Sacred Pursuit

The Legacy Of Jeremy "Minnow" Fischer

About eight years ago I got a phone call from the big woods of Wisconsin. On the other end of the line was my son, Ben. This particular call wasn’t to tell me about a big bear or necessarily a report on how our dogs were doing in the northern swamps. Ben had met a man named Jeremy Fischer – better known to his family and friends as “Minnow”. During the brief call Ben was adamant that Minnow had some of the best bear dogs that he had run across in all his travels (which are extensive). Ben was especially impressed with cold trailing abilities that Minnow’s hounds possessed trailing off baits.

Through Ben’s trips to Wisconsin, he developed a lasting friendship with Jeremy. I met Minnow later when he traveled to Tennessee for the American Plott Association Breed Days. Minnow walked into my house as if he had known us all his life and joined right in for breakfast. Sadly, I never got to visit Minnow in WI or hunt with him.

To absolutely everyone’s shock on November 7, 2018 Jeremy passed away at work from a brain aneurysm. His wife, children, family, friends and the greater hound hunting community were stunned. Jeremy’s death left an absence that can’t be filled with those who knew him best. As you will read in this column Minnow left quite a legacy.

A cherished son…

Jeremy was born in Wausau, WI on September 27, 1981, to Jerry and Jan Fischer. One of the best ways to know a man is to find out what kind of relationship he has with his mother. When I first asked Jan if she would assist me with this column she was overwhelmed with emotion, and it took her several days to collect herself. I don’t share this to embarrass Jan. Her response, four years after Minnow’s passing, speaks volumes about the relationship they had as mother and son. 

According to Jan the nickname “Minnow” was a spin-off of Jerry’s nickname Fish which came from their last name. Jerry was Fish and his little boy was Minnow – that’s perfect. As a boy Minnow enjoyed all the normal boy stuff like baseball and hunting with his dad. From a young age Minnow lived older than his years and was the voice of reason for the entire family. Within the Fischer family he was the “peacekeeper”.  Minnow was known for making friends easily and trying to make everyone around him a better person. Ironically, even though he was the voice of reason, he also was a jokester and loved to laugh. He continuously encouraged his buddies to work harder and do the best they could in life. Jan says that after Minnow acquired his first hounds, “His love for the sport of bear hunting grew and grew. Hunting with dogs was his passion”.

A beloved husband and father…   


Communicating with Jeremy’s widow, Leslie, was very similar to my communication with Jan in this sense – I met another woman who adored Jeremy. Leslie wrote this paragraph to me about Jeremy, and I want you to read it in her words, “Jeremy was a wonderful husband. He was my sounding board; always supportive and compassionate, but also honest to a fault. He didn’t sugar coat anything much and said it like it was, which is something I valued about him. He made me laugh every single day, and gave the biggest and best hugs, he was someone I couldn’t stay mad at (because he’d almost always make me laugh) and we rarely argued. He was a great man, and I’m lucky to have been his wife. He made me feel safe and loved every single day”.

Leslie also highly complemented Jeremy as a father to his two children – Kailyn and Beau. She said that Jeremy was “born to be a father”. He read them bedtime stories, took them on walks, and snuggled on the couch with them watching movies. Minnow loved taking his kids to the dog lot and taught them about the hounds. Every day when Jeremy came home from work, he announced his arrival with “Hi Family, I’m home”! Minnow’s greatest legacy is the love he left in the hearts of his children. They miss him badly, but are growing up knowing their dad loved them above all else.

A bear hunter’s bear hunter…

Jeremy Fischer had a lot of friends in the bear hunting community. John Lobner, who owns the camp that Minnow hunted out of, said that Minnow carried a Wisconsin Bear Hunting Association Year Book with him in his truck. As Jeremy traveled he would pick a members number out of the contact section and call them to talk bear hunting. He called total strangers just to make new friends and learn more about hound hunting. Everyone who knew him had only good things to say as they shared their memories with me.

When Jeremy first started bear hunting, he tagged along with other men who had hounds. Minnow took his time learning the craft before he invested in his own hounds. When Jeremy made the full commitment to hound hunting, he began by training puppies from scratch. His hunting partners spoke highly of Minnow’s ability to train and handle hounds.

Jeremy was a dedicated Plott man. Plotts were his breed of choice and he was extremely proud of them. Minnow was hard core. He expected his hounds to handle a cold track, to run all day and finish the job at the bay or the tree. Minnow wanted a complete bear hound and didn’t settle for less. He was one of those that busted the brush and earned the respect of those in his hunting camp. I’m certainly not an expert in northern bred Plott lines that Jeremy used to create his Red River Plotts but in looking at the two pedigrees the prominent names appear to be Malsin, Jonet, and Piontek on three generation pedigrees.

Mike Stumpner, who hunted about 20 years with Minnow, described a situation to me which seems to exemplify the kind of hunting partner they had in Minnow. He called out on the radio for help and Minnow came right away. When Jeremy got to Mike’s location, he asked for specific information and then sent in his best dog Hades into the bay. Stumpner saw Hades pass him and asked Jeremy why he would send his best dog into a rough bay. Jeremy responded, “You asked for help. I sent you the best I had”. Every houndsman that reads this knows exactly how to translate that.

John Lobner, who owns the camp which Minnow based himself, told me that Hades was the best bear dog he ever hunted with of any breed. Other partners such as Ryan Roth and Sam Redalen also spoke highly of Minnow’s dogs including Hades and another dog named Cougar. Long time Plott breeder, Karl Seilenbinder, had many dog dealings with Jeremy and vehemently stated that he was one of the most honest men he ever dealt with in the hound world. Every single hound man that I interviewed expressed their admiration for his truthfulness, kindness and hard hunting abilities.

A conservationist…

Jeremy was a dedicated member of the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association and served on its board of directors. He believed that hunting the right way and having a working relationship with the DNR was crucial in protecting his rights as a hunter and the habitat for the bears he pursued.

A legacy…

When Minnow walked to a treed bear or cat he always greeted the dogs with the same greeting. As he petted up the dogs he repeatedly said, “Good dogs, good dogs, good dogs”. The phrase “good dogs” became his calling card, so much so, that the family has had that slogan printed on memorial T-shirts. This is the legacy that Jeremy “Minnow” Fischer has left for his children Kailyn and Beau. For the rest of their lives, they may not have his physical presence, but they’ll know that their dad was more of a man in a few years on earth than a lot of men who live long lives. A man who gave his whole heart to the things that mattered most to him – his wife, his children, his family, his friends, and his “good dogs”.