For Kimberly resident Jerry Russell, hunting is a way of life.
He’s called Grant County home for over 37 years, but his original stomping grounds are in northern Michigan.
“People in that neck of the woods refer to it as Jackpine Savages,” he said, adding his father and grandfather taught him to hunt and fish. “All my life, I was raised that way. We didn’t buy meat out of the store.”
Hunting is a year-round activity, taking Russell around the globe.
He hosts hunters at his 1,000-acre upland game bird preserve, Great Expectations Hunting, from Sept. 1 through April 1, providing guided hunts with his five hunting dogs.
Spending those months working as a guide leaves Russell little time to hunt locally, so he spends his off-season hunting in areas of the world where they still have an open season.
Since the seasons are opposite in places like Argentina, it allows him to hunt in April, May and June.
In the United States, he’s enjoyed hunting in Alaska and Hawaii, and abroad, he’s hunted in areas such as Argentina, Bolivia, New Zealand, Russia and Africa.
Hunting in remote areas is what Russell likes best.
One of his favorites was in Kamchatka, Russia, going after a Kamchatka bear.
“It’s the largest bear in the world,” he said, adding the one he shot on Oct. 30, 2011, was over 1,300 pounds.
He said it’s the farthest he’s traveled.
A journey from Alaska to eastern Russia is usually a five-hour flight, but for this trip, because of the time of year, he had to fly to New York, to Moscow and then to the other side of Russia.
“It’s a huge country,” he said.
Another memorable trip was to northern Alaska in the Arctic where he hunted a Dall sheep.
He was flown to the hunting site, “an absolutely desolate and very beautiful area,” he said, adding hunters have to be in top physical shape to take on the hunt.
“A lot of guys go in there and come right back out,” he said. “You have to go straight up and straight down.”
Worldwide hunting has brought its share of dangerous moments.
Russell recalls having a close shave with death two years ago, hunting in British Columbia.
“I was going across in some tight scree, and it was 300 feet straight down,” he said.
He noted the vegetation there is so thick, you can’t see 8 feet in front of you, until you come up to a sheer cliff.
“It’s called the BC jungle,” he said.
Russell said he lost his footing, but a branch stopped his fall. He said he panicked and pushed his face into the ground so hard, it was swollen for three days.
Another memorable hunt was one he organized for a group to the Hawaiian island of Niihau, the “Forbidden Island.”
His wife, Kitty, also joined him for the trip where he shot a trophy-sized aoudad ram, the first taken on the privately owned island in 18 years.
Russell says he’s learned a lot about, and gained respect for, the various animals he’s hunted over the years.
While hunting bison last summer in Bozeman, Montana, he discovered a big gun is required to take one down; also if other bison smell the blood, they’ll drive hunters away.
“It’s not like Hollywood,” he said. “All the movies showing bison taken in one shot are not true.”
He said in the last six years, it hasn’t taken him more than one shot to kill an animal.
“I shot (the bison) seven times before he went down,” he said. “The next day my buddy, using a bigger caliber, shot his 18 times. Since 1989, no one has taken a bison bull in one shot.”
“I’ve gotten lots of education on all my hunts,” he said. “The American bison is truly a unique animal.”
Russell’s next big adventure was a trip to Africa this year for a leopard hunt.