The Ruffed Grouse Society is the one international wildlife conservation organization dedicated to promoting conditions suitable for ruffed grouse, American woodcock and related wildlife to sustain our sport hunting tradition and outdoor heritage.

The Andy Ammann Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society is based in and around the Lansing area of Michigan.  Members of our Chapter are typically from Ingham, Clinton, Eaton, Jackson, and Shiawassee counties.


Here's a description of early AARGS history from former RGS President Ken Uptigrove:

AARGS History: The Early Years
How many of you can remember the organizational meeting of the Lansing Chapter, RGS on March 4, 1970 or the follow up meeting at the Lansing Rod & Gun Club on June 3? A few of us, age 45 and up can. Names like Don Bazzett, Mike Bently, Jerry Brooks, Bruce Cameron, Vic Christopherson, Hal Glassen, Joel Heilman, Bob Perrin, Al Smith and Keith Davis figured in chapter history from those beginning hours. An even earlier, embryonic chapter is document in a September 10, 1971 letter from Christopherson to State Chair Keith Davis. We started out a friendly chapter with the emphasis on programming and fun activities, and today these two qualities continue to play a role in binding us together.

THE CHAIRMEN
Don Bazzett served a relatively short term as our organizational chairman. A more cheerful helpful kind of guy you'll never find. Vic Christopherson followed Don with a good organizational style and strong dog abilities. So good in fact that he is judging at the three day Grand National Grouse Championship, while you are reading this. Vic especially remembers those slides and talks at the Harmony Bar & Grill!

Charlie Keenan moved up to chairman in '78. I can still remember Charlie coming to a meeting excited about grouse "just 10 minutes from Lansing." I never did find-out exactly where. It was somewhere near the end of Charlie's term that we moved to the Pick for meetings.

This article's writer, Ken Uptigrove became chair in January 1980. Meetings gradually shifted to the Sea Hawk. With some luck, help with programming (remember Hank Zeman & his shotgun stocked camera or author Steve Smith?) and some super members we numbered 75 strong by January 15, 1982. It was at that meeting that we first met Don Chilcote, RGS Regional Director and also when Len Face took over the helm. My parting shot at Len was a proposal for a name change for the chapter. One of Len's first actions was to act on that proposal and we became the Andy Ammann Chapter, RGS. Len later became the first president of the Michigan Council, RGS from the Lansing area, 1986-1989.

Jim Wessinger took over in 1984. Somewhere in his busy schedule Dr. Jim found time to talk us into becoming a fundraising chapter. Under his leadership, the first fundraiser was held, I believe in 1985. The money we realized from the first banquet enabled us to fund the first MSU Undergraduate Student Award in 1986.

The honor of presenting that first student award and for being the first to organize two fundraisers goes to Mike Davich. Mike's a serious hunter, a knowledgeable dog man and he possesses good organizational and programming skills. With Mike, the chapter grew to about 160 members.

Following Mike is Sheriff Art Kelsey, our current chairman. Under Art, we reached 207 members to date. A joint habitat project has been started at Gratiot-Saginaw Game Area with three other chapters, a $4800 project utilizing the DNR's matching funds. Art's first fundraiser set a new dollar record and we are hoping to do better this year. It's the dollars we raise that go to fund education, research and habitat projects.

THE BIOLOGISTS
Of course, at those first three organizational meetings there were other names as well, like biologists Andy Ammann, Dave Arnold, Dick Eden, Jim Hammill and Tom Prawdzik who figured in early chapter history. Do you remember those early programs where Andy's slides, Arnold's comments or Elden, Hammill or Prawdzik's expertise were as educational as they were entertaining? Our biologists have always been the chapter's strength. Andy and Dave continue to be.

In researching the "Michigan Grouse Hunter" July 1976 I came across the following: "Andy Ammann, former DNR wildlife biologist, stressed the need for maintaining clearings which are a necessity for woodcock brooding." Now you know where our cutting projects at Rose Lake and the GSCA Joint Project got their start. A seed planted...preferably herbaceous ground cover, eh Andy?

During the late 70's and early 80's and especially helpful to me, a white maned, cheerful and helpful-for-programming biologist named Herb Johnson was the Northern Game Bird Specialist. Herb had some time on Garden Island doing research and teaching, and had lots of materials for handouts. He is now retired and lives at Houghton Lake, a few blocks off M-55.

