The woods are calling to Lyons

The woods are calling to Lyons


Becky Walz


Every sportsman has that story of the one that got away. Nineteen-year-old Michael Lyons already has several.

“Hunting creates lack of sleep,” his mother, Lynette, laughed, referring to some of the late-night coon hunts in which her son has taken part.

The Castalia teen developed a passion for hunting at a young age, walking with his grandfather, uncles, and cousins through the timber and fields in search of deer, coon and coyotes.

Through the years the stories have continued to build, and so has his love of the outdoors.

As a sophomore in high school, Lyons was an avid wrestler but was forced to sit out a season due to shoulder surgery.

“I told the doctor the surgery wasn’t going to stop me from turkey hunting, and he told me to just stay calm,” recalled Lyons.

With the woods calling, he took a trip to his uncle Clarence Winkler’s nearby timber, sat down against a tree, propped the gun up on his knee and started calling.

“I had been sitting there only about 15 minutes when a large group of turkeys came by. I waited for the big tom to walk in front of me and then shot,” said Lyons proudly. “I got him, too!”

On his next checkup with the surgeon, Lyons proudly shared a photo of the 30-pound turkey he had shot.

It wasn’t his first either.

The young hunter had completed hunter’s safety training in eighth grade, and it was February 2009 when he bagged his first feathered friend.

Through the years, Lyons’ interest has grown. He spends much of his free time coon and coyote hunting when he isn’t in class at Northeast Iowa Community College or working on the family’s dairy farm.

Several years ago, Lynette’s father gifted Michael his old wood coon dog box and light. When the two wore out last year, he took advantage of his resources and built a new dog box of diamond-plated aluminum as his final project in a welding class.

When asked about his favorite game to hunt, Lyons acknowledged that he enjoys them all, but may lean toward coon and turkey hunting, two of which he believes are the most challenging.

“I have Towmater, who is a 2-year-old redbone dog and an older black and tan named Sky,” Lyons said of the two coon dogs he owns.

“It’s most exciting when they come out of the box barking and hit the ground running,” he said.

The young hunter added that during a recent hunt, Sky took off. Lyons and his hunting partners heard her fighting with a coon and found her at the bottom of a cliff that had a 10-foot drop.

“We found a spot that had more of an incline and slid down to shoot the coon and bring her back up,” explained Lyons.

He added that he has a GPS for his dogs that consists of collars with antennas; Michael holds onto a controller, which tells him where and how many yards away the dogs are and if they are running or treeing.

His hunting party of mostly family and close friends utilizes the Garmin for coyote hunting, too, as the device can be programmed with up to 40 dogs.

“It’s real nice when we are coyote hunting, because we sometimes have near 35 dogs,” stated Lyons.

He said that coon can be hunted from November to January, but noted that the animals don’t move too far during a full moon because the coon are easily spotted by predators. Snow is also a hindrance because the snow covers the scent the dogs need to track the coon.

Unlike coon hunting, coyotes can be hunted year-round. They are easier to hunt in the snow because of the better visibility and the scents the dogs can pick up.

“We hunt coyote nearly every day from sunrise to sunset,” said Lyons. “Three years ago, our hunting party got 115 coyotes in a winter.”

In the past four seasons, Lyons has added bow-hunting to his list of interests and takes advantage of the dozen or so tree stands in his grandfather’s timber near Elkader.

“Bow-hunting is nice because I can go out in the woods and watch every animal meander by. It’s relaxing,” said the young hunter.

Recently he was on stand when he watched a buck wander in front of him about 80 yards away.

“There was a ravine between him and I, but he would not come toward me. I watched him chase smaller bucks away time and again,” said Lyons. “Finally, I took a ‘Hail Mary’ shot at him, saw him flinch and run away.”

Once he had climbed down from the tree stand, the hunter found his arrow with hair but no blood.

“I plan to go back and hope to get him bow-hunting, rather than the neighbors getting him during shotgun season,” concluded Lyons. “Hopefully he won’t be the one that got away.”

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