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THE CHANGING LAKE MICHIGAN 2017 SUMMER EDITION

MICHIGANS PREMIUM OUTDOOR JOURNAL SINCE 1947

Fish
Explore
Travel
Hit the road

PLUS:
HOW
for lunkers
this summer!

MARK MARTIN
DAVID ROSE
MARK ROMANACK
& BOB GWIZDZ
CATCH
WALLEYE
MUSKIE
BASS
PANFISH
AND MORE!
$5.99 US | SUMMER 2017
PLEASE DISPLAY UNITL SEP 1

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MUCC
www.michiganoutofdoors.com Official Publication of Michigan United Conservation Clubs
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SUMMER 2017
THE CHANGING LAKE MICHIGAN 2017 SUMMER EDITION

MICHIGANS PREMIUM OUTDOOR JOURNAL SINCE 1947

Fish
Explore
Travel
Hit the road

PLUS:
HOW
for lunkers
this summer!

VOLUME 71, ISSUE 3


MARK MARTIN
DAVID ROSE
MARK ROMANACK
& BOB GWIZDZ
CATCH
WALLEYE
MUSKIE

contents
BASS
PANFISH
AND MORE!
$5.99 US | SUMMER 2017
PLEASE DISPLAY UNITL SEP 1

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DEPARTMENTS MUCC
www.michiganoutofdoors.com Official Publication of Michigan United Conservation Clubs

3 | BASECAMP
4 | LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
7 | DIRECTOR'S DESK DAN EICHINGER
10 | ON PATROL
12 | AROUND MICHIGAN
14 | CONSERVATION NATION
16 | GREAT LAKES FISHING MARK ROMANACK
43 | GEAR: KAYAK FISHING MOUNTING SYSTEMS GARY ELLIOT
82 | FULL DRAW: SUMMER SCOUTING TOM NELSON
88 | CONSERVATION THROUGH EDUCATION SHAUN MCKEON
90 | THE CAMPFIRE TYLER BUTLER
92 | THE WILD LIFE DREW YOUNGEDYKE

FEATURES

22 | THE BITE OUT OF BOUNDS DAVID A. ROSE


28 | THE NEW LAKE MICHIGAN JIM BEDFORD
34 | A BRIGHT FUTURE FOR MICHIGAN MUSKIES BOB GWIZDZ
40 | SUMMARIZING SUMMER 'EYES MARK MARTIN
44 | DON'T FORGET ABOUT MICHIGAN LARGEMOUTHS BOB GWIZDZ
48 | COFFEE GRINDERS & COLD STEEL CALVIN MCSHANE
50 | DROP-SHOTTING FOR BOSS BLUEGILLS ROGER HINCHCLIFF
52 | U.P. ANGLING: THE COMPLETE RECREATION RICK FOWLER
54 | TROLLING FOR PANFISH BOB GWIZDZ
57 | HOW INFASTRUCTURE AFFECTS OUR RIVERS BRIAN CENCI
60 | TRACKING WILDLIFE FOOD WITH MI-MAST KELSEY FISHER & GARY ROLOFF
62 | A POSSIBLE STRATEGY FOR BOVINE TB IN MICHIGAN DEER DAVID DRESSEL, HENRY CAMPA III,
MIKE LOVELL, KURT VANCAUTEREN
66 | HOW DNR PARTNERS HELP WILD TURKEY HABITAT DARIN POTTER
70 | EQUIPMENT THAT ENABLES JEFF LICHON
73 | HUNTING ACROSS THE BORDER JEFF HELSDON
76 |SUMMER PRACTICE, FALL RESULTS DARIN POTTER
89 | ARE SOME BUCKS UNKILLABLE? TOM NELSON
92 | A NEW ERA IN TAXIDERMY ROB HARRELL

2 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


bAsecamp
by Drew YoungeDyke, Editor
WELCOME TO MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS,
Michigans premium outdoor journal.

Summer is all about fishing. And in this summer's edition


of Michigan Out-of-Doors, it's about every kind of
fishing everywhere - Great Lakes, small rivers, muskies
and walleye, bass and panfish, from a boat, in waders,
from a kayak. Fish, explore, travel. Drew YoungeDyke portaging on the Sturgeon River

David Rose shows us great fishing locations just outside Continuing with the theme of exploring, Ontario's
our borders in "The Bite Out of Bounds," and we're Jeff Helsdon tells you what you need to know if
excited to welcome the return of Mark Romanack's Great you're booking a Canadian hunting trip. Rob Harrell
Lakes Fishing column. goes behind the scenes with one of Michigan's best
taxidermists, and Jeff Lichon reviews equipment that
Mark Martin is everywhere, from the cover to his enables hunters of all physical abilities to go afield.
own article on shallow-water walleye to even a guest
appearance in Bob Gwizdz's take on trolling for panfish We're privileged to have some of the best fishing writers
and Michigan's muskie resurgence. Gwizdz also has an in the Great Lakes writing in this edition of Michigan
excellent feature on Michigan largemouths. Out-of-Doors, some of the best wildlife biologists
and researchers writing about the scientific side of
Rick Fowler and Calvin McShane show us you don't conservation, and some of the most knowledgable
have to travel far for fishing adventures - just over the outdoor writers providing their tips on how to prepare
bridge - and Jim Bedford explores the changing fishery now to have hunting success in the fall.
of Lake Michigan.
In short, with this magazine in your hand, you have
Roger Hinchcliff provides some tips on catching "boss" no excuses not to go out and make this the most epic
bluegills, and Brian Cenci provides an in-depth look at summer of your outdoor life, and put in the work to make
how our infastructure systems affect the rivers we fish, this fall the best of your hunting career. While you're
and how one drain commissioner is looking to fix that on out enjoying our natural resources, though, don't forget
the banks of the Red Cedar. about the critical work that it takes to conserve them.

We often talk about "sound science," and in this issue, Since 1937, Michigan United Conservation Clubs
we expolore it. Gary Roloff and Kelsey Fisher show you has been the leader in conserving Michigan's natural
how to track wildlife food mast through the MI-MAST resources and the voice of Michigan's hunters, anglers
app, and Dr. Rique Campa's team from Michigan State and trappers. In June, MUCC will celebrate its 80th
explain a fascinating new proces that could help reduce Annual Convention in the city where it was founded,
the spread of Bovine TB in northeast Michigan's deer and vote on a new yearly slate of policy resolutions.
herd. Your support makes sure that MUCC can continue
representing you in Lansing for another 80 years.
MUCC's own On the Ground program is featured
in Darin Potter's look at how partners help the DNR Yours in Conservation,
improve turkey habitat, and Tom Nelson provides a Drew YoungeDyke, Editor
double-dose of deer knowledge on "unkillable bucks"
and summer scounting tactics.

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 3


LETTERS
Dear Editor,
For those who may be interested, the pro and con
article about mandatory antler point restrictions by Dr Jim
Brauker and I that was published in the spring issue of MI Out-
ON MANDATORY ANTLER POINT RESTRICTIONS of-Doors Magazine has led to a one hour debate between
Brauker and I that is now online via a Podcast hosted by Jim
Dear Editor, Scicluna and Gabe Forster. With an introduction before the
As a long time columnist, subscriber and MUCC mem- debate and a summary by the hosts afterward, the entire
ber, I always read my MOOD magazine from cover to cover. Podcast is an hour and 44 minutes long. For those who are
In the spring issue I read with great interest the two articles interested and have the time, heres the link to the Podcast:
regarding the pro and cons of MAPR's, Mandatory Antler http://www.hunt2fishoutdoors.com/podcast/episode-5-
Point Restrictions. I thought both authors did an admirable job apr-debate-with-dr-jim-brauker-and-richard-p-smith/
defending their views on MAPR's and the effect it has on hunt-
ers and whitetails here in Michigan. Richard P. Smith
As a landowner in one of the MAPR counties, I have
witnessed the effect of MAPR and thought I would relay my ON ANN ARBOR DEER STERILIZATION
opinion on the matter. I have a long history of hunting white-
tails here in Michigan, over 45 years in total. Before MAPR Dear Editor,
came into effect, local hunters in our area pretty much shot If you live in Ann Arbor or drive into the city you are
anything with a calcium deposit on its head. When MAPR was instantly aware of the deplorable condition of the city streets.
put into effect in our area, many of my friends and neighbors It is a godsend for the auto repair shops. Blown out tires, bent
were more than a bit sceptical. wheels, cars out of alignment and ruined suspensions. This is
Now after a few years of MAPR's I can honestly say the hidden tax you pay for a City Council that is more interest-
I am a fan of it. The first deer season was a bit slow and many ed in social and political issues. There are a number of items
questioned whether or not MAPR was a good thing. The fol- they fund that would seem to have a lower priority than road
lowing year our neighbor shot his largest buck since he started maintenance, but I would like to highlight one of them, culling
hunting in 1964. Several others in our area shot mature bucks the deer herd.
and suddenly MAPR was a good thing. According to the report in the Ann Arbor News
In recent years we have witnessed a much more (March 19, 2017), it cost about $150,000.00 this year and
intense rut. We find far more scrapes and rubs than in the past. may continue for four more years. You could fill a lot of pot-
We have also witnessed more daytime chasing and overall holes with that money.
whitetail movement. Calling in or rattling a buck was a rare The report did not say if White Buffalo (the company
event before MAPR, now I wouldn't think of going hunting that did the culling) delivered the processed meat to the local
without a call or rattling antlers. In Michigan, year and a half food bank or any other organization so the meat would be
old bucks do a good percentage of the breeding in non MAPR used properly. If they did not it would be an outlandish waste
areas. Yes, they are capable, but they are novices and are of good meat. If they did, is the cost of butchering included in
awkward at it. Biologically speaking they were never meant to the cost as they reported it.
actually participate in the rut at such a young age. Consider I believe there are at least two other options that
this if we were speaking of humans. could alleviate the problem. First: the city could invite lo-
To those who state they just want some venison for the cal bow hunters to do the culling. I am sure we could find
freezer, my response is, fill your tag with a doe. This is also the an adequate number of qualified archers to do the job. As
answer for first time hunters who wish to place their tag on a an inducement, allow them to keep the deer. If they did not
whitetail. This benefits the deer herd and gives the hunter the want the venison, arrangements could be made to give it to
success and or experience he or she is looking for. Food Gatherers or Sportsmen for the Hungry. Urban archery
In summary, I believe that MAPR's have had a positive seasons have been proposed (DNR Deer Management Plan
impact on the whitetails and hunters alike in our area. All of 12/8/16) to decrease deer/human conflicts stating therein:
my neighboring landowners that I have contact with, feel pursue policies that allow and encourage the use of hunt-
the same. Change is sometimes difficult for many. When the ing, including archery hunting in urban/suburban areas, to
change involves hunting, especially in a state like Michigan, address the urban/suburban deer issues.
you will always have many who find it hard to digest. A second option would be to put the burden on the
people who help create the problem by planting the types of
Tom Nelson, Host flowers and shrubs that attract the deer. Local nursery profes-
American Archer TV sionals could advise them on the types of plants that do not at-
tract deer. Gardeners can also use Liquid Fence to repel deer

4 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


as well as rabbits. This would relieve the city of the financial the AVMA, may be not so. A City Council decision based on
burden and place it on the people who create the problem. emotion to appease animal rights activists instead of proven
A fellow MUCC member, who is also a veterinarian, has scientific reasoning is unwise.
some observations regarding the surgical procedure used to One last observation about the veterinarian who
sterilize the deer: was performing the surgery on the deer: She was quoted as
Sterilization as a wildlife management tool is not only saying, Im in favor of anything as long as it isnt hunting.
impractical and expensive, it could even be considered less She obviously is not well informed about game management.
humane than a well-placed bullet (or arrow). The American If you ask any professional game manager anywhere in the
Veterinary Medical Association Panel on Euthanasia consid- world about how to control game animals, the first and fore-
ers gunshot a humane form of euthanasia for wild ranging most method is hunting.
wildlife. It should also be considered that the stress and pain Now if you dont think you can convince the property
from an abdominal surgery followed by the abortion of any owners to change the type of shrubs they plant or have them
fetuses are significant and the inability to provide postopera- spray the plants, give us a call and we will have a group of
tive pain relief and prophylactic antibiotic therapy is problem- well qualified archers line up at your door.
atic. This lack of an ability to follow up your surgical patient
is verging upon malpractice, if not an inhumane practice. In Russ Reister
addition, survival surgery in a tool shed cannot be considered Past President, Michigan United Conservation Clubs
the same as aseptic surgery required by the Animal Welfare
Act. So a sterilization method to control the deer population Greg Peter
that is meant to be more humane than a method approved by Veterinarian

Our 80tth Annual Convention will be held


June 16-18, 2017 at the Comstock Inn &
Conference Center in Owosso
with special events planned at
the Shiawassee Conservation
Association, where we were
founded in 1937.

16w-o1ss8o
O

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 5


Since7
PUBLISHER
DAN EICHINGER MICHIGAN UNITED 193
MUCC CONSERVATION CLUBS
TM

EDITOR
DREW YOUNGEDYKE
editor@michiganoutofdoors.com 2101 Wood Street | PO Box 30235 | Lansing, MI 48909 | 517.371.1041 P | 517.371.1505 F | www.mucc.org
Uniting Citizens to Conserve, Protect and Enhance Michigans Natural Resources and Outdoor Heritage
ART DESIGN & TEMPLATE
SOLO 71 / DAVE BEHM Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) is a 501(c)
(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1937 by sportsmen's
ADVERTISING
clubs from around Michigan to protect conservation from
AMBER ALBERT
politics. Representing over 50,000 members and supporters
sales@mucc.org
and approximately 250 affiliated conservation clubs, MUCC
PRESIDENT is the largest state-based conservation organization in the
THOMAS HERITIER nation. MUCC members determine its conservation policies
through a robust grassroots process, which MUCC staff works
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT to implement by working with elected officials, state and federal
RON BURRIS agencies, its members and the public. MUCC has published
Michigan Out-of-Doors since 1947 and operates the Michigan
VICE PRESIDENT Out-of-Doors Youth Camp in Chelsea, MI. Learn more about the
GEORGE LINDQUIST full range of programs MUCC uses to advance conservation in
Michigan and become a member at www.mucc.org.
TREASURER
JIM DECLERCK

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
RICHARD P. SMITH
BILL MALLOCH
MUCC Staff
DAN EICHINGER AMY TROTTER
JANE FINNERTY Executive Director Deputy Director
CAROL ROSE deichinger@mucc.org atrotter@mucc.org
JACK VAN RHEE
CHUCK HOOVER STEPHANIE RUSTEM LOGAN SCHULTZ
DAVID VAN LOPIK Project Manager Digital Media Coordinator
BRUCE LEVEY srustem@mucc.org lschultz@mucc.org
GREG PETER
BILL KREPPS ANNA MITTERLING SHAUN MCKEON
Wildlife Co-op Coordinator Education Director
KRIS MATTHEW
amitterling@mucc.org smckeon@mucc.org
DOUG KRIZANIC
SARAH TOPP AMBER ALBERT
Michigan Out-of-Doors (ISSN 0026-2382) is the official publication of
Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator Membership Coordinator
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), 2101 Wood St., Lansing
MI 48912, and is published quarterly. Telephone: 517.371.1041. stopp@mucc.org aalbert@mucc.org
Receipt of this publication is through membership in MUCC. For
membership information, call 1.800.777.6720. Single copies available TAYLOR RENTON SUE PRIDE
to the public for $5.99 each. Periodicals postage paid at Lansing,
Gourmet Gone Wild Manager Membership Relations &
Michigan, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address
changes to Michigan Out-of-Doors, PO Box 30235, Lansing MI 48909. gourmetgonewild@mucc.org Tracks Coordinator
All advertising communications should be sent to PO Box 30235. spride@mucc.org
Views expressed by freelance writers are their own and do not nec- TYLER BUTLER
essarily express those of Michigan Out-of-Doors or Michigan United
Youth Camp Director ASHLEY BUR
Conservation Clubs. Copyright 2017 by Michigan United Conservation
Clubs (MUCC). The Copyright Act of 1976 prohibits the reproduction of tbutler@mucc.org Policy Assistant
Michigan Out-of-Doors without written permission from Michigan United abur@mucc.org
Conservation Clubs. MUCC members may reproduce one copy for
personal use without permission. For permission to reprint a specific
article, and for inquiries, contact the editor at editor@michiganoutof-
doors.com.
Director's Desk
CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE
These steps and others deal with re-
sponding to CWD in the free ranging
deer herd. Captive deer, bred and
moved around the state in the service of

AFFECTS MORE THAN DEER


the high fence shooting industry, present
another challenge. Not all of the details
are known about the latest case of CWD
showing up in a high fence facility in
Mecosta County, but we do know that
What if I told you that an always fatal mals and some non-game animals is
at a minimum the rules and regulations
disease for which there is no vaccine, accomplished. If we had to manage
werent being followed, and the re-
no antibiotic, no known treatment, and turkeys with only the revenue generated
sponse, especially from the Michigan
persists in the environment for years, was by the sale of turkey licenses, Michigan
Department of Agriculture and Rural
affecting North Americas most popular may not be one of the national leaders
Development (MDARD) has been slow
big game animal. This was how my for turkey hunter satisfaction. Or take
and weak. As of this writing, in mid-
friend Mike Butler, Executive Director of American woodcock, Michigan is the
April it was believed that the facility had
the Tennessee Wildlife Federation con- number one location in the world for
only just de-populated all of its animals,
cluded a conference call I participated American woodcock hunting. I love
which were sent for testing (results not
in a couple of weeks ago. Mike was hunting upland birds, but it is a small
yet available), nearly three months after
proposing a TED talks on chronic wast- club by comparison to the community of
the initial positive and over 6 weeks af-
ing disease (CWD) and suggested that white-tailed deer hunters where the bulk
ter MDARD indicated the facility would
as a hook. For those of us who are com- of the money is generated to accomplish
have its animals removed and tested.
mitted deer hunters, the slow but certain the highly specific habitat work benefit-
MDARDs slow action only proves how
spread of CWD in places around the ting grouse and woodcock (and deer,
wholly inadequate and naive the regula-
country and even here in Michigan is too, though deer are not specific to that
tory framework around these facilities
well known and is of high concern. habitat).
has been. That needs to change.
For those who skip over deer season in Other states have learned some hard
Anything that undermines public confi-
favor of a duck blind, the grouse woods, lessons about how to deal with CWD.
dence in the deer herd, its health, or its
or trap line, CWD matters to you too. To control and contain the spread, it can
prospects over the long term will have a
mean aggressive reduction in deer den-
depressive effect on license sales. If that
The user pay concept for managing sities in certain areas. That is a bitter pill
happens, everyone suffers-not just deer
wildlife in North America is one of the for a lot of deer hunters to swallow who
hunters. Deer hunting has not always
fundamental principles of the North recoil at the idea of removing so many
been king in Michigan, but it is certainly
American Model for wildlife conserva- animals from a relatively small area.
king right now, and until another trend in
tion. Hunting and fishing license buyers This is part of what tripped up aggres-
hunting emerges that can equal deer in
have been able to claim particularly sive action in certain areas in Wisconsin,
terms of public participation we all need
high moral ground over the decades allowing CWD prevalence among older
to be invested in making sure that deer
because revenue generated from those bucks to creep into astronomically high
hunting remains healthy, viable, and
licenses have restored everything from territory. It can mean changes in baiting
well-supported. That means that those
wild turkeys to sensitive habitats. CWD and feeding practices. It can mean
who dont care a whit about shooting
and wildlife disease in general has the changes in what condition you bring
a deer, need to be all-in advocating
possibility to change all of that. deer, moose, and elk back from other
for aggressive and rapid response to
states. These are controversial subjects
emerging threats to deer-like CWD.
The vast majority of hunting licenses in their own right that stoke passions
sold in Michigan are driven by white- even without the presence of a deer
-Dan Eichinger, Executive Director
tailed deer. With the funds generated disease concern casting a shadow over
from those sales, wildlife management them.
on the full complement of game ani-

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 7


MOMENTS of MEMORY
DEAR EDITOR,

Just finished reading my fall edition


of Michigan Out-of-Doors, and
wanted to get with you on the new
design of the magazine.

Call me old school,


The but Iof
bedrock enjoyed
conservation is taking care of our natural resources so that they can be passed
the magazine better the old way.
down to future generations. The natural resources that we conserve today were conserved for us
When I bynormally read the of
generations mag-
conservationists preceding us, and these generations are ever changing, ever
azine its from cover to cover, flowing. Here we honor the passing of one generation of
although my passion is mostly deer conservationists to the next.
hunting ,and fishing I enjoy reading
about some of the other passions
as well.
In memory of
And I liked it better with the shorter
stories that I could read in just a Ernie Ostwald, Jr.
few minutes in the morning before I from his granddaughter,
head off to work. Amy Trotter

I do like the larger print now that


the years have been added to my In memory of
birth date, and the eyes don't do
so well. But that could be obtained
Benjamin Senyk
from the
by reducing the picture sizes. I have
Truskey Family
been reading the magazine for
Julie Westerfield
probably over 40 years now, and
Joe Sokal
hunting, and fishing the out doors
MBI International
for probably 10 years more than
that, and still find them both to be
refreshing, and joyful. I also liked
the smaller paper size of the old
In memory of
magazine, and soft covers for this
allowed you to fold the pages and Wayne Obertein
hold it in one had comfortably. I from
know I'm only one person and like Matthew & Susan Berghoff
your final story different from all Jeffrey & Sharril McNally
others, but I really like the old mag- Bryan & Bobi Jo Parrish
azine much better. And truly agree Phillip & Mary Jane Ouillette
to Hunt Your Own Hunt. J.C. Meyer
Rodney & Kimberly Sweet
But do it ethically and honestly.

Sincerely, DeLoy C. Clark


Muckegon, MI In memory of
John Kivela
from the entire Michigan United Conservation Clubs family
DEAR SIR,

Having recently finished reading the


new format magazine, my firstIf you
im- have recently lost someone you would like to honor here,
pression in a word is "slick". Upon please contact Sue Pride at spride@mucc.org.
TM

MUCC
LIFE MEMBER
Thank you to the following conservationists who have made a lifetime
commitment to conserving, protecting and enhancing Michigan's
natural resources and outdoor heritage by becoming a Life Member
of Michigan United Conservation Clubs:

Paul Smith of Jenison, MI

Megan Sebright of Rapid City, MI


Michael Fox of Traverse City, MI

William Demmer of Lansing, MI

Bryce Shelton of Davison, MI


Troy Strieter of Sebewaing

If you are willing and able to make a lifetime commitment to conservation, you can become a Life Member of
Michigan United Conservation Clubs with a $500 contribution to the organization.

Life members receive a lifetime subscription to Michigan Out-of-Doors, a Life Member MUCC ballcap,
a Life Member patch, and a certificate commemorating your commitment to conservation.

