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Categorized | Outdoors

That one good Michigan hunting story part 2

That one good Michigan hunting story part 2


Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Ryan Soulard, right, and his father enjoys their first duck hunt together on Saginaw Bay. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Soulard)

By Ryan Soulard, Michigan DNR

The drake

I am sure many people can relate when I say that life hasn’t always been easy.

There have been some trying times financially, some instability, family issues, the list could go on and on. Often the woods and water here in Michigan are old friends I can rely on to hear me out on my issues or to help me get my thoughts sorted out and back in a row.

Black Friday (Nov. 28, 2010) was one of those days when I just needed to get outdoors to clear my mind. I recall that the wind was over 30 mph and it was spitting snow.

A few people had told me about the Fennville Farm Unit at the Allegan State Game Area (Allegan County) being open to duck hunting when the normal managed goose hunt is closed.

I decided to head down there for an afternoon hunt.

While driving around, much to my surprise, I ran into a couple of regular hunters from the Muskegon area that I had known through work for a couple of years. One of them had his kid along.

As it turned out, we all had the same thing in mind.

It was decided rather quickly that we would all hunt together. I’ll never forget that, just after we got done setting up our decoys and hiding in the corn strips, another guy came in by himself and set up just a short distance away from us.

We thought to ourselves, “With all of this huge area, why did he have to come so close to us?”

We decided that we would go and chat with him and invite him to join us, no sense in competing against each other.

The guy kindly declined our offer and told us that he had just been fired from his job that day in Grand Rapids, due to downsizing. Close to retirement age and not planning to call it quits anytime soon, this was a huge blow to him.

A beautiful sunrise over some duck decoys on a lake is shown.

He said he hadn’t even told his wife yet and decided that he would grab a few of his decoys and just go sit for an evening to try and figure out how to handle this situation on many levels.

We all understood and wished him good luck. He didn’t stay long, but did manage to fool a few weary mallards in. Hopefully, those birds and that state land helped to at least give his mind a break for a few moments

For us, we sat and froze all afternoon and were rewarded with not only a few mallards, but the most gorgeous northern pintail drake I have seen shot on a hunt.

It’s hard to believe that was nine years ago, when I remember it like it was yesterday.

Visiting an old friend

I could go on and on talking about my experiences hunting on state land, but to tell the truth, aside from a few deer hunts as a kid “up north” with my Dad and various friends and family, there really weren’t many other experiences until my adult years.

I think back on turkeys thundering and gobbling on an April morning, wood ducks squealing in the morning fall air, squirrels making racket like deer and just moments of silence thinking about my years on this earth, in the woods, and an endless number of memories that I have made alone and with great mentors, friends and family.

Every time I return to Michigan’s outdoors, it is like visiting an old friend. No matter how long you are apart, after just a few minutes, it feels like you picked up right where you left off.

Set aside some time to get yourself back out and acquainted with nature, invite a neighbor or coworker, or maybe that niece or nephew.

I may never be rich, in a monetary sense, but I can assure you that I will be rich with experiences, many of which are focused on Michigan’s woods, water, fields and streams.

These are moments that I cherish in the outdoors, something I will never forget because thankfully, these are indelibly etched into my mind the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of what it means to be a hunter in Michigan.

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Ray Winnie
Kent County Credit Union

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