Foundation for Hope 2023 Youth Hunt
by Ed H Edwards, Lansing Chapter Member, avid hunter, and fisherman
An Honor and Privilege to Attend!
“Get ready! I will stop him when he is out front,” whispered Ryan Gati in the soft, calm voice he is known for. The buck was following two does and would need a little influence to stop. A “WHAAT” stopped the three deer broadside at 40 yards, the 30-30’s hammer was back and in a few seconds, this evening’s hunt would be over one way or another!
It rained relentlessly on October 26th but weather-tight blinds allowed the Foundation for Hope Outdoor Adventures hunt at Cedar Hollow Lodge to start. Every year Safari Club International’s Lansing, Michigan Chapter sponsors a child and as a board member, I attend the long weekend hunt and festivities. Foundation for Hope Outdoor Adventures is a 501 (C) non-profit that provides whitetail deer hunts for youth battling life-challenging health issues. As part of the experience a shoulder mount is performed by The Wildlife Gallery and we present the mount to the sponsored hunter at our following year’s fundraiser banquet.
Our 2023 sponsored hunter was 11-year-old Evan Rennicke from Mequon, Wisconsin he is a die-hard Packers fan and we did not judge him for that since he is also an avid hunter. Evan was diagnosed with brain cancer in October 2022 and had a tumor the size of a Mandarin orange removed, a super dose of radiation, and will receive his 27th and final chemo treatment in December 2023! The series of events Andrew Rennicke (Evan’s father) told me of Evan’s fight is a family’s testimony of faith, resilience, and hope!
Now back to the hunt. Evan’s 30-30 barked and the 170 grain Core-Lock found its mark! The buck made a death run of 50 yards or less and piled up. One of Cedar Hollow’s 6.5 whizbang loaner rifles could not have done a better job. Ryan and I had a short drag of the 19-point picket fence racked buck to the nearest two-track, easy-peasy!
Cedar Hollow Lodge is located near Grayling, Michigan which is a small rural town with a population of less than 2000 with a rich and interesting history in many ways:
The town of Grayling, Michigan was founded in 1872 and named after the fish that was plentiful in the Au Sable River. In the 1870s through approximately 1900, the Au Sable became a destination for anglers. Trains packed with fishermen would arrive in Grayling to fish the “Holy Waters” of the Au Sable which was the most southern point and the most accessible of the Grayling’s habitat. This was a short-lived attraction, within 60 years Grayling became extinct in Michigan due to habitat destruction from logging and the introduction of several trout species that preyed on the Grayling eggs and fry.
Bear Archery and The Fred Bear Museum
Fred Bear founded Bear Archery in Detroit in 1933 after losing his job during the Depression. The business prospered and in 1947 he needed a bigger facility and wanted to get out of Detroit so he decided to relocate to Grayling one of his frequent hunting and fishing destinations in Michigan.
The success of the business continued in Grayling but in 1978 after a long and bitter labor dispute, both the company and Fred relocated to Gainesville, Florida where the company remains today.
After selling his interest in the company Fred continued to work at Bear Archery until the end of his life. He passed on April 27, 1988, at the age of 86 from heart failure. His cremated remains were returned to Grayling and friends spread his ashes in his favorite fly-fishing stretch in the South Branch of the Au Sable River.
The Fred Bear Museum opened in 1967 and became a popular stop for northbound travelers. My wife and I visited the museum during our honeymoon in 1973 and it left an indelible impression on me. The museum contained many of Fred’s mounts taken during his myriad of hunting trips. A small theater showed episodes of his hunts that originally aired on the American Sportsman TV show. In retrospect, my desire to hunt in Africa and other international destinations sparked from that visit.
The museum was moved to the Gainesville plant in 1985 and I visited it in the mid-1990s but it just was not the same as the original location in Grayling. In 2003 the museum contents were sold to Bass Pro and the mounts and memorabilia are part of the archery hall of fame in the Springfield, Missouri store.
Camp Grayling Michigan National Guard is the largest National Guard training facility in the USA. The camp comprises 148,000 acres of four-season training land, 337 sq/km of restrictive airspace, and supports many joint exercises. Over the years when meeting someone out of state that served, I have often heard “I trained at Camp Grayling.”
It is not uncommon, while at Cedar Hollow Lodge to hear what sounds like thunder which is a large artillery fire at the camp. Further to the point, when driving the back roads, you must stop and yield to tanks!