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.

Fundraising event to benefit ORK.

ORK was recently contacted by Steven Lazarczyk who is the Chairman and Manager of the Milwaukee Casting Club in New Berlin, WI.  They hold a charity Trap Shoot every year the first weekend of August.  This year they decided to work with a new charity and working with fellow members of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, have chosen two groups to work with, Oconto River Kids and Access Ability based in Madison, who provides motorized wheel chairs for hunting.

The Milwaukee Casting Club works with a private foundation to match dollar for dollar of funds raised for the charities up to $ 5000.00 for each group.  The money raised will be split by Oconto River Kids and Access Ability Wisconsin.  

They recently sent ORK some raffle tickets and are in need of people to buy and sell them.  If anyone would like to buy or sell raffle tickets for the event they can contact Joe Paul by text at 715-783-0279.

4 Exciting ORK Adventures planned for this weekend

This weekend 4 families will participate in some exciting ORK adventures.  We hope all have a wonderful time and we can’t wait to hear the stories from their adventures.  A big thank you to all of our volunteers, mentors, donors, and sponsors near and far who have a hand in making the upcoming weekend a possibility for the families. 

Two fishing adventures are planned for a 13 year old and 15 years old boys and their families on Green Bay with Walleye Patrol Guide Service.  Captain Danny Woodke will show them a great time. 

A 6 year old boy and his family will spend the weekend at Thunder Mountain Ranch enjoying some quiet time in nature, feeding the farm animals, relaxing at a cabin on the lake, and fishing a lake teaming with hungry bluegills, perch, and bass. 

The Stahl  family will be hosting and taking care of the family for the weekend.  Also, a 15 year old boy who we tried to get out bear hunting in 2015 and eventually got out bear hunting in 2016 was unable to harvest a bear last fall.  He has been in heavy battle with his illness for some time now with significant medical procedures to be performed later this summer to help him battle his illness.  A Texas sponsor learned about his illness and ORK programs and wanted to help give the boy another hunting opportunity.  This weekend the boy will go on a Texas Hog Hunt via helicopter utilizing thermal imaging.  A number of new donors raised the money to cover the expense of the trip.  Thank you!! 

We wish all the families an action packed fun filled weekend.  Good luck!!!

Thank You,


Trout and Salmon jumping in the boat for Reece and his family.

Oconto River Kids teamed up again with Jones Dairy Farm and Captains Dave Scott and Jerry Costibile aboard the Resolute on Lake Michigan to provide a wonderful fishing adventure for a young man and his family.  The fish were more than cooperative with each boating a limit of trout and salmon before 10 AM.  The weather was great.  The family was also treated to dinner with the Purucker family and a visit to the Jones Dairy Farm where they loaded a bag with Jones products before their trip back home. Photos attached

Congratulation Raven Family!!!

2017 ORK Hunting Shack Building and Work Weekend yields many accomplishments:

A Big Thank You to all who turned out for the busy ORK work weekend May 19-22nd.  We're thankful for all the wonderful people across the state who made the weekend a success.  Here are some of the accomplishments from the weekend:

4 old hunting blinds were moved from Oconto County propertiesand set up on 4 new Oconto County properties.

4 new hunting blinds were constructed and painted at the Bieber property and loaded onto trailers for the program expansion in Price County.  The 4 new blinds featured a new double swing door design to accommodate the width of tracked wheelchairs.  One child may be using a tracked chair on a bear hunt this fall.  

Bear bait was delivered to the new property owners so they can begin attracting bear for the 2017 Bear Program.

1 old hunting blind got a new makeover paint job and is all set up for deer hunting.

1 new hunting blind was constructed by a landowner a placed on a his property for ORK hunts.

1 special hunting blind was constructed to be gifted to a child who suffers from constant seizures in Ogema, WI.  It will be called "Landon's Hunting Shack".  The final touches are still in progress.  The final product will feature permanent placement in the woods near his home, an Elk antler coat rack, glass slide and crank windows, an antler door handle, hunting chairs, a built in flip down cot on one wall, and rustic sign attached inside with Landon's favorite Bible verse on it.

A Semi load of 18 totes of cookies arrived on Friday delivered by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.  By Monday morning all new 55 gallon barrels had been washed and the cookies had been placed into the barrels to keep them fresh /dry for the 2018 bait mixing party.

The Bonatz Farm pole building got a much needed and thorough cleaning.

If you are interested in helping to bait a couple of our bear hunting properties let us know.
THANK YOU ORK VOLUNTEERS !! You’re the best!!

