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Fall 2019


Why We
Hunt with Dogs
$5.99 US | Fall 2019
Please Display Until Dec. 1
Annual Convention recap|home water
The changing face of deer research
Official Publication of Michigan United Conservation Clubs
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We Are
in action.

Find a VOLUNTEER WILDLIFE HABITAT project near you and sign up at
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Each Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine features
one or two cartoons drawn by Michigan's-own
Jonny Hawkins. I hope they make you laugh as
much as they did us.




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bAsecamp Nick Green, Editor



“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you

more than he loves himself," wrote Josh Billings, a
19th-century American humorist.
For those of us who own hunting dogs, we
understand this truth. There is no debate and no need
to philosophically weigh the statement.
I wanted to lighten things up, at least on face Green's three dogs all hunt with him in the fields, aspen
value, in this season's magazine. So, I chose the one stands and marshes throughout Michigan.
thing that, no matter what, will always make me my outdoor pursuits through to the pages of this
smile — dogs. magazine. I owe them everything; yet, they expect
I grew up with dogs. Most were labs, but we had nothing but a pat on the head or a face to lick in the
the occasional stray, luxury breed or whatever other morning.
troubled soul the neighborhood thought my stepdad, I hope you find a little piece of your four-legged
a bona fide dog whisperer, could fix. best friends, both current and past, in this issue. I
While we didn't hunt our dogs while I was hope it helps you lighten up, see the bigger picture
growing up, my stepdad taught me that dogs deserve and to remember that almost everything in this
a piece of our heart. world is better with a dog by your side.
Our dogs give us everything — undying love, It doesn't matter if you own a house dog, grew up
comfort in times of need, teach us to have a patient, with dogs or maintain a hunting string of 30 dogs —
steady hand and provide us the realization that we can all agree that a tail wagging is second to none.
everything good must come to an end. This issue will cover all kinds of dogs — hounds,
My stepdad and I never really had conversations upland dogs, deer-tracking dogs, duck dogs and
about his love for dogs and how that blossomed. But, couch dogs. As I write this, Calvin is asleep on my
each time a dog had to be buried under the willow in feet under my desk at work. The places we find
our yard or out back on the rolling hill overlooking inspiration are often so close and so overlooked.
the field, a piece of my stepdad died. He didn't need to Also featured in this issue is an in-depth look at
explain it to me; I just knew. Michigan's hunter decline and what that means for
Fast forward through college and the "growing- conservation in the state of Michigan.
up" years, and now, I find myself with three dogs Calvin McShane takes us to his home water in
of my own: Calvin, the old soul and wise small what is one of the best pieces I have had the fortune
Münsterländer; Summit, the eager and always- of editing in my short tenure at MOOD.
willing-to-please German shorthaired pointer; and As always, please send me feedback on
Annie, the boss and perfectly-dispositioned Labrador this issue or past issues. My email is editor@
I'm not exactly sure what I would be doing if Whatever hunting endeavor this fall takes me on,
I didn't have my dogs. A woodcock banding story you can bet one of my dogs will be there next to me.
I wrote for Cadillac News in the spring of 2017
sparked my interest in working dogs. From there, Yours in Conservation,
I discovered a deep passion in upland hunting and
writing about it. In a sense, dogs are one of the main
reasons I became an outdoor writer, editor of this
magazine and duck hunter. Without them, I am not
sure I would be able to carry the passion I have for

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 3

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

I do like the larger print now that

In memory of
the years have been added to my
birth date, and the eyes don't do Nancy Dittmar
so well. But that could be obtained from
by reducing the picture
Doris sizes. I Reed,
& Cecelia have Amy Trotter, Ann Wood, Jennifer White, Glenn & Phyllis Ming and Deanna
been reading the magazine for Dittmar
probably over 40 years now, and
hunting, and fishing the out doors
for probably 10 years more than In memory of
that, and still find them both to be
refreshing, and joyful. I also liked Julia Demos
the smaller paper size of the old from
magazine, and soft covers for this Carl and Kathy Woloszyk
allowed you to fold the pages and
hold it in one had comfortably. I
know I'm only one person and like
your final story different from all
others, but I really like the old mag-
azine much better. And truly agree If you have recently lost someone you would like to honor here,
to Hunt Your Own Hunt. please contact Sue Pride at

But do it ethically and honestly.

Sincerely, DeLoy C. Clark

Muckegon, MI


Having recently finished reading the

new format magazine, my first im-
pression in a word is "slick". Upon

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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 Life Members
of Michigan United Conservation Clubs:

Edgar Brown of Willis, MI

Stephen Lintemuth of Lansing, MI
Richard Olsen of Montague, MI
Kevin Prediger of Indian River, MI
Joseph Seeber of Holland, MI
Jake Shinners of Saginaw, MI
Gregory Smith of Morrice, MI
John Stein of Ada, MI
Clinton H.W hite of Petersburg, MI
Adam Zdrojewski of Gladwin, MI
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 or visit and select "Life Membership."

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Nick Green Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1937 by sportsmen's clubs
from around Michigan to protect conservation from politics.
PRESIDENT Representing more than 50,000 members and supporters and
approximately 250 affiliated conservation clubs, MUCC is the
largest state-specific conservation organization in the nation.
THOMAS HERITIER MUCC members determine the organization's conservation
policies through a robust grassroots process, which MUCC
VICE PRESIDENT staff works to implement by working with elected officials, state
GREG PETER and federal agencies, its members and the public. MUCC has
published Michigan Out-of-Doors since 1947 and operates
TREASURER the Michigan Out-of-Doors Youth Camp in Chelsea, MI. Learn
FRAN YEAGER more about the full range of programs MUCC uses to advance
conservation in Michigan and become a member at www.mucc.
MUCC Staff
JACK VANRHEE Executive Director Public Information Officer
DOUG KRIZANIC Wildlife Co-op Coordinator Digital Media Coordinator
Habitat Volunteer Coordinator Education Director
Michigan Out-of-Doors (ISSN 0026-2382) is the official publication of
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC), 2101 Wood St., Lansing
MI 48912, and is published quarterly. Telephone: 517.371.1041.
Receipt of this publication is through membership in MUCC. For Membership Relations Membership Coordinator
membership information, call 1.800.777.6720. Single copies available
to the public for $5.99 each. Periodicals postage paid at Lansing,
Michigan, and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address
changes to Michigan Out-of-Doors, PO Box 30235, Lansing MI 48909.
All advertising communications should be sent to PO Box 30235. AmeriCorps Volunteer Camp Director, Educator
Views expressed by freelance writers are their own and do not nec-
essarily express those of Michigan Out-of-Doors or Michigan United
Conservation Clubs. Copyright 2017 by Michigan United Conservation IAN FITZGERALD EMMA NEHAN
Clubs (MUCC). The Copyright Act of 1976 prohibits the reproduction of Policy and Special Events Assistant On the Water Coordinator
Michigan Out-of-Doors without written permission from Michigan United
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-

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Crossing Boundaries Director's Desk
Amy Trotter, MUCC Executive Director

I am still coming down from the energy and excite-

ment surrounding our MUCC Annual Convention; my
first as the Executive Director. As I shared my annual
report (excerpt below) containing the many accom-
plishments of our staff and programs, I was honored to
also see the room come together over a most unlikely
topic — sewage! Not the flashiest, but as the owner
and operator of the highly-impactful Michigan Out-of-
Doors Youth Camp, it was one our camp director Max
Bass was swimming in at that very moment.
What happened next was unplanned and unex-
pected, but a true showing of what conservationists
can do when they unite. Tim Muir Jr. from the Lake
St. Clair Walleye Association (and our new Fisheries
Committee Chair) was presenting me a $1,000 check MUCC Executive Director Amy Trotter, left, watches as Tim
from his club to complete the pledge drive to repair our Muir Jr. pledges the first $40 to help fix the cooler at the
camp’s walk-in cooler (thanks to the many clubs and youth camp at the MUCC Annual Convention. Muir then took
individuals who helped us get to our goal!) when he took off his cap and passed it around the room.
the microphone. He heard me talk about the additional retired. Sometimes it requires boots, and sometimes it
facilities issues we had — things that need to be fixed requires suits. And everyone can make a phone call to
and maintained for a healthy and safe environment for take action.
our nearly 400 campers each summer. And then he took No matter how you came to conservation, we are
off his hat, put $40 in of his own money and passed it. in this together. We must defend against that small
As I completed my speech, the convention attendees percentage of people who don’t understand or don’t
pitched in more than $1,600 to help with our emergency share our same priorities. There are legislators who
camp sewage repairs. I was overwhelmed by tears for are true conservationists, and then there are those who
the first time that day, but not even the last. may hunt and fish, but they don’t bring their boots to
Conservation brings people together: it is some- Lansing and seem to forget about our shared priori-
thing that united all of us in that room, every reader ties. There are the antis who won’t be convinced of
of Michigan Out-of-Doors and member of MUCC, and anything, so we have to be a smarter and stronger force.
many more people beyond this organization and our But to do that, we have to remember we are in the same
circle of friends in the hunting, fishing and trapping boat, and we need to start rowing in the same direction.
community. Because if not, we just keep spinning in circles while
It doesn’t matter where you are from, what your conservation funding declines, we keep finding deer or
beliefs are, your religion, race, gender or even what fish across the state that we can no longer safely eat and
language you speak at home — conservation crosses we start to lose battles one by one.
boundaries. If I asked every Michigander to show us So, if part of your identity is conservation — join
your outdoors, all examples might look different. It us. If you are a native Michigander or an adopted son or
might be the wilderness of the Pigeon River, a state daughter of our Great Lakes State, join us. If your soul
game area close to home, quiet, mature forests or the is preserved and restored by immersing yourself in the
manicured gardens of a local park with a playground for outdoors, whatever your outdoors looks like, join us.
your grandkids. Your outdoors might include a foothold
trap, shotgun, a fly rod or even a crossbow. Or, maybe, Yours in Conservation,
it’s an RV, a popup, tent or hammock. Your outdoors
might be on the banks of a small stream, a backyard
pond, an inland waterway or the beaches and waters
of the Great Lakes. Some people’s outdoors may even
be some forsaken place off the grid where you measure
snow in feet rather than inches — or maybe that is just
our Yooper MUCC President George Lindquist. What
you consider your outdoors changes over time, too, but
I assure you, you can do conservation even if you are

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In each issue of Michigan Out-of-Doors, we highlight
some of the recent cases our brave Michigan Department
of Natural Resources conservation officers handle. You don't
want to find yourself on this list.

June 2 through June 15, 2019 CO Freeborn was familiar and found deer hair and blood
with the location and was only a where the deer had bedded down.
That's a new one few miles away at the time and A witness said they saw the
responded. deer get up and limp off and it
CO Mark Zitnik was driving Arriving first on scene, CO appeared to be injured.
up Wetmore Hill on M-28 when Freeborn advised the responding After talking with several
he was passed by a pickup truck units of the exact location. people in the neighborhood, many
going 70-plus miles per hour CO Freeborn, along with a had heard the gun shot but didn’t
(mph) in a 55-mph speed zone. neighboring camper, were able to see anything.
The CO activated his emer- cut and clear the portion of the CO Haskin was able to locate
gency lights and siren, but the tree that was pinning the male where the deer had been shot and
vehicle did not pull over. The CO subject. interviewed the homeowner with
followed the vehicle for over a Once the subject was acces- a clear shot to that location.
mile and a half before the truck sible, CO Freeborn performed first During the interview, the
eventually pulled over. aid on the subject who had a large suspect confessed to shooting the
At this time, the driver told CO laceration on the top of his head deer because it was eating his
Zitnik, “You’re not a police officer, and a possible broken shoulder. bushes.
you’re a Do Not Resuscitate,” as a Once the bleeding was under CO Haskin submitted
response to why he had not pulled control, CO Freeborn continued charges to the Wexford County
over when signaled. to stabilize the patient until EMS Prosecutor’s Office requesting
The driver was issued a arrived. charges for taking a deer out of
citation for speeding and, at the Due to the remote location season.
conclusion of the contact, under- and severity of his injuries,
stood that conservation officers the patient was airlifted to the This will spoil the fun for everyone
are licensed peace officers. hospital.
CO Mike Wells set up surveil-
lance along a powerline that has a
CO's provide many benefits to a You can't do that long history of illegal ORV activity.
community CO Wells observed a dark color
CO William Haskin was called SUV stop at the top of the gorge and
While on patrol, CO Robert from Wexford County Central observed two male subjects exit the
Freeborn overheard local dispatch Dispatch about a deer that had vehicle.
send EMS to a remote location possibly been shot. CO Wells could hear them
where a subject was pinned under CO Haskin and Sgt. Howell discuss the many options they had
a fallen tree and his condition was from Wexford County Sheriff's to drive down into the gorge as they
unknown. Office responded to the location planned their approach to keep from

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getting stuck. CO McCullough, with the help Three individuals were enjoying
CO Wells then observed the of some local witnesses, located the the nice Friday evening in Brest Bay
two subjects enter the vehicle and vehicle at a residence. in Lake Erie when they stopped to go
illegally enter the gorge, driving The driver denied hitting the swimming.
through the stream and up the other house or driving on the sidewalk One of the individuals jumped
side. A short time later, the vehicle even though there were still pieces off the vessel and, by the time they
traveled back into the gorge, across of the house lodged in the tire and realized it, they were drifting too far
the stream and got stuck attempting wheel of the vehicle. from the vessel and were unable to
to exit the location. After showing the driver the get back. The vessel would not start,
As these two subjects attempted house paint that was on the fender so one of the other individuals on
to free their vehicle, a side-by-side of the vehicle, the driver admitted the vessel jumped off the boat with a
ORV arrived in the area, drove down to becoming impatient with a car rope and PFD and attempted to save
into the gorge and around the stuck backing out into the road. The driver the person who was drifting away.
vehicle, through the stream and out stated they wanted to get around Both individuals were unable
the other side. the vehicle that was backing up and to get back to the vessel, and
The first two subjects finally decided to drive up and onto the that is when the last individual
got out of the gorge and when the sidewalk. on the vessel called 911 for help.
side-by-side returned, CO Wells Several additional witnesses CO Ingersoll along with Monroe
stopped both vehicles and issued were interviewed, and the story Township Fire Department,
them citations for the operation of was verified. Fortunately, no one Frenchtown Fire Department,
the ORVs through the stream. was injured as the collision with the and Monroe County Ambulance
Warnings were issued for house caused the deployment of the responded.
operating in an erosive manner air bags in the vehicle. CO Ingersoll assisted with
and closed area violations. One of the search of the two individuals
the subjects denied driving into the Kids must wear PFDs holding onto one PFD to stay afloat
gorge but changed his mind when and assisted with the search of the
CO Wells showed him the video he COs Justin Muehlhauser and stranded vessel. The vessel was
had taken on his cell phone. Luke Robare patrolled Lobdell Lake located approximately a mile and a
for marine activity. half from the shoreline of Sterling
Taking a gander out of season Several vessels were stopped for SP with the stranded individual
displaying expired registration. on it by Monroe Township Fire
CO Quincy Gowenlock received In one event, upon stopping the Department after being stranded in
a complaint regarding workers at vessel, the COs noticed multiple the water for approximately an hour
a local golf club who were riding children under six years old not after the time of the call.
around in a golf cart and shooting wearing PFDs. Frenchtown Fire Department
Canada geese. The owner was cited for the was able to assist with locating the
CO Gowenlock responded to the violation and warned for the expired two stranded individuals who had
scene and, with the assistance of registration. Later, the COs noticed drifted away from their vessel and
the complainant, found an adult and another vessel with an expired both were pulled from the water.
juvenile Canada goose freshly killed registration for 2017. The individuals were suffering
and tossed in the tall grass. Again, when the vessel was from mild hypothermia but expected
The CO went to the pro shop stopped, there were multiple chil- to make a full recovery.
and requested to speak with the dren under six years old not wearing
manager. When questioned, the PFDs. It was also discovered that
manager had no idea that this had five of the occupants were under 21 These reports are
happened. and in possession of alcohol.
He then began calling his All the alcohol was poured out randomly pulled from the
workers and was able to track down and five minors were warned for DNR Law Enforcement
the suspect. The suspect arrived and minor in possession. The operator
admitted shooting both geese with a was issued a citation for the children
Division's bi-weekly
pellet gun. Warrants are pending. under six years old not wearing reports.
PFDs and for operating on an
An impatient house call expired registration

CO Jason McCullough assisted Kidnapping Dogs

the Calhoun County Sheriff’s
Department and Marshall Police CO Nick Ingersoll was
Department with investigating a hit dispatched by Monroe County
and run vehicle vs. house accident. Central Dispatch to a water rescue.

Summer 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 9

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Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act
Would Strengthen Wildlife Conservation,
America’s Outdoor Heritage
Legislation enables state wildlife agencies to expand hunter recruit-
ment efforts and stabilize long-term funding for conservation

excise taxes on hunting gear, as we agencies each year for wildlife

By Drew YoungeDyke, National bolster the ranks of sportswomen conservation and hunter educa-
Wildlife Federation and sportsmen across our nation.” tion. Since distributions began in
The Pittman-Robertson 1939, it has provided $18.8 billion to
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July Modernization Act would authorize state fish and wildlife agencies, all
11, 2019) –The Modernizing the some funding from Pittman- funded by hunters and recreational
Pittman-Robertson Fund for Robertson excise taxes on hunting shooters.
Tomorrow’s Needs Act (Pittman- and shooting equipment to be However, the number of
Robertson Modernization Act) spent by state wildlife agencies hunters has declined in recent
will strengthen hunter's, sports- on recruiting and marketing to decades, from 14.1 million hunters
men’s and sportswomen's ongoing hunters and recreational shooters in 1991 to 11.5 million by 2016,
support for wildlife conservation in order to reverse declines in according to the National Survey
and ensure hunting, shooting hunting participation, which of Fishing, Hunting, & Wildlife-
sports, and outdoor recreation provides funding for wildlife Associated Recreation by the U.S.
remain central to America’s wild- conservation. Fish and Wildlife Service, and
life heritage. The Federal Aid in Wildlife projections forecast that number
The new legislation, sponsored Restoration Act (Pittman-Robertson will continue to drop without the
by Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), Act) has been instrumental in efforts that the Pittman-Robertson
would grow the ranks of hunters recovering many of America’s Modernization Act will allow.
who support conservation efforts wildlife species since it was passed The Pittman-Robertson
through excise taxes on firearms in 1937. The purpose of the act Modernization Act is co-sponsored
and equipment. The Pittman- is to distribute an excise tax on by Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Doug
Robertson Act was central to the firearms and hunting equipment to Jones (D-Ala.), Martin Heinrich
founding of the National Wildlife state fish and wildlife agencies for (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.),
Federation in 1936. conservation efforts. It includes an Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Deb
“The National Wildlife 11 percent tax on firearms, ammu- Fischer (R-Neb.), Angus King
Federation urges swift, bipartisan nition, and archery equipment (I-Maine) and John Boozman
passage of the Pittman-Robertson that is apportioned to state wildlife (R-Ark.).
Modernization Act. The bill will
help state agencies recruit future
hunter-conservationists, who will
in turn generate more revenue for
wildlife conservation,” said Collin
O’Mara, president and CEO of the
National Wildlife Federation. “Both
the National Wildlife Federation
and the Pittman-Robertson Act
were born out of the same historic
meeting in 1936, and we’re proud
to have helped lead the coalition
that passed it in 1937. This strategic
adjustment 82 years later will
ensure that America’s hunters
continue to be leading funders
of wildlife conservation through

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MUCC's OTG ("On the Ground") program is
in its sixth year, with multiple projects planned
across all ages and experience levels throughout
Improving Michigan's Public Lands Since 2013 the state. Volunteers participate in a variety of

wildlife habitat projects on public land and are
provided an opportunity to engage in hands-on
conservation while learning about wildlife habitat
More than 2,500 volunteers have improved

2,075 2,844
fish and game habitat through weekend projects
that involve building brush piles, removing invasive
trees, restoring grassland habitat through native
Acres Improved Volunteers flower and grass plantings, hinge-cutting trees for
deer and snowshoe hare, installing wood duck

boxes, regenerating aspen stands, performing
river clean-ups and planting a variety of trees for
wildlife food and cover.
Volunteer Hours On Friday, September 6, we will be at the
Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area to improve
water quality and flow through the wetland by
*Data prior to 2016 is not available
removing woody brush from along the edges
of the dikes. A popular destination for a variety
of hunters, this area has become overrun with
woody brush that is preventing the dikes from
being properly maintained. This is an important
step in dike maintenance needed to continue
to provide quality habitat for waterfowl and
furbearing species.
There are plenty of opportunities to get outside
and volunteer for wildlife, no matter the season!
For more information on event dates, details
and to register, please visit
the-ground or contact MUCC Habitat Volunteer
Coordinator Makhayla LaButte at mlabutte@ or 517-346-6456.

