HISTORY OF THE MICHIGAN BEAR HUNTERS ASSOCIATION
In 1946, the year Ben East, the famous writer for Outdoor Life, realized his dream, the Cadillac (Michigan) Bear Club had been in existence for some 10 years. East’s dream was to hold a great bear hunt in the vast Dead Stream Swamp, near Cadillac. East garnered support for the hunt from wildlife biologists, the state’s Conservation Commission and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs. More than 100 people showed up for that first organized hunt. Hack Smithdeal, a renowned bear hunter, came up from Tennessee with his hounds and hunting crew. According to some enthusiasts, an exciting and successful hunt took place.
Others, however, said dogs were running all over, confusion reigned supreme and few bears were taken. But everyone agreed it was great sport.
At that time, local sheepherders considered the black bear akin to a pestilence, to be killed anytime the opportunity afforded. Fortunately, farsighted hunters saw the bear for what it is: a great game animal deserving of protection. Soon after the Dead Stream hunt, the Cadillac Bear Club transformed itself into the organization known since as the Michigan Bear Hunters Association.
President’s Message 01-16-2018
Happy new year everyone! 2018 marks our 72nd year as an organization. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your president again! It truly is humbling to look back at our history and see the many important and influential people who have been a part of this organization over the years. We are successful because of our dedicated and passionate members like you. Many people don’t realize that being a bear hunter is a lifestyle, not a hobby, and that’s why we so fiercely defend it.
This past fall has been a busy time for MBHA. The Bear Forum was held on December 16 in St. Ignace. There were many Directors and MBHA members in attendance who commented on bear management. Thank you to all who came and participated. There is an article in this issue (The Bear Facts) detailing the meeting. I believe that the DNR needs to keep a close eye on the harvest, as we are getting mighty close to 2000 bears killed per year. MBHA has repeatedly stated that the DNR needs to keep the statewide harvest around 1500-1600 bears per year. If they allow harvest numbers to increase each year, we will be in the same boat we were 10 years ago…a sharply declining population.
Increasing the bear population often means increasing nuisance complaints too. We are acutely aware of this issue, and is one of the reason why we have started the process of manufacturing bear live traps to be donated to the DNR to help mitigate nuisance bear problems. This topic is also detailed in this issue (The Bear Facts).
At the February NRC commission meeting, I will be testifying regarding bobcat regulations. As you all know, MBHA highly values the bobcat as a game animal, much like the bear. Our ‘founding father’ Carl T. Johnson, was an avid bobcat hunter. We have been concerned with the bobcat population for many years, and don’t feel it has been managed conservatively enough. I will be advocating for a one cat per person statewide limit. The current regulations allow 2 cats per person statewide.
MBHA will be sponsoring a legislative breakfast in Lansing on March 8. This is an important event that elevates our profile in Lansing and lets people with decision making power know that we are serious about our sport. I believe it is vitally important for us to have friends in Lansing. MBHA has been attending legislative breakfasts in Lansing for years, and we continue to keep an eye on any legislation that is important to us. I would encourage you to contact your local Representative, Senator, or DNR biologist and invite them to come hunting with you. Building relationships is the key to our success.
The annual MBHA convention is quickly approaching. This year it is back in Gaylord at Treetops Resort, March 16 and 17. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, so please try to attend. If you have never come, you are missing out on one of the best conventions in the state! There have been close to 500 people attend each of the last 2 years’ conventions. This year, we have some exciting speakers, presentations, and displays planned, as well as a new kids program with live animals. Details and order forms are in this issue, or you can download them from our website www.mibearhunters.org.
Speaking of our website, it has been completely redone and updated. Please check it out at www.mibearhunters.org.
If you are interested in making a raffle or auction prize donation, please contact me @ (906) 748-4935. We are always looking for donated prizes.
Also, don’t forget to purchase your Warchest raffle tickets; the drawing will be at the convention. This is another important fundraiser for MBHA. There are over $30,000 in prizes this year. We are also offering the $500 ticket sellers prize again this year. Call Brett Hopp @ (989) 710-1045 for tickets.
You should have received an election ballot in the mail. Please take the time to vote. I would like to thank the Board of Directors for the opportunity to work with them for another year. It is an honor to lead such a group of dedicated hunters and conservationists. Thank You!
Be safe in the woods, God Bless you and your family, and I will see you at the convention!