180301_HUNT

From left, Brian Cherry, Steve Kennedy, Jeff Kersten, Tim Fritz and Mark Tauscher participated in a pheasant hunt at the Blonhaven Hunt Club outside Orfordville as part of the Kennedy Foundation's annual fundraiser, which raises more than $100,000 each of the past four years to benefit Janesville organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club. Tauscher, a former University of Wisconsin and Green Bay Packers player, donated his time to help the project.

Angela Major

ORFORDVILLE

When can a successful pheasant hunt near Orfordville be beneficial to a 10-year-old boy or girl in Janesville?

When the Kennedy Family Foundation and ex-Badger and Packer lineman Mark Tauscher are involved, that’s when.

Tauscher, who will be inducted into the Packers’ Hall of Fame this summer, was at the 300-acre Blonhaven Hunt Club near Orfordville on Tuesday afternoon to do some pheasant hunting.

The Auburndale native likes to hunt, play golf and, when his knees allow, an occasional game of tennis. Being an ex-Badger AND an ex-Packer, Tauscher is the unofficial favorite son of Wisconsin.

With his wit and sense of humor, he is a prime candidate for fund-raisers. The former offensive tackle is happy to oblige.

“I like getting out, having some fun,” Tauscher said.

Tauscher does a daily radio show with former Wisconsin State Journal reporter and now full-time Packers reporter Jason Wilde from 9-11 a.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN 540 out of Milwaukee. He also works with Matt Lepay and Mike Lucas doing University of Wisconsin football games, and also does Packers pregame and postgame shows.

“I’ve been able to stay around football and do a lot of community work,” Tauscher said. “It’s a way to hang out with people.”

On Tuesday, that meant driving to Blonhaven to hunt pheasants with a group headed by Tim Fritz of Madison. Fritz works for Fabick Cat, a road equipment dealer out of Madison which put in the highest bid for the outing at the annual Kennedy Family Foundation fundraiser at the Janesville Country Club.

Steve Kennedy, vice president of Rock Road Companies—which the Kennedy family owns—and Brian Cherry rounded out the group.

The accounting firm of Baker Tilly helped organize the outing, and Tauscher was happy to participate.

The chance to hunt with a former Packer was one of the top money-getters at last summer’s fundraiser.

“The community supports the team,” Tauscher said. “It’s a unique situation. The community takes ownership of not only its current players, but also as a former player, they really embrace you.”

Tauscher also does benefit work for J.P. Cullen, and his 7-year-old son, Max, plays hockey. That meant Tauscher and his wife, Sarah, spent a couple of weekends this winter at the Janesville Ice Arena.

On Tuesday, he returned to shoot at some birds.

So Tauscher was out in the vast Blonhaven club fields Tuesday, walking five or so miles in quest of the 50 pheasants that club employee John Mathews planted earlier in the day.

The group bagged 25 birds, with Kennedy emerging as the best shot.

“There’s THE shooter right there,” Tauscher said, looking at Kennedy. “I don’t think you missed many.”

Kennedy shrugged off the praise. An avid hunter, Kennedy said he shoots better when he doesn’t have his dog along, which points and flushes out birds. He didn’t have to worry about his dog on Tuesday, and the pheasants were falling.

The Kennedy Family Foundation began five years ago when Rock Roads celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Since then, it has raised more than $500,000 for community programs. In 2017, donations were made to more than 100 programs, including the Boys & Girls Club, HealthNet of Rock County, LibertyFest, Agrace Hospice Care and the Rock County Sheriff’s K-9 unit.

Rock Road’s subcontractors and other associates attend the golf outing and auction.

“Once a year, we all come together and probably have more fun that we should,” Kennedy said. “And then we have an auction, and these guys give a lot of money. People like Mark donate to it, gives us the support we need.

“Baker Tilly goes out and finds these guys and sets up these great deals. Our job is ... to give to the charities that we feel are important to the community.”

The most money the event has raised in one year was $130,000. This past summer’s event raised more than $100,000, Kennedy said.

“Again, if it wasn’t for these guys, it wouldn’t be possible,” Kennedy said. “They are good friends too.”

And when these good friends got together to hunt Tuesday, many others benefited.

Tom Miller is a sportswriter and page designer for The Gazette. Email him at tmiller@gazettextra.com

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