Successful bear-hunting clinic part of DNR’s new Outdoor Skills Academy


Check out the DNR’s Outdoor Skills Academy for classes and workshops about how to pursue Michigan fish and wildlife species like the black bear.

CADILLAC, MI – The Department of Natural Resources’ recent bear-hunting clinics, held at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac, Michigan, taught 153 students the ins and outs of bear hunting – making this the most successful year since the DNR started the classes five years ago.

Part of the DNR’s new Outdoor Skills Academy, the clinic covered everything students needed to know about bear hunting, and already has helped two students take bears on their hunt in Canada. One of those hunters, Eric Lardi, took a bear over 300 pounds.

“Thanks so much for the Bear Hunting Clinic. We very much enjoyed it, and it was an excellent introduction to hunting for my grandkids,” said Lardi. “The guides in Canada reinforced everything you said, and I would not change the class. The conservation officer’s experience was invaluable to us, as to bear behavior and what to expect.  We used the many suggestions given as to size of the animal, gender, baiting, etc.”

This year the Michigan Bear Hunters Association, an advocate of hunter education and valuable partner of the DNR, donated several prizes for the bear hunting clinic, including four trail cameras and a .308 Ruger rifle. The MBHA donated the rifle, raffled to the students, to help build class participation and promote education about bear hunting across the state. Teri Fournier of Freesoil, Michigan, won the rifle drawing.

The Michigan Bear Hunters Association is committed to hunter education, sound management and

Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Museum and Interpretive Center, Mitchell Lake State Park. Steelhead fishing clinic, below Tippy Dam. Part time interpreter Kevin Perry assists student John Wisniewski.

The DNR’s Outdoor Skills Academy features a variety of hunting and fishing classes, including the popular steelhead fishing clinic

defending the state’s wildlife heritage. To learn more and to get involved, visit

The Outdoor Skills Academy is a new DNR program focused on developing and honing outdoor recreation skills, with classes offered at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center. The academy includes classes such as:

  • Ice Fishing (Hard Water School): A one-day, eight-hour class that teaches everything needed to know about chasing panfish through the ice, including how to use electronics and tip-ups and how to fish like the pros. Several pros, including Steve Berry of Vexilar and Clam Outdoors and Norm Smith of HT Enterprises, join the DNR every year to help teach the classes.
  • Rod Building: Covers how to get started with building fishing rods. The cost of the class varies depending on the rod being built.
  • Spear Fishing: Presented in partnership with the Michigan Darkhouse Angling Association, this class offers an opportunity to learn how to spear fish.
  • Decoy Carving: Taught by famous carvers Al Williams and Al Nelson, this class meets every Thursday night during the fall and winter season. Space is limited, and registration is required.
  • Spring Steelhead Clinic: Including one day in the classroom and one day on the river, this class is offered every spring on the last weekend in March and the second weekend in April. Registration is required, and classes fill quickly.
  • Walleye Clinic: This one-day classroom session teaches tips and tricks for chasing monster walleyes. Fish pro-staffer Steve Berry of Church Tackle, Salmo and Fish Bones Custom Lures is the instructor.
  • Bear Hunting Clinic: Teaching the A to Z of bear hunting, this class is offered the first and second Saturdays in August every year.

To learn more about the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center and its programs, visit