Contact Sue Pride at spride@mucc.org or visit www.mucc.org/join_mucc and select "Life Membership."
In each issue of Michigan Out-of-Doors, you read select- helping protect sturgeon. Two of the group's mem-
ed reports of the exploits of Michigan's brave conservation bers, Dave Dortman and Michael Thomas are former
officers. In this special edition of On Patrol, we've been and current DNR employees who work full-time as
priviliged to share an excerpt from a new book written by one advocates for sturgeon, and they do a remarkable
of those conservation officers, John Borkovich. In "Wildlife job. Conservation officers can't be at all places at all
911: On Patrol Through the Eyes of John Borkovich," you will
times, so volunteers serve as extra eyes to help spot
read exciting tales from the field as Borkovich and his part-
ners work to conserve our natrural resources by enforcing
poaching. They call the DNR when they see suspi-
the regulations and laws set by the DNR, often at the risk of cious activity. The Department of Natural Resources
great personal danger. It does much more than that, too: you has placed such a high priority on protecting our
will read about the human side of law enforcement, in stories sturgeon. The state even offers a $1,500 reward to a
sometimes humorous, sometimes thrilling, and often both, such person who turns in a sturgeon poacher. Officers even
as the following story. - Drew YoungeDyke participate in directed group patrols working hard to
protect the "dinosaur looking fish." On many other
occasions, officers just go alone on patrol searching
for sturgeon poachers.
CAviar anyone? Most of my sturgeon activity took place at
Excerpted with permission from Wildlife 911: On Patrol night. However, it is not easy working at night. It is
Through the Eyes of John Borkovich also not easy working extra long hours. It is not easy
working out in the elements, being sometimes cold
by John Borkovich or raining outside. It is not easy giving up relaxing
personal time, family time, and normal sleep time.
Although not always easy, working late at night is

ON PATROL: Sp
necessary to be able to catch serious sturgeon poach-
Great Lakes sturgeon have been protected for ers.
years. The sturgeon population has been declining One night late in June (during the closed
for decades and protection of these large, prehistoric season on sturgeon) one of my partners, Dick Sawkin
fish is a statewide priority. Great Lakes sturgeon can and I were working along the St. Clair River tar-
live to be 100 years old. Unfortunately, some people getting sturgeon poachers. We were hiding in the
target the female sturgeon just for the fish's eggs. The shadows in the storage area of a marina. We hid near
eggs (caviar) are a delicacy and regarded as the sec- several broken down boats and some junk piles. We
ond-most desirable caviar in the world, second only could see some fishermen using very heavy 10 foot
to the White Russian Caviar. long fishing rods. From the looks of their gear, we
In an attempt to ensure stable sturgeon popu- knew they were targetting sturgeon in the St. Clair
lations for future generations, fish and game officers River in front of them.
spend a lot of time patrolling for sturgeon poachers. After a couple hours, we heard the Ding,
There are even volunteer sturgeon watch groups Ding, Ding of the Bell on one of the subject's large
who help protect these large fish. These great, caring fishing poles. We watched one of the subjects reeling
people volunteer their time to help watch and pro- in something large. His pole nearly bent in half as
tect our valuable sturgeon resource. They work long the monster fish tried to stay away from the pier the
hours, day and night, observing areas where sturgeon fishermen were on. My partner and I knew that the
are spawning and have a huge impact on the amount big fish was most likely a sturgeon, and the longer
of sturgeon poaching. One of these groups is called the fisherman reeled, the more excited and anxious
St. Clair Detroit River Sturgeon for Tomorrow. This we became. We knew that if the fishermen were not
group does a great job educating the public, and poachers, that they would just photograph the fish

10 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


and let it go. up. The K-9 cops had just finished training nearby
So we waited, and watched the fisherman reel when they heard my call for assistance. I'm not sure
the fish in (now it had been over 20 minutes since the who was more shocked, the K-9 police upon seeing
fish bit). Then another subject used a huge landing the huge fish in the van, or the suspects for being
net and netted the fish. Sweet, indeed the fish was a surrounded by six tactical looking K-9 officers. We
sturgeon, and it was big, about six feet long! Then in arrested the poachers and impounded their van.
a rather surprising move, one subject pushed a yellow It was almost day time and our successful
rope through the fish's gills. Then they immediately night came to an end. When the fish poachers left
began dragging the fish to their parked van. They in such a hurry in the middle of the night, they
pulled the fish similar to the way hunters would drag left their tackle boxes and fishing gear on the pier.
a deer out of the woods. Except these guys were re- Unbeknownst to us, some early-morning walkers
ally moving fast, almost running. They were moving had found the fishing gear on the pier with no one
so fast that before we could climb out of our hiding around, and assumed someone had fallen into the
spots, the poachers swung the van's side door open river. Local police and marine officers returned to
and threw the sturgeon inside. Then they jumped in search for the missing fishermen. One of my part-
and began speeding away. The big one that got away, ners, Ron Pinson, responded and was able to figure
I thought as I began sprinting to my patrol truck that out what happened. Ron was able to verify that the
was parked at least a hundred yards away. fishing tackle belonged to the poachers, and they had
Being such a dark night helped conceal us not fallen into the cold water and drowned, but were
during the surveillance stage, but the darkness almost instead they were in hot water in jail.
helped the poachers get away. As I was running as fast

ecial Edition
as I could, I ran directly into an angle iron frame sign!
The bottom chord of the frame was a horizontal piece
of angle iron that was about one foot off the ground.
WHACK, my shin hit the steel. You know, the shin
bone - where it's all bone. Down I went like I was
shot. The pain was great, but not as great as my desire
to catch up to the maroon van with the poached stur-
geon in it.
Soon I was back on my feet, and made it to my
patrol truck. My eyes were watering from the pain
and I could barely see the tail lights of the suspects'
van as they sped away westbound. I closed the dis-
tance between the good guy and the bad guys, and
soon I hit my flashers. The vehicle continued west-
bound, and then I activated my siren and advised
dispatch what was going on. With lights on and sirens
blaring, I pulled up closer to the suspects' van. The
van then pulled abruptly into an apartment in a last
second effort to ditch me. The passenger door flung
open and I accelerated right at it. I jumped out and
order the suspects to raise their hands, and advised
them they were under arrest. Soon Dick Sawkin
along with six K-9 units came wheeling in to back me

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 11


Around MICHIGAN
CONSERVATION NEWS FROM TWO PENINSULAS AND FOUR GREAT LAKES

DEER REGULATIONS PROPOSED attached, finished taxidermy products, cleaned teeth,


antlers, or antlers attached to a skullcap cleaned of brain
In May, the DNR presented its draft order for deer and muscle tissue. MUCC supports these bills.
regulations at the Natural Resources Commission (NRC)
meeting in Scottville. The draft order covers the 2017- THE TRAGIC LOSS OF A
2019 deer regulations cycle, which will be acted on in CONSERVATION CHAMPION
June. MUCC will be watching this process closely and
providing testimony consistent with our member-ap- By now, many have heard about the sudden passing of
proved policies. In an effort to stabilize deer regulations, State Representative John Kivela (D-Marquette) in May,
reduce public confusion, and enhance communications, who served as Co-Chair of the Michigan Legislative
the NRC and the Department agreed to begin a three- Sportsmen's Caucus. To us, John was a wonderful friend,
year regulatory cycle back in 2014. talented lawmaker, and champion for conservation. Our
members recognized his contributions by naming him our
LEGISLATION ON THE MOVE 2016 Legislator of the Year (pictured below, center with
MUCC Executive Director Dan Eichinger (L) and MUCC
Senate Bill 211 sponsored by Senator Dale Zorn (R-Ida) Vice President George Lindquist (R)). On behalf of the
and House Bill 4424 sponsored by Representative John entire MUCC community, we extend our sympathies to
Kivela (D-Marquette) are parallel pieces of legisla- his family, colleagues, friends, and the communities he
tion to help protect Michigan's deer herd from Chronic served.
Wasting Disease. In May, the Michigan
Senate voted out Senate Bill 211 with
amendments, and it was referred to the
Committee on Natural Resources in the
House. Last month, House Bill 4424 was
approved by the House Committee and
is on the House floor. Both of these bills
would amend Part 401 (Wildlife Con-
servation) of the Natural Resources and
Environmental Protection Act to prohibit
the importation of a cervid carcass into
Michigan from outside the State and
increase the penalty for violating the pro-
hibition to be a misdemeanor punishable
by imprisonment for up to 90 days, or a
fine of at least $500 but no more than
$2,000, or both, as well as the cost of
prosecution. The following cervid carcass
parts may continue to be brought into
Michigan: hides, deboned meat quarters
or other parts of a cervid that do not have
any part of the spinal column or head

12 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


NRC BANS CHOCOLATE IN BEAR BAIT research projects which would impact non-target species and
angler access
A little over a year ago, Michigan's bear hunting organiza- -Oppose the sale or transfer of state-owned public land over
tions asked the Natural Resources Commission to consider 80 acres or including riparian access unless designated as
banning chocolate in bear bait to reduce the risk of harming surplus land under a transparent and open public process
non-target wildlife. Chocolate contains theobromine, which -Oppose legislation which creates an unfunded mandate for
can be toxic to bears and other wildlife in sufficient quantities. the DNR resulting in a diversion of game and fish funds with-
Organizations including the Michigan Bear Hunters Associa- out a supplemental appropriation
tion, the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation and the U.P. Bear -Restrict importation of cervid carcasses from other states to
Houndsmen Association sponsored a resolution supporting deboned meat, clean skullcap, finished taxidermy, etc., and
a restriction on chocolate in bear bait through the Michigan increase fines for violation
United Conservation Clubs policy process. At the MUCC -Reform captive cervid regulatory structure to prevent the
Annual Convention in June 2016, MUCC's member delegates spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
approved the resolution, as well as another resolution asking -Remove suppressors from regulation under the National Fire-
MUCC to educate hunters about the dangers of chocolate arms Act of 1934 and allow purchase under same process as
in bear bait. In March, the Natural Resources Commission the National Instant Background Check System
approved a wildlife conservation order banning the use of -Allow bear bait barrels on public land
chocolate in bear bait. -Allow a crossbow to be carried afield simultaneously with a
firearm during the December firearm deer seasons
The ban was adopted as part of the bear regulation update, -Allow youth hunters on private land to hunt within 660 feet
scheduled every three years. The NRC also adopted new of a mentor hunter, provided there is uninterrupted electronic
quotas, including an overall 19% increase in Lower Peninsula communication, the hunter is over 14 and has completed hunt-
unit quotas, both increases and decreases in Upper Peninsula er safety and at least 20 hours of supervised hunting
unit quotas, raising the maximum number of dogs allowed for -Calls on the Michigan DNR to make it a priority to acquire
hunting or training from six to eight, and increasing the non- severed minerals where the State owns the surface only
resident license cap from 2% to 5%. The DNR's bear forum, to protect and control the commercial use of public land;
consisting of multiple conservation groups including MUCC particularly underground minerals in State Parks and lands
and those listed above, met during the year to discuss the purchased with PR and Game and Fish Funds
changes before the DNR recommended and the NRC adopt- -Work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reinstate the
ed them. Public Resource Depredation Order on cormorants; and/or
with our U.S. Representatives and U.S. Senators to come up
MUCC RESOLUTIONS FOR CONSIDERATION with a law to reinstate cormorant control
AT ANNUAL CONVENTION IN JUNE
These are only proposed resolutions at this point; they will not
In March, Michigan United Conservation Clubs also held become MUCC policy unless approved at the Annual Con-
its final Conservation Policy Meeting before June's Annual vention by a 2/3 majority of voting delegates representing
Convention in Owosso. The meeting was the last chance for affiliate clubs and members if the resolution would change a
clubs or members to introduce policy resolutions to be consid- law or regulation, or a simple majority if it wouldn't.
ered and voted upon at the Annual Convention. Any MUCC
member or affiliate club can introduce a resolution, which if MICHIGAN BEAR HUNTERS ASSOCIATION PRODUCES
adopted, becomes the policy that MUCC's professional staff VIDEO
advocates, such as restricting chocolate in bear bait.
The Michigan Bear Hunters Association, in a cooperative
Combined with the two earlier Conservation Policy Meetings partnership with the U.P. Bear Houndsmen Association and
in September and December, this year's proposed resolutions the Michigan Hunting Dog Federation, collaborated with Clay
will include: Newcomb, editor of Bear Hunting magazine, to produce an
-Establish a sandhill crane hunting season excellent video showing what bear hunting with hounds is all
-Designate mourning dove as a game species about, and by inference what it is not.
-Develop a short-term non-resident waterfowl license
-Create a pheasant release program for hunter recruitment The video, titled "Defending Traditions," can be viewed on
-Require hunters to wear a fall arrest system/full body harness Vimeo.com online.
when hunting from a treestand
-Reintroduce cisco (lake herring) in Saginaw Bay
-Establish a fisheries policy which includes angler input on

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 13


Conservation Nation
CONSERVATION NEWS FROM THE REST OF THE COUNTRY

MUCC GOES TO WASHINGTON the region, improve the health, quality, fisheries and wildlife
habitat of the Great Lakes. Since the Great Lakes and their
In a 1969 issue of this magazine, there is an article titled, $7 billion annual fishery affect multiple states (and countries,
"MUCC Goes to Washington," describing then-Executive including Canada), their restoration is appropriately a federal
Director James Rouman's visit to Washington, DC to advocate issue requiring federal funding through the GLRI.
for funding to clean up pollution in the Great Lakes. In March,
our current Executive Director, Dan Eichinger, made the same Back to that 1969 article: MUCC and its partners were ad-
trip, for the same reason, along with Greg Peter from our vocating for a $1 billion annual appropriation for cleaning
Executive Board and the Chelsea Rod & Gun Club, as part of up Great Lakes pollution in 1969 dollars. When they only got
the annual Great Lakes Day organized by the Healing Our $600 million, they vowed to keep fighting. For context, the full
Waters - Great Lakes Coalition. This year, the visit took on an funding we're advocating for in the GLRI is half that, even in
added significance as President Trump's proposed budget 2017 dollars.
to eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) was
released while they were there.
CONSERVATION GROUPS SUE EPA TO PROTECT LAKE
"We have abundant and diverse fisheries that are only possi- ERIE FROM TOXIC ALGAE BLOOMS
ble because of programs like the Great Lakes Restoration Ini-
tiative and we have waterfowl populations that are at record WASHINGTON, D.C. To force the U.S. Environmental
numbers now, more than at any time over the course of the Protection Agency to protect communities and businesses from
last hundred years, because we have diligently restored our harmful algal blooms that have plagued Lake Erie for years,
marsh and wetland communities," said Eichinger, addressing in April a coalition of businesses, conservation advocates,
a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol. "All that work is possible and sportsmen groups sued, asking a federal judge to order
because of GLRI." the agency to carry out its duty under the Clean Water Act.
In 2014, a harmful algal bloom poisoned drinking water for
Michigan's bipartisan Congressional delegation is standing more than 400,000 people in Toledo, and in 2015, an algal
up for the Great Lakes and full $300 million GLRI funding, bloom stretched for over 300 square miles.
too, that is encouraging because it is Congress which must
approve the budget. In addition to submitting a letter through We hope the lawsuit is a catalyst for the EPA to fulfill its
the Congressional Great Lakes Task Force in February, many responsibility under the Clean Water Act so that state and
of Michigan's Senators, Congressmen and Congresswomen federal public officials can start putting solutions in place to
addressed the Great Lakes Day event, including Senator curb harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie that are harming our
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Congressman Bill Huizinga (R- drinking water, jobs, and way of life, said Mike Shriberg,
MI), Congressman Sandy Levin (D-MI), Congressman Jack Great Lakes regional executive director of the National Wild-
Bergman (R-MI), Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), Congress- life Federation. Continuing to kick the can down the road will
woman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congresswoman Brenda only make the problem worse for Lake Erie, our environment
Lawrence (D-MI). and our economy. This is a problem that you can literally see
from space.
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative funds projects throughout
the region which improve water quality, clean up pollution, re- The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C.,
store rivers, lakes, wetlands and wildlife habitat, and prevent is in response to U.S. EPAs failure to perform its duty to accept
invasive species, including about $17 million for Asian carp or deny Ohios decisions on whether Lake Erie is impaired,
prevention. a Clean Water Act designation that means that the water
quality does not meet legal standards for fishing, swimming,
These projects, combined with similar projects throughout and drinking. An impaired designation forces state and
14 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017
federal partners to put in place an ac- (DEQ) listed its portion of the open toward Lake Michigan. The Trump ad-
tion plan, enforceable under the Clean waters of western Lake Erie as impaired ministration unexpectedly delayed the
Water Act, to restore it to health. Despite under the federal Clean Water Act. release of the plan in February, prompt-
poor water quality and Michigans Reacting to deteriorating water quality ing conservationists and a bipartisan
decision to list its portion of Lake Erie and the ongoing threat of harmful algal Congressional delegation from Great
as impaired, Ohio decided not to list blooms in Lake Erie, the DEQ included Lakes states to call for its release.
the open waters of the western basin of the waters of the Great Lake that fall
Lake Erie as impaired. within Michigans borders in its report to Included in the Energy and Water De-
the EPA. Michigans decision relies upon velopment and Related Agencies section
Under the Clean Water Act, every two clear science, and EPA endorsed it. of the Appropriations Act of 2017, Con-
years states submit a list of impaired wa- Many organizations have been encour- gress included the following language:
ters to the EPA, which the agency must aging regulators in Ohio and at the EPA
by law accept or deny within 30 days. to follow suit. In lieu of House direction on Asian
The process is instrumental in helping Carp and Senate direction on Aquatic
local communities, states, and the nation Delay threatens Lake Erie and business- Nuisance Species, the Corps is expect-
identify unhealthy waters so actions can es like ours, said Captain Paul Pachol- ed to release the draft Great Lakes and
be taken to improve the health of rivers, ski, president of the Lake Erie Charter Mississippi River lnterbasin Study (GLM-
lakes and streams. The U.S. EPA has Boat Association. Charter boat cap- RIS) Brandon Road Study consistent with
refused to act on Ohios list, which was tains are counting on the U.S EPA to step the urgency of its previous actions. The
submitted in October 2016. up and do its job, because this problem Corps is directed to adhere to a public
will not go away on its own. The health and agency review process that is open
Groups have criticized Ohios omis- of our business depends on the health of and transparent. Further, the Corps is
sion of Lake Erie itself from the list of Lake Erie. directed to provide quarterly updates
unhealthy waters submitted to the U.S. to the Committees on Appropriations of
EPA because it relieves the state from the Michigan, alone, will not be able to re- both Houses of Congress on the prog-
obligation to effectively tackle the prob- store Lake Erie, as it has jurisdiction over ress and status of efforts to prevent the
lem of harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie. a small piece of the lake, compared to further spread of the carp as we as the
Farm run-off is the No. 1 contributor to that of Ohio. Both states must take strong location and density of Asian Carp pop-
the resurgence of harmful algal blooms action to reduce harmful algal blooms. ulations, including the use of emergency
in Lake Erie, and one way to address procedures.
that is through a federally approved The waters of the Great Lakes are the
plan to reduce runoff pollution into local most critical asset we have, said Dan Marc Smith, regional conservation di-
rivers, streams and Lake Erie. Groups Eichinger, executive director of Mich- rector for the National Wildlife Federa-
are calling on the EPA to reject Ohios igan United Conservation Clubs. We tion, said:
list and designate all of western Lake are committed to finding a solution
Erie as impaired. to Lake Erie algae, and we can't find We appreciate the continued biparti-
a solution until we acknowledge the san support from Congress in calling for
The impaired designation is needed to problem and commit to taking action to the release of the draft Brandon Road
ensure that Lake Eries algae causing solve it. study, said Marc Smith, regional con-
sources and amounts are identified, fol- servation director for the National Wild-
lowed by a stakeholder implementation life Federations Great Lakes Regional
plan, together with advanced technol- CONGRESS "EXPECTS" RELEASE OF Center. After many years of stakeholder
ogy, and robust funding to reduce the DRAFT STUDY TO STOP ASIAN CARP input and discussion, what is the U.S.
algae that threatens millions who drink Army Corps waiting for? The longer we
the water and billions of dollars is de- ANN ARBOR, MICH. In May, wait for action, the closer Asian carp
pendent on Lake Eries economy, said Congress approved a 2017 fiscal year swim to our Great Lakes.
Sandy Bihn, executive director of the budget, which - in addition to restoring
Lake Erie Foundation. Relying on state funding for core Great Lakes programs HUNTING LEASE AVAILABLE
domestic action plans without source - included language that it expects
identification and accountability will not the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to 74 Acres Scottville area
work. release its draft study on options to add treed, wetlands, adjacent
protections to the Brandon Road Lock to apple orchards. 3 miles from
In November of 2016, the Michigan and Dam in Illinois, a key chokepoint US 531 interchange, Ludington
Department of Environmental Quality for preventing the spread of Asian carp 616-257-7834

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 15


Great
by Mark Romanack

Let the Spinners Spin


S
ummertime is walleye time all across the Great Lakes region. The dog days of summer have a rep-
utation for delivering poor fishing, but in Great Lakes waters some of the best walleye fishing of the
year heats up as spring rolls into summer. Places like Saginaw Bay, Lake Erie, Little Bay de Noc and
Munuscong Bay produce limit catches of eating sized walleyes on a daily basis.

Fishermen have lots of options when it comes to catching summer walleye, but the tried and true
nightcrawler harness, aka spinner rig, is hands down the go to choice of walleye anglers in the know. Spin-
ner rigs flat out catch walleye and these rigs can be fished in a multitude of ways. The versatility of the spinner
rig makes them not only deadly, but a lure and live bait combination that can be depended upon to consistently
catch fish.

16 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


LAKES
Sportfishing
Because not many manufacturers produce facto-
SUSPENDED WALLEYE ry made spinner rigs that meet these specifications, lots of
anglers opt to purchase components and tie their own rigs.
Nightcrawler harnesses are fish catchers, but they For those anglers who would rather buy pre-tied harnesses the
need a little help in terms of getting these rigs to depth. A Yakima Bait HammerTime Spinner and the Bait Rigs Big Water
Rigs are excellent options.
nightcrawler harness doesnt naturally dive so they are typi-
cally fished in combination with in-line trolling weights or small
diving planers that help them reach target depths.
Because summer walleye routinely suspend in the STRUCTURE FISH
water column to feed on gizzard shad, emerald shiners, smelt
and other pelagic forage fish, catching them often requires Summertime walleye spend a lot of time suspended in
saturating the water column with a multitude of spinner rigs. the water column, but its not uncommon to find walleye also
Some popular options for getting spinners to depth include belly to bottom. Targeting these fish requires a different rig and
the keel sinker, Snap Weights, mini-disks, Tadpole Divers and fishing strategy affectionately known as the bottom bouncer
Jet Divers. All of these trolling devices are effective at catch- and spinner rig. A bottom bouncer is a structure fishing sinker
ing walleye when paired up with a that features a wire with a lead
suitable nightcrawler harness. weight molded onto the wire arm.
Suitable crawler harnesses The versatility of the spinner rig Both single arm and double
for open water trolling are a little arm bottom bouncers are on the
different than the garden vari- makes them not only deadly, market, but the majority of hard
ety crawler rigs most anglers are
familiar with. Open water spinner
but a lure and live bait combination core walleye anglers favor the
two arm models. On the two arm
rigs should be tied 50 to 72 inches that can be depended upon to bottom bouncer the short arm has
in length. The extra length helps in a snap and swivel that accepts the
separating the bait from the diver, consistently catch fish. spinner rig. The longer arm features
making it far easier to trigger strikes a lead weight centered so as to
when fishing in the typically clear to give the bottom bouncer the perfect
lightly stained waters of the Great Lakes. balance required to tick along the bottom while presenting the
The blades used on these open water spinner rigs are spinner a few inches above the bottom.
also unique. The average walleye spinner harness features a Spinner rigs used in combination with a bottom
modest No. 2 or 3 sized Colorado or Indiana style blade. For bouncer must be shorter than the ones selected for targeting
open water trolling larger No. 4, 5 and even 6 sized blades suspended fish. By keeping the spinner rig 38 to 48 inches in
do a better job of attracting fish from greater distances. length, the spinner remains up off bottom and resists fouling
Its also a good idea to tie up open water spinner rigs on bottom debris and also zebra mussels. Many anglers
using larger and more specialized hooks. A two hook rig that equip their bottom bouncer spinner rigs with small foam floats
features a No. 2 octopus style hook pinned to the nightcrawl- designed to add buoyancy and help keep the spinner from
ers nose and a No. 6 treble hook imbedded into the collar of contacting the bottom.
the crawler makes for an ideal fish trap. Many anglers dress The trick when fishing a bottom bouncer is to use a
up these rigs by using colored hooks like the Eagle Claw sinker heavy enough that it can be easily fished in contact with
Lazer Sharp series that come in glow, green, pink, orange, the bottom. A good rule of thumb is to fish the bouncer behind
chartreuse and purple color options. the boat at about a 45 degree angle to the bottom.
Depending on the water depth and trolling speed a
bottom bouncer ranging in size from one to three ounces is
typically required to stay in contact with the bottom. The best
bottom bouncer fishermen refine this presentation a notch or
two by setting their bouncer to make light contact with the
bottom.
A bottom bouncer doesnt need to drag on the bot-
STRAY CAT CHARTEr Fishing tom to be effective. The ideal way to fish a bottom bouncer is
Lake Erie Walleye to let out just enough line that the bouncer makes occasional
& Perch Fishing
Monroe/Luna Pier, MI contact with the bottom. This is achieved by free-spooling the
www.fishstraycat.com bouncer and spinner rig until it hits bottom and then holding
(734) 787-0030 your thumb on the spool to prevent any additional line from

18 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


Captain Jake Romanack of Fishing 411
TV holds a typical "eater" Great Lakes
walleye taken trolling spinner rigs in
the Michigan waters of Lake Erie near
Bolles Harbor

playing out. Troll for a few seconds size from 1/2 ounce to an ounce and a Two anglers fishing this six rod
like this until the line pulls taunt and the half in size are often used to target the spread are literally saturating the water
bouncer rises up off bottom a little. The highest fish in the water column. These column with fish catching baits.
final step is to free-spool the bouncer rigs are fished in combination with in-
one more time and engage the reel the line planer boards to gain more trolling
instant it touches bottom. coverage and to also make contact with
A bouncer rig set as described boat shy walleye.
FINAL WORDS
will make contact with the bottom every A second spinner set up de-
The final piece of the puzzle
few feet, present the spinner close to signed to fish a little deeper are spinners
involves using quality fish bait. Some
bottom and fish cleanly through even fished in combination with No. 1 or No.
anglers might claim they can catch wall-
snag infested bottoms. Bottom bounc- 2 Tadpole Divers. These sinking divers
eye using spinner rigs equipped with
er rigs also fish more efficiently when are ideal for targeting walleye in the 15
soft plastic lures, however the majority
placed in a saddle style rod holder to 25 foot depth ranges. Tadpole divers
still preach using live and healthy night-
mounted near the transom of the boat. are also most effective when paired up
crawlers for bait. The larger the night-
with in-line planer boards to achieve the
crawler the better they work for fishing
maximum amount of trolling coverage.
walleye spinner rigs.
TROLLING TOP Last, but certainly not least the
In the middle of the summer
bottom also needs to be fished and
TO BOTTOM nothing fishing the bottom better than
when fishing is slowing down for many
species, walleye fishing in the Great
a bottom bouncer and spinner rig.
Because walleye often suspend Lakes is just heating up. The tried and
Because summer walleye are routinely
in the water column and sometimes they true spinner rig is one of the most ver-
deep enough that the boat can pass
are found on the bottom, many anglers satile of all trolling rigs. For those anglers
over them without spooking them, most
favor a trolling approach that uses three who are out to catch the makings of a
anglers fish the bottom bouncer and
different spinner presentations at the fish fry, there is no better advice than
spinner rigs straight out the back of the
same time. Snap Weights ranging in to let the spinners spin. MR
boat.

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 19


Fish Stocking
Expands
Opportunities
for Michigan
Anglers
A SPONSORED REPORT BY THE
MICHIGAN WILDLIFE COUNCIL

Sometimes Mother Nature needs a helping hand. In 2016, the DNR put more than 34 million fish weighing more
than 350 tons into Michigans waters.
Thats been especially true in Michigan when it comes to cre-
ating and sustaining the states world-class recreational fishing Fish stocking has produced world-class sportfishing oppor-
opportunities. tunities for Michigan anglers and attracts fishing enthusiasts
from all over the Midwest, Eisch said.
Certainly the big fisheries we have in the Great Lakes and
many inland areas Chinook, coho, steelhead, Atlantic salm-
on and brown trout are all non-native species to Michigan
but are here thanks to our fish-stocking program, said Ed
AN IMPORTANT TOOL
Eisch, fish production manager for the Michigan Department
Michigans world-renowned fishing is a great example of the
of Natural Resources (DNR).
power of fisheries management. Along with harvest regula-
Fish stocking is a critical activity of the DNR. Not only does it tions and habitat protection and rehabilitation, hatchery fish
help provide diverse fishing opportunities, but it also supports are another important management tool used to:
Michigans economy.
Restore lost fish populations such as lake stur-
Recreational fishing in Michigan is a $2.5 billion industry, geon in the Ontonagon River
with 38,000 jobs that are directly attributed to our sportfish-
ing industry, Eisch said. Rehabilitate formerly depressed fish populations
such as walleye in the Saginaw Bay
Forty percent of all Michigan recreational fishing, including
70 percent of the Great Lakes trout and salmon fisheries, Provide ecosystem balance such as stocking
depends on stocked fish. Chinook and coho salmon to control alewives in
In Michigan, six state-operated and two cooperative hatch- the Great Lakes
eries work together to produce the species, strain and size of
fish needed by fisheries managers. These fish are then deliv- Offer diverse fishing opportunities such as chan-
ered at a specific time and location for stocking to ensure their nel catfish, walleye and muskellunge in many
success. Most fish in Michigan are stocked in the spring. inland waters
Michigans fish production is possible through the work at its states abundant wildlife and natural resources. Hunting and
fish hatcheries, three permanent egg-take stations and numer- fishing license sales generate the primary source of funding
ous rearing ponds. for conservation work; wildlife management is not funded
through state taxes.
Last spring, the Thompson State Fish Hatchery near Manis-
tique produced more than 1 million fish, including steelhead Not only are fishing and hunting license fees used to stock
and Chinook salmon. Those fish were then planted in 68 sites lakes and pay for species conservation and wildlife reintro-
statewide, mostly on the Great Lakes. duction programs, theyre also earmarked for preserving
Michigans beautiful forests, lands and river quality.
Included in this years statewide fish-stocking total were 26
million walleye fingerlings and fry. The DNR and tribal part- Since wildlife is a renewable natural resource, all anglers and
ners rear these fish in ponds with extensive support from local hunters help keep wildlife populations at a healthy balance
sportsmen organizations. with their habitats through regulated hunting and fishing. Fish-
ing regulations that establish the season, number and size of
The Lake St. Clair Walleye Association (LSCWA) is just one of fish legal to keep are another tool for protecting and sustain-
the groups that assists the DNR in its stocking efforts, by op- ing species.
erating two walleye rearing ponds at Selfridge Air National
Guard Base near Mount Clemens.
Each April, the DNR puts 300,000 walleye fry in two football PROTECTING MICHIGANS
field-sized ponds, and the clubs members monitor the fish for NATURAL RESOURCES
six to eight weeks.
The walleye fry are 1 to 2 inches long when they arrive in This conservation work continues to preserve Michigans
our ponds and about 4 to 6 inches when theyre taken out outdoor heritage.
again by the DNR and stocked in lakes all over the state of The Michigan Wildlife Council was created in 2013 to in-
Michigan, said the LSCWAs Tim Muir. crease non-sportsmens knowledge about how wildlife and
Since its inception 41 years ago, the Lake St. Clair group has Michigans outdoors are managed and funded, and the role
reared more than 3 million walleye, Muir said. sportsmen and sportswomen play in preserving Michigans
great outdoor heritage for future generations.
Were happy to play our part in this whole system, said Jim
Lease of the LSCWA. I want my grandchildren to have the Our natural resources are part of Michigans outdoor her-
right to go out and fish for walleye or perch, and if we dont itage and something we want to be here for generations,
do something to help, maybe that all goes away. said Matt Pedigo, chair of the Michigan Wildlife Council. All
people of Michigan enjoy the states beautiful forests, waters
and wildlife, which is why we take great care to protect and
enhance these valuable assets.
SPORTSMEN PLAY A VITAL ROLE
Learn more at www.hereformioutdoors.org.
Sportsmen have a direct impact on the health of all of our
The Bite Out
of Bounds
Late summer is a great time of year for diehard anglers
to hit unique waters just over Michigans borders.

by David A. Rose
The authors wife, Carol, holds a big northern
pike she landed in Ontarios Canadian Bush, and
which are the name of the fish-catching game in
Granite Hill and Buck Lakes.
To say Im spoiled when it comes to the many places Ive fish with techniques they have never seen before; which in
fished throughout North America the past few years is an turn means more bites. Besides that, its just fun to explore
understatement. Countless casts have been made from the and fish other places.
Arctic Circle to the tropics of Mexico and points in-be-
tween And a slew of fish species has been landed. And its the late-summer through early-autumn seasons
that are the finest times of year to take a trip dedicated to
But I realize many destinations are well out of range of fishing; the bugs are nearly nil and void, the days still warm
even the most diehard anglers in both overall cost and du- yet nights cool, and the core tourist season is at its tail end;
ration of travel. And this is why theres still no better place thus fuel, lodging and food prices tend to fall.
to fish than near home, especially for Michiganders. After
all, the variety of fish that call the waterways of this state The following is just a minute portion of the bites found
home alone is astonishing. just out of Michigans bounds, where not only have I
fished, but had extremely good success when it comes to
Still, its nice to take a short break from the everyday fish- catching some of the Midwests most popular gamefish.
ing trip, hook up the boat trailer, nab a non-resident fishing
license and cast a line into a lake or river within another PERCH FOR DINNER!
state or providence - particularly in areas where fishing is
the main attraction. And there are many great bites just Strike up a conversation about your latest catch of yellow
outside Michigans boundaries that are literally just a short perch within a room of noisy anglers and that part of the
ride over the border. Some so close they can be made into building may suddenly go quiet with eavesdroppers. And
a day trip; others, on the other hand, a little more ad- then questions start: Where? On what? How deep? And
venturous, requiring a short airplane or train ride over or that first question can be answered by saying Lake Eries
through the wilderness of the north. And you can do them Wester Basin; which can be accessed within 42 miles of
all without breaking the bank. Michigans southeastern state line.
No, its not a knuckle-busting fight of this rather small
So why travel to other areas to fish when what we have species that makes grown men excited to catch em, but
here in Michigan is already so grand? their fine table fair. And starting late summer through ice
Foremost, the lessons learned from fishing other places up, the same deep water adjacent to the reefs and islands
can be brought back to your home waters, so you to catch that saw so many huge walleyes in early spring and hefty
smallies during the early summer months see a pot-bellied
perch migration.
One of the closest ports catering to anglers is Port Clin-
ton, Ohio (portclintonchamber.com), where several public
boat-launching facilities can be found, as well hotels and
eateries. And the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
states conditions are perfect for anglers to see large num-
bers of perch in the waters near this port this year due to
great recruitment in 2014 and 2015.
The key to finding perch here, however, is locating the
shiners, says Jeff Placzkiewicz of Parker Guide Service
(parkerguideservice.net). Once youve located the baitfish
on your sonar, [which tend to be in 20 to 35 feet of water]
the perch will be in the area. Just anchor up, drop your bait
over the gunwale and start catching.

The rigs are simple, with the hooks of your perch rigs
nipped with either a wiggler, shiner or small piece of
shrimp. Small jigging spoons fish at bottom take their fair
share of larger fish, as well.
Monstrous muskies and eyes

Located only 24 miles from Michigans Upper Peninsulas

24 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


Largemouth bass are just one of the many species to target just a
few miles from Michigans border, in Mercer, Wisconsin.

SPRING 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 89


Plump perch, like this one, can
be caught just over the state
line, in Ohios Lake Erie.

boarder, at Menominee, Michigan, is the small town of north by car.


Oconto, Wisconsin (cityofoconto.com), which sits upon the
shore of Green Bay. And the reefs and large basins to the Another interesting point about the fish that reside off
east and south of this angler-friendly local are loaded with Oconto? Many are the same ones that were in one of
both muskies and walleyes. Michigans most popular fishing destinations during the
spring months, Little Bay de Noc, but have migrated back
This Great Lakes location is also inimitable because, al- into Green bay after spawning.
though its quite far when traveling from the Lower Pen-
insula, hundreds of miles can be taken out of the travel
equation if you utilize on of Lake Michigans ferry systems. Two techniques stood out when I was there in late summer
a couple years ago: targeting walleyes suspended 10 to 12
From my home near Traverse City, for example, I was able feet below the surface over 20- to 35-feet of water while
to save both gas expense and vehicle wear and tear by tak- trolling crawler harnesses behind in-line planer boards,
ing my boat on its first boat ride upon the S. S. Badger out and, casting for muskies around the many reefs with large
of Ludington. From there, the ferry chuggedcrossing the jigs tipped with soft-bodied baits that resembled minnows;
state line about 40 miles off shore in the middle of the big then rip-jigging them back to the boat.
laketo Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where its only 73 miles
The walleyes here are chunky from gorging on the plethora
of baitfish that call this lightly-stained water home, averag-
ing 3 to 6 pounds. The muskies, on the other hand, were
huge; many tickling the 50-inch mark.

Large largies and portly panfish

Ever heard of a place with too many fishing options? Well,


me either But if theres one place where the amount of
lakes as well number of fish species could be overwhelm-
ing, its Mercer, Wisconsin. (mercercc.com)

Encompassed by the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and 214


other lakes, this small townlocated only 15 miles from
the border of the Upper Peninsulas western end (23 miles

26 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


south of the town of Ironwood, Michigan)is dedicated cross if you have had any trouble with the law, including a
to hunters and anglers. And not only are there fish species DUI.
like pike, walleye and muskie that you would expect from a
northern Wisconsin destination, but extremely good large- Planes and pike
mouth bass and panfish, especially crappies.
The last time I was there, the largemouth were keying in The last destination over the border dose require more
on most any crankbait I threw, as long as it was running travel time in the car, as well a short plane ride in a small
along the outer edge of a weedbed off a point adjacent to float plane. And if youve never flown in a de Havilland
deep water. And the bass were plump from eating shiners Beaver or landed on water, youre in for a real treat.
and young-of-the-year fishes.
Granite Hill & Obakamiga (Buck) Lakes can be accessed by
The crappies, however, were found suspended high in the first driving just under 200 miles from the Soo to White
water column over deeper water, or within downfalls along River, Ontario, where you then load your gear and your-
the shoreline where deep water butted up to it. Using self onto a float plane at White River Air Base for about a
small feather jigs tipped with a minnow was the key to 30-minute ride To PK Resort. (pkresort.com)
catching success.
While both lakeswhich are connected by a 3-mile-long
As summer wanes, both these species tend to head to riverhave plenty of walleyes swimming within them,
shallower water and the thick weedbeds these lakes sport. what stands out is the northern pike fishery here. This is
because theres and un-official rule enacted by PK, as well
Trains and eyes neighboring Buck Lake Wilderness Lodges & Outposts
(fishbucklake.com), in which all trophy-size pike and wall-
Michigans in close proximity to the wilds of the Canadian eye are to be released, while smaller fish can be kept for
Bush. But accessing the middle of nowhere is not as diffi- eating.
cult or far away as it may seem.
Basically, casting #5- and #6- in-line spinners into any
What was once the countrys main means of transporta- cabbage weed was going to be attacked. Trolling large,
tion, train, is now one of the most unique ways to travel deep-diving crankbaits along some of the steep rocky
nowadays. And its the Algoma Central Railway Passenger banks worked wonder, too, as there are whitefish in the
Train is what makes a trip to Lake Wabatongushi such an system that the pike feed upon.
exceptional, yet easy-to-get-to fishing destination.
You and your gear can board the train a mere three miles The bite out of bounds
from the border at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, within her
sister city across the Saint Marys River. From here its an Looking to take a break from the everyday? Look no fur-
eight-hour ride in comfortable seating to the lake. If thats ther than a fishing trip just outside Michigans state line
too of a train ride for you, drive three hours north to Hawk for a days or weeks worth of catching. Many are close to
Junction, just northwest of Wawa, and the same train will home, yet, itll feel as if youre a world away.
pick you up for the rest of the one-and-a-half-hour ride
into the wilderness. David A. Rose is a writer, author, photographer and fishing
guide who live in the Traverse City, Michigan area. Check
Once to the designated whistle stop, the folks from Err- out wildfishing.com for more information.
ingtons Wilderness Island (wildernessisland.com) will pick
you up in handcrafted cedar wood boats and take you to Serving you for 35 years
an island full of cabins and a main lodge. Lake Leelanau WATERS EDGE
Narrows Resort RESORT
The lake is relatively shallow, averaging 17 feet, and the by the bridge between
North and South lakes Munuscong Lake/St. Marys River
walleyes here are plentiful. Jigging and trolling crankbaits
are the most popular ploys. Pike, too, are common fish GREAT FISHING! ~ Raber, Michigan ~
Fish for Walleye, Northerns, Muskies, Herring, Bass
walleye, pike, bass, perch, lake trout & Perch. Clean 2-bedroom cottages; modern camp-
here. Like so many Canadian lakes, Wabatongushi is loaded grounds, boats, motors, baits. Call or write:
cabin rentals include boat slip
with piles of rocks; which is where the walleyes come to onsite bait and tackle shop Bob & Bonnie Waters
feast on aquatic insects and minnows. fish cleaning station 13065 E. Nicole Lane
laundry Goetzville, MI 49736
in town location!
888/999-5396
And dont forget, youll need a passport or enhanced driv- M-204 at County Rd. 643 watersedgeraber@gmail.com
ers license to cross over into Canada. And dont attempt to reservations call:231-256-9496 www.watersedgeup.com

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 27


The
New
Lake
Michigan
by Jim Bedford

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are really one huge lake connected by the Straits of Mackinac. But these two Great
Lakes have differences. Lake Michigan is deeper and its watershed is inhabited by many more people than Lake
Hurons watershed. Many rivers rich in nutrients flow into Lake Michigan while the largest tributary to Lake Huron is the
relatively short St. Marys River that delivers the pristine water of Lake Superior to northern Lake Huron.

These differences explain why the crash of plankton feeding alewives occurred much sooner in Lake Huron than Lake
Michigan. But, now eight or so years later, the Lake Michigan food chain is following the same path it did in Lake
Huron. To review, the root of the problem is the population explosion of the quagga mussels that now carpet the sub-
strate of both lakes. These mussels feed on plankton by filtering the water. Pelagic prey species like the alewife feed on
plankton and the Pacific salmon, especially the chinook, depend greatly on the alewives.
Fisheries biologists have seen the diminishing
forage base coming and have been reducing
salmon stocking levels in recent years. Michigan
has switched to a system that uses the predator
prey-ratio to determine how many salmon to stock
and set possession limits. When the ratio is high,
the allowed catch will also increase to take some
pressure off of the forage fish.

Using this system the DNR proposed a significant
reduction in the stocking of chinook for this year.
When the proposal was brought to the Lake Mich-
igan Citizens Fisheries Advisory Committee last fall
the committee, by a small majority, agreed with the
decision. Subsequently, due to lobbying by some
members of the committee the DNR decided to de-
crease the reduction in chinook plants and increase
the reduction of other species. In Wisconsin, a
similar plan was followed. There is no doubt that
chinook are very important to the big lake anglers.

The possible good news to all this doom and gloom
is that another invasive species, the round goby, is
dining in a big way on the quagga mussels. This is
allowing all the bio-energy stored in the mussels to
re-enter the food chain. And, while Pacific salmon
are adapted to feed on fish species that suspend
in the water column feeding on plankton like the
alewives, many other predator fish are having
no trouble focusing in on the gobies. Steelhead,
brown and lake trout, Atlantic salmon, and, even,
whitefish are very actively feeding on these fish that
stay near the lake bottom. Cool water Great Lakes
fish like walleyes and smallmouth bass are also
taking advantage o f the very abundant gobies.

There is also the chance that the salmon will adapt.
Cohos are showing up with gobies in their stom-
achs on a more regular basis. Some northern Lake
Huron chinook salmon have even arrived at the
cleaning table with round gobies in their bellies.
Dont forget that the chinook that were brought
here from Oregon in the late 1960s were of the
Tule strain that tended to darken before heading up
stream in late September almost ready to spawn.
Since then a Great Lakes wild strain of chinook
seemed to evolve in our northern Lake Michigan
tributaries. Bright silver wild chinook salmon now
show up in the Little Manistee, Pere Marquette,
Betsie, and other rivers in July and August, months
away from spawning.

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 29


monids inhabiting the lake. Alewives
have an enzyme, thiaminase, which
breaks down an important nutrient,
thiamine or Vitamin B1. This is a critical
nutrient for salmonids and the lack of it
was considered to be having a major
negative impact on the natural repro-
duction of lake trout. Evidence of this is
obvious now as the lake trout are very
successfully reproducing in Lake Huron,
where alewives are now rare in their
diet. We are already seeing signs of
improved natural reproduction of these
fish in Lake Michigan.

The decline of salmon fishing in Lake
Michigan has not been a steady one.
Anglers fishing during the summer of
2012 were probably thinking what
crash? The chinook salmon fishing
was very good, both in total numbers
of salmon and catch per angler hour.
The black cloud was that the fish were
smaller than normal. Fisheries biolo-
gists use the term condition factor to
describe the health of the fish. It is a
comparison of the girth of the salmon
to their length. In the 2012 season the
chinook were skinny, their condition
was below average. Some trollers just
thought the fish were younger. Great
Lakes anglers often describe their
salmon as Age or age 3 or age 4 fish.
But these groupings are typically based
The late Carlos Fetterolf on their size, not their actual age. The
success rate of the 2012 season was
with a nice king salmon likely due in large part to the fact that
the salmon were hungry rather than
there were large numbers of salmon in
Bill Shake, a long time fishing friend, who Based on the college fisheries biology the lake. It definitely makes sense that
was the assistant regional director for and aquatic ecology classes I took a hungry salmon would be more likely to
fisheries for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ser- really long time ago, I thought the new grab a lure.
vice in Portland, Oregon for many years, food chain of plankton-mussels-go-
reports they often catch chinook salmon bies-salmon might be less efficient than In 2013 the salmon became much
in the Pacific Ocean with scratches on the plankton-alewives-salmon one. But harder to find and catch but, suddenly,
their gill covers and sand lance in their former DNR research biologist and now their condition factor greatly increased.
stomachs. These slender bait fish hug Lake Huron Basin Coordinator Randy The fish were bigger, not because they
the bottom and the salmon must turn on Claramunt doesnt think there will be were older, but because they were eat-
their sides and swim tight to the bottom to much difference. ing better. Apparently the last success-
capture them. So, I definitely think that ful year class (2012) of alewives had
there is hope that our chinook might also There is another positive for this likely become large enough and available
eventually adapt to eating gobies. new Lake Michigan food chain. The to the salmon. Add in the fact that the
gobies are a healthier food for the sal- competition was down due to smaller
numbers of salmon and it is easy to see

30 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


"Back to back
years of low
numbers in the
box seemed to
point to a real
decline in the
Lake Michigan
chinook fishery."

Battling a chinook
why the salmon caught were very healthy looking fish. These Atlantic salmon adding to the catch. Most Lake Michigan
well fed fish were harder to catch, though, and the catch rate anglers are not very enthused about having lake trout as the
dropped dramatically compared to 2012. My favorite quar- primary catch. They dont fight well and generally rated low-
ry, the steelhead, was also much fatter. For the first season in er of palatability scale. The latter reason is changing as the
a number of years, steelhead weighing in the mid-teens were proportion of alewives in their diet diminishes. More color to
a probable catch rather than a rarity. their flesh and a lower fat content are positives.

The roller coaster ride continued in 2014 as we were back If steelhead are to become the new silver fish of Lake Mich-
to smaller and much reduced numbers of chinook salmon igan open water fishery, then we obviously need a lot more
being caught. Back to back years of low numbers in the box of them. But, just planting more is not a viable option. Their
seemed to point to a real decline in the Lake Michigan chi- hatchery requirements are very different from chinook salmon.
nook fishery. This decline has been confirmed with continued The salmon only spend about six months in the raceways while
poor chinook fishing during the 2015 and 2016 seasons. At it takes a full year to raise steelhead smolts.
the fall meeting of the Lake Michigan Citizens Fishery Adviso-
ry many charter boat reported that they had their worst sea-
sons ever. The 2015 and 2016 hatches of alewives were up POND SUPPLIES: Live gamefish for stocking. Large
a bit but still near the all time lows. Back to back mild winters selection of lake, pond and watergarden supplies.
should help with their survival if they can find enough to eat. Free catalog! Stoney Creek, Inc., Grant, MI
(800) 448-3873 www.stoneycreekequip.com
If we use the current Lake Huron fishery as a predictor of
where we are headed in Lake Michigan, then lake trout will
be the main quarry with steelhead, brown trout, and, perhaps,

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 31


Wild steelhead numbers can be enhanced by
giving them access to more miles of cold tributary
streams that are capable of raising steelhead to
smolt size. Dam removal and fish passage over
the dams would help accomplish this goal. The
dam on the Dowagiac River near Plainwell will
soon be removed and that will open many miles of
cold water mainstream and tributaries to steel-
head for natural reproduction. Some other dams
that immediately come to mind where steelhead

The River Mouth


passage would be very beneficial to natural repro-
duction are those on the White in Hesperia, on the
Sable near Ludington, on the Boyne down from

Gauntlet
Boyne Falls, on the Rogue in Rockford, and on Fish
Creek in Hubbardston.

In addition to finding ways to produce more


smolts, wild or hatchery, we also need to enhance
It would seem like it would be a piece of cake for smolts to their survival. An especially critical time for smolts
is their transition from the river or planting site to
transition from the stream to the lake. Unlike ocean bound
the lake. See the sidebar for more information on
fish, there is no need to totally flip their osmoregulation this period of the life cycle of anadromous salmon
system in order to switch from freshwater to saltwater. This and trout.
is a pretty big physiological task that our fish dont have to
endure. If we are, at least temporarily, headed to a lake
trout, steelhead, and brown trout fishery in Lake
The main tasks for the smolts are to find something to eat and Michigan, this angler thinks it is very important
to avoid being eaten. These tasks have been made much that the DNR keeps in mind that steelhead have
more difficult by the mussels. Zooplankton is a primary first been managed for a river fishery and this should
food for smolts when they enter Lake Michigan and, as we certainly continue to be the case. Steelhead are
know, plankton is pretty scarce now thanks to the mussels. a wonderful game fish and will always be sought
after in both the lake and the tributaries. But, it is
They will also find insects and larval fish but they may not find
Michigans river fishery for steelhead that is world
enough food to survive. If they do make it, their growth may class and we must preserve that!
be slowed.
While a lot of gloom hangs for the Lake Michigan
In the spring, predators abound near the mouths of the fishery right now, myself and many others do not
tributaries. Pier anglers depend on this for good fishing. The think the current situation is permanent. We may
rivers are almost always warmer than Lake Michigan in the not see salmon numbers as high as they have been
spring and this warm water attracts a bunch of minnows and during peak years but they will come back. Wild
other prey fish which in turn attracts predator fish. Smelt are chinook and coho are hanging on in Lake Superior
making spawning runs and, later, alewives also move near and northern Lake Huron. Zebra mussels have de-
shore to spawn in the lake. With their prey fish already in clined greatly and quagga mussels have declined
in shallow waters. At some point, an equilibrium
short supply you can bet the salmon, steelhead, and browns
or balance will be reached. JB
wont hesitate to become cannibals when opportunity
knocks. Learning to what degree this is happening via an an-
gler aided diet study of salmonids caught on the piers would
seem to provide some valuable data to the DNR.

- Jim Bedford
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A Bright Future for
MICHIGAN MUSKIES
by Bob Gwizdz

Jon Bondy with a nice muskie

58 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SPRING 2017


Theyre known as freshwater
The biggest problem with the shift has been coming
barracudas, the fish of ten thousand up with brood stock. The DNR long stocked northern
muskies statewide simply because they were available.
casts, and a handful of other moni- Really, only Lake St. Clair and the adjoining rivers have
kers which indicate both how vicious the kind of Great Lakes muskie population that will
allow fisheries personnel to collect brood stock for the
they are and how tough they can be to eggs and milt needed by the hatchery. Further compli-
cating the process is the fact that the water in the Lake
catch: muskellunge. St. Clair system is dramatically colder than it is inland.
That means the females arent ready to drop eggs until
Its a safe bet that fewer than one in a hundred per- later in the spring; the fingerlings raised in DNR ponds
haps one in a thousand Michigan anglers have ever are smaller, when fall stocking season arrives, than
caught a muskie. Because of their physical attributes, they would be had hatchery personnel gotten a faster
which include their ginormous size and razor-sharp jump on the process in the spring.
teeth, muskies are rarely caught by anglers who are
not targeting them specifically and using appropriate So the DNR is in the process of creating new brood-
tackle. And in a state with more than 11,000 lakes and stock lakes for Great Lakes strain muskies. The first
36,000 miles of river, they are found in relatively few will be Thornapple Lake in Barry County, which has
places. boasted a stocked northern muskie population for
decades.
Still, those who seek them love them. The Department
of Natural Resources has changed the focus of its We were genetically mismanaging by stocking the
muskie program in a number of northern strain, said Nick Popoff,
ways so in the future, they will a DNR fisheries biologist who
likely be more widespread and "...the DNR is in the process oversees aquatic species and regu-
more numerous across the state. lations. As far as were aware, there
of creating new brood- has never been any natural repro-
Over the course of the last de- duction in the lakes we stocked
cade or so, state fisheries officials
stock lakes for Great with northern strain.
have reduced the creel limit Lakes strain muskies." Great Lakes muskies are showing
- from one a day to one a year
and begun a policy of setting size up in surveys at Thornapple after
limits along the same lines as trout regulations; waters just a couple of years of stocking: a very positive sign.
with high growth potential will have longer length lim-
its than those where fish are slow-growing, though the Were seeing fish at Thornapple and we're seeing fish
DNR has been slow to adopt larger minimum length in the Muskegon and Grand River, too, Popoff said.
regulations.
The organized muskellunge angling community is in
But the biggest change is in stocking policy. There are agreement with the stocking strategy.
two strains of muskellunge in Michigan: northern and
Great Lakes (aka spotted). Historically, the DNR has Were 1,000 percent on board with it, said Will
stocked lakes and rivers statewide with northern-strain Schultz, one of the founders of the Michigan Muskie
muskellunge, a fish that is native to only the west end Alliance. The Northern strain was not the right strain
of the Upper Peninsula. More recently, the DNR has down here. This has been a long, long time coming, but
switched to stocking Great Lakes muskies into the were headed in the right direction.
lakes and streams of the Lower Peninsula. Biological-
ly, its the right thing to do: stock the fish that belong Schultz, who sits on the DNRs warm-water citizens
there. advisory committee, says the DNR hatchery/nursery at

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 35


Will Schultz of the Michigan Muskie Alliance

Wolf Lake has stepped up its game dramatically and is Upper Peninsula, the season is May 15 March 15.
raising more and healthier fingerlings with fewer eggs
than in the past. Schultz, who will fish 85 to 100 days a year on 10 to
20 different bodies of water, says he starts on opening
"They used to take two 2 million eggs and some years day and doesnt quit until the lakes freeze. Hed fish
theyd only get 1,000 fish, he said. Now theyre grow- right through winter if it didnt freeze, he said, and is
ing a ton of fish with a half million eggs. optimistic that as muskies become established in more
Lower Peninsula rivers, there will be more winter fish-
Schultz, who has been a muskie fisherman for more ing opportunity in the future. Ice is the only thing that
than 20 years and a guide for the last 10 is con- stops me, he said.
vinced muskies have a bright future in Michigan and
more anglers will target them once there are more Schultz says muskie fishing starts off fast around then
places to fish for them. opener, when hes fishing in the shallows looking for
spawning or immediately post-spawn fish.
Its an unbelievable thing when a lake pops up and
starts producing fish, he said. It creates fishermen. Usually it starts quickly with good fishing, then starts
tapering off through June when they go into their
Muskie season opens the last Saturday of April in Low- summer patterns, he said. In spring there are a lot
er Peninsula inland waters and runs through March of shallow fish and you catch males more readily, so
15. Its open year-round in the Lower Peninsula waters youre generally using smaller baits. It usually takes
of the Great Lakes, though the St. Clair River-Lake St. the females several weeks after spawn to get back in
Clair- Detroit River complex doesnt open until the the game. And by the end of June, their guard is up a
first Saturday in June and runs through Dec. 15. In the little bit, the water gets warmer, youre fishing with the

36 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


biggest lures, and the weeds are at full growth, so they
get a little tougher to catch. Only on Lake St Clair do you apologize when you
send people home after catching three or four muskies
Summer is a matter of changing tactics, said Schultz, because it was slow, said Don Miller, a veteran charter
who says hell average a little bit more than one musk- boat skipper on the big lake who has seen the fishing
ie a day throughout the season. You fish the outside continue to improve, something he attributes, in part,
edge of weed lines at whatever depth that is and there to the catch-and-release ethic that dominates muskie
are daily migrations. Theyll spend 90 percent of their fishing these days.
time wherever theyre comfortable in deep water, then
under low-light conditions, they Miller installed a large live well
make those movements shallower
to feed. "Michigan's best on his 30-foot Baha Cruiser so he
can let the fish regain its equilibri-

Their main food source is suck- muskie lake is, um before he releases it. At times,
when the fishing is hot, hell have
ers; on every inland lake study two or three fish in the well at
thats ever been done, suckers beyond a doubt, once.
are a very large percentage of
their diet, he continued. The Lake St. Clair..." Most of the bigger boats have live
next highest will be whatever is wells now, said Miller, 61, whos
dominant in the lake. If there are been running a charter boat for
perch, itll be perch. In Lake St. Clair most of what they 33 years. It gives the fish a chance to calm down and
eat out there is white bass. recover before you let it go. I usually keep them for 10
or 15 minutes, until they start feeling better, before I
Muskie fishing is always hit-or-miss and summertime put them back into the lake.
fishing is even more so, but that doesnt mean you cant
catch them. Ive had as many five- or 10- fish days on
lakes in the summer as I have in spring or fall, Schultz
said.