Mentor update from Brian Collins:

Joey Pickett and his dad Jim showed great enthusiasm and patience during the learn to hunt with the Oconto River kids program! We were able to see several turkeys by setting up and calling and spot and stalking! We watched several Turkeys roast the night before right  near us and some of them right directly above our heads.

Our second set up the next morning paid off with 3 nice Tom's coming in shooting range.  Joey made a terrific shot and downed a Big Tom turkey he turned and looked at me and said this is way more fun than deer hunting! The smiles on their faces said it all but I think he and his dad will continue to hunt turkeys together!
11 3/8 Beard
1"         Spurs
23        Pounds

Mentor update from Lee Posusta:

Brianna's hunt consisted of one evening and one morning. After a short outing on a cold Saturday morning and a beautiful Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Sunday morning is when it all came together, I drove out to the spot and was serenaded by gobbles while we got situated in the blind. At about 600am  the turkeys flew down and got quiet.  At 640am the talk of breakfast entered the hunters minds but the mentor knew that soon the sun would be up and the turkeys would be heading there way to sun them self on the field edge. It was about 645am we heard gobbling coming closer and soon I saw two toms following hens towards us. I called softly and the toms followed the hens into 20 yards. After several tense seconds and patience to allow the hens to clear and the turkey to present the right shot . Brianna hit her mark and anchored a beautiful Wisconsin eastern turkey. 

Brianna and her dad were both happy hunters.  

Kelly Lake Sportsman’s Club Gun Banquet

The 13th Annual Gun Banquet will take place on Friday, April 28th at Romy’s Holiday Inn, 9600 Co. Rd G at Kelly Lake, Doors open at 5:30 pm – Dinner at 7:00 pm - main ticket guns at 7:30 pm.

Kelly Lake Sportman’s Club has been a significant supporter of Oconto River Kids since our inception five years ago. Please consider participating in this event and supporting this wonderful organization.

If you have any questions or would like to donate items for this event please contacts Arlyn Libal @ 920-655-2052.

Bait Mixing Event

In order to hunt Black Bears you need good bait.  Developing good bait requires an expert. Oconto River Kids is fortunate to have one of the best!  John Lester our bait guru organized the process and had all the inputs ready to go for our annual bait mixing event.  45 volunteers showed up on the Bonatz Farm and made quick work of mixing and filling 130 barrels of bait.

A constant flow of inputs (sugar cones, candies and chocolate) went down the line, into the mixers and barrels.  Our volunteers were coated in sugar cone dust with candy and chocolate stuck to their shoes.  Many kids showed up with their parents and had fun unpacking and mixing candies. A lot of work was accomplished in a short amount of time. Following the event the volunteers enjoyed a free spaghetti lunch provided by Water’s Edge Bar & Grill.  

We appreciate all of our volunteers and send a special Thank you to John Lester for his efforts with the bait and Water’s Edge Bar & Grill for the wonderful lunch. We hope you enjoy the pictures.

Oconto River Kids Public Spring Meeting – Riverview Town Hall

When: April 29, 2017 @ 11:00 AM

Please join us at 11:00 AM for the 2017 Oconto River Kids Spring Meeting at the Riverview Town Hall.  We will recap year 2016 and give an update on our scheduled 2017 adventures.  We will be looking for public input, feedback, and will be promoting future public involvement and volunteerism.  We need your help achieving our mission.

The meeting will be followed by free lunch and socialization.  The Riverview Town Hall is located north of Mountain on Hwy 32 about ¼ mile North of Island Lake Road and nearly directly across from Tar Dam road.  We look forward to your attendance.  See you there!

Bear Season Bait Mixing Party/Work Day – Bonatz Farm

When: March 18, 2017 @ 8:00 AM

The bait mixing work day will start at 8:00 AM Saturday, March 18, 2017 at the Bonatz farm located behind the Lakeside Supper Club on Hwy 32 east of Anderson Lake.

Last year we mixed about 125 barrels in 4 hours.  We were able to do so because we had a great turn out of volunteers.  We will again be looking for volunteers to spend the morning mixing a variety of candies and ice cream cones for the 2017 Oconto River Kids Bear Hunts.  Our volunteers had a lot of fun.  Kids are welcome to attend and help mix the candies.  We expect to have another 8-10 bear hunters this year.  You help is much appreciated.  Please contact Bruce Watruba at 715-927-7771 if you plan to come or just show up when you can on March 18th.  We’ll put you to work.  Thank You.