing Jan. 31 from 2-7 p.m. at the DNR
away from Christmas’ regulations, Archambo said she’d Onaway Field Station, about 5
rather catch fewer than none at miles north of Onaway on Route
Archambo said the length of all – a proposal that was actually on 211. Fishing hours will be 8 a.m.-2
the season is closely monitored to the table at one point in the 1990s p.m. on Feb. 1-5, or until the harvest
ensure the population remains in due to fears of overfishing. quota is reached. DNR personnel
balance. The quota is set at 1.2% of “Someone once told me that if are stationed on the ice to assist
the adult breeding population of you took sturgeon season away, it with the closure of this season.
lake sturgeon in Black Lake, which would be like taking Santa Claus
in 2019 equaled 14: seven fish for away from Christmas,” Archambo
the local tribes and seven fish for said. “They said it would be like
state-licensed anglers.

Michigan’s hunting and fishing
heritage runs deep. Across the state,
everyone benefits from these activities.

Every year, Michigan’s 2 million

hunters and anglers generate over
$11 billion for the economy and
$61 million for wildlife conservation
through the sale of licenses. The
Michigan Wildlife Council’s mission is
to promote the tremendous importance
of hunting and fishing to the great
state of Michigan. Created in 2013 by
the Michigan Legislature, the council
seeks to build understanding among
the state’s non-hunting and non-fishing
residents through a statewide public
education effort – so that our outdoor
heritage will continue to be here
for generations.

Learn more at HereForMiOutdoors.orgg

54 |

Winter 2019.indd 56 11/5/2019 3:44:53 PM

Subscribe, become a member and get MUCC and
Michigan Out-of-Doors gear at

Get Michigan Out-of-Doors

by becoming a member of
Michigan United
Conservation Clubs
Call Sue Pride at 517.371.1041

Affiliate Club members: Ask the person at your club who handles
membership about subscribing to the print edition
for a discounted rate.

Winter 2019.indd 57 11/5/2019 3:44:55 PM

"I Gun could never take
this gun out
hunting; it's just too
I fail to hold back the
chuckle of laughter this
line causes in me every time
I hear it. Usually, the firearm in
question is a fine-quality shotgun
built to handle well and function
reliably for many years. Often we
By Joe Schwenke
are standing on or near a skeet
field or clays course.
I have noticed, through many
years of frequenting various gun
clubs, a pattern every year as
summer wanes into fall. The pretty
guns begin to disappear, and camo
pumps and plastic autos take their
place. Thoughts of grouse, ducks,
geese and rabbits prompt hunters
to tune-up their skill with their
hunting guns.
Is being decorated with a little
scrolling enough to disqualify
that well-balanced over-under or
side-by-side from seeing use in the
field? Is disposability valued higher
than quality?
When winter is at its worst,
I have time to flip back through
the pages of my library of upland
and waterfowl books. Among the
pictures and chapters of the older
authors, there is a lack of new gun
There is a first gun for
learning. A second gun comes
along during the teen years,
usually a gift or loaner from family
or mentors of the young hunter. gun. A lifetime gun is just as it guns became the means of raising
Eventually, the hunter buys the one sounds: able to withstand a life's the asking price of what eventually
that will last through his lifetime, worth of use at the range and in came to be known as Myrtle, (yes,
barring calamity or loss. This trend the field while still being ready to she has a name).
stops, it seems, before Gene Hill render good service to the next in A 20-gauge side-by-side with a
and his contemporaries who have line. single, selectable trigger, magnum
cost me many fortunes looking for The search for the ideal lifetime chambers, ejectors, fixed chokes
a gun for every occasion. gun became more serious as I and engraving all over would
A few years ago, I was realized the price of a high-quality become mine. It is stamped GEBR.
compelled, by my own restlessness, side-by-side. A cabinet of unused MERKEL SUHL and decorated with
to look for and acquire a lifetime

56 |

Winter 2019.indd 58 11/5/2019 3:44:56 PM

flighted mallards on the left and begun to work, and over the years in rabbit thickets. July's heat,
flushing pheasants on the right. ahead, I expect to see certain things September's dew, October's drip-
I'll admit, she's a pretty gun. manifested. ping frost and December's snow
Yet, under the engravers etchings The circular stamping marks will all leave their marks.
lies other beauty. The action is still in the breach from every shell's As sure as the work of an
snug enough to say I haven't worn ignition began to appear at the first engraver's chisel, honest use and
it in yet after thousands of rounds. round of skeet a few summers ago. diligent maintenance will turn
The chokes are bored to exact The effect grows with every dusty what is new into the grey and worn
measurements and pattern evenly. shell from my gear bag and gritty antique resembling a grandfather's
Point of impacts are the same for game load from the dark corners of Fox, Superposed or Remington.
both barrels and in perfect relation my hunting vest. The checkering I, of course, will perhaps by
with the rib. will be worn down by thorns, then resemble a grandfather.
Nothing has been left to be balsam blowdowns and, eventually, But enough! No more telling
desired in balance and handling. a small groove will appear where of the distant future. I am not yet
I have no doubt that whichever my wedding ring rubs the forend too old, Myrtle is still simply a
master gunmaker attended to during the shot. pretty gun and September 15 has
Myrtle's manufacture, his intention Sweaty hands, mink-oiled come and gone. The engravings of
was for her to be fired and fired gloves and countless trips in and memory await us, and I'll be afield
often. out of cases and truck vaults will with my dog in front of me, my
What Myrtle lacks is only one diminish the deep bluing's shine. sons near me and Myrtle over my
thing: the beauty of memory. The The dense walnut stock will be shoulder.
effects of time and use have only dinged, dented and scratched

Summer 2019
| Michigan
| Michigan Out-of-Doors5755

Winter 2019.indd 59 11/5/2019 3:44:58 PM

So you want to be an
By Andy Duffy
Outdoor Writer
Of course you want to be an that outdoor writers have fewer structure and good punctuation,
outdoor writer. Communicating markets to sell to than they did 30 he'd have a salable article. He would
is part of being human. years ago. And even though pay rates just need to make sure his story had
Communicating about the outdoors for articles certainly haven't kept up a clearly defined beginning, middle
makes us content. with inflation and have even gone and end.
I went fishing yesterday down in some cases, outdoor writing A good ending is important. The
afternoon. Then I remained at markets are going to continue to end is often a retelling of the article's
the computer late last night and exist. There's no reason why anyone point. Every article should have a
was banging away at the keyboard with a modicum of ability can't make point. But any good storyteller is a
again early this morning. That was money writing outdoor articles. For writer. A good storyteller can sell his
because I shut the computer down those who never get a masthead work, too.
midway through the morning and
played a round of golf with the
other guys in my foursome. I can
"Neophytes may believe they need to know someone in the
flex my time that way.
Beside me as I type this is a
business before they can get published. Those neophytes
mileage list. On it I've recorded
every mile I've driven on every
are wrong. Who you know doesn't matter. You don't need a
fishing trip I've taken this year. I
intend to deduct every mile when I
college degree."
get my taxes done next year. In my
expense envelope are the receipts job with a publication, it's tough to It's no secret that one of the
for the bass plugs I've bought this make outdoor writing a full-time surest routes to an outdoor writing
year. I tie many of my own flies, gig, but those with enough initiative career is to have a spouse with a
but I have the receipts for the ones are doing it. And being a part-time full-time job. It helps to have the
I bought. The flies and the lures are writer may not be as glamorous as employer-provided medical insur-
tax-deductible. Those are some of the writing full time, but lots of people ance and to know the mortgage
perks of being an outdoor writer. write when they're not working at payment will be covered each
There are drawbacks, too. I their "real" job, and they sell lots of month. It also helps to be such an
can't just enjoy the outdoors. When material. outrageously prolific and successful
I'm fishing or hunting, I'm on duty. Why deny it? Of course you'd like outdoor communicator (writer,
Here's an example: to be an outdoor writer. Mankind speaker, video producer or some
When I was fishing yesterday, has wanted to communicate about combination of all the above) that
I hooked a fine brook trout, maybe outdoor topics from the time our money rolls in and there's no worry
the nicest one I've ever hooked in my ancestors were leaving paintings about the mortgage payment.
life. I played it in and was getting my behind on cave walls. We know Davy Most of us never meet that
camera ready to take a picture before Crockett and Daniel Boone loved ideal. That's OK. Just thank God for
I lifted the fish from the water. In telling of their outdoor exploits. a spouse willing to hold down the
another bid for freedom, the brookie Daniel Boone often carved into a full-time job. Or choose to expend
managed to wrap my line around my nearby tree news of his conquest of gigantic amounts of effort and be
leg and break off. I lost the fish and a bear. willing to live with the income you
lost my photo opportunity, too. That's That was outdoor writing in earn. Or to write part-time and
just part of life. It's a small price to its most elemental form. So are the keep the full-time job. Beyond that,
pay to have the job I have. stories Uncle Joe tells each year how does a person manage to enter
We hear a lot about the at deer camp. If Uncle Joe would the business?
diminishing number of sporting just polish his stories up a bit with In truth, it's pretty easy.
publications, and there's no doubt some complete sentences and a little Someone who writes as well as a

58 |

Winter 2019.indd 60 11/5/2019 3:44:58 PM

"My primary piece of advice is to keep things simple." P
ictured on a map, the large

Every Hunt
tract of state forestland I was
traipsing across looked like a
giant puzzle piece set among all the
other pieces of farmland and forest
making up a rural slab of Northern ha
Michigan. On the ground, towering

Patrick McManus or a Gene Hill already has a shelf full of hunting,


has a
oaks with spreading branches fo
looked over open expanses of snow
while the regenerating forest of


will obviously have an advantage. fishing and firearms books. I would

maples, poplars, gray dogwood and
other types of vegetation fought ca
foot passage of humans. It did, The
young forest provided lots of tender do

Publications exist for nearly all suggest adding a couple more to the bark and protection for the hares se

that inhabited the land. An old th
logging road, by then nearly over- sh

levels of writing, though. The collection.

grown so only a foot path remained,
led up a hill. On the path were the co
prints from half a dozen pairs of

tabloids (publications printed on All writers for peri- A friend and I had arrived early us
by Andy Duffy and released my trio of beagles.
They were soon on a trail, and my for

newsprint) are generally the easiest odicals should have a copy of "The
friend and I traveled up and down ab
the hill jockeying for position in sn
hopes of seeing the hare when it of
approached the path.

to sell to. They're a good place to Associated Press Stylebook." A

After arriving, we heard another ha
pack of beagles that sounded as if it ula
were a couple of ridges beyond us. in

start. Then, as a writer develops person can find them for sale online,
The dogs must have lost the hare hu
they were running, because they un
soon joined my pack. I didn't care if un
the two packs of dogs joined forces,

his ability, he can work up to more and they're not all that expensive.
and neither did the owners of the ap
other dogs. The pack size doubled, sta
and so did the number of hounds dr

prestigious publications. Most editors expect submissions

men. E
It was a typical, cold, late-December on
day. Shreds of Christmas wrap- to
ping paper probably still littered

And, because the tabloids are to be in AP style. Even if that's not

the floors of some living rooms in rab
town, and plans for New Year's Eve ha
parties were in their final stages.

