2017-02-02 / Outdoors

Tarsa family’s freezer still stocked

By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


MATT TARSA, pictured with the 8-point he shot in Iowa last fall, has plenty of venison to eat this winter after his family’s memorable 2016 season. MATT TARSA, pictured with the 8-point he shot in Iowa last fall, has plenty of venison to eat this winter after his family’s memorable 2016 season. Matt Tarsa has more than enough venison to make it through the winter.

That’s because Tarsa and his kids stored up plenty of it in 2016.

“We put 10 deer in the freezer and we’re already close to a third of the way through it,” Tarsa said. “We raise Angus beef but we live on venison.

“It’s absolutely delicious.”

Tarsa recently sent in photos of the “significant” deer harvested by him and his kids last year. Among them were a 10-point shot by his son Cameron, an 8-point shot by his daughter Amanda (the same day) and an 8-point shot by his daughter Samantha.

All three bucks were harvested on a piece of property in Custer managed by Tarsa’s brother, Aaron Tarsa.

Matt Tarsa, meanwhile, tagged an 11-point in Kasson Township in late October — the same day Aaron Tarsa shot a 10-point in Custer. The deer Matt Tarsa had been targeting all season, a 250-pound 8-point, was shot by Aaron Tarsa in Kasson Township on Nov. 11.

Later that day, Matt Tarsa took down a massive 8-point in Iowa.

“That’s the fourth time we’ve killed bucks with a bow on the same day,” Matt Tarsa said. “We’ve done it twice in the same years.”

He said that, despite the trophy buck he took home from Iowa, he may carry out the rest of his hunting career in Michigan blinds.

That’s all thanks to antler-point restrictions (APRs), he said.

“The guys in Iowa killed bucks smaller than that and were happy — and Iowa’s an exceptional buck state,” Matt Tarsa said. “I’m not even interested in going to Iowa anymore. We’ve got such nice bucks to hunt around here. There’s way more than I ever imagined.”

Tarsa, one of the Leelanau Whitetails members who spent hours debating APRs years ago, said Custer adopted the system after Leelanau County and is already reaping the benefits.

And his trail cams seem to suggest the county’s deer herd is in great shape — at least in Kasson Township.

“I just want to know there’s one really nice buck around my hunting grounds,” Matt Tarsa said. “I don’t care if I ever kill one. Just to see one is an honor. I knew it could be much better (than it was before). I was expecting the least and hoping for the best. Now I’m passing up multiple deer.”

The next generation of Tarsa hunters employs the same mentality in the woods, often passing on sizable bucks.

All of Tarsa’s kids had to shoot two does before their first buck.

“It’s gratifying,” he said. “Not everyone gets it, but I look at my kids alone and the education they got about managing the herd. It’s a renewable natural resource, so it’s just a matter of educating people.”

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