T.R. Michels

T.R. Michels is a professional guide who specializes in trophy whitetail, turkey and bear hunts in Minnesota. He has guided in the Rocky Mountains for elk and mule deer, too. He publishes the Trinity Mountain Outdoors website at www.TRMichels.com.

Posts about Environment


Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: August 30, 2011 - 2:23 PM

First, I was out two days ago, and collected an icecream pail full of wild grape, so I can make wild grap jelly for my wife and daughter. It is easy to do, just follow the directions on a Sure-Gel box. And it tastes great. WEisdl plums  (for plum jelly) are just about ready, and walnuts are a ways off. LOtsof weildflwoers till i n bloom. purple vervain, balck eyed susand, purpel cone flowers, and of course goldenrod. ake the kids out fruit picking - it is nutririous, tasty and fun.


I want to thank all of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter - and have sent your thoughts and prayers to us. They are greatly apreciated.

For those of you who do not know, I have been suffering from chronic pain due to 9 pinched nerves and arthritis in my neck and back for about 7 years. It is extremely painful in both arms, both sides of my neck, both sides of my lower back, both legs, and the front and back of my midsection, plus the atypical pain in my face. I also have neuropathy (nerve damage) of my feet, which makes them extremely tender, and feels as if I am walking on pins and needles. I am on 60 mg of morphine every 4 hours around the clock, and take up to 150 mg when I have spikes in pain.

On top of that my daugher is suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, because 3 of her close friends have been killed in the war on terrorims in the last 4 months. She also just found out about her mothers' cancer, and she recently ran into a man who made a death threat against her, and who she helped put in prison, who was recently released from prison - without her knowledge. It was quite a scare for her.

In late June my wife was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. She had about 1 month of testing (which cost us about $55,000) and is now getting chemo and radiation treatments, because they cannot operate on her lung, or remove it at this point. The hope is that they can shrink the tumor, so that they may be able to remove her lung. You can follow her progress on Caring Bridge. If you want to make a donation to help pay for her treament and special food requirements expenses, you can make a donation to my Pay Pal Account at TRMichels@yahoo.com.

AND, my son recently had back surgery - to repair a pinched nerve which could have left him paralyzed - so I have to take care of his 9 month old son (the apple of my eye) during the week.

Needless to say - we are a family that has been under a lot of stress, and now is under more stress than ever - which is why I have not been posting on any of the 50+ talk forums I regularly post on. You can follow me and some of my hunting tips on Facebook or Twitter. Look for "T.R. Michels" or "Trinity Mountain Outdoors". On Facebook. I also have pages for "Protect Minnesota's Research Bears" and "Hunters Concerned for Legislation on Conservation (CLAC) on Facebook.

As I said, I thank all of you who have sent e-mails with your thoughts and prayers,. I cannot begin to tell you how much they mean to us. It is our your thoughts and our faith in Yahweh-God that sustains us and give us strength in our difficult times.

May God bless all of you,

T.R. Michels
Trinity Mountain Outdoors, owner

PS: If you smoke, please quit, it is what caused my wife's cancer. I cannot tell you what the patient goes through (it must be hell), but I can tell you that the word CANCER makes it very difficult for those who care about the patient ( I now suffer from deep anxiety too) . If you smoke, you may be hurting your loved ones too. Please do not smoke or chew.

Misconceptions about Wildlife Research in General & Dr. Rogers Bear Research

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: July 6, 2011 - 11:31 AM

I recently posted some of my thoughts on Dr. Lynn Rogers' bear research, and my efforts to help him gain protection for the bears he researches on a hunting talk forum. As expected, I received a lot of negative responses.  


I've got a number of things to say about the negative posts.

1. It is often those who oppose anything that are often the most vocal.

2. Those who oppose something often say/write things that are misleading, unfounded or incorrect.

3. Those who oppose hunting bans often do not understand the reasons why the ban is being asked for.


With all of that said.

There seems to be some misunderstanding on WHY animal research is conducted.