dependable buyers and I've never an editor's expectation, it doesn't

Causing our muscles to contract, a as
chilly breeze occasionally wandered pro
down the necks of our blaze-orange ple
coats. Sometimes light flurries filled

had any trouble getting paid by hurt to submit an article using that
the air. on
I could hear the beagle chorus still an
in the valley beyond the ridge jutting gre

one (something not true of a glossy format. The stylebook doesn't need
upward before me. I wandered down the
the path where I encountered a the
couple of the strangers who had Th
thrown in with us. We stood in a

publication that still owes me a to be the latest edition. I probably

huddle and conferred while we are
waited for the circling hare to draw no
closer. cir

check), a writer should continue should get a new one, but the one on 40 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017

to sell to them. They can provide a my bookshelf dates from 2008. AP Winter 2017-18 MOOD DRAFT.indd 44-45

steady source of income. style changes slowly. they disagree. If you're concerned
In today's electronic age, it is And, deceiving as the name about the editor wondering why
easier than ever to enter the writing might sound, AP style has nothing you didn't follow AP style, just
field. Nearly everyone has the neces- to do with getting nouns and include your reason in a note. The
sary tools – a computer with a word adverbs in some mysterious order editor will be impressed with your
processing program and a digital or creating mood or building diligence.
camera. It's a different world than suspense. Instead, AP style deals Besides those two guides, a
when I was banging out articles with nuts-and-bolts types of things. writer can add any number of
on a manual typewriter. Besides a For example, the book will tell writing books to his bookshelf. I
computer and a camera, a person you to write OK instead of OK. It think "The Elements of Style" by
only needs to have an interest in will tell you to write OK'd for the Strunk and White is an excellent
the outdoors. Aspiring writers can past-tense verb form of the word. It publication to have on hand. The
learn all the necessary writing will tell you to differentiate between two big ones, though, are the style
skills easily enough. If they were every day and everyday. You might guides. Editors will thank you for
paying attention in their high school wear your everyday clothes every turning in copy they will barely
English classes, they probably day. A lot of people probably have a need to mess with.
already have them. better memory for details than I do, Neophytes may believe they
My primary piece of advice is but I refer to my AP Stylebook all need to know someone in the busi-
to keep things simple. English is an the time. ness before they can get published.
excellent language for the noun/ The second reference book Those neophytes are wrong. Who
verb/noun sentence pattern. Here's a person should purchase is you know doesn't matter. You don't
an example: The deer entered the Outdoor Reference Manual need a college degree.
the cornfield. With experience, published by the Outdoor Writers No editor has ever asked me if
we can adorn the sentence with Association of America Inc. It's like I've attended college or not. You'll be
some extras. We might write, "The the AP Stylebook, but it's made for judged solely on the quality of your
gigantic deer slowly entered the outdoor writers. And, in some cases, writing. I'd been selling articles
massive cornfield." it disagrees with the AP Stylebook. for years before I ever met my first
That sentence isn't too elabo- For example, the AP Stylebook tells editor. Even today I sell to editors
rate, but it paints a picture. Simple reporters to write .22-caliber rifle. who undoubtedly have never heard
sentences keep writers out of The Outdoor Reference Manual of me before. All a person needs to
trouble. Back when I was editing claims, and rightly so, that the do to start making money in this
copy for a newspaper, I noticed proper style for cartridge designa- business is to hunt, fish, take some
that writers got in the most trouble tions is with a decimal point alone. pictures and get some words down.
when they tried writing complex It is redundant to write .22-caliber. Editors are always looking
sentences. Those who don't have a Just write that your friend was for good material, and there's no
good sentence sense should avoid shooting a .22. When writing for reason why some of that material
them like the plague. outdoor publications, go with the can't come from you.
Anyone contemplating a Outdoor Reference Manual instead
career in outdoor writing probably of the AP Stylebook in cases where

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 59

Winter 2019.indd 61 11/5/2019 3:44:59 PM

Snow &
By Calvin McShane

like winter. I really do — for about five small snow, dry snow
minutes. Once the first snowflakes begin to fall, and blowing snow
we are all overcome with the familiar feeling of (the worst type of
coziness. We light fires, brew pots of hot cocoa snow). I hate the fact
and reflect on how fortunate we are to live amongst that I even think about
such beauty. snow this much.
The only problem is, often, it feels like it never ends! Once the snow begins and winter
The coziness is charming to a certain extent. When sets in, most of the locals up my way will
the days compound into months of a kaleidoscope of do just about anything to break the doldrums of winter.
complete darkness and multiple tones of greys, it's Included in "anything" is heavy drinking, reckless
time for a reprieve. Enough is enough. Although, I am snowmobiling and an overly-obsessed habit of thinking
beginning to think no amount of stubbornness and and talking about and watching the Green Bay Packers.
complaining ever does much to change any of my petty To avoid the plagues mentioned above, I am sure to
woes. pretend, even for just a little bit, that winter isn't total
In Gretel Ehrlich's "This Cold Heaven: Seven misery. With winter comes snow, and snow means hare
Seasons in Greenland," Ehrlich points out the native — snowshoe hare that is. And until the snow is too deep
people of Greenland have over 40 words for snow, each for my Tacoma to break through the two tracks into my
word with its own specific meaning. In the time I have favorite spruce thickets, I am going to chase bunnies
lived along Lake Superior's south shore, I have no near-daily — a sort of middle finger to snow and ice.
trouble understanding how this can be. I find my best hare hunting locations in late grouse
There is heavy, wet snow — the kind of snow that season. Grouse move to pine stands and exposed
jams up the impeller on your snowblower and gets patches of blueberries and wintergreen. Amongst
stuck to the barrel of your shotgun. There is big snow, these birds will be mottled snowshoe hares darting

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Winter 2019.indd 62 11/5/2019 3:45:01 PM

add excuses to my ever-expanding laundry list.
Now, I've got nothing against beagles. I envy both
them and their owners. It's just that I decided against
jumping headfirst into the rabbit dog game myself
when, a few summers ago, a good friend's beagle
escaped out of a living room window, ran five miles to
town, snuck his way into the gas station and peed on the
bottom row of potato chips in the snack aisle.
Even though I found the ordeal quite comical, it
solidified the notion that I am not nearly patient and
smart enough to handle a beagle.
Without a dog, most hunters will advise you to
slowly walk through the brush, stopping every so often
to crouch and survey. The beady, quarter-sized, black
eyes of the hare will stick out, allowing the hunter to
act before the hare has a chance to flee.
I'm not saying this isn't a good strategy — it's just
not my strategy. Instead, I choose to understand the
cover I'm hunting fully. Once I've got it planned out, I
will push the piece in rows, back and forth, until I've
covered it in its entirety.
If I bump a rabbit, I will divert and go on the stalk
until I'm either successful or realize how stupid and
inefficient my strategy is. But, it is nothing short of wild
Once I faced the fact I was going to shovel my truck
around on the fringe. Since their fur is still a few out after the hunt, I decided if I died out here — so what
weeks away from turning completely white, they stick — at least I wouldn't have to snowblow anymore.
out like sore thumbs. I hopped in the first row of spruce and began
I hesitate to target them too much in this period, stomping through ankle-deep snow. Crisscrossing the
only because I am the least of their concern in such an open areas between the pine bows were highways of
exposed state — hawks and coyotes eagerly watch for a hare tracks so crowded no reasonable hunter could
glimmer of brown fur on an endlessly white landscape. discern their rhyme or reason. Drooping poplar limbs
I'll wait until the bird season closes, I've wrapped up my were bare, their stalks littered with scat, hares most
deer season and the game is fair. beloved midday snacking sites.
Last winter, mid-December to be exact, held such I crouched to admire the hundreds of minute
a day when the game was as fair as it was going to get. teeth marks on one of these outstretched limbs when
Fresh off two hours of I saw a flash over my right
snow blowing, I grabbed shoulder. In the most
my rusty Stoeger "The snow alternated between sideways ninja-like fashion possible,
20-gauge, two pocket fulls I turned my attention to the
of four shot shells, and bombardment and gently swirling overhead. direction of the movement.
acted upon a yearning Following the hare's trajec-
for Steve Rinella's deep- The periods of calmness were rare yet tory, I followed it to a pine
fried small game recipe. 15 yards away, its doll-like
Winds gusting hypnotic. The stillness of winter can be glossy eyes staring back at
between 20 and 30 mph me.
were coming from the overwhelming." Faster than the thought
northwest while surges of fleeing could overcome it,
of snow were following I pulled my 20-gauge around,
not far behind. I followed my tire tracks from the day and my game bag became one hare heavier — a fine,
before past two poplar clear-cuts and a stretch of snow-white, soft and fragile creature straight out of a
snow-covered fern planes until I reached a border of frozen wasteland.
dense spruce and poplar littered with rabbit sign even Although, if an onlooker described the story I just
in such harsh weather. relayed, they would probably describe a stupid hunter
I've found that good hare spots are always good, haphazardly stumbling into an unsuspecting rabbit,
regardless of weather. I've always thought that if the so convinced of the hunter's stupidity, it didn't think to
weather is less than ideal and I see fewer rabbits, I need flee.
to find a better spot or cover much more ground, not Thankfully, at 15 yards, I'm not entirely useless

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 61

Winter 2019.indd 63 11/5/2019 3:45:02 PM

head and told me I had to choose one activity to do for
the rest of my life, I admit, I wouldn't choose snowshoe
hare hunting. But therein lies the blessing to all of us
who spend time outdoors — we don't have to choose.
Here in Michigan, we are granted four beautiful
seasons, each with their own perks and downfalls.
Come winter, some may sit inside and dwell, only going
outside to clear off the walkway, spending the rest of
their time wishing for greener pastures. Others, like me,
play the hand we're dealt. There are meals to secure and
fur to chase.
Sometimes the best things in life are the things we
usually overlook. In this case, the overlooked things are
blurs of white in sterile snow and lifeless, obsidian-like
eyes perched under limbs of pine, exposed — elusive
beings sent from the hunting gods to remind us of our
own vulnerability.

