Forty autumns ago, Bill Stewart went north with his buddy James Robinson, a Bear recurve bow and other hunting gear packed in the trunk.
They were headed for the famed Beaver Lake Hunting Club, some 4,000 acres of fine, private deer land in northeast lower Michigan. Stewart, now 82 and retired from dentistry, was a guest of the late Robinson, who was Toledo's first periodontist.
He didn't get his deer that year. “I didn't know anything about deer hunting ... But his rookie year - he presently joined the club- was the only year in the last four decades that Stewart has not put venison on the family table by his own hand, er, arrow. Fast learner. Fast-forward to 2002, a 40-year-reunion of the old-timers at Beaver Lake, and guess who bags the season's first deer? Stewart.
“Old dogs still hunt,” quips Stewart about his latest bowhunt. Funny thing, he didn't think he'd get a deer this year, so he never took a knife. A younger eager-beaver, Tom Olszewski, Fremont dentist and club member, field-dressed Stewart's deer for him.
Among area hunters on hand to observe the 40th at Beaver Lake was Bob Morgan - “my hunting buddy. Don't overlook him. We have left tracks on the Saskatchewan prairies, in Alberta, on the PM [the Pere Marquette, a famed Michigan trout stream].”
The veteran bowhunter, who admits to switching to a compound bow years ago, said his buddy Morgan didn't connect during the anniversary visit. “He's back up there now. He couldn't stand it [not bagging a deer].”
Among other hands attending the Beaver Lake festivities were Rick Hires, David Cook, Gary Robinson [the late Robinson's son], Carl Straub, and Steve Kline. In all, Stewart said, eight Toledo and area dentists were on hand.
Stewart recalls some lean years - when successive hard winters in the '60s had so reduced the deer herd by winter-kill that the club members took only three deer in a season. He recalls some big bucks, a pair of eight-pointers and a seven-pointer with a 161/2 –inch antler-spread. And he recalls shooting the first deer in Alpena County to be identified by the Department of Natural Resources as having tuberculosis. “It looked OK to me.”
Last and not least, he remembers the generosity of the far-flung Broad family of Novi, Mich., which owns the club and land. All in all, Stewart said, “it's been a great 40 years. It's been an important part of our lives.”
How about 41 consecutive years next year?
“I don't know. If all goes well ...''
wVOTE - Today is Election Day, and outdoors folks have no one to blame but themselves if the politicians in office do not suit them and their outdoors causes. The sporting public represents one of the largest blocs of voters anywhere, and too often it is too silent.
The editorial pages of the Monday edition of this newspaper carried a summary of its choices and reasoning for the various state, regional, and local offices and issues; it can be reviewed electronically at www.toledoblade.com, whether you agree or disagree. Your local newspaper outside the immediate Toledo area also likely carried local issues for your community or county.
But the bottom line is, if you don't vote, you don't count. So don't complain. Polls open early and close late. If you care, you have time.
Deer hunting primer - Performances of Escanaba in Da Moonlight, an irreverent comedy about a deer camp in Michigan's upper peninsula, have been extended by popular demand at Ms. Rose's Dinner Theater on Dixie Highway in Perrysburg, said Claudette Davis, show producer.
Remaining dates are Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., with extra shows on Nov. 15, 22, and 23, all also at 6 p.m. For information call 419-871-1951.
Fishing report - The night bite for walleye is under way on the Huron pier at Huron, though as is typical of this fishery, action is erratic from night to night.
Fishing was good Friday night but slow Saturday and Sunday nights, said Jerry Modic at Huron Bait and Supply. Anglers cast crankbaits after dark as walleye chase schools of minnows, which have moved inshore seeking warmer waters. Popular baits include Rat-L-Trap, Rattlin' Rogue, and Husky Jerk in clown and blue/silver finishes.
Daytime anglers also are taking yellow perch off the pier Huron.
Today through Thursday - Public trap, skeet, 5-Stand Sporting Clays, and indoor pistol shooting, 2 to 9 p.m., Toledo Trap & Skeet Club, 3150 State Rt. 295, Berkey; repeats Friday noon to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; call the club, 419-829-5101.
Tonight- Public trapshoot, 6 to 10 p.m., Dundee Sportsmen's Club, 2300 Plank Rd., Dundee, Mich., repeats Thursday 9 a.m. to noon and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; also, Saturday, rifle sight-on, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; also, Saturday, euchre, 7:30 p.m.; call the club 734-529-3581.
Tonight - Public trap and skeet shooting, 6 to 11 p.m., Camp Perry Shooting Club, Camp Perry, State Rt. 2 west of Port Clinton, repeats Thursday 6 to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; call the club, 419-635-2682.
Tonight - Program on nuclear power, 7:30 p.m., Lourdes College campus, Convent Boulevard, Sylvania, Rosary Care Center, Evergreen Room; speaker, Richard Wilkins, spokesman for Davis-Besse; sponsored by Science Alliance for Valuing the Environment; call SAVE at 419-824-3691.
Tomorrow - Public trapshoot, 6 p.m., Elmore Conservation Club, Portage River Road South, just west of State Rt. 590; call Richard Gremling, 419-729-9518.
Thursday - Trap and skeet shooting, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monroe Rod and Gun Club, 6280 Lighthouse Rd., Monroe, Mich.; call Jim Warren, 734-243-9774.
Thursday - Trapshoot, 6 p.m., Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg.
Thursday - Public trapshoot, 6 to 9 p.m., Ottawa County Conservation League, Martin-Moline Road, Martin; call Bob Reinbolt, 419-855-8409.
Thursday - Public trapshoot, 7 to 10 p.m. Progressive Fishing Association, 8050 Schadel Rd., Whitehouse; call Mike Adcock, 419-897-8446.
Thursday and Friday - Public trap and skeet shooting, 6 to 11 p.m., United Conservation and Outdoor Association of Hancock County, Township Road 243 north of U.S. 224, east of Findlay; call Don Borkosky, 419-427-4236.