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Making a Concious

By Drew YoungeDyke

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Fall 2019.indd 14 9/3/2019 11:18:01 AM

Non-Lead Alternatives
Benefit Wildlife, People
ylan, a wirehaired pointing griffon, trotted ruffed grouse have been reported with lead poisoning
back to Jason Dinsmore holding a ruffed from ingesting lead shot, as well as raptors like bald
grouse in his ruffled muzzle. Jason, the eagles, hawks, and owls which ingest it through
regional director of conservation partner- predation of wounded game birds and scavenging
ships for the National Wildlife Federation and interim unrecovered birds and gut piles from deer.
executive director of the Minnesota Conservation “We recently had a bald eagle in Glacier Park test
Federation, took the grouse and pet Dylan — a positive for lead poisoning,” said Nicole Qualtieri,
successful retrieve. And one that won’t expose Dylan to the hunting and fishing editor for GearJunkie, who
the harmful effects of lead shot. lives in Montana and hunts with non-lead ammuni-
Dinsmore is one of an increasing number of tion. “Every time I see a bald eagle, I think about the
hunters and anglers switching to non-lead volun- Endangered Species Act and how this bird has come
tarily for human health, wildlife stewardship and back because we protected it. I think the idea of using
performance. non-lead as a protective measure feels like the right
“I started shooting non-toxic ammunition about decision.”
five years ago,” said Dinsmore, who hunts a variety of After bald eagle populations plummeted to just 417
species in Michigan and Minnesota, especially grouse pairs nationwide in 1963, DDT was eventually banned
and white-tailed deer. “It was an extension of the and bald eagles were protected under the Endangered
Leave No Trace ethic I was teaching my kids, and it Species Act. They recovered and were removed from
is about taking personal responsibility for being good Endangered Species Act protection in 2007 with 9,789
stewards of the habitat we hunt.” breeding pairs being reported. However, eagles are
Lead has been used for ammunition since the frequently found dead or dying of lead poisoning.
invention of the firearm, and its use for fishing goes The Minnesota Raptor Center estimates that it has
back to the Roman times. It is heavier than many found dead or had to euthanize 500 eagles due to lead
metals but also malleable and relatively cheap to mine
and produce. However, lead has long been recognized Mark Smith (left), NWF director of conservation partnerships
as a toxic substance for people and wildlife. Almost in the Great Lakes Region, Jason Dinsmore (center) and Lew
all modern shotguns are able to shoot steel (the Carpenter , director of conservation partnerships for the
cheapest alternative to lead shot in shells); however, it Rocky Mountain Region, pose for a tailgate picture after a
is important to be mindful of the age of your shotgun successful grouse hunt using steel shot.
and call the manufacture or a gunsmith if you are
unsure about the ability of your gun to shoot steel.
Other options include tungsten and bismuth for older
shotguns unable to shoot steel.
George Bird Grinnell noted harmful effects of
lead for waterfowl in the 1890s. Waterfowl ingesting as
few as one or two shot pellets can waste away and die
over several weeks. It wasn’t until 1991, though, that
a ban on the use of lead shot for waterfowl took effect
following a decades-long push from wildlife agencies
and the National Wildlife Federation and a phased-in
compromise proposed by the Association of Fish and
Wildlife Agencies. Since then, lead poisoning in water-
fowl has been greatly reduced. Even by 2000, less than
20 years after the ban, a study estimated a 64 percent
reduction in lead poisoning in waterfowl, saving an
estimated 1.4 million birds.
Waterfowl aren’t the only species impacted by
lead shot, though. Since the waterfowl ban took effect,
upland birds are more likely to have lead poisoning
than waterfowl. Of species we have here in Michigan,
upland game like pheasant, wild turkey, woodcock and

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Fall 2019.indd 15 9/3/2019 11:18:01 AM

poisoning. And as eagles continue to recover, there
are more of them which could come into contact with
hunters’ lead-shot gut piles or lost game birds, creating
more negative headlines for hunters when they’re
Lost lead fishing weights like sinkers and jig
heads are also a significant source of lead poisoning
for loons, which has been found in Canada geese and
mallards, too. Loons, as divers, can mistake sinkers
on the lake bottom for pebbles which they grind in
their gullet. They can also ingest it from lead jig heads
remaining in the fish they eat. Lead poisoning isn’t a
known issue for the fish, as they usually die from the
effects of the tackle remaining in them first.
And yes, even dogs can get lead poisoning: A 2016
Norwegian study concluded that dogs fed lead-shot
game meat could occasionally contain deadly levels of
lead exposure.
Humans absorb lead from ammunition when lead
bullets fragment into venison or lead shot remains in a
game bird.
A 2008 Minnesota Department of Health study
found lead fragments in ground venison donated to food
shelves. Studies have also found elevated blood lead
levels reported in individuals who frequent shooting Jason Dinsmore poses with a harvested woodcock he took
ranges often and who hand-load ammunition. In using steel shot over and his two dogs.
humans, lead can cause brain dysfunction, develop-
mental defects, chronic encephalopathy, neuropathy, National Wildlife Federation through its Lead-Free
anemia, attention deficit disorder and even death. Landscapes initiative.
How lead poisoning impacts any individual depends As part of the initiative, the National Wildlife
on the person, their age and the level of exposure, but Federation teamed up with Hunt To Eat, a hunting
it is most pronounced in children, whose brains are apparel brand, to produce a collaborative t-shirt
still developing and who absorb lead more easily than encouraging hunters to “Hunt Clean” with non-lead
adults. ammunition. Mahting Putelis, owner of Hunt To Eat,
“My goal in hunting is putting food on the table,” has used non-lead ammunition to successfully hunt elk
Dinsmore said. “I want to make sure the meal I’m for almost a decade.
providing for my family is safe, and I can’t say that “Copper bullets work just as well these days,” said
when I’m shooting lead.” Putelis, who lives in Colorado but grew up in Michigan.
Drew Gilbey, of Roseville, Mich., agrees. “They’re a little bit more expensive, but given what we
“I switched to copper for my muzzleloader and spend in gear everywhere else, using that slightly-more-
rifle,” said Gilbey. “I hunt for healthy meat, and it’s not expensive bullet is a drop in the bucket.”
healthy when I bite down on a chunk of lead.” Except for waterfowl, whether or not you, as an
In Michigan, non-toxic shot is required only for individual, choose to use non-lead ammunition and
hunting waterfowl — in line with the 1991 federal fishing tackle is solely up to you. Only you will know if
ban. However, the Department of Natural Resources the shot you take will impact non-game wildlife beyond
recommends using non-toxic shot for all small game. your target or end up in the wild game meal you feed
The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies does your family or your dog, or if the fish that broke off
not advocate for restrictions on lead ammunition and your line or the sinker that fell off it will poison a loon.
fishing tackle unless population-level effects on wildlife Aldo Leopold wrote some words that may help with
can be demonstrated. This is difficult to establish, that decision in A Sand County Almanac: “A peculiar
though. A 2016 New Hampshire study estimated a 43 virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily
percent reduction in the loon population due to lead has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct.
poisoning over a 24-year period. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own
Whether or not a population-level impact on a wild- conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is
life species can be shown or whether a state may adopt a difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.”
lead regulation, hunters and anglers can take personal Learn more about hunting and fishing with non-
responsibility to reduce their impact on non-target lead ammunition and tackle at
wildlife by voluntarily using non-lead ammunition and leadfreelandscapes.
fishing tackle. This is the approach encouraged by the

14 |

Fall 2019.indd 16 9/3/2019 11:18:02 AM

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Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 15

Fall 2019.indd 17 9/3/2019 11:18:03 AM

Officials looking to
Future of Conservation
as hunting, fishing revenues drop
By Chris Lamphere the amount of funding provided to Michigan Technological University.
Michigan has dropped from $22.2 “Given the demographic patterns,
There will never be another million per year in 2015 to $16.1 even with highly successful
generation like the Baby Boomers, million in 2019, a decrease of 27 recruitment and retention efforts,
whose unparalleled interest in percent. the number of hunters is likely to
the outdoors sustained a golden Figuring out how to bring more decline during the next 20 years.”
age of wildlife management and people into hunting and fishing “It’s a cultural change in what
conservation. remains a bit of a mystery, but the people do with their recreational
That age is slowly coming to cause of the decline is relatively time,” said Russ Mason, Wildlife
an end as Baby Boomers grow well understood, albeit grim. Division chief for the Michigan
older and become less active in the “A myriad of social, cultural, Department of Natural Resources.
woods, on lakes and on streams. and economic changes throughout “This isn’t just Michigan. (Hunting
Experts don’t think funding the 20th century typically earn is) tending to decline across the
will ever return to where it was a the brunt of the blame – urbaniza- country. After World War II, there
decade or two ago, but it could be tion, population aging, increasing was a huge increase in hunters.
stabilized before too much damage time demands from work and They had a shared language, values
is done. family, new competing activities, and activities. It wasn’t just a hobby
The question is how. complicated hunting policies, land for them.”
conversion (development) and Today’s generation doesn’t have
the perception of fewer animals those same values, Mason said,
Scope of the problem have all contributed to patterns which is one of the big reasons he
of decline,” reads a research thinks getting people involved in
Conservation is funded in
paper published a few years ago hunting is so tough.
Michigan primarily through
by the DNR in collaboration with “It’s a cultural phenomenon,”
license sales and allocations of
excise tax revenue by the federal
Nick Green, public informa-
tion officer with the Michigan
United Conservation Clubs, said
license sales in Michigan have
been dropping by 2 to 3 percent per
year for years and excise taxes
also appear to be following suit or
staying static.
The Dingell-Johnson Act
apportions money based on an
excise tax on fishing gear, and it
has remained relatively consistent,
typically fluctuating between $10
and $13 million a year in Michigan
over the last decade.
The Pittman-Robertson Act —
which apportions tax money based
on firearms and ammunition
sales — is another story entirely:

16 |

Fall 2019.indd 18 9/3/2019 11:18:04 AM

he said. “One event can’t change a

What are the

Mason said explaining the
effect this problem could have on a
given person's day-to-day routine
is somewhat abstract, but it boils
down to a simple question: How do
you put a value on quality of life?
“The diversity and richness
of wildlife would go away without
competent natural resources
management,” Mason said. “It’s
difficult to convey the urgency of
Mason fears wildlife
conservation could become like
Michigan’s roads: falling apart
from years of inadequate funding,
eventually forcing state officials to
discuss emergency measures to fix
As funds go away, so will the Alex Schaffer, of Dexter, poses with his first turkey. Alex is an adult onset hunter
ability to properly manage habitats who, after moving back to Michigan from California, decided to locally source his
and wildlife species, including protein.
those that are endangered. Water
bodies could become overrun with Returning to the woods litter.
Schaffer described what he
destructive invasive creatures such
Living in San Francisco, saw as “actively thoughtless,” and
as lamprey and carp, and ailments
California, Alex Schaffer saw one of the reasons he decided to
like chronic wasting disease and
firsthand the negative impact rekindle his interest in hunting.
tuberculosis could run rampant in
people can have on wild areas. Today, Schaffer lives in Dexter,
Michigan’s deer population.
“I never experienced that kind Michigan and is active in many
“If Michigan is going to be
of sprawl before,” said Schaffer, a different forms of hunting,
a destination — it has to have
32-year-old software engineer who including deer and small game.
these natural resources,” Mason
was raised in Pennsylvania. “It As his interest in hunting
said. “All other industries are an
takes an hour and a half of driving progressed, Schaffer said he
accident of our abundant natural
before you’re not surrounded began to pay more attention to
by buildings (in San Francisco). philosophies that espoused a more
DNR Director Daniel Eichinger
Once buildings go up, nature’s not introspective approach to taking
agrees that conservation funding is
coming back.” game, along with emphasizing
essential, but the thing that keeps
Although he grew up in a the vital role of hunting in
him up at night is the apparent
hunting family, Schaffer lost conservation.
disappearance of outdoorsmen.
interest in the activity during high Contrary to some opinions,
“This is a mission business,”
school, preferring instead to spend Schaffer said he doesn’t think
Eichinger said. “It doesn’t really
his time playing video games and Millennials such as himself
matter how much money you have.
sports. are less interested than
It’s always been a partnership
After moving to California, previous generations in wildlife
between us and (hunters and
Schaffer started going hiking as a conservation.
anglers). They’re the ones who gave
way to escape the tedium of being It’s just that there are so many
rise to the conservation movement
indoors constantly. other interests competing for only
in the first place. They’re the
In the San Francisco Bay area so many hours in the day, Schaffer
keepers of the fire, the ones who
where he hiked, Schaffer said the said. Compound that with the
put their shoulder to the wheel. We
signs of human use were abundant ability to find others online with
would have no idea how to go about
and intrusive, including carvings the same interest, and people can
it without them.”
on trees, makeshift rock cairns and quickly become siloed from other

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 17

Fall 2019.indd 19 9/3/2019 11:18:05 AM

Deer hunter numbers
(projections beginning in 2017)
Deer hunting license buyers (No.)

Bottom-up estimate #1 Bottom-up estimate #2 Top-down estimate

Graphs provided courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The top graph shows the decline, and projected
decline, of deer hunters. The right graph shows the age structure of deer license buyers in 1995 and 2010. Deer hunters are
the largest revenue source from license dollars.
endeavors. already have a relationship with the one-day hunting events don’t seem
Finding a mentor willing to outdoors or the hunting and fishing to lead to meaningful retention;
spend significant amounts of time culture. week-long events, on the other hand,
in the field with a new hunter can “We need to create bridges for have been shown to be much more
also be a barrier for many, Schaffer those folks,” Eichinger said. “To be effective.
said. present in those areas we haven’t “It isn’t harvest success that
90+ been present.”2000 1995 matters as much as building a sense
Approaching a solution Places like the Outdoor of community,” McKeon said. “They
80-84 Adventure Center in downtown feel like they’re wanted and engaged.
Schaffer is an example of Detroit bring the sights, sounds and This contributes to participants
smells of Northern Michigan to rating the experience better and
someone who was enticed 70-74back into
inner-city residents. builds momentum to join another
Age of license buyer

the world of hunting after a long

“It introduces folks to this event.”
hiatus — a success story60-64
for those
universe,” Eichinger said. “It’s To increase the availability
who are trying to figure out how
to create more outdoorsmen proven to work.” of these types of opportunities,
50-54and While successful in some ways, a McKeon is working with a number of
Eichinger said as the enormous limitation of immersive experiences conservation organizations.
Baby Boomer cohort ages out, he is that they are difficult and They include the DNR, MUCC,
believes the number of hunters and expensive to scale, Eichinger said. Michigan Backcountry Hunters
anglers will “reset to a30-34
historical Shaun McKeon, education and Anglers, National Wild
norm.” director with MUCC, said figuring Turkey Federation, Pheasants
Although he doesn’t 20-24
believe out a way to expand these types of Forever, Quality Deer Management
there is one single way to bring more programs for adults between the Association and the U.S. Fish and
people into the fold, he10-14
said it will be ages of 24 and 45 has been one of his Wildlife Services.
important to build connections with primary goals. The goal is to pool resources in
people and communities 0-4 that don’t McKeon said they know that order to equip a fleet of trucks with

18 | www.michiganoutofdoors.com0 50,000 100,000 150,000

Number of deer hunting license buyers
Fall 2019.indd 20 9/3/2019 11:18:05 AM
0 50,000 100,000 150,000
Number of deer hunting license buyers

stockpiles of hunting gear than

can be easily transported from one 90+ 2010 1995
place to another.
“We want to multiply success 80-84
across the state,” McKeon said.
“To create a snowball effect.” 70-74

Age of license buyer

Other opportunities
MUCC Executive Director
Amy Trotter said getting people 40-44
to transition from one hunting or
fishing event to another is called 30-34
“stringing the pearls” and is
integral to improving participation 20-24
and cultivating lifelong
outdoorsmen and women. 10-14
An example of this is the
Gourmet Gone Wild program,
which paired locally-harvested 0 50,000 100,000 150,000
meals with craft beer and wine,
creating a one-of-a-kind experience Number of deer hunting license buyers
aimed at marketing to the growing
locavore movement. This program
dovetailed into hunting events, Wildlife Act, which proposes to 2015 to1995 have conversations with its
establishing a connection between allocate90+
money to states to cover members regarding where those
the meal and the food source, Trotter the costs of managing species cuts would do the least amount of
in greatest need of assistance, damage.
Another program that aims to although
70-74this is still being Of course, they also want to
reach out to the “missed generation”
Age of license buyer

considered by the Legislature at continue discussing how to turn

is the new Michigan Pheasant this time.
60-64 the tide and stabilize hunting and
Hunting Initiative, which will If conservation funding fishing numbers.
release pen-raised pheasants on 50-54
continues to decline, Trotter said To provide feedback on this
public lands later this year, with cuts inevitably will have to be made issue, Trotter said to contact
the ultimate intention of collecting 40-44 and MUCC wants
somewhere, McKeon at
data on how to improve R3 efforts Steve Sharp (middle), R3 coordinator for the National Wild Turkey Federation,
— which stands for recruitment, 30-34
works with participants at a Learn to Hunt wingshooting event at the Rose Lake
retention and reactivation of Outdoor Center near Bath, Michigan.
hunters. 20-24
Fully capitalizing on these
efforts remains a challenge,
however, because funding doesn’t 0-4
exist at the state level to pay
someone to act as an overseer and 0 50,000 100,000 150,000
marketing coordinator, Trotter
said. Number of deer hunting license buyers
“The question would be:
what would be the return on that
investment,” Trotter said. 2
MUCC members have suggested
ideas to bring in more revenue,
including offering youth hunt
discounts, although Trotter points
out that this would have to be
covered by some other source of
funding in the meantime.
A potentially large source of
new funding could come from
the federal Recovering America’s

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 19

Fall 2019.indd 21 9/3/2019 11:18:06 AM

Following a

By Dave Veldman

20 |

Fall 2019.indd 22 9/3/2019 11:18:07 AM

inding myself in a reoccurring situation in one of my oldest grouse covers, that
particular day was proving to be just as frustrating. After nearly two hours of
pounding every historically birdy cover I could think of, the time was drawing near
to call it quits and move on. More than 20 years ago when I first walked those federal
lands, it was almost too easy to find birds, and that we did — sans dogs. Since those times,
the lands have mostly been ignored, the flora has steadily grown older and the number of
birds has taken an inverse trajectory. Yet, in the name of tradition, I still find that same
piece of forest beckoning me to pay homage and give it an annual “one last try.”
Hoping a dip in a cool stream would rejuvenate the chocolate brown dog that was now
baking in the early-autumn sun, we hunted our way in search of flowing water. Rounding a
small patch of streamside cover where I had shot the first grouse over Corbin, I had finally
accepted defeat. After a quick dip and a drink, we began the trek back to the car. Our route
took us along a feeder creek through a stand of towering, mature row pines. It was a solemn
walk as we had only mustered one grouse flush all day, and the mid-morning heat was taking
its toll on both my aging dog and me.
Following along the high banks of the creek, there was little ground cover amongst the
carpeted floor of fallen pine needles. It was a sheer surprise when a mature bird bolted
from beneath some early-growth witch hazel, exiting stage left low and over the ravine as
it was pressured out by my leading lab. Instincts kicked in and with a quick right to left
swing, I emptied my bottom barrel and the bird dropped on the opposite embankment. Not
fully comprehending there was now a downed grouse, I had to send Corbin on a marked

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 21

Fall 2019.indd 23 9/3/2019 11:18:08 AM

Photos by Dave Veldman, owner of
Sportdog Photography

path across the stream toward the ago, he had not yet been introduced was where following that dog
direction of the grounded quarry. to wild birds. I was a first-time dog would take me. Far beyond mere
Time slowed down as he made his owner and had no clue how to hunt walks among the aspens, it would
way back across the water and up these native grouse over a dog. be a journey into conservation
the near side of the bank, bringing The only advantages I had was I and gaining an understanding of
the bird to hand in his gentle knew the woods like the back of my healthy forest habitat management.
manner. After praising him for a hand and knew where the grouse It would take me down a new road
fine retrieve, we paused silently by were. So, I played guide to the dog, of artistic expression and creation
the creek for a few moments. and we hunted hard. The imprint that I could never have imagined
One bird — that was it for the on my memory of Corbin’s first possible. It would allow me to
day. That one bird taken in my grouse flush down by that stream travel and see new places. Most
oldest covert made me stop and will stay etched in my mind long importantly, it would allow me to
reflect. There is nothing intrinsi- after he is gone. It was a defining meet so many incredible people
cally special about shooting one moment for both of us. He real- who not only share similar inter-
grouse, but I am a realist and know ized his true calling, and, for me, I ests but who have become great
that these may be the final scenes realized what I had unknowingly friends and mentors. Many people
of a play being penned right here been missing all these years — the joke about how in debt you will
where it all began. pure joy and pride of hunting and become once you buy the puppy,
When I first brought my young harvesting a grouse over a bird dog. but I believe the most significant
dog, Corbin, to this area nine years What I didn’t know at the time debt I owe is one of gratitude.

22 |

Fall 2019.indd 24 9/3/2019 11:18:09 AM

Since our first day in those
woods, we have been back to that
neglected, hallowed ground time
and time again. Sometimes, we find
success, but more often than not,
we leave empty-handed.
We have also covered a lot
of ground throughout the state
and put our share of birds in the
bag. He is by no means a polished
upland dog, and he leaves a lot to be
desired in the duck blind. However,
watching him mature his senses
and hone his abilities has given me
a whole new outlook on what we
have. We have learned along the
way how to use each other in the
woods and utilize silent communi-
cation that cannot be explained.
Corbin will never know the
impact of the journey he has led
me on. I have heard it said that you
only get one “once-in-a-lifetime
dog,” and if that is true, all the rest
will have a pretty big collar to fill.

"What I didn’t know at the time was where

following that dog would take me..."

Summer 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 23

Fall 2019.indd 25 9/3/2019 11:18:10 AM

The Moments
We Don't Forget

By Nick Green

e couldn’t quite find where the doodles Summit remained statue-still with his nostrils
wanted to be. The tight aspen stand that slightly flaring to take in as much scent as he could.
had been holding the birds was desolate His tail ran parallel to the ground and stood stiff. The
except for one grouse that we missed, of intensity of the point left no doubt that there was a
course. My German shorthaired pointer, Summit, bird nearby.
worked the cover as enthusiastically and efficiently as Slowly, we moved in. The woodcock was about 20
a one-year-old dog could. feet in front of Summit when it rocketed upward from
Summit averages about 14 miles per hour in the the leaves making a ‘peep,’ ‘peep’ noise as it flew away.
grouse woods, and for his first year hunting, that David missed his first shot, and I was able to connect
caused some problems. He consistently overran his on my first shot.
nose — meaning that he was moving too fast, and Immediately, Summit was on the bird, proudly
when he caught a scent and locked up, he was already running back to my side with the bird in tow. He came
too close to the bird. to the heel position and presented a beautiful retrieve
That morning, though, I was set to fix that with to hand. Something had clicked.
some woodcock work. Woodcock can be a bane or We continued on with no other points or birds to
blessing for a young dog; it depends on how you look at show for the day. But, Summit had his first woodcock
it. The bird holds so tight that it can lead to crowding, point and retrieve under his belt.
yet that tight hold helps builds confidence in a young Two days later, Summit and I entered the same cover
dog and reaffirms a solid point. from the western edge. Immediately, pounding wing
After an hour or so of nothing in the aspen stand beats let us know that at least two grouse would no
that had produced woodcock throughout the week, we longer be available for our rendezvous. We continued
moved toward the cut’s edge — mature conifer mixed on.
with some mature hardwood and ferns sloped down About 60 yards into the cover, Summit started to
into a forest pond. track a running bird. He slowed down, showed caution
Within two minutes of moving to the “open” cover, and displayed a small glimpse of the shorthair I hope
Summit locked up. My friend David, a new hunter who he will become. A black flash in front of me to my left
never had upland hunted, moved to Summit’s left and let me know he was heading back toward the two-track
the veteran of our group, Joe Schwenke, moved to the we had come in on.
right. What is this dog doing, I thought to myself ? About

24 |

Fall 2019.indd 26 9/3/2019 11:18:11 AM

"For me, those spots will always
belong to my dog and those birds.
They serve as a reminder of what
our journey together will come to

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 25

Fall 2019.indd 27 9/3/2019 11:18:13 AM

30 seconds later, my GPS unit beeped to let me know My best guess is that he was as surprised as I was, and
that Summit was on point. I made my way back out to that helped to keep him steady. But his intensity did
the two-track to find Summit standing on the edge of it not wane.
locked up. I said, “Summit” and tapped him on the head.
Where was the bird? Had it crossed the two-track With one leap, he cleared the two-track from where
and truly stopped? Did Summit lose scent if the bird his original point was and disappeared into the aspen
had crossed? These questions ran through my mind in stand. Rustling and breaking branches shortly stopped
the blink of an eye. as he found the ruffed fellow. His soft mouth delivered
I snapped a quick photo of Summit, and almost the bird to my hand.
simultaneously, thundering wings of a grouse broke There are certain moments in each hunting dog’s
the silence and cleared the aspen tops. Dropping my life that we never forget — that first point, the first bay
phone, I was able to shoulder, and I use that term on a rabbit, the first time a hound trees a bear and that
loosely, my shotgun and get a shot off at the bird’s tail first retrieve on a duck, among others.
feathers. For me, the harvest of that woodcock and subse-
Grouse will humble any bird hunter — I don’t quent grouse will forever be etched in my mind. The
care if you are a 25-for-25 trap shooter every day of way the woods sounded as it woke up, the smell of an
the week. They are cagey, fly fast and reside in the autumn forest wafted through the crisp air and the feel
toughest covers to hunt. This is why upland hunters of the wet dew on the ferns as I knelt beside Summit
refer to them as the King. But, on that day, I managed are what I’ll never forget.
to connect. I could take you to both of those spots right now.
The bird tumbled through the air as it landed And standing in those locations, you probably wouldn’t
about 40 yards into the aspen from where we had smell what I smell or see what I see. For me, those
formerly come. Summit stood steady to fall marking spots will always belong to my dog and those birds.
the bird — something we had worked on in training, They serve as a reminder of what our journey together
but not something I had been reinforcing on wild birds. will come to be.


