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Archive | Outdoors

New fishing, hunting and ORV license structure begins March 1

From the Michigan DNR


Michigan’s fishing, hunting and ORV licenses will change beginning March 1, 2014. The new license structure authorized by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder, in 2013, makes buying a license easier and provides vital funding to improve outdoor recreation opportunities for anglers, hunters, trappers and ORV riders.

“By greatly reducing the number of license types and enhancing our sales system, we’re simplifying the license-buying process,” said Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh. “This new structure keeps Michigan’s license costs competitive with other Great Lakes states, and makes a critical investment in our natural resources and outdoor recreation—putting more boots on the ground, waders in the water and eyes in the field.”

Among the most significant changes to the license structure:

Anglers will no longer need to choose between restricted and all-species fishing licenses. All fishing licenses will be good for all species.
An ORV trail permit will be required, in addition to the ORV license, for riding on state-designated trails, routes and scramble areas.
A base license will be required for all hunters. In addition to providing critical funding for wildlife conservation and management, the base license allows hunters to hunt small game and purchase additional hunting licenses for other species.
Outdoor enthusiasts can purchase a hunt/fish combo license that includes a base license, a deer combo license (two tags), and an all-species fishing license.
A single deer license, valid throughout archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons, replaces the separate archery and firearm licenses. The deer combo license remains available for hunters who wish to harvest two bucks.

The license-buying process will also be improved, with streamlined options for simplified purchasing at retail agents and a new mobile option that will allow users to buy licenses using their smartphone or tablet and store non-kill tag licenses as a PDF on their mobile device.

Additional funding from these changes will enable the Department of Natural Resources and its partners to provide:

Better hunting opportunities – expanded habitat management on public and private lands to enhance habitat for deer, pheasant, grouse, woodcock, turkey and other game species.
Greater access to world-class fishing opportunities – improved fisheries habitat in inland lakes and streams, and increased health and quantity of fish stocked.
A first-rate ORV trail network, providing enhanced riding opportunities and benefiting local economies.
Increased protection of natural resources and a safer outdoor recreation experience for residents and visitors by increasing the number of conservation officers in the field.
Expanded outreach and education for new and existing hunters and anglers.

The all-species fishing, base hunting and hunt/fish combo licenses will include a new $1 surcharge. In accordance with statute, revenue generated from these funds will be used to educate the public on the benefits of hunting, fishing and trapping in Michigan, and the impact of these activities on the conservation, preservation and management of the state’s natural resources.

For more information about the license restructuring—including license prices, frequently asked questions and details about how license dollars will be invested, visit www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on “hunting and fishing license structure” under “In the Know.”

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Public Invited to Nature Programs

Ranger Steve’s Nature Niche

By Ranger Steve Mueller


Grand Rapids Audubon and Michigan Botanical Clubs invite the public to enjoy two different free nature programs on February 22 and 24, 2014 presented by Ranger Steve.

Botanizing the Natural World sponsored by the Michigan Botanical Club will be at GVSU Allendale Campus in Niemeyer Hall, Room 148 on Saturday Feb. 22 at 2 p.m.

Program Description: Enjoy the world of plants that surround us throughout the year. Plants are friends that share beauty, mystery, and intrigue, while providing basic needs in ecosystems. Their adaptations help them survive where they stand for a lifetime. Enjoy a fascination with plants as we discover special features that serve their needs and those of other organisms in ecosystems. The program will provide a glimpse of wildflowers, trees, and associated animals we will be able to experience at Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary on a Saturday, September 13, 2014 on a field trip at 2 p.m. Bring family and friends for enjoyable pictures and dialog with Ranger Steve this Saturday.

Dorothy Sibley, president of MBC says, “Ranger Steve is a great presenter you won’t want to miss. See you there!” Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

Directions to Niemeyer Hall: Room 148 (Case Room) is on the 1st floor in Niemeyer Hall. If you come to campus on M-45 (Lake Michigan Drive) turn onto campus and follow the road called Campus Drive until you come to a four-way stop. This is Calder Drive. Turn left on Calder Drive and then turn left into parking lot M, where you may park. (Open parking on Saturdays).

