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Name: Mickey Lotz Trad Gang Handle: Ferret Age: most mornings, a very old feeling 54… LOL Height, weight : 5’7” 165# Charter member number: #103 Years hunting, years trad bowhunting: 46
(TG) The very first time I read the handle “the Ferret” it was in a “Maggies Meanderings” column in Bowhunter Magazine. I feel it’s been a privilege to get to know you over the years online. Could you be so kind as to fill us in a bit about yourself??
(Lotz) I hunted with Maggie and the gang for over 20 years. What a hoot. We had a lot of fun and did a lot of dumb things, hence the moniker “the Dumb Bunch”. I still get to hunt with several of the guys but some have moved on to other things. Lots of good memories! It was actually Maggie that gave me the nick name” the Ferret”. He said I was small and fast and usually got what I was going after. Now that I’m fat and slow and most often come home with an unfilled tag I’m thinking of changing my handle to “the Sloth”. Whatcha think?
As far as personal stuff, I’ve been happily married to the love of my life Dianne for 30 years as of last May. We have 2 children, a daughter Melissa 29 who is married and lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband, daughter Jorie 5 and son Caden 2. Jorie went on her first deer hunt this year with her “Gamama” using her own snaky Osage selfbow (you have to start them early and start them out right ha ha). We also have a son Brian who is a 25 year-old college student now living back at home. Brian started shooting a bow when he was 2 ½ and placed 7th in the nation in the youth class at the U.S. Bowhunter Nationals when he was 10 I think. He has taken whitetail deer, antelope, hog and Javelina with his bow. Bri has been shooting the same Assenheimer recurve for the last 10 years, and his dream is to chase elk with it. We also live with 2 Labradors, Bois d’Arc (Bo) and Sweet Osage (Sage). Our home for the past 11 years is in a little patch of woods over run with deer and turkey about 30 miles east of Cincinnati, Ohio just outside a little river town called New Richmond. I am a self-employed sales rep, selling highway traffic safety equipment and have represented the same company for the last 16 years. The nice thing about my job is it allows me the freedom to hunt basically whenever I get the urge. Before that, I worked in the motorcycle industry for 17 years. Besides bowhunting, the only other hobby I am passionate about is motorcycling. A hobby Dianne loves as well. Currently we ride a 2003 Triumph Bonneville but I have owned 44 motorcycles since turning 16.
(TG) How long ya been pullin strings Mickey?
(Lotz) I can’t remember a time in my life when I wasn’t pulling a bowstring. When my little brother Randy and I would get home from grade school, as soon as we had our homework done we’d grab our bows and a quiver full of arrows and head to the woods to terrorize the local critters. I didn’t find out there were specific hunting seasons until I became an adult ha ha, until then everything was in season all year long. We ate a lot of rabbit when I was a kid. Our dad was a bowyer, archer and bowhunter and so we came to it naturally. I remember as a kid in the 1950’s we were driving down the road in dad’s 53 Packard and I spotted a deer strapped on the top of a car in a restaurant parking lot. There weren’t any deer in our part of the state at that time (and there weren’t until well into the 1970’s) and I made dad turn around so that I could get a closer look at it. Man I wanted to hunt a deer like that someday and kill it with an arrow. That passion has never died. I still like hunting whitetails better than any other critter. I just have a fascination with chasing those sleek, beautiful, athletic, great tasting “brown hides”.
As I got older I shot 3d tournaments every summer for nearly 25 years and was pretty good at it, which is how I got my gig with Hoyt. When we moved to our current home, we pitched over 200 archery trophies only keeping the ones that really meant something to us.
(TG) Most folks know you as the guy that helps everyone build their own bows. What was it that got you to building your own bows??