Fall 2019.indd 28 9/3/2019 11:18:14 AM

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Spring 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 27

Fall 2019.indd 29 9/3/2019 11:18:14 AM

Why we
Hunt with Dogs

By Andy Duffy

know precisely when I Our property had good rabbit relationship with people and that
became a hunter who habitat; Bob’s property had been retrieving dogs and pointing dogs
uses dogs. I was just a farmed not so long ago and was as followed. That’s conjecture, of
kid, eight or 10, maybe. barren as a freshly-cut hayfield. He course. Still, our history with our
We had a neighbor who knew he was welcome to run his canines is long, maybe 20,000 years
owned a brace of beagles. dogs at our place. long if the anthropologists are
He invited my brothers and me So, I stood enchanted on the side right.
along one summer evening while of a little hill and watched as his And not only is our history with
he took them out for a run. dogs bawled below me on the trail dogs long, it is celebrated.
He ran the dogs on my parents’ of a rabbit. I liked the enthusiasm Homer wrote of Argos, the
property — 27 acres of creek of the beagles, their friendliness faithful hound that staved off death
bottom, tag alders and young aspen and their dedication to duty. I knew for 20 years while waiting for the
trees. A cynic might suspect that that I wanted to have hunting dogs return of his master Odysseus.
he invited us along just so he could someday. Shakespeare wrote of hounds
run his hounds on my parents’ I was certainly not alone. “slow in pursuit but matched in
property, but that wasn’t it. I don’t Anthropologists can’t tell us when mouth like bells. … A cry more
know that Bob ever asked my people first forged a partnership tunable was never holloed to nor
parents if he could run his dogs with dogs (although it may have cheered nor cheered with horn. …”
on their property, but those were been the other way around). I’m Milton wrote of often “listening
halcyon days when neighbors were guessing that terrier-type dogs how the hounds and horn heerily
pretty much free to roam at will. were the first to join that symbiotic rouse the slumbering morn.”

28 |

Fall 2019.indd 30 9/3/2019 11:18:16 AM

of kids could play football without
a goal line, too, but that would take "And not only is our history
away a lot of the fun.
Dogs are the best hunting with dogs long, it is
buddies a person could ever ask
for. They’re never too tired to go.
They don’t have another obliga-
tion. They willingly get up early who gave us the cat before going
and hop in the truck. They never downstate to live near her daughter
stay home from a hunt to watch had the feline declawed when it was
Michigan play Ohio State. They just a kitten. Deprived of its claws,
don’t take shots that are rightfully the cat knew it was defenseless
yours. And, they do the grunt against dogs. She was terrified
work without complaining. Just when she moved in with us. The
ask your buddy to swim out and golden retriever seemed to sense
retrieve your duck and see how that the cat’s fear. She was careful never
goes. But a Labrador retriever or a to make a sudden move around
Boykin spaniel will be happy to do the cat. She would just raise her
it. ponderous head and watch when
Beagles go through the nastiest the cat slunk by her. I’m convinced
briar tangles imaginable to keep a she was doing everything she could
rabbit running. to assuage the cat’s trepidation.
Retrievers and pointers never Dogs have more sensibilities than
complain about switchgrass at the we might think. I know they ponder
field edges cutting them up. the meaning of life. My beagle has
When a raccoon bites a hound, convinced me of that.
the hound just keeps going back for Each year when the dog-training
more. season ends midway through April
Treat a dog properly and a dog and I can no longer let her run
is entirely non-judgmental. With rabbits, I watch her mope. Her
an appreciative wag of the tail, actions and her expressions show
they accept the medical attention clearly
that comes at the hunt’s end.
They never blame their owners
for taking them where porcupines
waddle or briars prick or anything
else, either.
Dogs have intelligence that
rivals most people’s.
Then we have the Jim
Oh, they can’t do algebra or
Kjelgaard books and Fred Gipson’s
anything like that. They
“Old Yeller” and “Savage Sam”
understand psychology,
and Wilson Rawls’ “Where the
though. They know
Red Fern Grows” and MacKinlay
how to get attention
Kantor’s “The Voice of Bugle Ann.”
just by looking
A person who grew up without
imploringly at a
reading books about hunting dogs
person. That’s a lot
missed out on a vital part of child-
more effective than the
temper tantrums
We don’t need dogs for our
we see kids
hunting, of course. Some people
throwing in
love stalking and spotting rabbits.
grocery stores.
In the northern states, deer hunters
Dogs have an
use dogs only to help them recover
intuition that is
their game. Grouse hunters who
simply amazing.
don’t use dogs shoot a lot of birds.
Lying on my living room floor
We can bait bear. We can row a boat
right now is a big, old golden
out to retrieve our ducks. My ques-
retriever. Under my computer desk
tion, though, is always this: Why
is an old, blue cat. The elderly lady
wouldn’t a person use a dog? Teams

Fall 2019.indd 31 9/3/2019 11:18:19 AM

that she is wondering about her
existence. Is that all there is to life,
she wonders, to be confined to a
pen? She knows God made dogs for
better things than rotting in a cell.
And each year when I can finally
cut her loose and take her out for a
run, her excited wanderings would
make ardent opponents of gerry-
mandering go crazy, but they do
me a world of good. They do her a
world of good, too. You can see it in
her demeanor. She’s happy again.
Her life has a purpose again.
Let me back up a bit. I wrote that
dogs can’t do algebra, and maybe
they can’t. They certainly know
a thing or two about geometry,
though. They know, for example,
that if a pheasant is running down
a drainage ditch, they can make
a fast arc to block the bird for the
hunter. Dogs can extrapolate the
path of a tossed treat and catch it
with their mouth. They quickly
figure out the path of a tossed
Frisbee disc. If I could have figured
out the routes of moving objects
as well as a dog can, I might have
made my high-school baseball
And dogs love with all their
heart, too.
I have an English springer that
follows me from one end of the
house to the other just to lie at
my feet. When I leave my office to
grab another drink from the refrig-
erator, she tags along. When I go
to the bathroom, she waits outside
the door. She knows my behavior so
well that she anticipates my every
I arise in the morning and go
outside to put my bike rack on the
Erin and Kolleen Hildebrand snuggle with a beagle pup. Pups grow up to be great
car, and she follows. She tags along
hunting companions; companions that never beg off a hunt to watch a football
as I grab my bike from its perch
and load it on the rack. She follows
when I go back inside to grab my know what it is. 300 million olfactory receptors.
water bottle. Then she follows no So far, I’ve hardly scratched the Compare that with the measly six
longer. She knows I leave without surface of what dogs do for us on a million or so that humans possess.
her at that point, and I never need hunt. In a nutshell, they trail, they Dogs even have a special pathway
to tell her to remain behind. The flush, they point, they tree and they in their noses designed for smelling
disconsolate look she wears on her retrieve. That’s a gross simplifica- instead of breathing. It’s no wonder
face, though, brings pain to my tion, though. they’re always sniffing things. They
heart and is almost enough to make First, of course, they discover learn things by sniffing, and we
me skip my bike ride. If anything things with their noses. They are should let them learn.
has a character more pure than a exceptionally adept at smelling A hunting dog’s duties don’t
dog’s or love more devout, I don’t things. Their noses possess up to end with smelling things, though.

30 |

Fall 2019.indd 32 9/3/2019 11:18:20 AM

Hounds need to follow a trail. back. need to retrieve fallen birds. They
Springers need to goad a bird into We noticed she was making a often mark and remember the
flight. Pointers need to freeze when rough line, though. We started location of several fallen birds.
they smell a grouse, and they need suspecting that the bird wasn’t They need to interpret and follow
to stay frozen until their gun- dead. Then we could see the hand signals to get to unseen falls.
carrying partner arrives. grouse’s head occasionally poking I know some college graduates who
Retrievers often need to do through the tops of the bracken can’t do all those things.
all the above and then retrieve, ferns a hundred yards off. My And while I’m on the topic of
too. But breeds have overlapping springer caught it and brought it dog intelligence, I should mention
responsibilities. I have a rabbit- back. When we were so obviously this: I was hunting rabbits with a
hunting friend who had a couple wrong about the bird, my dog friend of mine. We watched as our
of beagles that would retrieve his had sense enough to ignore our pack of beagles followed a trail to
rabbits for him. Some retrievers commands and do her job. The best a big brush pile where the rabbit
point. hunting dogs have intelligence and had taken refuge. The dogs poked
Dogs help us recover game, too. an independent streak. Hunters around but found the brush pile
A couple of years ago, my need to learn to trust their dogs. impenetrable. Then one of my
springer flushed a grouse in front Dogs know a lot more about friend’s dogs bolted out of the area.
of my son-in-law. We saw the bird hunting than we do. She ran back up the trail the dogs
fall at the shot and figured it was Sporting dogs learn to do a great had just come down and jumped
dead. My springer, of course, went variety of things. I had the oppor- a rabbit. The other dogs quickly
right to the area but, instead of tunity to hunt ducks last fall with joined in the chase. Aghast, my
finding the bird and bringing it the editor of this magazine. His friend and I just looked at each
to us, she kept wandering off. We dog Calvin, a small Munsterlander, other in disbelief. His dog, Maggie,
kept calling her back to the area is amazing. I loved watching him obviously knew she had just gone
where the bird dropped and telling work and seeing the bond the two by that sitting cottontail while the
her to hunt dead. Then she started forged with each other. pack was on the other one’s trail.
ignoring our commands and We ask a lot of our waterfowl When they could no longer run that
wandered off. We couldn’t call her dogs. Among other things, they rabbit, she went back to run the

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 31

Fall 2019.indd 33 9/3/2019 11:18:22 AM

other rabbit. If we hunt with dogs
long enough, we’ll see things that
boggle our minds.
Electronic Dog A lot of people should never own
Training and Tracking Equipment a dog. Dogs are too precious to be
entrusted to a lout. They shouldn’t
All the Best Brands in Stock! be left in a kennel for months on
end, either. Ideally, they should be
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be allowed to lie at our feet, sleep
at our feet and lick our hands and
faces. They should visit a reliable
30+ Years! boarder or stay with a trusted
friend when we can’t take them
with us on vacation.
Some hunters might judge the
quality of a hunting buddy by the
caliber of eulogy he figures the
buddy can deliver at the hunter’s
funeral. Dogs can’t offer eulogies
in the traditional manner (and
Shop Local! we wouldn’t deserve the eulogies
they would offer anyway). They
show us their devotion every day
of their lives, though, and we know
they’ll continue to miss us once
we’re gone. They’re the best friends
Old Collars! a person can ever hope to have.
1517 Northern Star Dr. 800-430-2010 That’s reason enough to hunt with
Traverse City MI 49696 them.

32 |
MOODquarter19.indd 1 7/15/2019 5:19:03 PM
Fall 2019.indd 34 9/3/2019 11:18:23 AM
Fall 2019.indd 35 9/3/2019 11:18:24 AM
Labrador Retriever
By Russ Mason

n the whole, I like dogs a lot better than I My first lab was a rescue dog. Jet was his name,
like people. For one thing, unlike humans and we were inseparable. Throughout middle school
or cats, dogs don’t hold a grudge and aren’t and high school, we hunted or fished most every day.
judgmental. Some of you might feel the same. I include ‘fished’ as one of our endeavors because Jet
If you do, then you’re in good company. Consider appreciated live fish as food. Unless I was watching,
the Ashinabee Creation Story. When Nanaboozhoo he’d steal them from my bucket or creel and swallow
was lonely and desired a companion, Kitchi-Manitou them headfirst like a cormorant. Over the 40 years
sent him a wolf instead of a woman. While it’s true since, there’s been Moses (he occasionally ate ducks
that Nanaboozhoo might have been hoping for a instead of bringing them back), Dolly (she ate lit
human partner (all the other animals had mates of cigars if I set them down), Fish (she never met a
the opposite sex), it didn’t take him long to get over badger or porcupine she wouldn’t fight), Savannah
his disappointment. After all, connubial bliss is only (she kept the local vet in business because she loved to
a sometime thing and can be more trouble than it’s kill raccoons, one on one), Logan (the cat turd connois-
worth. Suppose that God had fashioned a Labrador seur - I gave up Milk Duds once she showed up), Daisy
retriever from Adam’s rib instead of Eve? There (a pillow-killing lap dog), and Belle (she gets ice cubes
might have been some downsides, but none of my dogs and water from the refrigerator door —not nearly as
have ever liked apples. So far as I’m concerned, Aldo endearing as it sounds). Most of my dogs have been
Leopold was right: “When you look into the eyes of a females because I don’t like ‘fixing’ dogs (they aren’t
wolf (or a dog), you see your own soul.” broke), and unless you ‘fix’ males, they tend to run.

34 |

Fall 2019.indd 36 9/3/2019 11:18:26 AM

"I also appreciate the idea that Labrador retrievers,
at least genetically, are all mutt (just like me). The
breed originated on the island of Newfoundland (not
Labrador) from a random-bred mix of English, Irish,
and Portuguese working dogs."

Fall 2019.indd 37 9/3/2019 11:18:27 AM

"To be clear, none of my
dogs have been (or ever
will be) field trial worthy.
My dog training is less
Richard Wolters and more
Ben Lily."

To be clear, none of my dogs have been (or ever fisherman created the breed to work offshore. In the
will be) field trial worthy. My dog training is less process, they created a good-looking, hard-working
Richard Wolters and more Ben Lily. I hate leashes, amphibian that could retrieve cod nets from the ocean.
and beyond the usual obedience and water retrieval It wasn’t long before hunters recognized the
training, I let the pack bring young dogs up to breed’s potential, and this North American creation
speed. Obviously, the strategy has its limitations. In was polished in Europe. The first labs were imported
Philadelphia, my dogs became rat- and pigeon-killing to England during the first decade of the 19th century.
fools. If I hunted more often with others than alone, The first English reference to the breed was in 1814,
my guess is I’d get lectured because I let my hunting the first painting in 1823 and the first photograph in
buddies do more or less as they like. But my somewhat 1856 (the Earl of Home’s dog, named Nell). The first
asocial style, coupled with my laissez-faire training yellow lab on record was born in 1899 (named Ben of
techniques, do produce companions that blind retrieve Hyde), and the breed was recognized by the English
in dense fog and almost never let cripples get away. Kennel Club in 1903. Originally called ‘golden’ labs, the
More than once, I’ve had one of my protégées bring me English Kennel Club refused to recognize the breed
ducks from a different spot or a completely different until the name was changed from ‘gold’ to ‘yellow’
direction than I thought they’d be found. because ‘gold’ isn’t a color (take that paint companies).
I also appreciate the idea that Labrador retrievers, Chocolate labs were recognized in the 1930s. Curiously,
at least genetically, are all mutt (just like me). The the English Kennel Club didn’t mandate changing
breed originated on the island of Newfoundland (not ‘chocolate’ to ‘brown.’ Chocolate, apparently, must be
Labrador) from a random-bred mix of English, Irish, more popular than gold.
and Portuguese working dogs. Canadian maritime There are, of course, two Labrador retriever

36 |

Fall 2019.indd 38 9/3/2019 11:18:28 AM

Labrador Retriever
6 Fun Facts:
1) Labrador Retrievers
are actually from

2) Labs are a versatile

hunting dog.

3) Modern-day labs
were originally bred to
retrieve and love water.

4) The lab is the most

popular breed in America.

5) Labs are used as scent

types. First, there are the ‘English’ dogs that tend to
detection dogs and
be stockier and ‘big-boned,’ with a denser coat and
a block head. Second, there are the ‘American’ dogs.
search and recovery
These have longer legs, tend to be less heavy and
often have a longer muzzle. Personally, I like the latter
dogs, too.
configuration. Partly, my preference is aesthetic,
but also, the American dogs have more stamina and
are better at chasing cripples through marsh grass
and shallow water. They’re also better in snow and
6) They come in three
in upland settings. Besides, the evidence suggests
that because the American style hasn’t been bred for
AKC-recognized colors:
conformation, they’re less likely to have the genetic
defects (hip dysplasia, night blindness) that plague
black, yellow and
many of the show breeds.
In the end, as always, I’ll offer that Leopold got
it exactly right. As a boy, he hunted with a lab and
pointed out that one of the things that truly separates
the accomplished hunter from the others is his or her
ability to drop their pride and just ‘follow the dog.'

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 37

Fall 2019.indd 39 9/3/2019 11:18:29 AM

A way of
By Chris Lamphere

or some, the idea of hunting with hounds brings to mind savage images of
salivating dogs chasing some terrified animal through the woods, culmi-
nating finally in a bloodbath as the animals rip their prey to shreds.
As experts on the practice will attest, nothing could be further from the
Tracking bears with hounds isn’t a fair-weather hobby aimed at amassing
trophies; it’s a way of life that revolves around the special relationship between
dogs and their masters.
Enthusiasts say the amount of time and money they put into training their
hounds — as well as the emotional investment they make in each animal — differ-
entiate the practice from any other type of hunting in Michigan.
Mike Thorman, of the Michigan Dog Hunting Federation, said at 72 years old,
he still has yet to kill a bear and doesn’t know if he ever will. It’s the satisfaction of
seeing his dogs successfully track down a bear that he relishes.
“If you’ve never been in that lifestyle, it’s hard to understand,” Thorman said.
“Once you get into hounds, it’s not about the kill. It’s like being a coach on a little
league team. Dogs aren’t like your children, but they’re somewhere in that line.
They’re part of your everyday life.”

Fall 2019.indd 40 9/3/2019 11:18:30 AM

Thorman said there’s some- takes intelligence for that dog to lands, Thorman said, but many
thing almost “primeval” about the connect that smell to the live bear places allow it.
feeling he gets accompanying the somewhere in the woods. Mark Morse, a hound trainer
dogs on a hunt — something akin Dusterwinkle said he listens who lives near Traverse City, said
to the feeling he imagines people closely to the animal’s barking. finding bears can often be quite
thousands of years ago must have When the barking becomes more difficult, especially in the summer
felt when they first began domesti- frequent and excited, it’s a sign he months, when their feeding
cating wild wolves. is close on the bear’s trail. At this patterns change with the ripening
Unlike ancient man, however, point, he’ll release the rest of the of various berries.
modern hunters spend most of dogs. To keep his dogs sharp year-
their time in the field letting bears This is when it’s important round, Morse said he tracks coyotes
escape as part of the training for the hunter to also be smart, in the wintertime. He said it’s
process for their dogs. Dusterwinkle said, as the dogs can pretty amazing to watch the dogs
Everyone does it a little differ- easily be misled by other smells, automatically make the transition
ently, but the basics of training a depending on when they are from tracking bears to coyotes,
dog to track a bear are the same released. seemingly as a result of snow being
and boil down to this: take them “It’s all about timing,” on the ground.
out into the field and let them learn Dusterwinkle said. “It’s not as
through experience. simple as going into the woods and The moment of truth
letting them loose.”
Training the dogs When it’s clear the dogs have Like many hound trainers, Morse
the bear treed or cornered some- said he rarely takes a bear himself
Tim Dusterwinkle, with where on the ground, the hunting but helps others get into a position
the Michigan Bear Hunters party makes its way to the site. for a clean shot.
Association, said it’s important the Once on scene, Dusterwinkle Morse hunts with a group of
dogs are properly leash-trained said he’ll tie the dogs up nearby outdoorsmen and women each year,
before taking them into the field. and allow the bear to escape. He and between them, they typically
When he’s deciding which dogs makes sure the younger dogs get have a couple of bear tags to fill
to take on a hunt, Dusterwinkle a good view of the bear as it runs out.
said he observes their social skills away to drive home what they have While a bear will likely try to
among other dogs, as well as been tracking the whole time. make a break for it if they notice
children, as an indication of how During the training season, any signs of a human in the area,
manageable they will be. Dusterwinkle said he takes his dogs they also are quite distracted by the
He also looks for other out four to five times a week. dogs, which makes it easier for a
attributes including intelligence, hunter to make an approach.
stamina, courage, and gameness to Locating a bear Before taking a shot, Morse said
take part in the chase.
Dusterwinkle said he typically Before any dogs are released on a
brings six dogs with him at a bear’s trail, hunters first have to
time, ranging in age from 1.5 to 10 locate one.
years old. He said each dog plays a Dusterwinkle said there are
different role in the hunt depending several different ways hunters do
on their experience and natural this: they look for paw prints on
abilities. two-track roads; they set up a bait
Once he finds signs of a bear pile; and they “rig hunt,” which is
(more on that later), Dusterwinkle driving the dogs around in a truck
said he’ll release his best “start until they catch a whiff of a bear.
dog” — the one with the best Thorman said one of the tricks
chance of jumping the bear. he uses when looking for tracks
It’s imperative for this dog to — which are often difficult to see
have an excellent sense of smell, as because bears don’t apply much
oftentimes they are working with pressure per square inch of their
scents that are up to 18 hours old. paws — is to drag an old tire or
A dog able to track down a snowmobile track on the road to
bear from an old scent is often fluff the dirt about a quarter of an
referred to as a “cold nose” dog, inch. This makes the tracks more
Dusterwinkle said. noticeable.
Although most dogs can detect This practice is illegal in some
an old scent, Dusterwinkle said it places, including National Forest
Winter 2018
Fall 2019 | Michigan
| Michigan Out-of-Doors3957

Fall 2019.indd 41 9/3/2019 11:18:30 AM

Generally, the entire hunting
party will stop a good distance from
the bear and dogs, and only the
person with the license will proceed
further for a killing shot.
Owing to the large amount
of fat that bears carry on their
bodies, it’s important to cool off
the carcass after the kill to prevent
decomposition of the flesh.
A trick that Dusterwinkle uses
is to place the animal in a stream
so the water cools off the carcass
before they move it.
Morse said some hunters pack
ice with them before the hunt in
the event they are able to take a
bear. He prefers to pump cold water
through a garden house into the
cavity of the bear to keep it cool.
Some hunters, like
Dusterwinkle, dress and quarter
the animal in the field. Others, like
Morse, prefer to drag the whole
carcass back to the truck.
MUCC Digital Media Coordinator Logan Schultz poses with a bear he
He said three to four guys
harvested in 2015. Mark Morse, right, helped Schultz harvest the bear over
will drag the animal using ropes
through the swamp and thick
he tries to determine the animal’s the last 10 years to wolves.” woods. This is definitely hard work,
size by getting it to cross a road Getting to the dogs immediately but Morse said it’s part of the fun
within his view. is one of the ways they have and adds to the camaraderie of the
Other ways of ascertaining adapted to the threat of wolves, experience for the entire hunting
the animal’s size are by checking Morse said. Another is to simply party.
out its ears and head, along with stop hunting certain areas.
examining pictures taken through “We’ve let some nice bear go
a trail camera or during a previous over the years,” Morse said. “It’s
Criticisms of hunting bear
training session. not worth losing a dog.” with hounds
In the Lower Peninsula, making While wolves are an ever-
your way to where the dogs have present danger to dogs in the U.P., Thorman, Dusterwinkle and
the bear cornered is usually pretty the bear itself is no slouch when it Morse all said one of the common
straight-forward, as forest areas are comes to defending itself. critiques they’ve heard from people
compact and segmented by roads. Morse said injuries to his dogs about hunting bears with hounds
In the Upper Peninsula, it can from being bitten or swatted by a is that they don’t think it’s very
be much more difficult to locate bear usually are puncture wounds sporting-like.
the dogs, as the forests and to their rear ends. They all had a similar response
swamplands are much more One of the most common to this criticism, which goes
expansive. scenarios is for the bear to spin in something like this: anyone who
Even with the use of GPS circles as it wards off the dogs that says hunting bears with hounds is
collars on the dogs, Morse said it have surrounded it, barking and easy or lazy has simply never done
sometimes can take several hours nipping. it.
to get to the site. Injuries to dogs are mostly “It takes a lot of work and
Morse said getting to the dogs minor,but once every five years dedication to train the dogs,” said
as soon as possible can be a matter or so, a hound will be seriously Dusterwinkle, who added that once
of life and death for the animals, as injured by a bear, Morse said. the dogs corner a bear, the hunters
the presence of wolves in the U.P. As the hunting party inches often have to trek through miles of
has increased over the years. their way toward the bear, Morse dense forest and swampland before
“We’ve very much changed how said they are careful to turn their they are able to reach them, not to
we’ve hunted (because of wolves),” radios off so they don’t spook the mention back again once the hunt
Morse said. “We’ve lost six dogs in animal. is over.

