Isaiah is digging his new bear mount and camo-dipped skull

If you see Amy and Scott Leutjen, Owner of A Breed Apart Taxidermy in Suring, be sure to give them a big ol’ ATTABOY!!!  Not only did Scott agree to mount Isaiah’s bear for a great price in life size form, he finished it in about 4 weeks and then drove 4 ½ hours across the state to personally deliver the bear and camo-dipped skull to Isaiah and his family.  He also picked up the bear meat from Meatski’s Meats in Pound, WI and delivered that to Isaiah’s family too. Meatski’s continues to support ORK Kids with free butchering and processing.  Thank you Justin and Ashley!!  

Scott said when they opened the back of the van to reveal the mount they heard a lot of “whoa, that’s so cool.”  Everyone was happy and liked the bear. The family had fun unpacking all the bear meat and snack sticks.  As Scott was getting ready to leave all the kids were sitting around the bear petting and hugging it in the living room.  Mission accomplished everyone!! 

Great work Scott and Amy Leutjen, Nate and Melanie Stahl, Jim and Janice Frankson, Justin Wisnefske and AshleyCochenet and hound crews who assisted with Isaiah’s hunt.  And as always, thank you Wisconsin Wildlife Federation for partnering with ORK year after year to match a child to your learn to bear hunt bear tag.  Congratulation’s Isaiah and family.  Enjoy your bear mount and bear snacks!

A morning fishing trip on Lake Geneva

This past Saturday Jason Perkins and his dad David hooked up with their mentor Joel Hamilton and Eric Bonatz for a morning fishing trip on Lake Geneva. This was Jason’s second trip out with his mentor.

The weather was overcast and perfect for fishing. The fish were hanging out in deeper water and that’s where Jason connected with a nice Smallmouth Bass. We landed some additional fish including Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass. We worked the docks later in the morning with an assortment of lures. Jason’s dad focused on surface baits but instead of catching bass he found himself reeling in bluegills all morning! It was a nice morning out on Lake Geneva.

Big thank you to Joel Hamilton for hauling his boat up to the lake and making the effort to get us on fish. We had a great morning of fishing with Jason and David.

Austin catches a few fish dinners

For those of you following our website and Facebook page you’ll recall Austin was recovering at home early this summer from a long stay in the hospital for a number of complications. Austin recently decided he was well enough to get out fishing.

Big shout out to, local Price County Fishing Guide, John Carlson at Ross Sport Shop and Guide Service for spending the day putting Austin and his dad on some fish. They caught a mixed bag throughout the day including some 10 ½ gills, 12 inch perch, crappies, walleye, and a mess of pike with the biggest being just shy of 30 inches. Smiles all around with several fish dinners filleted for the family. Thank you John and congrats on your successful outing Austin!!  


Nice Fish Aidan!

ORK had the pleasure again of the assistance of Charter Captains Jerry Costabile and Dave Scott aboard the Jones Dairy Farm boat on Lake Michigan to provide a relaxing evening of fishing for Aidan and his father.  Although the fish didn’t cooperate, Aidan was able to land one Salmon.  Jerry and Scott worked their tails off looking for fish in new locations and trying new baits.

The weather cooperated which made for a relaxing evening.  Aidan decided he wanted to eat the fish and his father reported that they went camping the next day and cooked it over the campfire.  Aidan really enjoyed it.

Thank you Jerry, Dave, and Jones Dairy Farm for partnering with ORK on another successful outing for a very deserving young man.  We’ll see you next fall for a bear hunt Aidan!!

Lines tangled and the deck full of flopping fish!

Big thank you to Captain Dan Keating (Blue Horizon) out of Winthrop Harbor.  Captain Dan guided Dylan and his father Adam for a morning salmon fishing trip.  We tried to get Dylan out last year on a couple of occasions but his health wasn’t cooperating.  However, we reserved the first fishing trip this year for Dylan and he made the best of it and limited out in three hours.

Stuart Swanson and Eric Bonatz from Oconto River Kids tagged along and witnessed Dylan land some nice salmon and a couple beautiful Lake Trout.  Dylan and his father Adam shared their catch with neighbors and friends. The joke on the boat was that every time someone used the bathroom the fish hit.  On one occasions we had six fish on, lines tangled and the deck full of flopping fish! Great job Dylan!


Welcome Home Austin and Congratulations on your Cool Walleye Mount!

After spending nearly a month in the hospital Austin is back home with his family this week.  Austin will be recovering for several weeks yet at home and he hopes to get back to working on the family farm soon.  ORK surprised Austin today with his walleye mount from his fishing outing with Walleye Patrol Guide Service from last spring.  Dan Parker with Oak Ridge Taxidermy recently completed the taxidermy.  Nice work Dan!  Austin was impressed and wants to hang the fish in the living room.  

Get well soon Austin!  You'll be back to farming before you know it.  Austin is into anything International brand.  If you have ideas on how to support Austin's obsession/passion for International farming equipment please call Joe Paul 715-416-0086 and he'll help you connect with Austin.  


SueAnn boats loads of fish with her brother and Uncle!!