Schultz continues with his summer pattern right into


fall, though as the weather gets cold and the weeds
begin to die out, hell move shallower to fish the best
weeds. He uses his biggest baits of the years and adds
another wrinkle: large, live suckers.

Theyre hard to come by and hard to keep alive in Lake St. Clair Musky Fishing Charters
warm water, Schultz said. When the water tempera-
ture gets below 55 degrees, in October, I use suckers. Capt. Gregg Moseley
Mobile: 248-464-9279
Michigans best muskie lake is, beyond a doubt, Lake
St. Clair, the giant Great Lakes connecting water that
Email: gmoe82@gmail.com
we share with Canada. St. Clair has always been a good Web: lunkerlandersportfishing.com
muskie lake, but over the last couple of decades, its Follow us on Facebook
gotten nothing but better. The increasingly clear water
(because of zebra mussels) favors sight feeders like Booking Now for the
muskellunge and allows weed growth at greater depth, 2017 Musky Season
creating additional habitat. There are more muskies (Jun 3 Dec 15)
and more big muskies in Lake St. Clair and the U.S.C.G. Licensed
adjoining rivers than anywhere else in the state. DNR Inspected and Insured

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 37


"...the good
ol' days of
muskellunge
fishing in
Michigan are
still ahead
of us."

The author with a muskie

38 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


And that gives them a chance to live long
and grow large.

People come to St. Clair because they


know they have a chance to catch a big
fish now, Miller said. I couldnt count
the number of states people have come
from to fish for muskies with me and
theyve come from probably 15 different
countries. I get Europeans often from
England or Germany every year.

About one in every eight or nine fish


is a 48-incher or better, he continued.
Ive had a lot of fish in the 50-inch
class. When you start getting into 52-
to 54-inch fish, theyll weight around
40 pounds. There are a lot of 38- to
40-pound fish around, but a 38-pound
fish is a 40-pounder that hasnt eaten its
dinner yet. It eats one smallmouth bass
and its up over 40.

Miller said he typically catches 300 to


400 muskies a year these days.

When I first started out, if I saw 60 a


year I was doing well, he said. A hun-
dred was the goal and we never seemed
to make it. Now, with the catch-and-re-
lease ethic and the live wells, there are a
lot more muskies to be caught in Lake St.
Clair.

As well as in the Detroit River. Veteran


Windsor fishing guide Jon Bondy has Mark Martin with a lunker
developed a deep-water jigging tech-
nique that may not be foolproof, but is
the next best thing. Ive fished with him a number of The state is invested in muskellunge management,
times over the years, typically within the first month Popoff said. Were continuing to develop a na-
of the season and again in October or November, and tive-strain of brood stock from Lake St. Clair, Thomp-
only once in all of those trips did we fail to catch a fish. son hatchery is going to add a warm-water facility
Often we caught multiple fish. Twice we did double and some ponds, and were going to update some of
digits. our facilities at Wolf Lake. Theres a big investment on
muskellunge rearing facilities.
Those kinds of days are unusual, but Michigan fisher-
ies managers think theyll be less rare in the future as With all the changes in muskie management, it appears
more fisheries develop and more fish become available as though the good ol days of muskellunge fishing in
to anglers. Michigan are still ahead of us. BG

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 39


SUMMARIZING

a l l o w
Sh yes
By Mark Martin

Chris Engle of Gaylord with an Otsego Lake walleye

Walleyes are thought more as deep-water marauders Oh, sure, the bite is going to be grand during the twilight
during the mid-summer months than anything else. And hours of dawn and dusk, too, but if youre willing to endure
theres no doubt they can be found wallowing within the the extra boat traffic, youll be surprised at the bite that
main-lake basins of lakes and reservoirs this time of year. can occur.
Whats not realized by countless anglers, however, is these
fish will swim within weeds, wood and rocks in extremely
shallow water during the summer period, as well. Such
shallow water, in fact, their dorsal fins sometimes poke Clear water revival
through the waters surface, while at the same time their One thing many of the lakes this state offer that differs
bellies are rubbing the lakes floor. from others is ultra-clear water. Some have been pure in
nature since they were formed after the last glacier reced-
Theyre in such skinny water to feast on tiny forage such as ed 10,000 years ago, while others are now clearing up after
the insects and crustaceans waggling their way amongst being invaded by water-filtering zebra and quagga muscles.
the silt, in addition to the other small fishes here. And
whats even more overlooked is these fickle fish will often No matter the reason for the purity of the H2O, however,
feed ferociously all day long; even during bluebird sky days. fish are tuned in to feeding throughout the daylight hours.
And this is why theres no doubt in my mind, one of And in clear water, they rely on their eyesight as well by
mid-summers most overlooked methods for catching picking up vibrations through their lateral lines. But as you
walleyes during the heat of it all is casting crankbaits, can imagine, it takes more effort to catch these shal-
swimbaits and jigs in shallow water, no matter where the low-water eyes, which can be easily spooked by nothing
sun may be overhead. more than a shadow overhead.

40 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


Cast further Lured by another

In skinny water during the warm months, the faster you Right off the bat, Ill tie on a crankbait that is heavy in
retrieve your offering the more strikes youre likely to get. weight, yet wont dive deep.
But long casts are necessary. And I use rods, reels and line
that aid me in long distance casting without any added Rapalas Shadow Rap and new Shadow Rap Shad are good
effort. examples of this. Both are plastic lures with an internal
fixed-weight system that not only aids in allowing these
First off, attempting to whip out any old lure on too heavy lures their erratic, twisting side-to-side action, but allows
of heavy line and too short of a rod isnt going to cut it. them greater distance on the cast. And they only dive 2 to
4 feet, which is perfect for skinny water, and run true right
out of the box. A sharp stop-and-go action with baits like
In general, the lighter the line, the thinner its diameter and these will have the walleyes attacking.
the further a lure will fly. And this is why I use as light of
line as I can get away. But it also has to have the strength And I always use a snap, not snap-swivel, whenever I con-
to make good hooksets, especially when using lures with nect a crankbait to superline. This allows the bait to keep
larger hooks. its full action during the retrieve. A knot tied directly to the
lures eyelet, however, will more than likely impede the
Superline, by far, is my first choice for casting. This is wobble. And I tie the snap directly to the line via a Palomar
because these braided lines have a thinner diameter than knot one of the few knots that wont pull free with this
monofilament and fluorocarbon. super-slippery string.
Take 8-pound-test Berkley Fire- The swimbaits I like to use, on
Line Fused Original, for example,

"...it's easy to miss


the other hand, are solid-body
which has nearly the same di- verses hollow-body ones.
ameter as 2-pound-test monofil- Northlands new Impulse Core
ament line. Such thin line slices

strikes if you're not


swimbait is a good sample.
through the air with ease, and These baits come in four sizes
the nearly-no-stretch properties from 2-1/2 to 4-1/2 inches to

paying attention."
of it allows me to feel every tick match the forage of most any
of a weed top or tiny pebble on lake.
bottom. And with that, you can
only imagine what the strike of Skewered onto a light-weight
a walleye feels like. swimbait head, the density
But not every strike is easy to identify. of a swimbait like an Impulse Core alone will allow me to
make longer casts, yet the lighter head keeps the bait from
This is because walleyes tend to swim up behind their prey, plummeting to bottom so quickly. This bait has a ribbed
open their mouth, flare their gills and suck in, all the while body, too, which creates more drag and keeps them up off
swimming along in whatever direction the forage was trav- bottom longer.
eling and then keep on moving on. Oftentimes a tick is all
thats felt telegraphed through the rod tip. Its easy to miss But theres more to making walleyes bite swimbaits than
strikes if youre not paying attention. just employing a long, steady retrieve. What I do is twitch
my rods tip as I reel in, which, in turn gives the lure a
In short, set the hook whenever you feel anything out of nervous stop-and-go action like a baitfish trying to flee an
the norm, even just the slightest resistance. attack. And it drives walleye wild.

The right rod is essential for making long casts, as well. In contrast, cast-jigging in shallow water is one of the few
Short rods, say, 6 to 6 -1/2 feet in length are better for ac- techniques in which letting the lure just tickle the lakes
curacy; but to make longer cast I opt for stick somewhere floor is a good thing. But I always use the lightest jighead
around 7-1/2 feet. In my arsenal of rods are medium-pow- the conditions at hand will allow me, and lighten up the
er Fenwick spinning rods for crankbaits and swimbaits, and line a bit.
medium-light power ones for jigging. A standard round jighead, like Northlands Sinkn Jig in 1/8
ounce, is my most-used. In super skinny water, say, 2 to 4

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 41


feet, Ill lighten up to a 1/16-ouncer if Ill search out areas with softer bot- Shallow minded
the wind is calm. toms as this is where more aquatic
insects will be. And these areas are If youre looking to land more wall-
And six-pound-test superline is my easier to find as weeds tend to flour- eyes this summer, dont overlook the
go-to when casting jigs, and I use ish in soft-bottom areas verses gravel. fish in super skinny water.
the brightest color offered, such as
FireLines Flame Green, so I can see In clear water, donning a pair of Make long cast while using thin low-
the line twitch when a walleye strikes. high-quality polarized sunglasses is stretch line and longer rods, as well
And I have never seen it make one often all thats needed to see where weighty crankbaits that dont dive
bit of difference, bite wise, in which to cast. Toss to the edges of what much, solid-body swimbaits and jigs
the brightly-colored line tied right looks to be shadows in shallow water, with lightweight heads. And fish them
to the jig has turned off fish. Even in which are either weeds or silted areas, fast
ultra-clear water. Again, I tie the jig to and be ready for a strike right of the
the line with a Palomar knot. bat. The fish are here to feed, and as Mark Martin is a touring walleye pro
soon as they see your offering they and instructor with the Fishing Vaca-
And although I mentioned allowing will attack. tions/Schools. For more information,
the jig to fall to bottom, I dont let it check out his website at markmartins.
set there. Generally, Ill cast the jig out Later in the summer, Ill look to areas net.
and, on a taught line, let it pendulum covered in pea-size gravel to larger
down towards me. The millisecond I rock as this is where small crayfish
feel the jighead tap the lakes floor is live, which walleyes feast upon when
when I swing the rod tip up about two the bug hatches slow.
feet, then let the process

"If you're looking to land


start again. Most of the
time, walleyes will hit the
bait as it falls. Again, the
strike may be very hard to
feel, so set the hook any-
time something feels differ-
more walleyes this summer,
don't overlook the fish in
BUYING ALL
ent than the dozens of other TYPES OF TIMBER
casts you made beforehand. 5 Acres or more. Top price paid.
Cashin advance.
As for the baits I tip jigs with
when casting, they tend to
be artificial over live bait
super skinny water." Improve wildlife habitat.
Patco Forest Products
(989) 539-7588
after 6 p.m.
this time of year. A fake bait will stay Utilizing sonar units that allow you to
on the hook better when making long see out to the side of the boat to find
casts, and they can be fished faster these areas will help in both stained
without fear of coming off the hook. and clear water. My Lowrance HDS- SOLID WOOD PINE BUNK
Berkleys 3-inch PowerBait Pro Jig 12 Gen3, for example, is capable of BEDS: Brand new. Includes two
Worm imitates all sorts of different showing up to 600 feet out to either brand new mattresses still in the
underwater bugs, and GULP! Min- side of my boat via its Structure Scan plastic. Cost $999.99 sacrificing
nows emulate shiners and shad, and HD. This technology allows me to find for $300. Call Dan at 989-832-
can be ripped through the water with spots, as well see the fish themselves,
1866.
an erratic darting motion. And you without having to get too close and
can catch several fish on each without spooking fish.
having to replace them.
Lastly, fish the leeward shorelines, AMISH LOG HEADBOARD:
Location is everything where the most wave action is. A with queen pillowtop mattress
choppy surface will break up light and set and frame. All brand new in
Walleyes wont be just any ol where will create a different, fish-attracting
in shallow water. They will, however, the plastic. Cost $1050 will sell
look to your lure than what it would for $275. Reach us at 989-923-
be wherever the most forage is. look like in calm seas.
1278
Early on during the summer months,

42 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


GEAR | KAYAK FISHING
MOUNTING SYSTEMS

by Gary Elliot
With the popularity of recreational and fishing kayaking mount can be put on a kayak in seconds to hold your trans-
growing quickly, many of you will be looking to purchase a ducer by a magnet and quickly taken off and moved to
kayak either angler ready or basic and adding your own another kayak or boat. Another is the Railblaza StrarPort
accessories as you go along. base, where I can attach to my track or screw on or pop rivet
to my kayak and use my fish finder or camera pole on any of
A good question to ask yourself when you are ready to acces- my kayaks or anywhere else I have mounted a StarPort base
sorize your kayak is: Can I use my accessory or accessories available.
on more than just my kayak? Most kayak accessories are not
limited to just kayaks, but are made for boats, ATVs, motor- Some companies even offer tie downs to mount on a track
cycles and even coolers. Thinkimg ahead and purchasing which are useful to secure gear not only on a kayak but an
mounting systems that accommodate flexibility to add what- ATV, boat or motorcycle as well. Cell phone and drink holders
ever we may need along the way can save us not only time, can be mounted to a kayak and quickly moved to a cooler,
but money in the long run. Lets take a look at what type of motorcycle, ATV or even a push mower. Lithium batteries are
mounts there are and how they can be used for more than just becoming more popular for kayaks to run electronics and
a kayak. those same batteries can be used on other outdoor recre-
ational vehicles to power cameras, charge phones, Bluetooth
Most kayaks now come with track systems and most of the devices and power electronics on other boats as well.
time you want to add more. So first, determine length (to ac-
commodate the number of accessories being used), plastic vs. Overall, when purchasing accessories for your new kayak
metal and finally plan out where on the kayak or recreational look at the items you may want to use and begin to think how
vehicle you want to mount the track. Then you have a selection you can utilize them on each of your outdoor recreational
of accessories based on companies that go on the track to vehicles.
accommodate their accessories. Referenced gear can be found at the following websites:
Examples of items that can move from kayak to ATVs, boats, www.confluenceoutdoor.com
motorcycles or coolers are, camera poles, phone, rod and www.railblaza.com
cup holders can be moved from kayak to kayak, kayak to www.yak-gear.com
boat and kayak to ATV if you have the same mounting device www.yakattack.us/
available on each item. www.rammount.com
www.scotty.com
Two perfect examples and my personal favorite is the Fish www.FishFinderMounts.com
Finder Mounts Magnetic Transducer Mount. This versatile

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 43


Don't forget about
MICHIGAN
LARGEMOUTHS By Bob Gwizdz

When someone mentions Michigan bass fishing, most people shallows. It was only a matter of minutes before we were in
immediately think smallmouths. For good reason; there are a the plus column as the younger Sochocki jerked a two-pound-
handful of world-class smallmouth bass fisheries in Michigan er out of the pencil reeds on a jig and crawdad trailer from
and the brown bass have been in the news big time in the last about two feet of water. Minutes later, his dad scored a
few years as the state record was broken twice, most recently similar specimen on a chatter bait. Then it was my turn when
by a giant 9.98-pound specimen caught on the Indian River a somewhat larger (Id say 3 -pound) bass clobbered a
last September. spinnerbait Id chunked well back in the reeds.

But smallmouth bass are only part of the equation. Although What was so remarkable is that none of us had fished the
Michigan doesnt enjoy a reputation as such, it is home to area in years. Thats because you couldnt get back there in
some outstanding largemouth bass fishing as well. Fact is, years; the water level, which came up several feet over the
the state standard for largemouths, 11.94 pounds, was set at last couple of years was so low that they only way to get at
Pine Island Lake in Kent County in 1934 and was equaled 25 those fish in recent years was to wade.
years later by a similar specimen taken at Alcona Dam Pond
in Oscoda County. Thats a pair of darn-near 12 pounders al- Over the course of the day, we covered miles of shallow
most most two pounds better than the state record smallmouth. water on the west side of the bay, much of it no more than
a foot-and-a-half deep and the deepest, where there was
Truth is, several of the states top smallmouth fisheries are also a cut leading up to someones shoreline property, no more
excellent largemouth destinations. Need an example? Lets than five. The fish were in much of it. In the nine or so hours
start at Saginaw Bay, which some say is the states best brown we spent there we caught more than 60 bass (as well as a
bass fishery. fair number of pike, a dogfish and one crazy perch that hit a
full-sized spinnerbait) by pounding the reeds and cattails and
Last summer, I spent the day on the Bay with Greg Sochocki, phragmites. The bulk of the bass were two-to-three-pounders,
a fairly regular fishing partner of mine with whom Ive spent but we had a bunch of three-pluses and a handful of fours to
many a day strumming the smallies there. But on this outing, go with them. I dont think we broke five pounds, though all of
Sochocki and his son Jamie, had something else in mind: us were broken off by big fish a couple of times.
largemouths.
We pretty much stayed with spinnerbaits and jigs, though the
We went out of Pinconning and as soon as we cleared the younger Sochocki had quite a bit of success on a swim bait on
end of the channel, we made a hard turn and headed into the a jig head, too.

44 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


thistighttocover in stuff so thick you had to punch your baits
Thats pretty much all you can fish out here, his dad said. into it, other times we caught them in little, mostly open, scat-
If it was little bit calmer, the frog bite might have been good, tered patches of reeds.
too. The fish are hungry. You just have to put something in front
of them. You can sometimes go for a long ways and not catch a fish,
but you cant get discouraged, Greg said. Another 100
You could fish in here for a year, he continued. There are yards down it could be bingo. When you find a spot where
miles and miles of this stuff and its like that all along the bay, there are concentrations of fish, you stay and fish that area
all the way up to Au Gres on this side and all the way up to thoroughly. Otherwise, just keep moving.
Bayport on the other.
The best part of it, Sochocki said, is the fishing only gets better
We kept trying to discern a pattern cattails or reeds, hard heading into fall when the minnows are moving shallow and
bottom or muck, areas that had submerged vegetation, too, the bass are strapping on the feed bag.
or places with clean bottom but the fish were just scattered.
The only thing we found out for sure was in areas where the But those arent the only times you can smack the Bays big-
bottom was carpeted with vegetation, we werent getting bit. mouths. I usually make my first bass safari of the spring on the
Otherwise there were fish everywhere; sometimes they were bay, concentrating on the cuts and canals, often in April but

Jon Bondy
lands a largemouth

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 45


always by early May. The largemouths move into those areas
in search of spawning habitat and spinnerbaits or plastic
worms pay off in spades.

Saginaw Bay is no anomaly. Other notable smallmouth


fisheries have similar characteristics. Lake St. Clair lauded
by Bassmasters magazine in recent years as the best bass
fishery in America, largely because of the smallmouth fishery
- offers outstanding largemouth action. There have been
numerous times over the years, when the wind got up and we
couldnt get out to the main water structure that wed hoped
to mine for smallies, when we headed into protected back
water marshes where the largemouths saved the day.

And there have been times when we went out specifically


for the largemouths. Joe Balog, a pro fisherman who lived
near Lake St. Clair for many years before moving south, was
a big champion of the lakes largemouth fishery. Numerous
times, spring, summer and fall, we enjoyed excellent large-
mouth fishing, mostly in shallow water. Balog especially liked
late-season largemouth fishing.

When it comes to largemouths in the big, shallow bays that


have a lot of vegetation in them, they really get concentrat-
ed in cold water, he said. The grass starts dying away.
Chris Freiburger on Otsego Lake Not all of it dies, but its way, way down eighty percent
will die and whatevers left will hold large schools of fish.
Its compressed habitat. There are thousands of acres water
thats less than seven feet deep around Selfridge Air Base
or Metro Beach and the bass really get concentrated. At
Metro Beach, they get on those little sandy spots and the
bass really pile in them. It can be the mother lode.

I dont know if the average guy is going to find them but


there are some special places where 100 fish will be on one
little hard-bottom spot. I dont know whether its a forage
thing or the crawfish are in there or what, but theyre there.

They can be persnickety, Balog says, but you can get them to
go if you work at it.

Ive had times when youll get on a huge school of fish and
catch them really good on a jig and then two days later, you
cant get them to bite it. Youve got to go to something else.
But then two days later youll get them to bite a jig again.

When they get difficult like that, Balog will keep trying differ-
ent presentations until he finds what theyll take. Sometimes
its a grub, sometimes its a blade bait, and sometimes its just
a straight-tailed worm. Some days a specific presentation
will outshine others. It doesnt go by the rule book except that
theyll almost always bite a blade, Balog said.
Jim Horn on Diamond Lake
And, of course, there are plenty of largemouth lakes that

46 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


arent that shiny for smallmouths. Virtually every lake in the doesnt work, take a jig or Texas-rigged plastic worm and get
southern third of Michigan that boasts decent bass fishing is it down there amongst them.
predominantly a largemouth fishery.
None of this precludes bass fishing in northern Michigan, of
Whats notable about largemouths is that theyre far more cov- course. If you check the Department of Natural Resources
er-oriented than their smallmouth cousins. Anywhere there you Master Angler lists, youll see plenty of entries from lakes
can find weeds or brush, you can usually find largemouths. north of Clare. Fact is, Houghton Lake, which I think all of us
On some of the more developed southern Michigan lakes, you would agree is Up North, is an outstanding largemouth
can have a grand time just fishing around boat docks: running lake.
spinnerbaits around the posts or flippin soft-plastic baits under
the overhead cover. Smallmouths may be more glamorous. They may get the
press. But if youre a bass fisherman and smallmouths
But fishing deep-water structure can be are all you pursue, youre missing some of the best
productive, too, especially in the summer and angling Michigan has to offer. BG
especially if theres cover associated with the
break lines.

