For many years I can be found in the woods before first light during April and May. I just love to witness the sight and sounds as darkness fades to first light. Each morning I walk at least one half to one mile. By the end of May, for an old guy, I am in pretty good shape.
During these early morning ventures I primarily scout for Wild Turkey gobblers. I cover a lot of ground, mostly within six counties. For a number of years each year finds less turkeys. Places and locations that traditionally held turkeys they are no longer found. Habitat has not changed so why has the once plentiful Wild Turkeys been in such a severe decline, especially within northern Michigan?
This past spring I heard a total of two grouse drumming, one woodcock singing and one Barred Owl. I have not heard a Whip-Poor-Will, with it’s rapid fire call in years. Several decades ago we learned that when they stopped calling the gobblers began. We used to count on the Barred Owls locating a gobbler for us. No more! How sad!
I have no difficulty hearing normal conversation. It is the long distance sounds that are hard to hear. Several years ago my son Brian bought me a hearing device that really amplifies the sound. A turkey gobbling a quarter mile away sounds like it is on a limb over your head. My point is that it is not the lack of hearing ability.
In the September 2005 issue of Michigan Turkey Tracks I wrote the following article with the title of Where Have All Of The Critters Gone? This is the re-write.
?There is something terribly wrong in the outdoor world that we love and marvel in. Many of our wildlife species are declining. I have chased spring gobblers for the past 37 years (where have all of the years gone?). With weather permitting during most early morning in April and May I am either scouting, hunting or video taping turkeys or other wild creatures.
Several decades ago at just about each of my stops I could hear a Ruffed Grouse or two drumming. Woodcock with their erie mating sound could be heard from every creek bottom and swampy area. Whip-Poor- Will would be heard just before first light. You could always count on the Barred Owls to help locate a gobbler. It was always great sport to call up a Barred Owl who came looking for company, along with an array of weird calls. At times the early morning chorus of songbirds was so loud that a distant, gobbler could not be heard.
Each year for past years less and less wildlife is heard or encountered. This year I did hear an occasional Ruffed Grouse drumming. I heard the total of one Barred Owl, one Great Horned Owl and one Whip-Poor-Will. I have not heard a Woodcock for the past two years. The loud chorus of songbirds is becoming a faint memory.
Have you found the same thing in those areas that you hunt? Many of us have. Something is negatively impacting our wildlife. You hear nothing from those people charged with managing them. Are the people in our organization the only ones who care? The people that are charged with managing our wildlife are on a big eco- system management kick. They don’t seem to know or care that our eco-system has been broken for years with various vanishing species of wildlife each year.
Personally I am disturbed that our grandchildren will never be able to hear, encounter or perhaps hunt those species of wildlife that we have enjoyed so much.? (End)
An article titled Ruffed Grouse spring Drumming Counts Up 16 Percent appeared in the July 18 edition of the Michigan Outdoor News. It was an article reporting on information from the DNR Wildlife Division. Our Ruffed Grouse numbers have severally declined from just several decades ago. So 16 percent of nearly nothing is still just nothing. Woodcock have seen a annual decline for several decades. The DNR claims that Michigan is the number one state for Woodcock production and harvest. If this is true it is only because of the annual migration from Canada into Michigan. The report does give harvest numbers but there is no mention of the actual numbers of these two species or a comparison with past population numbers. This is quite typical of most DNR reports. It gives one a warm fuzzy feeling. How about a report that outlines the reality of what is really out there?