HERSEY — Rich Jacobs has lived in Hersey his entire life and has done about everything you could do in the Osceola County area when it comes to hunting and fishing.

He taught outdoor education and natural resources at Reed City High School, retiring in 2005, after teaching for 28 years. He was a substitute teacher before that.

“I do a lot of ice fishing,” he said. “All of the lakes I fished, slowly but surely, became unavailable.”

Access to various fishing holes has become more restricted, Jacobs has noticed.

“The replacement rate for hunters in the state is something like 29 percent, it’s low,” Jacobs said. “The natural average is something like 67 percent, which is still low. I don’t know about fishermen. But the state wants to get kids involved. It’s not about age, it’s about availability of places to hunt. When I was a kid you could hunt (and fish) almost anywhere you wanted.

“You could hunt both sides of the river, it went on and on for ever...partridge, woodcock and duck, deer, anything you wanted to hunt, just about.”

But the establishment of cottages and other dwellings decreased the access, Jacobs noted.

With that in mind, Jacobs looks for other opportunities.

“We’ve always had this farm. It’s a family farm. I saw this coming so in 1984, we bought, with three other guys 560 acres north of Reed City,” Jacobs said. “But that’s not the same. We still small game hunt and rabbit hunted a lot, wherever the habitat was best that’s where you went.”

Fishing was “not bad during this past winter,” said Jacobs, who especially likes going after bluegills. He recalls fishing a lot with his brother, Dave, especially when they were youngsters.

“When I started fishing I couldn’t even get the pole out, when you got a bite ice fishing, you’d take off and run with it,” he smiled. “We always had a shanty. My dad would go with us and would fish for bluegills and we’d spear for suckers.”

He has fond memories of catching good-sized salmon. In the past, trips to Canada for fishing opportunities were on Jacobs’ agenda.

During his youth, “we hunted about everything,” he said. “We hunted squirrels as soon as Oct. 1 came around. We had hounds so we hunted rabbits when the snow came. When I was 12 years old, I started bow hunting. We always hunted rifle for deer after I was 14. I could go out and shoot my limit of partridge about every day. When pheasant season started, we could shoot a number of pheasants every day.”

But the numbers seem to be down.

“I feel so bad I don’t even shoot them anymore because there aren’t as many around,” Jacobs said.

When it comes to deer, Jacobs said hunters are getting better letting the smaller bucks mature into bigger-sized.

“If you want to shoot a deer for meat, I always try to encourage people to shoot a doe,” he said. “If they want a trophy, (wait) to shoot a buck.”

Jacobs prided himself in telling interesting stories to his classes.

“One time my brother was sitting in a tree at the edge of our field,” he said. “I was in these thick willows and sitting on the ground. There was a narrow shooting lane for bow hunting. My brother was sitting in the tree watching this. There were six bucks around me, I didn’t know they were there. They started fighting, I could hear their horns rattling around me. All of a sudden, the willows I were in started shaking. I’m looking behind me and a few feet behind me a buck was rubbing his antlers on the willows I was sitting in.”

Ironically, he didn’t have a chance to shoot one, but he was still able to enjoy a memorable experience in the outdoors.

Turkey hunting also been on Jacobs agenda.

“It’s better right here,” he said. “But at other places, they haven’t been doing well.”

Jacobs would like some day to shoot an elk in the northeastern part of the state. His son when he was 16, bagged an elk. Jacobs is still looking for his chance.

Jacobs isn’t sure where the interest in hunting and fishing lies with a majority of the next generation.

“They like to hear about it but they don’t do a lot of it,” he said.

Jacobs did a limited amount of trapping in the past.

“My uncles and my grandpa trapped,” he said. “I had friends that trapped.”

Jacobs has always liked the challenges presented from hunting and fishing ventures along with the personal enjoyment of simply being outdoors.

The thought of hunting for the rest of his life is a pleasant one for Jacobs.

“My grandparents on both sides came to Hersey, so did my great-grandparents,” he said. “They pretty much lived off the land. My grandpa Jacobs was a taxidermist. My grandpa Vance on my mom’s side had me and my brother out in the woods in rivers and creeks constantly. Oh man, we caught a lot trout. He practically lived off the land.

“He trapped the Hersey River all his life until finally, when I was a kid, somebody stole all his traps. He said ‘that’s it, I’m not going to trap any more.’ That was a sign that things were changing right there.”

In the spring time, “we would go and catch and spear gunnysacks full of suckers,” Jacobs said. “The creeks around here would be filled with suckers. You could get as any as you wanted. We’d pick cranberries, we’d pick blackberries, we pick blueberries. There was always something to collect. But they ate all that stuff. Everything you killed you ate. I don’t care if it was a raccoon or porcupine, you ate it.”