Michael works with his father keeping the family business running. Operating a Commercial HVAC and Refrigeration sales, service, and installation company, they keep the beer and groceries cold across north central Nebraska, and into south central South Dakota. When there is midnight oil to spare, he helps keep the gears turning on a 2-year old start up company with a lifelong friend-turned business partner. Handlebend works at keeping storytelling alive and making memories amongst loved ones via their hand-built copper mugs.
“The question of "why I hunt" is an ever-evolving one in my world. There were many years that the list of reasons was topped by the tradition of fellowship it brought to my family and I. More recently, the leading focus has been the quality of food it provides us, and the honing of a more intricate set of culinary skills (though I am, by no means, advanced).”
While game as a source of food is typically only enjoyed by sportsmen, Michael feels like it can often still be highly under-valued and under-appreciated.
"Lately, I feel my top answer to the question shifting again; growing with me as I move through this life. It is now heavily influenced by the existence of four little boys who look at me each day with eyes chock-full of wonder and awe."
Though certain aspects of his answer to "why I hunt" have carried more influence than others through his life, none of them are separate from each other. He fully expects new evolution and discovery as his young family continues to teach, learn, and practice the hard work together. Michael hopes to educate his boys with many things, but among those is a deep working knowledge of what food is. Michael feels that our culture's definition of food seems to be more confused everyday.
“People's cynical and selfish attitudes seem to lead ever closer to an entire society which blindly separates death from food. I want my boys to not only be capable of harvesting the animals they hunt, but to also have a full appreciation for the food that the animals provide.”
He wants to be sure they understand that death is most certainly a necessary part of the circle of life, and hopes that this is something they will never take lightly.
A recent lifetime member of BHA, Michael and his wife attended the 2018 Rendezvous where their public land fire was stoked. Previously, it had been fueled solely by an annual backcountry-backpack archery elk hunt somewhere west of his home state of Nebraska. The trip provided a platform for a deeper understanding the important role of public lands, wild places, and the conservation behind them as well as the wild things that live there. It also led them to new friends and opened their eyes to a world of good people who enjoy many of the same things they do.
This is quickly becoming something Michael holds with high priority; he plans to work tirelessly to provide his children with an understanding and appreciation of these things that have become such an important part of his life.
Follow Michael at @beerandbackstraps on Instagram