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? 

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.