(Lotz) Well, my dad was a bowyer and pioneer archer in the Cinti area. He helped found the Cinti Field Archers, was an early member of the NFAA and was a state target champ. He started making bows from Osage and Lemonwood in 1938, which he sold to Sears, and to individuals. A good hand made lemonwood longbow sold for $10.00 back then, a bow from Osage about twice that. He also made and sold “Arrows of Distinction” through ads in Ye Sylvain Archer into the mid 1940’s. I also have a copy of the Cinti Enquirer Newspaper dated Oct 10, 1945 featuring my dad and the first 3D animal targets used in competition in this area, which he and others of his club hand made from burlap and stuffed with cotton batting. In my bow collection is one of the first bows dad made in 1938 and Randy has the last one he made in 1991, that’s 53 years of wood bow making. Anyhow, dad tried teaching bro Randy and I how to make bows several times but being teenagers our attention span wasn’t what it should have been. Shortly before our fathers death Randy and I decided to start making bows so that we would have something to do together. Unfortunately, dad had kind of lost his woodworking skills by then so we were pretty much on our own. He could explain but couldn’t demonstrate. Randy was/is by far the better bowyer but I am more dogged. Dad was happy to see us making bows together and was proud of our efforts. I’m glad he got to see that before he died. Although I have never been very good with my hands I feel I can finally make a decent wooden bow, not great, but adequate. Guys like Dean Torges, Jim Hamm, Brad Smith, the late Joe Mattingly, Rusty Craine, Paul Comstock, Bill McNeal and Tim Baker were of great help and inspiration to me in my early bow building days, and although it will probably embarrass them, I don’t think anyone has taught me more about proper tillering (by example) than David Mims and John Scifres. Those boys know how to make wood bend!
(TG) Mickey, you’ve became a role model for many these days... Do you have or was there anyone in particular you would call your role model?
(Lotz) I don’t consider myself a role model for anyone but hopefully my children. I always try to do the right thing, tell the truth, to give more than I get, and to believe and trust in my fellow human being. Living right is generally very easy, if it’s the right thing to do, it’s the right thing to do…period. As far as my role models, my brother-in-law Lynn Grau who is just a great person and someone I’ve looked up to since I was pre-teen.
In archery, I used to watch Fred Bear on the American Sportsman TV show and knew because of watching him that I was destined to hunt with a bow (BTW, I met Fred 3 times and have never known a more down to earth person…a truly great and humble man). Also a bunch of the folks here on Tradgang. I’d hate to name names because I’d undoubtedly leave someone out, but I look up to dozens of guys and gals that hang out here. Some of the finest, most admirable people I have ever had the pleasure of being associated with. Usually entertaining too! I really enjoy reading Killdeer’s witty posts. I particularly look up to guys who willingly choose to walk the most difficult path in this sport, guys like Doug Campbell, Tim Ott, Mark Baker, Paul Brunner, Ron Thompson, Ralph Conrad, Mike Hames, Brian Halbleib,Shawn Peterson, Matt Edwards, and Dan Beatty. My hat’s off to you fellas!
(TG) Do you have any favorite memories or kills that stand out??
(Lotz) Well I have a pic of me with the first rabbit I killed in 1958 or 59 with a lemonwood longbow made by my father and some pics of the latest one, a turkey I killed just before Thanksgiving this year with a Tim Ott selfbow so I guess you could say 46 years of favorite memories that stand out.
(TG) Do you remember the first animal you took with one of your own bows?
(Lotz) Sure, it was Feb 20, 1998. I was hunting with my first successful wooden bow; a shagbark hickory flatbow I had made named “Woodsmoke”. I took a group of ten bow hunters to south Texas about 40 miles from Mexico for hogs and Javelina. In the last hour on the last day of the 5-day hunt I managed to put a cedar tipped snuffer through a nice boar Javie at 5 steps. Once I knew I could build bows capable of actually killing big game I felt an enormous sense of satisfaction and freedom. I know that sounds funny, but it empowers you to know that you don’t need to rely on anyone else to make your bowhunting gear, gear completely capable of feeding the family.
(TG) It seems Dianne is always with ya. Whether in the woods, at the house or at a shoot. Has Dianne been involved for as long as you have??
