Outdoorsman reviews highlights of 2011
Rick Taylor | AnnArbor.com contributor
I wrote my first story for Annarbor.com, about ice fishing, this February and 20 more stories since then. I’ve covered many outdoor adventures and thought it might be fun to do a "Year in Review" and briefly discuss my favorite stories of the year.
Of course, you can do a search on my stories and pick your favorite or most controversial.
Speaking of controversial, let's start with a story in which I discussed the Michigan gun laws. This was not meant to be an opinion piece, rather, it was simply designed to go over the existing gun laws in the state of Michigan.
I received more comments on this story than almost any other. I was accused from both sides of the political isle of being partisan to hunting and anti-hunting groups alike. Wow, who knew that defining the gun laws in Michigan could be so inflammatory?
One of my favorite stories came to fruition when I met Heather O’Neal; owner of "Of Global Interest." Heather and my wife are lifelong friends, and we met during a party honoring clients of Heather.
There, I met Pemba and Moni Sherpa who were the first to get married at the summit of Mt. Everest! Their story is inspiring and why it hasn’t been turned into a movie yet is beyond me. Pemba is from Nepal and Moni from India. Their cultures don’t allow them to be together, but they defied cultural taboos and put their love above everything else. Truly, a wonderful story.
I knew my friend was dying and wanted to interview Norm before pancreatic cancer took him away. Norm O'Connor and I worked together at the Charles Reinhart Co. for many years before he finally retired. Sadly, he was fighting a losing battle, and we were losing precious time. I asked Norm and his wife Erma if I could interview Norm on his many outdoor adventures. I’m so grateful he said yes!
We did the story and finally got it out there for everyone to read — including Norm. Erma told me how happy her husband was to see his story for everyone to read. Norm passed away the very next morning, and I can't believe how blessed I was to know such a wonderful human being.
One of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make as a parent was to decide if my 10-year-old son should hunt for the first time. I’m very proud of this story because I openly discuss the pros and cons of such a call. My son has been hunting with me since he was 2 and knows more about wildlife behavior than many adults. He did get a wild turkey this spring, and he's still the sweet, intelligent and funny young man I’ve loved since the day he was born.
My wife received her Masters from the University of Michigan and has been going to Camp Michigania for years. We went this last summer and had a wonderful time sailing, shooting skeet, trap, and I had the pleasure of winning the coveted "Golden Arrow." Finding Petoskey stones in a nearby quarry then polishing them at Camp was arguably my favorite past time at camp. It was nice to feel like a kid again and put my worries away for a week.
I took my two boys on a salmon fishing charter in Frankfurt this summer. They had the times of their lives, and I can honestly say it was the best time they ever had together. Their smallest king salmon was 17 pounds, and we're still enjoying the salmon to this day. There's just something special about taking kids fishing that we can all relate to.
I shot two does during the archery season and wanted the public to see how much meat I got from it. I discussed the actual costs of the deer licenses, butcher bills and other associated costs like arrows, bow, etc... and showed off the multiple packages of meat prepped for my freezer. People talk about "organic meat," and I couldn't agree more that venison is about as good as it gets.
This next story was so epic that I had to write it in three segments. Yes, I’m talking about my elk hunt in Wyoming hosted by Stu Phillips. Stu read my column and also knew a mutual friend of mine by the name of Gary Zenz. Stu invited me on this amazing hunt on his 14,000 acre ranch and we witnessed amazing things every single day.
The rainbow and brook trout I caught were legendary as was the experience of being pinned down by 300 elk less than hundred yards away from us. We all shot elk and I was fortunate enough to capture these experiences on video and hope you take the opportunity to look it up on Annarbor.com.
2011 was a good year for me personally and professionally as well. I sold 25 homes this year, I married my beautiful wife in February, our daughter Ava turned 1 this fall, and my son Ricky has been seizure free this year. Finally, I was able to say goodbye to my mother just three hours before she passed away from lung cancer on Dec. 18, 2011.
I hope this new year allows me to write many more stories that entertain and inspire you to enjoy our beautiful state we call Michigan!
Your story ideas and comments are warmly welcomed. Rick Taylor can be reached at 734-223-5656 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.