40 |

Fall 2019.indd 42 9/3/2019 11:18:30 AM

is cruel and causes psychological you down … when you hear those
harm to the bear. hounds, they go away.”
He said this belief is predicated As a lifetime bear tracker
on the idea that bear have similar whose father brought him along
emotions of fear and anxiety as on hunts as far back as he can
humans do. remember, Morrison said he
An analogy he often uses is learned early the value of sharing
that of a rabbit, which would never these experiences as a family.
venture outside if it truly felt Today, Morrison and his
fear the way humans do because wife take their 4- and 7-year-old
everything is trying to kill it. daughters on hunts with them.
“It’s so far from the reality,” “They like seeing the bears,”
Thorman said regarding the idea Morrison said about his daughters.
that hunting with hounds is a cruel “They also love just being with dad
practice. and learning about Mother Nature.
We pick blueberries and look at the
More than just a hunt plants and butterflies.”
Thorman and Dusterwinkle
Morse said the notion that the Jason Morrison, a Rapid City agreed that sharing the bear
bear doesn’t stand a chance is also resident who hunts bears with hunting experience with
a misconception, particularly in hounds in the eastern U.P., said one youngsters, as well as everyone else
Michigan, where there is a limit on of the coolest things about tracking in the family, is one of the most
the number of dogs a hunter can a bear is being able to see areas of rewarding aspects of the sport.
bring with them. the woods that people might not “It’s a lot of excitement,”
Thorman said another have seen in a long time, if ever. Dusterwinkle said. “I haven’t taken
comment he hears from some “It’s stress free,” Morrison said. a kid yet who didn’t like it.”
people is that tracking with hounds “All those things in life weighing

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Fall 2019.indd 43 9/3/2019 11:18:31 AM


By Joe Schwenke

"A gun, no matter how rare, a dog, no matter how brilliant, cannot mean fulfillment
without keenness in the man. It takes the sportsman’s edge honed fine, an “eye,” a
sense of what is good, the ear for what is right – the heart. There is something about
the wilderness, something in the blood that draws nourishment from the game."
George "Bird" Evans, An Affair with Grouse
42 |

Fall 2019.indd 44 9/3/2019 11:18:32 AM

Photos by Adam Wilson

he number of birds that staffer and began to search the until the walk out to the truck in
had fallen over the years surrounding covers for birds. The the last cover that Dennis and I
to this group of men could spring sunshine made for warm found a broody hen, and with the
very well be countless — walking and good photography. help of Bob and Chris, we found all
many seasons of hunting yielded I walked along with Dennis and four chicks.
larger totals of game with each his GSP, Huk, and the conversa- When a hen woodcock has
passing fall. Now seated in chairs tion seemed to take as many turns chicks with her she is considered
surrounded by land belonging to all as our wanderings through the "broody." She will hold tight until
of us, they laughed, poked fun and puddle-filled covers. Old shotguns the danger is close, then lift off
told tales of passed days afield. and new ones, trips taken, habitat dangling her legs and hovering
Two Dutch ovens gave off the preferences, duck hunting, quail slowly away from the brood on
aromas of basil, thyme and pastry. shooting, snakes, frogs and the ground. Any predator looking
The garden salad was nearly upcoming hunting plans all made for an easy meal will follow this
ready, and beefsteaks awaited the appearances in our exchanges. tempting target. When a broody
hot, iron cooktop. The three staff Hours of walking and flushes hen flushes near a woodcock
members of The Michigan Upland of single birds without broods led bander, everything slows down.
Experience tended coals, set the us to conclude that we were still The dog is leashed and the
table and began to prepare and early for this area. Success was search for these small, golf-ball-
serve a field lunch. playing hard to get, but slowly, sized fuzzy chicks begins. Small
It was mid-morning before persistence paid off. tiptoeing steps to the place of the
everyone was introduced and Randy and Adam were on flush and a painstaking search of
our plan for the day established. the board first with a three-chick every inch of wrinkled leaves and
Each veteran woodcock bander brood, and Bob and Chris were sprouting stems begins. The yellow
paired with an Upland Experience next with a lone hen. It wasn't and brown hues of downy feathers

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 43

Fall 2019.indd 45 9/3/2019 11:18:34 AM

blend perfectly into the shadowy This lunch had been sold at either food or shelter for grouse,
contrasts of sunlight and fallen auction by The Michigan Upland woodcock and so many other crea-
branches. The chicks are placed Experience to benefit the SW tures. Dennis Gulau had placed
in a mesh bag for safety as each is Michigan chapter of the Ruffed the winning bid and invited Randy
banded and has their bill measured Grouse Society's Drummer Fund. and Bob to celebrate their friend-
to determine their age — 14 mm Somewhere in our state on a future ship and fraternity as woodcock
long at hatching and 2 mm a day project, those funds will become banders.
growth. These four chicks' bills
measured 23 mm long and were
aged at 4.5 days old.
At day's end, Dennis, Randy and
Bob had accounted for no shots.
No birds were retrieved. And there
was no game to clean. No birds
were bagged unless you count the
little mesh bags that hold woodcock
chicks awaiting their little silver
ring. To these men, placing a band
on a recently-hatched chick is
every bit as thrilling as the twitter
of wings and the barking report
of a shotgun. Seven chicks and
one hen now sported new jewelry,
and each little band was a chance
to learn more about these birds as
they migrate through our state.

44 |

Fall 2019.indd 46 9/3/2019 11:18:37 AM

Subscribe, become a member and get MUCC and
Michigan Out-of-Doors gear at

Get Michigan Out-of-Doors

by becoming a member of
Michigan United
Conservation Clubs
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.

Fall 2019.indd 47 9/3/2019 11:18:39 AM

By Blake Sherburne

46 |

Fall 2019.indd 48 9/3/2019 11:18:40 AM

cannot remember catching my have to hook my children on the was only two. He was a bit too
first fish. I asked my dad the outdoors early. Luckily for me, my young yet. He loved steering and
other night, and he does not son and daughter live to be running around in the boat, but the
remember either. I know that I outdoors. My daughter is not yet actual fishing escaped him. We
was ice fishing at an early age two, but first thing after breakfast, caught bluegills that day, but he did
because my little sister would not she is over by the front door not really seem to notice.
be left home, and my parents hollering to be let out into the wild This season has been a different
remember that dad had to change blue yonder. My son, who is almost story. He hit the ground running;
diapers out on the ice. My sister is four, has always been the same way. the excitement palpable. Our first
almost two years younger than me, The only time they complain while trip was with my fishing buddy,
so that means I was ice fishing outside is when it is time to come Ken. We hit the Manistee River
easily by age 17. I make that joke at back in. I do not know that we have hoping to catch a few suckers for
my sister’s expense because she done anything right. I suspect we the pickling jar. We drove into one
reads this column mostly to make just got lucky, although my wife of my favorite childhood spots at
fun of me because she is a “profes- and I are outside often and their the confluence of a small creek and
sional writer,” whatever that day care provider is a saint who the Manistee. It features a nice,
means. No, it means that I was ice gets them outside every day, sandy bank and easy current — a
fishing by age four. When my first weather permitting. perfect place for playing and
fish came, though, we cannot We have fish pictures up in the catching suckers. I took my whole
remember, but it had to be about house, and I often watch fly-fishing family, some steaks, hotdogs,
that age. I can remember my first shows and videos in the living s’mores makings and Jacoby’s new
brown on a dry fly, though only room. Consequently, one of my spincast rig. We only landed one
barely, and maybe only because we son’s first words was ‘fish.’ I knew sucker. My children spent the day
have a picture of it and my dad my duty to get my son hooked on getting dirty and wet, and Jacoby
speaks of it often. fishing would be easy. It would just practiced casting with a bell sinker.
In this age of electronics, the depend on me being patient enough He also spent a lot of time prac-
internet and a myriad of accompa- to take him. Dad and I took him ticing dropping his new rod and
nying distractions, I knew I would bluegill fishing last year when he reel in the sand, which led to a

Ken Mlcek, left, sits on the bank of the Manistee River

with Sherburne's daughter, Llewelyn, during a suck-
er-fishing trip in the spring of 2019.

Fall 2019.indd 49 9/3/2019 11:18:41 AM

junked spincast while I went to get the boat out of
reel and a the barn and to town for worms
frustrated and snacks. I told him I would be
three-year- back to get him, but my wife told
old boy. He me upon my return that he was
and his quite worried. “Daddy said I was
sister spent going with him, right?,” he asked
most of their several times in between bragging
time leading my to his little sister that he was going
wife through the to go fishing. His mother reassured
woods along the him, but he was almost worked up
creek. They both to tears by the time I got back. He
fell asleep with wet ran out to the truck as if to make
feet and dirty clothes sure that he would not get left
within minutes of behind. It made me regret that I
getting in the truck to had left him at all.
head home. I felt like my Kenny and I took him to a small,
dad must have felt 30 local lake we frequent. It has not
years ago with a son and fished well for bluegills the past
a daughter who could not couple years, and this year was no
stay out of the water and exception. We only boated a couple
played themselves to of fish, but Jacoby boated his first
exhaustion. — a rock bass of meager size but of
Before our next trip, great importance. He asked me
I left him home again and again what kind of fish it
with my wife was, and the next time we were at
getting his my parents' house, he was quick to
essentials brag to grandpa that he had caught
packed a “wock bass.” Dad was suitably
up for impressed and celebrated the event
us appropriately. Jacoby was walking
on air.
We went to that same lake a
couple of weeks later and struck
out. I loaded him up and took him
to an old standby, knowing that it
was a little too late in the season
and too hot for bluegills and bass
to be in shallows. I hoped that we
would be able to find enough to
save the day. We spent a good
amount of time motoring around
looking for fish, and I could see the
frustration mounting. We drifted
with bobbers and worms out while
we ate lunch, a welcome distraction
as our bobbers never even quiv-
ered. I motored to another spot,
saw nothing and was ready to
move on. Jacoby was not,
however. “Let’s try one more
time, Dad,” he said, making me
proud that he had the stick-to-
itiveness to keep casting. While I
tried to talk him into letting me
move us to a new spot, he
lamented, “Aw, we never catch any
fish.” I laughed and hugged him
and thought, ‘Boy, if you only

Fall 2019.indd 50 9/3/2019 11:18:43 AM

Jacoby Sherburne practices casting in the
Sherburne's yard while his sister watches.

knew.’ A couple of weeks later found us a three-year-old boy on one. That is

Finally, I convinced him to try rowing out onto a friend’s private my next project.
one other small spot I knew. We lake. This little spring-fed lake My daughter will be two in
motored across the lake again and holds a decent population of small December, so she is still a bit young
anchored near a couple big beds of brook trout and a few sunfish. The to join us on our adventures. My
lily pads. His second cast there led fishing was immediately good. The family has a proud tradition of
to his first sunfish — a fish that he brook trout were eager and sunfish women anglers. My great-grand-
cast for, hooked and fought all on are always eager. Jacoby was mother was an excellent and
his own. The fishing was slow and determined to do all of his own dedicated fly angler, and my
turned into casting practice for casting, so in between coaching and younger sister carries on that
Jacoby. He cast and cast while my unhooking his several brookies and heritage. My sister has landed the
rigged rod sat in the boat so I could a couple sunfish, I was even able to only dry-fly-caught brown trout
give the same instructions over and wet a line. over 25 inches that I have ever seen.
over again. “Reel up a little more. Over in one corner of the pond, a Just yesterday, I was watching
You want your bobber close to your decent fish kept popping on the fly-fishing videos on YouTube, and
rod tip. A little more. A little more. surface. I rowed over to try to see every time my daughter passed
A little more. Okay, grab the line what it was, and there was a big through the living room, she
with your finger and open your school of sunfish there. I told stopped to watch. Sometimes, it
bail. Now, don’t forget to let go of Jacoby, and he answered, “I don’t was just to watch a river flowing by
the line when you cast.” want to catch sunfish, dad. I want and others she stopped to watch a
On one of those many practice to catch brook trout.” I am almost fish being fought and landed.
casts, his bobber dipped under the entirely a trout fisherman myself, Finally, she ran over to my chair
water again. “Oh, Dad. It’s stuck,” and I had to wonder what could and climbed up in my lap to watch
he said. “Keep reeling, buddy,” I make my son prefer brookies over with me. My heart skipped a beat
told him. “That’s a fish.” A small bluegills. when I realized that she was
largemouth bass was soon to hand, Our next trip is still in the works. forgoing playing with her brother
and Jacoby’s excitement was so Summer has finally gotten hot, and to watch someone else catch fish
apparent that distant kayakers and the panfish have all gone deep, so I with me. I am sure my daughter
boaters were watching and giggling am not sure where to take him. A will show the same interest that my
at his antics. A small perch would few days ago he told me that he great-grandmother did and my
soon complete Jacoby’s Mud Lake wants to catch a brown trout, but I sister does. I just have to get to her
slam, and it was time to go home. have not yet figured out how to get before the electronics do.

2017 |2019| |Michigan
Fall 2019 4947
Out-of-Doors 49

Fall 2019.indd 51 9/3/2019 11:18:43 AM

Michigan Wildlife Conservation Month
celebrates importance of hunting, fishing

hether it’s a doe in forests, water and wildlife. This illustrates how people are
the woods, pulling a “It’s crucial for hunters and necessary for wildlife management
wriggling bass out of anglers to inform those who don’t by letting Michigan residents liter-
a mist-covered lake or hunt or fish how important these ally become part of the conserva-
watching in wonder as a family of activities are to the state,” said tion picture.
piping plovers scurry up and down Matt Pedigo, chair of the Michigan “Without wildlife management
the shoreline of Lake Michigan, Wildlife Council. “If you’re hiking tools in place, native Michigan
if you live in Michigan, you know the trails in Michigan or camping species would face a wide range of
that summertime is prime time for in a wilderness area, you’re using problems, including overpopula-
getting up close and personal with resources funded by hunters and tion, invasive species and disease,”
the state’s wildlife. anglers. Not enough people realize said Jeff Poet, vice chair of the
And this summer, that wildlife that – and Michigan Wildlife Michigan Wildlife Council. “A
connection became even stronger Conservation Month helped us big part of that management is
thanks to July’s designation as spread this message and engage habitat restoration, which benefits
Michigan Wildlife Conservation with the public in a fun, friendly many species, such as Kirtland’s
Month. It became official in June manner.” warblers, wild turkey and elk.
after a special proclamation In 2018, hunting and fishing Hopefully, this proclamation
was introduced by the Michigan licenses alone provided $61 million will bring more visibility to the
Legislature and then signed by Gov. for wildlife management. The wonderful work that’s being done in
Gretchen Whitmer. purchase of hunting and fishing the state to ensure our wildlife and
“Our state is recognized equipment added an additional $35 natural resources will be here for
throughout the country as a million for conservation. Hunting generations to come.”
leader in wildlife management,” and fishing also provide huge
Whitmer said. “It’s important economic benefits in all regions ‘We’re all in it together’
for the public to know about the of the state. According to a recent
essential role hunters and anglers Michigan United Conservation The first Michigan Wildlife
play in conserving, managing and Clubs study, hunting and fishing Mosaic Wall was held at Comerica
protecting Michigan’s wildlife.” annually contribute $11.2 billion to Park during a Detroit Tigers game
Michigan’s economy and support on July 6. A photo booth was set
Celebrating success 171,000 jobs, making the combina- up within the park that allowed
tion of activities one of the state’s participants to take photos and
The goal of the bipartisan top 10 job-creation industries. print them as stickers with a
proclamation was to celebrate To commemorate the first-ever unique colored background. Each
Michigan’s wildlife success stories Michigan Wildlife Conservation sticker had an assigned place on the
and to emphasize that hunting and Month, the council is hosting the 8-by-4-foot board, so that as partici-
fishing licenses – not state taxes Michigan Wildlife Photo Mosaic pants affixed their images, the
– are used to conserve the state’s Wall, a traveling pop-up event going board eventually formed a mosaic
through the summer and early fall.

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Fall 2019.indd 52 9/3/2019 11:18:44 AM

image of a peregrine falcon. “It’s crucial for hunters Bumstead, R-Newaygo, who spon-
A similar event was held Aug. sored the legislation that created the
1 at John Ball Park Zoo in Grand and anglers to inform council in late 2013.
Rapids, with more locations in mid- those who don’t hunt or Following the statewide tour,
Michigan and across the northern the final versions of each Michigan
Lower Peninsula and Upper
fish how important these Wildlife Photo Mosaic will be
Peninsula this month and next. The activities are to the state." displayed at the Michigan History
other mosaic images include elk, Matt Pedigo Center in Lansing, effectively
wild turkey and lake sturgeon. Chair of the Michigan Wildlife Council making all participants a part of
“Each of the images was Michigan history.
selected to represent the unique would be funded by the purchase of “Wildlife plays a central role to
relationship that exists between hunting equipment. It also coincides Michigan’s history and culture,”
Michigan’s abundant wildlife, the with the five-year anniversary of the said Carol Rose, past chair of the
people who take care of it and the creation of the Michigan Wildlife Michigan Wildlife Council and
people who enjoy it,” Pedigo said. Council, a bipartisan-approved current board member. “So even
“The photo mosaic wall makes panel dedicated to conducting though the conservation work in
everyone at the event feel like once public education campaigns that Michigan goes on year-round, it’s
you look at the big picture, we’re all emphasize the importance of wildlife fitting that we devote July, the month
in it together.” management – and the role hunting when most people are outdoors inter-
and fishing play in protecting and acting with wildlife, to celebrating
enhancing Michigan’s wildlife and the conservation work that helps it
A part of history natural resources. thrive.”
“Today, in no small part because For more information on the
Michigan Wildlife Conservation of the council’s activities, research
Month was timed to mark the Michigan Wildlife Council – and
shows more Michiganders than to find out when the Michigan
81st anniversary of the Pittman- ever are aware of the essential
Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Wildlife Photo Mosaic Wall will be
role hunting and fishing play in coming to your neck of the woods –
Restoration Act, which ensured wild- wildlife conservation,” said Sen. Jon
life management projects nationwide go to


Created in 2013 by the Michigan

Legislature, the Michigan Wildlife
Council aims to highlight the
tremendous value and importance
of hunting, fishing and trapping
to the conservation of Michigan’s
wildlife, waters and public lands.

Funded via $1 from every base

license sold in Michigan, the council
seeks to build understanding
among the state’s non-hunting
and non-fishing residents through
videos, news and much more.