The Grand Rapids Audubon Club program is Monday evening Feb. 24th at 7:30 p.m. with 7 p.m. refreshments at Orchard View Church on Leffingwell at 3 Mile Rd. Go 1 mile west from the East Beltline on 3 mile Rd. and left on Leffingwell. The church parking is on the right at the corner.

Program Title and Description:

Birds and Life at Ody Brook Sanctuary:

Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary in Cedar Springs is managed to enhance biodiversity. Discover the variety of life that could thrive in your yard when extensive lawns are limited in size and replaced with native plants that support bird and other animal populations. The sanctuary is located in the headwaters for Little Cedar Creek with both upland and wetland habitats. Over 100 bird, 24 mammal, 11 herps, 51 butterfly species have been documented along with nearly 250 species of plants and many other species.

Five acres were added to the sanctuary in 2011 to further protect the floodplain. Nature trails meander the property with bridges over the creek. Ponds, stream, field and forest comprise the splendor. Brook trout enter the sanctuary in spring. Green Herons, Wood Ducks, American Woodcocks, three species of owls, Pileated Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Gray Catbirds, Blue-winged Warblers, Eastern Towhees, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks attest to habitat variety. Many Orders of insects thrive and create conditions suitable for bird abundance. Natural history of birds, flowers, trees, and insects will highlight the abundance of life that comprises local biodiversity.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.  


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No ice is safe ice


Practice ice-safety measures while fishing, snowmobiling


With warmer temperatures for most of Michigan in the forecast this week, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) urges ice anglers and snowmobilers to remember: No ice is safe ice.

“With several days of warmer temperatures in the forecast this week, including the possibility of rainy days in the high 40s, we want to remind ice fishermen and snowmobilers that thawing will occur and that will definitely weaken ice,” said Lt. Andrew Turner, marine safety and education supervisor for the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “By following some guidelines on how ice looks and feels, you can avoid your day of ice fishing ending as a life-threatening incident.”

According to Turner, you can’t always tell the strength of ice simply by its look, its thickness, the temperature or whether or not it is covered with snow. Here are some quick things to look for when venturing on ice:

Clear ice that has a bluish tint is the strongest. Ice formed by melted and refrozen snow appears milky, and is very porous and weak.

Ice covered by snow always should be presumed unsafe. Snow acts like an insulating blanket and slows the freezing process. Ice under the snow will be thinner and weaker. A snowfall also can warm up and melt existing ice.

If there is slush on the ice, stay off. Slush ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and indicates the ice is no longer freezing from the bottom.

Turner said anglers should be especially cautious in areas where air temperatures have fluctuated. A warm spell may take several days to weaken the ice; however, when temperatures vary widely, causing the ice to thaw during the day and refreeze at night, the result is a weak, “spongy” or honeycombed ice that is unsafe, he said.

The DNR does not recommend the standard “inch-thickness” guide used by many anglers and snowmobilers to determine ice safety because ice seldom forms at a uniform rate.
“I personally would never recommend that you take a car or truck onto the ice,” Turner said. “But those are personal decisions. I would urge that anyone wear a life jacket, wear bright colors and take a cell phone when walking onto a frozen lake or river. Also, bring along a set of ice picks or ice claws, which you can find in most sporting goods shops.”

If you do break through, Turner offered the following tips:

Try to remain calm.

Don’t remove your winter clothing. Heavy clothes won’t drag you down, but instead can trap air to provide warmth and flotation. This is especially true with a snowmobile suit.

Turn in the water toward the direction you came from – that is probably the strongest ice.

If you have them, dig the points of the picks into the ice and, while vigorously kicking your feet, pull yourself onto the surface by sliding forward on the ice.

Roll away from the area of weak ice. Rolling on the ice will distribute your weight to help avoid breaking through again.

Get to shelter, heat, warm dry clothing and warm, non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated drinks.

Call 911 and seek medical attention if you feel disoriented, have uncontrollable shivering or have any other ill effects that may be symptoms of hypothermia (the life-threatening drop in the body’s core temperature).


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Southern Flying Squirrels


By Ranger Steve Mueller



My oldest daughter and I ventured into the night when we were on our way somewhere. She asked, “What’s making that sound?” We listened and heard a chipping nearby but could not see what was making the sound. The outside light was on but revealed no birds or other animals.

