The year was 1938 and the club was started by five young men who worked hard and loved to hunt together. These men were seeing more and more farmers posting “NO HUNTING” signs on their properties. Due to hunting property becoming scarce, they chipped in together and leased land to pursue their passion.The Founding Five members were Azel ‘Red’ Traver (for who our lake is named), Ralph Nelson, Lester Nixson, Henry ‘Hank’ Fuller and Charles Goff.
Because of the rising cost of leasing land the Founders invited five more members to join the club and share expenses. This is when McNeil Smith, Erwin Volz, Louis Haines, Jack Durbin and Roy Monaghan joined the club. It is believed that the group at that time called themselves simply, The Hunt and Fish Club. The clubs treasury was a drawer in Alice Fullers sewing machine. When the drawer was empty of money, each member would put $10 or $20 dollars back in it. The group changed their name to the Whitmore Lake Rod and Gun Club. Monthly meetings were held at either Hank Fullers sheet metal shop, Jack Durbins lakeview Inn, a school room or at a members house. The club continued to lease land for the pleasure of hunting. They had only one rule. If anyone was caught violating fish or game laws, that person would have to buy drinks for everyone at the club. A rule that is still in effect today.
The club increased to 25 members and George Burke Jr. was asked to draw up papers of incorporation. The Whitmore Lake Rod and Gun Club became incorporated in 1948. At this time Oren Nelson was secretary and McNeil Smith was President. At this time they voted to give free memberships to anyone that would let them hunt their land at no charge. Some of the local farmers that became members were Pete Kelly, Ben Strong and John Buehler.
Being an ambitious group they wanted a place they could call their own. On February 11, 1949 they purchased 27 acres of property from George and Sally Romine for $2500.
The lake we all refer to as the “Club Lake” is actually named Traver lake, In memory of one of the founding members, Red Traver who died for his country fighting in World War 2. After the purchase of the property meetings were commonly held outdoors under the walnut trees. The purchase of the property also created a demand for money to pay bills. The club would hold an annual raffle to help with expenses. They raffled off a White Faced Hereford for 1st place and a pig for second place.
The WLRGC joined Michigan United Conservation Clubs in 1946. The club started sending kids to MUCC camp in 1947. Another tradition we still continue today.
After the property was purchased the next investment was to put a building on it. Heavy equipment was brought in to dig out the side of the hill and deal with the heavy clay. During construction the east wall made of block, fell down numerous times. An outside contractor was brought in to place steel beams into the bank to support a poured wall. This did the trick. Other than the completion of the east wall all most all of the work was done by members. The floor on the bar side was laid by Harold Weller and Tom Vandenbosch. A bank loan of $2500 was secured to build the second floor. The loan from Ann Arbor Bank was paid off in 1959. With the second floor finished a rifle range was installed. This space was used for NRA classes. Tom VandenBosch was one of the original instructors, others were Gerry West, Chuck Haight, and Ham Curtis.
In June 1954 the Ladies Auxiliary was formed with 27 members.
Whitmore Lake Rod and Gun Club was started on a simple desire to hunt and fish. This desire is the basis for membership today.