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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy photos Grant Merkel with a 13-foot alligator he killed on a nuisance tag in Orlando, Florida.

  • Grant Merkel harvested an Eastern turkey in DeKalb County.

  • Braylon Leeth, 5, of Bluffton, caught this largemouth bass at a private farm pond in Wells County.

  • Grant Merkel with a speckled trout caught in the intracoastal waterway of Siesta Key, Fla.

  • Emmitt Siekerman, 6, caught his first bluegill on his great-grandparents' private pond in Yoder.  

Sunday, October 01, 2017 1:00 am

Outdoor experiences

Cancer recovery burnishes family's love of activities

Late late last year, Grant Merkel of Spencerville was diagnosed with an undetermined form of cancer at age 13. He was rushed to Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis for additional testing to identify the source and plan of action to battle the cancer.

After several days Grant was cleared of his diagnosis and released to a minor set of health issues. His recovery was quick, and family priorities changed.

A family friend told the Merkels, “It is easy to find reasons not to do the things you want to do, but at a point you have to make a decision ... you can be in the recreational photos or you can look at them when your children come home.”

“As a family we have begun doing what we love; spending more time outside,” Jay Merkel said. “March, saltwater fishing in Florida; April, alligator hunting and May, Eastern turkey hunting.

“Grant's health is the best it has ever been and he continues to be active.”

– The Journal Gazette

If you have an outdoor experience you'd like to share, email your stories and photos to The Journal Gazette at Please provide full names, ages, hometowns, type of animal and when and where caught. Photos must be jpegs.