Mike Avery is marking his 40th year in broadcasting in 2021. The Midlander is the host of “Mike Avery’s Outdoor Magazine,” a weekly, three-hour show broadcast on Newsradio 790AM/1005.FM WSGW in Saginaw. It airs from 9:00 a.m.-noon on Sundays and is carried on 30 stations across the state. Check local listings for times.
Mike Avery and his catch of the day, a walleye.
His program features guests from the Michigan DNR (Department of Natural Resources), hunters, anglers, guides, and, he says, anybody who has an interest and knowledge in hunting, fishing, shooting, trapping, conservation, and wild game cooking. Avery points out walleye and trout seasons are now open along with turkey hunting season. It’s also time to look for morel mushrooms and he says May is the time to apply for bear and elk permits.
For over 20 years, Avery produced the “Outdoor Magazine” TV show. His work has been honored by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters and, in 2009, he was named the “Sportsman of the Year” by the Sportsman Channel and Intermedia Outdoors. Avery also has a podcast and posts videos on his website, www.mikeaveryoutdoors.com
, and on social media.
He first worked in TV news for WJRT-TV 12 in Flint and then WNEM-TV 5 in Saginaw. He’s a native of Cedar Springs and a graduate of Ferris State.
Avery and his wife, Denise, live in the northeast corner of the city of Midland. Not far from his property line is a pond that attracts wildlife, including geese, muskrats, eagles, hawks, fox, deer, and even a coyote.
Q: What’s unique about our region when it comes to the outdoors?
A: We’re blessed. This area has a phenomenal, world-class walleye fishery with the Saginaw Bay, the rivers. Anglers travel from all across the state and the country to take advantage of this fishery. We have some excellent hunting: turkey, small game, deer, waterfowl, including ducks and geese. Just the wildlife in general, the non-game species including eagles and hawks. It’s just the resources and wildlife we have. We have so many different eagles’ nests. It’s one of the greatest conservation success stories — that and the walleye in this area, in my time here.
Sunset on Saginaw Bay
With the walleye fishery, we needed to clean up the bay. Some might say it’s not pristine, but it’s a lot better. We were able to then stock the bay and now it’s to the point we don’t have to do that anymore. The eagles were impacted by pesticides and DDT. They were born with deformities, crossed bills that meant they couldn’t eat; their eggs were brittle. But, with the changes that were made, over time, the eagles are now healthy and they feed on the fish which are healthy. Some might argue with me, but when I was at TV 5, the Saginaw River was so polluted it wouldn’t freeze over. But now, if it’s cold enough, the river’s full of ice fishermen. I think that’s a success story.
Q: What’s been the impact of COVID-19 on the outdoors industry?
A: It has to be one of the few areas that has not been negatively impacted by COVID. It has put more people outside and in the outdoors. License sales are up, outdoor gear, boat sales, fishing gear, guns and ammo, sales are all up. Going outdoors was a safe thing to do — plus early on when people were off work, they had the time to do it. The folks at Jay’s Sporting Goods say it’s social distancing in its purest form.
Mike Avery with his tritoon at a marina in Bay City.
Q: What are your concerns going forward?
A: It’s not so much with the resources or the wildlife. My concerns are with people losing touch with the outdoors. We’re becoming a technology, internet driven society. When you look at our area and the northern part of the state, the outdoors are part of who we are. But, in the southern part of the state, many tend to be non-hunting or non-fishing. They have a lot of the vote and could decide issues that affect us. That’s more of a concern I have going forward.
Q: Who’s been one of your mentors and why?
A: Pete Jonas was my mentor. Pete was a videographer at TV5 and took me under his wing. Pete introduced me to Mort Neff and was responsible for setting up my interview with Fred Bear.
Mike Avery with son James Edwards, granddaughter Addison Edwards, and grandson Trent Allen
Q: What are the physical, mental, and social benefits to being in the outdoors?
A: It has such an appeal to me. It’s part of who I am. The same for my granddad, dad, son, and grandson, multiple generations of my family. It’s how I relate to the world. It’s part of our culture in Michigan. Historically, this area was explored by trappers, then there were loggers. Michigan is a big hunting and fishing state. That helps make it a major destination for people outside of Michigan. Being outdoors relieves stress and helps you relate to Mother Nature. There’s more to this world than technology and the internet. It’s nice to put wild game on the dinner table. It’s a great way to unwind and decompress.