11-05-2020 Outdoors

VELVET SPIKE FROM 22 YARDS… Ava Thomas and her dad, Dennis Thomas Jr., display Ava’s successful hunt from Oct. 15, 2020. The velvet spike deer was shot from 22 yeards with Ava’s crossbow on family property in Covert.

Tale of the Hunt … young hunt enthusiast bags second deer

Ava Thomas, 11 and her dad, Dennis Thomas Jr. have been hunting together as long as Ava has been old enough and quiet enough. Born into a hunting family, Ava quickly developed a love for hunting and the quality time with her dad. Ava and her dad went hunting on October 15; they were sitting in their double man tree stand when about six deer came into view. Thinking they were all doe, Ava quickly put her site on one. When she was ready her dad did a deer call, stopping them in their tracks; giving Ava the perfect opportunity to make her shot. After tracking the blood trail, they discovered Ava shot a velvet spike from 22 yards with her crossbow on family property in Covert. An excited Ava and even more excited and proud dad took the deer to Clearwater meats in Eau Claire to get burger, steak, roast and meat sticks. Ava’s mom, Kassie said, “It’s always an exciting time to put meat in the freezer. It’s even more exciting when our 11-year-old daughter can do it.” Ava is a 5th grade, straight-A student at Watervliet North elementary school. Aside from hunting, she loves basketball, softball, her doggies and her friends and family. She is the daughter of Dennis and Kassie Thomas, Benton Harbor. This was Ava’s second deer she’s gotten in her short hunting career. She shot her first deer, a doe, back in December

of 2018.

Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that with the salmon runs done for the most part steelhead fishing should be picking up, especially with any increase in water levels due to rain. Pier anglers and those surfcasting are getting a few steelheads. Fishing should continue until it gets too cold. South Haven pier fishing for whitefish was decent. The action was still spotty, but anglers have taken some nice catches on spawn. Very few boats have been able to get out, so no perch or salmon reports. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reports fishing has been slow on the local inland lakes, but some nice catches have still been taken. Some crappies have been taken on Sherwood Bay on Paw Paw Lake, using minnows and wax worms for bait in 20 feet of water. Some steelheads have been taken in the Paw Paw River. One local angler brought his catch in to show, 10 pike, one perch and a limit of crappie, all taken from Silver Lake by Saugatuck. He commented that it did not take that long to catch them either. No boat activity out of St. Joseph, therefore no perch or salmon reports. Pier anglers are targeting whitefish when using spawn. In the St. Joseph River, boat anglers are trolling for steelhead and walleye in the lower river. Steelhead anglers are also fishing up at the Berrien Springs Dam. The DNR fishing tip this week is for steelhead and salmon: When bottom bouncing and drift fishing for steelhead or salmon anglers don’t always have to reel in their bait at the end of their drift. Allowing bait to swing across the current and rise up occasionally will trigger strikes from salmon and trout as the bait moves away from the fish, much like a swung fly. For more information and tips on salmon and steelhead, look at their pages on the DNR website. Hunting Deer hunters can enter prize drawings while helping feed hungry families. For a third year, the DNR is cooperating with the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger and Jay’s Sporting Goods in Clare to accept deer for donation to local food banks. Hunters in northeast Michigan will have a new opportunity to participate by donating at Northwoods Wholesale Outlet in Pinconning. Hunters donating a legally taken deer at either location will have their name entered for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate from the store where they donated. A donation truck will be at Jay’s – located at 8800 S. Clare Avenue in Clare – from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16; Friday, Nov. 20; and Saturday, Nov. 21. A donation truck will be at Northwoods Wholesale Outlet located at 229 W. 5th Street in Pinconning, Sunday, Nov. 15 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 16. Hunters who can’t make these events can donate to one of the many participating processors throughout the state – for a chance to win a wild boar hunt or one of several other prizes. The organization processed over 82,000 pounds of ground venison last year, providing more than 400,000 meals for families in need. To learn more or find a participating processor, visit Spor