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Making a Living the Outdoor Way in the Thumb
Mon, 27 Mar 2017 07:26:03 EDT
click on the picture to enlarge
Greg Leach of Bayport operates a great waterfowl guiding service on the
Thumb's legendary Wild Fowl Bay. He also provides a freshly cooked breafast
and hot coffee in his unique and well designed waterfowl hunting blind which
is easily acessed from shore. It is a great place to introduce young hunters
to this great outdoor pastime.
Making a Living the Outdoor Way in the Thumb
By Tom Lounsbury
One of the things I really enjoy about being an outdoor writer are the folks I get to meet and know who are professionals involved in making a living in the great outdoors. Michigan all by itself has it share and I’ve hardly scratched the surface in all my years of outdoor writing. The Thumb is no slouch either, in regards to having outdoors-related professionals, and for me the Thumb is the perfect base for operations, because it offers its own distinct outdoor bounties.
One of those bounties is waterfowl hunting, and Lake Huron’s Wildfowl Bay located on the northwestern side of the Thumb got its name for a reason, because it is one of the premier waterfowl hunting hotspots in this country. I began my first duck hunting experiences as a kid in Wildfowl Bay, thanks to an old hunter I met pheasant hunting on our farm, who decided to introduce a farm kid to a whole new avenue in the outdoors, and I’ve been waterfowl hunting in Wild Fowl Bay at every opportunity since (and that even includes snipe hunting, and yes folks there really is something known as a “snipe hunt”).
Despite all my years of waterfowl hunting, I’m the worst waterfowl caller you will ever meet (my wife says I can’t sing well either and even throw everything off key during “Happy Birthday”), so it is what it is. There is a knack to waterfowl calling, not to mention reading an incoming flock and figuring what is the best “tune” to send out, and of course it helps if you have a well setup decoy spread too. Since I can’t call all that well, getting a collection of waterfowl decoys doesn’t make a whole lot of sense either, but I sure appreciate having friends who can call and have all that “stuff” (including a waterfowl blind). Booking a professional certainly works for me, especially when his operation is in the Thumb and on Wild Fowl Bay.
I first met Greg Leach of Bay Port who operates the Wildfowl Bay Woodsman Shop and Waterfowl Guide Service for an early November waterfowl hunt last year. His place of business is located on M-25 just a couple miles east of Bay Port, and he has an easily accessed waterfowl blind just off the shore there that requires only a short wade to reach it. The blind’s construction which readily blends in with the associated wetland habitat really impressed me and getting up the “dog ramp” into it was secure and easy, especially for someone with my sort of rough mileage and not being quite as agile as I used to be.
The inside of the blind is spacious and well thought out with a long, comfortable bench to accommodate several hunters. The blind is typically narrow to allow being able to readily shoot from either side over a great decoy spread, but still allows ample legroom, and I’m no “tiny-tyke”. I will always remember Greg asking me the first time if I wanted a cup of hot coffee and I was expecting it to be poured out of a thermos, but instead I soon could smell it bubbling away in a coffee pot on a stove located in a small alcove of the blind. Breakfast being cooked up was soon to follow. Being used to far more Spartan conditions (including only cold snacks), this all worked for me!
Greg is also a Pied-Piper when it comes to waterfowl calling and makes and sells his own custom duck calls created out of black walnut, which are a work of art and sound beautifully. He is presently designing his first goose call which I’m sure will be a “Made in the Thumb” jewel. Besides making calls, Greg also makes custom knives of various blade designs and handle materials (my favorite being antler) that like his custom calls, are something to behold, and he also makes silver jewelry.
I felt quite blessed to find myself in his blind during the ongoing early September goose season, and it was the last day of the special teal season. I always enjoy sunrise in a “duck marsh” and that morning was a jewel, especially when I could smell fresh coffee brewing too. It then rained and got windy a bit, which pleased me, because rainy and windy weather tends to be good waterfowl hunting weather, but it soon stopped, matters really calmed with the skies turning blue and the thermometer began to rise, unseasonably so. Greg and I were soon peeled down to our camo t-shirts, and of course waterfowl don’t fly around that much when it is real balmy and humid out.
Just the same Greg talked a Canada goose in that I piled up with load of “Heavy Metal” number twos. All too soon it was time to hang it up but there is no doubt I’ll be back for more, because it is a topnotch hunting operation. I have grandchildren I’m planning on introducing to waterfowl hunting and this is the perfect setting. To contact Greg Leach to book a waterfowl hunt or to check out his custom made, quality wares call (989) 977- 0127.
I’ve know Lane Walker of Kingston for some time now. I’ve shared the hunting and fishing field with him more than a few times and he good company. He grew up in an outdoors orientated family and sharing outdoor experiences with family remains a top priority. I can remember when Lane was first out of college and working as a newspaper reporter, and he showed a natural knack for writing, and skillfully so. He would then begin a new career as a Thumb area educator, and then school administrator, something he still does. During it all, he never gave up his dream of being an outdoor writer, something he began to pursue in his free time, and it was a natural fit.
Besides being a fulltime school administrator today, Lane is also an award winning outdoor writer regularly publishing articles in several publications, a speaker too, and a book author with a series of books known as the “Hometown Hunters Collection”. To say he is a busy man while a raising a young family as well, is an understatement, but he clearly takes it all in stride.
The Hometown Hunters Collection is a fictional work that targets young people, something you don’t see too much of these days, but it is truthfully good reading for all ages. Lane is always happy to hear parents enjoy reading the books as much as their children do. His goal is to install an interest in young people for the great outdoors. His books entail action, adventure and a general outdoor experience, with each chapter ending in a cliffhanger that keeps you reading on to find out what happens next.
Lane has just brought out his sixth book in the series called “The Lost Deer Camp”, which I’m presently reading and enjoying every bit of it. It is about a troubled 8th grader from a broken family in Detroit who gets kicked out of school, and then is sent to the Upper Peninsula to live with an uncle and aunt. Going from a world of concrete to the woods of the “U.P.” is a life changing experience, but that is just the beginning of everything. If you want to know more you will have to read it yourself.
Lane Walker’s books are available at many Thumb area sporting goods and hardware stores, so keep an eye out for them and you can find out more about the collection by going to www.hometown-hunters.com .
I’ve come to know Lane Walker quite well, and I can tell you for a fact he is just getting started!
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Lane Walker of Kingston is a prolific and talented book author whose work
targets young adults but also is great reading for all ages. His goal is to
place an interest in the outdoors.