1. most research on wild animals, especially game animals, is conducted for the purposed of game management, and therefore does not focus on activities or behaviors of interest to hunters or animals behaviorists.

2, research conducted by animal behaviorists, and those interested in ways to use animal behavior for hunting purposes - is often conducted to learn more about the hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly behavior, family relationship, communication, and it is used to educate others, and used to understand how animal activity relates to human behavior.


There seems to be some misunderstanding about whose study this is and the PURPOSE of the study.

1. this is not my study.

2. this study has nothing to do with the mortality rates of any bears. Therefore, any objections to the study, based on the fact that mortality rates are not included in the study, are not relevant.

3. this study is about the minute by minute, hourly, daily, weekly monthly yearly activity of bears, the relationship of bears to each other within an ecosystem, and how members of an extended clan of bears (particularly the females) interact with each other during their lives. Because of this, it is essential that the bears not be subjected to hunting and death by hunting.

4. this study is being partially done in an attempt to educate non-hunters and hunters alike, who may have misconceptions about bears, around the world, about bear behavior on a daily basis, through video footage on the internet.

5. this study is partially done in order to get internet viewers and readers interested in wildlife management, with the hopes of a greater understanding of why and how conservation and ecosystem based wildlife management is needed now - for the future.

6. some of this study focuses on the physiology of the animals during different periods of the day, month, year, breeding phase etc. As such there are times when the animals must be handled.

That being said, some latitude should be given - as to how the research is conducted, especially by those who adhere to strictly "hands/off observational" wildlife research techniques.

There seems to be some misunderstanding about how a lot of wildlife research has been done in the past, and how it is currently done.

1. in it’s early stages, well above 80 percent of wildlife research was conducted on penned, caged, semi-tame or tame animals, such as the research studies instigated by wildlife naturalist Konrad Z. Lorenz, who studied the daily and familial activities of jackdaws, graylag geese and Alsatian dogs.

2. today, research on large animals is often conducted on penned animals, or ones that are accustomed to humans (such as on wildlife preserves and state/national parks), therefore a lot of research on animals is conducted on animals that might not be considered "wild".

3. it has been shown, through captive, semi-tame and wild animal research, that the daily activities of animals are basically the same, that the familial relationship and interactivity of animals is the same, and that the vocalizations and scent marking behavior of animals are the same - whether the researched animals are wild or semi-tame.

4. two of the most widely accepted and most publicized studies on large animals were conducted on human-acclimatized animals in the wild; gorillas by Diane Fossey and chimpanzees by Jane Goodall. Their research techniques were almost identical to Dr. Rogers techniques; one exception being the taking medical history, which does not jeopardize or negate the rest of his study; it adds to it.  

With that said - about 75 % of the research deer, turkey and waterfowl hunters rely on to use scents and vocalizations/calls while hunting - has been gained through research on animals that were not wild.

About 50% of the research deer hunters rely on to choose the best times to hunt deer is based on animals that (by the definition above) were not wild.

And yet -

Research gained from animals that are not strictly wild had proven to be invaluable to hunters. Hunters have learned what time of day animals are most active or inactive, when their peak breeding phase occurs, how animals communicate with each other through sight (decoys/flagging), scent (chemical attractants) and sound (calls), differences between male and female behavior, behavioral differences between age groups, and how social status and dominance affects behavior.

Without research conducted on penned, cages or semi-tame animals, we might not know much of this.

This study has taught thousands of people, around the world, the truth about bear behavior, that in most instances they do not have to be feared. It has also educate them on the intimate relationship between wildlife and their environment, with the result that many people, who might otherwise not care about wildlife management or ecosystem management, are now concerned about plant and animal conservation.

The benefits of Dr. Lynn Rogers research, including the protection of the bears he researches, far outweighs any opposition to the protection of the bears that can or has been raised.



After all of that - I'd like to hear WHY some of you who are not opposed to protection for these bears, think they should be protected.

