The 26th annual Wild Turkey Hunters Rendezvous that was held this past March 31 was once again very successful. There are many parts to this event and I thank our members who participated in making the event run so smoothly. I would like to especially thank Rod Little for volunteering to be our guest speaker, who gave a great presentation and Steve Twork, the artist, who makes the Shallow Rio box calls for his donation of calls for a drawing among new members.
During the past winter we purchased 30,000 pounds of shelled corn and distributed it throughout our 13 county area to 4,616 Wild Turkeys. The reduced amount of birds that we are reaching reflects the decline in the turkey population.
During this past spring season there was a noticeable drop in turkey numbers from the previous year. What should have been a banner hatch the previous spring turned out to be a bust. The weather this spring was also ideal, with moderate temperatures and no extended period of rainfall during the time that the hatch occurred. As this is written in early August few poults have been observed and adult hens have formed into small flocks, absent of poults. Why is this occurring? Is it increased predation on the nests and the young, or some other factor we are unaware of?
The following is intertwined between our chapter and the state chapter. On December 13 we attended the Pere Marquette State Forest compartment reviews for the Kalkaska area. We were the only representative from a conservation organization and the only outside person attending. We are still deeply concerned over the lack of providing even minimum habitat requirements for the various game species on that portion of the forest.
On December 14 we attended a Pere Marquette River plan update at Baldwin. We have sent previous correspondence to the U.S. Forest Service protesting the plan update. They are commercializing this public resource. They are sending 44,000 canoes down this narrow trout stream during a few weeks during the summer. Eighty five percent of the permits are allocated to two canoe liveries. That the Forest Service receives a gross percentage from the liveries wouldn’t be the reason the liveries get the lions share, would it? They are turning both the P.M. and the Pine Rivers, which are Wild and Scenic Rivers and beautiful trout streams into amusement parks.
We attended the Pere Marquette State Forest compartment reviews for the Cadillac area. There has to be a change in forest management by the DNR Forest Management Division. They have no obligation to provide habitat necessary to sustain wildlife populations within our state forests.
On February 28 we attended the Resource Stewards committee on the Pigeon River Country State Forest plan update.
We remain active within Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC) and attend our District 13 meetings to keep current on various conservation issues.
On March 14 we attended a meeting of statewide conservation organizations at MUCC headquarters in Lansing. It makes sense to form a united front in dealing with various conservation issues. We brought up the issues of the Huron-Manistee Forest plan update, state forest management and state land consolidation.
On April 12 we attended a state forest consolidation meeting for Lake and Wexford counties. We are very opposed to the DNR proposal to turn over state owned public access sites to the U.S. Forest Service. Other conservation organizations are just as opposed to this proposal as we are.
On April 20 we participated in Earth Day celebrations at the Reed City public schools. We presented our turkey program to 5 classes consisting of 125 5th grade students. Hopefully, there will be an appreciation of those big black birds. The future of the Wild Turkey rests with the next generation of people.
On May 11 we attended another meeting about the Pigeon River Country State Forest at Gaylord. We attended a MUCC District 13 meeting at Cadillac on May 20. We attended another meeting of statewide conservation organizations at MUCC headquarters in Lansing on June 4. We are a member of the Habitat & Access Committee. We attended a Resource Stewards meeting on June 13 at Clare. We asked their support to defeat Resolution #19, to hunt fall turkeys from September 1 thru December 31, at the MUCC convention.
On June 18 we attended and testified at a House of Representatives Subcommittee on Natural Resources hearing on the hunting and fishing license increase bills at Cadillac. We attended the MUCC convention at the Soo on June 13 and 14 (explained elsewhere in this issue). We were instrumental in obtaining Natural Rivers status and protection for the Pine River.
On July 18 we attended a Pine River Restoration Committee meeting at Cadillac. It was decided that this year our chapter would send a deserving youth to the Michigan Out-Of-Doors Camp For Kids this summer. Randy Cook, age 13, of Baldwin was selected.
We brought MUCC’s Wildlife Encounters program to the Trinity Lutheran school at Reed City this past May. The $250 cost was shared between member Ivan Giese and our chapter. If funds permit we would extend the invitation to other schools.