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Wild Game Feast planned

Annual event features speaker Mike Tison

Bagging a bull elk or trophy buck can be exhilarating for a hunter, but national wildlife speaker Mike Tison has learned that such adventures can deliver more than sustenance for the table and bragging rights.

Tison, of Michigan, will talk about his books “Four Arrow Buck” and “Being Lost in the Mountains” at the 15th annual Altoona Alliance Church Wild Game Feast.

It will be held at 5 p.m. March 21 at the church, 3220 Pleasant Valley Blvd. Doors open at 4 p.m. Cost is a suggested donation of $15 per person. In addition to the dinner, many outdoor-related door prizes will be given away. For tickets, visit the church office or call 944-0171 from 10 a.m. to

2 p.m. weekdays.

Tison, who is also an author and athletic director, will relate with humor how he finally encounters the deer of his dreams, only to have numerous things go wrong. His mountain story takes place in Colorado. It is a tale of how food poisoning caused him to miss a couple of days of hunting with the other men in his party. When he feels better, the other men are already in the woods. Hungry for the hunt, Tison ventures out alone and shoots an elk. Only his jubilation doesn’t last long because he is lost and can’t find his way back to base camp.

He will share the message of the five stages people go through when they find themselves lost in the wilderness and realize they need to be rescued.

But it is not the only time Tison has had that “I’m lost” feeling. It happened years ago at a church. At the time, Tison was the owner of an outdoor adventure ministry and had no experience or desire to speak publicly.

“I never set out to be a public speaker,” he said. “My speeches were memorable for all the wrong reasons.”

He was at the church to attend a wild game dinner at the request of a taxidermist.

Tison was to share about his faith for five minutes. In exchange, the taxidermist would mount the head of Tison’s prize buck for free. Tison agreed because he felt he could survive a five-minute talk in front of what he expected to be about 50 people.

But when he arrived at the church, it was packed with about 400 people. He glanced at the program and was surprised to learn he was the keynote speaker.

Tison said it was an evening of dinner, a talk by a Department of Natural Resources representative and the giving away of door prizes taking longer than expected. When it was his turn to speak, Tison said he could hear the metal legs of the chairs scraping on the floor as people got up to leave.

He said they were told to remain seated for the keynote speaker.

“I had no message and was facing a hostile crowd, (and suddenly) my speaking ministry was born. It was an ‘aha’ moment,” Tison said.

To survive in the spotlight, he made some jokes about his name and told the story of encountering the buck of his dreams. He said members of the audience told him he did a really good job. On the way home, he said he thought about their comments.

Realizing he might have a future in being a speaker, Tison said he began training for more opportunities and even did stand-up comedy for awhile.

At the time, Tison said Michigan was suffering through a depression and people were not pursuing adventure trips. It was a difficult time for his family as he and his wife were raising their five children and she had open heart surgery.

So while his adventure ministry was closing down, his speaking ministry was ramping up, Tison said.

“God was faithful. He saw us through it all,” he said.

In addition to speaking, Tison has written two books, “Reluctant Misfits” and “Seize the Adventure.” He is also the director for his community’s summer youth recreation league and general manager for Wildfire Athletics, a youth sports ministry for softball and volleyball athletes.

Tison enjoys spending times in the outdoors with his family, including bird-hunting with his wife and three daughters and hunting for all types of game with his two sons.

The wild game feasts themselves have become a family affair.

Pastor Tim McGarvey of Altoona Alliance Church said in the beginning, the wild game feasts were mostly attended by men but now more and more women come and youths attend, too. He said the dinner seems to be becoming a family night out.

In addition to the food and the speaker, the door prizes are a big hit.

McGarvey said anyone who does not attend Altoona Alliance Church is eligible to win a door prize. The church purchases and donates the major prizes, which in the past have included a cross bow, a gun, fishing rods and a one-day hunting excursion. McGarvey said area businesses also contribute prizes which have included tickets to a Curve game, a round of golf or hunting equipment, such as a turkey call.

“If you come, there is a good chance you will win a prize,” McGarvey said.

McGarvey said Tison will also speak at the 10:45 a.m. service March 22 at the Altoona Alliance Church.

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