Jones Dairy Farm in Fort Atkinson sponsored a successful outing again on Friday for SueAnn and her family.  Thank you George Purucker for hosting and organizing the outing aboard the Resolute Fishing Charters out of the Port of Kenosha on Lake Michigan.  Thank you Philip Jones and Resolute Captain Dave Scott and crew for teaming up to pull of another great outing making memories for a special family!

Bait Mixing Event Rescheduled

The Bait Mixing Event that was scheduled for Saturday morning on April 28th has been rescheduled for Saturday May 19th at 8:00AM on the Bonatz Farm located at 12136 Lakeside Drive, Suring.  The farm is right behind Lakeside Inn on Anderson Lake.

However.....The Public Meeting will still be held on April 28th at 11:00 AM at the Riverview Town Hall at 15471 Hwy 32, Mountain, WI.  We will recap last year’s events, share stories, photos and discuss our plans for 2018. Lunch will follow the meeting. After lunch we will need assistance moving and relocating some hunting blinds.

We look forward to seeing you.

Oconto River Kids Spring Meeting - April 28th at the Riverview Townhall!

Please join us at the Riverview Townhall located at 15471 Hwy 32 Mountain, WI at 11:00 AM on April 28, 2018.  We will recap last year’s events, share photos, stories, and give an overview of what’s to come in 2018.  We will also need your assistance moving some blinds to new properties and delivering some bear bait to hunting locations.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided following the meeting.

See you there

Ethan picks up his trophy bear!

Scott Leutjen owner of A Breed Apart Taxidermy in Suring put a big smile on Ethan’s face with this sweet wall mount and camouflage dipped bear skull.  Nice work Scott.  

Ethan was joined at A Breed Apart Taxidermy by his father and his bear hunting mentor Al Hofacker.  His bear tag was donated by James Becker of Baraboo.  Nice work everyone putting this together for Ethan.  Enjoy your bear and skull Ethan!!  Photos are attached.

We hope you enjoy your life-size mount

Congratulations Delaney!!  Your bear made it to Pennsylvania intact.  We hope you enjoy your life-size mount.  Great work by Jeff Merschdorf at Wallhanger’s Taxidermy in Wabeno, WI.  Thanks for your artistry, crating, and shipping Jeff.  Delaney was mentored by Rich Starzer and his hunting group this past fall.  

The life-size mount was made possible by splitting the cost with Oconto River Kids and Keith Stille with Hunting for the Cure.  A lot of good people stepped up to the plate to make this all possible for Delaney.  Congratulations again Delaney and well wishes to you. 


Oconto River Kids teams up with Kippenberg Creek Kids in Alaska for boy from Neenah, WI recovering from a life threatening illness.

Last week the Peters family spent the week exploring the Alaska wilderness with Kippenberg Creek Kids founder Larry Beyer.  They caught loads of northern pike (well over 100 in a day), did some hiking, plenty of relaxing, and did some travel by float plane.  Oconto River Kids connected the family with KCK earlier this spring and ORK funded a portion of the of the trip.  We are happy the Peters family had such a wonderful time. 

Thank you, Larry and Lori Beyer with KCK for your continued partnership and commitment to families.  The family recently sent the following photos and thank you email to ORK.

Thank you Kippenberg Creek Kids and Oconto River Kids for the once in a lifetime trip to Alaska.

Special thanks to Larry and Lori Beyer for making us feel right at home. The home cooked meals were amazing. The fishing was incredible and the scenery was beautiful. Larry's boat ride down the winding creek was as fun as a roller coaster. Every day was filled with something new and exciting.

When Luke was diagnosed with a rare adult brain cancer the doctors said that this type of tumor had a 3-5 year life expectancy. We have made it very important to make family time a priority. This trip to Alaska has made memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank you all for making this trip possible for our family, your generosity is truly appreciated!

Keith, Sue, Ryan, Nicholas, Emily and Luke Peters. 

With God All Things Are Possible


A Private Ranch Fishing Adventure

Fishing update:  Beckett went on an ORK fishing adventure on a private ranch with his family. His sister Maddie wrote us a letter about their experience.

Oconto River Kids

Maddie Roerdink | June 29, 2017

I had, what people called a once-in-a-lifetime, opportunity to go on an Oconto River Kids adventure. Nate and his family are such great people and super easy to get along with. He made this possible for my family & I. I am so grateful for everything that they have done for us. 

My brother, Beckett, happens to have a life-threatening disease. He is a strong fighter to Grade ll Ependymoma Brain Cancer. The experience that he, and our whole family, had was amazing. We got to go tubing on a private 65-acre lake, feed over 31 different types of horses & pigs, fish on a pontoon boat, have a fire while playing night games with his son Mick, and, according to my dad, the highlight of the trip for him was because of Beckett. He had caught the biggest bluegill my dad had ever caught or even seen in his 30 years of fishing.

