Here’s hoping that you barbecued up a spring gobbler for your 4th of July celebration-some of us enjoyed success this spring, and some of us found far less gobbling, far fewer birds, and much tougher hunting in the aftermath of the record cold northern Michigan winter of 2013-2014.

Unfortunately, all of our wild turkey populations would have survived if they had access to a steady source of nutritious food. But many did not, particularly with no organized feeding program last winter in Area J, (Antrim, Otsego, Cheboygan, Emmet and Charlevoix Counties), with the exception of Beaver Island, where the Beaver Island Wildlife Club continues to maintain their feeding program, thankfully.

If you found fewer birds this spring in your hunting area, or no birds at all as many hunters reported, then you know how important it is to get what birds we do have in our areas through the winter to come.

As a direct result of the prolonged cold winter, cold spring, and cooler summer, hatches in most areas have also been poor, for the most part.

Despite those lower numbers of wild turkeys, and total lack of birds in very large areas of northern Michigan, the MI DNR once again has designated a fall hunt for most of northwestern lower Michigan. If you hunt this fall, please check the area you’re hunting in FIRST and make sure that area can support losing turkeys, and if you care at all, please don’t take a hen. Please remember, as the DNR has apparently forgotten, that the fall hunt is SUPPOSED to be a management hunt, not a sport hunt.

Once again, special thanks to the chapters of MWTHA that did conduct winter feeding programs, and a very special thanks to all of the private property owners that fed thousands of birds out of their own pockets.

Remember both those property owners and your local chapter of MWTHA with a donation this year if you hope to continue to enjoy the presence of the wild turkey in northern Michigan.

Have a great fall!

Welcome to the Southwest Michigan Longbeards