(Lotz) Dianne is awesome, one of the best hunters I know, but it wasn’t always so. She was a city girl when I met her. Not sure she understood what drew me to the woods, but a few years after we got married she started going on hunting trips with me. She was interested in photography so she would go out with a camera. In the meantime I bought her a bow and she started shooting 3D tournaments with me. She was a natural and won many tournaments. One fall she was sitting in a treestand with her camera and a deer happened to come in real close. When she came in that evening she said “you know I think I could have shot that deer with my bow”. I asked if she thought she might like to try? The next fall, she was bowhunting. Dianne has bow killed whitetail deer, black bear, elk, antelope, hog and Javelina. She loves “going on adventures” as she puts it, hunts hard, shoots straight, guts her own kills, pulls more than her weight in camp, has a great attitude, never complains and to top it off is easy on the eyes. What can I say; she is the perfect hunting partner. Well, almost…if she could only cook. Her camp specialty is Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches, just ask Walkingstick ha ha. Dianne would love to bow kill a turkey but something always seems to go wrong. One time, after several years of frustration I asked her if she’d like to go ahead and take her first with a shotgun to which she replied “ No, I’d rather miss them with my recurve than kill one with a gun”. That my friends, is the essence of a true traditional bowhunter. Dianne’s favorite bow is her Rocky Mt Recurve, but she has taken game with her selfbow as well. She also would like to spot and stalk mulies and go caribou hunting someday, and I hope she lets me go with her.
(TG) What would be the single most important thing you could tell a budding new selfbowyer to help and aid him in his ventures??
(Lotz) You must have the desire burning deep in your belly and refuse to give up just because a few of the first ones break. All bowyers have bows break, even very experienced ones. The builders that will be ultimately successful are the ones that grab another piece of wood right after blowing one up and start another (providing you have some idea why the first one broke). Building bows is not rocket science. Sure there are certain principals you have to follow, such as the right design for a particular type of wood and some effort made at controlling moisture, but it’s really this easy… wood will not bend if it is too thick, and will bend if it is thin enough. The trick is to make it thick and thin where it needs to be. Either removing wood or leaving it alone does this. There are plenty of guys out there willing to help, some with wonderful instructional websites like George Tsoukalas, John Scifres and Terry Petko. There are many more willing to answer any and all questions a beginner may have, either on line or through private messages or emails. There is no reason that a complete novice with the right amount of desire can’t be shooting a bow made by his own two hands in relatively short order. We see it everyday on Tradgang and it is one of the most satisfying things about this sport for those of us who like to share what we’ve learned. In addition there are a ton of books and a few good videos out there you can buy. I particularly recommend the “Bent Stick” by Paul Comstock, The “Traditional Bowyers Bible 1” and the videos “Making a Wood Bow” with Mark Keller by the Butler Did it Productions and “Crafting the Flemish String” by Butler Field Sports. If all else fails, try and make it to Mojam in July. If you can’t do that, then try and hook up with someone in your area that makes bows. It will accelerate your learning curve immensely. Heck, Don Haingray made his first bow with little more than a file and a pocketknife from info learned online.
(TG)Can you tell us a bit about your preferred bow and arrow combo or draw weight??
(Lotz) These days I’m really into primitive gear so I hunt with bendy or semi bendy handled sliver bows that I make or friends make for me. Usually Osage, usually unbacked but sometimes sinew, snake or carp skin backed in the 43-48# range at my 27” draw. I don’t use a string serving or nocking point on my bows, and shoot off the knuckle or a soft leather rest/strike plate I came up with that Tom Leemans nicknamed “Ferret’s Floppy Arra Rest”. My preferred arrow material is a self-nocked river cane shaft. With a little work it makes a wonderful arrow… tough, naturally tapered, straight flying, and of good weight. I use hand stripped turkey wing and tail feathers for fletching cut Indian style and mostly home made metal trade points cut from used bandsaw blade all wrapped with hide glue and sinew and file sharpened. These arrows weigh out about 10-12 gpp of draw weight. I made my first kill with flint last year and really loved that but I don’t know how to knap, something I have to address one of these days. I use a leather one arrow quiver tied to the upper limb most of the time, but sometimes use a Lakota style quiver. My favorite being an elk hide Lakota made for me by Barb Dumas just before her passing. I mostly wear muted plaids when I hunt these days, either flannel or wool and fleece lined brown denim pants and I nearly always wear rubber boots (mostly because I can get them off without bending over to untie them ha ha). I enjoy the added challenge hunting with such equipment affords me. Like Mark Baker sings in the tune “Try, Try Again” off his excellent bowhunting CD “Feathers Thru the Wind”: I know I chose the hardest way Sometimes frustrations rule the day But I won't take the easy way, No I won't be denied Often times I taste success Enough to overrule the rest When my abilities pass the test I get an awesome high So I keep on trying……… That song just sorta sums it up for me
(TG) And what’s the main advice you would give a new hunter to aid him on his ventures?