To me theres no better sport than fishing


largemouths in and around the lily pads. The
water may only be foot or so deep under
them, but thats enough. As Sochocki says:
They dont care about depth. All they want
is a food supply, cover, and
oxygen in the water. Theres
plenty of food in there and
the vegetation is giving off
oxygen. Drag a plastic frog
over the lily pads and youll
be reminded why topwater
fishing has always been
so applauded. And if that

Joe Balog with a nice largemouth

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 47


Coffee
Grinders &
COLD STEEL

By Calvin McShane

Fueled by a wild obsession with the glimmering and, as the old timers say, full of piss and vinegar. Early
reddish hues that hide in the shadows of tea stained water, in my ongoing quest for fresh run steel, I regularly crossed
I choose to spend my time racing down snow covered river paths with these steelhead stalwarts, who often peddled
banks, chasing blurs of chrome in incidents of panicked misinformation to preserve the hard-earned insights of
bliss. Scattered along Lake Superiors Southern Shore, their craft. Eventually, once deemed tight-lipped enough
these dark waters conceal trout, yet illuminate the dimly lit to hear their secrets, I was able to learn from the men
corners of our being. Beginning as quaint spring fed creeks, who tell their life stories in terms of the run. Here, on the
they travel north and carve through modest towns and riverbanks that weave together the fabric of the Upper
crowded timber. Like all Michigan rivers, they are marked Peninsula, I learned the traditions of an undoubtedly one-
by their distinct features: rough, dynamic, and shaped by of-a-kind fishery.
the rugged landscapemuch like the crazed and obsessed
men who walk their banks in search of swimming secrets. The rivers on Lake Superiors South Shore are very
Unlike Michigans West coast, however, Upper Peninsula different from the popular rivers of Lake Michigans east
streams remain uncrowded, making them well-suited for coast: there is less water suitable for fishing, and they are
those drawn to waters uncharted. Walking these streams characteristically small, narrow, and fast. The high gradient
now, I find that most of the boot prints are left by men of these rivers provides an abundance of pristine spawn-
in their 60sYoopers forged by the boom of the mining ing gravel. However, deep pools that hold many steelhead
industry, whose lives are indexed by spring and the return are hard to find, and thus the task shifts to finding pocket
of their aged addiction: the steelhead. water where moving steelhead rest. Most of these un-
dammed and wild rivers find their headwaters in cedar
Lake Superior steelhead have frequently been swamps and start as tiny brook trout streams, only to pick
viewed as something to be prizedand rightfully so. For, up steam the closer they get to Lake Superior. This type of
these steelhead have, for the most part, been unaltered tight-spaced water does not lend itself to the techniques
by humans since their original planting in the late 1800s. I learned during my college days spent on Lake Michigans
However, over the years, these fish have adapted to a eastern shoreline. In these conditions, a finesse presen-
harsh climate, rivaling their native reaches in the Pacific, tation is not needed; instead, the method is meant to get
and thus formed a gene pool unique only to this area. The your presentation down to the fish and get down fast.
resulting fish are strong, tenacious, uncannily aggressive,

48 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


I quickly learned that the necessary tackle was
utilitarian and, for the most part, entirely dissimilar from
what I considered standard steelhead tacklenamely,
spinning/center pin reels, noodle rods, etc. These old tim-
ers used fly reels that they referred to as coffee grinders,
which I assume was inspired by their bulky maroon frame
and the annoying grind of their clicking drag. These coffee
grinders were actually Martin 72 multiplier fly reels, now
famed for their 3:1 retrieve ratio and underrated smooth
drag. The reels were spooled with straight 8lb monofila-
ment and paired with 89 8wt G Loomis fly rods. From
their mainline they tied a loop-to loop-connection to
a 6lb leader finished with a size 6 hook, with split shot
attached to the tag end off one of their loops. This rig is
meant to be simple and efficient, avoiding any unneces-
sary terminal tackle. At first glance, the method appears
similar to the chuck-n-duck fly fishing employed on the
larger rivers of the Great Lakes. However, unlike chuck-n-
duck, with time and proper technique, this Lake Superior
set-up was not meant to bounce along bottom where the
angler remains in consistent contact. Instead, the objec-
tive isthrough experience and proper reading of the
waterto develop a thorough understanding of the con-
tour of bottom and, in turn, the most efficient attempt at
a natural presentation. The takes are subtle and at times
unrecognizable but, once hooked, these Lake Superior
brutes fight like no other fish and even bring seasoned
anglers to their knees. In the few instances where I
successfully performed this traditional craft, I entered
a league of sportsmen who understand that there is no
better place to understand ourselves than a battle with a
chrome lake run rainbow, with solitude peeking over our
shoulders.
Over the years, I continued to visit the same
steelhead grounds where I watched old men grow older;
their only source of motivation fresh from the Lake Supe-
rior shore, resting at the bottom of steep banks. Time has
changed the rivers holes and pools from my childhood,
yet the steelhead remain the same. One by one, I and PICKEREL LAKESIDE CAMPGROUND AND
old men alike throw on our waders, grab a fly rod, climb
down the hill, and exercise a few if we are lucky. On the COTTAGES: Balwin Area - Over 1000' of all
top of the hill, we put the concern of numbers, size, and sport lake frontage offers 45 semi-rustic sites
notoriety into the faint memory of our past. Every spring, and 4 clean modern cottages.
I am reminded that the steelhead is the most important www.LakeCamp-Cottages.com
part of this yearly ritual. Without these fish, the memo-
ries that fill our laughter would exist only in imagination.
231-745-7268
For the decades past, these South Shore veterans have
fished more water than I have swam innot in search of
something, but to be in the comfort of something so fa-
miliar. In the dark, quick waters of Lake Superiors South
Shore streams, these old timers had found a mystique
written about since the dawn of rod and reel. I think it 888-939-6667 or 231-745-6667
swims in the riffles of these fast waters, on its annual trip Lodging, cabins and river guide service on the
in a fulfillment of life. The anglers on the South Shore Pere Marquette River.
Fish for salmon, steelhead, trout on the Pere Mar-
fish for a chance to know the steelhead in its purest form quette, Manistee, and Muskegon Rivers.
and, in these experiences, they too move in a fulfillment Flyfishing or spin tackle.
of life. Federal & State licensed and insured guide.
Owners: Clint & Debi Anderson

www.redmooselodge.com

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 49


DROP-SHOTTING
by Roger Hinchcliff
of Steelhead Manifesto

for BOSS BLUEGILLS


Ask most folks whats the first fish you have ever caught? The typically love deeper water but will linger near the water sur-
bluegill will most likely be the answer. Many anglers first love face in the morning to stay warm after a cold night. Example:
affair and introduction to the sport of fishing were through early and late in the day, the school may move up to 8 to 10
fishing for panfish. The gill is native to North America and lives feet deep, but as the day goes on they go deep.
in streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds. It is commonly found east
of the Rockies. If I had to choose one of my favorite fish to eat A school size of 10 to 20 fish or more are pretty typical and
you would hear me mention species like a perch and walleye, will use all of the water column and structure to their advan-
but at the top of the list; I would have to say the bluegill. Those tage. Tip: Aquatic insects mostly live in vegetation. Coontail
tasty fish belong in a corn meal jacket in my opinion, but I and milfoil weeds are my favorite weeds to target for big gills.
also practice conservation. They can hide and hunt for food at the same time. I look for
differences in cover like thinner patches, or points. Find deep
When targeting large Summer, or Fall schools of fish, always water weed edges and you should connect with the biggest
keep conservation in mind. When catching large gills keep gills the lake has to offer. When the sun gets high and the
in mind the size of the female plays a large role in how many temps go up look for fish in deeper water.
eggs she will produce. A smaller female could produce as
few as 1,000 eggs, and a large, healthy female can produce When fish are on beds early in the season its easy to locate
up to 100,000 eggs. Release the larger females to keep the them, and catch them. You just cruise the shallows with some
fishery intact for future generations and feel free to keep the polarized glasses and look for beds and fish. Not so easy
smaller ones for a delicious fish fry. when the fish choose to go deep right? Finding them can be
easier than you think. But the right equipment can make all
Locating Fish the difference in the world. Such as the use of a good depth
finder. Whether it's fixed or portable model its indispensable
The savvy anglers who are in search of trophy gills sometimes in helping you find these fish. First look for the right depth
have fits on trying to locate them within any given body of and structure. Such as deep water humps, sunken islands,
water, during the Hot summer months. Big gills move to deep and deep weed edges. Use of your spot lock trolling motor,
this time of year and suspend in open water where they sus- anchor or even a simple marker buoy can help you stay on
pend just below the surface and feed on plankton and other fish once located. Once fish have been found, the action can
aquatic creatures and go deep during the day and to lounge be fast and furious. Now that we covered some biology of
on the bottom. The bluegill tries to spend most of their time in the fish and use of electronics to find them lets talk rods and
water in temp ranges from 60 to 80 F. Contrary to belief blue rigging.
gills enjoy the heat, but shy away from direct sunlight - they

50 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


Rigging no other presentation.

Most have heard about drop shotting for Bass, how about The rig can also be pitched up under boat docks for example.
drop shotting for Blue Gills. This technique can be deadly on Or cast near structure and slowly retrieved back to the boat. I
deep open water gills. Its so easy to do and so effective for even use the rig as a search tool by drifting when trying to find
deep water panfish. I find it tough to try anything else. fish schools. As you can see its a very versatile rig that can
cover a lot of water and help you find fish.
You must first start with the right rod when fishing deep water.
Especially when fishing lets say anywhere from 20-30 foot Baits
depths. The right rod will help you land more fish. A longer
fast action rod is my favorite because the rod helps by picking Some of my favorite baits to use would be worms or crickets,
up the slack line when a strike is detected. Yet the rod is limber grasshoppers, wax worms, small flies and even American
enough to handle light leaders and still have the power to get cheese pushed on to a hook. My favorite colors for gills are
those big gills out of weeds. My favorite rod length would be orange, yellow, red and my most favorite color is green. Their
in a 7-foot range. Once I have my rod picked out I use braid natural diet consists largely of small invertebrates and aquatic
for my main line. I love to use braid in a 4-8 lb. diameter and insects.
tie in a 3 -7-foot piece of fluorocarbon or mono in.
Another favorite with drop shotting is the use of soft plastics. I
When fishing deep water the braided line helps in getting a love tiny plastics it gives the pan fish less time to scrutinize and
great hook set. Braid has less stretch than mono. My leaders less to be wary about. The small plastics in the inch range
are typically anything from 4-6 lb. mono or fluorocarbon for creates a reduction in weight. This allows the gills time to
cagey bluegills. If Im fishing in heavy weeds or structure I will inhale baits easier. The last thing you want is for them to fail to
bump up to an 8lb leader. For the most part, the lighter the suck the bait in, and they turn and swim away. Big cagy gills
leader line, the more bites you get in my opinion. will sometimes just sit there and suck on a bait.

How to rig it up: Tie a Palomar knot to a small hook in a size I also love the Berkley Gulp products for panfish. Im no
6-10 long Aberdeen hook and leave the tag end at least a scientist and cant tell you whats in the stuff, but the fish love
foot or more long. Its important that the hook is facing up after it thats for sure. If I had to choose my top baits for large
tying your knot. Sometimes I will vary how long I make this bluegills? I would go with a cricket, leaf worms or pieces of
tag end so it will vary how far my bait is from the bottom. I will crawlers. Or wax worms that have been dyed in a product
fish it sometimes just 3 inches off the bottom. The goal here is called Krazy Dust.
to get the bait in their face, by keeping it eye level with the fish
you will connect. My favorite again is green sometimes fish want a certain col-
or. Your bait choices or rigging need not be complicated.
Pass the tag end through the hook eye to make the hook stand
out horizontally and affix a small snap swivel. I like to use a Its all about getting the bait in front of fish, if you do that
snap swivel and then attach my weight. This is so I can change youre cooler wont be empty. I must say when it comes to big
out the weights easily based on conditions. This rig is great for bull bluegills in deep open water the fight is great. Those fish
pitching under docks too. turn sideways and look like a big pie plate coming up to the
boat. On light line and tackle those fish pull so hard. Its a lot
By having the weight below the hook, it enables anglers to of fun and a great way to introduce someone to fishing. So,
suspend a bait off the bottom perfectly. It also works great get out this summer and enjoy the thrill of a Big Boss Blue Gill
when presenting bait over a weed edge, or other types of youll be glad you did.
structure. Sometimes I will add a dropper line when drop
shotting. By presenting the bait with this stealthy presentation it
minimizes those big bluegills wariness. It's accomplished when
the fish grabs the bait it doesnt feel the weight. By the time, PERE MARQUETTE RIVER: Furnished cabin
they do its too late because you have already set the hook. for rent located just 5 miles west of Baldwin with
By using a large weight, you can get the bait down very easy. private access to the Pere Marquette River. Great
Especially when the action is hot and heavy trying to get a for fishermen. 616-891-9644 or visit our website
soft plastic bait down on a light wire hook 20 feet down could at www.thetroutpost.com
take forever. This rig is deadly with its ability to get in the ac-
tion fast and accurately. Drop Shotting will deliver a bait eye
level with the fish without compromising the lure or action like

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 51


U.P. ANGLING
The Complete Recreation
by Rick Fowler

You can travel to the ends of the earth for a fishing vacation, our fishing vacation dreams. However, the diversity, the chal-
but some of the best you'll find is just over the Mackinac lenge and clear waters can also be located in our own state.
Bridge. It is true that a man often does not know what he has, or has
not, until he travels elsewhere. After experiencing many prime
I have been fortunate to have fished many bodies of water fishing areas, I shall always return to the UP.
in the past four decades. From steelhead in the Bear River of
Michigan, to specs in Canada. From cutthroat trout in Mon- Much has been written, and rightly so, with outdoor enthu-
tana to native trout in the often wild rivers of North Carolina. siasts in mind about the St. Ignace area with its clear waters.
From banana fish to white tarpon, to Mai Mai in the Gulf of The Straits of Mackinac, Lake Huron, and Lake Michigan
Mexico. Yet, I consider myself a novice. Can I catch fish? Yes! do offer a variety and abundance of game fish. Also the Les
Do I always catch fish? No! I am a recreational angler who Cheneaux Islands have gathered ink with bays that have in
benefits as much from the setting Im in as in the thrill of the the past teemed with northern pike, bass, panfish, and perch.
catch itself. Resort owners on Drummond Island extol in the benefits of
fishing their section of the Eastern UP, as well they should,
Michigan residents have the luxury, or so the saying goes, of since the walleye, perch, bass and salmon fishing remains
not being more than a mile away from a body of water. Yet, superb. Grand Marais penchant for whitefish angling off the
many of us often travel to the remoteness of Canadian waters, local piers is a reason for visiting this area and what hasnt
or seek the challenge of the boundary waters in Minnesota, or been written about the fabulous walleye fishing in the Glad-
motor west to the pristine trout streams of Colorado to satisfy stone/Escanaba waters?

52 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


waters like walleye, pike, lake trout and rock bass. Indeed,
Indeed, these are the places that have achieved fame and this section of wilderness is as close to the Boundary Waters of
laid down claim to being the most formable fisheries in the northern Minnesota as one can get.
UP. There are, though, other waters where anglers in search
of fewer crowds, less trodden paths, and a vacation itinerary Vacation Paradise and other clichs are often used to
that is flexible, can seek to truly enjoy the recreation of fishing. describe our vacations, our getaways, if you will. Yet for the
There are hundreds of miles of out of the way spots that can angler searching for heaven on earth in Michigan waters,
be explored in Upper Michigan waters. one has to see, know and believe that the answer to so many
vacation questions can be as close as the UP. Miles and miles
For instance, the Driggs and the Fox rivers near the town of of streams, rivers and inland lakes await recreational fishing
Seney might be your style if youre looking for brook trout. vacationers and it begins once you pull through the toll booths
The Fox can be fished with fly or spinning rods, but keep in at the bridge.
mind as you wind your way down river, the tag alder increas-
es and footing gets UP waters, especially
more treacherous as those less traveled, can
you go. The Driggs be the canvas that rests
is, for the most part, the eye, soothes the
a wading river, but nerves, and reassures
there are many log you that what was left
jams you might have behind in business or
to meander through other pursuits is really
or around. Both are left behind. As a 1960s
remote, but as sug- era brochure stated:
gested, remoteness is "Yes, we have majestic
nice. Also in this sec- Tahquamenon Falls, but
tion of the UP lies The to compliment its beauty
Little Two-Hearted. we also have 150 other
Maybe less famous waterfalls. Yes, we have
then her sister The Big the famed Lake of the
Two-Hearted, but Clouds but we have
thats what makes it over 4000 additional
intriguing. This is one lakes offering endless
of the few set back (fishing) vacation op-
waters that Ive seen portunities. Each bend
anglers float fishing. of the highway brings a change of scenery. By roads can lead
to quiet out-of-the-way-places where one can fish the cold,
Around the Marquette area, lake trout charters take anglers to brittle waters of a trout stream."
the infamous Stannard Rock section of Lake Superior. In fact,
the state's largest laker was boated here. Yet, river anglers There is another clich that states, some things never
can venture to the Carp and the Chocolay, set up camp, and change. Thank goodness thats true of the UP.
prepare themselves for one of the most scenic stretches of
remote river the UP can offer. In addition, both offer up native
trout that will tax your abilities, and your decision not to bring
all your flies.

There are many lakes in the Upper Peninsula that do not allow For Sale in Michigan's Upper Peninsula
motors. One such section is the Sylvania Wilderness area
Two bedroom home on 40 acres,
just east of the Wisconsin border. This tract of over 21,000
half good hardwoods, half open.
acres has 36 lakes and 19 ponds, most with an abundance
of smallmouth. Take note, it is catch and release only for Near Federal land and snowmobile trails.
smallmouth (see local regs for further information). Its called Phone 906-630-3674 if interested.
portage hopping in this area of lakes in the furthermost west-
ern section of the UP. Most anglers portage their canoes from
lake to lake seeking bass and other species that inhabit these

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 53


Trolling
for panfish

by Bob Gwizdz
Trolling. Its for salmon, right? And the bottom in 10 or 15 feet of water, but
muskies.And walleyes.When most When Hettig says downsize, he isnt the majority of the fish and especially
anglers think about trolling, they think kidding. The first thing he did when he the big ones are out in open water.
about big water and catching big fish. decided to troll for gills was start tying
up worm harnesses, just like crawler I didnt take him long to convince me.
But Denny Hettig is not most anglers. He harnesses, but much smaller. He ties a
trolls small water sometimes lakes as couple of No. 6 hooks about two inches Hettig trolls slowly, one mile an hour or
small as 40 acres beginning shortly apart a little bit less than the length of less, and just covers water. When he
after ice-out, right through summer, and a red worm with a simple spinner on a starts catching fish, he notes the area
into fall. And he fishes for pan fish. two foot length of four-pound-test and will double back over it again until
monofilament.He slides a snap swivel the bite peters out, then hell just start
A 65-year-old retired utilities worker, on the line ahead of a swivel, then covering water again. There are lulls, of
Hettig has been trolling for pan fish attaches the harness. The snap swivel, course, sometimes lasting 30 minutes or
mostly bluegills, but he catches plenty which slides freely on the line, is used to more, but eventually he gets on fish
of crappies and perch, too -- for more attach a pencil-style weight, anywhere again and the catching commences.
than 20 years. Hes turned it into an art from a 1/64th to 1/4th ounce. And
form; Ive been fishing with him for more then he trolls. Anywhere. Generally, Hettig starts out with four
than a decade, a couple of days a rods (two per angler)in rod holders
year, spring, summer, and fall, and The first time I fished with Hettig, he slid and, as the bite progresses, he notes
weve never failed to catch a nice mess his boat off the trailer, got on the trolling which depths are producing best, then
of fish. And the whole process was born motor and we started fishing immediate- changes weights so hes got more rods
out of frustration. ly; he didnt look for weed beds or in and around the strike zone. Some
drop-offs or any sort of structure ele- days the deeper rods produce. Some-
The reason I did it was I was a walleye ment. He just started fishing. And we times the bite is higher in the water
fishermen and I just got tired of the started catching. column. As a rule of thumb, the bite
bluegills eating the tails off my night starts nearer the surface early in the day
crawlers, he said. Lets face it: If you You know how when youre fishing, and gets deeper as the day progresses,
downsize your equipment and go to you see those little rings on the surface especially if its sunny, but as with
four-pound test line and light-action out in deep water? he asked. Those anything else in life, there are excep-
rods, bluegills are a blast. are bluegills. Everyone is fishing in on tions to every rule.

54 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


occasions, rainbow trout as well as
The first thing in the morning when you bluegills and perch. If you want to catch a lot of crappie,
get to the lake, just spread out with cut off the back hook and put a wax
different weights until you figure out Its an excellent way to find perch, and worm or a small plastic grub or a cured
whats going on for the day, he said. when I do, I often stop trolling and start minnow you know the ones you get in
Itll change every day. When youre still fishing for them. But there are times, a jar -- on there. They take those better.
doing this, youre picking off your active especially in the late fall and I mean
bluegills from all over the lake. When late, late fall when you can really wail Slow trolling for crappie some of the
youre tight-lining them, youre on a on the perch doing this. They want the guys call it strolling -- is a time hon-
school of fish and youre just pounding spinner. ored tradition across much of the
that school. Doing this, I might take six
or seven out of a school, but by then Im
off somewhere else.

I catch my biggest fish up in the day,


he continued. You can catch fish all
day and the later it gets, the better it
gets. Cloudy days are better than bright
sunshiny days.

Ive fished with Hettig on everything


from cold rainy spring days to hot, still,
August days when youre afraid of heat
stroke. Weve always caught them.

People dont really believe you can


catch bluegill trolling around like that,
says Hettig, who is one of those 10% of
the anglers who catches 90% of the fish.
But it works. I have total faith in it. Ive
never been skunked; even on the worst
days, I still manage to take some fish
home. It works better in some lakes than
it does on others, but I probably fish 90
lakes a year and if I get on two lakes
where it doesnt work very well, thats
about average.

It works best on lakes that have deep,


open water, he said. On shallow
lakes, itll work, but you wind up running
into the weed factor. You spend so much
time keeping your lines clean, you might
as well fish bobbers. But personally, Ive
never been able to find very many big
bluegills on those shallow weedy lakes,
anyway.

To Hettig, a seven- to eight-inch bluegill


is perfect. When he starts catching
bigger ones and weve caught plenty
of 10s he generally throws them back
as he not only prefers the smaller ones
for the table, but he also believes its
important to maintain the brood stock
for the future.

And bluegills arent all; over the years


weve caught everything bass, pike,
walleyes, and even on a couple of

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 55


country, especially in the South, where when he hits an area with a concentra- two inches Rapalas. In the course of
crappie seem to get a lot more respect tion of fish and cast. But that never the day wed catch plenty of pan fish,
than they do in Michigan . Mike Cash- works, he said. I think the speed or the too crappie, rock bass, perch and
en, a postal worker from northern depth control is off. pumpkinseeds as well as some bass
Indiana who fishes the lakes of south- and pike. The last time I fished Houghton
west Michigan regularly, says he started Cashen said he often uses a stop-and- Lake with Mol, I brought along a few of
trolling from crappies about 20 years start pattern -- the fish often bite as the Hettigs harnesses theyre called Bos
and isnt about to stop. bait is falling, he said -- and will some- Bluegill Busters, named after his old dog
times pump one of the rods so the jig -- and a box of red worms and the pan
Youre not going to catch as many as rises and falls. Hes noticed that he often fish action improved, especially for
you do in the spring because theyre not gets bit while turning -- while the jig is bluegills, which are less likely to mess
as heavily concentrated, Cashen said. rising or falling in the water column. with minnows (or minnow baits) than
But we used to stop fishing after spring other pan fish.
because we couldnt find them, they Hettig says the same. When hes trolling,
were too dispersed. Then we started he often makes a long series of S turns The best part of this fishing is the simplic-
trolling in deep, open water. Wed find so the baits are constantly rising or ity. It doesnt take a lot of sophisticated
them on a depth finder you never falling in the water column. As often as equipment. Rod holders allow you to
know at what depth theyre going to be not, he said, the bites come on the turn. fish more rods comfortably, but you can
holding. Usually we start on the outside do well simply holding the rod in your
edge of the deep weed beds and then I know some guys who purposely use a hand. And theres no problem detecting
go from there. zigzag pattern all the time and they the bite, which makes this a perfect
swear by it, he said. The depth of the technique for youngsters, neophytes, or
Cashen typically uses two rods with water doesnt matter. You can be out in those poor unfortunate souls who just
small jigs tipped with curly tail trailers 40 feet of water and catch them 15 feet never seem to get the hang of fishing.
when trolling. Hell usually use a down.
1/32nd ounce jig and a 1/16th, he But its a great technique for experi-
said, but will go up to an 1/8th ounce Both Cashen and Hettig swear by using enced anglers as well. Its a low-cost,
jig if its really windy. electric motors when trolling for pan fish, laid-back approach to angling that pays
but Ive had some excellent experiences off with plenty of action and some of the
Thats the maximum I would use, he using the outboard, too. For many years, best table fare you can gather in
said. I fished Houghton Lake with retired Michigans out-of-doors.
conservation officer Mike Mol for
Cashen said he used to stop trolling walleyes, trolling tiny and I mean, like,

56 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


HOW INFASTRUCTURE
AFFECTS OUR RIVERS...
The DNR began stocking the Red Cedar River at
Michigan State's campus when MSU re-opened
it to fishing in 2013. A new infastructure project
looks to protect that investment.

by Brian Cenci

When we think of the hazards posed by aging infrastructure,


crumbling roads, bridges and dams readily come to mind.
Lead drinking water service lines are also at the forefront of our
thinking. It may yet be easy to overlook the crucial role and crit-
ical condition of buried infrastructure serving our communities
with wastewater and storm water conveyance.

Ingham County Drain Commissioner (ICDC) Patrick E. Linde-


mann, whose job includes managing hundreds of miles of ag-
ing storm water drainage pipes, is keenly aware of the need to
re-engineer old systems. We used to build systems to move
water from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible, Linde-
mann said. That approach quickly washes sediments and other
pollutants into waterways, damaging habitat with high-velocity
flows and harming water quality for humans and aquatic spe-
cies alike.

Now we engineer systems to manage storm water on site


and at its source. Lindemanns next major project will retrofit a
variety of low impact design features into a highly impervious
(paved) urban landscape aimed at slowing flows, reducing
flooding, and removing engine oil, debris and other danger-
ous pollutants before they reach the nearby Red Cedar River.

The Montgomery Drain

Much of what we love about our urban communities - easy ac-


cess to workplaces, shopping, arts, culture and entertainment The author with a steelhead on the Red Cedar River
- has another side. Every road, roof, parking lot, and sidewalk
increases the speed of storm water runoff, carrying toxic chem-
icals and debris straight to the river. pipes, some of which will be replaced or rehabilitated, others
will be removed as low impact design features are installed in
Our scientists and engineers calculate that, each year, 50 to their place.
75 thousand pounds of pollutants are washed into the Red Ce-
dar River from the Montgomery Drain watershed area, said In 2014, the City of Lansing and Ingham County petitioned the
Lindemann. Citizens, environmental groups, and Drain Com- Drain Commissioner for significant reductions to pollution from
missioners from both Ingham and Livingston Counties identified the Drain. The petition initiated legal processes governed by
the Montgomery Drain outlet, located just west of Michigan state and federal laws, including Michigans Drain Code and
State University, as the single largest contributor of pollutants the U.S. Clean Water Act. Once petitioned, the EPA requires
to the Red Cedar River. me to meet six minimum measures, Lindemann said. These
include the elimination of illicit discharges, public involvement,
Engineers working on retrofit plans for the Montgomery Drain and public education.
inspected current conditions. They found a number of crumbling

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 57


Environment + Economy and live music to our community. Momentum is building and
we think that the sky is the limit for Art in the Wild.
Lindemanns team has invested many hundreds of hours into
identifying illicit discharges, recording existing infrastructure The Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council (Mid-ME-
damage, participating in community meetings, and engineer- AC) is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. More information is
ing water quality solutions. We are going to daylight the wa- available at www.artinthewild.org and www.midmeac.org.
ter. Instead of piping pollution straight to the river, we are engi-
neering a surface-water system of ponds, wetlands, waterfalls
Building Community Spaces for Outdoor Living and
and other design features that will hold storm water, allowing
Learning
sediments to settle, cleaning nearly all of the runoff from this
watershed, Lindemann said.
We are including voices and support from everyone. This will
be a shared space where everyone can gather to celebrate
The plan for the Montgomery Drain will transform parts of
art, environmental stewardship, and myriad other accomplish-
Ranney Park and the defunct Red Cedar Golf Course into a
ments in our community. Trails through the park will connect
naturalized system modeled after the highly successful Tollgate
with the Riverfront Trail. We anticipate hosting art festivals and
Drain near the Groesbeck Golf Course in Ingham County. En-
5K runs, this will be a place where people can recreate in so
vironmental solutions and economic development are not op-
many ways.
posing forces. The blue and green spaces we will create will
attract visitors to nearby businesses, said Lindemann.
Bringing to the surface what was once buried water infrastruc-
ture will shed light on our shared responsibility for maintaining
Much of the re-engineered space will remain a City of Lansing
our most important resource in our Great Lakes State. We
park. The ballpark and skatepark within the project area will
have looked at the research that shows water has a calming
not be affected. The existing sledding hill will be re-engineered
and nourishing effect on us. It is our responsibility to create and
to face north, preserving snow for as long as possible.
preserve these spaces for our communities and future genera-
tions.
We are pursuing cost-effective solutions to prevent pollution
and reduce flooding, Lindemann said, and encouraging re-
Montgomery Drain project leaders are seeking funding that
sponsible development within the project area will improve the
would allow them to rebuild fish habitat in the Red Cedar River
economy throughout the region.
along the project area. With that funding support, the oppor-
tunities to enhance fishing and, through onsite tutorials, en-
The construction of SkyVue Apartments is already nearing courage the next generation to engage in fishing are greatly
completion. Some reports suggest that additional development increased.
valuing approximately $500 million is slated for the area.
Lindemann wants the area to be a living classroom, where
Art in the Wild people of all ages can enjoy being outdoors and learn about
environmental principles.
Im required to educate citizens about their role in protecting
water quality. Were building an innovative system that will in- Construction on the Montgomery Drain is expected to begin
clude educational signage. So, how do I get people who ar- Summer of 2017.
ent already environmentalists to the site? Thats the question
the Drain Commissioner asked himself.

