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Archive | Outdoors

2017 Michigan deer hunting forecast 

 

by Chad Stewart, Deer, Elk and Moose Management Specialist, Lansing Customer Service Center

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has compiled information hunters may find helpful before they hit the field this fall.

Know Before You Go 

Part of hunting preparation includes reviewing and understanding pertinent deer regulations. Visit mi.gov/deer, which provides highlights of regulation changes, information about deer management and links to additional resources, such as deer check stations.

Refer to the 2017 Hunting and Trapping Digest and Antlerless Digest, also available at DNR Customer Service Centers and license vendors, for a map of all deer management units (DMUs) and other regulation details.

Breeding Activity 

The peak of breeding activity (the rut) for Michigan deer occurs prior to the opening of the firearm deer season on Nov. 15, with increased movement and activity beginning in late October. The peak breeding dates are fairly consistent statewide; however, does that are not bred during the primary rut, or fawns who are able to put on enough weight, are likely to be receptive to breeding about a month later. This breeding activity often occurs in mid-December and, though less intensive than the primary rut a month earlier, can lead to increased activity and daylight movement later in the season. Hunters can often take advantage of these increased deer movements. Archery hunting is very popular in late October and early November, followed by the busiest deer hunting day of the year– the opening of the firearm season.

What to Expect Across the State 

The 2016 season, while seeing a decrease in hunter numbers, ended with a slight increase in harvest from 2015. Overall hunting success increased across most of the state in 2016, with slightly more than five out of every 10 hunters taking home at least one deer last season.

The winter of 2016 was relatively mild across the entire state. Low snowfall levels and above-average temperatures made for good deer survival conditions and great potential for this year’s fawns. Spring had relatively mild weather as well, which is a major factor in both deer fitness and fawn survival. Due to these circumstances, this year both the overall number of fawns seen and the number of twins and triplets across the state has increased.

In addition to an increase in the number of fawns being reported, the overall number of deer being observed appears to be up as well.

The 2017 deer season is forecasted to have similar to slightly increased success rates compared to last year. See below for regional information.

Upper Peninsula 

The Upper Peninsula has experienced two relatively mild winters the last two years. Though overall deer numbers are still lower than many hunters like to see, some areas have begun to recover from previous harsh winters nicely. As a result, DNR staff members recommended opening a few additional units to antlerless hunting this year. Deer management units open to public- and private-land antlerless permits include DMUs 055, 121, 155, and 255. DMU 122 will be open only to private land-antlerless permits. The open units are in the south central portion of the U.P., which typically has higher deer populations than anywhere else in the U.P. All other areas in the U.P. will not have antlerless licenses available.

In general, hunters should expect to see a slight increase from the number of deer they saw last year, with increases especially in 1.5- and 2.5-year-old age classes. Keep in mind that each area is influenced by local factors and conditions, which then affects deer density and sightings in that area. The largest bucks (heaviest and largest antlers) typically come from agricultural areas, but nice bucks also are taken from forested areas where access is limited and where they have an opportunity to get older.

Continuing for 2017: archery hunters may harvest antlerless deer only if they have an antlerless license. In the U.P., they may not use their single deer or combination deer license to take an antlerless deer during archery season. This change does not affect the Liberty or Independence Hunt and does not impact the mentored youth license.

New for 2017: DMU 117 (Drummond Island) has a new three-point antler point restriction on the single deer license (the antler point restriction on the regular and restricted tags of the combination license remains in place) and a one-buck limit for the entire deer season. This means any hunter participating in the deer hunting season on Drummond Island may only harvest one buck for the entire deer season, and that buck must have a least three antler points on one side, each 1 inch or greater in length. Drummond Island hunters may purchase a combination license, but the second tag must be used in any DMU other than 117.

Northern Lower Peninsula 

The northern Lower Peninsula is expected to see an increase in deer harvest this year. With the mild winter last year and little impact from the previous winter, deer populations have been increasing steadily across much of the area.

Deer sightings have been good throughout the region, and many have reported seeing healthy fawns, including many sets of twins and even some triplets.

Many areas may see more 2.5-year-old and 3.5-year-old bucks this year with the now-permanent three-point antler point restriction (APR) in 13 counties in the northwest area.

This APR allows the majority of 1.5-year-old bucks to mature to the next age class, resulting in increased numbers of 2.5- and 3.5-year-old bucks in the years following. All northern Lower Peninsula deer management units are open for antlerless hunting; refer to the 2017 Antlerless Deer Digest if you are interested in obtaining an antlerless license.

