My Buck From Dad’s Blind

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears, Friends of ELO

By:  Brian Smith. These trips are not about getting a deer.  It’s about the drive up in the truck; leaving at 4am, having breakfast in a small town diner, hearing stories from Grandpa’s past 70 years of hunting in the UP.  It’s about sharing a week with guys closest to you, but also having 12 hours a day by yourself sitting, waiting for something to move. 17 years ago, I made my first trip to the UP with my Dad and Grandpa.  We stayed in one of the small cabins at the West Shore Resort … Read More

What’s New Is Old … Again?

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears

…reflecting… In today’s society, instant gratification is virtually nonnegotiable. We want it, and we want it now, whether “it” entails grabbing a burger from McDonald’s or speeding down the highway on your way home from work. Simply put, we don’t like to wait around for stuff anymore. If we don’t have to, we won’t. That attitude has trickled down to nearly every aspect of our lives, including deer hunting. Growing up, the U.P. looked to me like a paradigm of the great outdoors. It was brimming with wildlife, a special, almost mythical quality surrounding all … Read More

Wisconsin Example of How Michigan Bears Could be Better Managed

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears, Friends of ELO

By:  Richard P. Smith. Wisconsin is a perfect example of how Michigan could better manage their bear population. During 2016, Wisconsin issued 11,520 bear licenses to hunters in the state and those hunters registered 4,682 bears, according to a report issued by the Wisconsin DNR. Michigan only had 6,896 bear licenses available in 2016, resulting in 1,636 bruins being registered by hunters. Wisconsin hunters harvested almost three times as many bears as Michigan and almost twice as many hunters (1.7x) had the opportunity to hunt bear in Wisconsin than Michigan even though Michigan has more … Read More

Speak The Language – Grunt Calls Can Work!

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears, Friends of ELO

By:  Jim Kushner. Years ago I was looking through an archery magazine and saw a photo of a very happy hunter posing with a huge buck he had taken. The caption stated that he had called it in during early bow season. I don’t recall the date but I do remember thinking that I had not heard of a grunt call working during anything but the rut & pre-rut.  Sometime later a nice buck walked by my stand in early October. It was clear he was not coming close enough for a shot. I figured … Read More

KENYA: A TIMELESS SAFARI

Wild Game DynastyFriends of ELO

By:  Bruce  Ter Beek. Last June my wife Nancy and I had just returned from a four week European trip.  We were both tired and suffering from jet lag.   She said she was all adventured out and just wanted to enjoy our home but commented “You have that funny look on your face.  What are you planning now?” “Africa” I replied.  Thus began the odyssey of a life time. Over the next few weeks we defined the type of trip we wanted to take.  We both wanted to learn about the culture of the people … Read More

It Is Why We Hunt

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears, Friends of ELO

By:  Jim Kushner. In my opinion it’s really about the enjoyment of hunting and what really makes it fun for you, not what someone else thinks is fun. In my younger days just seeing a deer while hunting was heart pounding excitement for me. I wanted a buck so bad I could taste it, but my opportunities were few and when they did come I usually messed up ! There were a lot of reasons for that but the lack of success only increased my enthusiasm and drove me to try harder. As the years … Read More

The Future Of ‘Paying It Forward’

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears, Friends of ELO, Youth Hunts

By:  Tom Lounsbury. Twelve year old Zack Burnette of Cass City sure appreciates the Mentor Hunting License for Michigan which allows kids 9 and under to go hunting with an adult. This allowed him to start sharing quality time at age six with his dad, Don Burnette hunting cottontails with a petite “Cricket” .22 rifle (a great firearm for little kids), and rabbit hunting remains to be a favorite winter pastime. Father and son would continue to share adventures in the outdoors together. Thanks to crossbows being legal for archery deer hunting, Zack was able … Read More