The answer came to him: make room for art in all its forms
throughout the project area. I was talking with my wife, Dr.
Melody Angel, and we had the idea to place sculpture and
murals, some with environmental themes, in the project area.
We also want to create inviting and accessible performance
spaces for live musical and theatrical performances.

Art in the Wild is a private initiative under the auspices of the


Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, Lindemann
said. No taxpayer dollars will be used to buy the sculptures
or other art. Were pleased that some area businesses, includ-
ing Marshall Music and Medawar Jewelers, have already ex-
pressed interest in partnering with Art in the Wild to bring art

58 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


GIVE INVASIVE
SPECIES
THE BRUSH OFF.
Clean Your Gear Before Entering
And Before Leaving The Recreation Site.

TM

MUCC
Help Prevent The Spread
Of Invasive Plants And Animals.
REMOVE plants, animals & mud from boots, gear, pets &
vehicle.
CLEAN your gear before entering & leaving the recreation
site. STOP INVASIVE SPECIES
STAY on designated roads & trails. IN YOUR TRACKS.
USE CERTIFIED or local firewood & hay.
TRACKING
WILDLIFE
FOODS
With
MI-MAST
By Kelsey Fisher
& Gary Roloff

Summer is a time when Michigans great outdoors are lush There are two types of mast. Hard mast includes fruits with
and green. Heavy dew shines in the morning sun as you walk hard exteriors (like acorns, beechnuts, hazelnuts), which gen-
to your favorite fishing hole. A chorus of bullfrogs and cicadas erally become obvious on the plant in late summer and ripen
call out in harmony as fireflies dance in the night sky. Many mid-to late-fall. Soft mast include fruits with fleshy exteriors
of us will take this opportunity to get some fresh air away (e.g., apples, blueberries) and generally become obvious
from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Soon we will be on the plant in early summer and ripen late summer through
scouting for deer on our favorite oak ridges, following salmon early fall. Wildlife use of mast is not restricted to the ripening
up the rivers, and picking blueberries, blackberries, and rasp- seasons. Sources of soft mast are important late winter food
berries. For those of us interested in animals, whether it is on sources for short-distance migrant birds like robins and cedar
public or private ground, we will pay attention to the avail- waxwings. Chokecherries remain on the tree well into winter
ability and production of wildlife foods. Collectively, some of and can provide an important energy source for ground for-
these naturally occurring foods are called mast. aging birds in late winter when snow covers other foods. It not
uncommon to see turkeys perched in choke cherry trees eating
Mast refers to the fruits or seeds of trees, shrubs, or other fruits in March. For those of us interested in wildlife, it should
plants. We know for certain that mast is important to wildlife. be obvious that knowing something about when and where
Wild turkeys, black bears, and white-tailed deer rely on mast occurs is important. This valuable information about mast
acorns (for example) to build fat reserves for winter months. production can be collected anywhere in Michigan through a
Large mammals like deer and bear will move less when mast program called MI-MAST: Wildlife Food Tracker.
is abundant, making them less likely to congregate around
specific food sources. Abundant mast also has positive effects Little is known about what drives mast production. In some
on fawn birth weights and survival the following year. The years acorns completely cover the forest floor, while in other
availability of hard and soft mast prior to the winter dormancy years there are none. These patterns do not occur consistently
of black bears can directly affect the likelihood of females throughout different regions of the Lake States. In any given
successfully rearing cubs. Several Michigan furbearers also year, masting is likely related to individual plant characteris-
depend on mast productivity to feed small mammal prey. tics like species and age, weather, soil productivity, and past
land management. To better understand patterns of masting,

60 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


SOUND
SCIENCE
IN THE
CLASSROOM
Individuals from Grand Valley State Uni-
versity developed a MI-MAST lesson plan
for middle school teachers. This field-based
activity gets kids involved with outdoor ac-
tivities, while accomplishing performance
expectations for Next Generation Science
Standards for middle school life sciences.

One of the most authentic ways to study


ecology and species interactions is to go
outdoors and observe it firsthand. In the
MI-MAST classroom exercise, students
the Michigan Department of Natural Resources - Wildlife Division, Mich- would look at how resource availability af-
igan State University, and Michigan United Conservation Clubs teamed fects wildlife populations, and learn about
up to produce and market MI-MAST: Wildlife Food Tracker Program. the interconnection of organisms within
MI-MAST relies on citizen scientists (like you) to collect information on their local ecosystem. Active classroom
masting. Mast observations from year to year are stored in an individual participation allows students to collect
account that you make, providing a valuable tool for monitoring wildlife data, identify mast species, and think
foods on lands you are interested in. There are mobile phone applications about the wildlife that might use those spe-
and a web page, and each has pictures and descriptions of the different
cies. Additionally, the instructor builds data
plant species to help you with identification. Collectively, observations
from year to year, providing a real-world
from all over Michigan could provide valuable wildlife food information
useful for management. Indeed, MI-Mast was initially developed as a way example of mast production over time.
for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division to
monitor mast production throughout the state. In this capacity, observations By getting students outdoors, the lesson
from individuals would remain confidential, and your observations would plan developers and MI-MAST program
only be summarized across broad areas (like counties). This means that partners hope to spread an appreciation
your secret hunting or bird watching spot would not be revealed! for the natural world and conservation that
links to the technology (their cell phones)
You can visit the website at www.mimast.org to create a free account. The that most of the students are familiar with.
easiest way to collect data is through one of the IPhone or Android mobile More on this classroom exercise can be
applications that can be downloaded from the App Store. Data collec-
found in the fall 2016 issue (page 57) of
tion is easy and quick, can occur at any time of the year, and will provide
the Michigan Science Teachers Association
you with useful information on wildlife foods over time. If you have any
questions on MI-MAST, please contact Dr. Gary Roloff at Michigan State Journal.
University (Roloff@msu.edu).
A Possible Strategy for
Bovine TB in Michigan Deer?
Researchers from Michigan State Unitversity have been testing a promising oral vaccine
for white-tailed deer in the bovine tuberculosis (bTB) area of the northeast Lower Peninsula.

By David Dressel, Henry Campa III, Mike Lavelle, and Kurt VerCauteren
Photos by David Dressel
There it is: the sun, beating down on the snow covering your in the future. The objective of our study was to create an
garden or perhaps the fields you planted last year. As the oral vaccine strategy that could reach the maximum number
snow melts you feel the suns warmth on your skin for the first of white-tailed deer in the core bTB area, Deer Manage-
time since the long, harsh Michigan winter began. You can ment Unit 452, west of Alpena. It was our hope that we
see the freshly exposed crop fields as the sun begins to warm could design a cost effective placebo vaccine strategy that
up the land. However, youre not the only one feeling the if successful could be used with the actual vaccine Bacillus
suns rays beaming through the blue sky, or better yet, to smell Calmette-Guerin (BCG).
spring right around the corner.

Over the winter in northern Michigan, white-tailed deer Lets Talk Deer
have been secluded in deep conifer swamps trying to stay
warm. As spring breaks they begin to venture out and feed As fellow nature enthusiasts, hunters, and conservationists, we
on the newly exposed plants and crop residues from last fall. all appreciate the importance of understanding deer ecol-
Deer are eager to feed and replenish their nutrient-stressed ogy. Whether we are trying to observe, study, or hunt that
bodies as the years winter has taken its toll. Some deer may animal we must understand its behavior. Even if we are simply
have tried to venture across roads to reach a thawed field setting out trail cameras to scout for a hunt, we are studying
with emerging vegetation and were struck by a vehicle. Or the animals movements and patterns. To design a successful
perhaps some have succumbed to starvation from the harsh vaccination strategy, it was crucial that we understood how,
winter. However, others meet their demise through a more when, and possibly why deer would behave under certain
chronic and slow process: disease. conditions such as snow cover, temperature and forest cover
throughout the year.

The Bovine Tuberculosis Problem Lets begin with an idea that became the framework for our
vaccine strategy: timing of winter break up in northern Michi-
It all began in 1994, or perhaps 1975, when a hunter harvest- gan. Deer tend to congregate in deer yards during the peak
ed what appeared to be a sick deer. The deer tested positive winter months in northern Michigan and conserve energy by
for bovine tuberculosis (bTB). This was the second positive bTB limiting their movements. Reduced movement and feeding
case in Michigan deer; the first was in 1975 but many thought leaves deer in a nutrient deficient state as winter drags on.
it was an isolated case. The 1994 incident led to the statewide When the snow begins to thaw, deer are drawn to the newly
surveillance and testing of road-killed and harvested deer exposed agriculture fields to feed on any residual grain from
for bTB as wildlife managers tried to gather information and the previous year. This natural congregation and behavior of
formulate a plan to manage this emerging disease. deer appeared the perfect opportunity to efficiently target
multitudes of deer with an oral vaccine delivery unit (VDU).
Wildlife managers have come a long way since that initial A VDU is a desired food product that can potentially hold a
bTB case. State efforts have decreased the prevalence rate vaccine and be distributed to feeding deer.
of bTB in deer from 4.5% to around 1-2%. This decrease is
attributed to numerous management strategies that are still
in practice today: disease control permits, fencing, liberal Designing a Vaccine Delivery Strategy
antlerless harvest and baiting restrictions. However, Michigan
residents, livestock producers, wildlife managers, and hunters First, we experimented with four potential VDU formulations to
continue to hear about cattle herds contracting the disease deliver an oral vaccine during the winter and springs of 2015
from spillover of bTB from deer. To date, there have been 66 and 2016. We wanted to create a product that could be mass
cattle herds infected with bTB in northeastern lower Michigan produced and mimicked natural forage deer were already
(MDARD Legislative Report BTB Program Oct 2016 Qtrly seeking. Thus, we constructed VDUs that resembled the crop
Update). With the continued occurrence of bTB-infected cattle residue of last seasons crops: a corn product, apple product,
herds and a stalled bTB prevalence rate, an additional man- alfalfa product, and an alfalfa/molasses product. We distrib-
agement strategy has been proposed to combat the disease. uted VDUs to free-ranging deer to determine if they preferred
one over another.
Researchers from the USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services
National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC, Fort Collins, CO) Second, we timed the distribution of the VDUs to maximize
and Michigan State University, Department of Fisheries and the number of deer exposed to the vaccine system. Vaccine
Wildlife, along with Michigan Wildlife Services biologists delivery units were distributed on agriculture fields during the
have collaborated on a project evaluating a potential vacci- spring thaw in Alpena County, Michigan. The spring thaw
nation strategy to inoculate deer against bTB if it is desirable draws deer to the exposed agriculture fields. To assess the

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 63


By spacing out the vaccine delivery units(VDUs) in grids,
researchers avoided unnaturally congregating deer at bait sites,
which can increase the chances of disease transmission.

number of deer visiting and possibly reached with this strategy. Were there band, giving us concrete evidence that
consuming our VDUs we mounted trail just two or three hungry deer that were they consumed at least one VDU. The
cameras on edges of these agriculture eating the majority of our tasty VDUs or biomarker allowed us to evaluate what
fields. were groups of 10-20 scarfing down percentage of deer, from those that
these treats? were harvested, consumed our VDUs.
Third, we explored how the distribu-
tion of VDUs on fields would result in To evaluate this question, we used a
the highest consumption by deer. We biomarker to monitor the deers feeding We Know What Deer Like
wanted to design a strategy that reflect- activities. A biomarker is an additive we
ed deer feeding patterns on those fields; incorporated into VDUs that allowed During our trial from May 1 June
slightly dispersed, moving and feeding us to determine whether or not a deer 18, 2015, the apple-based VDU was
as a group through the field (Image 3). consumed a VDU. We chose a biomark- consumed the most. Deer consumed
Because congregating deer at feeding er called Rhodamine B (Rb) because it on average 47.6% of the apple VDUs
sites can increase disease transmission, is easily added to the VDUs and easily within 24 hours. The consumption rate
we minimized unnatural congregations detected after its consumed by deer. for the apple VDU was 31% higher than
of deer around the VDUs by distributing Rhodamine B has been used exten- the corn-based VDU and 47% higher
them in grids of: 109 x 32 yards (yds), sively as a biomarker for several oral than the alfalfa-based VDU.
54 x 32 yds, 54 x 21 yds and in lines vaccination programs including rabies
bordering field edges next to forests. in raccoons and plague in prairie dogs. However, as we may have witnessed
Each VDU was spaced 2 yds or 5 yds Rhodamine B is a green powder that we in our own backyards, if you leave
apart depending on the grid size. The placed inside gel capsules and then into anything sweet and tasty out raccoons
size of each VDU was designed to be each of our individual VDUs. When deer will find it! We distributed our VDUs on
approximately 0.6 ounces to maximize consumed the VDUs with Rb, two things 17 agriculture fields from 5-19 consecu-
full consumption by deer and limit any happened: (1) the deers digestive tract tive days on each field. Deer visited our
residual material. was stained pink for 24-36 hours and/ VDU grids 63.9% of the nights and to
or (2) their whiskers became marked nobodys surprise those pesky raccoons
Lastly, we needed a way to estimate with a fluorescent band. By collecting accounted for 52.9% of the visitations
how many deer consumed our VDUs, whiskers from harvested deer and plac- we photographed. This was troublesome
allowing us to answer the all-important ing them under a fluorescent micro- since raccoons surely were consuming
question of how many deer can be scope, we could detect the fluorescent some VDUs.

64 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


The 2015 trial taught us the best and worst sides
of our potential vaccine delivery strategy and we
modified our plans for 2016. During our second
field season we started earlier in the year; March
6, giving us the opportunity to distribute our VDUs
during the crucial first thaw. Second, getting an
earlier start helped reduce the number of VDUs
consumed by raccoons as the heavy snow cover
reduced their activity. However, the largest
change we made was using a new customized
alfalfa/molasses-based VDU intended to appeal
to deer and to reduce consumption by non-target
species, such as raccoons and turkeys.

As hoped, raccoons did not readily consume or


even visit the alfalfa/molasses grids while deer
consumed on average 48.2% of the VDUs in 24
hours. Furthermore, deer accounted for 87.9% of
the visits to our VDU grids while raccoons only
visited 17.9% of the nights. These results were
in stark contrast to what we observed in 2015.
Considering we distributed 8,636 VDUs in 2016
and deer being the primary species visiting our
VDU grids, this has great implications for creating
a successful oral vaccine strategy for white-tailed
deer.

After deer were exposed to our VDU grids for


seven consecutive days, Wildlife Services collect-
ed deer on each VDU grid with the use of disease
control permits. Throughout the 2016 field season,
a total of 107 deer were collected on the alfalfa/
molasses VDU grids. I collected six whiskers from
each deer and using a fluorescent microscope, I
looked for the presence or absence of the tell-all
fluorescent band, indicating whether or not that
deer consumed one of our VDUs. can be bTB free. Livestock producers would no longer have to
live with the worry that their cattle may fall ill costing them and
Out of the 107 deer, 36.4% (39) had staining on their tongue the State millions of dollars. Or imagine the hunting communi-
and digestive tract. However, the most significant finding was ty no longer concerned about hunting in a diseased area. By
74 deer, or 69.1%, had whisker or internal staining. This was combining this potential vaccine delivery strategy with other
a significant finding showing 69.1% of the deer that were management strategies, perhaps one day a bTB free Michi-
presented our alfalfa/molasses VDUs during the Spring thaw gan can be a reality.
consumed them! Researchers have modeled that a vaccination
Acknowledgments: Special thanks to all landowners in Alpe-
rate above 50% would substantially increase the possibility
na County that supported our efforts on this project and to the
of reducing the prevalence of bTB in the deer of northeastern USDA-Wildlife Services for all their support and hard work. In
lower Michigan. addition, thank you to all funding sources including United States
Department of Agriculture National Wildlife Research Center and
The success of a potential bTB vaccine program for white- Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.
tailed deer will be additive to the success of other manage- Lastly, we thank the Michigan Department of Natural Resources for
ment strategies already in place in the area; wildlife mitigation all their help and support alongside this project.
practices such as fences, liberal antlerless harvest, disease
control permits, and restrictions on baiting in the core TB area.
Imagine for a moment the possibility that one day Michigan

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 65


HOW DNR
PARTNERS
HELP WILD
TURKEY
HABITAT
by Darin Potter

Each year, the wild turkey draws millions of hunters throughout the release of these birds across the United States.
the United States back to the woods to greet dawn for another
chance at a spring gobbler. Whether its their thunderous Today, federal and state wildlife agencies throughout the US
gobble that echoes throughout the turkey woods or their have formed partnerships with various organizations such
magnificent displays as they try to win over nearby hens, as National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), conservation
this bird has continues to cast a spell over all of us turkey organizations and the many volunteers who continue to
hunting addicts. At nearly seven million strong, the wild help improve wild turkey habitat. The formation of these vital
turkeys adaptability has caused it to expand past its original partnerships have caused the wild turkey to be one of the most
native region, providing more hunters than ever before widely recognizable conservation success stories in the history
with an opportunity to draw or buy a tag over the counter. of wildlife management in the United States.
Unfortunately, this wasnt always the case.
With different conservation organizations working together
At the turn of the century, wild turkeys almost completely with the Department, we all can have such a greater
vanished from North America. In fact, during the 1920s, impact on the resources, the habitat, and the birds! The
Michigan was one of eighteen other states in the Midwest reach is unlimited when we are working together, so many
where they had completely disappeared. Unregulated more people can be engaged and effected by the work
hunting coupled with habitat loss was mostly to blame for their completed, said Katie Keen, Outreach Technician for the
demise. However, over the course of the last half-century, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
wild turkey started making a comeback due to the Federal
Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act (also known as the Pittman- The DNR recognizes how important partnering is to the future
Robertson Act of 1937). This Act places an 11% excise tax on of the wild turkey in the State of Michigan. Since the 1980s,
firearms and ammunition, along with bows and arrows, for the DNR Wildlife Division has worked together with numerous
funding wildlife habitat projects, distributed to the states. This partners to release trapped wild turkeys and improve habitat.
set the stage for wild turkey habitat management along with A great example of these partnerships exists between the

66 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


NWTF and the DNR. being the improvement of habitat. According to the 2016
NWTF annual report, nearly 1.7 million acres of land have
According to NWTF District Biologist Ryan Boyer, whose area been conserved and enhanced four years into the initiative,
covers both Michigan and Indiana, The NWTF was recently including 572,156 acres in 2016.
awarded 2 separate DNR State Wildlife Grants totaling over Boyer explains Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt is the
$267,000 of state grant funds to assist with projects estimated NWTFs 10-year national initiative to conserve or enhance 4
at over $378,000. The projects consist of restoring oak forest million acres of upland habitat, create 1.5 million new hunters,
health and oak savanna habitat, enhancing wildlife openings and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting, shooting, and
by planting mast-producing trees and shrubs, planting wildlife outdoor recreation.
openings to a mixture of cool season grasses and clover
mixes, clearing and planting two miles of hunter walking trails To complete these goals, the NWTF is committed to raising
to a clover mix, pruning remnant apple orchards and cutting $1.2 billion through fundraising and their devoted volunteers.
25 acres of aspen to regenerate new early successional On the state level, the NWTFs initiative will positively affect
habitat. the wild turkeys in Michigan and create many improvements
in multiple areas. According to Boyer, As part of the 10-year
This habitat project, which will occur on public land in national initiative, the NWTF in Michigan is determined to
Newaygo, Montcalm, Barry, Oceana, Crawford, and enhance or restore over 52,000 acres of upland habitat, help
Oscoda Counties, was made possible with the partnerships create 200,000 new hunters, and increase public access to
between the U.S. Forest Service, DNR, Ruffed Grouse Society, 10,000 acres.
Quality Deer Management Association, and the Michigan
Army National Guard. Boyer anticipates that these projects Besides fundraising efforts, licenses purchased by hunters
will be completed in September of 2018 and will impact will also help with these conservation efforts. Boyer states,
1,000 acres. License fees help pay for conservation. Since the inception
of the license fee restructuring, hunters in Michigan who
On a national level, the NWTF is also responsible for the purchase a hunting license are helping fund habitat projects
highly successful 2012 initiative, Save the Habitat. Save the throughout the state through the State Wildlife Habitat Grant
Hunt. This initiative has many important goals, one of them Program (SWHG).

SPRING 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 25


Sarah Topp, who works as the Wildlife Volunteer Coordinator brush pile projects/shrub planting projects completed on
for Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), manages public land throughout the state.
their On-the-Ground (OTG) program. This program earned
the DNR Outdoor Lifes Open Country Award in 2014. These brush piles and shrubs provide essential nesting
Since 2013, the year the program was launched, over 600 locations for hens and food for their brood in the spring time,
volunteers have engaged in dozens of wildlife habitat projects who feed on protein-rich insects, an important food source,
on public lands throughout the state. which allows them to grow rapidly.
Support from volunteers with a variety of uses of public lands
makes these habitat projects possible. In 2015, MUCC created the Michigan Cooperatives
partnership with the MDNR, Pheasants Forever, and the
"While many organizations may have a different approach Quality Deer Management Association, which organizes
to wildlife conservation, common project goals can be private land cooperatives to improve wildlife habitat.
established to make partnerships like this successful. This Getting Involved
award -winning program has completed numerous wild turkey
habitat improvements projects since the beginning of the If you are passionate about turkey hunting and have a desire
program." to help improve wild turkey habitat, join a local NWTF
chapter or volunteer with OTG. I cant think of a better way to
Topp continues, Volunteers with MUCCs Wildlife Habitat spend ones time than improving habitat and helping ensure
Improvement Program have completed several projects since that the future of the wild turkey will continue to flourish.
its start in 2013. Several aspen regeneration projects have
been completed in the Allegan State Game Area (SGA), After all, decades ago individuals worked hard to increase
where turkeys were re-introduced to Michigan for their historic the population of wild turkeys throughout the United States,
population restoration, as well as the Muskegon SGA. These which in turned created hunting seasons. Lets do our part in
projects allow sunlight to reach new areas of undergrowth to Michigan by volunteering and creating partnerships for the
produce new aspen saplings and other vegetation shoots that sake of the wild turkey and the future generation of hunters.
turkey will browse on. The same concept applies to the several -DP

68 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


Former DNR Director Humphries Named
National Wild Turkey Federation CEO
EDGEFIELD, S.C. The National Wild Turkey Fed-
eration Board of Directors announced Becky Hum-
phries as its new chief executive officer, a role she
will assume effective April 10, 2017.

I am honored to be appointed CEO of the National


Wild Turkey Federation, said Humphries. I came to
this organization because I wanted to help save the
habitat and the hunt, and we are well on our way to
achieving all of our goals through the strength and
great work of our dedicated staff and volunteers.

Humphries previously served the NWTF as vice


president of conservation and also chief conservation
and operations officer. Under her leadership, conser-
vation staff identified habitats across the nation with
MUCC's OTG ("On the Ground") program is in its fifth year, the most immediate conservation needs, now known
with multiple projects planned across the state this summer. as Americas Big Six of Wildlife Conservation.
Projects allow volunteers of all ages and experience levels The department then developed partnerships for the
to participate in "on the ground" public land wildlife habitat betterment of the most critical wildlife habitats and
projects, providing an opportunity to engage in hands-on worked with state chapters to launch management
conservation while learning about wildlife habitat needs. plans that advance the Save the Habitat. Save the
Hunt. initiative.
In early June 2017, OTG will partner with the Rocky Mountain
With Becky as the new CEO, the NWTF is poised to
Elk Foundation for a project in the Pigeon River Country State
continue its conservation success well into the future,"
Forest, the fourth year of the partnership. said Marvin Hartley, NWTF board president.

And on June 16, OTG will host a "rabbitat" project at the Gra- Outside of her work with the NWTF, Humphries
tiot-Saginaw State Game Area to kick off the 2017 MUCC currently serves on the Steering Committee for the
Annual Convention. Gratiot-Saginaw SGA was the location Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining Americas Fish and
of the very first OTG project in 2013, which is appropriate Wildlife Resources of the Association of Fish & Wild-
since this year's Annual Convention will be held in Owos- life Agencies and chairs the Wildlife Health sub-com-
so, with activities planned at the Shiawassee Conservation mittee for the Boone and Crockett Club. Humphries
Association, where Michigan United Conservation Clubs was also serves on the Council to Advance Hunting and
founded in 1937! Shooting Sports and the Wildlife Hunting Heritage
Conservation Council.
Sign up for these projects - and more which will be added
Humphries impressive rsum details more than 40
throughout the summer - at www.mucc.org/ontheground. years of experience in wildlife management and con-
servation. Before coming to the NWTF, she served as
MUCC's On the Ground program is a partnership with the the director of operations in the Great Lakes/Atlantic
Michgian Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division Region for Ducks Unlimited, focusing on conservation
funded in part by conservation revenue generated from the delivery, policy and science. She also served the
sale of hunting and fishing license fees. Michigan Department of Natural Resources and
Environment for 32 years, including seven years
For more information, email Sarah Topp, Wildlife Volunteer as department director.
Coordinator, at stopp@mucc.org.
Previous NWTF CEOs include George Thornton,
Rob Keck and founder Tom Rogers.