Learn more at


Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 51

Fall 2019.indd 53 9/3/2019 11:18:45 AM

State Park Highlight:
Fayette Historic
State Park
from the beaten path to experience
it, Fayette Historic State Park is the
destination for you.
Experience the iconic Sheldon
House at the center of the townsite,
where prestigious town visitors and
poor laborers alike found tempo-
rary refuge during their time in
Fayette. Or explore the beautifully-
preserved remains of the furnace
complex along the harbor where
pig iron was cast and shipped out
across the Great Lakes region.
Company ceased operations at Enter the preserved ruins of the
Fayette in 1891, new life was kilns and look up at the sky above
By Makhayla LaButte you before walking through the
breathed into the abandoned
MUCC Habitat Volunteer village in 1959 when the State of company office, schoolhouse, opera
Coordinator Michigan acquired the land and house and machine shop to further

turned it into a state park. More capture the experiences of Michigan
ew public lands rival than 20 historical buildings and settlers and immigrants from years
Fayette Historic State Park features have been preserved long passed.
and its rich combination through the dedicated efforts Above all else, look northeast
of Michigan history and of Michigan DNR Parks and across the harbor and take in
natural beauty. Seated on the Recreation staff and the Michigan the iconic dolomite bluff that sits
eastern shores of Lake Michigan’s History Center. A majority of these proudly above the shimmering
Big Bay de Noc in the Upper buildings feature interpretive waters of Lake Michigan. This
Peninsula, this park boasts over 700 displays and signage which provide bluff evokes a sense of awe in all
acres of public land just waiting visitors with an immersive experi- who view it, but its significance far
to be explored by historians and ence that few other historical sites exceeds the beauty of the white cliff
outdoor enthusiasts alike. are able to accomplish. face. The bluff overlooking Snail
Best known as a preserved 1867 Some visitors and campers are Shell Harbor (aptly named for its
historical townsite that was once intimidated by the rural setting of shape) holds geological, cultural,
home to a bustling iron-smelting the park and how isolated it feels ecological and economic signifi-
village, visitors are given the from society, but trust me when I cance in Michigan’s history. Part of
opportunity to go back in time and say that is a key part of this park’s the Niagara Escarpment, a geolog-
catch a glimpse of post-Civil War charm. If you’re looking for an ical formation that arcs across
industrial life in Michigan while original state park experience the entire Great Lakes region,
taking in the stunning natural that encapsulates the very best this bluff hosts some of the oldest
views of the Garden Peninsula. Michigan’s natural resources have trees in Michigan alongside other
Although the Jackson Iron to offer and aren’t afraid to stray rare vegetation and wildlife. The

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Fall 2019.indd 54 9/3/2019 11:18:48 AM

dolomite that makes up the bluffs with their accommodations simply exploring the history of the
also served as a key ingredient in and recreational opportunities. townsite, Fayette is the destination
the furnace complex during the Whether you’re interested in for you. As with all Michigan State
iron-smelting process that sustained camping, hiking, biking, swim- Parks, a Recreation Passport is
the town during its 24 years of ming, boating, angling, hunting or required for entry.
operation. Furthermore, portions
of the escarpment that are exposed
along the western shores of Big Bay
de Noc have yielded evidence of
Native American occupation on the
Garden Peninsula.
The historical significance of
the landscape doesn’t fade as you
leave the limits of the townsite.
While hiking portions of the five
miles of trails that wind throughout
the park and nearby picnic area,
visitors with a keen eye may also
observe the remains and ruins of
other buildings, churches, kilns
and cemeteries that were unable to
escape the weathering of time. Pair
these observations with epic views
from the top of the dolomite bluff, a
stroll among 1,000-year-old cedars
and all the wildlife viewing and
birding opportunities you could
ask for, and it becomes increasingly
clear why the Michigan State Park
system has so much to celebrate
during its centennial.
If you would like to plan a
visit to Fayette Historic State
Park, please familiarize yourself

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 53

Fall 2019.indd 55 9/3/2019 11:18:51 AM

How Natural Resources
Policies are Created

Part 2: The Legislature

By Charlie Booher power means that all policies regarding wildlife and
fisheries are under the jurisdiction of the legislature.
Former MUCC Policy Intern It is also what gave the legislature the authority to
establish the NRC. However, this structure of gover-
Lawmaking is a long and difficult process. It
nance is not unique to the state of Michigan.
can take many months or even years to conduct the
The wildlife and fisheries resources of any given
meetings, hold hearings and get the votes necessary
state are managed by the government of that state.
to make or change a law. The task of creating laws
This is rooted in Martin v. Wadell, a case that went to
falls to the legislative branch of government. Despite
the Supreme Court in 1842. Because this was a ruling
some of these responsibilities being delegated to the
made by the Supreme Court, it applies nation-wide.
Natural Resources Commission (NRC), many decisions
While this case was a dispute over oyster beds in New
regarding natural resource policies are made by the
Jersey, it has had widespread impacts on how we
state legislature.
manage species from grouse and woodcock to whitetail
We know that the NRC has the exclusive authority
deer. The ruling of Martin v. Wadell established what
to regulate the taking of fish and game in the state
is known as the Public Trust Doctrine, a key tenet of
of Michigan. The NRC can also designate game
North American wildlife management. Under this
species and is broadly tasked with oversight of the
set of principles, wildlife and sportfish cannot ever
Department of Natural Resources (MDNR). So where
be “owned” by an individual; they are owned by the
does the legislature fit in?
citizens of the state in which they occur as a “public
The management of natural resources in the
state is granted to the legislature in Article IV of the
Like I described in part one (Summer 2019 issue)
Constitution of Michigan. This explicit delegation of

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Fall 2019.indd 56 9/3/2019 11:18:52 AM

of this series, the management of these public goods These have major implications for conservation, in
are set up much like a financial trust. The beneficiary that they have the capacity to very easily allow for the
of the trust does not manage the resources held within maintenance or degradation of natural resources.
said trust — that responsibility falls to a given trustee. The Appropriations Committees are distinct in
In this case, the citizens of the state are the beneficia- that they allocate funding for the entire state govern-
ries of the trust, and the government of the state acts ment — from infrastructure maintenance to wildlife
as the trustee. The trustee is tasked with maintaining habitat and hunter recruitment projects. All of the
or improving the trust (think state-funded Wildlife money that is spent by the government of the state of
Management Areas) and can allow the beneficiaries Michigan must be appropriated by these committees,
access to some of the goods held in the trust (allow for so they are incredibly powerful. This power extends
hunting and fishing licenses to be purchased). Even to natural resource issues, as all of the money that
with the NRC, the state legislature remains one of the is allocated to MDNR from the state goes through
most influential trustees in this system. this committee. Money that is allocated from this
For background and a quick civics lesson, the committee is not restricted for any particular use
Michigan state legislature is bicameral (bi=two, other than those mandated by the committee itself.
cameral=chamber). Like 48 other states, Michigan has Examples of this include leveraging money from the
a House of Representatives and a Senate that mirror federal government, maintaining the State Parks
the federal level (Nebraska has the nation’s only system and managing state wildlife areas. In short,
unicameral legislature). The House of Representatives money from the state is critical for natural resource
(Statehouse) is considered the “lower chamber” and conservation.
is made up of 110 members, whereas the Senate has 38 All of this may seem overwhelming or confusing,
seats. Members of either chamber must be 21 years old but it is important for us as conservationists to under-
and be elected by the members of their district. State stand how these systems work so that we can be heard
Representatives may serve up to three, two-year terms in the policymaking process. We must stay engaged
(six years total). State Senators are limited to two, and informed to have any hope of maintaining the
four-year terms of office (eight years total). Michigan places and traditions that we love. One of our state
is also one of only 10 states with a full-time legislature. legislators recently reminded me, in an awfully poetic
Each two-year term of a member of the Statehouse is way, that “eternal vigilance is the price that we must
considered a “Legislative Session,” thus we are in the pay for the continued conservation and preservation
100th Legislature (2019-2020). of our natural resources and outdoor heritage,” and
For a bill to become a law, it must pass by a margin he could not be more right. MUCC remains vigilant in
of 50 percent or more in a topical committee; then, Lansing on behalf of all sportsmen and women in the
pass by the same margin in the whole chamber. Then state of Michigan. Will you join us?
the bill, in the exact same language as passed, must do
the same thing in the other chamber. If a bill is passed
in the same form by both chambers (that is a minimum
of four times total), then it goes to the governor for
approval or veto. If the bill is signed by the governor,
it becomes a law and is assigned a Public Act (PA)
number in the permanent state statutes. If the bill
is vetoed, it could still become a law if it receives a
two-thirds majority vote from both chambers of the
With this history and these rules in mind,
there are a few committees within the legislature
that have major impacts on wildlife and natural
resources: House Natural Resources and Outdoor
Recreation Committee & Senate Natural Resources;
House & Senate Agriculture; and House & Senate
Appropriations. Thankfully, these committees come in
pairs, with one in the Statehouse and one in the Senate
for each topic.
Like all other committees, legislators within
the Natural Resources and Agriculture Committees
in both houses may put forward legislation that
is relevant to those topics. The Natural Resources
Committees are especially relevant, as they are
responsible for creating rules and regulations that
govern outdoor recreation and agricultural lands.

Fall 2019
Summer 2019||Michigan Out-of-Doors 55
MichiganOut-of-Doors 55

Fall 2019.indd 57 9/3/2019 11:18:52 AM

Michigan United Conservation Clubs 2019
Annual Convention Recap
About 150 sportsmen, women
and conservationists came together
June 21-23 to debate conserva-
tion issues facing the state and
its wildlife at Michigan United
Conservation Clubs’ (MUCC)
Annual Convention.
MUCC’s 82nd Annual
Convention kicked off with an On
the Ground project in the Backus
Creek State Game Area and
culminated on Saturday afternoon
with the organization’s grassroots
process on full display at the
Lakeside Resort and Conference
Center in Houghton Lake.
In total, 22 member-drafted
resolutions were brought to the
floor for deliberation. Of those,
16 passed through the body and
were adopted as MUCC policy,
all corners of the state can come the allowance of more rods for
five were voted down and one was
together with one common goal in boating anglers; one buck tag
mind — conservation,” said Amy per peninsula; the creation of an
Some passed resolutions aim to
Trotter, MUCC executive director. oversight committee for the State
broaden and sanction trap shooting
“The true grassroots process and Parks Endowment Fund; manda-
as a high school sport throughout
MUCC’s track record prove that tory deer registration after a deer
Michigan, call for research and
there is no other state-specific is harvested; and the allowance
solutions on PFAs issues as they
conservation organization in the of centerfire rifles in the limited
directly relate to fish and wildlife,
nation that achieves what we do.” firearm zone.
expand the hours that you are
During the 2017-2018 legislative Michigan Department of
allowed to use artificial lights
session, MUCC tracked 77 bills, Natural Resources Director Dan
when deer hunting and create a set
connected with legislators on 63 Eichinger was in attendance to
of criteria for Natural Resources
of those bills, secured passage of receive a commemorative plaque
Commission (NRC) appointments.
27 bills and helped to kill 13 bills. and tribute from the organization
For a summary of each resolu-
The organization carries this kind for the centennial celebration of
tion, please see page 58.
of weight in Lansing and nation- Michigan State Parks. Eichinger
Since 1937, MUCC has relied
ally because of its member-driven was also the day’s keynote speaker.
on member-drafted resolutions
resolution process. He talked about the importance of
to direct the policy work that the
“I know that when I step into keeping invasive carp out of our
organization performs in Lansing.
a room with a legislator or an great lakes, conservation being a
The organization requires a two-
NRC commissioner, I am speaking team sport and how important it
thirds majority vote for resolutions
clearly to the policies the MUCC is to instill a hunting and fishing
that would change state law or
membership wants to be enacted,” heritage in the next generation. He
require NRC action to help ensure
Trotter said. “We are the voice for also introduced his son Payton, a
the organization does not flip-flop
conservation-minded sportsmen fourth-generation MUCC member.
its policy stance in consecutive
and sportswomen in Michigan.” After a day of robust delib-
In 2019, the resolutions that eration on resolutions, members
“Our Annual Convention is a
received the most contention, joined together Saturday evening to
time when our membership from
and ultimately failed, were: honor those among them who have

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Fall 2019.indd 58 9/3/2019 11:18:53 AM

made significant contributions to
conservation in Michigan at the
2019 MUCC Conservation Awards
In total, nine award winners
were recognized (please visit mucc.
org to read why each winner was

• Wildlife Conservationist of
the Year — Jim Sikarskie
• Unsung Hero — Stacy
Welling Haughey
• Ben East Award — Jason
• Corporate Conservationist
of the Year — Jay’s Sporting
Goods and Jeff Poet
• Affiliate Club of the Year
Left: The MUCC body weighs proposed resolutions during the business portion
— Muskegon Conservation of Annual Convention on Saturday, June 22. Top: MUCC Conservation Award
Club winners pose for a picture in front of Houghton Lake.
• Educator of the Year — Kari
President George Lindquist. She New/reelected MUCC
spoke about her grandfather, a Executive Board members include:
• Volunteer of the Year — former DNR conservation officer,
Alex Schaffer being killed by bear poachers in • Region 1 — Mike Taylor
• Fisheries Conservationist of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and a (U.P. Whitetails of
the Year — Tom Baird piece of forest that MUCC helped to
dedicate in his honor. Marquette County)
• Conservation Officer of the • Region 3 — Jane Finnerty
Since her return to Michigan,
Year — Dean Molnar Welling Haughey, now the DNR (Cadillac Sportsmen’s Club)
regional coordinator for the upper • Region 5 — Dawn Levey
Welling Haughey accepted the peninsula, has fostered and main-
Unsung Hero award from MUCC (Ashley Sportsmen’s Club)
tained healthy, working relation-
ships between Yoopers and the • Region 7 — Ron Burris
Current MUCC Vice President, left, Greg
Peter and Past President and current DNR headquarters in Lansing — a (Individual Member)
Region 5 Director Ron Burris volun- job that no one would envy. • Region 9 — Sam Morello
teered to cook at Friday's kickoff picnic. A lifetime of service was also (Michigan Bowhunters
recognized when now-retired Association)
DNR Assistant Chief of Law
Enforcement Division Dean Molnar • At Large Director Region 5
stepped to the stage to accept his — Jack VanRhee (Macatawa
award. Bay Waterfowl Association)
“Dean truly exemplifies what
it means to sacrifice family and These board members will
well-being in the name of conser- serve two-year terms, with the
vation,” Trotter said. “He would even-numbered regions up for
travel home to see ‘his bride’ on election in 2020.
the weekends, while still helping The 2020 MUCC Annual
to build a law enforcement division Convention will be in Sault Ste.
stronger than it has ever been.” Marie at Kewadin Casinos from
MUCC’s Annual Convention June 26-28.
concluded on Sunday with three
resolutions being voted on and an
announcement on the results of For a list of passed resolutions,
the election of Executive Board and see page 58.
Policy Board members.
Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 57
2018 |

Fall 2019.indd 59 9/3/2019 11:18:55 AM

2019 Passed Resolutions
#1: YOUTH CLAY TARGET RESOLUTION hunted big game animal.
Submitted by: Mark Hergenreder, Chelsea Rod and Gun #3: MICHIGAN NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION
• MUCC will endorse and promote the participation Submitted by: Paul Rose, MUCC Past President
of students in the Michigan High School Clay • MUCC will work with the Michigan Department of
Target League and will encourage all high schools Natural Resources, State of Michigan Legislature
in Michigan to commit to permitting a high school and Executive office to develop qualification and
club to be formed in their district. MUCC will eligibility criteria which seeks to populate the NRC
encourage all affiliates to offer a learn to shoot with members who have a demonstrated interest
clay target opportunities for youth in their local in both game and non-game fisheries and wildlife,
communities and will encourage the MHSAA to natural resource management, outdoor recreation,
recognize the Michigan High School Clay Target a history of personal participation in these activi-
League as a club sport. MUCC will encourage ties, and suitable educational and professional
the Michigan DNR to recognize the Michigan background. Consideration for appointment
High School Clay Target league as an educational should be given to geographic distribution and the
program that embraces the recruitment, retain- diversity of relevant recreational participation
ment and reactivation of hunting and shooting of its membership, as well as a balance among
sports participants. those who have a declared political affiliation. This
#2A: RESOLUTION TO ALLOW TRACKING DOGS TO BE OFF emphasis on citizen participation should preclude
LEASH WHILE TRACKING BIG GAME ANIMALS the appointment of former members of the
Submitted by: Michael Riepen, Et al., Michigan Deer departmental management team of the Michigan
Track’n Hounds Tracking Club Department of Natural Resources, Michigan
• MUCC will support an initiative to amend the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and
Michigan Wildlife Conservation order to provide Energy, Michigan Department of Agriculture and
added definition to permit registered trackers Rural Development and members of the Michigan
to operate one dog at a time off-lead, for the goal State legislature for a period of eight years
of recovering legally hunted big game animals. subsequent to their most recent date of service or
MUCC will support and work with Michigan employment.
legislature to amend any laws contradictory to the #4: MANAGEMENT PRACTICES IN CWD AREAS (substitute)
suggested changes regarding allowing a registered Submitted by: Greg Peter, MUCC Vice President & Erik
tracker to operate one dog off lead for the purpose Schnelle MI QDMA State Chapter President
of recovering legally hunted big game animals. • MUCC will encourage and support the funding
#2B: RESOLUTION TO ALLOW REGISTERED TRACKERS TO efforts of the NRC and DNR to perform research
DISPATCH WOUNDED BIG GAME ANIMALS into determining the best CWD management
Submitted by: Michael Riepen, Et al., Michigan Deer approaches for Michigan’s CWD Management
Track’n Hounds Tracking Club Zones, and any additional areas where the
• MUCC will support an initiative to amend the CWD threat is identified with surveillance until
Michigan Wildlife order to provide or remove sufficient data has been generated as to its effec-
language to allow registered trackers to dispatch tiveness. MUCC should stress the importance of
a wounded, legally hunted big game animal for population control, harvest of the most likely to
the goal of recovering or ending the suffering of be infected animals, habitat improvement, hunter
already wounded, legally hunted big game animals education and the role of the hunter/conserva-
in two specific cases: (1) the licensed hunter is tionist in this effort. MUCC should encourage the
unable to walk through a densely wooded area due issuance of antlerless permits and the establish-
to a temporary or permanent disability or medical ment of harvest goals, and in-season harvest
condition (2) the life or safety of the tracking dog is updates whenever possible, to decrease the density
in jeopardy. MUCC will support and work with the of susceptible deer where appropriate. MUCC
Michigan legislature to amend any laws contradic- should remain informed as to the design of field
tory to the suggested changes regarding allowing studies in consultation with the biologists of the
registered trackers to dispatch wounded big game DNR and other wildlife disease authorities who are
animals under the 2 specific cases listed above and responsible for the scientific management of this
to provide exceptions for the goal of recovering or valuable resource.
ending the suffering of already wounded, legally #6: COMMERCIAL FISHING STATUE MODERNIZATION

58 |

Fall 2019.indd 60 9/3/2019 11:18:55 AM

Submitted by: MUCC Fisheries Committee combo tag to read valid for the take of one buck
• MUCC will work with Michigan legislature to and one doe or two bucks with any legal method;
enact legislation that will update commercial 2) To continue to allow a combo buck tag option
fisheries license fees to be commensurate with in areas that would otherwise not allow the take
the oversight that is required of the commercial of a doe with any means (such as archery); 3) To
fisheries. This update to the statute should make make available in all other areas either the new
improvements that are protective of the fisheries combo or single buck tag; 4) To maintain hunter-
and sport fishing, including: protection of game supported additional requirements in DMUs that
species (except whitefish) from commercial have supported such (such as APRs); 5) In areas of
harvest, governing how often commercial entities special management needs such as disease or high-
check their nets and regulates allowable gear in a density areas additional tags can be made available
manner that also takes into account the time of the per DNR recommendations or mandates.
year and specificity of the net, increasing penalties #12: SPORT SHOOTING RANGES PROTECTION
for disturbance of commercial fishing nets and MODERNIZATION ACT
requiring appropriate markers for the location of Submitted by: David Van Lopik, Individual Member
nets. • MUCC will work with the state legislature to pass a
#7: TRIBAL TREATY NEGOTIATIONS law limiting or eliminating new and existing regu-
Submitted by: Thomas L. Heriter, MUCC Immediate Past latory pressure aimed at sport shooting ranges via
President, Saginaw Field and Stream Club local ordinances, prohibitive zoning changes and
• MUCC will continue to promote and protect regulations, planning commission issues, regula-
hunting, fishing and trapping opportunities in the tions and changing tax formulas and taxes on new
State of Michigan while also seeking to improve or expanding sport shooting ranges: Provided the
relations with Michigan’s Native American Tribal sport shooting ranges meet or exceed nationally
members and leaders. recognized range standards at the time of develop-
#8: USE OF ARTIFICIAL LIGHT TO TRAVEL TO DEER ment on property they currently lease, own or
HUNTING SITE purchase in the future. New buildings will meet
Submitted by: Craig Larson, Dowagiac Conservation Club existing building codes. Remodeled buildings will
• MUCC will work with the Natural Resources meet building codes in existence when the original
Commission or the Michigan Legislature as neces- structure or structures were built. The legislature
sary to change the regulation to allow deer hunters will update Michigan Law in regards to firearms
to use an artificial light to aid with the ingress ranges, and allow new and existing sport shooting
and egress to the hunting location and not be used ranges to work under the prior firearms range
for spotlighting, two hours before and two hours laws and noise ordinances AND enact new laws to
after shooting hours while carrying an unloaded protect existing ranges from nuisance complaints,
firearm or bow and arrow or unloaded crossbow additional regulatory pressure, excessive local
when traveling on foot to or from their hunting ordinances, prohibitive zoning changes and regula-
location. tions, planning commission issues, regulations
#9: WATER WITHDRAWAL FROM THE MICHINDOH and taxes on new or expanding sport shooting
AQUIFER ranges. The legislature should also enact and/or
Submitted by: Ted LoPresto, Hillsdale County create civil penalties for private citizen nuisance
Conservation Club complaints made to any governmental entity
• MUCC will work with the Great Lakes Water toward a sport shooting range in which those
Compact and the states of Michigan, Indiana, complaints or issues are addressed by Michigan
and Ohio (who are members of the Great Lakes Law, or are based in Common Law.
Water Compact) to ensure that the rules and #13: PFAS AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANT
processes of the Great Lakes Water Compact be Submitted by: Greg Peter, MUCC Vice President
employed in this large scale use or diversion of • MUCC will support PFAS education for the public
water of the Great Lakes. MUCC will work with the and our affiliates as well as supporting the state
Environmental Protection Agencies of the States agencies to do the necessary research to better
and Provinces of the Great Lakes Water Compact address the issue. MUCC will work with other
and with the Federal Environmental Protection organizations for which this is an issue of concern
Agency to ensure that the waters of the Great to better facilitate the objective decision making
Lakes are protected as dictated by the rules and needed to find solutions to PFAS contamination.
processes of the Great Lakes Water Compact. #17: UNATTENDED CAMERA USE (TRAIL CAMS) ON STATE-
MANAGING FOR A BALANCED DEER HERD Submitted by: Paul Rose, MUCC Past President
Submitted by: Rob Miller, MUCC Wildlife Chair • MUCC will work with the Michigan Department
• MUCC will work with the DNR and NRC to change of Natural Resources to develop a policy for the
the following: 1) The current definition of a use of unattended cameras (a.k.a. Trail Cameras)

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 59

Fall 2019.indd 61 9/3/2019 11:18:55 AM

on State of Michigan-managed lands which seeks also amend the Michigan Improvement Account
to limit their number and duration of use, and matrix of fund distribution to establish as fair and
further require that each camera deployed include equitable sharing of said funds proportionate to
the name and contact information of the owner/ the current economic impact by unit sales, and/
user. Unattended cameras used for DNR-sponsored or permit (license) unit sales, and/or impact on
or DNR-approved research shall be subject to a tourism for the State of Michigan. A percentage
separate policy regarding their use. of all proportionate designated funds shall be
#19: SPORTSMEN’S CLUB/SHOOTING CLUB FIREARMS put aside for all related remuneration needs and
OWNERSHIP eligible for application and use by those county,
Submitted by: Jack Letho, Individual Member state and federal and highway management agen-
• MUCC will work with the Federal Government, cies affected.
Michigan Legislature and the Governor’s office to #21: COME HOME TO HUNT
enact legislation that will legally allow organized, Submitted by: Dawn Levey, MUCC Past President
incorporated sportsmen’s clubs and/or shooting • Michigan United Conservation Clubs will work
clubs to register firearms owned by the club. with the Natural Resource Commission and the
#20: RESOLUTION TO ASSURE FAIR AND EQUITABLE Michigan Department of Natural Resources
DISTRIBUTION OF FUNDS DERIVED FROM GAS TAX to establish a discounted base hunting license,
Submitted by: Tim Kobasic on behalf of the Hiawathaland hunt/fish combo, fishing licenses and the 7-day
Trail Association small game/base for family non-residents, with
• MUCC will support an initiative to change the the exception of animals or birds that require a
Michigan Recreational Improvement Account separate license. Qualified non-resident will mean
matrix of fund distribution to include only those a son, daughter, mother, father, grandson, grand-
entities that directly contribute to the account via daughter, step, adopted or natural to a current
the gas tax. The Michigan Legislature resolves to resident of Michigan.

