Deer Hunting Traditions Run Deep in Pure Michigan

Are you ready for opening day? Today, guest blogger Katie Keen from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources shares her family’s yearly hunting season preparations and traditions. 

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Deer season means something a little different to each hunter, but for many Michiganders November is a very special time of the year!

For me, deer season will always catch me off guard!  How does fall arrive so soon?  I always have a goal of where I need to be in my deer season preparations, which I seem to fail at miserably.  It really should be easy, when the antlerless deer application period is open July 15 – August 15, the same time every year. I should be thinking deer and thinking deer should tell me to get shooting!  Usually my goal is to get my bow out sometime in the month of August and start practicing, I’ve accomplished this task about 50% of the time, because you know you have those little voices in your head saying “oh you overachiever, you’ll be fine if you don’t start until September.”

My family and I go out on our property stomping around on about a daily basis, we could be picking berries, mountain biking or taking a hike but I’m always multi-tasking.  Finding deer trails is our past-time, and we love looking for any animal sign, but tracks, scrapes, scat, and rubs are our favorite!  So really, that’s my scouting, which I generally feel good about.

For me, fall is the best time of the year to be outside, the absolute best months of the year hands down!  Many others must agree, because annually over 660,000 hunters take to Michigan’s fields and forest for deer season.  That is a lot of families, friends, and neighbors that are all sharing a common interest in getting some fresh local and organic deer meat, not to mention having a little fun while we are at it!

DSC01912This year the deer licenses are even more flexible than ever before!  You can buy a deer license (limit one so if you’re going to want to harvest two bucks go for the combo deer license) and hunt in any season!  With the deer license you can hunt archery season and harvest an antlerless or an antlered, or you can use the same license and hunt firearm season for antlered deer.  This is by far the best change of 2014 – so flexible and no application required (so it’s okay if you’re a person who can’t remember what you are did yesterday).  Visit www.michigan.gov/hunting  to read about your specific areas hunting seasons, antler point restrictions, baiting regulations, and more.

The Hunting and Trapping Digest is a must have! It’s in my purse, goes with me to the blind, and is stashed in my vehicle.

SX-Michigan-DNRSo with over 660,000 deer hunters taking to the woods, rituals or traditions are happening year after year and although the traditions may vary, they are at every deer camp and literally with every hunter.  It could be the same giant wool socks you’ve had for a decade, the big feast the night before or the “eve” of the deer season, maybe cleaning out the party the mice had in your deer blind the past winter, or walking that same trail out to your favorite spot in the crisp dark early morning of the opener.

It’s different for everyone one, but yet it’s the same.  It’s kind of nice to think about.  It’s neat to think on November 15 as I’m walking out in the darkness, questioning whether that tree was there before or if I got turned around or not, thousands of other people are doing the same exact thing.  THOUSANDS! We all might not think the same on so many other issues, we might come from so many different backgrounds, and we might say go STATE rather than go BLUE, but we are still sharing one of our most favorite times of the year – together.

Do you or a Michigan hunter you know follow any special deer camp traditions? Tell us!

DSC01915Katie Keen is a Wildlife Outreach Technician for the DNR in Cadillac who spends her working hours with hunters, landowners, educators, and media outlets for their DNR related needs! In her off-time, she is a hunting-landowner who loves to educate folks about the DNR!

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.

 

 

Life’s A Beach: Announcing Pure Michigan’s 10-Day Instagram #BeachChallenge

Photo by Instagram user @jmwuokko

Photo by Instagram user @jmwuokko

UPDATE: Congratulations to Gina Ferwerda, winner of our Pure Michigan Instagram #BeachChallenge! Read about Gina’s winning entry and see 14 other photos that will get you dreaming of a perfect Pure Michigan beach day here.

From sparkling blue waters to the chance to reconnect with friends and family, Michigan’s beaches are as as diverse as they are beautiful!

As the summer beach season kicks into high gear, we, along with our partners at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), are excited to announce the launch of our 10-day Instagram #BeachChallenge!

We’re challenging our fans to share photos of their favorite Michigan beaches on Instagram to showcase the great variety of activities that travelers and residents can enjoy during a day at the beach in Pure Michigan. For each day of the 10-day challenge, fans will be asked to share photos that represent that day’s challenge topic.

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Follow @PureMichigan on Instagram. If you don’t have an Instagram account, get started here.
  2. Take a photo of your favorite Michigan beach. Share your photo with us @PureMichigan using hashtags #PureMichigan #BeachChallege. Post your photo using Instagram, Twitter or our Pure Michigan Beaches gallery, and tell us the location of your photo in the caption! (On Instagram, be sure to include the hashtags in the photo description and not the comments section).
  3. Follow the link provided in the auto response.
  4. Complete the entry form and view your photo in the gallery.
  5. Check the challenge topic schedule below and get ready to share your next #PureMichigan #BeachChallenge photo.
  • June 20 – Favorite Beach to Catch a Sunrise or Sunset
  • June 21 – Favorite Dog-Friendly Beach
  • June 22 – Favorite State Park Beach
  • June 23 – Favorite Beach to Fly a Kite
  • June 24 – Favorite Beach for Watersports
  • June 25 – Favorite Beach for Fishing from a Shore or Dock
  • June 26 – Favorite Beach to Experience Clear Waters
  • June 27 – Favorite Beach to Take a Long Walk
  • June 28 – Favorite Beach to Hang Out with Family and Friends
  • June 29 – Favorite Beach to Watch Fireworks
Photo by Facebook Fan John McCormick

Photo by Facebook Fan John McCormick

All entries tagged with #puremichigan and #beachchallenge will be populated into the gallery on michigan.org. For each challenge topic, we’ll choose one daily winner to be featured on our Pure Michigan Instagram page and receive a Personal Sun Care Kit from the Pure Michigan Store.

At the end of the challenge, we’ll choose one grand prize photo from all entries received. The grand prize winner will have their photo featured across Pure Michigan social channels and receive an “Ultimate Pure Michigan Beach Day” prize package that includes a 24 oz Pure Michigan Water Bottle Beach Towel Tote BagFire Pit Tackle BoxFishing Lure Kit,  Ice Berg Cooler Fun Bucket with Shovel and Personal Sun Care Kit.

The grand prize winner will be announced during the week of July 1, 2014.

View the official contest rules here.

Happy Instagramming! We’re so excited to see our fans’ spectacular photo submissions!

Where is your favorite Pure Michigan beach?