2023 Michigan BHA Rendezvous Recap




Michigan BHA Rendezvous Provides Connection and Community

There is a unique sense of connection experienced at every BHA gathering. It is the result of knowing that a love for public land, water, and wildlife is the common thread that pulls us together. That connection was on full display from July 28-30 as dozens of passionate public land owners made their way to the Looking Glass Sportsman Club for the 2023 Michigan BHA Rendezvous.

Friday night the campground came to life as people began to set up camp and crack open coolers to fend off the muggy heat. As the sun set, a central campfire became the gathering point where old friends reconnected and new friends were made. The campfire conversation focussed on how each person first became connected to BHA, and what our hopes are for the future of the Michigan chapter. We had founding chapter members and people at their first BHA event all offering ideas on ways to increase our impact throughout the state.

After burning the campfire into the wee-hours of Saturday morning, it was a quick turnaround for biscuits and gravy cooked by Michigan chapter chair, Austin Motte, and a “coffee and conservation,” discussion. This provided a chance to highlight MIBHA policy priorities for 2023 including the big win that came when the DNR denied the proposed expansion of Camp Grayling (https://www.backcountryhunters.org/michigan_dnr_denies_camp_grayling_expansion), our support for saving the Cornwall Dam (https://www.backcountryhunters.org/cornwall_dam), and our recent addition as a conservation partner for the Michigamme Highlands project in the upper peninsula (https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/managing-resources/forestry/private/legacy/michigamme-highlands).

Saturday’s weather was picture perfect, inviting people to shoot the 3D archery course, probe the pond for willing fish, and show off well trained hunting dogs. Alongside the outdoor activities, four speakers provided a wide range of presentations.

Jason Meekhof from the National Deer Association led off with a demonstration on butchering game. Using a lamb for the presentation, Jason talking his way through butchering half of the animal and then coached a few participants as they worked on the other half. One first time butcher said, “The Covid pandemic was a wake up call for our family regarding where our food comes from and my husband started hunting… We feel such a connection to our food, but have been paying a lot of money to a processor. Before today I’d never even seen someone butcher a whole animal. Now I’m excited to do it myself this fall and have that much more connection to our food!”




Thom Jorgenson presented on off-season and out of state hunting, providing practical tips and sharing personal experience. He covered how to find opportunities in every month of the year, ways to get low cost tags, species you might not immediately think of for hunting, and best practices for meat care in hotter environments. Thom’s attention to detail and creative approach to hunting generated a lot of great questions and ideas for participants.




The afternoon introduced two presenters from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.  Jared Duquette spoke on foraging and mutualism during hunting, doing a great job of educating the crowd on opportunities throughout the year. Jared’s unique presentation took the various seasons for outdoor pursuits (spring turkey, trout, warm water fishing, late summer scouting, fall deer hunting) and shared what wild foods you can find during each.

Brian Frawley wrapped up the presentations by sharing what the DNR learned from the first year of mandatory online reporting for whitetail harvests. Brian did an excellent job of explaining the history of declining survey results, the rationale for the new system, and the powerful data that will allow better management of Michigan’s deer herds. We applaud Brian’s decades of work in this area and the DNR’s commitment to science based management of our shared wildlife.

After the presentations were done, everyone shared a delicious dinner of smoked pork butt, as well as smoked meat from the collaboratively butchered sheep from Jason’s presentation. The smoked meat and sides were the hard work of Michigan chapter treasurer, Bryan Czajka.

Following dinner everyone gathered at the rifle range where a 3D hog target was set up far down range and people paid a dollar an arrow to win the “unknown distance” challenge. No range finders were allowed until after the competition when we learned it was 82 yards from the compound line, 59 for the longbows and recurves, and 24 for the kids. The cheering was equally loud for shots that hit foam and spectacular misses that sent arrows ricocheting into the woods. This first edition of what will surely be an annual event came down to a shoot off between two teenaged archers!

Saturday wrapped up with the raffle drawings from our fantastic sponsors and another night around the campfire sharing stories of past hunting adventures and dreams for seasons to come. The 2023 Michigan Rendezvous was a fun, educational, and inter-generational celebration of what makes BHA so great. As one participant said, “I love the way that everyone just fits. We have a herd of dogs that everyone is playing with, and another herd of feral children that everyone is looking out for!”

The Michigan chapter is looking forward to an incredible year of boots on the ground conservation work, opportunities to invest in our next generation of hunters and anglers, and meaningful contributions to the future of backcountry experiences in the Mitten State. We’ll be back at Looking Glass for the 2024 Rendezvous and look forward to seeing everyone there!



Thanks to our national and state sponsors:

About Michigan BHA

Our chapter is dedicated to serving the interests of conservation and access to clean public lands and waters. Through planning, collaboration, and dedication, we will make a difference.

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