• Snowshoes prefer forests with thick

understory and are often found in places
like coniferous forests, cedar bogs and
spruce swamps.
• Hares eat grass, buds of woody plants and
with a shotgun, and to combat boredom in the cold
months, I dabble with writing fiction.
needles from conifers. Snowshoe hares
The snow alternated between sideways bombardment
and gently swirling overhead. The periods of calmness
may even eat meat and scavenge a meal
were rare yet hypnotic. The stillness of winter can be
from a carcass.
The land is sterile and unforgiving. The tracks
of coyotes, chirping of red squirrels and glimmers
of darting hare are hard to comprehend. It all blends
into one figment of your imagination. As your game
bag becomes heavier and heavier, each rabbit given
your full admiration, you are forced to stop and center
On days like these, I begin to think maybe winter
isn't so bad. Besides the endless snow blowing, shov-
eling, numb toes and severe vitamin D deficiency, I
can easily think of worse situations; like anybody who
doesn't have five December snowshoe hare in their
I'd sure rather be three miles from the nearest
plowed road, my Tacoma buried in snow, with no
rush to return home than stuck in a place that doesn't
remind me what it is like to be a human — what it is like
to struggle.
Once I shovel my way out of here, awaiting me at
home is a warm wood stove and a meal of deep-fried
hare with a side of buttermilk pancakes, all topped with
a healthy dose of homemade maple syrup. What was I
complaining about anyway?
If the hunting and fishing gods held a gun to my

62 |

Winter 2019.indd 64 11/5/2019 3:45:03 PM

inchester Ammunition offers multiple shotshells loaded with high-grade
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Winter 2018
Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 61

Winter 2019.indd 65 11/5/2019 3:45:03 PM

Fowler Center Habitat Improves
Thanks to Cooperatives
“Projects like this take time and
patience before they can become
a reality. Funding isn’t always
available when it’s needed, the
weather doesn’t cooperate much
like this spring and manpower is
limited. Keeping a positive attitude
throughout the process is key to its
success. This project is a partner-
ship success story and proves how
significant it is to conservation to
By Morgan Warda work alongside others to accom-
plish goals. As the project unfolded,

he Mayville Pheasant while participating in outdoor our partner’s willingness to
Cooperative is among the activities. These activities include contribute actually increased. We
longest standing groups therapeutic riding, leadership for are thankful for their generosity.”
since the Michigan Pheasant young adults, rope courses, hiking, In January 2019, 5 acres were
Restoration Initiative (MPRI) rafting, tent building, outdoor chosen for a short-grass-mix
started in 2010. This group of living, teamwork and more. The planting. The location has a trail
landowners shares a passion for center positively impacts thou- around it that is used for educa-
grassland and upland bird hunting. sands of individuals each year. tional walks and hayrides, making
Together, they actively work to In Michigan, the Michigan it a desirable area to enhance.
improve acres of wildlife habitat Department of Natural Resources Partners that contributed to
and advocate for conservation in Wildlife Division, through hunter this project through financial assis-
their area. license fees, has provided five Farm tance, labor or equipment included
Although cooperatives are Bill Biologists to assist private the Thumb Chapter of Pheasants
known for their private lands landowners and work with commu- Forever, Tuscola Conservation
work, they often give back to their nities to promote healthy grassland District, Curt Rogers (SplitBrow
communities through projects habitat through the MPRI. Habitat Restoration and Land
providing habitat for wildlife, as In Tuscola, Michigan, John Management), Ryan Longanbach
well as educational opportuni- Bauer, the local Farm Bill Biologist, (Wildlife Seed Supply) and, of
ties to kids and adults. Their started working with the Fowler course, the Mayville Pheasant
contributions range from financial Center in October 2018 to come up Cooperative.
assistance, equipment donation and with a conservation plan to address Brian Alexander, a founding
labor. the resource needs of the property. member and leader of the Mayville
One of the many benefits of Pheasant Cooperative, explained
Above: Habitat improvement is a vital that this habitat project is done
working with a cooperative is the
part of cooperatives' work in conser- with major help from the Farm Bill
partnerships formed between the
vation. Below: The Fowler Center Biologist and would be educational
group and others with similar
is an example of grassland habitat for the cooperative members
interests. Grassland habitat with
improvement being done in Michigan. as well. “During our monthly
the Mayville cooperative has
expanded its footprint from 10,000 Mayville MPRI Cooperative
acres to 20,000 acres and now meeting, the members, along with
encompasses the Fowler Center, the the Farm Bill Biologist, discussed
location of the chosen community having a habitat project that the
project. group could work on together. The
The Fowler Center offers a Fowler Center was chosen, and the
year-round outdoor recreation and area will be used by staff to educate
camp experience for youth and campers and participate in outdoor
adults. The center has a priority to learning experiences. The bonus is
ensure that those with disabilities wildlife will benefit.”
find independence and reward The project officially started

64 |

Winter 2019.indd 66 11/5/2019 3:45:05 PM

in June with removal of invasive will feature sideoats, blue grama, to the excitement and success this
species such as autumn olive, Canada wildrye, and Little blue- will bring.”
multiflora rose, scotch pine and stem along with 17 native flowers. Conservation partnerships play
honeysuckle. Brush and tree Kyle Middleton is the Fowler a significant role in accomplishing
removals are labor and time-inten- Center’s office manager and goals and help them happen on
sive, so having access to equipment expressed how thrilled the center is a larger scale. There is power in
and manpower was vital. John to have this collaborative opportu- like-minded efforts.
(CD), Curt (SplitBrow) and Fowler nity. “We look forward to reaching The Michigan Wildlife
Center public volunteers were able our goal to remove invasive species Cooperatives Program is proud of
to complete the task by following and replant in order to draw butter- the groups that initiate and engage
the management plan designed for flies and pheasants to the area. This in community habitat projects like
the project. project is twofold for us - it not only the Fowler Center. Cooperative
In July, bromegrass and allows the environment to thrive members pride themselves on
goldenrod were dominant. The but it also provides a learning being educated stewards of the land
Tuscola Conservation District opportunity for our year-round and accomplishing great things on
rented equipment to break up the camping program for individuals private properties. Giving back to
sod layer. Following the soil distur- with disabilities. Many come from their communities further high-
bance, small patches of big blue- the city and have not been exposed lights their mission and dedication
stem, milkweed and wild bergamot to some of the plant and wildlife to conservation.
became present. we will expect to see through this If you have questions about
Cooperative members Doug project. In addition, the Tuscola the Fowler Center project, please
Graham, Bob Moss, Gary Stanford Intermediate School district contact John Bauer through email
and Brian Alexander donated their operates an onsite classroom for at
time and equipment to complete an students in 6th grade and above If you are interested in the Wildlife
herbicide application in September, who have not been successful in Cooperatives Program; please
prior to dormant seeding. school due to behavior issues. This contact Morgan (Warda) Jennings
This multi-step project will alternative educational program- at
wrap up this fall with a dormant ming will explore the newly-seeded
seeding of a short grass mix from acreage as well. Thank you to all of
Wildlife Seed Supply. The mix our sponsors. I am looking forward
Members of the cooperative donated time and equipment to improvement to the grassland habitat at The Fowler Center.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 65

Winter 2019.indd 67 11/5/2019 3:45:05 PM

The Delights of Winter Canoeing
By Dale Rieger

he spruce are painted you're a novice canoeist, it's not the always feels special to me.
white by fresh snowfall. place to get started. But, if you have Here are my suggestions to
Gusts of wind make adequate skills, winter canoeing is consider to see if winter canoeing
avalanches of powder spill from an opportunity to see Michigan's makes sense for you.
the branches. The river is robin's outdoor splendor in a new way. First of all, your skills should
egg blue in sunshine and steel grey I've canoed the Straits of be more advanced than those of a
when the sun hides its face. Deer, Mackinaw when my daughter and casual summertime canoeist. While
muskrats and mink roam the shore I had to cut steps into the ice bank I learned by studying the Path of
– unprepared to see people on the so we could paddle among the mini the Paddle books and videos by Bill
water. icebergs flowing into Lake Huron. Mason, with the internet available
I can sense winter with every I've canoed and camped on the as an instructional tool, there's no
paddle stroke as the low tempera- Manistee with three other paddlers reason you should still be limited
tures have made the water more when huge flakes teeter-tottered to paddling forward and backward,
viscous and a thicker substance through the air before disappearing with an occasional shove against
than it was in mid-summer. The into the river. I've seen martin on the shore or river bottom.
air is so fresh and clean that every snow-covered logs while floating Draws, prys, skulling, braces,
breath convinces me that I'm downstream through the Pigeon back ferrying: there are a host of
growing healthier by the moment. I River Country and tested the limits skills that will make your year-
love winter canoeing. of my skills when a winter thaw round paddling much more enjoy-
Okay, I understand that it's not swelled the waters of the Sturgeon able. You'll make a good impression
for everyone. Folks who suspect River. on your companions and all of
canoes were created to wash clean Though I have paddled from you will be safer because of your
the foolish or unwary certainly Colorado to Florida, from Ontario expertise and knowledge.
won't step into a canoe when deer to New Zealand, there is a unique Secondly, be careful to dress
season has come and gone. And, if beauty in winter canoeing that properly. There's a good reason
why back-country rangers in the
"I feel much more connected to the history of our fabulous mountains call cotton death cloth
and remember that, by definition,
state when I'm in a craft that has plied its waters for a accidents are bad experiences you
didn't expect.
millennium or so." For me, nothing beats wool

66 |
Winter 2019.indd 68 11/5/2019 3:45:07 PM
when it comes to winter outdoor
activities. You may be comfortable
wearing a shorty wetsuit and
high-tech outer clothing, but as for
me, I trust wool. I find it comfort-
able when not wet and comforting
when not dry.
Footwear is another issue
to consider. My wife and I often
kayak, so we have knee-high, form-
fitting neoprene mukluks that are
also ideal for winter canoeing. You
stay dry if you step in a wet place,
they are warm while you paddle
and the snug top won't let in water.
A pair of waterproof Bean Photos provided by Terry Musclow
boots works well too. You can add
a pair of neoprene socks if you
want to beef up the protection and
comfort. Open-topped, knee-high
boots can become anchors if they
fill with water, but if you kick
them off you're barefoot in the
winter. Remember that, to para-
phrase the famous bumper sticker,
"Stuff happens."
As for canoes, you want a
boat with a relatively flat bottom
making entry and exit over ice
more predictable. Some of you
might be avid kayakers and think
about kayaking instead. However,
it doesn't take long to get tired
of icy water running down your
paddle shaft; with a canoe paddle
that doesn't have to happen. I also
find entry and exit from a canoe
infinitely easier, a crucial consid-
eration later in the year when
there is ice along the shore.
Finally, year-round, I feel
much more connected to the
history of our fabulous state when
I'm in a craft that has plied its
waters for a millennium or so.
Here's some more gear that
will make your winter canoeing
safer, easier and more satisfying.
A change of warm clothes, sealed
non-negotiable. of the water.
safely from the elements, is a
I also make sure I can securely I usually carry the retractable
great starting place. Don't skimp
and easily get my boat in and out ice picks that ice fishermen often
on volume. If you need to change
of the water with me in it. The best carry in case they have to pull
clothing, you'll prefer having
tool I've found is the pickaroon – a themselves out of the water. I've
too much to too little. I include a
tool lumberjacks use for turning never needed them, but they seem
chamois towel as well to be sure I'm
logs. The blade side is good for like an inexpensive bit of insur-
dry while putting on the new set of
breaking away shoreline ice, when ance. I know someone who carries
that is needed. The spiked side two poles with sharpened spikes on
A life jacket that is comfort-
is great for grabbing the ice and one end. He makes them work for
able enough that you'll wear it is
pulling yourself and your boat out him, though I find them clumsy.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 67

Winter 2019.indd 69 11/5/2019 3:45:10 PM

Winter canoeing can seem like an outrageous adventure to many, but with careful preparation, it can give paddlers a
chance to experience familiar places from a new perspective.

dark waters a human to get so near and barely

of the river. believed what it saw.
As I paddled A moment later, it launched
around a bend from its perch, spread its enormous
and entered wings and disappeared downriver. I
a flood plain, felt like I had been given a blessing;
surrounded one I perhaps earned by winter
by steep banks canoeing.
lined with For decades, Michigan
white pines, Out-of-Doors has shown people
I noticed a the delights of engaging winter
mature bald instead of hiding from it. Winter
eagle in a tree canoeing is another great option to
about 75 yards mind-numbing channel changing.
downstream. I So, give it a try. Maybe I'll see you
thought about on the river.
The last thing I'll mention is how great it
a bow bag that goes in my canoe would be to paddle under that bird
year-round. It's about the size but knew it would take flight before
of a loaf of bread and contains I got close.
spare rope, a mini hatchet and a Just as I reached the point
watertight peanut butter jar filled where I was certain the eagle would
with fire-starting essentials as well take flight and flee, a sudden wind
as a couple of space blankets, a arrived and pulled the powder
few hand warmer packets, a basic snow off the tall pines. I suddenly
first-aid kit and even a few pieces of found myself paddling through a
candy. white-out.
With the contents of that light- I followed the current, keeping
weight bag, I could put together an my paddling as silent as possible
emergency camp that would get me by using something called a box
or someone else through a night in stroke. I took patient,
the outdoors. silent strokes, hoping
I've had many great experiences the eagle might not
winter canoeing, but let me share have taken flight.
one with you that I hold beyond As suddenly as it
price. I was paddling with some began, the white-out
buddies on the Manistee River. ended and I paddled
I particularly like the Manistee out of a wall of falling
because its waters remain open in snow to find myself
all but the coldest weather and the directly under the
current is strong enough to help in eagle. The big bird
a headwind but light enough to not twitched when it saw
cause problems. me, probably shocked
Big flakes, the size of half- that it had allowed
dollars, were disappearing into the
68 |
Winter 2019.indd 70 11/5/2019 3:45:13 PM
On the Ground
Another Successful year for otg
By Makhayla LaButte
The 2019 fiscal year has come to a close, and the impact is a testament to the value Michiganders place
On the Ground (OTG) and OTG Jr. programs have an on their natural resources, and we look forward to
abundance of accomplishments and partnerships to positively impacting more acres of public land in 2020.
celebrate. The success of our program is the result of a
As our program enters its eighth year, we would partnership between individual volunteers, conser-
like to take a moment to thank the 2,853 volunteers, vation organizations and wildlife professionals all
dozens of conservation partners and countless across the state of Michigan. We partnered with
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife groups like Metro-West Steelheaders, National Wild
biologists, technicians and seasonal workers who have Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,
helped us grow into the nationally-recognized conser- Ruffed Grouse Society, National Wildlife Federation,
vation program we have become. Steelhead Manifesto, Consumers Energy, college clubs,
This May, we celebrated an important program school groups and many others.
milestone at an OTG
event in the Gwinn
State Forest in the
Upper Peninsula:
our 2,500th volun-
teer. Following the
planting of 85 crab
apple trees and
more than 200 fruit
shrubs with the
DNR and Ruffed
Grouse Society
(RGS), volunteers
gathered together
for lunch in Gwinn
and to celebrate the milestone. While MUCC, as an organization, provides its
Ricky Eckloff, of Skandia, was the program’s members with a voice in the legislature, it is programs
2,500th volunteer and shared why he donated his like OTG and OTG Jr. that give MUCC members and
Saturday for the project. “As a scoutmaster and all Michiganders the opportunity to practice what they
outdoorsman, I understand the importance of volun- preach and complete boots-on-the-ground work for the
teers and the positive impact they can have,” Eckloff habitat and species they value.
said. “OTG events like this give like-minded people the Whether you hunt big game or small game, prefer
opportunity to work together in the name of conserva- to kayak or fish or simply enjoy being outdoors, On the
tion, and I’m happy to be a part of that." Ground is the perfect way to give back to your natural
Regarding the entire 2019 season, our OTG and resources and truly leave the land better than you
OTG Jr. programs successfully completed a total of found it. Additionally, our program gives volunteers
26 projects and impacted 512 acres of public land. the opportunity to explore and learn about their abun-
Additionally, 625 volunteers donated a grand total of dant public lands and share quality time with family,
2,570 hours of their time to make this level of achieve- friends and like-minded individuals across the state.
ment possible. In 2020, we invite you to get your hands dirty for
Our volunteers came out to improve wildlife conservation and volunteer with the award-winning
habitat across the state — from the remote forests of On the Ground program. Please contact MUCC
the Upper Peninsula and Pigeon River Country to the Habitat Volunteer Coordinator Makhayla LaButte
bustling section of the Clinton River that runs through with any questions or ideas regarding the program at
Rochester Hills. The scope of the OTG program’s

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 69

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Grouse Dogs

By Kellen Crow

70 |

Winter 2019.indd 72 11/5/2019 3:45:15 PM

hat’s in a grouse dog? What is a grouse an even number of dogs works and an odd number is
dog? These are undoubtedly hot topics and just that — odd.
loaded questions among grouse hunters If you had asked me five years ago if I would
and something I ask myself every day. If have four bird dogs in my life, I probably would have
you were to ask 10 grouse hunters, you’d certainly get thought you were as crazy as all the people I saw that
10, maybe even 11, answers. None of them are wrong. had four or more dogs at one time. While I would never
That’s the beauty of grouse dogs and even grouse admit to being crazy, it takes a certain level of insanity
hunting, for that matter — we define the way we train to have three bird dogs, an 11-month-old baby and add a
our dogs, hunt birds and go about the whole experience, fourth dog to the pack. One thing is for sure — having a
and we wouldn’t have it any other way. wife that supports your passions in life makes it much
Growing up in a deer hunting family, I was never easier!
exposed to bird dogs or grouse hunting myself; After a few years of really watching and learning
however, I remember watching ESPN Outdoors TV as about grouse dogs, I love taking the time to think about
a kid and watching for bird dogs to be on the show. I things a bit. I find it fascinating to watch a bird dog,
distinctly remember thinking to myself that someday I bred to be a working bird dog, bust through thick,
wanted a bird dog. thorny covers and come out the other side bruised and
Fast forward to 25, and I found something I never bloody.
knew I was missing in my life. Watching a dog that can run through grouse covers
My pack of dogs all day, through
started a little heat and snow and
more than four “I think we are drawn to dogs because they come home and
years ago after I cuddle up with you
got married, with
a male German
are the uninhibited creatures we might be on the couch or
even snuggle up
shorthair pointer.
At the time, I was
if we weren’t certain we knew better. They to your newborn
baby is such a
completely naive
and unaware of fight for honor at the first challenge, make great companion
in life and one that
the effect this dog we don’t always
would have on my love with no moral restraint, and they deserve.
life. Dogs are
As I started do not, for all their marvelous instincts, commonly
learning about referred to as
training bird dogs
and, oftentimes,
appear to know about death.  Being such man’s best friend;
in the world of
more of what not
to do than what
wonderfully uncomplicated beings, they grouse hunting,
nothing could be
to do, it quickly
became apparent need us to do their worrying.” closer to the truth
— we owe every-
this was something thing to them.
I had been missing Grouse hunters
out on all along. 'Troubles with Bird Dogs' by George "Bird" Evans are a unique breed
Not just owning of upland hunter.
grouse dogs, per se, Grouse guys are
but the companionship of a dog and the connection that typically very particular about their dogs, from breed to
quickly grows between man and dog. pedigree and even names.
Don’t let anyone fool you; high-energy bird dogs There’s a certain level of creativity that goes into
can be some of the best house companions there are. naming our dogs; for me, it’s a little music-centric:
As I continued to train my first dog and learn about Shotgun’s Blues Man “Hank,” Fast Money “Molly” and
ruffed grouse, their habits and habitat, it hit me that Octane’s Sweet Southern Sugar “Bean.”
this interest in bird dogs took a violent shove from a Having more than a handful of dogs always brings
mere hobby to an overwhelming passion and was likely up a mouthful of conversation, stereotyping and judg-
something I would be doing for the rest of my life. ment among friends, family and neighbors — especially
This was apparent after adding two English setters when they aren’t grouse hunters.
to my string of dogs within a two-year timeframe. After Most people don’t understand why you’d need more
what seemed like forever, and having my first baby a than one grouse dog. There’s a handful of advantages
little later, I recently added number four to the pack — to having more than one grouse dog, even for the
a female pointer, just for good measure. “weekend warriors.” Dog power is crucial to ensuring
The rule of grouse dogs I’ve come to realize is that you always have a fresh dog when grouse hunting.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 71

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More often than not, a short break is all a dog needs to
be ready to go, and having a rotation is the key!
Having multiple dogs alters your lifestyle and
changes the way you do things like vacations, and
even having people over for dinner, but its something I
wouldn’t change.
With bird dogs comes the community and people
— some of the best friends I have made, and even why
I am able to tell this story in Michigan Out-of-Doors, is
because of friendships I have been fortunate enough to
forge around bird dogs.
Today, following my grouse dogs through the covers
of northern Michigan is the ultimate escape from city
life, traffic and endless work deadlines. If I said it was
my passion, I feel like I would be selling it short. These
birds give my dogs and me something to chase and are
some of the best things to ever happen to me. These
little birds have caused me to go hog-wild on dogs,
guns and gear, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My dogs allow me to get outside chasing my
favorite birds.
There’s a therapeutic element to grouse hunting I
find tantalizing: the sound of a bell, the smell of sweet
fern and decaying leaves, the feel of a crisp October
morning and an aspen branch hitting you right across
your face.
There’s nothing like it.
Below: Kellen Crow walks up behind his English setter,
Molly, on point. Above: Molly relaxes after helping Crow to
bag a ruffed grouse.

72 ||

Winter 2019.indd 74 11/5/2019 3:45:19 PM

Michigan Out-of-Doors is required to publish circulation information by the United States Postal Service once a year.

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Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 73

Winter 2019.indd 75 11/5/2019 3:45:20 PM

74 |

Winter 2019.indd 76 11/5/2019 3:45:26 PM

Friends I
n 2019, I joined New York
buddies in christening Dan
Canedo’s new grouse camp in
the upper Lower Peninsula. The
order of the day comprised the
usual revelry, shenanigans and
and Firsts, sleeping in a loft full of snoring
of all types.
Breakfast was camp-style

— eggs and corned beef hash or
homefries. Dinners were duck
gumbo and Chicken Scarpariello,
among other fares. The company
was great even though the grouse

and numbers were disappointingly

sparse. We took a first season
portrait of the hunters. The start
of a long tradition, I hope.