60 |

Fall 2019.indd 62 9/3/2019 11:18:56 AM

On the Ground
Kicks off 2019 Annual Convention
By Makhayla LaButte
MUCC Habitat Volunteer

On Friday, June 21, a group of

20 volunteers composed of MUCC
staff, board members, and affiliate
club representatives came out to
Backus Creek State Game Area
(SGA) to enhance wildlife habitat
and kickoff MUCC’s 82nd Annual
Convention. After meeting at the
DNR Customer Service Center
in Roscommon, DNR Wildlife
Biologist Mark Boersen led the
group to the Backus Creek SGA to
get started with the project.
Upon arrival, Mark introduced
the project and the goals for the
management of the state game
area. Backus Creek SGA is unique maintaining upland forest habitat volunteers split into two groups.
in its geography, as it encompasses through the planting of mast- One group went to the planting
land with lowland and upland producing tree species. A total of sites north of the creek while the
forests, marshes, pine plantations 35 trees comprised of hawthorn, other stayed to the south along
and grasslands. For this OTG juneberry and three different the SGA access road, and by the
project, our volunteers helped the species of crab apple were planted time lunch rolled around at 1 p.m.,
DNR Wildlife Division support its and caged north and south of there were only seven trees left
management plan for the area by Backus Creek. to plant on the south side of the
To accomplish this, the creek. Despite the hot conditions,
volunteers remained motivated and
enthusiastic throughout the course
of the project and quickly divided
and conquered each task.
Mark Boersen was especially
pleased with the work completed,
stating that what our volunteers
accomplished in three hours would
have taken him and his staff two
weeks to complete with their busy
schedules. Our OTG volunteers
once again made a positive impact
on Michigan’s public lands — this
time impacting 30 acres of habitat
that will benefit ruffed grouse,
wild turkey, white-tailed deer and
a variety of other game and non-
game species. Projects like this
truly capture the power of partner-
ship in conservation.

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 61

Fall 2019.indd 63 9/3/2019 11:18:58 AM

Your Home Port:
St. Ignace

By Nick Green

finished my ¾-pound Big “C” burger with cheese pike, walleye and trout can be found in the inland
from Clyde’s Drive-In as I sat on the tailgate waterways just a short drive from the city proper.
with the dogs and admired the Mighty Mac. My In addition to the many hunting and fishing oppor-
stomach wasn’t sure that a burger patty weighing tunities available to sportsmen and women, St. Ignace
almost a pound was the right pre-hunt meal as the also offers two unique fall events that are sure to keep
dogs and I prepared for an afternoon of grouse the family occupied while the hunters and anglers are
hunting. But, my conscious wouldn’t let me visit St. Bottom: An angler poses with a nice sized pike that one of the
Ignace and not stop at Clyde’s. many lakes around St. Ignace holds. Right top: Recreational-
Situated on the shores of lakes Michigan and vehicle enthusiasts cross the Makinac Bridge during the
Huron, St. Ignace is the perfect place for a hunter or annual Trek the Mighty Mac
angler to get away and experience Michigan’s Upper
Peninsula without the extensive drive the rest of the
peninsula takes to access.
For the dogs and I, St. Ignace provided numerous
hotel and motel accommodations and a basecamp to
access the east zone of the Hiawatha National Forest
— an expansive stretch of public land open to deer,
grouse, woodcock and bear hunting, among others.
Saint Martin Bay just north of St. Ignace also offers
ample opportunities for duck hunters who are drawn
to big water.
Although the “Yoop” is known for its hunting
opportunities, anglers shouldn’t dismiss St. Ignace as a
launching point for big-water fishing or tooling around
the many inland lakes throughout the Hiawatha
National Forest. Lake trout and salmon are two of the
main fish species sought on the big water, and bass,

62 |

Fall 2019.indd 64 9/3/2019 11:19:00 AM

pursuing their quarry of choice.
The first such event is the Annual Richard Crane
Memorial Truck Show from Sept. 13-15. Vendors,
displays and, of course, semis will be on-hand for
event-goers to view, interact with and satisfy their
big-rig ambitions. The highlight of the weekend is
the Parade of Lights over the Mackinac Bridge. This
parade allows viewers to see a parade of lit-up semis
crossing the Mighty Mac — a picture-worthy event
that everyone should experience.
The next weekend, Sept. 20-21, the fifth annual
Trek the Mighty Mac event will be happening.
Recreational-vehicle enthusiasts from across the state
and country will converge on St. Ignace to show off
their four-wheelers, dirt bikes, utility vehicles and
off-road vehicles.
On Saturday (Sept. 21), the Mighty Mac will feature
what is probably the longest parade of outdoor recre-
ational vehicles in the nation. This is another one-of-a-
kind event that St. Ignace is proud to host and be a part
of — long cementing their commitment and dedication
to providing recreational-vehicle users a launching
point for the U.P. adventure of their dreams.
From St. Ignace, day-trips to Tahquamenon Falls
(the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River),
Woodland Dunes or the Soo Locks are sure to keep the
kids interested.
The Soo Locks afford children and adults the
opportunity to come within feet of a massive Great
Lakes freighter. And, a boat tour there will allow
participants to experience the 21-foot change in water
depth that the engineering feat accomplishes. The
locks, first opened in 1855, are thought to be one of the
greatest engineering feats of the 19th century, and they
connect Lake Superior with the lower Great Lakes.
A list of other activities, hotels and dining options
can be found by visiting The city’s
motto is “Your Home Port.” This is spot on when
considering your next U.P. adventure.
As is customary for my four-legged best friends
and me on our way home, we stopped at the Father
Marquette National Memorial bordering the west side
of St. Ignace. We paid homage to the man that founded
Michigan’s first European settlement and paved the
way for Michiganders everywhere. As the sun set over
the Mackinac Bridge, I was reminded just how lucky
we are in this state to have a place like St. Ignace —
Your Home Port. I look forward to returning every
year and seeing how many birds the dogs and I can
manage to stir up.

For more information about visiting St.

Ignace, visit or call
(906) 643-6950.

Fall 2019.indd 65 9/3/2019 11:19:01 AM

Mud Motors

By Nick Green

uck hunters hunt in hunters, dogs and gear to remote and error and truly understanding
secluded places — sloughs, locations. the need of today’s duck hunters
river bottoms, marshes In 2017, I bought my first duck have placed them at the top of the
off lakes most don’t know boat — a 1548 War Eagle with a 23 longtail food chain.
exist and shallow mudflats. We horsepower Backwater SWOMP
go to great lengths to get to these longtail. At that time, Backwater
places. was a new company to me. Since Revo-Clean lower bearing
Oftentimes, there are two then, I have now sold that motor system
pieces of equipment that separate and upgraded to a 40 horsepower,
watching ducks land 300 yards fuel-injected Backwater longtail. Backwater's innovative design
away or being on the X: a boat and a For more than three decades, starts with the Revo-Clean lower
longtail mud motor. longtail motors had remained, bearing system. The Revo-Clean
Longtail mud motors are the mostly, unchanged. Since system keeps sand, mud, weeds,
four-wheel-drive of boat motors. Backwater burst on to the scene, fishing line and other debris from
They help navigate hunters the folks there have been pushing getting into and wrecking seals and
through duck-laden marshes filled the limits of what a longtail mud bearings by utilizing a spiral groove
with logs, vegetation, lily pads and motor can do. machined into the driveshaft.
many other hazards. An air-cooled The guys at Backwater saw This groove allows the motor to
engine is mounted to a long drive- the need to improve the longtail’s continuously auger out any debris
shaft that can be lifted, turned, function by using cutting-edge that makes its way into the bearing
used to leverage the boat over logs materials, technology and innova- housing. The Revo-Clean system
or to dig down into mud to move tion. This constant innovation, trial can be the difference between

64 |

Fall 2019.indd 66 9/3/2019 11:19:02 AM

paddling your boat back to the of longtail owners is the upper best performance. Having been in
launch or filling your duck strap. body strength is takes to turn and several other boats with different
handle a longtail. The Surface longtail motors, I can comfortably
Surface Tracer cavitation Tracer cavitation plate helps say that the Backwater SWOMP
alleviate much of the resistance series motors are the most
plate because the prop is at the top of the effi- cient at translating
water where the least amount of horsepower into
My favorite innovation, and resistance is encountered. speed.
something no other mud motors Second, with the prop running
have, is the adjustable Surface as high as possible in the water,
Tracer cavitation plate. The plate Lite Frame
less wear and tear is placed on the
helps to keep the prop right at the motor when an object is run over
surface of the water and is the The third
or hit with the motor. The motor difference
reason Backwater motors gain releases easily and drops back
three distinct advantages over between
into the water after the obstacle is other
other longtail mud motors. cleared.
First, the motor becomes easier longtails
The last benefit of the
to handle because the operator isn’t Surface Tracer cavitation plate
fighting with prop walking, digging is speed. There’s no denying that
too deep in the water or coming out running higher in the water and
of the water. A common complaint near the surface produces the

Photo provided courtesy of BJ Lund

Fall 2019.indd 67 9/3/2019 11:19:02 AM

"Since Backwater burst on
to the scene, the folks there
have been pushing the limits
of what a longtail mud
motor can do."

and Backwater’s SWOMP series is 4 a.m. runs to your duck hole a SWOMP series motors can be
the company’s bell-housing frame, little more enjoyable. purchased at Freeway Sports
also known as the LITE series As with any company worth Center in Fenton. Backwater
frame. Instead of full-frame models their salt, the guys at Backwater motors have become the company’s
with three tubes surrounding are available and responsive to top-selling longtails. Give them
and supporting the driveshaft, questions, comments or concerns. a call at 810-629-2291 to get your
Backwater has eliminated two of When I received my 40 horsepower, Backwater motor ordered today.
these tubes. This innovation creates the first thing I did was bend the
a motor that weighs less than those handle beyond usability backing
with comparable horsepower, into the boat launch.
contains less moving parts making I sent an email to Jake Gilk For more information
the design more dependable and, from Backwater at 5:30 p.m., about Backwater motors,
with a setback pivot point, the received a response with an hour visit or
engine sits lower which allows and had a new handle in the mail
the prop to enter the water at a the next day at cost. They take care email info@backwaterinc.
shallower angle creating a more of their customers. com
efficient output of power. Made in the U.S.A in Freeport,
Another aspect I truly appre- Minnesota, Backwater stands
ciate from Backwater’s motors, behind and warranties their
and something that is a product of product. They understand that
all of their innovations combined, there aren’t many other outdoor
is a smooth ride. Several boats I pursuits that demand the kind of
have been in with other brands equipment and dedication that
of longtails vibrate enough to duck hunting does. They know
knock the flocking off decoys. Both having your motor running in top
Backwater SWOMP series motors shape is the difference between
I have owned created almost no tomorrow’s limit or sitting on the
perceived vibration throughout the couch.
boat — something that makes those In Michigan, Backwater

66 |

Fall 2019.indd 68 9/3/2019 11:19:04 AM

Game on!
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Fall 2019.indd 69 9/3/2019 11:19:04 AM

By Calvin McShane

e had no business water holes and washed out roads and skewing otherwise picturesque
being on the stream. until we arrived at the stream scenery. Our first fishable run was
The water was high somewhere around sunrise. We a wide curve, where the deepest
— dangerously so. parked, donned waders, took our part is a trough in between where
October blended into 31 days of final sips of coffee and peaked out we stood and the opposite bank.
rain; the sandy soil of the Eastern over a tall bank to survey the river. I told Jack, “Now, your intuition
U.P. became a waterlogged sponge. Jack was skeptical — “Looks high," says to cast as far as you can, but
When Jack called and asked about he said. I shook it off, told him it’s don’t. The sweet spot is right in
the prospect of his steelhead trip, I always this high in late October (it the middle, the first ripple, where
withheld much of the truth. I think never is) and all we can do is fish that fast water meets this slower
I said something like, “Don’t worry, and see what happens. stuff. If fish have moved in, they’ll
it’s not that bad; this rain has had We were standing in the be right there. I’m telling you.” As
to move some fish in.” Of course, it remnants of a not-so-long-ago I said this, I made sure to sound
had moved some fish in, but would forest fire. The open landscape, as confident as possible. In reality,
we be able to locate those fish in out of place for Michigan’s Upper we were standing knee-deep in a
flooded, dirty and surging water? Peninsula, was beautiful and life- patch of tag alders usually a foot
Maybe. affirming. What looked bleak years above the waterline, and my fishing
A week and a few more days of ago is now vibrant with growth, sensibilities were in total panic.
rain later, the thermostat in my car crawling with sharp-tailed grouse He waded out a bit further, just to
read 26 degrees around 5 a.m. Jack and houses and, from the looks of his naval, stripped out 20 yards of
and I split a thermos of coffee and it, some sizeable whitetails. The 10lb mono and pitched his spawn
a package of gas station doughnuts river, on the other hand, was well bag and lead into the first ripple.
as my Tacoma crawled through out of its banks, dark, intimidating A few moments later, he felt that

Fall 2019.indd 70 9/3/2019 11:19:05 AM Mic

oh-so-particular pause, snapped
back on his 8wt and had his reel
"Home water is the convergence of confidence and coincidence. It is
“How the hell did you know
the lake in our backyard. The river down the road. The creek, ditch
that?” Jack asked. and canal that taught us how to be an angler."
“Magic.” But what I felt like
saying was dumb luck. they have home water. They aren’t egg yolk bead, five Hail Marys —
I often think about what it the type of people who ride other’s you know, the important stuff. This
means to be a great fisherman or coattails. Rarely are they the ones river had become more than a good
woman. I don’t mean someone being taken out for a trip; that is to piece of water over yonder; it has
who is good at fishing. I mean say, they do most of the taking. become my home water.
someone who IS an angler. Fishing Now, these great anglers are Home water is the convergence
is part of their identity. The kind great replicators. They regularly of confidence and coincidence. It is
of person who can catch fish in a replicate earlier successes in the lake in our backyard. The river
bathtub. The criteria is high; you a variety of conditions. What down the road. The creek, ditch and
should think on it for a bit before appears to be magic, isn’t magic canal that taught us how to be an
you bestow this title on someone at all. I started to put this thought angler. My first home water was the
haphazardly. When I think of great together as I watched Jack walk mouth of the Detroit River, where
fishermen or women I know, I the tightrope with that acrobatic I jigged for whatever would bite. I
notice a few things. First, they have fall steelhead I mentioned before. have since moved on to rivers along
a knack for finding free time — true It got me thinking that maybe I’m the south shore of Lake Superior.
connoisseurs of sneaking out of not as dumb as I had thought. And even though there are hotter
work an hour or two early. Second, I have fished up and down this bites elsewhere, at some point the
they care just as much about the river nauseatingly over the years, race for glory becomes unending,
trees, water quality, terrain, etc. spending many days fishless in futile and sort of childish. Come
as they do about the fish. They get much better conditions. But in the fall, I know I could be driving
the big picture. And third, which past when I’ve struck gold, I’ve around the state and getting
I happen to find most important, never forgotten the details. Cold myself into better fishing, but
night, fresh rain, four feet of water, great anglers aren’t necessarily the

Lake Superior State University

in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan has
over 60 degree programs including
Biology, Conservation Officer, Parks
& Recreation, and Fisheries &
Wildlife Management.

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of forests and three Great Lakes,
our backyard creates the perfect
outdoor laboratory.

Enjoy hiking, skiing, kayaking,

fishing, and hunting…the
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Summer 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 69

Michigan71Outdoors ad.indd 1
Fall 2019.indd 10/29/18
9/3/2019 11:19:052:19
people with the most miles on their by. Or how deep that "endlessly
tires; they are the people who make deep" hole actually is. I know
greatness out of the lackluster. On where those mysterious two-tracks
my home river, an angler passing lead. I know where to cross when
through maybe hooks two or three crossing seems possible only for
steelhead on an afternoon in late otters and trout. Better yet, I have a
October — I hook six or eight. I lead on where steelhead will set up
know that little riffle when the river is out of its banks.
everyone walks Those little know-hows add up, not
only on my home river but for my
fishing sensibility as a whole.
Great anglers are made
with persistence and attention
to detail. When other anglers
are hopping around from river to
river chasing dreams of grandeur,
the great angler is pounding the
same water in search of secrets
others wade by. They get to know
each stream, stretch and pool as
intimately as the water and fish
deserve. They serve justice to the
objects of other’s greedy fantasies.
This whole fishing thing means
more to them than just a few
photos with a couple monsters.
Great anglers are usually great
The successes of my
fishing life are due to the
significant attachments I
have with the waters I fish.
The water means more
than the fish. I hardly
remember the fish
Jack landed on that
autumn morning, but
I will never forget
the smile on his face
and the screaming
of his reel. I will
never forget how
the river boiled
in anger while
we watched

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Fall 2019.indd 72 9/3/2019 11:19:07 AM

circle a deer carcass on the oppo-
site bank. I have never felt so at
peace in such intimidation. That
moment is forever etched into the
history of the swift trough on the
lower end of my home water. I live
and die by this river. Hell or high
water, come fall, I am banking on
my home water and my own hard
work. John Gierach says this whole
trout fishing thing is about life and
death. Maybe, for the fish, it means
mortality, but for us, it means how
we live and die. When I look back
on life as a fisherman, I do not
want to be the type of person who
lived and died by how many fish I
caught, how big they were and how
many people knew about it. I want
to cherish the memories and the
knowledge of water and trout.
After Jack finally landed that
5-pound Lake Superior hen, he
returned to the same seam and
battled with another, even bigger,
chrome bullet. We didn't touch
another fish the rest of the day. We
never saw another soul either. We
heard a few trucks drive along the
bluff, only to turn around and head
out. They probably figured the river
was too high. And for them, they
may be right. But for me, on my
home water, I knew just enough to
ensure some remedial success and
a lasting memory. The most astute
knowledge comes from knowing
one thing intimately rather than
knowing 100 things half-assed. We
get one shot at this fishing life of
ours — there's no sense in blowing
it for petty bar bragging. Spend
it as the trout dictates, in life and
death. Because when it's all said
and done, you can have home water
or you can have no water.

"When I look back on life as a

fisherman, I do not want to be
the type of person who lived and
died by how many fish I caught,
how big they were and how
many people knew about it."

Fall2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 71

Fall 2019.indd 73 9/3/2019 11:19:09 AM

of the

By Jim Bedford

all is a busy time on find eggs in the stomachs of adult water and jumped several times.
Michigan’s tributaries steelhead on their river migration, Then it got serious and headed
to the Great Lakes. Four and these fish were running in downstream, ignoring rod pressure
salmon species and three the fall long before salmon were and barreling over the cofferdam.
trout species run upstream in the introduced. Since I couldn’t safely wade over
late summer or autumn. All spawn River-run steelhead stay the coffer, I headed to the nearest
in the fall except for the steelhead. very aggressive throughout the shore where I could safely get
Almost all of Michigan’s steel- fall and are loaded with energy past the small dam. The fish kept
head spawn in the late winter or because they are so far away from taking line, and I was well into
spring, but each year some of them spawning. It is unusual for them my backing, so I waded after my
run rivers in the fall and spend the not to fight a great battle when they quarry as fast as I could. I got my
cold months in the river waiting for feel the resistance from your rod. mainline back on the reel just in
procreation time. It is not known When the water temperature is still time for the fish to decide to roar
why a portion of our “Great Lakes in the upper 40s or 50s, they are over another cofferdam. This time,
strain” of anadromous rainbows often very acrobatic and display a I headed to the opposite shore to
run in the fall since they have no never-give-up attitude. These traits get around the third coffer and try
physical or water level barriers put the steelhead on a pedestal for to stay connected. Somehow, we
or even an extra-long distance to me. I have had many memorable stayed connected, and I finally had
travel like some of the West Coast battles with these special fish. the steelie in my net after about a
steelhead strains. About 10 years ago, I hooked half-mile chase over a half-hour
It is easy to believe that they a steelhead above the second time span. Whew! I am sure I was
are following the salmon to feed coffer in the Grand River in Grand more tired than the steelhead.
on their eggs. But it is rare to Rapids. It sizzled line through the Last fall, I hooked into a

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Fall 2019.indd 74 9/3/2019 11:19:10 AM

very frisky steelhead that tried streams and into
a different escape route. I was headwaters during high
fishing Prairie Creek, and there water and then retreat
were a couple of dead trees back down when the
leaning over the stream and the rivers clear and drop.
creek was full of wood. I made an In addition to
underhand cast to a deep spot just large rivers, the
below a submerged log and let the best streams for fall
spinner sink for a second before steelies are those
beginning the retrieve. Almost with good natural
immediately, a fish tried to take reproduction. Most
the rod out of my hand and then of the best ones are
went skyward on the hook set. I in the northwest
was standing about waist-deep in part of the Lower
the creek and suddenly looking Peninsula and
up as the steelhead put about 6 are tributaries to
feet of air between itself and the Lake Michigan.
creek surface. It gained the same These include
altitude three more times, and I the north
was afraid it would come down on branches of the
the other side of a tree branch. On White and Pentwater,
the fourth leap, I had a onetime Pere Marquette, Little
experience in my many thousands Manistee, Betsie, Jordan
of hours of steelheading. The fish and Platte rivers. On the
grazed my head and bounced off sunrise side, the Rifle and
my shoulder as it came down. I'm the East Branch of the
glad it was hooked on a spinner and Au Gres get good fall
not a multi-trebled lure. Luckily, runs but are prob-
the fish was now pretty tired, and ably more depen-
after a short run and a shorter dant on rain than
leap, I had the bright fish in my net. the more stable-
Both steelhead were modest-sized flowing streams
females around 8 pounds. I think of the northwest
I am going to pass on receiving corner.
another aerial attack from a In the Upper
steelhead but will continue to crave Peninsula, most of the small
great aerial battles from these to medium rivers get really
special fish. low in the fall if rainfall is light,
In most years, fall-run rain- and this hampers the runs of
bows linger in the lower reaches steelhead. The Two Hearted prob-
of the tributaries since there is ably gets the most consistent run of
no urgency to get to the spawning these fish.
gravel. Low water levels also Even though eggs for our
tend to deter the fish from moving hatchery program are taken from
upstream into the shallower spring-running fish, those rivers
sections. Normally, the best fall that get big plants also support
runs occur when we have periodic good fall runs. The St. Joseph,
heavy rains in late September Kalamazoo, Grand, Muskegon, Big
through mid-November. These Manistee, Huron, Clinton, Thunder
surges may put the rivers out of Bay and Au Sable rivers all attract
shape for a day or two, but the high, good numbers of steelhead in the
murky water will usually lure in fall. The St. Joseph River can be
another batch of silver fighters. especially good because of the
Even when we have lots of rain, large number of summer steelhead
autumn steelhead will tend to be smolts planted by Indiana. Many
more concentrated in the lower of these Skamania strain fish wait
portions of the rivers and in the until fall to move upstream because
larger tributaries. They have also of warm river temperatures in July
been known to travel up smaller and August.

