A Grouse Hunter’s Guide To Navigating Michigan’s Seven New GEMS

GEMS logo

Grouse hunting season in Michigan is open now through November 14th. Today, guest blogger Katie Keen from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources tells us about a new program that’s giving Michigan hunters access to some of the top grouse hunting areas in the country.

Daylight is starting to give us the squeeze, and if you’re like me, you’re starting to smell fall in the air.

Fall brings prime hunting season in Michigan, and with it a new program that the DNR and many other groups – like the Ruffed Grouse Society, U.S. Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation and Ducks Unlimited – are really excited about.

It’s called GEMS, or Grouse Enhanced Management Systems.

Michigan is among the leading states in the nation for grouse hunting, and the GEMS showcase seven great areas for those who want to give the sport a try or maybe existing hunters looking for new locations. The great thing about grouse hunting is, if you’re already a hunter you have – or will soon have, with deer season right around the corner – the hunting license you need.  The base license serves as a small game license, which is all you need for grouse hunting. The base license provides critical funding for wildlife and habitat management and conservation officers, and also to educate the public on the benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping.

Info kioskSeven GEMS are ready for this year’s grouse season, which starts Sept. 15.  Go online and pick out the first GEMS site you want to visit, whether it’s just below the bridge in Indian River, just north of the tri-cities near Standish, or north of the bridge where you could go from Drummond Island in the eastern U.P. to the Ottawa National Forest in the far western U.P.  The adventure is there and waiting!  You’ll also notice, when you’re on the GEMS website, the local support area businesses are giving GEMS. GEMS hunters will receive some great discounts by taking a selfie at a GEMS site and showing the picture to the participating business.

Once you’ve picked out your first GEMS location, and arrived there with your fashionable hunter orange vest, you’ll find some very useful information. Learn about ruffed grouse biology and how forests are managed for wildlife through cutting, hear examples of a ruffed grouse drumming on a log, and – most importantly – check out the map that will show you the miles and miles of hunter walking trails waiting for you.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 5.10.49 PMGEMS areas feature non-motorized trails planted with clover weaving through pockets of grouse’s favorite habitat – stands of young aspen trees. You can choose to stay on the trail looking for grouse, or step off a bit and venture through the stands of young timber.  And don’t forget the other great upland game bird that can be found and hunted in these GEMS – the American woodcock.  Woodcock season starts on Sept. 20, and since it is a migratory bird, an additional free “woodcock stamp” is needed for hunting.  You can grab a woodcock stamp anywhere DNR licenses are sold or online.

Once you’ve completed your first GEMS hunt, make sure to take that selfie in front of a GEMS sign and visit one of the area businesses to get a great discount.  Hunters in Michigan bring millions of dollars into our economy … and have a whole lot of fun doing it!

Katie KeenKatie Keen is a wildlife outreach technician for the DNR in Cadillac, who spends her working hours with hunters, landowners, educators and media representatives to help with their DNR-related needs. In her off-time, she is a hunting-landowner who loves to educate folks about the DNR.

 

 

How to Have the Ultimate Outdoor Adventure in Michigan This Summer

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers a number of programs to help outdoor enthusiasts take advantage of all that the great outdoors in Pure Michigan have to offer – including Recreation 101 and 202, Summer Free Fishing Weekend, Michigan Boating Week and much more! Today, the DNR’s Maia Turek describes the many ways to have an outdoor adventure in Michigan this summer. 

Recreation 101

recreation 101Michigan is rich in recreation opportunities, and for those looking to explore those activities, the Department of Natural Resources’ Recreation 101 program at Michigan state parks is the perfect way to get started.

The beauty of the four seasons in Michigan is that we have almost every recreational opportunity available to us. In the warmer months, Michiganders can choose to ease down the river on a paddleboard, channel their inner marksmen with archery, or search the skies for a rare, treasured species while birdwatching.  The winter months offer just as much variety, with snowboarding, snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing and so much more.