We used our ears to locate the sound. It was coming from near the bird feeder but nothing was there. We moved closer and the sound was definitely coming from the feeder with no animals on it. I lifted to cover to see what might be inside and out “flew” three Southern Flying Squirrels. Not only were the squirrels surprised, so were we when life exploded from inside the feeder.

The flying squirrels do not actually fly. They glide on parachute skin flaps that stretch between fore and hind legs. They also have a flattened tail that helps with buoyancy in the air and aids as a rudder. Large bulgy eyes help in the deep darkness of night. These small mammals are truly nocturnal and are seen only in daylight when disturbed from a shelter cavity.

They depend on dead hollow trees for survival. Food, water, and a few acres of appropriate living space are necessary. Without cavities for shelter they do not do well. People often want to “clean up” yards of dead standing trees. I suggest leaving dead trees stand unless they are in a location that may result in injury to people or damage to the house when they fall.

As director at Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC), I removed dead trees near trails where they could present a danger. I have recommended current HCNC landscape managers to allow most dead trees to stand. People have a tendency to want them for burning in fireplaces or woodstoves. It is usually better to take live trees that are crowded too close together. Thin live trees instead of taking dead ones. The remaining live trees will grow healthier with more vigor in a thinned forest. After cut trees are aged for months to a year, they make better firewood than do dead trees. Dead trees lose substance with time and provide less heating capacity.

It is not just squirrels that need dead trees for survival. There are many species of mammals, birds, and insects that need the shelter gained from dead trees. A forest is not healthy without a large number of standing dead trees. During the extreme cold we have been experiencing, bluebirds huddle together in hollow tree cavities to survive the night. Northern Flying Squirrels are more common in the Upper Peninsula but could possibly get this far south. To tell them apart one would probably need to have them in hand to examine the color of hair bases.

There are many living things, like Southern Flying Squirrels, that are never or seldom seen. Life abounds at HCNC and Ody Brook because dead wood is allowed to stand. Your yard can support a great amount of life when managed well. Life in nature niches depends on a healthy supply of the dead.

Think food, water, shelter and appropriate living space. Provide conditions that allow nature to provide the food, water, and shelter. You can supplement with birdseed, nest boxes, and birdbaths but the main source of life support should come from what nature provides for free in a well-managed landscape.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. Submitted 7 Feb 2014

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Snowshoeing at HCNC

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Finding family time can be challenging. Finding family time enjoying the outdoors especially in winter can be challenging. Finding family time in quiet solitude away from electric distractions can be challenging. Finding a fun safe physical healthy activity can be challenging. Finding fun that is inexpensive can be challenging.

The Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC) will help families fill all those needs. Plan a couple hours adventure on snowshoes on HCNC trails. Trails are well marked and walks can be short or long depending on your desire. Cost: $3.75/person, $3/students, $3/seniors.

Most everyone from early elementary age to senior citizens can use snowshoes. It is a wonderful adventure for multi-generation families to share a common activity. Grandparents, kids, and grandkids can enjoy time together outdoors and indoors. Those wishing not to snowshoe can enjoy discovery inside the Red Pine Interpretive Center while others are on trails.

Traditional wood snowshoes or plastic snowshoes are available. A pair should be found that works for each family member. Bindings on the plastic shoes attach easily with a rubber binder that stretches over the boot heel. Traditional snowshoes have strap bindings. One places their toe in the front binding and fastens a strap over the boot. One’s boot heel is not attached to the shoes like occurs with downhill skies. This allows one to walk nearly normally. There is no left and right snowshoe but bindings are attached in a manner that makes it easier for a left or right foot. Tightening the binding is easier when placed on the appropriate foot. HCNC staff will assist.

One difference for walking is that the large snowshoes size spreads ones weight on the snow to limit the depth the shoe sinks into snow. That purpose is what makes walking in snowshoes effective in deep snow. The snowshoe size requires people spread their feet farther apart than normal. We adjust to the change quickly. It is necessary to leave space between people. If one gets too close they step on the hidden snowshoe tail of the person’s shoe in front of them.

You might like to venture out with members of our community for a special candlelight snowshoeing event planned for Valentine’s evening on February 14, 2014. Enjoy a guided tour through the nature center’s scenic trails. Hot refreshments will be served and snowshoe equipment will be provided. An approximate two-mile walk through candlelit trails will be memorable. Enjoy romantic stories around the campfire at Camp Lily’s location and roast marshmallows. $5/person or $20/family is a suggested for that event. A larger donation will greatly help HCNC’s programming and community service.