I, personally, would do it over again. We had so much fun doing everything. My favorite parts had to be learning how to open reel cast, playing king of the hill on the dock, feeding a just-born miniature horse, looking for bears at night since my mom really wanted to see a black bear, and just overall learned so much more about fishing. I now know what types of fish are which, what types of lures catch what types of fish, & just about how easy it is to cast and to get it stuck on a tree. 

My family and I all got some tan and a lot of sunburn, but it was totally worth it. The people were right, this definitely was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The memories & friends will never be forgotten.

Mentor Update from David Morris:

Jacob and his father Ken, flew down to Texas this past weekend to hunt hogs and predators.  They arrived in Dallas Thursday afternoon, and met their host at the Elm Fork Shooting Range where Jacob received a private lesson with a firearms instructor (Bob Nero) who volunteered his time and use of his rifles after hearing about the trip.  After the range, the guys headed to Wataburger for a little TX-style sustenance before the 2.5-hour drive to a private ranch in Albany, TX where the hunting would begin. Jacob loved Wataburger!

On Friday morning, the trio’s breakfast was interrupted by the sound of a helicopter landing outside the ranch house that was going to take Jacob and Ken hog hunting (from the chopper).  After a safety briefing, everyone climbed in the R44 helicopter and buckled up, and the nimble aircraft lifted off.  In the ensuing hours flying across more than 150,000 acres of hunting property, 4 coyotes were taken, but no hogs unfortunately.  The pilot later explained that the dense brush and tree canopies this time of year coupled with the recent heavy rains and heat wave made it especially difficult to locate hogs from the air, hence why most helicopter hog hunting occurs between October and March.  Nevertheless, the pair of UP’ers thoroughly enjoyed the experience of hunting from a helicopter!

Later that afternoon, the trio drove down to David’s hunting lease in Richland Springs, TX where they hunted hogs from the ground for the rest of the weekend, and even used a thermal scope at night. Late Saturday night, a hog finally appeared about 75 yards from the stand, but he ran off before they could acquire him in the thermal scope. On Sunday morning, before heading back to Dallas, they drove through the  property for one last attempt to get a hog. As they rounded one of the last turns before the camp house road, there were 10-15 hogs grazing about 50 yards away! But the hogs bolted too fast for anyone to get a shot.

Despite not getting a hog, Jacob and Ken had a great time down in TX.  David hopes they'll come back for a re-match with the hogs when it's cooler!

Texas Hog Hunt:

Oconto River kids would like to thanks David Morris from Dallas Texas who organized and mentored a Hog Hunt for special boy from Upper Michigan.  Thank you for making this trip special and memorable for Jacob and his father Ken.  We greatly appreciate having your support as a mentor and volunteer.  

We would like to thank the owners of Triumph Ranch for granting Oconto River Kids special access, our pilot Jacey Shack of S2 helicopter Service for a job well done and weapons instructor Bob Nero for his services.  Finally, a special thank you to David’s co-workers in Dallas, Houston, New York and Chicago who covered the expenses.  David is already planning the 2018 Hog Hunt for Oconto River Kids.

Special Thank You to Bruce Watruba and John Lester

This past month Bruce Watruba and John Lester stepped down from the board after serving three years.  The Board of Directors would like to thank them for their service and commitment to our mission.

Bruce served as the Secretary for Oconto River Kids and was the point person for our Bear Hunt the last two years.  His commitment to the success of the program was unmatched. He was a wonderful mentor and dedicated many hours developing relationships with our participants and their families.  Bruce served as a spokesperson at local clubs and organizations.  He also built hunting shacks, ran bear bait and raised funds for Oconto River Kids. His life partner Kathy was also a volunteer and supported all of our activities. Bruce’s participation had a significant impact in the growth of Oconto River Kids.

John Lester was a valuable part of Oconto River Kids and has played a key role with our Bear Hunt.  John is a master at acquiring and mixing bear bait.  His participation ensured that the Bear Hunt was always a success.  John was always a hit with the participants and loved to share stories with the kids.  John ran hounds, built hunting shacks and raised funds for Oconto River Kids.  John’s wife Shelley was always at his side volunteering and participating at the events. John will continue to be the point person for acquiring and mixing bait for the Bear Hunt.

On behalf of all of our participants, volunteers and supporters, Thank You Bruce and John

Fish on!

Danny Woodke of Walleye Patrol Guide Service pulled off another successful fishing trip last weekend. Austin and his mom and dad had a great time fishing Green Bay.  Immediately after setting their first line Austin was fighting a 36" inch Musky. They caught a variety of fish even though they were targeting walleye. Danny's new boat provided a very comfortable platform for fishing the big water.

Thanks Danny and all of our supporters who made this trip possible for Austin and his parents.

Limits of walleyes and mixed bag for Caden’s fishing adventure

Thank you to Captain Danny Woodke of Walleye Patrol Guide Service for guiding Caden and his father on an awesome fishing adventure.  The fish cooperated all morning with walleye limits filling the livewell.  They will now enjoy several walleye dinners. 

Caden also boated a nice perch that he wishes to have mounted.  Also mixed in were some northern pike and a big carp.  Thank you to all the donors and sponsors.  Congratulations Caden!!!  Enjoy the photos.