In the Field: The Story of the One-eyed Bear

by Anna Mitterling, Wildlife Cooperative Coordinator, MUCC

The Michigan hunting family is a special beast. Like all families, we have our slew of issues and disagreement, but I can tell you that the hunters I work with here in Michigan are top notch humans. My college roommate’s father reached out to me a few months ago. He has been sick for some time, and is quite weak. It has always been a dream of his to hunt a Michigan black bear. He had been saving up points for years, and felt his strength was up enough to get in a hunt this year. He asked me if I knew of an outfitter in the Lower Peninsula who could help him out, and I decided to post on Facebook to see if anyone would be personally interested in helping Tom out.

I had several replies of interested guys, but Dave got back to me all ready with a game plan in mind, wanting to connect with Tom. The two guys got together within a few weeks, and both contacting me telling me how much they enjoyed meeting the other – an instant bond was created.  Over the next couple months I got texts and messages from each of them updating me on the scouting and hunt preparations. I honestly don’t know who was more excited, Tom or Dave! Both were just grateful to have met each other and have an opportunity like this! I met up with them both last week, and they assured me they were ready to kill a bear the coming weekend.

I saw this post on my Facebook page yesterday:

“My dad always has been and always will be my biggest hero! He’s one of the most generous people I know and lives and breathes hunting. He was asked to help a man who is a successful doctor that has been on dialysis and has been given a limited time left to help scratch something off his bucket list – shoot a bear. My dad has spent countless hours prepping to make this happen. Tom has to be on dialysis 12 hours a day and gets tired easily, so trekking in the woods takes everything he’s got. So excited to say he got his bear last night! These two men have worked so hard for this. Proud of them both!! Love you dad [Dave].” –Sarah Tanney

Dave adds: “Ever since I can remember my plan was to spend at least a month out West in the Rocky MT’s hunting Elk and Mule Deer with my bow the year I retired. So this year I retired May 1 and applied for a non-resident tag in multiple states, some of them I figured with number of preference points I had accumulated, were a guaranteed tag. When I didn’t draw a single tag and found out that the Unit I hunt in Idaho had sold out, in a Unit that to my knowledge had never sold out in the past, I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t make sense of it as hard as I tried. Well, that was until I responded to a post on Facebook from Anna Mitterling. After a brief conversation she put me in touch with someone that has been very special to her for a long, long time. One of her best friend’s father, Tom Ringer. After meeting Tom and his wife, JP, I understood then exactly why I hadn’t drawn any tags out West. Over the summer we became close friends and set out the plan to help Tom get a Michigan Black Bear with his crossbow!! Thanks to Todd McDaniel, Robyn McDaniel, Anna Mitterling, Hanna Ringer, Dakota, his wife JP and Kennedy McDaniel, we were able to help Tom take his first ever Michigan Black Bear on the opening evening by harvesting a bear we had nicknamed, “One-Eye.” I will not attempt to describe the emotions and excitement we felt in a little pop up blind, in an undisclosed secret location :), when it all came together on September 18, 2016. The video has it recorded for all time and is just a tiny, tiny glimpse of how exciting and precious life is. Sometimes our plans for ourselves must make God laugh!!!”

We give each other a hard time sometimes… arguing about APRs, baiting, hounds, crossbows…. But in my experience, at the end of the day, we can all rally around our passion for the outdoors and the special wild critters that inhabit our fields and forests. We are blessed to live in Michigan where opportunities are endless, and our hunting family is vast. As we continue to get deeper into our fall hunting seasons, let’s remember that each hunt, each moment is one of a kind.  Each individual has a story and a passion for hunting, fishing, and/or trapping. At the end of the day, the opportunities we all have fuel us to get up go to work, plant some trees, build a blind, train our dogs, or just sit and chat with our fellow outdoor enthusiasts.

I propose a toast: Cheers to you Tom! Congratulations on your bear, but more so – Tom and Dave – cheers to friendship.

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