Finding HCNC’s web site can be difficult. Visit it at http://lilysfrogpad.com. If you Google Howard Christensen Nature Center, Lily’s Frog pad will also come up. But if you Google HCNC, an old website will be listed. Click that and on the right side under Mission Statement is a forwarding address to click. When that is clicked, it brings you the current Howard Christensen Nature Center site operated by Lily’s Frog Pad. Once at the site click “Programs” and scroll down to Winter Snowshoeing for options and times. Volunteers are always needed. If someone knows how to have a Google search take people directly to HCNC’s current web site when HCNC is entered in the search box, your volunteer help would be appreciated.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 


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Second state-record fish caught this month

A white perch in Muskegon County


Aaron Slagh with his state-record white perch.

Aaron Slagh with his state-record white perch.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) confirmed the catch of a new state-record white perch on Friday, Jan. 24. This is the second state record caught in the month of January.

The white perch was caught by Aaron Slagh, of Holland, Mich., on Tuesday, Jan. 21, on Muskegon Lake in Muskegon County at 11 a.m. The fish weighed 1.93 pounds and measured 13.25 inches. Slagh was ice fishing with a spoon when he landed the record fish. The record was verified by Rich O’Neal, a DNR fisheries biologist, at the Muskegon field office.

The previous state-record white perch was caught by Kyle Ryan, of Reese, on Lake Huron, in Tuscola County, on July 13, 2002. That fish weighed 1.88 pounds and measured 13.25 inches.

“It was just another normal day on the ice for me, as I get out as much as I can,” said Slagh. “We were actually targeting yellow perch and I thought I had a walleye. When we pulled it up we thought ‘Holy cow—that’s a big white perch!’”

State records are recognized by weight only. To qualify for a state record, fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist.

“This winter, despite the extreme weather most of Michigan has been experiencing, is shaping up to be a great time for many anglers,” said DNR Fisheries Division Chief Jim Dexter. “This latest state record once again showcases the quality of the state’s fisheries.”

For more information on fishing in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Youth rabbit hunt a new tradition

The annual youth rabbit hunt, put on by the Belding Sportsmen’s Club and other conservation groups in partnership with the DNR, pairs kids with hunting mentors. Pictured here, Walter Ingvartsen of Ionia (right) offers 14-year-old Cohl Riddle of Vicksburg his guidance.

The annual youth rabbit hunt, put on by the Belding Sportsmen’s Club and other conservation groups in partnership with the DNR, pairs kids with hunting mentors. Pictured here, Walter Ingvartsen of Ionia (right) offers 14-year-old Cohl Riddle of Vicksburg his guidance.

What started out as an experiment has turned into a tradition. The youth rabbit hunt at the Belding Sportsmen’s Club, near the Flat River State Game Area—now in its third year—attracted 45 youngsters last Saturday for a morning of stomping brush piles, following beagles and tromping through the snow.

“We’re getting great participation from everyone,” said club president John Burns, “club members, parents and youngsters.”

The idea for the youth hunt sprung from John Niewoonder, the Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist at Flat River, who had been on a campaign to improve the small game habitat by building brush piles for “rabbitat” at the area.

“When John brought it to us, we said yes,” Burns said. “This is a good thing, getting the kids out in the elements instead of staying on the computer all day. It’s all about getting the kids—our future—into the outdoors.”

Hosting the event “is not a problem,” Burns said. The club donated breakfast, and members began showing up at 5 a.m. to cook eggs, sausage, hash browns and toast for the crowd’s 7:30 arrival. It cost the club about $200 for the victuals, he said.

“This is what we do—conservation,” he said. “We’re sportsmen. We need to do this to promote hunting and getting the kids out.”

Besides feeding the crowd, providing a meeting place and lining up sportsmen to help guide the young hunters, the sponsors made sure all the youngsters at the event went home with a door prize.