New for 2017: DMU 487 no longer has an APR in place on the regular tag of the deer combination license. Hunters can harvest antlerless deer using either their single deer or deer combination license during the early/late antlerless firearm, archery, firearm or muzzleloading seasons, but the APR that had been in place since 2010 has been removed. Keep in mind that those who purchase a combination license still have a four-point APR on the restricted tag of the combination license, which is similar to the rest of the state. For a map of the different APRs in Michigan, see pages 32 and 33 of the 2017 Hunting and Trapping Digest.

Public-land antlerless licenses also have changed. Removed are the individual public-land units of DMUs 001 (Alcona), 004 (Alpena), 035 (Iosco), 060 (Montmorency), 068 (Oscoda), 071 (Presque Isle) and 135 (Tawas). All are now a part of DMU 487. Hunters who previously hunted public land under one of these licenses now can purchase a public-land antlerless license for DMU 487. This change opens more opportunities for hunters to move around public land in the six-county area. DMU 452, the core TB management area, remains separate from DMU 487 for public-land licenses.

Southern Lower Peninsula 

Abundant food and cover in the form of agricultural crops and scattered swamps and woodlots provide very good habitat across the southern Michigan landscape. This high-quality habitat, combined with relatively mild winter conditions, typically results in a more abundant and productive deer population compared to other regions of the state. The 2017 harvest should be like last year, with perhaps a slight increase given the current conditions. Harvest in the southern Lower Peninsula can depend heavily on the percentage of standing corn. If corn harvest is delayed going into the firearms season, a reduced deer harvest can be expected.

Over the last decade or more, deer population estimates and indices (including deer/vehicle collisions, crop damage complaints, and observations of deer by the hunting community and field staff) in the southern Lower Peninsula have stabilized or declined. In many instances, reductions were intended to reduce conflicts that can occur when deer populations are high, though the DNR still desires to keep adequate deer for enjoyable hunting and viewing experiences. A relatively high proportion of land in this region is broken into small parcel sizes and privately owned. Given this framework, the DNR is working to find more ways to balance high-quality deer hunting experiences and increased hunting opportunities with habitat management goals among networks of private landowners and hunters.

The southeastern Lower Peninsula offers numerous reserved and lottery deer hunting opportunities at managed waterfowl hunt areas, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife refuges and Sharonville State Game Area in Jackson and Washtenaw counties. Additional information related to these hunts can be found on the DNR Reserved Deer Hunts web page. A limited number of leftover licenses are available for these hunts; review the leftover licenses page and navigate to “Deer Reserved Hunts” on the dropdown menu for available quantities. Hunters seeking more information related to deer hunting opportunities at the DNR’s managed waterfowl hunt areas should contact either the Nayanquing Point, Fish Point or Harsens Island field offices and speak with staff.

Additionally, an Urban Deer Management Zone has been developed for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties (see section below). The archery season in these counties will extend to Jan. 31, 2018 to better manage human-deer conflicts. More information on the Urban Deer Management Zone can be found on page 35 of the 2017 Hunting and Trapping Digest.

Read more in next week’s issue.

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Fact correction on Nature Niche article

 

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

In the Nature Niche article titled Solar Eclipse and Science Credibility printed August 31, 2017, I stated Copernicus was placed under house arrest for not recanting that the Earth goes around the sun. It was Galileo that was placed under House arrest for building on Copernicus’ work. Source of corrected information is found by Googling Copernicus house arrest and reading Wikipedia account. Galileo’s information is near the end.

“In 1633 Galileo Galilei was convicted of grave suspicion of heresy for «following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture», and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.”

I apologize for my error in memory recollection.

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Catch of the Week

Deegan Pike, age 8, the son of Brittany and Cory Pike, caught this 14.5-inch large mouth bass while staying at his grandparents and fishing on Maston Lake, in Spencer Township. “He was very excited to reel this guy in,” said his mom, Brittany. “His love for fishing continues to grow and moments like this make up for the ‘big one’ that got away!”

Great job, Deegan, you made the Post Catch of the Week!

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Leg Joints

 

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Femur, tibia, fibula, metatarsals, and tarsals comprise the bones in our legs and feet. Their arrangement allows movement. Other mammals have bones in different arrangements that serve their mobility for greatest survival. Other groups of organisms like birds and frogs have their own special configurations to meet their needs.

Diagram of a typical insect leg.

