July 01, 2017

As promised in last month’s edition of Woods-N-Water News, the Michigan Outdoor Hall of Fame committee had already nominated potential inductees. The voting is complete. There were both surprises and expected nominees, and as we make the announcement I just can’t help from being extremely excited about the future of this Hall of Fame. We know many true icons in Michigan’s outdoor history will be inducted. The most interesting and truly fulfilling aspect though will be those folks that no one knows much about. These are the folks that most deserve an acknowledgement for their dedication and hard work. Here are the 2017 inductees of the Michigan Outdoor Hall of Fame.

Fred Bear, founder of Bear Archery

The founding father of bow hunting, he touched every aspect of the sport.

Design and production led Bear Archery to be one of the largest outdoor manufacturers on the planet. Fred Bear was an innovator but was also so much more. He still holds two Pope and Young records and at one time was the only hunter ever to hold 5 Pope and Young records at once. His brown bear and Stone sheep still are looked at as an unbelievable record for a man in his 60s and were harvested with a long bow. Fred Bear was also instrumental in starting the first bow season in Michigan in 1937.

Mort Neff, host, Michigan Outdoor Television

Neff was born in Pontiac in 1903. He was one of the first ever to bring the outdoors to television in 1951. His show ran for 24 years, was informative as well as entertaining and served to inspire many Michigan hunters and anglers. It was reported that his outdoor reports caused certain areas of the state to be flooded by hunters or anglers when there was a good bite or good hunting conditions. His show inspired a long run of other Michigan Outdoor television shows as well following in the same tradition of reporting on Michigan’s great outdoors.

Larry Kelly, founder of Magnaport International

Larry was a pioneer in the sport of handgun hunting and revolutionized porting handguns and shotguns in an effort to reduce recoil and muzzle jump. Since 1974, his company has ported tens of thousands of firearms from Michigan to New Zealand. Larry was a life member of Safari Club International and inducted in the Safari Club Hall of Fame in 1989. He was the founder of the Handgun Hunter Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Outstanding American Handgunner award in 1986. Larry Kelly was the first hunter to harvest the African Big 5 with a handgun. He has over 100 world class trophies, with 59 of those in the top 10 of Safari Club International’s record book. He was a tremendous contributor of many conservation efforts nationally and in the state of Michigan.

Tom Huggler, Prolific Writer And Promoter

Tom was born in 1945 in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in the Flint area. His first national magazine article was published when he was only 12 years old. He became the Camping Editor of Outdoor Life magazine. Tom is also a prolific freelance writer and has penned thousands of articles in more than 100 publications. He has written more than 20 books and appeared on numerous outdoor television shows. He is also a respected promoter and has helped promote dozens of outdoor shows throughout the region. In 1978, Tom was named Outdoor Communicator of the Year by Michigan United Conservation Clubs. He was also President of the Outdoor Writer’s Association of America in 1992.

Donald “Buz” Lockman; teacher, ranger

Buz instructed kids in the laurels of the outdoors for twenty nine of the thirty-eight years he was a teacher, as part of either an Outdoors Class or a Natural Resources Class affiliated with the science department at Boyne City High School. Hundreds of students have learned a multitude of information from the hands-on approach this man took to the wonders of Mother Nature and the sanctity of how humans need to work with her. From constructing turkey barrels to hiking through swamps in winter, to identifying those species of trees that inhabit the Northwest section of Michigan, Buz led his charges with excitement, sensitivity, and dedication in his role as an educator and steward of the land. He had several students go on to careers as conservation officers and credit Buz for exciting them about conservation.

Michigan Hall of Fame Business Category; Eppinger Manufacturing Company, Dearborn

Founded in 1906 by Lou Eppinger. Four generations of family have operated this Michigan business and sold millions of fishing lures across the world. Known widely for the Daredevil and Red Eye spoons, there is a good chance if you looked in your grandpa’s tackle box, your father’s tackle box or in your own tackle box, there is an Eppinger Lure just waiting to catch another fish.