Door prizes were collected by the Mid-Michigan United Sportsmen’s Alliance (MMUSA), a consortium of sportsmen’s clubs, conservation groups (Ducks Unlimited, Michigan Trappers Association and Quality Deer Management), as well a couple of soil conservation district offices. Mike Winegard, a retiree who spearheaded the MMUSA effort, said it wasn’t that hard. His partners collected multi-tools, shirts, hats, game calls, knives, fishing rods, pocket binoculars, candybars and even a high-tech slingshot. There were three grand door prizes—a shotgun, a .22 rifle, and a trapper’s kit with the stuff a youngster needs to get started trapping.

Bill Bird and Wally Ingvartsen, Ionia-area rabbit hunters, showed up to take a party—two boys and a pair of parents—to their stomping grounds behind Bird’s home. They ran a handful of rabbits, and Kam Snyder, a ninth-grader from Schoolcraft, harvested his first-ever rabbit.

“He was on the edge of the brush, and it dropped right in its tracks,” Snyder said. “It was cool.”

Giving up their own Saturday hunt to take a couple of youngsters hunting was a positive experience, Bird said. As far as he and Wally were concerned, they got out and ran their dogs and didn’t have to bother with carrying a firearm.


“Both of those boys we took had killed deer, but neither had taken a rabbit before,” Bird said. “Kids aren’t coming up the same way we did; I started hunting rabbits when I was around 10 with my father and I think that’s a great way to start. I wish we’d have got more rabbits running than we did, but they both got shots.”

That wasn’t unusual, said Niewoonder.

“When I asked how we did, a lot of guys said, ‘We didn’t get any, but we had some shooting,’” Niewoonder said. “But a lot of these kids are young and they’re still figuring it out. They’re going to get some shots and some of them are going to miss. Shooting and missing is good fun, too.”

Niewoonder said the event has really been an eye-opener to him.

“I am impressed with how much the main sponsors – the Belding Sportsmen’s Club, MMUSA and the Mecosta Quality Deer Management Association guys—really seem to like it. They’re all standing in line to help, smiling the whole time. They’re not a bunch of young people, but when they get a chance to hang out with these young kids, I think it really warms their hearts.”

The hunt wasn’t all rabbits this year. A couple of guys, who are members of the Michigan Squirrel Dog Association, brought squirrel dogs to take the kids out with. Kirk Evans, an aircraft mechanic from Ionia, brought a black-mouthed cur and a feist (a hunting dog that has been cross-bred, originally by mixing Native American dogs with terriers, but is now recognized as a breed by the United Kennel Club). Randy Lubbers of Hamilton brought three feists.

The squirrel hunters managed to tree four squirrels, but only one hit the ground, taken by third-grader Nick Collins of East Grand Rapids, who said: “It was cool.”

And it wasn’t just youngsters who were successful hunters. Steve Newland, a Belding insurance adjuster, brought his two young sons—only one of whom carried a firearm—but he got all the shooting in his party.

“We got three of them,” 7-year-old Owen Newland said proudly. “I didn’t get any shooting, but I stepped on one.”

Both Niewoonder and Burns agree that the event has turned into a tradition.

“I hope this keeps up,” Burns said. “This is a good thing. It’s good to get people out here on the state land. The DNR wants people to out here using this land and it promotes bringing some city kids out here in the country to try something new. Basically, it’s all about the kids.”

To learn more about getting young people involved in hunting, visit www.michigan.gov/mentoredhunting

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Park rangers rescue lost snowmobilers in the Porcupine Mountains


Two snowmobilers, missing in the backcountry near Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park for more than 24 hours during blizzard weather conditions, were rescued Monday afternoon by a team of Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation staff working in conjunction with local, state and federal agencies.

At approximately 2 p.m. Monday, after snowshoeing through blinding snow, wind chills of 40 degrees below zero, and snow depths in excess of four feet for several hours, DNR Parks and Recreation district supervisor Bill Doan and park rangers Jimmy Newkirk, David Merk and Emily Pleiness successfully located Benjamin M. Jenney Sr. and Benjamin M. Jenney Jr., a father and son from Albertville, Minn., approximately 2 miles from the nearest road.

The Jenneys, who were suffering from frostbite, hypothermia and dehydration, were helped to nearby snowmobiles and transported by Michigan State Police and local volunteers to an area accessible by ambulance.

