They say time seems to pass faster when you get older. How true that is for me.

It seems like the spring turkey season just ended, but we’re already looking at fall and another fall turkey sea-
son here in Area J. No one’s quite sure why we continue to have a fall turkey season up here, but since very few people appear to participate, despite readily available over the counter tags, it probably doesn’t really matter.

Besides a handful of us who truly try to hunt the wild turkey using traditional fall methods of scattering and recalling the flock, and a few archery deer hunters who buy tags in case a flock of turkeys stops at their bait piles (despite the fact that it is illegal to take a turkey over bait), the DNR is probably wasting their money even trying to have a fall turkey season in northern Michigan.

Nobody seems to care.

Which correlates to the attitudes many people appear to have regarding the existence of wild turkeys in northern Michigan. Just before the spring seasons start whey everyone is glad just to be able to get out and about, and for the first few days of the early season, I’ll see a few turkey hunters’ vehicles as they scout and hunt the first few days. After that, I won’t see anyone at all.

Again, nobody seems to care.

After all, wild turkeys don’t have antlers and a lot of hunters have discovered that successfully, and consistently, putting a spring gobbler in the smoker is a lot of work. It’s not just a matter of walking into the woods and sit- ting over a bait pile.

That’s only possible these days in northern Michigan if the property owners in that area have seen to it that the wild turkeys that show up on their bird feeders every winter have plenty of food to get through the winter.

Strangely, again the turkey hunters don’t seem to care.

I see this more and more often these days-just the other day a once avid turkey hunter made comments to me about the drop in wild turkey numbers in his area and naively asked me, “What happened?”

I couldn’t help but get angry, although I tried not to show it. “Do you remember the winters we had a couple of years ago and the weeks of temperatures that hit 25 below?” I asked him. Yes, he did. But he didn’t seem to realize, after 20 years of hunting turkeys, that wild turkeys in northern Michigan need help to survive extremely cold, snowy winters.

He never read anything about that. He never joined a conservation group like MWTHA, which for the past 20 years has fought to keep wild turkeys in our presence, he never even talked to any other hunters about it.

For the few weeks a year that he cared about wild turkeys, he thought that the hunting license he bought was enough.

Well, it isn’t, as the plummeting numbers of wild turkeys have demonstrated in the last four years . . . And if it wasn’t for the folks who make that effort every winter to make sure the turkeys on their bird feeders have enough to eat, and the MWTHA chapters that still continue to struggle to raise money for corn that is distributed to anyone that needs it, like the Pere Marquette Chapter in Area K, we wouldn’t have any wild turkeys at all in northern Michigan.

Public Land is a Commons