Two hunters walking in the snow

By John Stellflue, THC Wisconsin Mentor

John + Andrew

July 20, 2022

As I sat in my cabin last year in front of the fire knocking the chill out of my bones from a cold and snowy Wisconsin deer opener, I got a text from Andrew. I met Andrew through work several years ago and really hadn’t heard from him in some time. His text was a picture of a hunter with a nice 8-point buck that he had shot on the opening day of Wisconsin’s gun season.

I couldn’t make out the person in the picture because he had a cold weather face mask on. My response to Andrew was “Nice buck, who shot it?

He responded,“I did.”

When I met Andrew, he was not a hunter. To see him holding that buck was a total surprise to me. The text messages stopped, and I picked up the phone immediately and called him. I called him for two reasons: to congratulate him and to find out when, and more importantly why, he took up hunting.

There had to be a better way.

I called and his voice boomed when he answered! I could feel the excitement. He told me about the hunt and the shot on the buck, which was perfect. He told me about his days working as a butcher at a box store and how he realized that there had to be a better way to get protein, and he thought hunting might be the way to do that.

Andrew said that his father-in-law asked him to join on the hunt and spend the weekend with him on a property in Wisconsin’s driftless area. He jumped at the opportunity to go on his first-ever outing.

The success that followed was a surprise, but it stoked a fire in Andrew to do more. He needed someone to show him more than just that one deer property, and I told myself that I was going to make that happen.

We started as work acquaintances and now he is a part of our network and our community. Andrew truly embodies what The Hunt in Common is about. I hope to see him mentor a hunter one day.

- John Stellflue

Soon, spring was approaching, and my thoughts turned to turkey hunting. I decided to ask Andrew to join me on a hunt near my hometown. Again, he jumped at the chance. In the weeks leading up to the hunt we talked frequently about what to expect. He had a LOT of questions, all good questions. I answered all of them as best as I could.

The evening before his first-ever turkey hunt, we headed to the woods to set up a blind. Upon arriving at the farm, we saw a big tom standing in the field. I said, “that’s a good sign.” Once the blind was set up, we headed home to have a meal and get ready for what was sure to be an exciting morning.

As the alarm went off in the pre-dawn darkness, I must admit I was apprehensive. It was late in the season and the turkeys had been hunted for nearly four weeks. I told him that it could be a rough hunt. I knew there were birds in the area and that we were likely going to have to just wait them out. Well, the turkey Gods smiled on us that day. The birds, while totally silent, showed themselves all morning. We had hens which kept it interesting. It was getting late, and we were contemplating a move. I told Andrew I wanted to make one more call before we moved. A gobble cut the silence not far from our spot, just like you read in all the magazines and see on the TV shows. Within seconds five jakes entered the field and walked right into the decoys. It was honestly difficult for Andrew to get a clean shot because the jakes never separated. I didn’t want him to shoot two, or even three. Finally, one separated from the flock and Andrew killed his first turkey!

To me, the most interesting part about Andrew taking up hunting is that he was born and raised in a household where hunting was frowned upon. Yet he opened his mind and decided there must be abetter way to feed his family and decided to explore it. He decided to knock down the barriers that stood between him and the wonderful world of hunting. We’ve stayed close ever since, and I’m proud to say that I have remained his mentor to this day. We started as work acquaintances and now he is a part of our network and our community. Andrew truly embodies what The Hunt in Common is about. I hope to see him mentor a hunter one day.

Andrew Black

Mentor

John Stellflue

Andrew Black

Mentee

Andrew Ehrhart

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