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Long-time hunter takes one more walk in the woods

By Tom Rademacher

Leaning on his younger brother – and a unique partnership between two organizations – a West Michigan man under hospice care was able to venture once more into the woods and enjoy a pastime that has sustained him since he was a boy.

Though afflicted with a serious liver disease, Mike McKian found the strength and energy to visit his beloved hunting grounds in Cheboygan County, harvesting what likely will be his last deer as the sun was setting on his pop-up hunting blind.

McKian, 59, made the trip with brother Patrick and their friend, Rick Brockel, and with the support of both Emmanuel Hospice and McLaren Home Care & Hospice. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources also pitched in with a special permit allowing McKian to hunt from a standing vehicle, though he ended up forgoing that option.

About midway through their week-long stay there last month, Mike found himself in the blind and watched as a large doe came across his field of vision from right to left. It turned broadside to him, and he took it with one shot from his trusty .243.

It wasn’t a trophy like the many bucks Mike has taken there – or even as big as some of the does he’s killed – but it had special meaning because of the health challenges he’s had of late, and the fact that his brother was such a factor in the hunt.

Life’s been tough for Mike lately, especially when you count the fact that he lost his wife, Maria, to the effects of dementia less than two years ago. He’s countered his own battles by trying to stay busy making fishing rods. He lives and receives hospice care at the home of his parents, Frank and Genevieve McKian.

Mike’s social worker from Emmanuel Hospice, Kaitlyn Cavanaugh, learned of his desire to hunt once more, and reached out to McLaren in Cheboygan. Emmanuel collaborated with McLaren to make sure Mike had medications, supplies and care while out of Emmanuel’s service area.

“Our mission is to put our patients’ wishes first,” Cavanaugh explained, “and our calling is to make every moment meaningful. We do what we can to help our patients have the best quality of life possible.”