I'd like to see WHY, those of you are against protection from the bears, think it would negatively affect hunting. What have you - personally - got to loose- from protection of these 89-20 bears?. (Realize that almost all of them are reproducing females, or cubs, not trophy class bears. Have you thought about the negative publicity that opposition to this proposal, by hunters, brings to hunting and the hunting community as a whole? Have you thought about the positive publicity that support of this bill, by hunters, would bring to hunting and the hunting community as whole?)











Why Should we Protect the Bears? & My Personal Stance on Hunting

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 23, 2011 - 1:21 PM

After yesterday's blog - one person e-mailed me and complained about the way I handled the poem about hunters not killing bears, about my reference to the Bible, and about man’s dismal record when it come to wildlife management. Following is my response to their e-mail:



Please realize that the poem would have been offensive to hunters, and in order to achieve what I want to achieve, which is to protect the radio-collared bears, we need the hunters sympathetic to our cause. We need the hunters, we do not want to alienate them. Since many of them feel strongly about their right to hunt, and because some hunters can be very touchy and protective of their rights, I would rather not step even lightly on their toes. Plus, the author of the poem understood my reasoning completely, and decided to remove the poem, because it made sense to them to do so. It takes a very perceptive and wise person to do something like that, in addition they have to check their ego at the door.

As to the reference to "the dominion over the animals" in the Genesis chapter of the Bible - I am a Bible scholar, and the translation of the Aramaic term "dominion" means that we can do with animals as we please, be it for food, or for trophy. But, after over 35 years of hunting, I can honestly say that less than 5% of the hunters I meet, hunt only for a trophy, they all eat what they kill. And in some cases, they hunt in order to keep the animals in balance with the carrying capacity of the habitat, so that the animals do not destroy the very meat or vegetation they need to survive.

The Importance of Wildlife Management

Because man has, in the past, been a poor steward of the animals the land and plants, we changed the dynamics of the male to female ratio of many species, the predator/prey balance in many ecosystems, and the number of animals in relation to the carrying capacity of the habitat in many ecosystems. But, just because we were poor stewards of the habitat and animals in the past, does it mean we should continue being poor stewards now, by not interfering in what is happening, in order to keep all of those relationships and balances in proper alignment? I say no.

Now that we have realized that what we did in the past was wrong (in many cases), and because our understanding of conservation is continually growing, what we need to do is try, to the best of our ability to: 1. use methods to keep the animal numbers at or below the carrying capacity of the land. 2. use methods to balance the predator/prey relationship in each ecosystem, 3. use methods to balance the male to female sex ratio of each species in each ecosystem, 4. use methods to achieve the correct age structure of each sex, of each species, so that breeding occurs in the right age groups, at the appropriate time of the year for maximum survival of the young animals. And how do we do that? Through habitat conservation and improvement, and through wildlife management.

Since, in most cases wildlife management involves reducing the numbers of one or the other of the sexes, or both sexes from the ecosystem, and because hunting is the most cost effective and efficient method of reducing animal numbers, while increasing revenue for wildlife management - hunting has become a very important and needed tool in wildlife management, along with captive breeding programs, stocking, translocation and re-introduction of animals to increase populations where needed.

My Personal Stance on Hunting

In closing, as the founder and the and only officer/employee of the Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears campaign, along with my Facebook Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears page co-Administrator and general handy-woman Sarah Curtis (who is indispensable), I feel I have to clear a few thing up, by stating exactly who and what I am. I am a "born again" Christian, who believes that humans do have the responsibility, as Christians, to responsibly manage both the habitat/ecosystem and the animals that live in those habitats.

I have been a hunter for 50 years. I am also a hunting consultant and outfitter and guide, who sells hunts for, and hunts, black bears; along with waterfowl, wild turkey, deer, elk, upland birds and small game animals. I am very pro-hunting, because I realize that hunting is needed to help maintain and contain game animals within the proper male to female and age group ratios, in balance within the carrying capacity of the land, and within the human social acceptance of he area. I am also a black bear researcher, who realizes the importance of the Ely research bears, and the loss of data that results every time one of the bears is killed by a hunter. Being a hunter is one of the reasons why Dr. Lynn Rogers is glad I have joined him in his efforts to protect the bears; because I can reach out to my fellow hunters.

