Today, guest blogger Katie Keen, the wildlife outreach technician from the DNR in Cadillac tells us what you should expect hunting for turkey in Michigan this spring.
SPRING TURKEY SEASON!
Those three words make me smile ear to ear! Everything looks so different in the early spring. With the snow finally gone revealing the earth below, you can really see every contour of the ground. Without the raspberries, nettle and other thick vegetation hiding the forest floor, it’s like a whole new playground to explore.
Turkey season is on my mind. We had turkeys moving through our property all winter. We’d see the highway of turkey tracks, the scratching in the beech and maple leaves, and a group of turkeys in our neighbor’s corn field looking for any kernels left from the fall harvest. So now I’m wondering; where are they? With the snow gone and the thick layer of leaves everywhere I’m having a harder time finding the turkey evidence.
I’m ready, though! In exchange for some honey I harvested last fall from my bees, I’ve asked the neighbors if I can chase turkeys on their property if those toms decide to try lose me at my property line. I’ve also gotten my turkey license, which is another topic that gets me excited.
Did you know that anyone who wants to hunt a turkey in Michigan can?
Turkeys can now be found in every county in Michigan, and everyone has the opportunity to turkey hunt. Michigan has several turkey seasons for you to choose from. Some you do have to apply for in advance because there are more hunters then turkey licenses available. Anyone can hunt turkeys from May 4 – 31, in what’s called Hunt 234. Hunt 234 is a great, flexible option for hunters who may want to hunt in many different places and who want more than 7 days to find those turkeys. Mi-Hunt is a great mapping program that you can use to look for public land in Michigan that is open to hunting. With over 4 million acres of public land available, Mi-Hunt allows you to build your adventure at home from your computer!
The turkey story in Michigan is truly amazing – our state has made huge strides in wildlife management. Like most states across the nation, there was a time when today’s common animals were either gone completely, or very hard to find. Wild turkeys were once a rarity in Michigan. As you can imagine, the late 1800’s were a different time than the time we live in now. Grocery stores weren’t on the corner, families were clearing land for settlements and hunting regulations were unheard of. Now, everything has changed. Most importantly in the arena of regulations and funding. The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (aka the Pittman-Roberson Act of 1937) was enacted. A national coalition of conservationists, backed by the sporting arms and ammunition industry, persuaded Congress to direct an excise tax on those items to a special fund for wildlife restoration. With a lot of hard work and dedication in the 1950s, the turkey population was reestablished.
If you’ve ever thought about giving turkey hunting a try, this is your year! Turkey hunting provides good healthy local protein that you can harvest yourself in a very interactive hunt. You can use a call to sound like a turkey and get one to answer you back! How fun is that?
So when you are crawling on your belly, trying to sneak up on some gobbling toms remember: Only a few decades ago, turkeys were hard to find and only a few people got to hunt them! Today, everyone has a chance!
Katie 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, spare time she is a wife and mother who loves to be outdoors and educate folks about the DNR.