Fall 2019.indd 75 9/3/2019 11:19:11 AM

highly curved spoons are the lures
used most often to entice a strike
from these silver migrants.
The weighted spinner is
especially tough to beat in rivers.
The flash and vibrations from
the spinning blade really turn on
fall-run steelhead. Spinners with
broad, domed or French-type blades
are best because they spin at slow
retrieves. Silver is usually the
best all-around choice for a blade
finish because it has a bright, white
flash and reflects light better than
nickel, chrome, brass and copper.
Normally, the surroundings and
river water are quite dark, so the
silver finish will really get the
steelhead’s attention.
Fluorescent tape on the back
of the blade along with brightly
colored beads, body components
and hook dressing will also help
make your lure more visible. Of
course, when the stream is clear and
the sun is shining brightly, you will
want to tone down and use a less
gaudy, smaller lure with a brass or
Bob Bryans releases a fall steelhead he caught on a spinner. copper blade. Whatever the condi-
Drifting spawn is by far the float fishing is so effective. tions, remember to fish the spinner
most popular technique used for Slow action rods in the 9- to as slow as you can yet still keep the
steelhead in the fall, just as it is in 11-foot range are ideal for drift blade turning.
the spring. Skippers, especially fishing. They should be made out Plugs or crankbaits are also
the immature ones, may actively of high modulus graphite because great lures for autumn steelhead.
feed when they are in the river, and sensitivity is crucial to telegraphing The traditional, high-action plugs
you can’t beat single eggs or small, the light hits that often occur like Hotshots, Wiggle Worts and
dime-sized spawn bags for these when bottom-bouncing. The soft Hot-n-Tots are usually held against
diminutive, but high-flying and action allows you to lob baits into the current and backed down to
hard-fighting, steelhead. the holding water gently and then the fish. These lures can also be
Adult steelhead rarely actively cushion your line against the jumps cast quartering downstream and
feed and usually don’t swallow the and dashes of these heavyweight retrieved sweeping against the
bait. However, spawn and other rainbows. An even longer rod is current. Minnow plug or stickbaits
live bait such as wigglers and wax often employed when float fishing so like the suspending Bomber Long
worms still work well because fish you can keep most of your line off of A, Matzuo Snappy Minnow and
pick it out of irritation, memory or the water. Rapala Husky Jerk are also effective
curiosity, and then hold onto it until Spinning reels will work fine for steelhead-catchers. The steelies just
you set the hook because it smells, drift fishing, but many experienced don’t like another fish wiggling or
tastes and feels right to them. drift anglers opt for center pin or swimming in their territory.
A float or bobber can be your casting reels. The reason is that Pick rods that are fairly stiff in
best friend when drifting for fall they allow you to extend your drift the butt to facilitate hook sets when
steelhead. The lower reaches of by free-spooling. Their main draw- fishing lures. They should have a
the rivers are often full of wood back is the difficulty in casting light, light tip for casting and detecting
and other snags. Additionally, the terminal rigs with them. light hits, which can happen often
current may be so slow that it is Fall-run steelies can also be even though these fish are known
difficult to get a good drift when readily caught using lures that are for slamming lures. Spinning reels
bottom-bouncing. Add to the fact cast and retrieved. These fish are work best for casting and retrieving
that aggressive fall steelhead will assertive and don’t take kindly to lures, and you can use fairly heavy
come up several feet to grab your a shiny lure invading their space. line, 12- to 17-pound test, because
offering, and it is easy to see why Weighted spinners and heavy, the fish will be focused on the lure

74 |

Fall 2019.indd 76 9/3/2019 11:19:12 AM

and won't be line-shy.
November is the most depend-
able month for fall steelhead
action, but these fish begin to
enter the rivers in early October.
Cool weather and heavy rains key
the beginning of the migration.
Offshore winds at the river mouths
help by blowing the warm surface
water out and upwelling cold water,
which makes the lake thermally
comfortable for the steelies at the
pier heads and river mouths. Pay
attention to the weather and try to
hit your favorite Great Lakes tribu-
tary a few days after a good rain.
A call to a local tackle shop or the
DNR biologists in the area will yield
useful information.
Don’t pass up the chance of
catching the king of the river at
his autumn peak. If you haven’t
caught a steelhead or have only think about releasing all or most fall-running steelhead, and these
tangled with them in the spring, of your catch. Fall-running fish provide great river fishing all
you are in for a real treat. And, steelhead are likely to beget more winter.

Bottom: Jim Bedford releases a fall steelhead he caught using a spinner on a Central Michigan stream. Top: Terri Bedford
poses with a deer-season steelhead. Fall can be a great time to be on Michigan's rivers chasing steelhead. Deer hunting is in
full-swing, and an angler can have the river to themself if they put in a little effort.

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 75

Fall 2019.indd 77 9/3/2019 11:19:13 AM

The Changing Face
of Deer Research
By John Ozoga

Are professors and universities

adequately preparing wildlife
managment students for work at
federal and state agencies?

easy task given the heavily

used deer trails leading to
a plentiful supply of felled
cedar browse at a logging

All it took was patience: wait for
ithout the right deer to pass beneath my
warning, perch, slowly lower the gun barrel
the cedar and plunk em’ in the rear end —
limb I was even without aiming. Normally,
perched on, 16 feet or so they didn’t run too far and weren’t
above a well-used deer particularly hard to find and
trail, snapped with a loud handle. In fact, it was so easy that I
crack. Deer scattered in all entertained the idea of capturing a
directions and down I went. smaller deer by hand, from a lower
As usual, I was working alone position, simply by dropping on it
in Northern Michigan’s Petrel in bobcat style.
Grade deeryard. At any rate, I landed on my
It was January 1968, and I had back, narrowly missing a stump
undertaken a study to evaluate the protruding above a 3-foot deep
aggressive behavior of white-tailed snowpack. I lay there a while rather
deer at winter cuttings. I already dazed, hurting all over, wondering
had well over 100 deer individually if I’d done any serious damage.
marked with numbered snare-type Luckily, I seemed to be OK — at
collars, but few were mature bucks. least I could stand and walk. Then,
My goal was to selectively capture I looked up, and there was my gun
more bucks using a tranquilizer stuck on a limb near where I’d sat,
loaded capture gun and mark them requiring an agonizing trip back up
with ear tags and individually- the tree to retrieve it.
recognized collars. This was a fairly

76 |

Fall 2019.indd 78 9/3/2019 11:19:15 AM

Thinking back future. While his comments apply passionate about what we do and
to wildlife management in general, adhere to a code of professional
Actually, I never really thought it’s quite easy to read between the ethics that sustains our credibility
much about those early days and lines and see how his concerns as biologists.”
how deer research had changed, apply to deer research and manage- Although deer research here in
until D&DH Editor-in-Chief Dan ment. Northern Michigan got its start
Schmidt asked me to reminisce “If our profession is to continue around 1930, funding and serious
a little: “How has deer research to progress and be relevant,” Miller research efforts started in 1937
changed?” he asked. Needless to said, “We must continue to value with the passage of the Pittman-
say, today the governing bureau- hunting — individually, biologi- Robertson Act for Federal Aid
cracy would frown upon such cally, socially and economically. in Wildlife Restoration. This act
dangerous employee behavior, and We work for the public as well as collected a federal excise tax on
I would be called in by the brass for wildlife resources, and we must hunting arms and ammunition
and severely admonished. Note: It continue to use the best available to be returned to the state for
would have been rather difficult science in decision making, remain research, land acquisition and
to buy a ladder stand for hunting
purposes in those days. In fact,
back then, I don’t believe elevated
blinds of any kind were even legal
for deer hunting in Michigan.
Even the way we handled captive
deer in the past would be unaccept-
able today. And we would not be
permitted to release surplus captive
deer into the wild, for fear of intro-
ducing diseases (even though such
things as CWD or TB have not been
found to occur locally). So many
aspects of deer research, manage-
ment and hunting have changed
over the past five or so decades. Of
course, deer and deer hunters have
changed, too, often unpredictably
so. Many of these associated trends
have undoubtedly benefited the
resource — but some have not, and
I’m concerned.

Trending toward political

While reviewing the recent
wildlife literature, I’m finding that
other wildlife professionals share
some of my specific concerns.
I found comments made by Dr.
James E. Miller, past president of
the Wildlife Society and recipient
of the cherished 2007 Aldo Leopold
award, particularly interesting.
In his award acceptance speech,
reprinted in the spring 2009 issue
of The Wildlife Professional, Miller
provided a historical sketch of
wildlife management funding,
highlighted technological advances,
discussed concerns for the profes-
sion and speculated a little on the

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 77

Fall 2019.indd 79 9/3/2019 11:19:18 AM

habitat development. we devoted considerable time and appears in recent years to have
As a result, the Michigan energy without learning much become more directed toward
Department of Natural Resources that could be directly applied addressing politically correct
(DNR) hired full-time wildlife to deer population and habitat issues and in verifying a sponsoring
research biologists and housed management — and we were industry’s or agency’s claims for
them at research stations. The being criticized by management its product. To remain relevant
Cusino Wildlife Research Station, for that reason. I might add that I and maintain our credibility with
located in Michigan’s Upper have the highest regard for most a diverse public, of which hunters
Peninsula (UP), and the Houghton wildlife biologists and consider my are a part, the research base must
Lake Wildlife Research Station, in association with Karl Miller and retain a strong focus on wildlife
Northern Lower Michigan, concen- Steve Ditchkoff a highlight of my habitat and population manage-
trated their efforts on white-tailed research career. ment.” Although we serve the
deer nutrition, physiology, behavior However, in recent years, despite public, Miller warns, there is a line
and habitat management. Today, considerable financial support, beyond which social and political
there are no research biologists some university-guided deer pressures must not dictate resource
stationed at those facilities, and research has produced results management decisions
nearly all deer research in the state that merely support findings from
is conducted through universities. studies conducted by Louis Verme Technology
At the same time, it’s important and myself (assisted by one techni-
to recognize that fewer research cian and two inmates). One such My first research project, initi-
dollars are now generated from three-year, university-sponsored ated in 1960, was a study of coyote
traditional sources (i.e., hunters). project acknowledged the involve- ecology on Beaver Island, located
According to Miller, most comes ment of more than 60 individuals, in northern Lake Michigan. As
from directed research funding, without once referring to the one might expect, the islanders
“thus influencing the culture and critical importance of high-quality were convinced coyotes were
results of wildlife research.” deer wintering habitat in this decimating their deer herd. During
At a research meeting, I once Northern region. the summer months, my wife
was asked how I felt about research Jim Miller suggests that research Janice and I trapped and tagged
involvement with universities. I biologists are wandering off course coyotes and red fox and collected
replied that we had good results when he provided the following scats for later detailed analysis of
in some cases, but at other times warning: “Wildlife research seasonal food habits. Two of those

78 |

Fall 2019.indd 80 9/3/2019 11:19:21 AM

coyotes eventually dispersed to the on deer trails throughout the resource management agencies.”
Michigan mainland. There was deeryard, it provided a reasonably Clearly, fewer wildlife faculty
no high-tech radio telemetry gear good index of deer activity — when members today are traditional
available for monitoring wildlife nothing comparable was available. “consumptive users” of wildlife,
movements in those days. During Meanwhile, back at Cusino, I meaning there tends to be a reduc-
the winter months, I relied on used a somewhat different trig- tion in emphasis on hunting and
tracking. gering system to tally activity traditional wildlife management
My typical day started (at of deer in research pens while and an increased focus on conser-
daybreak) with finding a fresh measuring their daily food vation biology in the university
coyote track and following it till consumption. However, with an classroom. Miller contends the
dusk, recording such things as electric power supply available, I most significant change is that
feeding habits, habitat use, social- could wire triggering devices to an student demographics have shifted
ization, etc. By the end of the day, event recorder and record hourly markedly since the 1990s. Prior,
I often wound up miles from my rates of individual deer activity. most wildlife students came from
truck (if you’ve never done such a That particular system led to the rural backgrounds and had a grasp
thing, try following coyote tracks discovery that doe activity rises of a land and work ethic.
for 200 miles some winter). During sharply just prior to estrus, making In my case, for example, a
the course of coyote investigations, it a valuable tool when conducting serious interest in wildlife and the
a friend of mine and I teamed reproductive studies. outdoors probably started when
up to publish a 40-page bulletin In those days, biologists routinely I trapped my first muskrat and
in the Michigan State Museum conducted deer population
series covering the mammals of surveys and necropsied
Beaver Island and another on vehicle-killed deer to deter-
the mammals of nearby Garden mine their physical condi-
Island. I bring this up because it’s tion as well as reproductive
a good example of how an alert potential. Today, given analog
researcher, when engaged in field and digital computers, biolo-
studies, will see other opportunities gists use population modeling
to expand our knowledge of a given to assess herd composition and
subject. determine harvest rates via
After completing a brief study elaborate data storage and analysis
of deer wintering behavior in procedures. There also is increased
Northern Lower Michigan, I emphasis on ecosystem and
undertook more extensive studies landscape approaches to wildlife
of wintering white-tails at Cusino management with a corresponding
starting in 1964. My objectives were de-emphasis of single-species
to examine, in detail, the microcli- approaches — such as white-tailed
mate of preferred deer wintering deer.
habitat and determine how deer
use protective cover and how their The research biologist
survival is influenced by weather-
related factors. Technological advancements
In those days, there were no deer have certainly enhanced deer
trail cameras or motion-triggered research performance, but not
activity monitors. There were also without some drawbacks, though.
no ATVs. Snowmobiles were avail- Nowadays, “It is too easy to become
able, but they weren’t exceptionally an armchair biologist,” claims
reliable — mine broke down after Miller, “inextricably tied to, and
a few weeks of use, necessitating a dependent on, computers and
mile-long, snow-shoe hike just to complex mathematical models
reach the study area. I contrived to tell us what is happening and
a crude (Rube Goldberg-type) what we need to be doing about
mechanical deer traffic counter, it.” Miller also suggests there is “a
consisting of an alarm clock, significant disconnect between how
reset counter and spring-loaded, some educators and universities
mono-filament trip line. It certainly are preparing wildlife students
wasn’t the fanciest device in the and these students’ understanding
world, and required frequent of the role and responsibilities
servicing, but when positioned of most state and federal natural

Fall 2019.indd 81 9/3/2019 11:19:23 AM

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Fall 2019.indd 82 9/3/2019 11:19:24 AM

snared a cottontail at nine or 10 Understandably, deer research the information that research has
years of age. I became quite profi- emphasis has changed accordingly provided.
cient at trapping coyotes, red fox, to accommodate the resultant Although Jim Miller acknowl-
bobcats, beavers, otters, mink and positive and negative values deer edged the vital role that hunters
weasels and hunted small game on create. Most recently, there has play in deer management, he
my own at the age of 15. In fact, the been increased research interest offered the following criticism:
local DNR office frequently directed in predation, disease, human-deer “We must acknowledge that,
me to farmers who were having conflict and deer population unfortunately, more and more
predator problems. management to satisfy hunters’ active hunters seem to desire
Two years later, the neighbor quest for quality. instant gratification. It appears
boy and I ran a pulpwood job for During the course of a five- they have been misled by outdoor
an owner of considerable aspen year study designed to evaluate television shows, many of which
acreage. We cut aspen by hand with the pros and cons of supple- have become ‘snuff films’ whose
buck saws (commonly referred mental deer feeding conducted main motivation is to sell more
to as bow saws — no chain saws), in Cusino’s square-mile deer gadgets, including feeders and
peeled it, used a small tractor for enclosure, I became especially mechanical and sensory attractants
skidding, loaded two broken-down interested in deer social behavior. — anything that will shorten the
trucks (one with no license) by With the advent of Quality Deer time spent outdoors. We need to
hand (no hydraulic loader), drove Management and spread of further educate the public about
10 miles to a railroad loading deck diseases such as CWD and TB, it the real trade-offs (on both public
(no CDLs) and unloaded in railroad became obvious that such knowl- and private lands) that will be
cars by hand. This early experience edge was lacking and critical for necessary to maintain appropriate
made it relatively easy for me to scientifically-based deer population habitats and populations to ensure
communicate with wildlife and management. The Cusino enclo- that wild places and wild things
forestry professionals and habitat sure served perfectly for deer social can be sustained for future genera-
relationships at a young age. behavior studies. We were able to tions. We must find incentives that
From the 1990s to the present, live-trap and handle each animal encourage all or most of society to
the majority of wildlife students for physical measurement, X-ray support natural resource manage-
come from urban backgrounds, does to determine pregnancy rates ment and sustainability, both
with many having little or no and estimate breeding dates, and philosophically and financially.”
understanding of hunter’s biolog- radio-collar certain individuals for
ical, economic and social relevance annual monitoring. This permitted Communication
to wildlife conservation. In fact, one me to select and study a reintro-
study found that hunting among duced herd of a specific sex and age Communication, at all levels,
college wildlife students declined that mimicked a given deer harvest plays a critical role in deer research
by 10 to 60 percent during the past practice. This particular line of and management effectiveness and
30 years or so and students with study became an obsession with me public acceptance of deer hunting
anti-hunting attitudes increased 30 and continued until my retirement. as a management tool. Fortunately,
to 50 percent. surveys indicate 76 percent of
If this trend continues, it does The deer hunter Americans approve of hunting,
not bode well for the future of deer and only 16 percent disapprove.
research, nor for deer population As expected, the deer hunter Since the 1990s, Miller has noted
and habitat management as we’ve has changed considerably over “profound changes” in the way
come to know it. time, thus influencing deer wildlife professionals communicate
research in many ways. For one — indicating that we now regularly
Changing emphasis thing, hunters are more educated, communicate and share informa-
more dedicated and more effec- tion through email and computer-
Whitetail abundance has fluctu- tive than ever before. They based tools. As a result, he voiced
ated wildly during the past 50 or 60 also have higher expectations. the following: “Some concerns
years. In fact, in the Upper Great Unfortunately, new hunters are stimulated by changing technolo-
Lakes region, we’ve gone full-circle, not being recruited in sufficient gies, philosophy and culture within
from too few deer during the 1960s numbers to replace us old guys. the profession include a decreased
and 1970s to deer overabundance Not only are hunters still playing emphasis on the availability of
during the late 1980s and early a significant role in deer popula- printed publications and increased
1990s, back to low densities more tion management, more of them emphasis on electronic publica-
recently. Meanwhile, deer have are also becoming involved in tions and data sources that may not
expanded their range, especially managing private lands to enhance adequately serve the profession.
in the Southeast, and seem to be deer nutrition and deer quality. Websites and blogs are
thriving in urban environments. In other words, they are using increasingly utilized as major

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communication tools and
appear in vogue with many newer
members of the profession, yet
have not precluded the need for
targeted publications and critical
interaction with stakeholders.
Research information remains
important to private landowners,
managers and other users, and
it must be published or made
available in appropriate scientific
The latest deer bible, “Biology
and Management of White-tailed
Deer,” edited by David G. Hewitt,
was published in 2011. The first
such all-inclusive book that
appeared in 1985, relied on 631
published articles concerning
white-tailed deer, whereas the 2011
version accounted for 834 such
articles published since then.
One measure of a researcher’s
accomplishments is his publication
record. Another is the frequency
with which his works are referred
to by others. My immediate super- I published my first couple As I said earlier, I have a great
visor, Louis Verme, always advised of magazine articles in 1958, but deal of respect (and even envy) for
me, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth then very few until 1985, when the most biologists conducting deer-
publishing.” Michigan DNR was having serious related research today, given the
The book edited by Hewitt will budget problems and threatened to sophisticated techniques now at
no doubt stand as the reference close Cusino. While discussing the hand. Most worrisome are trends
for white-tailed deer for years to pending crisis with my wife, Janice, I see taking place in education,
come. While reading the chapter she replied, “You researchers spend student and instructor background
on behavior, written by Karl Miller all your time talking to yourselves; and research project funding. With
and Randy DeYoung, I noticed the general public, and hunters in a reduced emphasis on hunting and
frequent reference to my technical particular, don’t have the faintest traditional wildlife management
as well as popular writings — at idea what you’re doing and why.” and an increased focus on pure
least 16 different manuscripts. She was right. In those days it was conservation biology, projects are
When I asked Karl why he referred rare to see an article in a hunting sometimes designed to yield politi-
to so many of my papers, he said magazine written by a wildlife cally correct answers.
“Because you’re the only one biologist. So began my career as an Like it or not, the past president of
who has done so much work.” outdoor writer. the Wildlife Society has criticized
Compliments such as that, coming all of us involved in deer and deer
from the world’s authority on hunting in one way or another. I
white-tailed deer behavior, were
probably could have done a better
more important to me than you can job — how about you? On the bright
Initially, I was rather apprehen-
imagine. side, remember, white-tailed deer
sive about tackling this subject of
Equally important is the are one of the most behaviorally-
deer research change — it's exceed-
conveying of technical information flexible mammals on the planet,
ingly complex. Furthermore, I had
in the popular form to the public. quite capable of adapting to seem-
a number of preconceived concerns
Scientific jargon must be translated ingly unbelievable environmental
and was admittedly biased in my
into useful and practical informa- hardships — humans included.
views. In fact, I felt overly critical;
tion available to the public in a Even so, no one really knows what
just maybe I was totally wrong.
manner that can be understood and the future holds for deer and deer
After reading the “Reflections” of
implemented. “This must happen,” hunting.
Dr. Jim Miller, however, I realized
said Miller, “to maintain critical
others much more knowledgeable
public support for wildlife research
about this subject than me shared
and management.”
my views.