Insects do not have bones but have specialized leg joints. Insect exoskeletons are on the outside of the body instead of inside like ours. Leg section names are similar but are structurally different. Between the body and femur is a rounded knob called the coxa followed by another small section called the trochanter. The femur is often the largest leg section much like our femur. Though the name is the same, the insect femur is made of a hard chiton comparable to our fingernails that are on the outside to protect inner tissues and muscles. Consider an insect’s skeleton to be like a knight’s armor that protects from the outside.

To move, it is necessary to have flexible connective tissue between various sections of the leg like is used in a knight’s armor. Progressing from the body to leg tip, the leg sections have adaptations that serve the insects life style for survival in its nature niche. The tibia connects the femur with the tarsi. The tibia is comparable to the tibia and fibula of our lower leg.

A series of small leg sections called tarsi beyond the tibia allow flexibility. Most insects have three, four or five aligned in a row. Go outside to look at a large grasshopper or katydid’s leg joints. Some of the large Carolina Grasshoppers with black wings are still active. The last pair of legs on the grasshopper are large, adapted for jumping and are easiest for viewing leg construction. When you try to capture a grasshopper, it becomes obvious how well suited their legs are for escaping danger.

Crickets and long-horned grasshoppers, like the katydids, have an “eardrum” or tympanum at the basal end of their tibia. We have been enjoying the raucous sound penetrating the blackness of night. It is essential for noise making insects to hear the sexual calls at night for successful breeding. Instead of hearing in their heads like us, they hear in their legs.

There are more specialized leg structures than described here so consider visiting the library, the web, and spend time outdoors exploring. One very important feature not mentioned is tarsal claws. Most insects have small claws that aid gripping surfaces. When an insect stands on your arm, you often feel the claws grip.

The front legs of the praying mantis have a long femur and tibia lined with stiff spines that allow it to grip insect prey firmly. Its coxa that connects the femur to the body is long instead of small and round. It allows greater mobility for capturing prey. Each insect species has unique adaptations that meet its lifestyle. If you have been grabbed by a mantis, its spines might have penetrated your skin and even caused some bleeding.

Inside the exoskeleton leg, is where the muscles are attached. Our leg muscles extend across joints so when contracted they cause the leg to bend. If both ends were attached to the same bone, contraction would not result in movement. Insects are similar in muscle attachment except their muscles are inside the hollow exoskeleton but they stretch across joints. You will not find an insect with bulging muscles because they are hidden inside.

Beetles have interesting legs. They are sometimes quite easy to observe in fall because they frequently stand on flower heads for extended periods. Visit a goldenrod or New England Aster to watch. Notice how the front pair of legs reaches forward and the second and third pair of legs extend backwards. Some insects only use four legs (two pairs) when walking so watch to discover them. Observe leg movement and notice if the front and back legs on one side are used with the middle leg on the opposite side when walking.

Some insects like the blister beetle ooze a substance from their leg joints when disturbed. The fluid can cause skin blisters. There are thousands of insects with interesting leg joints. Take time to observe nature’s wonders.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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What’s “bugging” you in our streams?

In many cases we think bugs are a nuisance, but bugs in a stream can be very useful.  Stream insects are a good measure of water quality.  Unlike fish, stream insects cannot move around much so they are less able to escape the effects of sediment and other pollutants that diminish water quality. Stream insects can also be easily identified.

Trout Unlimited National and Michigan Trout Unlimited will be holding a Stream Insect Monitoring Event on Saturday, October 14, 2017 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the Rockford Community Cabin, 220 North Monroe Street in Rockford. Volunteers will be assigned to a monitoring group with a team leader.  Each group will collect and identify insects from different stream sites in the Rogue River watershed. You don’t need any experience with stream insects to participate and all ages are welcome.

What will you need?  Please RSVP to Nichol DeMol at ndemol@tu.org or 231-557-6362 if you would like to attend.  Lunch will be provided for all volunteers.  Please bring waders if you have them and dress for the weather conditions. Children under 16 years old need to be accompanied by an adult.

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A great time to discover your next outdoor adventure

Michigan offers more than 1,800 miles of designated biking trails across the state. This group of riders is in Grand Traverse County on a variety of types of bikes. Trails Week is a great time to get out and enjoy a ride along the bike trails.

Michigan Trails Week, Sept. 23-30

When it comes to trails, there’s no place like Michigan. With trails that cater to a variety of passions—from biking, hiking and snowmobiling to off-roading, paddling and horseback riding—Michigan has a trail for you. Michigan Trails Week, Sept. 23-30, is the perfect time to hit the trails for the first time or try your hand (or feet) at a new trail adventure.

