BY RICK FOWLER, SPECIAL TO THE BOYNE CITY GAZETTE
The Michigan Outdoor Writers Association (MOWA) in partnership with the DNR dedicated a new wing at the Carl T. Johnson facility in Cadillac on June 17.
This event was to welcome in the first class of individuals (and one company) to the Michigan Outdoor Hall of Fame which included Boyne City resident Don “Buz” Lockman.
He along with Mort Neff, Tom Huggler, Fred Bear, Larry Kelly, and the Eppinger Lure Company were voted in unanimously.
Ed Shaw, Outdoor Skills Coordinator and Interpreter at the Carl T, Johnson Center who, along with MOWA President Mark Sak spearheaded the MOHOF effort added, “To be in a room with these icons of the outdoors is impressive. These people, in one way or another, helped me immensely as I grew up. We are very honored to house the MOWA exhibit.”
Sak said, “Buz Lockman was one of those guys who flew under the radar. There are some powerful names out their in the Michigan outdoor community. I am so pleased to have Don represented in this prestigious group. A guy who has shared his knowledge to so many people is sometimes overlooked. Fantastic!”
The Outdoorsman’s Handbook, edited by Hy S. Watson and Captain Paul A. Curtis Jr., and was published by “The Anglers Guide Company” in 1920. In fifteen chapters which cover 320 pages, the editors give their readers a full gamut of information pertaining to hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, fly tying, casting, and first-aid treatments.
The information compiled was surely invaluable at the time it rolled off the press. In fact in the introduction Watson and Curtis write, “Our readers will find this book a handy reference manual covering a wide and complete range of the techniques of outdoor life; one that they will refer to constantly to refresh the memory or to learn the gist of some new branch of the great game not taken up before.”
If there were to be a sequel written to this handbook, a wealth of new information could be compiled from interviews with contemporary naturalists, loggers, scientists, fishermen, park rangers, hunters, teachers, and environmentalists.
Better yet, is one interview with Don “Buz” Lockman, who held all of these positions in his forty-two years of service to the State of Michigan residents, students at Boyne City High School and the citizens of Charlevoix County.
Before retiring in 2005 Buz instructed kids in the laurels of the outdoors for 33 of the 42 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.
Indeed, thousands 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 NW section of Michigan, Buz led his charges with excitement, sensitivity and dedication in his role as an educator and steward of the land.
As a kid growing up in the rural setting of Boyne City, he could literally go out the back door to hunt and observe wildlife.
“I was probably influenced a great deal by my grandfather who was crippled with MS. He grew up on a homestead in the Jordan Valley in the ‘20s.
However, I heard about the big fish he landed and the big bucks he shot. Also by my dad who would fish and hunt with me every spare minute he could.”
After four plus decades of teaching and even after his retirement, the enthusiasm for the field he enjoyed remained.
He revels in the fact that, “While teaching, I could be outside everyday instead of just reading out of a book. I also enjoyed working with the various conservation groups on projects and other areas of concern and still do.”
Some of those areas included working with “Friends of the Boyne River” organization by erecting signs, mulching trail ways, and doing a yearly water quality analysis of organisms in conjunction with the DNR.
In addition, his students built over 90 turkey feeders over the years for the Traverse Bay Chapter of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association, plus put on a program at a meeting for Friends of the Boyne.
“The students were great with the program. They learned a lot, as did I,” Buz declared.
In the 2004-2005 school year, the Charlevoix Community Foundation (CCF) approached Lockman about the possibility of implementing a “Salmon in the Classroom” program with the goal of studying and observing the life cycle of the Chinook salmon.
The CCF supplied a $2000 grant to offset the cost of 400 Chinook salmon eggs and the equipment needed for their care.
In October of 2004, the Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA), based out of Traverse City delivered the equipment to Lockman’s classroom.
The students were then introduced, by individuals of the CRA, to the proper care of the fish who remained in the egg state until late November when the students noticed that many of them had hatched and in no time grew into the fry stage, the third of six stages that salmon go through.
With the supplied ‘chiller’ keeping the water at a constant forty-nine degrees, an automatic feeder was attached to the tank ensuring a well-fed stock over twelve hour periods.
As the fish grew, the students understanding grew also.
The gamut of topics that Lockman discussed as an offshoot of this remarkable venture ranged from conservation to fishing. Indeed, this hands-on learning method allowed his students to not just read about the subject with various pictures of the six stages.
They were an actual part of the development of the approximately 150 remaining Chinook which were released into the Boyne River on May 10, 2005.
When freed they were roughly the size of a persons index finger but would continue to mature for the next four years at which point they would weigh anywhere from 20 to 25 pounds.
Lockman and his students envisioned that some of them would survive and return to the Boyne River to spawn. Buz believes, “this was a good program. The kids enjoyed it, and it was something we all worked together on.”
He wasn’t just a teacher though. He was also a State Park Officer for thirty four summers, and an EMT for eleven.
In addition to these duties and responsibilities Don and his wife Jackie managed to bring up three boys in their home in Boyne City.
With so many students over the four plus decades there were many interesting, momentous, and memorable outdoor teaching moments for him.
Yet the ultimate culmination of a teacher’s career usually comes when they see one of their students years later.
“I had a girl stop me in the hospital when my mother had been admitted and said that she had decided to go into nursing because of the day she saw me cut up a wild turkey … go figure!”
Lockman added, “There’s not a moment but when an older outdoor class student stops me and says that my class was his/her favorite and they learned a lot.”
What a fitting tribute to an educator.
What a fitting tribute to a sportsman. What a fitting tribute to a human being.
So what had he hoped to leave with those students who were enrolled in his class at the end of the year and those he had encountered during his various volunteer hours in the field or on the water?
“A love for the outdoors and respect for nature.”
Mission Accomplished—the sequel to The Outdooorsman’s Handbook can begin and with that the legacy of a member of the Michigan Outdoor Hall of Fame.