By Michael L. Wojciechowski
My name is Michael “Wojo” Wojciechowski. Last December, I turned 65, and I retired the following May. RETIRED! Until now, I never really reflected on all the achievements and milestones of my life.
As a journeyman union machinist, I was a member of Local 113 and Lodge 48 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). I gave 34 years of service. Concurrently, I was in the Illinois National Guard for 17 years for a total of 22 years active duty Navy. Talk about OVERTIME! While in the military, knowing the “Rules of Engagement,” I grew to understand and compare those rules to the rules we hunt by: hours, dates, species, game management, available hunting land, and checking in your harvested buck or doe.
Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the support of my wife, who I’ve been married to for 34 years, and sons. They held down the fort, enabling me to go hunting for whitetail, mule deer, black bear and caribou for 36 years in Nebraska, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Maine and Quebec and continue my education of hunting and conservation. This education has been like no other. Through experience, I learned what it takes to be a successful hunter: deer characteristics, natural food supplies, scrapes, rubs, ruts, moon phases, gear needed depending on climate, weather, and terrain. I came to view deer as a natural resource that need to be managed and protected.
One of my most memorable hunting trips was when my friend, Tim, and his son, Brian, came hunting with me at Missouri Monster Bucks. Brian harvested his first deer ever at the end of the first day, and Tim harvested a deer the next morning. It was a perfect father/son hunt that I’ll never forget. I was so impressed by the whole experience, both as a participant and observer, that I wrote an article I called, “Paying it Forward.”
This year, I’ve been lucky to celebrate my 10th anniversary as a member of Union Sportsmen Alliance. In 2018, I was honored to win an antelope hunt in Wyoming from the USA. I was near tears I was so excited. I had never won anything like this my entire life. At the 4 Horse Outfitter Camp, everything from beginning to end was exceptionally smooth. Both the hunt as well as the visit by the field editor to film me as well as my friends, co-workers, and my working environment at the Chicago Transit Authority rapid transit. Without question, it was THE hunt of a lifetime. And then it aired on the Sportsmen Channel as “Wojo’s Wild West.”
So now it’s 2020. Within our hunting group, we have a dad and his daughter (John and Kathryn) as well as another dad and both his son and daughter (Dan, Delaney, and Shane). They go out every day with their dad without complaint to enjoy the thrill of the hunt as they learn the noises of the forest and the animals. Last year, Dan’s 16-year-old daughter, Delaney, harvested an 11-point buck! Mentorship between family and friends has its rewards—teaching discipline, responsibility, maturity, and stewardship. I truly believe we must share our love and appreciation for the outdoors with the next generation, so they understand that we must keep the balance of harvest and conservation and ensure hunting for generations to come.