The pair became stranded after their snowmobiles broke through the ice on the Little Iron River Sunday afternoon. Although the area does not receive reliable cell phone coverage, the Jenneys were able to send several text messages to family relaying their situation.

Using geo-location data attached to the text messages, Michigan State Police and the Civil Air Patrol identified a remote four-square-mile area where the Jenneys were last known to be, allowing the DNR ranger team to begin a coordinated search and rescue effort along the Little Iron River corridor Monday morning.

Due to deep snow off trail and open water on the river, Doan determined the rangers would need to search by snowshoe rather than by snowmobile. The team broke up, with Doan and three rangers hiking in from the north end while ranger Justin Farley and a local volunteer hiked in from the south, traversing rugged terrain, thin ice and open water.

“This is truly an incredible survival story on the part of the snowmobilers who were able to keep moving and survive a night outdoors in these extreme elements,” said park supervisor Kasey Mahony. “The effort of our park staff is also commendable, with one ranger spending more than eight hours searching off-trail on snowshoes in exceptionally difficult weather conditions. The dedication of our staff in responding to backcountry emergencies, and their commitment to regularly completing search and rescue and emergency response training, proved instrumental in the positive outcome for these snowmobilers.”

The DNR rangers were part of a search and rescue effort coordinated by the Michigan State Police, in partnership with the Michigan Civil Air Patrol, Ontonagon County Sheriff’s Department, Ontonagon County Community Emergency Response Team, Ontonagon County Emergency Manager, U.S. Forest Service, DNR Law Enforcement Division, U.S. Air Force and Coast Guard, AmericInn of Silver City, Sled Necks of Wisconsin, Sonco Ambulance, and many other local volunteers.

For snowmobile safety tips and regulations, visit www.michigan.gov/snowmobiling.

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Time and Space

By Ranger Steve Mueller

A clear black sky perforated with brilliant illuminations from countless stars lighted the luge-like chute depression of our snow path during last night’s walk. Crisp snow squeaked under foot in the -9 degrees Fahrenheit air. No owls called. It was too early for activity. I have not discovered a particular hour Barred Owls select to call. They seem to call earlier in the evening than the Great Horned Owl. Horned owls schedule hoots for midnight and again at 5:30 a.m. in mid winter.

The New Year is an exciting time for emergence and rebirth of one’s spirit from the womb of the year. Old memories are lost in recesses of the mind and only resurface when triggered by smells, sights, sounds, tastes, or touches that draw them forth. The Pleiades star constellation is a distant friend that looks like the Big Dipper removed so far in space that it looks like a dipper that has lost size. The depth of the dark night reveals the immense size of surroundings.

It is only with thought that we penetrate time and space in any real manner. Both are too remote to experience with our physical senses. With our physical senses we enter the natural world to gain access to the spirit of the universe. Physical senses allow us to experience the wonders around us. Then we can contemplate and reflect on the spirit of nature and begin to understand the wonders of birds, plants, mammals, water, insects, and air in the natural world. Our place in the universe is small. The big dipper is perceptively small when compared with its galaxy. The galaxy is minuscule among the billions and billions of galaxies peppering light throughout the grand darkness of space.

Time loses meaning in the distance of space but here on Earth it is real. We share nature niches in a fleeting moment of time and space with other species. For that instant it is the most important moment of life. There is no past and no future at the moment when I see a chickadee, hear its call, or feel its presence as it wings past my hand at the feeder. For that moment we are alone and yet together in the universe at the same time in the same space. The universe has suddenly been reduced in size by my perception and a spiritual bond is created between bird and me.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433.

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Weekly Fishing Tip:

*OUT-Weekly Fishing tip youth-ice-fishing-2014_originalFinding panfish through the ice


Have you been attempting to target panfish during your ice fishing trips this winter, but aren’t having much luck? Consider the following things:

Are the panfish sticking to shallow or deep depths?

Are they hanging out in the weeds or on the rocks?

Are they suspended or are they hugging the bottom?

Due to the weather much of the state has experienced recently, panfish are likely to be in deeper water to find more oxygen. Keep that in mind when you look for them!

Also keep your presentation efforts in mind. A popular effort includes putting a jig on the bottom and using a twitch-pause-twitch routine with it.

For more information on winter fishing in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

This tip was adapted from Michigan Outdoor News.

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