I also realize that if I want to be successful in my attempts to protect the Ely, MN area research bears from hunting, that I need both the cooperation and backing of Minnesota hunters, if I want to convince the legislature to pass a bill to protect the bears. I will do nothing to alienate hunters, or how they feel about me, and those who support my efforts. Therefore, I will not allow any anti-hunting or hunting negative comments on the Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears Facebook page.

I will do everything I can to gain the support and backing of hunters around the world, about the importance of bear research and how it can help increase bear populations and the age structure of the bears (so that there may be more hunting opportunities for larger/older bears), and improve the habitat for other animals (such as deer and grouse), by educating hunters about the importance of bear research on bear populations, the same way I try to educate non-hunters or anti-hunters about the benefits of hunting on game populations and the habitat.

God bless,





Research Bears; Conservation Education

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 22, 2011 - 5:33 PM

on this blog I’ve previously talked about the research value of the 8-10 bears currently being studied by Dr. Lynn Rogers of the National Bear Center and the Wildlife research Institute. And I’ve talked about the economic value to the city of Ely, the surrounding areas, and the State of Minnesota, brought by the bears and other eco-tourism opportunities (which I believe, are not being capitalized on enough by the State of Minnesota). Now I’ll talk about the educational value of the bears, to not only the school children in over 500 classrooms around the world, but to also to adults, both hunters and anti-hunters. Once a person takes and interest in the bears, they often begin taking an interest in the environment, and how to conserve wildlife habitat. Webster’s Dictionary defines conservation as, "a careful preservation and protection of something; especially: planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect".

Anyone who lives anywhere in the world can see that humans are not only altering the natural environment, but in many cases they are destroying it. And once you destroy habitat, it often takes years to bringing it back to its natural or original state, if it can ever be brought back at all. The more habitat we lose, and the more fragmented the habitat becomes, the more fragile the ecosystems of the habitat becomes, the less natural forage there is, and the smaller the forage base becomes for even the smallest of the higher animals, such as insects, crustaceans and arachnids. The less forage or animal matter there is for each type of animal (as we move up the food chain) to feed on that there is, the lower the population becomes, but the more forage each animal needs to survive. And the larger the animal is, the more quality habitat it needs to survive. And that habitat needs to be contiguous (connected on one or more sides), not fragmented (several small parcels) – because fragmented habitats do not carry as much plant and animal matter as larger blocks of habitat. Plus, fragmented habitat leads to more travel, which expends needed energy, and leaves animals open to being injured or killed by any number of means.

The concept of conservation has lately evolved into the more advanced understanding of the complexity of natural ecosystems, in which everything in an ecosystem is dependent on everything else in that ecosystem. We now look at entire watersheds (meaning all of the land that is drained by a particular stream or river, in all directions, as an ecosystem. This is a great concept, because it accepts the belief that every inch of land in the watershed is important to the ecosystem and its health. It also accepts the belief that in order to be healthy, the ecosystem shouldn’t be fragmented, or it should at least have travel corridors large enough that the largest animals in the ecosystem feel safe enough to use those corridors, to move between the fragmented pieces of the ecosystem.

So, ecosystem management includes not only protection of the habitat, but management of the animal populations within that habitat. And hunting is one of the tools of wildlife management. In some instances hunting is needed to help control the populations of the larger species, especially mammalian predators, which can, if they become too numerous, too accustomed to the presence of man, or move into areas inhabited by man, can be dangerous. Hunting may also be needed to control large herbivores (prey species) such as deer, elk, moose and bison; which if they are not hunted each year, may overpopulate the habitat, with dire consequences for both the animals and humans. The funds generated from hunting licenses, permits and stamp sales make up a large art of the funds needed to manage - not only game animals - but also non-game species, and the habitats they live in. Huntin is a vitalpar f game and habitat management from the smallest specie to the largest.