“If you want to get out and really enjoy the great outdoors, Michigan is the place to be,” said Paul Yauk, statewide trails coordinator for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Our trails take you to every corner of the state, with stops at some of the most picturesque locations in the country, a number of fascinating historical sites and attractions, and more than 100 state parks.”

Michigan has more than 12,500 miles of designated state trails that connect communities and provide real health and economic benefits. No matter where in Michigan you are, chances are you can find hiking and biking trails, equestrian trails, snowmobile trails, off-road vehicle trails and even water trails that will link you to many areas of the state.

In his proclamation declaring this year’s Michigan Trails Week, Gov. Rick Snyder cited “Michigan’s rich network of trails throughout the Upper and Lower peninsulas” that “provide residents and visitors with scenic spaces in which to explore nature, appreciate wildlife, experience solitude or enjoy time with family and friends.”

Those are pretty good reasons why Michigan is cementing its reputation as The Trails State, said Yauk. Michigan also offers:

*The Iron Belle Trail, the longest designated state trail in the nation, is a 2,000-mile journey winding from Ironwood in the western Upper Peninsula to Belle Isle in Detroit, crisscrossing more than half of Michigan’s counties along both hiking and biking routes. Michigan’s Iron Belle Trail showcases many of the state’s natural and cultural resources, from national lakeshores to historic industrial areas.

*Thousands of miles of ORV trails that are constantly being upgraded through funding generated by the sale of ORV licenses and trail permits. These dollars help fund the restoration of many existing trails and the ability to link more communities across the state.

*The largest statewide rail-trail system in the nation, with more than 2,600 miles of old railroad lines that have been converted for recreational use.

*Thousands of miles of equestrian, snowmobile and water trail opportunities throughout the state, strengthening Michigan’s position as the nation’s Trails State.

The DNR again is partnering with the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, the Michigan Recreation and Park Association, and communities throughout the state to offer trails information and opportunities during Michigan Trails Week and all year long.

Michigan Trails Week concludes Saturday, Sept. 30, which is National Public Lands Day, traditionally a day for volunteer-led efforts to beautify and build awareness about the value and breadth of U.S. public lands. In fact, more than 30 percent of America’s land is public.

For more information about Michigan’s trails system and Michigan Trails Week opportunities, community resources and events throughout the state, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/trailsweek.

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Living Resources patches available for purchase 

 

The 2016-2017 Michigan’s Living Resources patch featuring the American robin, along with several patches from previous years, will be available for purchase through the end of September.

Through end of September

The 2016-2017 Michigan’s Living Resources patch featuring the American robin, along with several patches from previous years, will be available for purchase on the Michigan e-store at https://media.state.mi.us/MichiganeStore/public/Home.aspx through the end of September. (Go to the home page, then click on Patches, Mugs, and t-shirts.)

The Living Resources patch program has raised awareness of Michigan’s nongame species for over 40 years, with the first Living Resources patch issued in 1975 featuring the Kirtland’s warbler.

Proceeds from the sale of these patches goes into the Nongame Fish and Wildlife Fund, which provides a source of funding for projects vital to the needs of Michigan’s endangered, threatened and nongame animals, plants and their habitats.

Funds for these important management efforts also have been raised through voluntary check-off contributions on the state income tax form, sales of the wildlife habitat specialty license plate and direct donations.

Today, those interested in contributing can support the fund through purchase of a wildlife habitat license plate, making a tax-deductible donation or purchasing a patch.

Those who would like to request a mail-in order form can contact the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division at 517-284-WILD (9453).

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Protecting Parks

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

The results are in for the public comment period required by law regarding how Americans feel about eliminating or greatly reducing the size the of national monuments by Presidential Executive Order. When a president creates a national monument, it protects the area the same as a national park until Congress decides to make it a national park, eliminate or change it in some manner. The Antiquates Act of 1906 allows a President to create a monument to provide protection until Congress acts on the protected area. It takes years or decades to be debated and acted on by Congress.

President Trump instructed the Secretary of Interior to review national monuments created since 1996 because he plans to eliminate or greatly reduce the size of monuments by Executive Order. Park advocate groups like the National Parks Association, Wilderness Society, and many others claim it is beyond the legal ability of a President to alter the monuments created by previous presidents. Such changes are legally restricted to Congress. Before becoming President, Trump campaigned for changing parks from protected areas to being open to mining for natural resource consumption, turned over to private business management or even eliminated. The monument review is a test to see if he can eliminate them and possibly continue with elimination of the national parks by Executive Order.