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 69


by Jeff Lichon

Equipment
that enables
Several years ago, my dad and I were turkey in 1994 and I had not yet tested out much adaptive
hunting on a tree farm near Glennie, MI, in Alcona equipment, it was evident that battery-powered equip-
County, when I steered my battery-powered scooter ment was the way to go in that it not only could manage
made by Bravo, a Spanish company that manufactures through some relatively tough terrain, but it was also
them for use as a one-person golf cart, to the edge of quiet, an advantage that is not easily attained when you
a field where it dropped down into a ravine. To my have a disability and require the use of a wheelchair to
surprise and excitement, I saw a lone turkey moseying get through the woods.
around pecking at the ground in search of some food
I have had the opportunity to test many pieces
morsels. I backed up and went over to my dad, who was
of adaptive equipment, both for hunting and fishing. In
setting up a good spot for me to park and hunt, and I
some instances I havent had the luxury of having some-
told him of my finding. Anyone who has ever hunted
thing that was adapted specifically for use by someone
wild turkey knows how weary of a bird they are so as my
with a disability, whether it was due to that I hadnt dis-
dad crept up to the edge of the drop-off I was as equally
covered it on the market yet or it purely didnt exist, so I
shocked to see he fire at it with his shotgun, a clear indi-
would hop, drag and roll myself in whatever way neces-
cator that it was still where I had left it a moment before.
sary to get to where I needed to be, whether in a fishing
Being as though this was not more than a cou- boat, a duck boat or just a spot on the ground covered in
ple years past when I sustained my spinal cord injury camo netting and leaves, pursuing the weary wild turkey.

70 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


Scooters that can handle rougher terrain. If thats not enough ver-
satility for you, the company also offers Trackstanders,
There are a number of battery-powered scooters which allows you to stand up should you prefer to shoot
on the market that like in the above turkey hunting story your gun or bow from an elevated position.
are very quiet, but also have decent ground clearance
and can go over small logs and other somewhat rough All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs)
terrain. With top speeds of 7-10 miles per hour, they Most, if not all, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are
move quickly enough for what I used them for deer now driven entirely by hand both the throttle and the
hunting (both gun and bow), turkey hunting and pur- brake making them useful to someone with enough
suing other upland birds. A slight downfall is their size, upper mobility strength to get on them, as I did in my
however in all honesty, if you absolutely require the use younger days. Now there are side-by-sides (SXS) made
of a scooter then its a good option. I have used Pride by nearly every manufacturer such as Yamaha, Polaris,
Mobility (www.pridemobility.com/scooters/models.asp) Arctic Cat and more, where the need to straddle a seat
scooters once I wore out my original Bravo. They, unlike in a traditional ATV is eliminated. While SXSs I have
the Bravo, had four wheels, which provided for greater seen are largely pedal-driven, an individual without the
stability than the three-wheeled Bravo. Scooters can be use of their lower limbs could conceivably use a set of
pretty expensive the more options you get on them so if portable hand controls available on the market, such as
you have insurance that will cover some or all of them, the PHC-3, made by McSquared Design Corporation
you will be better off in that department. (www.wheelability.com).
One consideration for having a scooter is how Another type of ATV on the market are the
to transport it to your hunting destination. I have used six- and eight-wheeled amphibious ATVs made by Max
hitch carriers that have an option where you can tilt and (U.S.A. www.maxatvs.com) and Argo (Canada www.
pull out a ramp to drive it up and strap it down. Many argoatv.com). These multipurpose machines not only go
of these exist on the market, but I would recommend an over nearly any terrain, including in the water, but they
aluminum carrier as they are much lighter than steel and are hand-controlled in such a way that its passengers sit
are still durable enough to support a 200-lb. or more inside of the vehicle, similar to that of the SXSs. Addi-
scooter. An intranet search for aluminum hitch carrier tional options include all-weather enclosures and heater,
will yield many different results. tank-style treads and roll bars.
All-Terrain Wheelchairs Mobile Hunting Blinds
Over the past several years, I have been fortunate It is difficult to go into a sporting goods store
enough to have hunted lands that had both dry and rela- without seeing a multitude of popup hunting blinds in
tively flat two-tracks on them, which enabled me to park all sorts of shapes and sizes. Organized hunts for people
my truck and carry the gear I needed to get to a spot to with disabilities, such as the one held annually at Shi-
hunt. Sure it was a workout, particularly on those warm awassee National Wildlife Area, use these blinds for their
October days during Michigans archery season when hunters due to that they are lightweight and thus easy to
breaking out in a sweat was inevitable. For those with set up, and they fit not only someone using a manual or
more limited mobility or land that is not flat enough to even a power wheelchair as well as a hunting companion.
safely get to your spot, there are options available today Clio, MI-based Ameristep (www.ameristep.com) offers
that didnt exist even a few years ago. some of the most popular popup hunting blinds on the
Action Trackchairs (www.actiontrackchair.com) market today.
were designed to get you and your gear to some of the An internet search for accessible hunting blinds
toughest spots right where you need to be to find the will give nearly countless results today as the collective
most elusive buck. Trackchairs are joystick driven and voices of hunters with disabilities is increasing and more
even have a gun rack and an option for camouflage manufacturers are offering accessible options and fea-
upholstery. It also features electric motors to help you tures. The key is to determine what options suit your
move quietly to your favorite hunting spot, but one of needs best and look online until you find the best one.
the best features of Trackchairs are the tank-style treads It may not be perfect, but dont hesitate to let the manu-

SUMMER2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 71


facturer know what would make it even better, and just
maybe you will see it on their next model. If that fails,
lucky enough for hunters we are blessed with endless
creativity, which puts us at an advantage when it comes
to product development. Ask a friend or relative who
has a little bit of spare materials and tools to help mod-
ify your blind so it fits your needs better.
The list of adaptive hunting and fishing equip-
ment across the country is growing every day. Many MiOFO is a cooperative partnership between
of the designs began in a garage or barn, where some- the Michigan Department of Natural Resources,
one had a child with a disability and thought, Im Camp Liberty, Zero-Day, Eisenhower Center,
the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, Pass-
going to figure out how to get little Janie out hunting
ing Along The Heritage Foundation, Safari Club
again, and WHAM, an accessible hunting blind was International Foundation, Michigan Building
born. While this article covers mainly disabilities that and Construction Trades Council, Michigan
are mobility-oriented, adaptive equipment also exists United Conservation Clubs, Disabled American
for individuals who are blind or deaf/hard of hearing. Veterans, American Legion and more.
With the internet at our fingertips, your needs are
covered with just a few clicks of a mouse. While there The mission of MiOFO is to provide improved
are many advancements that can, and will, be made in outdoor recreation opportunities for wounded
the accessible hunting and fishing space, it is encour- veterans and individuals with health challeng-
aging to see the progress that has been made thus far es; and, to coordinate a support network that
to enable a growing population of men, women and facilitates their recovery through connecting with
nature.
children with disabilities discover, or rediscover, the
Great Outdoors. Visit www.miofo.org to learn more

72 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


Hunting Across the Border

Canadian border crossinng at Ste. Sault Marie


by Jeff Helsdon (Photo by CBSA

Huge bears, large bucks and moose tipping the scales at Firearms Centre (1-800-731-4000) before leaving home if
1,000 pounds are the draw for hunters planning a trip to shooting this type of gun.
Ontario, or other Canadian provinces.
The one recent exception to no limitations on rimfire rifle
But the one obstacle is crossing the international border, both magazine size is with the Ruger 10/.22 rifles. Stick to your
ways. factory magazines if taking one of these guns for grouse
hunting.
Firearms regulations in Canada are administered by the
federal government, so this means the same rules apply across Before you cross the border, stop at U.S. Customs and fill out
the country and dont vary province to province. However, a Certificate of Registration For Personal Effects Taken
there are some fundamental differences in gun control legisla- Abroad. This comes into play upon returning home.
tion between Canada and the United States.
To bring a gun into Canada, a Non-Resident Firearms
First, its imperative to understand handguns are not legal for Declaration Form (www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/cfp-pcaf/form-for-
hunting in any Canadian province. Handguns cannot be used mulaire/pdfs/5589-eng.pdf) must be filled out. It is advised
for hunting, are more restricted and concealed carry permits to fill out the form before arriving at the border, but do not
are virtually non-existent. The short outtake: leave your sign it as a Canadian Border Services Agency (Customs)
handgun at home. Serious criminal charges could result from officer must witness the signature. This form is good for up to
violating this legislation. three firearms, and more if a continuation sheet is added, and
costs a flat fee of $25, no matter how many guns it is for. The
Another aspect of Canadian firearms law restricts magazine form acts as a license for 60 days and is only valid for the
capacity on centrefire semi-automatic rifles to five cartridges. person who signs it.
This does not apply to other actions or rimfire rifles, so there
are no restrictions on magazine size for pump, bolt and lever For those wishing to borrow a gun, a Non-resident Temporary
actions. Silencers are not legal and there are idiosyncrasies Borrowing License for Non-restricted firearms must be filled
regarding individual firearms in the case of modern sporting out before leaving home. The cost of this is $30. However,
semi-automatic rifles so its best to check with the Canadian borrowing a firearm is possible without a license if the

SUMMER2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 73


firearms user remains under the direct him hollow point bullets arent allowed The trip home
and immediate supervision of a licensed in Canada. This is not accurate.
adult. Although this is open to interpre- Although hollow point bullets are Leaving Canada is not an issue when
tation by a law enforcement officer, a restricted for handguns, they are legal crossing one of the many bridges with
similar restriction is in place for for rifles and shotguns. In fact, I was firearms, but ensure you stop at U.S.
Canadian minors and it means an adult using Barnes TSX on that hunt, which has Customs. This is when the Certificate of
must be immediately beside the youth a hollow point. Registration For Personal Effects Taken
and able to take control of the firearm Abroad must be presented.
and direct its usage. Asking CBSA what a hunter entering
Canada should do if they suspect an Customs officers will want to know what
A third option could appeal to frequent officer is telling them incorrect informa- guns a hunter is bringing back into the
cross-border hunters. By country. Asked about this part
taking the Canadian of the re-entry process, Ken
firearms safety course from Hammond, public affairs for
an approved instructor (cost US Customs and Border Patrol
varies, but is generally $125 Field Operations, replied, We
and up), non-residents can have not had issues with long
obtain a Canadian arms not being properly
Possession and Acquisition registered. If they werent, we
License. With this there is no would seize the weapon and
need to fill out a non-resi- issue a penalty.
dent declaration, but all
firearms must still be Hammond had one other piece
declared when crossing the of advice for hunters heading
border. The cost for a license to Canada: Its in their interest
is $60, and the license is to phone the port of entry they
good for five years. plan on leaving from.

More information is avail- The other consideration when


able on the Canadian returning home is permits and
Firearms Program web site at restrictions for the harvested
www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/ game. An Ontario non-resident
cfp-pcaf/fs-fd/visit-vis- export permit is needed to take
ite-eng.htm. a moose, deer or bear across
the border.
Ammunition

With any of the three According to the United States


aforementioned licenses, an Fish and Wildlife Service,
American citizen can purchase or bring tion, Senior Media Spokesperson Esme hunters returning with game, need to:
ammunition into Canada. There is no Bailey answered, Should a traveller
need to declare the manufacturer and feel dissatisfied with the level of client Comply with the Canadian provincial
quantities as Canadians must do on an service they are receiving for any hunting regulations with regard to bag
ATF Form 6 NIA when entering the U.S. reason, they should seek assistance from limits, export permits, etc. and be in
Ammunition quantities for hunting are the superintendent on duty. possession of their original hunting
acceptable, but if bringing in excessive license
amounts, it would be wise to double CRIMINAL HISTORY
check with Canada Customs. Comply with the CITES regulations
If you have a criminal record there could and obtain a CITES export permit for
While bear hunting at Olive Lake last be restrictions on entering Canada. those species that require one
year, I met a Pennsylvania bear hunter These are general restrictions, not for
who told me he had his muzzle-loading hunters only. U.S. hunters must also comply with
bullets seized at the border because 50 CFR part 14 by declaring the wildlife
they were hollow points. The officer told to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on

74 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Opportunities abound
Declaration form the Importation or Bear
Exportation of Fish or Wildlife form From big game to bird hunting, many Last year was the first for a pilot spring
opportunities are there for hunters ven- bear hunt across Ontario. Numerous
Bear hunters have special consider- turing to Ontario. outfitters provide bear hunts across the
ations. Dependent on the hunters province, with varying levels of guiding.
intention on how the bear will be Moose Fall seasons start in either mid-August
transported home, a CITES permit may There have been drastic cuts to moose or early September, dependent on the
or may not be required. As a generality, tags across Ontario, but non-resident area.
if the hunter has the meat, a permit is not hunters who can find an outfitter with an
required. A permit is required if the claws outfitter tag should have good success. Birds
or paws have been removed from the Guides are generally not needed when
hide or the hide has been processed by Beyond the tag cuts, there are areas hunting birds.
a taxidermist. Its best to talk to the U.S. holding their own in regards to moose
Fish and Wildlife Service involved. population. Results of last winters In northern Ontario, grouse popula-
surveys werent available at press time, tions are generally healthy, but do go
Duck hunters should remember to keep a but five of 25 wildlife management units through up and down cycles that can
wing attached to each and every bird so in northeastern Ontario are at the 2030 translate into boom or bust for the hunt-
it can be identified. population objectives while the rest are er. The most common way of hunting
down. Numbers are down in northwest- these birds in the north is by driving
Access ern Ontario. roads and trails, but that doesnt mean
a hunter cant bring their dog and wear
Although Port Huron and Detroit cross- Deer out some boot leather. This is big country
ings are better known to southern For Michigan hunters, the Rainy River so ensure you have a compass or GPS.
Michigan residents, Sault Ste. Marie area is accessible through the Upper If choosing to hunt from the road, talk
might be closer to many hunting areas in Peninsula, and then Minnesota. Deer to your outfitter in regards to firearms
northern Ontario, plus with the four lanes limits are liberal in northwestern On- discharge laws from a road.
of I-75 all the way, travelling is quick. tario, compared to one animal as a
When headed for northwestern Ontario, generality in the northeast. Non-resident In the extreme south, Pelee Island, which
consider either the Pigeon River or Rainy deer hunters do need a guide. is in Lake Erie about 45 minutes from
River crossings from Minnesota. the border, has long been a favored
Although numbers have been down in destination for pheasant hunters. These
Conclusion the northwest, a rebound is hoped for in are release birds, but the quantities
the wake of mild winters. make this a great workout for dog and
Although the process seems cumber- handler. The limit in the regular season is
some, it usually is pretty seamless when Winter 2015-2016 was classified as 10 birds.
you have been through it once, and is being mild to moderate in the western
definitely worth the effort. portion of northwest region deer range Duck hunters will find many possibilities,
and deer numbers were expected to and dependent on the spot, less hunting
begin to increase through 2016 in that pressure than at home. Public hunting
area, said Ministry of Natural Resourc- areas at Rondeau and Long Point can
es biologist Brad Allison. provide some great shooting when fresh
birds have arrived, and a good hunt at
Something similar was seen in the any time. Walpole Island and the Lake
northeast. St. Clair area also present great hunt-
ing opportunities. In fact, many of the
Generally, deer populations across private clubs around Lake St. Clair were
most of the core deer range were stable once owned by wealthy industrialists
to decreasing over the past couple of such as Henry Ford II and the owners of
years but came through the milder win- Kelsey-Hayes. Most hunting in the Lake
ter of 2015-16 in relatively good shape, St. Clair area is through guided hunts
and are expected to come through this (some are reasonably priced), but there
past winter reasonably well, said MNR are some public hunting options.
biologist Peter Davis.
BY DARIN POTTER

Summer Practice
FALL RESULTS

The summer months are a great opportunity for so that I can adjust to varying distances. Generally, I
us bow benders to spend time in the backyard or will take a couple shots at the closest target first and
on a 3-D archery range. This is essential in keeping then shoot at the target that is the furthest out. This
our arrows heading in the right direction for archery is a great training tool that has helped me to adjust to
season, which is just around the corner. These shooting at different distances.
summer practice sessions can mean the difference
Shooting arrows with a friend is a lot of fun and
between walking out of the fall woods dragging a
provides some friendly competition that can create
deer or shaking our heads in frustration of a missed
some pressure and will help to make you a more
shot.
accurate shooter. While shooting with a buddy have
During my practice sessions I like shooting at a them video tape you while shooting your bow. This
3-D deer target from an elevated position, which will allow you to play the tape back and view any
replicates the height that I will be at while in a mistakes that you are making such as; punching the
treestand hunting deer during bow season. To trigger on your release to soon, improper shooting
achieve this I walk out onto my deck with bow in form, and not drawing to the same anchor point
hand and begin flinging some arrows at a whitetail consistently. Afterwards, you can review the tape and
3-D target. I also use a foam block target, which I set make any necessary corrections on the range.
up at a different distance than the 3-D target. Before
Joining a summer 3-D archery league is another
coming to full draw I will use my range finder to
great way to help improve your shooting. These
determine the distance to both targets. This creates
3-D courses provide archers with numerous animal
a scenario similar to what could happen in the woods.
targets to fling arrows at, which are set up at varying
A deer has a mind of its own and could come into
distances. Many courses have elevated wooden
your setup at a variety of distances. That is why I
platforms and ground blinds that simulate shooting
like to occasionally use these two different targets
from a treestand or on the ground.
76 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017
Whether you hunt from a treestand, ground blind, to hone in their archery skills. The varying distances
or still-hunt, a 3-D range will allow you to practice and kill zone sizes of the 3-D targets offer fun and
while also judging distances and choosing shot excitement to novice shooters as well as a challenge
placement, which is essential when heading to the to more experienced archers. The kill zone offered
woods with bow in hand. on each target also teaches new and inexperienced
hunters correct arrow placement on various game
This summer take your bow and check out the
they may encounter on their future hunts. I feel this
following 3-D courses located in central and northern
course has helped me hone my archery skills and
Michigan. I had the opportunity to shoot at all three
provided me with a fun experience I can share with
of these courses and was impressed at what they had
my family as well.
to offer the bow bender.
The 3-D targets, which are manufactured by
Rifle River Recreation Area 3-D Course
McKenzie include; whitetail deer, black bear, wild
The course, which lies inside of the 4,449 acre boar, strutting turkey, coyote, elk, woodchuck,
Rifle River Recreation Area near Rose City in Ogemaw raccoon, rabbit, and squirrel. Each of the 3-D targets
County opened to the public on September 3, 2010 is placed along a winding path made of peastone
and provides the archer with ten 3-D Targets placed at eight different shooting stations with two having
at various distances in a wooded setting. DNR Park doubled up targets. These eight stations have a post
Officer Dominic Goulette states; The 3-D archery with enough hooks to hang four bows from while
course offers a great opportunity for hunters to you or your buddies retrieve the arrows from each
experience the challenge of shooting a variety of target. The cost to shoot the course is two dollars
species that represent many of the most popular per trip around, which is to be placed inside of a fee
game animals harvested within our great State. This pipe located at the entrance to the range. This fee
course is a hidden treasure for the archery enthusiast will help cover the cost of replacement targets and
looking for an outdoor recreation setting in which maintenance of the course. The course is located

"a 3-D
range will
allow you
to practice
while also
judging
distances
and choosing
shot
placement"

An archer takes aim during the Rinehart 100 at Saginaw Field & Stream Conservation Club

SPRING 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 41


near the Recreation Areas day use area just after season.
Ridge Road.
The course is located at 5380 Sawmill Lake Road
This 3-D course is an excellent opportunity to in Ortonville, MI. For hours of operation call (248)
maintain your shooting skills before heading into the 627-5569.
woods with bow in hand this fall. Fortunately, the
Eds Archery 3-D Course
Recreation Area is open to bowhunting so you dont
have to travel very far. Before venturing out onto the 3-D course archers
can take practice shots in an area behind the pro-
Ortonville 3-D Course
shop where some square targets are located. Just
The course, which lies on three acres of hardwoods beyond the practice range begins the 3-D course,
inside of the Ortonville Recreation Area opened to the which consists of fifteen Mckenzie 3-D targets of
public on October 1, 2009. This ADA compliant course varying animals to fling arrows at. Bear, deer, coyote,
consists of a pea stone trail system forming a large alligator, and wild boar are just a few of the 3-D
loop offering the archer with nine different shooting targets that you will find throughout the course.
stations with nine McKenzie 3-D targets set up at Numbers at each shooting station allow you to easily
various distances. These targets consist of a variety follow the groomed trail to the next 3-D target. The
of animals, which include elk, deer, bear, turkey, and course consists of seven elevated platforms and
coyote targets. At each shooting station you will grounds blinds to shoot from. These platforms range
find a numbered post, bow hooks, an arrow holder, from four to twelve feet in height and have staircases,
and a yellow chain. The yellow chain is the position which allow for easy access. A hook at each shooting
from where you shoot your arrows. After taking a station allows you to easily hang your bow while
shot at the target you remove the chain and retrieve retrieving arrows from the target. Crossbows with
your arrow(s). A chain on the ground indicates that field points are also welcome on the course. The
a shooter is down range and it is unsafe to shoot. cost to shoot the course is eight dollars. Owner
The cost of shooting the course is just four dollars, Steven Gilkes states, Our 3-D course is located on
which allows you to shoot as many times as you want. twelve wooded acres with a very neatly groomed trail
Crossbows with field points are also allowed on the accessible to anyone. We change the course every
course. two weeks. Shots range from ten to thirty five yards,
but Ive been known to stretch one a bit farther for
Mary Benson, Department of Natural Resources
a grin. We try to make our course very realistic to
Shooting Range Specialist states, As in any sport,
actual hunting, so dont be surprised if you have to
practice is the key to being successful in the field, so
lean around a tree or two. Our store is very family
having a place to shoot on a regular basis will help
oriented and is a great place for the whole family as
bowhunters. The 3-D course helps bowhunters by
well as a group of hunting buddies looking for a great
giving them an opportunity to learn the best place
time shooting or just hanging out. Eds Archery and
to locate their shot while archery hunting. Locating
Sporting Goods is located at 4483 Vienna Road in Clio,
the shot in the proper area ensures a clean kill and
MI. For hours of operation call (810) 686-6494.
less wounding of the animal. Archers use the course
to sight-in their bow, and they must shoot enough Eds Archery and Sporting Goods offers 3-D outdoor
arrows to consistently hit their target in the same leagues starting in July and ending mid-September.
spot. A 3-D course puts the shooter in different They also offer 3-D indoor leagues starting in January.
terrain at each station, so it gives the bowhunter a
What to bring
feel of what they can encounter in the field. It also
helps the bowhunter judge the distance to their Besides bringing your bow and arrows there are a
target while afield. few other important items to consider when stepping
foot onto a 3-D course. A hip quiver is an essential
Mary also states, The most popular months for
piece of equipment, which will safely store all of
the 3-D course are August, September, and October,
your practice arrows as you walk the course and will
when bowhunters are getting ready for archery deer
make it easier to access them when it comes time to

78 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


"Shooting
arrows with
a friend is
a lot of fun
and provides
some friendly
competition"

A competitor takes shoots with friends at a 2016 Train To Hunt Challenge

nock an arrow. Use a rangefinder to determine these you have worked on the entire summer. At this point
distances and make any necessary adjustments while coming to full draw should be as natural as blinking
aiming. Another item to bring along with you is an your eyes. This mental rehearsal is key to keeping
arrow puller, which will allow you to pull your arrows your composure together when a mature whitetail
out of the targets with ease. Other items include sun presents you with a shot opportunity this fall.
block, bug spray, water and a pair of hiking boots or
If youre still struggling with your shooting form
rubber boots depending on the weather conditions
visit a local archery shop and speak with their pro
and time of year you decide to shoot the course.
staff. They will be able to offer advice on shooting
The moment of truth form by watching you take shots on their range. It
may only be one small mistake that youre making
When on stand we want to make that first shot
when coming to full draw, however, this small mistake
count on a deer so what we should try to do is
could cause your deer tags to go unfilled.
occasionally release a single arrow during a practice
session. Imagine that a deer is standing in front of Whether its in the backyard or on a 3-D course
you and that youre only going to get one shot. This make the most of your practice sessions count this
technique works great as you approach archery deer summer with your bow in hand.
season. It really helps you to focus on everything that

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 79


Are some bucks
Unkillable?

by Tom Nelson

Thats him I said to myself as I hurriedly tried to focus in on bow or gun season or perhaps had been unlucky and met his
the whitetail buck with my compact binoculars. There was no fate in a vehicle collision.
doubt in my mind that I was looking at the buck I had nick
named Big Nine. I had just jumped this buck from his bed and It was nine months later when I saw him again in late summer.
now as he hesitated for a distant look back at what or who Although he was a mile and a half from where I saw him the
had spooked him. It was the first of December and I was walk- previous summer, there was no doubt it was him. He had the
ing back to my truck after a morning hunt trying to fill a doe same nine-point antler configuration albeit he had put some
tag. A light wintery mix at dawn had turned into a steady cold mass on that he lacked the year before. I was delighted to
rain that made me abandon my hunt early. Normally I would see that he had survived and told myself that I would once
have walked the farm lane back to my vehicle but I was wet again put all my effort into hunting him. Incredibly, that was
and cold and decided to cut cross country and save some the last time I saw him until that cold and wet December morn-
time. This short cut had me walking through a grassy area I ing. Walking back to my truck I wondered to myself if this buck
normally avoided but with the recent ending of gun season, was unkillable.
I surmised nothing would bed in this exposed area. I was
wrong. Then as I finally focused in on him, he slipped into the On numerous occasions the topic of whether certain bucks
thick cover of a cattail swamp. are unkillable has come up in deer camps across whitetail
country. Monikers such as Ghost Buck, Houdini Buck, etc.
I had a bit of history with this buck, but not as much as I have been given to whitetail bucks that seem to have a knack
would have wished. I had laid binoculars on him in the late for evading hunters and surviving, hunting season after
summer over a year ago. He was all by himself feeding in a season. Wanting to find out if I was dealing with a so called
hay field far from the road. He was a dandy buck, albeit unkillable whitetail, I thought I would seek the opinions of a
in velvet I could tell he was going to be well worth putting a couple of whitetail experts.
concentrated effort towards bagging him come bow season.
I saw him only a couple times again as fall neared, then he John Eberhart is perhaps one of the most accomplished bow-
disappeared. I did not see any sign of him again until the hunters in Michigan. Just scan through the pages of Commem-
middle of bow season when I captured a single photo of him orative Bucks of Michigan and you will find plenty of proof.
on one of my trail cameras. That one photo was in the middle John has punched his tag on many big bucks in high pressured
of the night. After that I never saw and heard of him again the areas across the Thumb state and although John believes that
remainder of the year. I assumed that he had been shot during some whitetail bucks have an uncanny ability to survive even

80 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


in hard hunted areas, all bucks are killable. Sure, some bucks
have sanctuary areas where no hunting is allowed that savvy It is my belief that whitetail bucks are like humans and each
whitetails migrate to when pressure mounts. Areas such as has his own personality, although not as complex as a human
parks, industrial areas, even back yards that offer the slightest being, it still exists. On more than one occasion I have wit-
of cover. Still other whitetails make these havens their core nessed a younger buck through aggressive posturing, make
area that they spend much of their time in, making even hunt- an older and what should have been a more dominate buck
ing them impossible. back down. Like some humans, some bucks are more ag-
gressive than others. This is clearly observed when calling
Eberhart states that oftentimes only the rut will compel these and rattling whitetail bucks. Some charge right in looking for
hunter wise bucks to venture into areas that grant hunters the a fight while others pay no attention or sneak off in the other
opportunity to hunt and if fortunate, harvest them. Eberhart direction.
also believes that all bucks no matter how old and sage they
may be, participate in the whitetail rut thus making them vul- Mature bucks that ignore grunts and rattling antlers are with-
nerable. This is the Achilles heel of older class, hunter wise out question, harder to put an arrow in. Bucks that do not want
whitetail bucks. to engage other more assertive bucks, will keep a low profile
during the prerut and the rut, again making them a more diffi-
Renowned wildlife biologist, author and whitetail expert Dr. cult quarry. Not impossible to hunt and place your tag on, but
David Samuels takes the idea of certain whitetail bucks being for sure, much tougher.
unkillable a step farther. Some older class whitetail bucks just
do contribute to the whitetail rut, Samuels explains. Studies It amazes me each year when I hear a success story from a
have been conducted that utilized radio collared whitetail novice hunter of how he or she bagged a trophy whitetail
bucks showed that certain mature whitetail bucks just did not buck in an area that no veteran hunter would even think of
seek out receptive does during the peak of the rut. Instead placing a stand and hunting. I am under the believe that these
they maintained a solitary lifestyle thus avoiding hunters. hunters unknowingly stumble onto these spots that so called
expert hunters overlooked. Spots that mature bucks seek out
Taking it a step farther, with the advent of genetic testing, as hiding places. More and more whitetails are learning that
biologist have discovered that when testing new born fawns, minimal cover and proximity to houses, stores, factories, etc.,
genetics from some of the test areas older class bucks was makes for a safe and hunter free haven.
absent from the test pool fawns. This lead many to believe
that some bucks, just do not take part in the rut. I personally do not believe that there are any unkillable bucks,
but, there are unhuntable bucks. Bucks and does alike that
Two season ago I was bowhunting during the peak of the rut make their homes in inaccessible areas. As I stated earlier, I
in Iowa. The evening hunt had been eventful as I had watched believe that not all bucks are as active during the rut and sel-
several bucks in hot pursuit of estrous does. One doe with dom expose themselves during this time. Factor in the inbred
two respectful bucks behind her walked under us as daylight instinct to survive that develops to a higher degree as a buck
began to fade. Although tempting, I gave the two bucks a free matures and you have one hardened adversary.
pass. They had only been out of sight mere moments when I
spied an arrow worthy buck approaching. As he neared I an- The keys to placing your tag on one of these hard to kill bucks
ticipated that he would veer off and follow the doe and bucks is spending as much time afield as you can. Hunt areas that
out into the field. Turning to ready myself for what I thought may be overlooked by other hunters. Hunt funnels and trails
would be the place I would take my shot, I was surprised leading to and from safe havens. Lastly, do not ignore the late
when the buck stepped over the trail the others had went season. After the last of the orange army vacate Michigans
down and continued towards me. Rearranging my position, I forests and fields, whitetails start to reveal themselves more
drew and shot the trophy buck at 15 yards. as their need to feed increases at the approach of winter.
Even reclusive bucks are forced to put on some fat reserves to
The landowner an avid deer hunter who utilizes several game survive.
cameras on his farm had only captured this buck once on
camera and that was the year before. The 160-class buck was Lastly, practice diligently with your equipment not only prior to
aged at 6 and his antlers were more impressive the year season but throughout it. Mature bucks make few mistakes, so
before. This area sees more than its share of both gun and when one offers you the opportunity, you had better be able
bow hunters, how the buck had managed to survive to a ripe to make the best of it. Second chances are a rare occurrence
old age seems mind boggling. I tell my hunting buddies that in the whitetail woods.
I was only able to tag the buck because he was becoming
senile.

