This release began by saying, “The belief that the best bet for turkey hunting is to head to southern Michigan is being challenged this year,” and went on ad-nauseum using color photos, which the DNR NEVER uses in their press releases, to show us all what a GREAT place northern Michigan is for turkey hunting.

That much is true. Northern Michigan IS a great place to turkey hunt. But it’s not a new concept, and never has been. Northern lower Michigan has ALWAYS been the best place in the state to hunt wild turkeys, at least, if you hunt on public land.

But that’s not what bothered me-what bothered me was wondering why the DNR did this NOW – in more than 25 years of incredible turkey hunting up here, much better 15 years ago than now (and they know all too well how good it was, believe me) they had never talked up northern Michigan as a premier turkey hunting location, especially for public land hunters, before.

So why do you think they did this? Could it be a response to hunters complaining they’d been unable to locate any birds at all, much less have a successful hunt?

In light of the winter we experienced in most of the NLP, which wasn’t at ALL the “mild winter” the DNR keeps saying it was (maybe it was in Lansing, who knows), we DID have a pretty good season, if you knew where to go, and I have no doubt that the hunters cited spoke truthfully. After all, the photos back that up … LOL

But do a little background work, and I’ll bet that every one of those successful hunters, all of whom, either work for the DNR or are friends with someone who works for the DNR, was only successful because they also knew where to go-right around the areas where private property owners shelled out money out of their own pockets to feed the birds, or where winter feeding programs conducted by the Pere Marquette Chapter and Traverse Bay Chapter of the MWTHA had taken place a few months before, or, in the case of Beaver Island, where the Beaver Island Wildlife Club has conducted a winter feeding program for more than two decades, with help from the Traverse Bay Chapter MWTHA for several years.

Please note there were no testimonials from hunters in the Roscommon, Grayling or West Branch areas, all of which at one time had a lot of birds, or even over on the sunrise side of out state near Alpena or Fairview, once known as the “Wild Turkey Capital of Michigan.”

That’s because, in those areas, feeding programs have always been, at best sporadic, and bird numbers have dropped – or even disappeared, despite the increased agriculture, more mast like acorns, and overall milder winter than in western Michigan. A much publicized “restocking” of birds in Fairview a year or two ago made it clear that even the DNR realizes that these areas have suffered. But they didn’t say so then-and they didn’t even mention the lower numbers of birds or winter feeding programs in their release of June 21. Instead, mention was made of the “hard work” our local biologists do – well, they do. I had one contact me with names of people driving him crazy that were hoping to get turkey feed that erroneously thought the DNR kept the birds going in the winter. He wanted me to call them and get them some corn at the Traverse Bay Chapter’s expense. I did. That took a lot of time and effort for him, I’m sure. Beyond that, and offering to sell the Traverse Bay Chapter 200 oak trees for $700, I am not aware of any “work” that our local biologists did, or have done in the last decade, for wild turkeys in Area J.

I could go on for hours about our forestry practices, which the release said is about working “together to provide hard and soft mast trees that turkeys use during the year. Grassy areas also are managed to provide areas where poults (young turkeys) can find insects that they need to survive.” The DNR plants trees and makes openings? Really? Where?

And this was really fun — ”The NWTF provides crabapple trees and food plots annually to plant in areas of northern Michigan with food supply shortages”. Well, we do that too, every year, and have for decades, but have to tell you that it’s hard for turkeys to get to food plots under three feet of snow, and harder still to enjoy crab apples from trees the deer and elk have eaten.

What is my opinion of what this press release was all about? Could it have been an effort to hang onto a whole lot of turkey license money that they face losing as our wild turkey populations continue to dwindle?

It’s sad that anyone’s thoughts would go in that direction, after all, these people are supposed to CARE about our wild- life, right?

But that seems to be what it’s all about these days in Lansing.

Unfortunately, as the price of corn continues to rise, and as MWTHA continues to struggle, the DNR might find it’s tougher every day to sell turkey licenses for birds that aren’t there.

 

Pere Marquette Chapter Fall 2013 Update
Turkey Versus Coyote