Area outdoorsman stays active in hunting, fishing

BALDWIN — Rich Balsitis was watching from a distance outside the gymnasium on Saturday at Baldwin High School as members of the Pere Marquette chapter of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters’ Association were conducting the calling championships at their annual rendezvous.

Balsitis, a custodian at the high school the past 19 years, isn’t an active turkey hunter but is an active hunter and fisherman. He still maintains an interest in a sports like turkey hunting, he indicated.

The Grand Rapids native, when he’s not working at Baldwin High School, stays active with his hunting and fishing, mainly in the Newaygo County area. He’s especially a diehard deer hunter during rifle and archery season.

The largest buck he’s shot has been a two-pointer.

Nov. 15 has been like Christmas day for hunters like Balsitis, as long as he can remember. He’s not a big fan of those proponents who want to have opening day on a Saturday rather than the 15th.

“When I was a little kid, I would go out with my dad,” he said. “It (starting date) has been a tradition as long as I can remember.”

For Balsitis, hunting has been a family affair.

“My wife used to hunt with me, but I take my granddaughter out with me now,” he said. “I have a couple of friends who hunt with me.”

When it comes to fishing, steel heads have been a major target for Balsitis. The White River at Hesperia has been a favorite spot. A major highlight several years ago was pulling out an 11-pound steel head.

“Out of the people I know of that fish, I haven’t heard any strong reports on ice fishing,” he said.

But when it comes to hunting and fishing, Balsitis says he reminds his granddaughter that even when they don’t catch anything, it’s hardly a waste of time.

“I was out hunting with my granddaughter when we didn’t get a deer,” he said. “But I explained to her it’s a matter of being out.”