The National Park Service was created in the Organic Act of 1916. The agency’s mission as managers of national parks and monuments was clearly stated.

“….to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance released the following statement to the media: “Secretary Zinke’s illegal recommendations to the President are the latest salvo in this administration’s attacks on America’s public lands. It’s outrageous that after 99 percent of the more than 2.8 million comments received by the Secretary supported keeping our monuments protected, Secretary Zinke is still recommending the President illegally attack our national treasures. President Trump should throw this report away.”

Other organizations have released similar statements to the media to let American citizens know that national parks are being attacked. An analysis of the public comments shows 0.8 percent of people commenting support the Presidents Executive Order and 99.2 oppose the EO. Those commenting from Michigan were 100 percent opposed to the Executive Order.

The report can be found at PublicSupportForPublicLands_FINAL_20170822.pdf. The following in italics are from the report conclusions. The public overwhelmingly opposes rescinding or reducing the protection afforded 27 national monuments and 5 marine national monuments established since 1996. This opposition cuts across geography, issue areas (environment, Native American rights and culture, recreation, economy, etc.), and it is not specific to any national monument.

Taken together this study shows that the people can and have been heard, and that they have spoken clearly and forcefully for the continued protection of America’s public lands and the natural, scenic, sacred, culturally and historically significant places they contain.

Despite public sentiment of 99.2 percent opposed, the interior secretary has recommended greatly reducing the size the monuments. That will allow mining development in areas that are currently protected for present and future generations. The parks protect nature niches and are our insurance policy that allows us to visit special treasures and preserves them for coming generations. Park protection is an important means for preserving biodiversity.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Catch of the Week

Skyler Kleyn, age 5, loves to fish! The Cedar Springs kindergartner was fishing on Wolf Lake in Baldwin in August, when she caught this beautiful blue gill. Skyler is the daughter of Melissa and Evan Kleyn of Algoma Township.

Way to go Skyler, you made the Post Catch of the Week!

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Native bees

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Various bee species have adaptations that serve them well for gathering pollen and nectar from various plants that serve our needs. Most people know something about the honeybees that are important to our agriculture industry. Native bees are also vitally important to nature niche plant and animal communities. The term native bees is used to specify species native to the Great Lakes region and our continent as opposed to the non-native honey bees that were brought to North America to aid agriculture.

It is not only the honeybee that is facing survival challenges. The economic value of bees is worth billions of dollars. They are insects important to our health, wealth, and survival. Native bees have declined for many reasons. They have fascinating life histories and are beautiful insects. Some are fuzzy with yellow, red, and black “hairs” covering their bodies. Others have a bright green exoskeleton or more obscure black bodies.

Look closely at what is visiting flowers in gardens or wild patches in yards. Don’t miss the pageant of activity right outside your home. Come learn about native bees at a free presentation hosted by the WILD Ones.

The River City WILD Ones is a native plant group that offers field trips and programs encouraging people to landscape yards with native plants that strengthen and maintain the health and wealth of the local landscape around our homes, neighborhoods, and community. To celebrate the organizations tenth year, they are hosting a community event for free on September 18, 2017 at 7 p.m. in the Calvin College Fine Arts Center, 1795 Knollcrest Circle SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546. Park in Lot 9, 10, or 11. Enter off the East Beltline near the pedestrian overpass walkway. The Fine Arts Center is east of the E. Beltline.

WILD Ones write: The keynote speaker is Minnesotan Heather Holm a horticulturist and biologist, as well as a writer, designer, and publisher. In addition to taking part in native bee research projects, she informs and educates audiences nationwide, through her writing and many presentations, about the fascinating world of native bees and the native plants that support them. In her most recent research project, she assisted University of Minnesota Extension faculty in a two-year study to determine the types of native bees present in cultivated blueberry farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The study included developing customized plans to enhance and expand both forage crops and nesting sites for bees within the farms.

Heather has written for Houzz, a social media website, about pollinators, beneficial insects, and native plants. Her first book, Pollinators of Native Plants, published in 2014, established her as a knowledgeable resource on the subject of the interactions between native bees and native plants. Her new book is titled Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Forage Guide. Both books will available for purchase at the event. 

WILD Ones invites the public to attend and would like people to register at the website: https://rcwo-10th-anniversary.eventbrite.com before attending.

Please beeline to the event. It will be enjoyable meeting and visiting with nature niche readers. To make it easy to find me, I will be wearing my ranger uniform.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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