Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Power of Passion: Thank You Dave Brunkhorst

This family just knows how to smile; here are a few of the subsequent
generations who will be carrying on Dave's legacy in the marsh

The entire Lake Erie marsh community, waterfowling, and Standing Rush recently lost a very dear friend. Dave Brunkhorst was not just a neighbor. He was a perennial smiling face, a regular visitor, a helping hand, a tireless cheerleader, a modest mentor, a great story teller, an unbelievable shot, and one hell of a duck hunter . . . just to hit a few high points! I encourage you to read more on Dave's many accomplishments and life experiences, but to me, Dave will stand as a testament to the power of a passion.

Dave Brunkhorst
Dave LOVED duck hunting. He loved duck camp. He loved duck trips. He loved the feel of a shotgun in his hand. He loved turning clay pigeons into clay powder (like 998 out of 1000 times). But more than all that, in the relatively short time I really got to know Dave, I could tell that what he really loved was combining his passion for the outdoors with his passion for being with people.

Roy has known Dave for decades. I first met him about 12 years ago. At that time, he was the County Engineer for Ottawa County, and I was a young snot courting him on a new engineering product. I wrote him a letter and asked if I could come into his office and introduce the technology that I was working on. He could have taken that as "this guy wants to pitch me a product," and simply ignored the letter. But instead, he invited me to the office -- and ultimately to his marsh . . . which I realized about a day into learning about this Bay View adventure, was right next door to the marsh that (a decade later) I was trying to buy.

A further skeptic could say Dave was just accommodating because I had a potential solution to one of his marsh problems (e.g. muskrat holes). That may have contributed, I'll concede, but Dave was just the kind of guy who would hear you out. We hit it off right from the start, and I was fortunate enough to get to know he and his long-time friend and conservationist, Ed Moxley, based on that initial marsh tour.

[As an aside: Dave and Ed leased our far east unit, the "Dinky Track," the first year we owned it. I always marveled when I'd hear no more than a few shots at a time coming from their blind. The reason: "Dr. Death" and "Mr. Doom" never missed. If you were a duck flying over their blind, you were a dead duck. Now Dave's nephew carries on that tradition as a leaseholder -- and also as a hell of a shot, I might add.]

The world lost this particular waterfowler too early. But Dave has family ready to continue to carry the torch. And we will do all that we can to be there to help. Thanks, Dave, for all that you brought to the world.

Dave (far left), perhaps the way he liked it best: with family, ducks, and a dog
(special thanks to the Brunkhorst family for permission to use these great photos)