By SCOTT BRENT
For the Sunday Times
TRENTON — Hunting wildlife is not simply a form of recreation for Michael Vyletel. It is a means of liberation from his office space.
Vyletel had been waiting almost 10 years to receive his bear hunting license, which is awarded to a select few each season in order to preserve the population.
Vyletel, 48, had been issued a license in the early 2000s, but did not encounter a bear that season.
He was picked again from a lottery system a month ago, and soon met face-to-face with the hunt of his life near the Red Oak District of Gaylord.
The day began with very little action, as it was unseasonably warm (90 degrees Fahrenheit) with mosquitoes everywhere.
“I was about to leave my tree stand and head home as a thunderstorm was approaching,” Vyletel said. “After some rainfall and lightning, it began to clear up. I could see a rainbow northwest of me with a couple of deer, too.”
Twenty minutes later, Vyletel spotted a 375-pound black bear among the golden ferns. His target was 22 yards away. Armed with a compound bow, he assumed a north stand with the wind blowing toward the southwest.
“What bears lack in sight during the day, they more than make up for in their sense of smell,” he said. “Moving against the wind allows for your scent to be masked.”
The bear’s claws were longer than a grown-man’s fingers. Its maw had gaped upon seeing its opponent. Vyletel prepared to take his shot as the bear began to chomp rapidly, warning the hunter that he was in his territory.
Fortunately for Vyletel, the bear had turned broadside, allowing Vyletel to quickly pierce the bear’s heart and lungs with a hypodermic arrow. Upon making contact, the arrow’s cutting diameter expanded from one-quarter inch to 1.5 inches.
Vyletel prefers the thrill and challenge of using bows to capture his prey, instead of relying on the easier kill that a rifle offers.
“Bears are incredibly majestic creatures, and the experience became very spiritual being that up close,” Vyletel said.
As a district sales manager for the National Automotive Parts Association, he craves for opportunities to be away from his cell phone and enjoy the peace and quiet with “God’s world.”
“I also hunt to provide food for my family. I’m having some bear tacos with corn and potatoes right now,” he said while sitting in his Trenton home.
“Choosing to eat bear that is naturally fed with corn, clover and molasses is, of course, a healthier option than buying any processed meat on wholesale that is filled with GMOs. It’s like deciding whether or not to drink Bud Light from the can or a Stella (Artois) in a handmade glass with a gold rim. If you know how to cook wild game, it’s delicious.”
Vyetel’s daughter, Montana, is also a skilled hunter, as she recently nabbed a six-point buck with her crossbow during her youth hunt.
“I want my daughter to get involved in the outdoors as much as possible because when I explored the natural world, I understood the meaning of what God created, and when you find that meaning in nature, you add tremendous value to your own life. It’s also a great way for us to bond.”