Mike was born in Corpus Christi, Texas and grew up in the small, nearby community of Odem. Living in a rural environment, he began to actively enjoy wildlife during his formative years. He majored in wildlife science at Texas A&M University (B.S., M.S.) and at the Hornocker Wildlife Institute at the University of Idaho (Ph.D.). This interest has enabled him to observe and study the wildlife of southern Texas for most of his life.
His hobbies include reading and learning, particularly about the history of Texas and the history and geography of Idaho. He has a special interest in the culture and history of the Nez Perce Tribe of northern Idaho.
Another hobby and definite professional interest since joining the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute in 1981 is the biology and conservation of small wild cats. Mike continues to conduct research on various cat species (e.g., ocelot, jaguarundi, bobcat, mountain lion) as part of the mission of the Feline Research Program at the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute.