As we get through the final months of what really has been a fairly mild winter and head into another spring hunting season, the impact of what can only be described as the collapse of several of MWTHA’s chapters in northern Michigan, and two very hard winters in a row is being felt by all of us who love the wild turkey.
Although we have continued to have a fall wild turkey hunting season in the five county area of Area J, and a basically unlimited spring season due to the loosening of a number of hunting application requirements, much of that part of northern Michigan, once the stronghold of the wild turkey in the north only has about half, or even fewer, wild turkeys than we had just ten years ago.
Why? Because only some wild turkeys were fed during the very hard winters of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, and those because of caring property owners and a handful of hunters who recognized that without help, NONE of our wild turkeys would survive those brutal conditions.
Fortunately, last winter was exceptionally mild, and we had an excellent hatch last spring, increasing the numbers substantially as well as the chances for a good spring hunt this year. But winter has its teeth into us now, and many, or most, birds are once again dependent upon that kernel of corn to get them through the winter.
But still, very few seemed to have recognized the looming threat of the wild turkey’s extirpation in northern Michigan. Volunteers continue to be few and far between, donations have continued to decline, and interest overall, in joining together for the benefit of our wild turkey continues to fail.
In fact, for the first time in 30 years, there will not be a Wild Turkey Rendezvous in Baldwin at the end of March, due to, Jim Maturen tells me, a lack of volunteers for that once very popular event which drew hundreds from all over the state of Michigan instead, there will be a new event—a Turkey “Shoot”. Contact Jim Maturen for details.
And, as always, Jim and his small remaining group of volunteers will be present at several of the outdoor shows around Michigan later this winter.
None of us wants the wild turkey to become a thing of the past in northern Michigan. So look at your calendar, find some time to get involved, and do what you can financially to prevent that from happening by renewing your membership in MWTHA and your interest in the future of our hunting sports.
Have a great spring and summer!