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.

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.

Get “Hooked” on Michigan’s World-Class Fishing this Spring and Summer

The fish are biting in Pure Michigan! Today, guest blogger Elyse Walter provides an overview of fishing opportunities to take advantage of this spring and summer, including the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Summer Free Fishing Weekend June 7 – 8, 2014.

michiganfishing-300x200Michigan is known for its outstanding freshwater fishing, particularly in spring and summer. Whether you get to the Great Lakes or stroll to your favorite inland water body, there is no shortage of opportunities to land a big one.

Although many fishing opportunities will be delayed due to the cold winter and spring Michigan experienced, there’s still plenty to be on the lookout for:

Panfish: In the coming weeks these species will be spawning and anxious to bite anything that’s offered. Focus on deeper, transitional waters if you want to find them. Fishing for yellow perch will be slow but will heat up as the temperatures warm, particularly in bigger water bodies such as Lake Michigan and Lake St. Clair.

Catfish: Although this species’ activity peaks in July and August, you will start to see them biting in smaller lakes and ponds.

Photo-by-Celeste-Thompson-Off-coast-of-Lake-Michigan-near-GH

Photo by Celeste Thompson

Bass: Fishing for this popular species will be slow as their spawning has been delayed but as the waters in bigger lakes/streams start to heat up so will bass fishing. Please note, this species is catch-and-release fishing only until the catch-and-keep seasons open later this spring and early summer.

Walleye: Fishing for this species has cooled down on the Detroit River (a popular destination), but opportunities are starting to pick up right now on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair.

Trout/Salmon: Anglers will be happy that cooler water temperatures will keep coho salmon around in the southern portions of Lake Michigan. But stream anglers targeting steelhead will find it tricky due to recent run-offs and high water levels.

Family-fishing-in-Michigan-300x199

Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR

Want even more incentive to plan a fishing trip in the coming weeks – aside from those described above? How about going for FREE?

That’s the case this June as the 2014 Summer Free Fishing Weekend arrives 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.

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.

Consider exploring Michigan’s expansive fishing opportunities this spring and summer. Start planning your next trip at www.michigan.gov/fishing!

Where do you like to go fishing in Michigan during the spring and summer?

 Elyse-Walter-150x150Elyse Walter is a communication specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. She specifically works with the DNR’s Fisheries Division to help educate and promote the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources.