Turkey Hunting in Michigan – A Short, But Successful Season

Today, guest blogger Jeff Helsdon from Ontario Out of Doors Magazine tells us about his experience hunting for turkey in Michigan this spring.

Turkey hunting in Michigan is a unique experience, not so much that the birds or terrain are drastically different, but the quality of the hunt is unique.

Going into the hunt, I had memories of a prior visit to Michigan and driving down the backroads and marveling at the numbers of turkeys and deer our family saw. My daughter and I played a game – who could count more out their side of the vehicle. The turkey numbers I saw during that visit are the most I’ve ever seen, and I hunted Missouri previously, which is rated as one of the top turkey-producers in the nation.

My expectations grew after I met Al Stewart, Michigan’s upland biologist, and former National Wild Turkey Federation state chairman Dan Potter, and we saw birds in strut driving into the hunt camp where we’d be staying. We hunted those birds in the morning, but didn’t have any luck calling them in shotgun range after morning fly-down.

We were just considering our next move when Al’s phone rang. Dan had spotted birds on the other side of the bush. After traveling across it and setting up, we weren’t in place long when a loud gobble rang out from beside us. Thinking the bird was down the hill and since I was facing the other direction, I turn slightly. Just then I see the bird move forward, clucking and unsure of what I was. The going-away shot was not a good one.

After moving, we again heard it gobble and managed to get it closer, but not in range.

During lunch Al explained the reasoning behind what I viewed as a complex system of multiple seasons and low bird limit. Although the season lasts five weeks, the license I had was only good for the first week on both private and public land. In total, there are four different seasons, five in total if the over-the-counter multi-area license is included.  The system involves applying for a license and is good for a specific area.

SX-Michigan-DNRAlthough more complex, the Michigan system works. The application system is also used to control hunter numbers on public land – of which Michigan has 10 million acres. Stewart demonstrated the well-planned out MiHunt online application that maps out the public land and cover types on each.

“Many times the public land is better than private land,” he said. “The beauty of public land is there are thousands of acres of it. If you’re on 80 acres of private land and the birds aren’t there, there’s nothing you can do.”

The Michigan limit is only one bird, something Stewart believes is key in maintaining the quality of the hunt.

“Hunter success is as good on the last day as opening day, give or take a per cent or two,” Stewart said. “Our goal in the spring hunt is to maximize opportunity and maintain high quality.”

After lunch, a chance encounter with a flock of jakes while we were scouting turned into a filled tag after some excellent calling.

For more information on turkey hunting in Michigan, visit the Michigan DNR and check out this video about turkey hunting on Beaver Island.

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.47.56 PMJeff Helsdon is the turkey hunting editor of Ontario Out of Doors magazine and has completed the Canadian slam of turkey hunting as well as chasing gobblers in several states.

Fun and Friendship at South Haven’s Women’s Only Weekend

The gals are taking over South Haven! November 8th-10th is Women’s Only Weekend. Groups of gal pals will hit the shops, restaurants, and local attractions in downtown South Haven to enjoy each others company and be entertained. Guest blogger Lisa Shanley gives us the scoop on this fun-filled ladies-only getaway. 

If November 15th is opening day of firearm deer hunting season in Michigan and all of the Michigan men supposedly head to the woods, then it stands to reason that the women of Michigan should lay claim to an opening day in their own right. Well, they have!

Head to South Haven, Michigan on November 8th and see for yourself why over 300 women have converged here!  Believe me, the excitement of opening day at  South Haven’s Women’s Only Weekend is better than “bagging your first buck!” With over 50 activities packed into three days, it’s important to establish your “base camp” early. Translation – book your room! Just like antlers, they come in all shapes and sizes. Choose from historic B&B’s, family resorts, waterfront inns, or a vacation rental that will sleep all of your gal pals.

Next, you’ll want to buy your “license to hunt” – also known as your Women’s Only Weekend Ticket. These can be purchased online for just $60 per person. Aside from lodging and meals, this is all you’ll need to get into most weekend events.

Now, comes the best part – staking out your territory! With so much going on, you and your group of gals will want to zero in on your targets early. Check the schedule on the home page of the visitors’ bureau website. Whether it’s shopping downtown, tasting wine, taking in classic chick flicks or just kicking back in your room with a glass of wine and a novel,  this weekend is all yours so do what you want at your own pace!

With so much shopping, entertainment and fun; the “Sisterhood is Powerful” Brunch sponsored by Midwest Living Magazine is a top draw on Sunday, and is also included with the price of your ticket this year!

In the world of “Buck Pole Contests” – you know the ones where all the men proudly display their hunt side by side to see who shot the largest buck – well, we can top that too! At the end the weekend, the women with the most shopping bags will be entered into the WOW Shopping “Hall of Fame!” It might not be a Boone and Crocket big game record buck, but when you open the next credit card bill, let’s compare who had the most fun. WOW, I guess we win!

Where do you like to go for a fun-filled Pure Michigan getaway with your friends? 

Lisa Shanley is the executive director of the South Haven/Van Buren County CVB, past president of the Michigan Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus, and marketing chair for the Michigan Beachtowns Association. Lisa and her all-star team at the CVB have been promoters, partners, volunteers, and participants of South Haven’s Women’s Only Weekend for the past three years! 

New Hunting and Fishing Resources Available for Michiganders

With four Great Lakes, 11,000 inland lakes and thousands of acres of state and private hunting land, it’s no wonder that hunters and anglers take to the woods and waters each year in Michigan in search of that trophy buck or record breaking King.

We’re excited to announce that we recently teamed up with Outdoor Hub to launch two all new tabs on our Facebook page geared specifically towards Michigan sportsmen. The Pure Michigan hunting and fishing tabs will provide resources, tips and inside information on these activities to ensure your next trip is a memorable one.

Updates will include information hunting and fishing seasons, the best spots to hunt and fish, what to bring on your trip and more. We’ll also be sharing photos, videos and breaking local news.

Be sure to “Like” Pure Michigan on Facebook to check out the hunting and fishing tabs. You can click on the links directly or visit the Hunting and Fishing thumbnails next to our Free Photo Downloads gallery.

Take a look and let us know what you’d like to see featured here in the future! You can also join the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtags #PureMichiganFish and #PureMichiganHunt.