Pasties We hunted the oakiest cover

I have hunted for grouse. We had
relatively few grouse contacts,

By Perry Masotti

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 75

Winter 2019.indd 77 11/5/2019 3:45:29 PM

and we were puzzled. I heard Dennis’ shot just before
We were told the weekend mine. The bird fell. Dennis called
before our arrival a large grouse out, “I have a bird down.”
championship had been held in I thought that we had tag-
the area. We chalked the shortage teamed the bird. But Gypsy did not
up to that. There was a surprising come to the bird. I walked to the
number of hunters about, with dog mark. Dennis called, “I’ve got my
rigs seemingly everywhere. Our bird.”
group split up and flung ourselves Confused, I picked up the bird
further than usual to find birds, and looked at Dennis, who was
thus did not regroup for a field about 50 yards away. We had each
lunch. shot a bird in a single flush. It was
From the lower, we crossed a first for each of us.
the Mackinac Bridge to the Upper After two days of hunting, I
Peninsula for my annual visit with pointed my Toyota off-Peninsula. I
Dennis Stachewicz and his family made a Pasty stop a half-hour from
for a couple of days. We had a the bridge. One beef pasty to eat
couple of days of fine companion- then and two to go. Delicious.
ship and good flush rates. Dennis Patsy Cline was my company
and I were working his young for the approach to the Mackinac.
Gypsy around, too, and through the While crossing the five miles of originally from Gwinn and who,
back door of an aspen cut when she the Mighty Mac, the grates of the from Marquette, broadcasts the
pointed and relocated. inside lane sang a dark song. I care long-running American Country
At her second stop, I heard the not for the curb and low cables of Gold radio show on Saturday
explosion of wings that only a ruff the outer lane, but the crossing nights from 7 p.m. until midnight.
makes and watched as partridge must be made. All vinyl, with all of the pops
parts passed behind the pickets. Back on the lower, I stopped and cracks. If one likes old
I allowed the bird to reach an and located a website from which country music, it’s worth a listen.
opening, and as I pulled the trigger, to stream Elmer Aho, who is Atmosphere is important.
After joining Dan Canedo again
for a productive morning of covert
scouting and hunting, I made my
way southwest to Tustin, MI, to
meet David Weaver, whom I’d
known for several years on social
media. This was our first in-person
meeting, and we were to hunt some
of his woodcock coverts.
After a venison dinner and a
night of talking too late into the
morning, we arose to rain and
blustery wind. Still, after a quick
breakfast, we headed to the coverts.
David reported that these are
usually productive, but on the day
we hunted, we had to work hard for
David’s beautiful, young FDSB
setter, Morgan, covered the ground
as he was born to do. He wove
quickly through the hazel and
aspen. I saw two or three of his
points, and the suddenness of his
stops and raising of the flag were a
beautiful thing.
David took a limit over him and
had the chance to photograph and
video record Morgan’s work. At
just a few months older than Loki,

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Winter 2019.indd 78 11/5/2019 3:45:31 PM

I think that Morgan is going to be a relocated a third time and, after a point and retrieve and to have it
star. five-second point, lunged forward affirmed that his instincts will
I ran the youngster, Loki, for and pressed his head under a blow- manifest in the coverts.
several hours in two coverts with down and came out with the bird. Soaked, we headed to a local
a driving break between them. How he even got his head in dive bar and grabbed dinner before
Although he hunted hard, we had there is beyond me. I didn’t think I turned south for the fifteen-hour
few contacts, and his inexperience that there was room. In any event, drive home. It was a good kind of
began to show as his range began to I was pleased and grateful for the tired.
Fortunately, as we hit the end
of our second run, Loki hit birds.
Although I had, and have, no inten-
tion of shooting every bird I contact,
especially woodcock and, particu-
larly, over a young dog, my shooting
opportunities seemed especially
impeded by the cover as I moved
towards the dog.
I was unable to connect with the
first three lovely points, although
they were held sufficiently long to
do so. Finally, I was able to connect
on a bird, yet it flew on out front. I
marked its trajectory towards the
crown of a large maple that stood
above all of the other cover.
We worked towards it, Loki
having no idea I’d hit it. He quar-
tered a tired back and forth to the
fore of me until we got near the
maple I’d spied.
Suddenly, he locked up and,
although I was right there, I did not
see the bird. After a bit, he relocated
to his left a few yards and locked up
again. Still, he found nothing. He

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 77

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Conservation connections beyond
the 9-5
By Autumn Christenson
My very first hunt came at the
age of 22, after I wrapped up my
volleyball career at Michigan State
University. Like most 22 year olds,
I was coming into full, independent
adulthood. I had the freedom to
mold and shape how I spent my
My experiences in a conserva-
tion career field thus far and more
time spent with my grandfather,
who hunts, got me thinking about
hunting in a new light. A few things
clicked in my head.
As a hunter, I would know
where my meat comes from, enjoy
and give back to our natural
resources and connect with
like-minded people all while chal-
lenging myself with a new lifestyle.
Sign me up.
I might say I consider myself responsibility of hunting. ourselves out there to try new
lucky that I fell into a conservation My passions, interests and things, and if it feels right, we stick
career, and that's why I started newfound dedication drove me to it into our pocket and keep moving
hunting. Realistically, it has hunt and pursue a conservation forward. I am now three years into
nothing to do with luck because career path. We don't just fall into hunting and my career path, and I
it was my choice to take on the a lifestyle by accident. We put am not looking back.
A hunter can be defined as
The author has made a point to seek out as many new adventures in hunting an individual that actively seeks,
as possible. In recent years, she has taken various species of waterfowl with pursues and harvests game
many great people willing to share their knowledge. animals. Within our country, we
are privileged with the opportunity
to hunt various types of game
animals through different types of
terrain, techniques and efforts.
Whether you're hunting along-
side your four-legged partner for
upland birds, waterfowl, bears,
rabbits or squirrels, sitting in a
blind awaiting a whitetail or turkey,
be it on public or private lands, you
are in the act of hunting.
No matter what type of hunt
you choose, all license and hunting
supplies sales contribute to the
same pot, being the Pittman-
Robertson Act. This then funds the
Department of Natural Resources'

78 |

Winter 2019.indd 80 11/5/2019 3:45:35 PM

be here. As the MUCC Huron Summit to the office.
"Here is this wide-open Pines AmeriCorps member, I am Shaun Mckeon, MUCC
learning many valuable lessons education director, knew way too
door to enjoy many diverse and experiences through MUCC much about ducks for it to be a
field programs. What impresses me coincidence.
landscapes, hunting the most about MUCC is the reach, One visit to Morgan Jennings',
it's in the name, Michigan UNITED Wildlife Cooperatives coordinator,
techniques and sources of Conservation Clubs. farmhouse and I knew she hunted
MUCC works across all corners geese.
protein all while connecting of our state to protect, enhance and New hunting opportunities
conserve our natural resources were presenting themselves.
with individuals who share a by uniting Michigan's hunters, Combine this with my desire to
anglers, trappers and recreational- explore new hunts and garner new
similar passion." ists alike. Having this type of sources of meat, and I leapt on
reach and connection with other them.
management of our natural
conservation organizations, clubs Outside the 9-5, Morgan
resources, as well as restoration
and members can open doors for Jennings offered to not only take
and education programs across
growth. We can learn from one me on a first-time goose hunt but
the state. Such programs make
another, support one another and take two other new goose hunters
it possible to enjoy much of
even hunt with one another. as well. We won't talk about the
Michigan's wildlife and wild places.
I have gotten to know the first misses, but all the laughs made
I hope you are getting the sense of
hardworking people of MUCC over the sit well worth it.
unity here.
the last nine months, and they are Shaun Mckeon joined in on
As a new hunter, I felt as
the motor behind MUCC, making the second hunt and I am glad that
though one of the most important
it tick from day to day. Upon he did. His waterfowl maturity
facets of hunting is knowing the
getting to know my co-workers, I sure helped; my trigger finger
foundation that allows us, as
quickly picked up on their hunting itched every time a goose flew by.
Americans, the freedoms to explore
lifestyles. Reading the birds' behavior, setting
and hunt in many unique and
Nick Green, Michigan Out-of- up decoys by reading the wind
different situations.
Doors magazine editor, made it and flight patterns and reacting
Here is this wide-open door to
apparent that he hunts upland by calling was all a learning
enjoy many diverse landscapes,
birds when he brought his four- experience.
hunting techniques and sources of
legged hunting partners Calvin and Outside of getting goose meat
protein all while connecting with
individuals who share a similar Community is one of the favorite parts of hunting for many. New friends and
passion. This door was enticing to old come together to enjoy the outdoors together and take advantage of the
me as a new, adult hunter. abundant outdoor activities Michigan provides.
Going into this summer, I had
experiences hunting deer, turkey,
squirrels and rabbits under my
belt, and I found myself asking
what was next? What do you mean
what's next, are you not satisfied?
I am satisfied with my lifestyle
of hunting, but the beauty of
this lifestyle is that one can keep
exploring new hunts, new terrain,
new sources of meat. Maybe that's
just the challenge-driven side of
me talking. Can someone pursue
all acts of hunting? Yes, absolutely,
and don't jump to conclusions
thinking you have to empty your
wallet to do so.
As I said above, I chose a
conservation career path and it
has gotten me to the doorstep of
Michigan United Conservation
Clubs (MUCC) and I couldn't
be more pleased and grateful to

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 79

Winter 2019.indd 81 11/5/2019 3:45:35 PM

in the freezer, I find myself doing a name a duck if its plastic and not wild game dinner a few years back,
double-take every time a goose flies moving, but my identification of I knew that I wanted to harvest
over, thinking about where it came ducks needs improvement. In mid a bear on my own. Fast forward
from and where it's going. October, Calvin, Shaun, Nick and a couple of years and a couple of
Calvin, Nick's small I piled into Nick's boat and took preference points and I drew my
Münsterländer, quickly became home three hen wood ducks. first bear tag for a third-period
one of my favorites in the office. It In November, I partook hunt in the Baraga unit of the
would be a privilege to hunt along- in another first — a pheasant Upper Peninsula.
side him, so I asked his owner if hunt. This event was put on by After my excitement died
that could become a possibility. the National Wildlife Turkey down, I came to my senses. I had
Both Nick and Shaun had Federation and MUCC. The event no idea how or where to hunt
made annual plans to hunt ducks was designed for new hunters, bear. When I shared the news with
together and opened the door for giving us the chance to experience my co-workers, several of them
me to join this year on my first and become enthralled in a new responded with suggestions of who
duck hunt. hunt. It was a great opportunity to contact to get connected with a
Previous to the hunt, I picked brought to life by the Michigan hunt.
Shaun's brain about all the Pheasant Hunting Initiative. Soon, I was on an email chain
different ducks in Michigan. I can After tasting bear meat at a with Tim Dusterwinckle, the

The author drew a bear tag from the lottery and harvested her first bear this year with the help of a team that warmly
welcomed newcomers and gave her every opportunity to have a successful hunt. She harvested the animal with a
single, clean shot after the dogs and other hunters treed it perfectly.