Following Herb, Wayne Bronner, of the Frankenmuth Bronners became our mentor. Also active is a fellow and friend, Jeff Greene. Remember our drumming log count(s) down at Waterloo in '82? Jeff did a bang up job then and continues to do so now, but with turkeys as well. A couple other names that should be mentioned are Jon Haufler, our always helpful Secretary from MSU, Bobbi Webber, now with the DNR in the Eastern UP, and retired forester Ted Draw. Remember Ted at the skeet shoots or at last year's Rose Lake Cutting?

Finally, our current "Northern Game Bird Specialist" John Urbain deserves mention. Whether you know it or not, John's been helpful with a chain saw at our cuttings, at grouse and turkey workshops, and with our dinner programs. He also makes a mean ham sandwich and shoots well both at skeet shoots and in the brush. As I wrote earlier, it is the biologists who have been our chapter's strength. Just by being there for programs or for information, they have helped each chairman in guiding the chapter to successful years. For all the chairmen, past and present, I say "Hats Off" to all of you and thanks.


AARGS History: 1990's-2000's
From its beginnings on March 4, 1976 to the present, the “Lansing Chapter, RGS” has been an active, resource and Michigan DNR oriented group. The 70’s and 80’s are covered in the 1989 Fundraiser brochure along with the past Chairmen or Presidents from that era. The scope of this insert is the immediate past two decades and the chapter, now the Andy Ammann Chapter since 1982 or so, continues to be an active chapter, working with both the national organization and the Michigan DNR.

THE CHAIRMEN Dave Arnold took the helm in 1990 after retiring from the DNR. Dave (1990-1992) was a strong “get the job done” kind of guy for field work with his former department and much loved by his members.

He was followed by now retired East Lansing cop, Mike Niemala, (1992-1994). Mike hailed from the UP and shared many of his hunting memories with us, if not the exact location. Smart fellow but also a great host. I remember the President’s dinners around the holidays when planning for the next year occurred in Mike’s basement.

Dead serious hunter and great dog man, Al Lowrie inherited the job (1994-1996) from Mike and also did it well. He’s still a serious hunter today, putting in far more field hours than most of us.
Dog man and printer Dave Fletcher was the first to do two terms as Chairman (1996-1998, 2002-2004). Being half Canadian, I enjoyed Dave’s humor. During his second term, we had the largest banquet attendance ever, when he tapped into his woodcock banding friends pockets for using Holt.

Following Dave’s first term, Don Robertson, a most congenial gent, stepped up to the plate ((1998-2000).

Then Bernie Sheff led us for two years (2000-2002).

After Fletcher’s second term, another dog man, Mike LeMaster served as Chair (2004-2006) and (2008-2010). Mike has been most generous with his time, his kennels and his field trial facility for years. In his second term, he was able to facilitate the chapter’s purchase of a John Deere tree shear for the DNR, at a cost of over $5000, mostly from chapter fundraiser and national funds.

Between LeMaster’s terms, a younger, dedicated man from MSU was elected to the job. Jim Schneider (2006-2008) added technical skills as well as hard work to the mix, so the AARGS website was born. We moved from Guerrazzi’s program dinner site to the Eagle Eye for both fundraisers and program dinners during his tenure.

Finally, in 2010, Jeff Taylor stepped in to become our leader. To borrow a phrase from the first 20 years, “It’s the dollars we raise that go to fund education, research and habitat projects” that Jeff is working on now. I suspect all the past chairs wish him success.

THE BIOLOGISTS There are only two, John Urbain, who retired in 2002, after over a decade as our “Northern Gamebird Specialist” and Al Stewart. Both have worked hard to make the Ammann Chapter successful, with programs, cooking at the shoot and with habitat work. They continue to make our chapter strong.

Hat’s off again, from all the past and present chairmen... After serving as Chairman (1980-1982), I stepped into the Treasurer’s job and stayed through 2010 except for one short period. It has been a pleasure working with virtually every one of them, chairs and biologists. I’ve hunted with many of them and find great respect for all.
Ken Uptigrove