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  • Evelyn Blunt

Reconnecting With Our Roots By Ron Rice

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

Last week, I was invited by Joe King, of The Dirty Dozen/Outdoor Youth Exploration Academy, to go on a salmon fishing trip on the Muskegon River in Central Michigan. This organization is the only minority-owned hunting/fishing/Archery lodge of its kind in the entire state of Indiana. Joe has been taking both adults and kids alike for over 30 years to spots like this to get back to the basics and learn these skills that he himself has honed and polished for so long. Joe is a detail-oriented, old school and discipline-driven man and will show you how to better yourself by staying prepared for any situation but also, to learn to relax and enjoy the moment.

We were accompanied by his grandson Buddy, and his lifelong friend and Dirty Dozen member, “Frog” (of Frog Records). I have never been salmon fishing before and soon the name, "City Slicker" was attached to my ill preparedness, LOL!

I was first blown away by the beauty of the trees in the wild up there but then, as we got to the fishing, by how much Joe's pre lessons TRULY prepared me for the dangers of fishing in a rushing river. Everything he said was true and I cannot thank him enough for his guidance and concern for my safety.

Although I struggled with landing a salmon the first day, his grandson, also a newbie, landed THREE within a two hour period! I finally had my catch the next day but it didn't even matter at that point because the POINT of the entire trip wasn't about the fish. It was about the bond we forged. Joe was like the grandfather to me that I lost so many years ago. I hadn't realized how much I have been needing someone like that, fussing at me, guiding me, encouraging me and praising me throughout that whole adventure. As black men, we have a “disconnect" with our older wiser black males and “The Dirty Dozen” lives to provide just that! Leadership, wisdom, discipline and adventure.

I am so grateful to Joe for this 4-day excursion. My life has been affirmed in ways that I didn't even know existed until days after I returned. Reach Joe at Outdoor Youth Academy, 317.283.9560 or email:

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