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Full Draw:
their normal summer routine. Patterning a white-
tail during this early season is far easier than the
November rut when every whitetail buck is traveling

Opening Day
chaotically and impossible to pattern. Michigan’s
woodlots and fields have yet to see the influx of small
game hunters and are still relaxed. Give those savvy
whitetails a couple weeks of human intrusion and
they quickly change their patterns and morph into a
By Tom Nelson more nocturnal creature. To many bowhunters, this is
labeled as the “October lull." Then, later in October, as
It was opening day of the Michigan archery the pre-rut begins, deer activity once again picks up.
season. I had elected to make a morning hunt on this Trail cameras are perhaps the best way to pattern
most sacred of days. Conditions were near perfect and keep track of deer movement and deer quality in
as the mercury hovered in the mid 50s, and a now- your hunting area. I also spend a lot of time sitting
brightening eastern sky held the promise of a clear in my truck with binoculars and a spotting scope
day ahead. I was situated 18 feet up in a ladder stand watching whitetails as the enter and exit crop fields.
overlooking a well-worn deer trail. Roughly 100 yards Both of these methods can give a savvy bowhunters
to my east was a lush, half-acre food plot of mine that insight as to where to hang a treestand or place a
was being visited regularly by hungry whitetails, ground blind. Once I determine that I am going to
including a couple of nice bucks. place a stand or blind, I try to do so well in advance of
What made this set-up especially appealing, at opening day. This gives the area plenty of time to calm
least to me, was there were three ancient white oaks down and return to normal. Then I stay out of the area
that were all within bow range of my stand. Better yet, until I decide to hunt that particular site. When wind
they were all laden with acorns. I had a couple of trail conditions warrant, I slip into the stand as covertly
cameras hung nearby, but one really did not need them as possible and begin my hunt. Remember, your best
to see that these oaks were drawing deer to the bounty chance of tagging your target whitetail is the first time
of acorns they were dropping. I had identified these you sit a stand or blind. Never risk a marginal wind —
mast trees and their stock of acorns back in August wait until conditions are perfect; trust me, it will pay
and quickly placed a ladder stand and trimmed some off.
shooting lanes. Then I eased out and stayed out, only In the early season, a whitetail's routine evolves
periodically checking my cameras at midday. around his food source. Daily travel is mostly to and
As dawn arrived and the sun was attempting to from feeding areas. With the rut still weeks away, life is
climb above the tree line, I heard the crunching sound pretty easy for whitetails. Take advantage of this time
of a deer eating acorns. I cautiously turned to my left by scouting smart and hunting extra hard the first
and chanced a look behind me. Two mature does and week or two of the season. Sure, the excitement of the
a pair of fawns were busy vacuuming up the tasty November rut is captivating to us as hunters, but do
acorns that littered the forest floor. The whitetails fed not forsake the early days of October.
past my position and slowly made their way off in the
direction of the food plot. I leaned back against the
tree trunk and was considering taking off my light
jacket when I heard the unmistakable sound of deer
hooves hitting the forest floor. Once again, I carefully
looked behind me and was greeted by the sight of a
nice buck heading my way and with a purpose.
Placing my release on my bowstring, I glanced
ahead to where I believed the buck would come
through and offer a good shot. As if he read the script,
the buck continued toward the chosen spot. As I came
to full draw, the buck stopped. With him broadside and
vitals exposed, I placed my 30-yard pin on his boiler
room and squeezed off the shot. Hit hard, the buck
made a short semi-circle and tumbled to a stop not
50 yards off to my right. Michigan’s bow season was
barely underway, and I was placing my tag on a fine,
antlered buck.
For decades, I have preached the benefits of
bowhunting the first week or 10 days of the season,
hard. In my opinion, there is no better time to tag a
mature buck or doe. Whitetails are still maintaining

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Deer Camp Year-Round
By Morgan Warda
MUCC Wildlife Cooperatives Coordinator

One definition of hunting is the

pursuit of game. This tradition is
rich and long-lived in the state of
Michigan. Our natural resources
have been positively impacted by
hunters and license buyers (yes,
some people simply buy a license
to contribute to conservation)
for generations, which is why
protecting our hunting heritage has
become a top priority. As hunters,
we have a keen sense of responsi-
bility to sustain the outdoor world
that provides us so much. It is now
that I ask you, what else is it that
you are pursuing when afield?
At the top of the list, you will
most likely find meat, experience,
connectedness, peace and tradi-
tion. Everyone enjoys telling an
engaging story about how they have
been watching a buck for years and Wildlife Cooperatives bring together land owners to manage their respective
finally got their chance to take aim private land in coordination with one another. This allows the combined "coopera-
on him. The descriptions will play tive" to have a landscape-level impact on habitat and wildlife.
like a film reel. Listeners feel the
chilled fall air, see their breath and hunter make sound management As hunters, our demise will be
hear the first leaf ruffle as some- decisions. lack of recruitment. One way to
thing makes its way toward the Hunters share these moments counteract that is to ensure that
stand. They see the buck bow his with friends and family in deer people are enjoying themselves in
head and switch his ears, looking camp tradition. People gather the woods. Happy hunters are more
for any sign of threatening life. The over their love of the outdoors and likely to keep hunting themselves
story unfolds because the hunter anticipation for opening day. The and introduce someone new. The
did everything right. The wind was day of, everyone awaits the first idea behind a cooperative is to
calm, the buck presented himself phone call of success. There’s a bring like-minded people together
and the shot was silent and true. certain magic about those few days in a way that promotes a positive
As soon as the hunter composed spent at deer camp. The people get experience that leads to improved
himself, he made the best kind of you, and you have fans even among management. Cooperatives that
phone call. the friendly competition. trust each other and communicate
It is there that I stop you for What if it could be like that can have a greater impact on the
observation. The most memorable year-round? landscape than an individual
moment becomes not harvesting The Michigan Wildlife because they are actively moni-
the deer but living it with people Cooperatives Program unifies toring more land. This strategy
that share your enthusiasm in the hunters in a way that resembles allows hunters to have a better
name of conservation and cele- deer camp. The need for camara- understanding of the local deer
brating the rewarded dedication. derie and a love for hunting has herd and management techniques
Hunter perspective of conservation brought more than 5,000 private that would best fit their situa-
is deep and layered. The visuals landowners together to form tion. We call this collaborative
often presented show excitement wildlife cooperatives in the state, management.
over a kill when that kill represents and deer management hasn’t quite Collaborative management
hours invested into habitat and looked the same since. It’s about encourages people to share
herd monitoring that helps the people first and hunting second. information such as trail camera

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pictures, habitat projects, resources
and experience. The more people
get involved in open discussions
about these topics, the more they
will see a direct benefit from
working with a cooperative. Habitat
will improve if the effort is put
in, the deer herd will be healthier
overall based on improved habitat
and a balanced management
system, and hunter satisfaction will
increase due to the interactions
between cooperative members.
Cooperatives keep consistent
communication throughout the
year through phone, email and
social media sites, which allows
for camaraderie to build. More
and more stories have come out
about multiple people following a
specific deer on their life journey.
When working with a cooperative,
there is some fun in that kind of
competition. It becomes about how
the group has worked together to
ensure the maturing of that deer,
and there is a deeper connection
with it. Even though each person
would love to be the one that
harvests the deer, there is a sense
of teamwork that comes out of
another member’s success. It’s
much more fun to celebrate than be
I hope in the future you take
time to recognize what it is that you
are pursuing. That mindset helps
define the connectedness and could
even help you find what’s missing.
Don’t underestimate the power of
working with other local hunters.
Mutual understanding and like-
minded management efforts add a
whole new dimension to wildlife,
habitat and hunting. And who
could argue with having deer camp

If you are interested

in starting a Wildlife
Cooperative in your area,
contact Morgan Warda at

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 85

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A photostory of the Michigan Out-of-Doors

2019 camp season

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Conservation Through Education

Fledging the Nest

By Shaun McKeon One of the young conservationists I have had the
MUCC Education Director privilege of supervising in 2019 has been our Huron
Pines AmeriCorps Member Autumn Christenson.
Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) has Autumn started back in January and will be leaving
long been a starting point for young conservationists MUCC when her AmeriCorps service concludes in
to get their feet wet in the professional world. Over mid-November.
my seven years here on staff, it seems the door at our For those of you not familiar with AmeriCorps, it
organization has continued to open and close as young is a voluntary civil service program supported by the
college grads start their careers with us, and then, federal government and aimed at engaging adults in
after a few years, move on to the next stage of their public service work. The overall goal is helping others
lives. During my time here, I have supervised and and meeting critical needs in the community; their
worked with several interns, more than 100 seasonal slogan is “getting things done.” The Corporation for
workers at camp and a handful of full-time staffers. National and Community Service (CNCS) administers

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this program at the federal level. The CNCS then
distributes funds to the states who work with partner
organizations to create “Corps” and place members
into key areas of need around the state. In Michigan,
roughly 30 Corps are overseeing the work of members
all across the state. These groups are filling needs in
education, disaster services, economic opportunity,
veterans and military families, and environmental
In Autumn’s case, she is a member of the Huron
Pines AmeriCorps Program. Huron Pines, based
in Gaylord, is the only conservation-focused Corps
operating in Michigan. Huron Pines has placed about
25 members with partner organizations throughout
the state. Through this program, Autumn began
serving with MUCC. She has spent the last nine
months with us here in Lansing. Service members like
Autumn commit to a full-time service contract where
she serves an organization (in this case, MUCC) for a
total of 10 months accumulating 1,700 hours of service
to the community. Since this is technically a national
service position, Autumn earns a small living stipend
but is technically not paid. When people say actions
speak louder than words, AmeriCorps members
should be some of the first people to come to mind.
They serve our nation to make our communities and Left: (From L to R) Makhayla LaButte, Autumn Christenson and
resources better for the greater good. Autumn has Shaun McKeon pose for a shot during a habitat project. Top:
embodied selfless service from her first day here in Christenson learns how to properly maintain and sharpen a
Lansing. chainsaw while becoming chainsaw safety certified.
When we interviewed Autumn during the fall of of kids down at Cedar Lake to teach them about turkey
2018, she was a relatively recent graduate from MSU hunting. During her service, she has had the ability to
and had just completed an internship with the Quality learn new things; she has faced challenges and had the
Deer Management Association. During her interview, opportunity to grow from mistakes.
she talked about looking for a career opportunity It is a testament to Autumn and her character how
where she could learn more about conservation and seamlessly she has transitioned into different roles
have a direct impact on educating people about the throughout our organization. She has helped me
importance of wildlife and habitat. We knew right continue to grow as a supervisor and has helped to
away that she would be a strong candidate. While push me out of my comfort zone on a few different
serving with MUCC, she has been our engagement occasions in the name of creating a better habitat for
specialist, and we have given her a heavy load of wildlife.
responsibilities to manage during her time here. When I believe the experiences she has had will serve her
Autumn started, her job description said duties would well as she continues on her conservation journey.
include 60 percent On the Ground efforts, 30 percent As of this writing, she has plans to make the journey
outreach and education, 5 percent private land/cooper- to the wide-open spaces of the American West and
atives work and 5 percent all other duties as assigned. continue to be a passionate advocate for public lands
Nine months and well over 1200 hours into her service, and conservation.
those numbers have changed a few times. As she begins her new journey out west, the staff at
At MUCC, no day is the same; an example of MUCC will be sad to see her go. From day one, she has
the variety is in the mix of programs she has had fit in well with our team, and when her service ends, it
the opportunity to work with. During her service at will be odd to walk by her empty cubicle. Not only will
MUCC, she has learned to safely operate a chainsaw, we be losing a good friend, but Michigan is also losing
she has become certified in several environmental a great advocate for conservation.
education programs including Project FISH, Project To Autumn: From one AmeriCorps alumni to another,
Learning Tree and Project Wild. She has become a thanks for getting stuff done for America. You are
pesticide applicator through the state in three different appreciated. Your work has made a difference for
categories. She has helped on more than 20 habitat habitat and the natural resources of Michigan. Best
projects. She has planted 1,000s of trees, built wood of luck as you continue your conservation journey.
duck boxes, installed rabbittat, been featured on the Enjoy never having to do hours of federal government
radio, written weekly blogs and even braved the hordes reporting ever again — Shaun.

Fall 2019 | Michigan Out-of-Doors 93

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This article was originally published in February 2001

Throwback: The Mighty Beagle

By K.R. Cranson it may be related to Greek scenting incorporating some Old and Middle
hounds recorded in historical English and a Latin word for gullet.
When I was a kid of 10 or 12 my accounts several hundred years The meaning is something like
dad had a pair of beagles, Penny before Christ. Historians agree “useless, or little value, or odd-ap-
and Sukie. He and my two older that the scenting hounds of feudal pearing,” and it may have been
brothers hunted together—pheas- England were ancestors of today’s derived from a similar name given
ants during the fall and bunnies beagle. To be considered a proper to little hounds used to hunt small
all winter. When I was old enough English nobleman (or gentleman), game of “little importance,” such
to hunt and became a member of it was necessary to keep a pack of as rabbits or hares.
the family team, the two beagles hounds for hunting various game. By the mid-1800s, the breed
became my hunting partners, also. Sometime after the 1400s, dogs in was well established and routinely
Some of my best early memo- some hunting packs were called brought to the United States. Since
ries are those warm October “Begles.” a French word used to that time, the breed has been one
Saturdays walking behind Penny describe small hounds. of the most successful. In
and Sukie through a farmer’s field One report indicates the term 1953, beagles were
near Lansing. I doubt our beagles “beagle” was in use by the end of the most
were purebreds and certainly not the 15th century in England. The
registered, but no one told them name appears to come from
these things were important. Penny Middle French,
and Sukie lived to hunt. perhaps
As with many breeds, the origin
on the beagle is obscure.
Some evidence

Fall 2019.indd 96 9/3/2019 11:20:04 AM

popular breed registered with the Although many dog owners believe “come,” “sit,” “stay,” “down,” “no,”
American Kennel Club (AKC). They all beagles are the typical black, tan and others are incorporated with
have dropped to fourth or fifth and white, there are actually many leash training or follow soon after.
place with nearly 50,000 registered color variations. In addition to this Specifically, these commands are
in 1999. tri-color combination, lemon or red used to influence the dog’s behavior
Beagles have a fabulous sense and white, a blue cast, and liver or and movement, especially when not
of smell, perhaps 700 times better chocolate are also common. Thus, under leash control.
than that of humans! One owner coat color is of little consequence Field training generally starts
described a beagle as “a nose with among purebred beagles and is at about six months and after
four legs.” The dogs’ main purpose not considered in any type of yard training is well advanced or
in life is to follow interesting competition. completed. The goals for this part
smells, and they are very good at Beagles are all-around of a beagle’s education are to: 1)
that. As a consequence, little else wonderful dogs: loving, caring, find or start a rabbit, 2) identify
is important, including roads, cars, funny, devoted, curious, single- a scent line 3) follow a scent line,
or other potential dangers. When minded, tireless, and headstrong. and 4) remain under control
beagles are on a “hot scent,” they Some owners would add stubborn through voice commands. Several
seem to have little sense of such to this list! One authority said: new verbal commands (such as
hazards. “The beagle is a soft, warm “Tally Ho” when a rabbit has been
I learned this aspect of a marshmallow encrusted with a sighted) related to starting a rabbit
beagle’s nature firsthand through cast of steel…” Beagles have been and following a scent line are
a sad personal experience. My son compared with small children, added to those learned during yard
had been given a beagle puppy especially because of their ener- training. In addition, the beagle
when it was about eight weeks old. getic nature and desire to please. must learn to ignore the multitude
Although a run and house had been Also, like a child, each dog has a of other scents present (deer,
prepared for him and our yard was unique personality and tempera- raccoon, skunk, etc.) and focus on
completely fenced, he managed to ment with the capacity to learn at rabbits and hares.
get out into the road when he was different rates. This is an important This preparation may be
a few months old. It was my unfor- aspect in selecting a beagle puppy, carried out with only the trainer
tunate duty to collect his remains a and the training that must be or by running a young beagle with
few houses up the street where he carried out before it becomes an older, experienced dogs. Many
had been hit and killed by a car. adult. This is true whether the beaglers, however, do not like to
Beagle puppies have a birth beagle is going to be a hunting dog, train with older beagles because
weight of a half pound to a pound pet, or both. they fear the younger dog will pick
with an average of about 10 ounces. An old theory held that if a up bad habits and fail to gain the
If healthy, they will double their beagle is a hunting dog it could independence so important in a
birth weight in seven to 10 days not be a pet. Many current owners good hound. A major portion of the
and triple it in two weeks. After challenge that idea, however, and dog’s first hunting season is usually
their eyes open (between 10 claim that the family pet can also spent in this phase of training.
and 14 days, but it may occur be a great hunter. Good training is Throughout all this instruction,
later) and their ears open (13 the key. the key to any training is based on
to 17 days), the puppies begin Beagles and rabbit hunting patience, simplicity, and repetition.
walking around. Baby teeth seem to be made for each other. Praise and rewards given for
arrive in three weeks and But, like most other dogs and positive behavior is the rule—never
permanent teeth are in place all hunting dogs, beagles must punishment—although a training
at six months. Pups are be trained to ensure proper and collar may be used if a dog has a
started on soft food at about acceptable behavior as adults. problem running off-game (deer,
three weeks, are given solid Training is divided into two squirrels, etc.).
food in six to eight weeks, segments, yard and field. Yard Competition among beagle
and are weaned shortly training is viewed as “basic owners is held on three levels: field
afterwards. While the training” in which a beagle learns trials, conformation shows, and
average life expectancy to accept a collar, walk on a leash, performance shows. Conformation
of a beagle is 14 years, respond to voice commands, and and performance shows deal with
hunting or trail perfor- ride a traveling carrier. Shortly how closely a dog matches the ideal
mance tends to “peak” after a pup is weaned it is time to physical model of a beagle and
at four or five years introduce him or her to a collar how well the dog can demonstrate
old. and leash, usually at about six its behavior training, respectively.
Color and patterns of a weeks old. This is the first step in Often a conformation show will be
beagle’s coat are thought to be teaching that you are in control. held during a field trial and awards
controlled by complex genetics. Simple verbal commands such as presented for both activities.

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One Last Cast "Put your Saturday where
your mouth is."
By Nick Green
Editor Clubs, our ask is a little more complex. Because the
organization works in the policy arena, on public and
In June, Michigan United Conservation Clubs private lands, and maintains the largest hunting- and
member Jen Davis penned a blog detailing her volun- fishing-based youth education program in the state,
teerism on public lands through the organization's On our needs stretch far beyond just money.
the Ground (OTG) program. We need policy board members to help drive the
Davis wrote, "Put your Saturday where your mouth resolutions that dictate the organization's lobbying
is," drawing inspiration from the depression-era efforts in Lansing and nationally. We need bodies for
saying, 'Put your money where your mouth is.' OTG to build rabbittat and boardwalks for hunter
In today's conservation world, there are so many access. We need executive board members to help
organizations vying for your support — Ducks ensure the organization remains fiscally viable and
Unlimited, Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters to make directional decisions. We need champions to
and Anglers, the Ruffed Grouse Society, the National spread the conservation message and ensure that the
Wild Turkey Federation and the National Wildlife next generation of conservationists will be afforded
Federation, to name a few. the same amenities you were.
How do you decide which organization to support In summation, we need you. Whatever you can give
or donate your precious time to? or wherever you can attend, MUCC depends on volun-
The first step is to look up the mission statement of teers to ensure that we stay the largest and strongest
the organization that you are considering volunteering state-specific conservation organization in the nation.
for or donating to and making sure that statement Where we have lacked the past several decades is
aligns with your values.. In MUCC's case, our mission marketing of all the great things we do. Many have
statement is uniting citizens to conserve, protect and heard of MUCC as a conservation policy organization
enhance Michigan's natural resources and outdoor and a juggernaut in that arena. But, that comes with a
heritage. price tag. It costs money to lobby officials and under-
Next, you will want to decide how you are going take policy endeavors on behalf of sportsmen and
to give to this organization. Will it be through sweat women in Michigan.
equity, donations, running for a leadership position, More and more people are starting to volunteer
fundraising or spreading the organization's message? for our public lands programs. Without volunteers,
For most, the decision will be a mixture of all these those projects would not be possible, and game and
elements. non-game species would not be benefited.
Personally, I prefer to give my oh-so-precious And, finally, we need a stable of consistent volun-
weekends off to conservation organizations that are teers to donate time at our Michigan Out-of-Doors
having a tangible, immediate impact in my backyard Youth Camp to ensure that kids are learning about
or on the public lands I hunt and fish. MUCC's On the hunting, angling, trapping, shooting and the conserva-
Ground program is a perfect avenue for this. tion ethic tied to those endeavors.
Since the program's inception in 2013, OTG To learn more about how to get involved in MUCC's
has positively impacted more than 2,000 acres of policy process or to volunteer for policy leadership
public land, accrued thousands of volunteer hours positions, email Ian FitzGerald at ifitzgerald@mucc.
and enlisted more than 1,000 volunteers on both of com.
Michigan's peninsulas. To become involved in one of our public land
This isn't to say that I don't appreciate and belong habitat improvement programs, email Makhayla
to organizations like Ducks Unlimited (DU), though — LaButte at or Emma Nehan at
whose mission is conserving, restoring and managing
wetlands and associated habitats for North American To volunteer or donate to our Michigan Out-of-
waterfowl. Doors Youth Camp, contact Shaun McKeon at
National, landscape-level management is
important for our species. And to do that manage- In short, "Put your Saturday where your mouth is."
ment, organizations like DU need money. Generally,
DU undertakes massive projects sometimes totaling
millions of dollars. That is their ask — donate money
to ensure the next generation will be able to enjoy the
species that thrive from healthy and vibrant wetlands.
For Michigan United Conservation

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This project was funded by the Michigan Invasive Species

Grant Program (

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Model XPS2™


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