The only challenges with having so many options is choosing what to try and where to start. There are a lot of things to take into account when picking up a new activity; buying the right equipment, learning the techniques, taking safety precautions and finding the space to actually get started. It can be overwhelming!

Recreation 101 class at Sleepy Hollow State Park.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

But the good news is that you don’t have to figure it out on your own. The Department of Natural Resources’ Recreation 101 program provides all of the gear, guides and good times so that people can try out something new in Michigan’s woods and waters, and the best part – it’s completely free!

Recreation 101, also known as “Rec 101,” is a series of hands-on introductory classes taught by DNR staff and expert volunteers from organizations, guide services, outfitters and more. These volunteers offer their time and knowledge to introduce novice recreation enthusiasts to all the great activities available in Michigan. Programs cover almost any imaginable recreational pursuit available in Michigan, including kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, archery, geocaching, birding, mushroom hunting, to name a few.

If you’re a bit more experienced with an activity, the DNR also offers a Recreation 202 series which provides more advanced instruction and in-depth experiences. Instructors offer these classes at a reduced rate from what you might find elsewhere, making Rec 202 classes a fun and affordable way to explore Michigan’s great outdoors.

Whether you’re just getting started or are an experienced recreation enthusiast, the Recreation 101 and 202 programs offer fun and interesting classes for everyone. For a full schedule of programs, visit www.michigan.gov/rec101, and enjoy a new activity this summer!

For more information on Recreation 101, check out the video below:

Free Fishing, ORVing and State Park Entry – June 7 – 8, 2014

Family-fishing-in-Michigan-300x199

Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

To kick off the summer season, the DNR coordinates a Summer Free Fishing Weekend each year (and has since 1986) to showcase the great angling opportunities available in Michigan, while easing some of the financial investment needed to get involved. It’s the perfect time to discover the state’s world-class resources.  The 2014 Summer Free Fishing Weekend is Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8. During these two days anyone – residents and non-residents alike – can fish all waters without purchasing a license, although all other regulations still apply.

In addition to free fishing, the DNR will also waive the requirement for an ORV license and trails permit for the weekend – a great opportunity for those who might prefer to navigate Michigan’s 3,000+ miles of ORV trails. 

Also on June 8th,  the DNR will waive the Recreation Passport requirement for entry into state parks as part of this summer outdoor recreation kick-off.

If you’d like to learn more about Summer Free Fishing Weekend, watch the video below.

Michigan Boating Week – June 7 – 14, 2014

Photo courtesy of Michigan Boating Industries Association

Photo courtesy of Michigan Boating Industries Association

Michigan Boating Week  also kicks off June 7-14.  Michigan Boating Week is a partnership between the DNR, Michigan Waterways Commission and the Michigan Boating Industries Association. This weeklong campaign offers many opportunities to get started with boating, get back onboard or learn some new skills to use on the water, including free on-water boat demos!

Michigan Boating Week also aims to help protect Michigan’s waters, and that starts with the same people who love and enjoy them. June 6-7, staff from the DNR, DEQ and MDARD will be on-hand at selected boating access sites for the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Landing Blitz. These events will educate boaters about how they can become stewards of the water by sharing information about how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Check these event listings to find a Michigan Boating Week event near you.

How do you like to spend time outdoors in Michigan? 

photoMaia Turek is the DNR Recreation Programmer for state parks.  She and her team of regional programmers put together hundreds of events every year – from Rec 101 and Fresh Air Fit classes, to family reunions, church campouts, and volunteer events – they work hard to provide every Michigan resident and visitor a reason to come to a state park and make a lifelong memory in Michigan’s woods and waters.

Fishing in Pure Michigan: An Infographic

With trout, walleyes, salmon, perch, bass and more ready to bite, Michigan is home to the best catches a fishing trip can offer. And with four Great Lakes, 11,000 inland lakes and hundreds of rivers and streams, there’s no end to the places to cast your line during your Pure Michigan fishing experience.

We compiled just a few reasons why Michigan is an angler’s dream. To download a full-sized version of the graphic, click here or on the image below.

For more on fishing in Michigan, visit michigan.org.