80 |

Winter 2019.indd 82 11/5/2019 3:45:37 PM

bear hunters around me. They
"Find what your hunting niche is, whether that's hunting big helped me feel calm, collected and
ready to shoot. With one shot, I had
game, small game or hunting all game, and do it with pride my first bear down.
While writing this, I still can't
and passion." believe how fortunate I was to get
president of the Michigan Bear The combination of all these things in touch with such experienced,
Hunters Association, who then was why I was able to take my first welcoming hunters. I learned
directed me to Rick Grunch. After black bear the following day. that our community of hunters is
chatting with Rick on the phone We had 14 hunters, and two accepting and eager to teach; all you
and learning about his experi- different bear trails with dogs need to do is have the courage to
ences hunting bear with dogs, he following them. Four hours later, reach out.
graciously offered to take me on the dogs were able to tree a bear. Thanks to MUCC and its
a guided bear hunt. I did what I The first guys on the site of the connection with the Michigan Bear
needed to do to get ready for the bear had tags they could have filled, Hunters Association. Thank you,
hunt: read the regulation digest, but they were more concerned with Tim Dusterwinckle for leading me
practiced shooting my rifle and me filling my tag. in the right direction. And thank
asked questions when needed. I had previously thought I only you, Rick Grunch, Gordie Bower
I walked into bear camp on had four days to be in the right and everyone else at bear camp. I
October 3 with my fiancé and was place at the right time because left the U.P with bear meat in the
welcomed right away. The first day I was not the only one at camp cooler, a newfound respect and
was definitely a learning experi- with a tag. Instead, there was this understanding for bear and the
ence. We were out from 6 a.m. to 5 unspoken appreciation and respect pursuit of hunting one with hounds.
p.m., and I was soaking it all in. for someone's first hunt, giving me When sharing a hunt, there is
I learned about the placement the first opportunity. One messy, only so much impact words can
of bait piles, how to read bear thick hike through the terrain later, have, as opposed to being physically
tracks and especially how the dogs I was in front of my first bear. present and soaking in the moments
fit into the hunt. These dogs lived I looked up at it in awe. I had and experiences yourself.
and thrived for this hunt; their never seen a bear before, and now, Working in the conservation
instincts were apparent as they here I was gazing up at a beautiful field is a privilege because you have
worked the scent trail. The commu- black bear. I was noticeably a network of people who share new
nication and teamwork between nervous, and I had the support and and exciting opportunities with
the hunters was fun to be a part of. help from all of the experienced each other.
My first goose, bear and duck
Connections made through hunting can go beyond those between humans. hunt were made possible because
Dogs have played an instrumental part in some hunting techniques for many of other hunters and conservation
years and will continue to be man, and hunters' best friend for many to come. organizations alike. They were open
to someone novice like me stepping
into their world with a desire to
learn, and to that, I am extremely
thankful. All of these experiences
didn't break the bank either. Thanks
to everyone willing to share their
access and supplies, making it very
Find what your hunting niche
is, whether that's hunting big game,
small game or hunting all game,
and do it with pride and passion.
All I ask is that you keep your
door open — there could be a
curious co-worker or friend nearby
or even a hunter with a desire to
explore a new hunt. There are
opportunities out there to try new
hunts and conservation connects us
all during, and well after, the 9-5.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 81

Winter 2019.indd 83 11/5/2019 3:45:37 PM

Full Draw:
their normal summer routine. Patterning a white-
tail during this early season is far easier than the
November rut when every whitetail buck is traveling

Opening Day
chaotically and impossible to pattern. Michigan’s
woodlots and fields have yet to see the influx of small
game hunters and are still relaxed. Give those savvy
whitetails a couple weeks of human intrusion and
they quickly change their patterns and morph into a
By Tom Nelson more nocturnal creature. To many bowhunters, this is
labeled as the “October lull." Then, later in October, as
It was opening day of the Michigan archery the pre-rut begins, deer activity once again picks up.
season. I had elected to make a morning hunt on this Trail cameras are perhaps the best way to pattern
most sacred of days. Conditions were near-perfect and keep track of deer movement and deer quality in
as the mercury hovered in the mid 50s, and a now- your hunting area. I also spend a lot of time sitting
brightening eastern sky held the promise of a clear in my truck with binoculars and a spotting scope
day ahead. I was situated 18 feet up in a ladder stand watching whitetails as the enter and exit crop fields.
overlooking a well-worn deer trail. Roughly 100 yards Both of these methods can give a savvy bowhunters
to my east was a lush, half-acre food plot of mine that insight as to where to hang a treestand or place a
was being visited regularly by hungry whitetails, ground blind. Once I determine that I am going to
including a couple of nice bucks. place a stand or blind, I try to do so well in advance of
What made this set-up especially appealing, at opening day. This gives the area plenty of time to calm
least to me, was there were three ancient white oaks down and return to normal. Then I stay out of the area
that were all within bow range of my stand. Better yet, until I decide to hunt that particular site. When wind
they were all laden with acorns. I had a couple of trail conditions warrant, I slip into the stand as covertly
cameras hung nearby, but one really did not need them as possible and begin my hunt. Remember, your best
to see that these oaks were drawing deer to the bounty chance of tagging your target whitetail is the first time
of acorns they were dropping. I had identified these you sit a stand or blind. Never risk a marginal wind —
mast trees and their stock of acorns back in August wait until conditions are perfect; trust me, it will pay
and quickly placed a ladder stand and trimmed some off.
shooting lanes. Then I eased out and stayed out, only In the early season, a whitetail's routine evolves
periodically checking my cameras at midday. around his food source. Daily travel is mostly to and
As dawn arrived and the sun was attempting to from feeding areas. With the rut still weeks away, life is
climb above the tree line, I heard the crunching sound pretty easy for whitetails. Take advantage of this time
of a deer eating acorns. I cautiously turned to my left by scouting smart and hunting extra hard the first
and chanced a look behind me. Two mature does and week or two of the season. Sure, the excitement of the
a pair of fawns were busy vacuuming up the tasty November rut is captivating to us as hunters, but do
acorns that littered the forest floor. The whitetails fed not forsake the early days of October.
past my position and slowly made their way off in the
direction of the food plot. I leaned back against the
tree trunk and was considering taking off my light
jacket when I heard the unmistakable sound of deer
hooves hitting the forest floor. Once again, I carefully
looked behind me and was greeted by the sight of a
nice buck heading my way with a purpose.
Placing my release on my bowstring, I glanced
ahead to where I believed the buck would come
through and offer a good shot. As if he read the script,
the buck continued toward the chosen spot. As I came
to full draw, the buck stopped. With him broadside and
vitals exposed, I placed my 30-yard pin on his boiler
room and squeezed off the shot. Hit hard, the buck
made a short semi-circle and tumbled to a stop not
50 yards off to my right. Michigan’s bow season was
barely underway, and I was placing my tag on a fine,
antlered buck.
For decades, I have preached the benefits of
bowhunting the first week or 10 days of the season,
hard. In my opinion, there is no better time to tag a
mature buck or doe. Whitetails are still maintaining

82 |

Winter 2019.indd 84 11/5/2019 3:45:38 PM

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Winter 2019.indd 85 11/5/2019 3:45:38 PM

Green Broke: Tips from a New
Retriever Trainer
By Nick Green
I often get asked what is the
single most important piece of
training advice for new dog
handlers. Even as a new, novice
trainer, my reply is always
OBEDIENCE with a dash of
My work allows me the
fortune of wingshooting more
than 60 days a year — I hunt ducks,
geese, woodcock, grouse and
pheasants throughout Michigan’s
two peninsulas with my three dogs.
With all that hunting, I also have
the opportunity to hunt over
lots of other people’s dogs. And,
often, what separates the so-so
dogs from the great dogs is
Too many new retriever
owners want to get their
puppy, throw infinite retrieves
for it in the yard and then take
it out on the opening day of
duck season. Much to their
dismay, they often watch this
dog struggle to mark birds
and pick up ducks. What is
more troubling is those dogs
tend to be the ones going to visit
another hunting party, breaking
before a release command or
won’t get in the blind or stay
quiet while ducks are on the
Obedience is something
all serious trainers never stop
working on. “Sit” and “heel”
are the two commands I use
most; not “fetch” or “here.” And
it shouldn’t be something you
skimp on either during your
new adventure with your four-
legged best friend. Here are a few
Editor Nick Green's lab, Annie, tips and tricks that helped me with
my dogs:
with her first retrieve 1) Always remain patient
Photo by Abraham Downer
and stay level-headed. Nothing

Winter 2019.indd 86 11/5/2019 3:45:40 PM

good comes from losing your your six-month-old pup will be would advise you to find one or two
temper with a dog. We have all able to do that. Setting age-driven veteran trainers you trust or join a
been there, and dogs have a keen goals for a dog can be arbitrary and training club like the Great Lakes
sense and ability to understand a disservice to the dog. Instead, Hunting Retriever Club and open
your mood. Just a slight change in take your time, move at your dog’s your ears. Listen to EVERYTHING
body language or voice is enough pace and make it about YOUR they say, not just bits and pieces.
to express your disappointment. EXPERIENCE, not what others Even if you know something
If you get frustrated, stop or back are doing. It is important to have might not work for your dog at
up and end the training session on goals, but remember that the dog that particular moment, it doesn’t
something easy that the dog has will dictate the pace at which those mean it isn’t a tool to store away in
proven it has learned. goals are achieved. the toolbox for another day. Many
2) Do not rush. This is one I 5) Listen and shut your mouth. people complain about trainers
have to tell myself each and every I learned early on when I started and their arrogance — but, I think
day. Although puppies learn quick, training pointing dogs that one that perceived arrogance is really
it is important to let them develop million dog trainers have one confidence that the dogs feed off
all of their senses and be a puppy. million different opinions. And, of. I have yet to meet a reputable
This doesn’t mean structured probably, about 90 percent of those trainer that didn’t give me the time
training shouldn’t be happening opinions are right in some way. I of day, try to help me or offer some
— it just means that it isn’t a race form of encouragement. The dog
to some perceived finish line. Take
your time, move at your dog’s pace
Tips: world is full of amazing people who
will be right there next to you on
and have fun. One of my personal your journey.
faults is setting a rigid plan when As a full disclaimer, I am not
I get a dog rather than being fluid
and adapting to the dog’s learning
1) Always remain a professional trainer and have
no ambition to be. I am just a
style and curve.
3) Obedience is the foundation
patient and stay normal guy who has an obsession
with hunting over dogs and dog
upon which everything else is built.
If your dog won’t sit on a whistle, it
level-headed. training/handling. This piece
didn’t cover the first steps of how
probably won’t handle in the field. to start working on basic obedi-
If your dog doesn’t understand ence — those can be found through
your recall command, it isn’t going
to do well in a hunting scenario
2) Do not rush. a multitude of resources including
the internet, the Great Lakes
with other parties around. If your Hunting Retriever Club, profes-
dog doesn’t heel, it will probably be sional trainers, videos, books, etc.
a mess on your first trip out to the
marsh. Every aspect of training
3)Obedience is the But, once you pick a program,
try to stick with it. As I said,
that you will ever do with your
dog requires some form of obedi-
foundation upon retriever training relies on a
foundational approach. Everything
ence. Each training session I have
had with my puppy since she was
which all other you teach a dog and expect to teach
a dog must build upon what has
four months old has started with
a review of the “sit,” “heel” and
training is built. already been learned. There is a
reason the best retriever trainers
“here” commands. Then, slowly, do things in an order — and
I started building in remote sits, hundreds of years of experience
distractions and other scenarios
that test her obedience piece by
4)Do not compare have proven that order to work.
Most importantly, though,
4) Do not compare yourself or
yourself or your enjoy the puppy years. Enjoy the
people you meet. Take it all in. You
your puppy with other people and
their puppies. Most of us have a
puppy with other won’t get that first year back, and
someday down the road, even if
competitive nature; it’s inherent
in mankind and something that
people. you dog is running 300-yard blinds
with ease, you will long for the
will never be bred out of us. But, days when your biggest problems
with dogs, competition is not the were sharp puppy teeth and potty
most important thing — at least at
first. Just because a video shows
5)Listen and shut training.

a six-month-old pup doing some-

thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean
your mouth.
Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 85

Winter 2019.indd 87 11/5/2019 3:45:41 PM

Michigan Out-of-Doors
readers share youth
Hunt success
Left: Adam Wallace, 9, from
Northville took hunters safety this
summer at the Michigan Out-of-
Doors youth camp and scored on
a seven-point during his first hunt.
The reduced recoil load in 30-30
got the job done in Marion, MI.

Art Lambart sent this picture of his

grandson who turned nine on August 30.
He took this doe on Art's property just
South of Hubbard Lake with a sporter-
ized 6.5 X 55 Swedish Mauser.

86 |

Winter 2019.indd 88 11/5/2019 3:45:44 PM

Above: 12-year-old Brody Deater had great success after passing on
two smaller bucks on Saturday’s hunts. He harvested this nice 11-point
on his grandpa and grandma’s farm in Barry County. He took one shot
with his grandpa’s Marlin .44 magnum rifle. This is Brody’s second
buck in two years of hunting. Last year, he scored on a four pointer. He
wanted to wait for a bigger one this year. He got it alright.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 87

Winter 2019.indd 89 11/5/2019 3:45:47 PM

Above: Alex Ogonowski, 13,
with his eight-point buck. It
was taken with a Legend .350
Rifle in Monroe County on
September 15th.

Left: Alanna Ogonowski, 9, and

her first deer. It was taken with
a .350 Legend Rifle in Monroe
County on September 14th.

Both photos were submitted by

their grandfather.

88 |

Winter 2019.indd 90 11/5/2019 3:45:50 PM

Alexandria Budnick, 13, shot this
bad boy. She harvested this buck the
morning of September 14 in Midland
County. They had been watching this
guy for about a month and finally had
a chance at him for the youth hunt.
She watched him for over three hours
laying in the field and only seeing
about six inches of his antlers, getting
up a few times and laying back down
but never giving her a shot. The deer
finally got up, walked a few feet to the
north, still no shot, then walked about
20 feet to the northwest and turned...
She had her chance and took it.

Thirteen-year-old Hunter Priest with

his first buck, taken during youth
hunt. A dandy buck taken while still
in velvet.

Fall 2019
19 || Michigan Out-of-Doors 89
Michigan Out-of-Doors 89

Winter 2019.indd 91 11/5/2019 3:45:52 PM


The summer of 2019 is very much over at this Our campers get to experience so many different
point, and what an incredible summer it was at the outdoor activities. Plenty of campers had their first expe-
Cedar Lake Outdoor Center! riences in riflery, archery, fishing, kayaking, survival
We have locked the gates so that the deer and coyote skills and hiking.
can enjoy the property in peace through the winter. This Outside the technical outdoor skills, we also teach
was my first summer in Michigan and my first summer campers about the natural world through lessons in the
with the Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Camp. Every forest and down at the waterfront. Campers get an oppor-
summer has its ups and downs, but I could not have been tunity to learn about Leave No Trace ethics, invasive
happier with how this summer went. species or get their Michigan Hunter Safety certification.
We most certainly had our challenges. Whether it This summer, we had over 170 campers take their Hunter
was a stump crushing the septic line underground, being Safety Course, and about 160 of them passed with flying
short-staffed, wasps or completely filling the septic tank, colors.
our team down at camp, with the support from head- We were also able to bring back our Fur Harvesters
quarters, was able to face all of our challenges head-on program. Nineteen campers passed Michigan's Trapper
and always come out victorious. Safety Course, thanks to Dale Hendershot, who took a
We also had the moments that create incredible camp week out of his busy life to create a great program for the
magic. Campers seeing stars from the first time, laughter campers.
filling our amphitheater during campfire, that look on a Every summer, we have a variety of guest speakers
camper's face as they reel in their first fish. I could not come in to help with our programs. We looked within the
have asked for a better team to work with or a better MUCC staff to share their knowledge with our campers
summer. this year.
We recruited an amazing staff from all over the Nick Green came down to talk about upland bird
country. We had a majority local Michiganders working hunting with his ever-popular Musterlander Calvin.
with us but also brought in staff from Texas, Nebraska, Morgan Warda-Jennings did a phenomenal presenta-
Ohio, and New York! My incredible team created a tion about Deer Hunting. Autumn Christenson and her
fantastic camp experience for over 360 young conserva- Turkey Time presentation taught campers about Turkey
tionists this summer at the Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Hunting, and Ian Fitzgerald came to discuss watersheds.
Camp. Chris Hillman, an MUCC member and a member

90 |

Winter 2019.indd 92 11/5/2019 3:45:54 PM

time out of their busy lives to work with our campers, so
thank you all!
We added a few new activities to our program this
summer. Our new challenge course was completed just
in time for the campers' arrival, and they really seemed
to enjoy solving problems as a team to complete the
challenges. We added some nighttime programming like
"night hikes," which is not so much a hike, but rather an
opportunity for campers to spend time outside at night,
to play games and do activities to learn about our, and
other animals' night time senses.
The favorite game of this summer was Predator-
Prey, where our campers got to put themselves in the
shoes of animals in the food chain and get a look at what
other living creatures must do to survive!
Looking forward to the summer of 2020, we have
some potentially large changes coming, and we are so
very excited about them.
Make sure to keep an eye on our Facebook page "@
mucccamp" and our website,, to
be the first to know about our plans for 2020! We had
phenomenal success with our online registration this
year and will be continuing to use it, so be ready because
online registration will open on February 1st, 2020!
If you or someone you know might be interested in
Above: Camp Director Max Bass leads a staff discussion on joining us this summer as a part of our summer camp
helping a child in need and how to best approach a sticky staff, send a resume over to We are
situation. Below: Campers watch as counselors enact skits by currently looking to fill all of our positions.
the campfire. We are looking for an; Assistant Director, Health
Director, Waterfront Director, Range Officers,
of the Maple River Wildlife Association, came out to Conservation Educators/Camp Counselors, Camp
do some incredible duck hunting programs and made Cook, Kitchen Assistant, and Facilities Manager! We
an extremely generous donation of duck calls to our offer room, board, a weekly stipend and a summer job
campers from his club. like no other!
I cannot thank our volunteers enough for taking

Fall 20
19 || Michigan Out-of-Doors 91
Michigan Out-of-Doors 91

Winter 2019.indd 93 11/5/2019 3:45:56 PM

Conservation Through Education

By Shaun McKeon
Connecting the Pearls
angler. Matt calls this progression and involved. In the case of hunting
MUCC Education Director “connecting the pearls.” He likens and fishing, this social support
the participants' journey to the string often comes in the form of a mentor.
As we continue to focus on of a necklace. With each opportunity Mentorship, whether by a single
recruiting, retaining and reactivating or contact in the hunting/fishing individual or a collective, is critical to
hunters at a nationwide level and world, the participant is adding creating new and lasting hunters and
here in Michigan, the data suggests another pearl to the necklace. anglers.
multiple opportunities to get afield The ORAM (see model) An example of programs
are the strongest way to get people highlights the different stages of a connecting the pearls and providing
engaged in hunting and fishing. The participant’s journey. It starts in the support through partnerships
national R3 plan lays out the process recruitment phase with three stages: occurred in late August, facilitated
of creating multiple contacts through awareness, interest and trial. If the by MUCC. In partnership with
different opportunities. initial steps go smoothly, there will our summer camp program and
The Outdoor Recreation be a decision to continue. The last with support from the Abrams
Adoption Model (ORAM), champi- two steps are a continuation of the Foundation, we held a youth
oned by Matt Dunfee and the Wildlife activity and continuation without pheasant hunt. This hunt was
Management Institute, has several support. different from many one-off youth
stages that follow a person’s journey All of the stages up until continu- events as it was a next-step type
from new to hunting/fishing through ation without support require social event or a “new pearl.”
able to self-identify as a hunter/ support to keep the person engaged The youth who attended this

Photos provided courtesy of Dave Veldman, owner

of Sportdog Photography and Michigan Outdoor

92 |

Winter 2019.indd 94 11/5/2019 3:45:56 PM

hunt were progressing along their journey, the camp staff was there to box (25 rounds) to get ready for the
journey of being a hunter. This support them and highlight the posi- hunt that would follow. For many
hunt was meeting the kids at the tives of hunting and conservation. of the participants, this was only
decision to continue stage. This hunt When given the opportunity to go on the first or second time swinging on
welcomed 16 youth hunters ages 10 their first hunt in the field, the youth moving targets, and they each got
to 16, and 12 of which were partici- were excited about the opportunity. some individual pointers from their
pants in the Michigan Out-of-Doors The pheasant hunt took place mentors.
Summer Camp. at Tails a Waggin Acres in Marion, With the target practice behind
The hunters who were joining us MI. Hosted by MUCC and Michigan them, the youth split into groups
at the camp were relatively new to Out-of-Doors, this event was a with their mentors and got to meet
the outdoors. These campers all had full-circle hunting experience. Dog the dogs they would be working with.
taken hunter safety at our camp and handlers and mentors were provided It was an 85-degree day with little
were experiencing their first oppor- for the hunters. Parents, although wind, but the dogs were up for the
tunity to go on an actual hunt. not hunting, were encouraged to join challenge. The groups split into four
At camp, we were able to take their child in the field to create an separate fields and hunted for just
care of the first three pearls. They experience for the family. under an hour. The first round of
showed they were interested in the The 16 youth hunters joined us hunting brought some success. The
outdoors by attending our conserva- from all over the state. Several fami- youth were able to connect on three
tion-focused camp. They had their lies drove for more than two hours birds overall between the group of 16,
awareness increased by spending a to take part in the event. We had kids which provided us enough birds to
week learning about hunter safety, from Dowagiac, Ypsilanti and even demonstrate how to pluck and clean
wildlife identification, outdoor skills Atlanta join us in Marion. When the the birds. The kids were excited to get
and becoming confident in target groups arrived, they were greeted their hands dirty and learn how to
shooting and archery. Due to the with donuts, a swag bag including a clean their harvest.
hands-on nature of our camp and pocket knife and game shears and After we cleaned our birds and
programming over their six-day several happy dogs, who they would put them on ice, we took a break for
and five-night visit, the campers be getting to know much better later pizza. While the dogs rested and the
went through the trial period as in the day. kids devoured the pizza, the guides
well. They learned and prepared for After the ever-important safety planned for the afternoon hunt. With
several different types of hunting talk, youth took their shotguns the heat of the day, the guides made
opportunities. and headed out to break some clay sure their dogs started wet and cool,
As these youth moved along their pigeons. Each youth shot about a and the groups headed back into the
The second round brought 10
birds into the game bags and many
more shooting opportunities than the
morning. As the groups came back,
the smiles on the kids’ faces were
almost as big as the smiles on the
guides' and parents' faces.
Of the 13 birds taken, 10 of them
fell to first-time hunters, which was
extremely exciting for everyone
involved. The afternoon finished with
the youth processing their prized
birds and sharing stories of the hunt.
As the day wrapped up, editor
Nick Green and I had some time
to reflect on the event. Overall, the
day was a great success with lots
of happy youth and dogs. More
importantly, it was also another big
step down the path to helping these
families and kids become hunters.
Another pearl was strung — the seed
of conservation was planted at camp
and nurtured with this youth hunt.

Winter 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 93

Winter 2019.indd 95 11/5/2019 3:45:56 PM

Throwback: This article was originally published in November 1985

A Buck That Beat the Odds

“Bucky” showed-up on Bill years. The oldest doe lived at least of only a few dozen such ancient
Mattson’s doorstep December 17 years, possibly a record for wild monarchs in the entire state during
24, 1984, right on schedule, alone Michigan deer. Surviving rigorous the 1984 hunt.
as usual, but thrifty-looking and northern Michigan winters proved There was no mistaking this
sporting a wide 10-point rack. At far more perilous for these oldsters buck, at least not for Bill Mattson.
10.5 years old, this was to be the than dodging hunters. Only two Bill characterized Bucky as
buck’s 11th consecutive winter with were eventually bagged. All others possessing faint eye rings and
the Mattson’s. Certainly to achieve were recovered, either dead or throat patch, especially dark
such an old age in itself is remark- alive,when they returned to their pelage, distinctive antlers, and
able, for any deer, not to mention a traditional wintering grounds. belligerent ways. Furthermore,
free-ranging semitame buck. The odds are slim that any the big buck had a special taste for
White-tailed deer are capable buck will attain a ripe old age bread, taken directly from Bill’s
of living 12 to 20 years. But cases in a hunted population. Despite hand. His antlers had been similar
of extreme longevity normally nearly even tagging of the sexes in size, color, and configuration
concern captive animals that have as fawns, the oldest buck in the annually since he attained full body
received special care and protec- Cusino sample was 8.5 years old size at 5.5 years old. Surprisingly,
tion. In fact, most mathematical when finally shot. According to the old buck had not shown degen-
population models for wild white- George Burgoyne of the Michigan erate antlers in late life. Normally
tails phase out females at 11 to 12 Department of Natural Resources a 10- to 12-pointer, Bucky’s best
years and males around seven to Wildlife Division, less than one U.P. was 14 points (a mass weighing 4.5
eight years of age. Regardless of buck in 3,000 likely lives 10 years. pounds,) when 9.5 years old. Antler
hunting pressure, the buck’s life is By comparison, only one in 360,000 size typically declines along with
tougher and considerably shorter. bucks can be expected to last general vigor after bucks surpass
Since 1953 nearly 2,000 wild that long in more heavily hunted 8.5 years of age.
whitetails have been live-trapped, northern Lower Michigan. At those Bill’s wife Lulu recalls their
ear-tagged, and released by odds, Mattson’s Bucky first winter (1974-1975) with the
biologists at the Cusino Wildlife was probably buck. Then a knobby-headed
Research Station in Michigan’s one fawn, Bucky accompanied a
Upper Peninsula. Only 14 (all does) doe (presumably his mother)
were known to survive to the Mattson’s backyard,
beyond nine near Fibre in eastern Upper
Michigan, and ate bread
pulled down from nearby
bird feeders. Bill didn’t
actually gain the buck’s
confidence, however, until
the following winter
when he returned as a
four-point yearling.
The annual
pattern that followed
reflects the northern
whitetail’s strong
yarding tradition.
Each winter
Bucky arrived in
December or early
January and
stayed until late
March or early
April. His arrival

Winter 2019.indd 96 11/5/2019 3:45:57 PM

was usually prompted by a siege of apples, bread, oats, cantaloupes, compatible males in winter. The
cold weather, whereas snow melt watermelons, grain screenings, Mattsons once observed eight
normally governed the timing of and the like, along with second-cut bucks, four antlered and four
his departure in spring. Such site alfalfa and red-clover hay. antlerless, together at their small
selection initially requires some Individually, these are pretty poor feeding area.
adult guidance and becomes a deer feeds, compared to pelletized Pre-rut antler fights among
learned trait, as deer may travel 20 rations formulated for deer or even bucks, necessary to establish
to 30 miles from summer to winter certain livestock concentrates. But breeding order, can be exhausting
range. Once established, however, when fed in combination, along for aged individuals faced with
the patterns usually persists with natural browse, they appear to stiff competition from testoster-
throughout the animal’s lifetime. provide a reasonably nutritious and one-charged, prime-aged bucks.
The Mattson’s regularly geed 30 balanced diet. Such combat should not be
to 40 deer each winter. The practice Contributing greatly to Bill’s confused with more ritualistic and
is shared by neighbors and nowa- success is that he offers unlimited playful sparring common among
days is rather common in northern feed throughout the winter period. young males. The old crafty buck
Michigan. Unquestionably risky This helps maintain deer in good can occasionally maintain his supe-
business, artificial feeding of health and avoids unnecessary rior rank in bluff fashion. Keeping
wintering deer is not viewed feeding competition among hungry subordinates in line with a minor
favorably by most wildlife biol- animals. Aggressive behavior kick or “hard look” whenever they
ogists. Although routinely and only causes wasteful expenditure cross paths, sometimes eliminates
successfully employed in Europe, of energy and ultimately severe the need for later down-and-out
deer feeding has experienced malnutrition, especially among fighting. Should the master buck
widespread failure when applied subordinate fawns. Bill fully appre- once lose a contest, he’ll likely meet
on a large scale in this country. Bill ciates how much food is required immediate challenges from lesser
has fed deer for years, however, and to satisfy the average whitetail, bucks quick to detect weakness and
at 80-plus years old is determined to estimating that a huge deer like the opportunity to rise a notch in
continue to the best of his ability. Bucky easily consumes five to 10 the hierarchical dominance order.
Not something to be encour- pounds daily Torn ears, gouged eyes, and broken
aged, one simple lesson to be In white-tailed deer, males antlers remain as clear signs of
learned here is that winter and females live separately except contested breeding order and
feeding doesn’t necessarily lead to during the rut. They readily distin- some pretty serious fighting. At
year-round tameness among fed guish one another by sight and 10.5 years old, Bucky’s supremacy
animals-- a major concern where odor, and like most animals, have had undoubtedly been questioned,
the practice is employed out of evolved specific behaviorisms and a possibly seriously, as evidenced by
necessity. certain type of social organization several broken antler tines.
As a rule, better nutrition leads that permits an orderly way of life. Bucks eat little and can literally
to prolonged antler retention. Related does share common run themselves ragged in search of
Considering Bucky’s age and ancestral range, and along with receptive does during the breeding
the fact that he regularly carried their fawns, band together in season. Whereas females enter
antlers until March suggests that winter. A distinct peck order the critical winter season with
Bill’s treatment hasn’t been too develops within each group heavy fat reserves, rutting bucks
bad. Most U.P. bucks subsisting wherein the oldest doe achieves the regularly lose 20 percent of their
upon natural browse drop antlers highest rank. Low-order threats peak autumn body weight, leaving
in December or January, depending (cold stare with ears laid back) them thin and vulnerable if winter
on the weather severity. quickly decide dominance in most food is scarce. Old bucks, in partic-
Bill never carefully researched conflicts among well-fed animals. ular, that can no longer retain
proper deer husbandry but has More violent interactions (chases, dominance often enter deer yards
developed feeding procedures kicks, and stand-up flails) can in visibly weakened condition and
reasonably in line with sound break out when opposing group perish from malnutrition before
scientific advice. He starts feeding leaders converge on limited food winter’s end. The oldest I’d ever
early, when deer are still phys- simultaneously. found in the wild was 12.5 years old,
ically fit and more adaptable to Yearling bucks (socially verified by laboratory examination
oftentimes energy-rich domestic referred to as “floaters”) disperse of tooth cementum layers.
foods. Even corn, when fed to from their birth range, thus
malnourished deer, can cause acute breaking family bonds, just prior This article has been
digestive problems and death. to the breeding season. Most
Bill offers deer a wide variety bucks,although solitary during the
shortened to meet page
of food items, including various rut, join groups each comprised constraints.
garden vegetables, shelled corn, of two to six or occasionally more

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One Last Cast "People that challenge our beliefs, get us
outside of our echo chamber and help us to
By Nick Green appreciate the true uniqueness of each and
Editor every human being are vital to growing."
Like years past, my annual grouse/duck camp
in October was my respite from Lansing, natural English setters and banding more woodcock than any
resources politicking and a chance to turn off tech- woman ever, in 2017 while writing a woodcock banding
nology for a week and a half. story for Cadillac News. I remember she mentioned
For the dogs and I, this time is our sacred holiday: having a son named Abraham.
we spend 10 days pursuing birds in the Northwoods. In the summer of 2018, on a sultry, miserable July
I don't check my email, and cell service, most of the day, I was sitting on my tailgate and debating whether to
time, isn't something to be found in the coverts and exercise the dogs in an aspen covert near my hometown.
marshes I frequent. The driver of a Toyota 4Runner bouncing down the
This year's camp was unique, though. Usually, I am gravel road we were parked near saw us, slammed on the
the mainstay with several gentlemen or ladies joining brakes and stopped. I thought I was in for a confrontation
me for a day here or a day there. This year, my friend of some sort for reasons unbeknownst to me.
Abraham Downer joined me for the duration. Out stepped Abe. He tells the story now that he saw
While sometimes I prefer the peacefulness and a guy with bird dogs and tattoos, two things that go
ease of being alone with my dogs, Abe's presence was together like bread and butter, and had to stop. He told
a welcome break to my incessant rantings with my me his name, and I quickly made the connection to Sally.
four-legged best friends and the loneliness that can set in The rest is really history. Since that chance
during a midweek thunderstorm. encounter, we have hunted ducks, shot skeet, talked bow
Abe isn't your typical hunter. With plugs (large hunting, spent nights around the campfire together,
earrings that look like a hole) in his ears and conflicting imbibed, told stories, shared heartache and talked about
political views, conversations with him can take on our futures. He has known me through marrying my
wildly different topics than shoot, clean and eat. beautiful wife, taught me so much about appreciating the
Our friendship, fittingly, started over bird dogs. I wild Northwoods and opened up his family property to
met his mother, Sally Downer, a legend herself breeding me. Most importantly, though, we grouse and woodcock
hunt together — a lot. We share the same affinity for our
russeted friend, the woodcock, as both a challenge to hit
and fine table fair.
Oh, and Abe is a chef. He is the one who convinced
me not plucking birds is a sin. And he has fed me more
gourmet, wild game meals in less than two years than I
had eaten the former 29.
All this is to say that Abe is someone special in my
life. Through good and bad, he will be there next to me in
the marsh and in the coverts.
Abe bands a woodcock Despite our wildly different views on politics, and
during woodcock really everything in life except hunting, he will be who
banding camp with spreads my ashes in my favorite covert and marsh.
It's funny to think that this chance encounter with
Green and their friend someone so different than myself has blossomed into the
Ed Moore. most robust friendship I have. It's a friendship founded
on passion and fueled by difference.
We need people in our life like Abe. People that
challenge our beliefs, get us outside of our echo chamber
and help us to appreciate the true uniqueness of each
and every human being are vital to growing.
I encourage you to feed on those chance encoun-
ters, embrace someone different than you and cultivate
a bond with them. Who knows, they may become
your hunting buddy, a lifelong friend or, in me and
Abe's case, a verbal punching bag when you miss that
10-yard crossing shot on a grouse.

96 |

Winter 2019.indd 98 11/5/2019 3:45:58 PM

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Winter 2019.indd 100 11/5/2019 3:45:59 PM