Actually, this article was brought on by a person who posted a poem on my Protect Minnesota’s Research Bears page on Facebook. Although it was a very well written poem, and it expressed the sentiments of not only the author, but also many other people who want to protect the bears from hunting, it was slightly negative when it cam to hunting, because it asked hunters not to hunt bears at all. It could have, if I had left it on the page, resulted in many hunters not supporting our efforts to protect only the research bears of Dr. Lynn Rogers study.

I contacted the author of the poem, and tried to explain all of that, emphasizing the facts the hunting is a vital tool in game management, and that we wanted the hunters on our side if we wanted to get protection for the bears.

Following is what I wrote to the author of the poem.

Unfortunately this is not the message Protect Minnesota's Research Bears wants to portray. Hunting, whether you like it or not, is a needed game management tool, which helps to keep the bear population in balance with the carrying capacity of the land, and the human social acceptance capacity of the land.

If bears overpopulate (which they will do unless we remove hundreds of them from the habitat every year) they will start to destroy the habitat they depend on, which includes both plants and animals. And as the amount of good habitat gets smaller and smaller, the bears will congregate on these smaller areas, causing stress and fights among the bears. And, because of smaller areas of good habitat, there will not be enough forage for the bears, and they may get sick from malnutrition, and they will eventually die of starvation.

And, when good habitats shrink, bears move into urban areas, getting into garbage, destroying vegetable gardens, and even killing and eating small livestock, not to speak of scaring many residents. They are a danger to humans.

So, we must hunt - or we should be considered very poor stewards of both the animals and the land, and we are not doing our part as Christians, wherein God gave man dominion/mastery over the plants and animals, to with as we please (Gn. 1:26). But, dominion also means to manage, and we would not be doing that - if we did not hunt bears.

Plus, if we want to pass a bill to protect the research bears, we need the support of hunters, who will make up at least 30% of those who will voice their concerns on this matter. We want hunters on our side, not on the side of the legislators or DNR.

I honestly hope I have made this understandable to you. My hope is that you will either remove your poem from any pages concerning the protection of the research bears - because it can only hurt our efforts - or at least make it clear the we want only the research bears protected.

If you have questions or comments - feel free to contact me.



I do not know if this person was an anti-hunter or not, but what I wrote must have made sense to them, because they wrote back to me and said they understood, and they decided to take the poem down.

I’m glad it turned out that way, because I did not want there to be bad feeling on the part of the author. I hope that I explained it in a way that it made sense to them. We need hunhting in order for wildlife management to succeed.


God bless,



Bear Protection Bill

Posted by: T.R. Michels Updated: June 12, 2011 - 6:35 PM

A number of people have weighed in on the background for a bill to protect the Research Bears of Ely Minnesota.

Here is a suggested guidline for that bill: 

Part 1.There shall be no protection for any State owned wild, free-roaming game animal from hunting, based on frivolous claims such as: due to genetic anomaly (color of the skin, hair, fur, feathers, scales etc.) or geographic location (specific area), unless it is deemed necessary by the DNR for such reasons as its economic, educational or research value; this does not include research animals of any species, including those that carry colored ribbons/tape and/or radio collars, in units designated by the DNR.

Part 2. It is illegal to hunt and kill bears being studied for research purposes, that wear radio collars, GPS units or radio tracking devices, that also have brightly colored or florescent ribbon/tape attached to their collars or bodies, in Units 22, 24, 25 and 31 only.

Part 3. In the event that a research animal is killed, the DNR shall have the right to conduct a thorough review of the incident, to determine if it was a purposeful act or not, and it shall then determine the appropriate action, fine or punishment.

This could be amended to include bears being studied for research purposes by the State DNR.



So, a few questions for all of you – you can respond in a comment here, or e-mail me at

TRMichels@yahoo.com. Please, no frivolous responses.


Is the passage of such legislation possible?

Will legislation such as this work?

Could you support this legislation, and if not - why not.


Th biggest objections to a bill protecting specific animals, is that it will lead to attempts to protect other animals for frivolous reasons, such as the color of their hair of skin. I cannot find any instance where protecting research animals has led to the protection of that entire species, a group of animals from another species, or an entire other species. If anyone knows of such an instance, please provide it to me.



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