(Lotz) Just listen to Warren Womack ha ha.
Seriously you can’t kill anything sitting on your couch, you have to get out in the woods and gain experience. Learn all you can about the quarry that you are chasing, where it lives, what it eats, when it procreates, where it beds and where it goes when spooked. Why it does everything it does. Learn to use the wind. Use your eyes, ears and brain more than your feet when hunting and accept that the vast majority of the time, even with your superior reasoning abilities you are going to lose the contest. Be as happy and humble when you do lose as when you do win. Be grateful for every minute you get to spend roaming the fields and forests with bow in hand for they are indeed magical times. Notice the insignificant sights, and the sounds of your surroundings while out hunting. Look at the sun, the moon and the stars and try and realize that these exact same heavenly bodies were also looked at by the earliest bowhunters on the planet. Smell each flower’s unique and delicate fragrance. Smell the fresh dirt. Listen to the snowflakes hitting the remaining oak leaves fluttering in the wind. Practice often, hunt honestly and ethically, shoot straight and track to the best of your abilities. Do all this and you will indeed be a successful hunter.
(TG) Is there one animal that you would truly love to go after again??
(Lotz) The only animal I haven’t taken that I’d really like to, is a bull moose. I hunted them in Alberta, Canada a few years back and had a 42” bull at 25 yards for over ½ hour but the only shot he offered was a quartering towards shot and I couldn’t shoot without the risk of wounding him. He was a nice bull and it was disappointing when he turned and left without offering a shot, but hey that’s bowhunting. I can live with that. It was a great experience just being that close to a bull moose in the wilderness. That was a very expensive hunt and I need to find a place to hunt them cheaper ha ha. Anyone want to take me moose hunting?
(TG) Mickey what do you think of the state of traditional archery today?
(Lotz) I think traditional archery is finally back on solid ground. I mean just look at it this way, many of us live in little towns where we are the only ones who are interested in traditional archery. We don’t even know anyone else who shoots the equipment we do, so we seek out like-minded individuals. The Internet has become such a blessing in that respect, particularly forums like Trad Gang. Thanks Trad Gamg in a little over a year over 5,000 of us “trad freaks” have found a home. A place we visit daily which offers us the opportunity to share, discuss and learn. We form friendships and bonds that transcend state lines, national boundaries and even continents. We consider each other family. Us trad folks are growing in number everyday, with the experienced “passing it on” to the novice, who will in turn take what they have learned and pass it on to the next generation perpetuating this lifestyle that we all share. I feel good about the state of traditional archery, and Trad Gang has a lot to do with that. Appreciate it guys, we are all in your debt for what you have done here. Thanks!
Mickey Lotz is a lifetime member of Golden hawk Archers. He’s held just about every office in the organization as well. He’s been a member of his state bowhunting organization O.B.A since 1978 and was also a charter member of ATHA as well as the very first membership Chairman. Mickey was also the very first state rep for Ohio with the IBO and is also a master IBEP instructor.
During his years in the woods and behind the bow Mickey’s served as the archery editor of “Woods and Water” and has had articles published in 8 national publications.
During a brief hiatus from the traditional side Mickey found himself on the hoyt advisory staff as a pro tournament shooter. Hoyt also sponsored Mickey with a Hoyt recurve and one of the first Sky Trophy longbows, which he used in shooting demonstrations to show the effectiveness of traditional bows at a time when there wasn’t much interest in them. Yet like many Mickey finally found himself fed up with the ever-increasing mechanization of modern archery. Mickey told me his decision to resign from hoyt and return to his first love of the wooden bow is one he has not nor never will regret.
Mickey has hunted in 17 states, 4 Canadian provinces and Alaska . With this he has recorded 49 harvests of big game animals consisting of whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, caribou, antelope, black bear, mountain lion, wild turkey, Javelina and wild hog, Mickeys only endured TWO hunting seasons out of the last 22 without at least filling one tag.
One thing I’ve always noticed about Mickey is ”If Smiles were miles Mickey would be world wide” Every pic I’ve ever saw of him had him grinning ear to ear. This pretty much sums up the man. He enjoys and loves what he does. And that includes helping people and giving back. Wether he likes the term or not…… Mickey Lotz is a role model for many of us that is truly a gem in our midst.