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 81


Full Draw
Summer
Scouting
by Tom Nelson

Grabbing the bill of my camo ball cap, I


shifted it down and to the right to block the
glare of the setting sun. Now I could focus
the lens of my Cabelas spotting scope in
on the group of deer I had spotted. The
bean field was less than a foot tall and
offered the whitetails no concealment but
they seemed to not care. It was early July
and for this bachelor band of bucks, it was
a time of leisure. Sunset was still over an
hour away yet these bucks seemed far more
interested in feeding on the tender bean
shoots than my truck parked some 150
yards away on the county road.
There were five bucks total in the field and all appeared other small game hunting and its not rocket science why
to be youngsters. Their tails constantly flicked back and the local deer become more and more nocturnal as bow
forth as did their ears in an attempt to chase away the season approaches.
biting flies hovering about them. I watched them for some
time and was just starting up the truck to continue my When whitetail buck sightings in crop fields begin to
evening scouting trip when I spied another deer I had decline as fall nears, many hunters believe that the bucks
somehow missed further back in the field and closer to they have been watching all summer has left the area.
the woods. Even without the spotting scope I could see Bucks that have been habitually showing up every eve-
it was a buck and a darn good one. Not wasting time ning, now have seemed to have vanished. In reality they
to remount my spotting scope I grabbed my 10 power have not quite vanished but they have changed up their
binoculars to have a look. routine. When bucks lose their velvet and become hard-
s horned, they tend to roam more and increase their home
He was a dandy, far better than any of the bachelor range. Oftentimes double or tripling the size of their
group. His antlers were already impressive and I knew core area. They are still around but perhaps not where
he was a mature buck. The sight of this deer actually you have been routinely seeing them during the summer
made my heart rate increase and I smiled at the fact, months.
bow season was still a few months away. The benefit
of summer scouting is that bucks Some bucks that live in your area
that normally would be reclusive
throughout the majority of the year, " As summer may never be known to you if you
rely on only your pre-fall and fall
will expose themselves during the
summer months. There are many
begins to wane, scouting excursions. Mature bucks
seem to transform into a whole dif-
reasons for this. First and foremost in
my opinion is that there is little to no
savvy whitetails ferent species. They become almost
like a recluse. They stay within their
human intrusion. Michigans deer seem to have a core area and limit the vast major-
season is now a distant memory ity of their movement to nocturnal
and turkey season is long over with. sixth sense..." activity. When the rut kicks in, buck
With the woods and bush filled with movement increases as does your
biting insects, even the most hard core of whitetail hunt- chance of putting your tag on one of these wily white-
ers avoid spending time in the deer woods. tails. However, you have to know hes in the area to hunt
him. This is where the benefit of summer scouting pays
Whitetails are an astute critter and seem to know that off.
there is little danger during the heat of the summer. Velvet
racked bucks that would normally never show themselves More than once I have filled my Michigan bow tag with
in daylight think little of appearing well before sunset a mature buck that I had watched over the summer only
during mid-summer months. This is why I spend a great to see him fade away come September. This year is a
deal of time monitoring trail cameras and driving the perfect example. I had watched a nice buck during the
back roads during the summer. Scouting from a vehicle summer months and then he quit showing up around ear-
is far less intrusive to the local deer herd than tromp- ly September. Knowing he was in the area, I still hunted
ing around the woods and fields of your hunting area. hard for him. Finally, on November 4, while hunting over
Vehicles seem to have far less of an impact on whitetails an active scrape, he showed up at a little after 10 in the
and there is something to be said for an air conditioned morning. Later that morning he was in the back of my
scouting rig when the temperatures are on the rise. truck.

As summer begins to wane, savvy whitetails seem to When this summers heat begs you to seek out an air
have a sixth sense and begin to show up in food plots conditioned venue, make it your vehicle and spend some
and fields, later and later. I believe part of the reason is time out driving around your hunting area watching and
that hunters are starting to scout more, intruding into the scouting. Bowhunting is a year around activity if you
whitetails living area. Add in the addition of squirrel and want it to be.

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 83


A New Era in
Taxidermy
Its the only bill that I hope to receive at ples are proof that throughout the history
by Rob Harrell
word taxis meaning arrangement and
the end of each season and no matter of man, we have found different ways to derma is also Greek meaning skin. So
how much it is, I always find a way to preserve animals remains and display how did we as modern hunters decide
squeeze it into the budget: my taxidermy them as a form of artwork. to start mounting our trophies and hang-
bill. ing them for display in our homes and
Todays taxidermists are no different. man caves?
Some say the history of taxidermy dates In fact, one could argue that the work
as far back to when man first inhabited being produced by some of the elite Displaying taxidermy in homes really
the earth and started to hunt, fish, and taxidermists of this generation are the took flight in the Victorian era. Wealthy
trap for food. Success meant that not most impressive pieces that this planet individuals began preserving their
only were they able to provide food for has ever seen. Taking the remains of an trophies and requesting taxidermists
themselves, their family, and even their animal and recreating life is incredibly to create mounts that they could show
community, but it was also recognized hard to do. The fact that the talent level off. This was before the age of colored
as a great accomplishment. To show off has evolved to a point where you can cameras and up to this point modern
these accomplishments, Neanderthals walk up on a full fight scene of a pack taxidermy was mainly being used in
donned themselves with jewelry made of lions taking down a zebra at your lo- museums as a form of wildlife education
from bone and teeth from their harvests. cal Cabelas - and it feels like someone and preservation.
Native Americans wore elaborate dropped you into the grassy plains of
headdresses from fur and feathers to Africa and hit a pause button - speaks Throughout the 19th century, more and
show hierarchal ranking of leadership to how far this art-form has come. And more taxidermists were popping up
within their village. Egyptians sought out make no mistake, taxidermy is pure art. as the demand grew in America and
precious ivory from elephants and hip- Europe. There was a period of decline
popotamus to be used for carvings and Taxidermy by definition is the art of when increased technology came on the
artwork. Pharaohs would also mummify preparing, stuffing, and mounting the scene and different ways of preserving
and preserve deceased pets such as skins of animals with lifelike effect. The memories and adventures were invent-
dogs, cats, and birds. All of these exam- root word taxi comes from the Greek ed. However, in the later part of the

84 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


1900s taxidermy began its climb back into
the homes of modern society as the methods,
equipment, and talent all improved.

What makes a good taxidermist and how can


you tell a quality mount from a lesser quality
mount? As more and more people gain the
desire to preserve their trophies and capture
those memories with mounts, I feel we need to
start educating ourselves with answers to these
questions. In order to get as much information
as I possibly could, I sat down with an expert
taxidermist: Mr. Tom Stombaugh, Owner of
Anything That Moves Taxidermy out of Brigh-
ton, MI.

Tom has been doing taxidermy for more than


15 years and has grown from an amateur to
one of the states best artists. He serves on the
Board of Directors for the Michigan Taxider-
mists Association (MTA) and also is a 2017
Judges Assistant for the Taxidermy World
Competition. Starting off in the construction
industry and then driving asphalt trucks for a
living, Tom needed to find some work during
the winter months. His very first mount was a
small buck he had shot on his property, which
he still has hanging in his house today. I
knew I had to feel comfortable enough to do
my own shoulder mounts before I started on
customers, he says.

Most taxidermists start off with their own


animals, then friends animals, and if they
are any good, their business will continue to
grow through word-of-mouth. Pretty soon Tom
found himself with so much work that he didnt
have time for his summer jobs and jumped in
with both feet as a full-time taxidermist. He
became officially licensed in the State of
Michigan and, with each mount he did, he
kept getting better through experience.

One day John Crabb noticed the quality


of Toms work and advised him to join the
Michigan Taxidermists Association. At first, he
had no clue what this organization was and
was a little skeptical about joining. I thought I
was really getting good, but when I joined the
MTA I was introduced to a whole other world
of taxidermy, Tom recalls.

The MTA was founded in 1982 and has grown


to 260 members. Its purpose is to promote the

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 85


art of taxidermy, educate the public on do not need to be a resident in the state quality of their mounts. We all probably
the high standards of taxidermy, assist to be a part of the competition, but you know a town local who does taxidermy
members and the general public with the do need to be a member of the MTA. out of a corner in his basement, can usu-
latest laws and regulations, contribute Tom has been recognized throughout ally turn around your whitetail shoulder
to conservation and routinely engage in the years with several different awards mount in a couple months, and will only
community activities. One of the other that include a 2014 Second Place in charge about $250. If you really want
main purposes of the MTA is to educate Professional Division, 2015 First Place your trophy to be preserved for decades
our youth in the taxidermy arts. Before Professional Division Best in Category, to come, you might think twice about
the MTA was formed, each taxidermist 2016 First Place Masters Division, and taking your animal there. An experi-
would have their secrets and tricks they the 2016 Mounted in Alaska Award. enced quality taxidermist who takes the
would keep to themselves in fear of los- time to properly tan the hide, sculpt the
ing customers to competition. With over Tom emphasizes that what the public re- foam of the mold, and correctly position
30 years of collaboration and network- ally needs to know is that there is a huge the body features of that animal is worth
ing amongst fellow taxidermists, that difference between an MTA Member the extra money.
old mentality has been squashed and Taxidermist and a non-MTA Member
the entire state is benefiting from it with Taxidermist. I have been both, so trust I am just like many of you in that after
improved quality of all different species me when I say there is a big difference, I drop off my trophy to be mounted,
of animals. he explains. I want him on my wall as quickly as
possible. However, all great things in life
The MTA puts its members to the test When Tom decided to attend his first are worth the wait and I have learned
with an annual state competition that is MTA state competition, he was im- that I would rather have my mount stay
highly regarded as one of the best in the pressed by the entries and the quality of on the wall longer, than sacrifice quality
nation. This competition is so accredit- work that was on display. A taxidermist just to get it back sooner. I have also
ed that taxidermists across the country who is a member has access to unlim- learned the hard way; in my younger
bring their works of art to the MTA to be ited knowledge from the industrys best days, I had less money and had to go to
judged and scored against the best. You that add true value and increases the a taxidermist that fell within my budget.

86 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


One of my deer shoulder mounts my shop thoroughly inspect your
from those days has visible dete- tag upon dropping off your animal.
rioration where the hide is starting
to shrink and pull away from the Even though the work of a taxider-
mouth and eye sockets. Its an albi- mist is sometimes tedious and often
no fallow buck that I shot over 10 requires sacrificing personal hunting
years ago. The taxidermist turned it time, there are some nice benefits.
around within three months, in-
cluding bleaching the white fur to One of the best parts of my job
preserve the color. Let this serve is to get to hear the stories from
as an example from one hunter to all the hunters when they come to
another that I wish I would have drop off and pick up their animals,
done my research, taken my deer says Tom. I hear more stories in my
to an experienced MTA taxidermist, taxidermy shop than I ever would if
and forked over a few more dollars I was at a deer camp somewhere. I
to get better quality. I ended up would love to write a book one day
having to spend more money down with all of the great tales shared
the road anyways when I had it with me throughout the years.
touched up and repaired this year.
I definitely took this one on the chin Even though the stories are great,
and quickly realized that its better the best part of his job seeing the
to pay for the quality up front than looks on their faces of his customers
for repairs years later. when they pick up their mounts.
You know you really nailed it when
Im not even sure if that taxidermist the customer is taken back to the
was licensed. This is something day they shot that animal when see-
that the State of Michigan and ing their finished mount for the first
DNR have really started to focus time. Its one of the best feelings
on in recent years. Authorities and its why I love to do what I do.
are cracking down on unlicensed
taxidermists and if caught, serious When you shoot that buck of a
citations with hefty fines are being lifetime or when your child catches
issued. Even the licensed taxi- their first fish, remember that there
dermist can expect to be audited is more behind the scenes of this
annually. Authorities will show up historic art-form. When it comes to
unannounced to inspect all of the taxidermy, you get what you pay
animals on the premises to make for, for so do some research. Take
sure each has legal tags attached a trip out to their shop and have
with legible identification of each them show you around. Look at
customer. Anything That Moves some of their finished work hanging
Taxidermy was audited earlier this in their showroom. Ask if they are
year and each animal was inspect- a member of the MTA. Ask about
ed to ensure a valid hunting license their turn-around time and rates.
was properly attached. Several of If it sounds too good to be true, it
the tags had notches of the dates probably is. Taxidermy is a way to
that were borderline acceptable. preserve a memory. Memories last
If the hunter does not properly notch a lifetime and your trophy can, too,
out the information on the hunting if its handled by an experienced
license and the taxidermists accepts and reputable taxidermist.
that animal, the taxidermist is then
subjectable to a $400 fine per tag. If youd like more information about
This could quickly put a taxidermist the MTA and their list of registered
out of business, so dont be sur- taxidermists you can contact them
prised if you see your local taxider- at www.michigantaxidermist.com.
Conservation Through Education
by Shaun McKeon, MUCC Education Director

It has been a busy spring and with the transition to summer, booth with a table of animal pelts and skulls as well as a few
I do not see it slowing down anytime soon. Since my last mounts of waterfowl that are native to Michigan. As people
column in the winter introducing the expanded direction of would pass by, we would quiz them. It was great way to help
the education department, we have been busy making things expand the knowledge of people who enjoy the outdoors in
happen. Michigan. One comment we heard quite often is that, I only
hunt deer or turkeys, I dont know ducks. This provided us an
We spent the end of February and March at the last of the opportunity to help educate people on other game species in
big sport shows. We were at Outdoorama in Novi and the Michigan and encourage them to look into other avenues of
Ultimate Sport show in Grand Rapids. Both of these events hunting and to increase overall conservation awareness.
were a great way to promote camp and TRACKS magazine.
They were also a good opportunity to interact with the public Speaking of opportunities to learn more about hunting. In
and teach people about wildlife identification. We set up the March, Sarah Topp (MUCC Volunteer Coordinator) and I
collaborated with the Michigan Learn to Hunt program and
hosted an adult hunters safety course at the Rose Lake shoot-
ing range outside Lansing. This program helped nine people
who were new to hunting get their hunter safety certification
and become familiar with archery and shotguns in a safe
and supportive environment. Later in April, Sarah and I also
assisted in a hunter safety course and field day designed to
coincide with a learn to hunt turkey program. This program
takes new hunters on a turkey hunt on public lands and is a
partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation. It is
a three-day long course where participants become cer-
tified in hunter safety, and then spend three days working
with mentors to learn the ins and outs of turkey hunting. They
learn everything from being an ethical hunter, sighting in their
shotguns, scouting and calling, and if they are lucky enough
to harvest a bird, the program shows them how to clean it and
provides recipes for cooking the bird. This is the second year
of the program and it is held on state land in the southwest
corner of the state.

As many of you know, April is also the month of Earth Day.


This year during the week leading up to earth day, I partici-
pated in 10 events in eight cities covering all four corners of
the Lower Peninsula. We launched our OTG Jr. Program this
month and had events in with the Reese OutofDoors Club
cleaning wood duck boxes in the Fish Point State Game Area.
After spending time in the thumb I then shot up to Traverse City
with Sarah and we helped 5th graders from Grand Traverse
Academy plant mast producing trees in a grouse enhance-
ment site near Thompsonville. The next day I came back down
to Lansing and Tyler (MUCC Camp Director) and I participat-

88 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


ed in the Michigan DNR/DEQ/DARD Earth Day event at Constitution Hall. This event had over 2,500 K-6th graders come
through to learn about the importance of natural resources and protecting our environment. On Friday, it was over to Oakland
County to present a wetlands program to a local nature center. Saturday, I headed to Cheboygan to take part in an earth day
education event and then on Sunday I was down in Middleville helping with a range day for another hunter safety class.

If you are reading this and you are in the Upper Peninsula thinking, why were we left out of all the excitement? You dont have
to worry: I was in Sault Sainte Marie for a quick overnight presenting to college students about current challenges to conserva-
tion in Michigan and how they are the future of hunting, fishing, and trapping.

With lots of miles on my Escape and a successful spring season behind us, I am looking forward to my first summer in five years
not at camp. You can rest assured even though I am not at Cedar Lake it is in good hands and only getting better with Tyler at
the helm.

I will be spending my summer continuing to educate youth and adults about the importance of conservation in Michigan and
the great recreational opportunities we have here in our state. Heck, I may even see many of you at MUCCs annual conven-
tion this year. Remember to get your kids outside this summer, no one frames pictures of their kids playing video games!

Sponsor TRACKS Magazine to your


local school or subscribe by contacting
Sue Pride at spride@mucc.org

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 89


The CAMPFIRe
by Tyler Butler,
Michigan Out-of-Doors
Youth Camp Director

Do you wonder what a day in the life of a camper at Cedar which leads into the second session of programming for
Lake might be like? the day. Two hours on the rifle range and then a shift into
fire starting strategies will lead the campers into the lodge
As the sun rises at Cedar Lake, so do the campers. Morning once more for the final meal of the day, burgers and mixed
swim begins at 6:30 a.m. and is open to anyone who really vegetables.
wants to get a jump-start on his or her day! By 8 a.m.,
the entire camp has followed the savory scents of Jose pre- Following, the campers settle in for another hour of Hunter
paring a morning meal in the kitchen. Once seated in the Education and await free recreation time. Free recreation
lodge, pancakes and sausage are delivered to each table is 60 minutes of choosing from a variety of activities, such
for breakfast. Flagpole begins shortly after where we will as joining the games in the field to shore fishing in Cedar
recite both the Pledge of Allegiance and the Conservation Lake. As 8 p.m. rolls around the campers head back to their
Pledge, two counselors then lead all 80 campers in song sleeping cabins for the final program of the night.
until morning announcements.
This final run of programs is new to the 2017 camp season.
By 9 a.m., the camp is fully immersed in programming for For these 45-minute lessons, the education department
the day. at MUCC has collaborated with a group of students taking
classes in Community Engagement and Sustainability at
A typical morning, for a camper, may include a study in the Michigan State University. These students have spent
water ecology and macro-invertebrates at the beach, a their spring semester developing and implementing a list
wild edible hike in the forest and an orienteering lesson in of twelve programs designed to introduce campers to
the field. careers pertaining to their natural recourses. A few of the
To re-fuel, a lunch of chicken quesadillas is served at noon lessons provide information and activities in the fields of
followed by an hour resting period. wildlife ecology, ornithology, dendrology, herpetology and
astronomy.
We start up our Hunter Education courses at 1:30 p.m.,
To conclude each evening everyone will congregate at the
pavilion for campfire. During this time, we encourage the
camp to get a little silly as we enjoy skits, songs, stories or
jokes from our enthusiastic counselors and prepare to do it
all over again the next day!
Registration is still open for most weeks of camp, but are
filling up quickly! This year we are running our program out
the Cedar Lake Outdoors Center for 5 weeks, from the end
of June to the beginning of August. If you plan to register a
camper for this summer, please do not hesitate.
This summer our themes are centered on day camp for 5-8
year olds. Conservation connection, fishing, wetland won-
ders and fantastic forests for 9-11 year olds. Fur harvesting,
hunting heritage and primitive skills for 12-14 year olds. As
well, as stewards in training for 13-15 year olds and coun-
selors in training for 15-16 year olds.
We were able to welcome back many of our outstanding
2016 staff, while diversifying our team with plenty of first
year counselors from across the state. Each member of
our staff has expressed their excitement to start up our
staff-training week in mid-June and readiness to begin
sharing their passion for the outdoors with campers once
camp begins.
The facilities committee and I would like to offer our grati-
tude to all of the sponsoring clubs, donors and volunteers
who selflessly provide their time, effort and resources to
the Cedar Lake Outdoors Center and the Michigan Out-of-
Doors Youth Camp. Forming the bond between the young-
est generations and their natural resources is one of the
most important relationships we can promote for a healthy
and prosperous future. If not for our supporters, we could
not pull off the amazing program that is camp and carry on
the tradition of conservation through education at MUCC.
As the new director of our youth camp, I would like to rec-
ognize the hospitality shown to me by the members and
organizations we have the pleasure of representing at the
Michigan United Conservation Clubs.
Many clubs have invited me to speak on camp at their
membership meetings and I am always excited and willing
to do so.
With any questions or concerns regarding camp, I can be
reached at (517)346-6462 or tbutler@mucc.org.

To check what camps still have spots available and to


print off the registration materials visit: http://www.
mucccamp.org/register_for_camp

Deerhunters Bow or Gun hunt- private land


excellent success meals lodging and guide three
day hunt $600 231-266-5102

SUMMER 2017 | MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS 91


The wild life
by Drew YoungeDyke

L-R Judy VanRhee, Drew YoungeDyke, Jack Van Rhee

In December of 2012, I began working at Michigan United more time at home and being more engaged in the community
I call home.
Conservation Clubs. It has been an amazing four-plus years
of advocating for conservation causes in a variety of roles. And yet, it was a very difficult decision. I couldn't have made
What has made it special is the terrific staff I've worked with it if I didn't have complete confidence in the MUCC team
and the 50,000-plus dedicated conservationists who form continuing the work of defending the rights to hunt, fish and
its membership. A few weeks ago, I began a new job at the trap in Michigan. And I do have that confidence. Editing your
National Wildlife Federation, but I want to say "Thank You," to magazine for the past year has been an honor, and I couldn't
everyone I've worked with during my time at MUCC. have given up that amazing opportunity if I wasn't going to a
great organization with those same conservation values.
We've done a lot together, from building rabbitat and
collecting signatures to passing bills to deter poaching and Since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has united
stopping bills attacking public land. You'll continue to do great sportsmen and non-sportsmen alike for the common cause of
things because you have a great team at MUCC continuing conserving our nation's wildlife and natural resources. And
that work. I couldn't be prouder to have worked with them and since 1938, Michigan United Conservation Clubs has been
with you. its affiliate in Michigan. It's a partnership that NWF - and I
personally - greatly value and respect.
My new role doesn't take me far: I'm coordinating
communications for the Great Lakes Regional Center of I'm excited about this new opportunity and I'm proud of the
the National Wildlife Federation in Ann Arbor. From a work we've already accomplished together, and the work we
professional perspective, I'll be working on many of the same will accomplish together. Thank you to everyone at Michigan
issues that NWF and MUCC work on together, especially United Conservation Clubs for the opportunity you gave me to
on the effort to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. On a represent you in conserving the natural resources of our state.
personal level, this move will mean working closer to home -
1.7 miles rather than 70 - which, more than anything, means Hunt your hunt. - Drew YoungeDyke, Editor

92 MICHIGAN OUT-OF-DOORS | SUMMER 2017


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by becoming a member of
Michigan United
Conservation Clubs!
Visit www.mucc.org/join_mucc
or
Call Sue Pride at 517.371.1041

Affiliate Club members: Ask the person at your club who handles
membership about subscribing to the print edition
for a discounted rate!
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