The Outdoors Is Certainly Beautiful

breakthroughpcFriends of ELO, Spring Fling

By:  Tom Lounsbury “A great program for introducing women and girls to the outdoors!” For a long time, hunting especially was pretty much a “men only” pastime,  although there were certainly exceptions, women who ignored status quo and  went hunting. Annie Oakley is a prime example, who ventured into this  atmosphere at an early age when her father died, leaving her mother and large  family destitute. She would start hunting, first to feed her family, and then to  provide an income (market hunting was legal in her era). Annie would sell game to  a growing list of customers and because ammunition cost money, she learned to  make each shot count, causing her to become one of the most remarkable  shooters in history.  She would pay off the mortgage on her family farm when she  was only 15 years old and go on to become famous in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.  Thanks to my late mother, I was introduced to hunting at the wee age of  three when I was her “pooch” for pheasant hunting. She was a crack shot with her  single-shot Iver Johnson 20 ga, having been taught to shoot by older brothers and  hunting for her family larder during the Great Depression. Mom learned to make  each shot count, because ammunition cost money, an attitude she passed on to  me when she taught me to shoot. She also could care less about any status quo  stuff about “men only” pastimes, and she passed that attitude on to me as well.  Needless to say, when Ron Sting of the DNR asked if I would help with a wild  turkey seminar/hunt for a Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) it was a  no-brainer for me to jump right in. BOW was first created in 1991 and is now  found in 44 states (including Michigan) and 9 Canadian Provinces. The recent BOW program took place at the Cass City DNR Field Office, starting with a wild turkey seminar there on Friday, May 12th, and a hunt with mentors on Saturday, May  13th. Ron Sting did an outstanding job arranging everything and the seminar  involved every aspect of turkey hunting, with knowledgeable speakers on each topic. This was followed by actual shooting at “turkey” targets.  Since I have a backyard shooting range and my home is only a couple miles  from the Cass City DNR Field Office, the shooting portion was performed there.  Some ladies had their own shotguns and some did not, and Ron Sting made sure  all were fitted out and comfortable with shooting and putting an accurate pattern  centered on the turkey target, entailing the all important head/neck shot.  One (13 year old) young lady was totally unaccustomed to firearms and very  nervous, and DNR Conservation Officer Seth Rhodea (who had earlier given a talk  on turkey hunting ethics and safety) spent some one-on-one time with the young  lady, off to the side and performing dry-firing exercises with an empty shotgun. As  a result, the young lady was soon confidently hammering targets with a 20 ga and  thoroughly enjoying it. In fact I could see all the ladies were enjoying it, and it was  a real pleasure watching them all take their turn at eagerly shooting away at their  targets, followed by examining the results of the shot, and the obvious confidence  this created. There was no doubt in my mind, if a turkey hunting opportunity  happened for any of these ladies, a gobbler was going down.   Ron Sting had put the BOW information out with a cap for 10 ladies to  participate, and in only two days he had an overwhelming response and it became  a first come, first serve situation, with 11 attending, and some from as far away as  Grand Rapids. Each woman had a mentor to take them turkey hunting and matters  would begin with breakfast at 4:30 AM on Saturday morning at the Cass City DNR  Field Office, immediately followed by hunters and their mentors heading out to  pre-selected areas, some on state land and some on private land.  I had two ladies riding with me in my Jeep; Debra Robinson of Macomb and  Pam Walton of Lapeer, and we were heading out to meet with Bob Walker of  Kingston. Bob had very generously agreed to lend a hand and had arranged a  perfect spot for the two ladies to hunt. Bob would mentor Pam and I would  mentor Debra and in no time we were all headed our separate ways into the  woods. Deb and I would be in a wooden ground blind literally constructed into a  hillside, which reminds me of a bunker with a shooting window. While Deb got  situated in the blind, I set out two hen decoys with one at 15 yards and the other  at 20 yards for a known range reference. I then quickly got back into the blind,  because the gray light of dawn was fast approaching. Deb was sitting to the left  and I to the right, and I told her to load her gun at he get go. She had purchased  it used and it was dandy vintage Winchester pump 20 ga with an adjustable Poly-Choke at the muzzle, which she had cranked to the  “full” position. We had learned the evening before that this shotgun was a great  performer with #6, 3 inch Magnum turkey loads, which Deb had a great time  shooting. I knew she and her gun were a perfect fit and she would do her part if I  could do mine.  To keep matters simple, I only had two turkey calls which were my “Ben  Lee” box call (which I purchased in the early 1980’s and is a collector’s item) and a  simple to use Quaker Boy “Easy Yelper” which only requires holding in one hand  and pushing a wooden rod. I wanted Deb to see things could get done without a  whole bag–full of gadgets and calls. My long recommendation to new turkey  hunters is to only start with one call and learn to use it well before moving on to  another call. I generally only take two calls out when I’m turkey hunting as it is,  and I prefer only friction types including the pan/slate calls. I’ve found the mouth  diaphragms don’t blend well at all with my chewing tobacco. After almost 50 years  of turkey hunting I’ve developed some instincts which are purely gut-feelings which come out of nowhere and I can’t quite put it into words. All I can say  is that when the woods lightened up and starting time was on I went to (hen) purring  mixed in with an occasional cadence of (hen) yelps on my box call. I’ve heard it said  that too much calling isn’t a good thing, but I’ve seen the occasion when you really  can’t talk too much turkey, and my gut feeling let me know this was an occasion to really  lay it on.  We got an immediate response from left to right of 3 gobblers, and in a  matter of seconds Deb and I knew the far right gobbler was incoming and closing  the gap. That is when a fourth gobbler cut loose directly behind us less than 10  yards away. I immediately stuck my hand out the window (which the gobbler  couldn’t see from behind us) and I let out a long drawn and very whining purr with  the Easy Yelper to give the gobbler the idea a hen directly downhill was real interested  in his advances. I was sitting with my back to the door when I felt the vibration a gobbler  can send out as it drums, and I knew the bird was standing right next to the door while  it looked over our blind’s roof at the hen decoys below. I whispered to Deb to  freeze and not to even blink, and then the gobbler suddenly appeared at point  blank range on Deb’s side of the window as it eased down the hill toward the  decoys. He was one of the largest gobblers I have ever called in, with a long and  thick beard. With its head up and moving around, this sharp-eyed bird had a 360 degree  … Read More

A Wild Experience With My Father

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears

By:  Jim Kushner I first went deer hunting with my Dad when I was around 12, it was just a day trip & other than some deer that had been chased across a field we were driving past I don’t remember seeing anything. Over the years Dad & I hunted together a lot. I was with him and a younger brother on the opening day that I shot my first buck. He wasn’t close enough to help with the first field dressing job or dragging it to the truck but he congratulated me and helped … Read More

Bear Hunting When Conventional Wisdom Ain’t Workin’

Wild Game DynastyBucks n Bears

Michigan’s bear hunting permit system can challenge anyone’s patience ..including mine.  After all, it is managed by the Dept. of Natural Resources.  Most of us spent years reading the online results: “try again next year”.  For one mid-Michigan hunter, Tony Dodak, he knew his efforts of getting a permit inside of the Red Oak bear management unit (BMU) was a work in progress.  Nine years to be exact.  He and his (hunting partner) brother, Aaron, began the planning process of unsuccessful permit draws back when the U.S. was in the midst of a financial crisis … Read More