Bryan Friend fromHoughton Lake is the ninth person in the state to qualify for a Commemorative Bucks of Michigan Grand Slam. CBM is the state’s official big game record keeper…
A grand slam is the taking of at least one representative of each of the species the organization maintains records of; deer, bear, elk and turkey. Friend bagged the last of the four animals he needed for the slam, a black bear, on September 13, 2015 in north Menominee County while hunting with guide Richard Haney from Arnold. The bruin had a dressed weight of 325 pounds and the skull officially scored 18 10/16. Bear skulls must score a minimum of 18 to qualify for state records.
“The bear was my biggest challenge,” Bryan said. “It took me 18 years to kill a Michigan bear. It took that long because I wanted to make sure when I shot one it would be big enough to qualify for state records. I passed up a lot of small bears over the years. My five previous bear tags went unfilled because I didn’t get a chance at a bear that was big enough.”
A whitetail buck was the first big game animal that Friend bagged that qualified for CBM records. He got a 10-pointer during the fall of 2001 in Washtenaw County that scored 125 2/8. Bryan shot the whitetail the day before Thanksgiving with an iron-sighted Ithaca Deer Slayer in 12 gauge.
He had applied Tink’s Scent to a boot pad to leave a scent trail to where he was hunting. He simply sat on a log and did some grunting and rattling periodically. A half hour before dark, the buck followed the scent trail he laid down and he shot it at 25 yards.
Typical antlered whitetails taken with firearms must score at least 125 to make it into state records. Bow kills only have to measure 100.
Then in 2005, Bryan drew a hunter’s choice elk tag for the December hunt. The only problem was his wife was pregnant with their first child and her due date was December 10. The elk hunt was supposed to start on the 6th. Their son was actually born on December 2nd, so Bryan was able to be present for the birth and then go on his elk hunt.
Bryan hired guide Pat Samalik for that hunt. Kevin Johnson from Gaylord also helped out as a guide. On the third day of the hunt, they got permission to hunt a piece of property that a bunch of elk entered, based on fresh tracks in the snow. As they worked their way through the thicket, they could hear the clicking of elk antlers against branches ahead of them. A total of 11 bulls moved into a field from the thicket ahead of them.
Another hunter shot a large 6X6 bull from that herd that Bryan had his eye on, but there was an even larger nontypical that eventually moved on the property that they secured permission to hunt, and Friend managed to drop the nontypical with the second shot from his 7 mm magnum at 150 yards. Bryan’s bull had 8X8 antlers that scored 311.
The bull had a dressed weight of 650 pounds and was estimated to be 6 ½ years old. It was taken in Otsego County. The toughest part of getting a CBM slam is often getting an elk that qualifies for CBM records. It can take years to draw a tag and once you have a tag, connecting on a book bull can be a challenge. It wasn’t until after Bryan had an elk and deer under his belt, that the thought crossed his mind about trying for a slam.
It would be nine years later (2014) before Friend bagged a turkey that made it into state records. He got the gobbler on opening day of the spring season, which was April 21. He was hunting from a ground blind around 5:00 p.m. during light rain when he scored.
Jake and hen decoys were positioned about 15 yards from the blind. Earlier in the afternoon, he did some calling, but got no responses. Then, all of a sudden, Bryan heard a gobble nearby. The bird saw the decoys and came running in. He grabbed his 20 gauge fitted with a polychoke and fired when the tom was broadside. He took a second shot as the bird ran by the blind and entered nearby woods.
Fortunately, Bryan’s first shot took its toll on the turkey. While still hunting after the gobbler, Friend found the bird leaning against some saplings and finished it off. The tom had a 10 ½-inch beard and scored 12 2/8. The minimum for turkeys taken with firearms is 12. Gobblers collected with bow and arrow only have to score 10.
On April 20, 2015, Bryan collected a second book bird in Roscommon County with his Barnett Raptor Crossbow that scored 10 11/16. That gobbler was pecking at his decoy when he arrowed it. That bird only made it five yards before dropping dead.
Bryan’s bear hunt began on September 10, 2015. He saw a nice bear an hour before dark on that day that he estimated at 250 pounds. Friend didn’t think its head was big enough to qualify for state records, so he passed it up. He was sure trail camera photos from that bait were of a larger bruin.
Bryan returned to the same spot on the second day of his hunt, but didn’t see anything. He moved to a new location on day number three and saw a small female. On day four he moved back to the bait where he started. Around 7:30 p.m. the big bear he was waiting for made an appearance.
When it was by the bait at 23 yards, Bryan put a Lumabolt tipped with a 125 grain Ramcat Broadhead into the chest cavity. Even though well hit, the bear covered 175 yards before piling up.
On the same day Bryan got his book bear, partner Brad Wellman from Tecumseh arrowed a much bigger bruin with a compound bow. Brad’s bear had a dressed weight of 385 pounds and was originally thought to have a skull large enough to be a new state record. The butcher that processed Wellman’s bear cut off at least an inch of the back of the bruin’s skull, however, eliminating any opportunity for that possibility. Even with the missing piece of skull, the bear still qualifies for state records with a score of 19 8/16.
For more information about CBM’s big game record keeping go to the organization’s website: www.buckfax.com.