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Archive | Outdoors

Fourth annual ladies’ guided pheasant hunt 

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Oct. 23 in Belding

The Department of Natural Resources, along with Pine Hill Kennels and Sportsman’s Club and the Grand Valley chapter of Pheasants Forever, will offer a guided ladies’ pheasant hunt Sunday, Oct. 23, at 3329 Johnson Road in Belding, Michigan.

Beginners are welcome. Space is limited to 12 ladies, 18 years of age or older, and preregistration is required. Please call Scott Brosier at 616-874-8459 to reserve a spot.

The cost for the day is $45 per person. Firearms are available for beginners, if needed. All participants will go home with memories and a special gift.

Registration and coffee begins at 9 a.m. The day’s events will include warming up by shooting clay pigeons on the skeet range, hunting with a guide for three pheasants, learning to clean the birds, and enjoying a gourmet lunch.

“The hunt was such a success last year and all the ladies had a great time. Some had never shot a gun before, and were shooting birds out of the sky by late morning,” said Donna Jones, wildlife technician at Flat River State Game Area. “We look forward to making this experience available again to ladies who want to try out pheasant hunting.”

Established in 1975, Pine Hill Sportsman’s Club offers its members some of the finest upland bird hunting anywhere, on four farms totaling over 600 acres. Pine Hill’s intensive land management program not only benefits the population of free-ranging upland birds, but also enhances habitat for deer, turkey and waterfowl.

Pheasants Forever, including its quail conservation division, Quail Forever, is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to upland habitat conservation. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever have 140,000 members and more than 700 local chapters across the United States and Canada. Chapters are empowered to determine how 100 percent of their locally raised conservation funds are spent, making it the only national conservation organization that operates through this truly grassroots structure.

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Tips for safe bowhunting

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Michigan’s bowhunting season opens October 1, and Department of Natural Resources conservation officers are sharing tips for a safe bowhunting experience.

“Bowhunting is enjoyed by thousands of hunters every year in Michigan, and we want to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable hunting season,” said Sgt. Steve Orange, supervisor of the DNR’s hunter education program. “With the season upon us, every hunter should follow some common sense safety tips before heading to or being in the woods.”

The top safety tips for bowhunting include:

*Before you go out, inspect equipment, including your tree stand or other raised platform. If anything is worn, frayed, cracked or peeling, replace it or get it fixed.

*If using a compound bow or crossbow, make sure the cables and pulleys are in good working order.

*When sharpening broadheads, be careful and take your time.

*Practice tree-stand safety. The DNR recommends using a full-body safety harness to get into and out of your tree stand.

*If using a raised platform, always use a haul line to raise and lower your gear.

*Keep arrows in the quiver until you are ready to use them. A common injury is to stab or injure yourself or a hunting companion while carrying arrows in your hand or nocked on your bow.

*When heading out to the woods, hunt with a friend or family member or make sure you tell someone reliable where you are going and what time to expect you back. This information is valuable in helping conservation officers or sheriff’s deputies to find you if you are lost.

*Also, think about carrying a cell phone, compass, flashlight and other small safety items in when in the woods.

Other important reminders include:

*Obtain permission from landowners before hunting on their land or using their land to access public land.

*Never take a shot at a deer that is beyond the maximum effective range of your equipment and your shooting ability.

*If you are successful, field dress your deer and cool its meat immediately. Michigan’s unpredictable weather means October days are sometimes warm, and warm temperatures and can cause the meat to spoil quickly.

For more information about Michigan’s conservation officers, go to www.michigan.gov/conservationofficers. For more information about hunting in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/hunting.

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Small Sparks

 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead Cultural Anthropologist

In the 1960’s when in college, I subscribed to American Museum of Natural History Magazine and first encountered Mead. The quote above has been a main stay and guide in my life. I frequently encounter small committed groups that effect change for the betterment of the community.

I remain active in many local, state, and national organizations and often wonder if my activities are too broad to be truly effective. Balance has always been a struggle but I work with small committed groups locally for success. Activities of others in the community accomplish wonderful feats beyond what I contribute.

My career as environmental education consultant for the Kent Intermediate School District’s 20 public school districts, private schools, charter schools plus being director at the Howard Christensen Nature Center (HCNC) kept me spread far, wide, and thin. Detractors thought education that integrates community social, environmental and economic sustainability lacked value and wanted HCNC closed and me gone.

Recently, I read about a small committed group of 25 people in a Michigan Audubon Chapter in the Oscoda area. They work with the US forest service, DNR, Chamber of Commerce, and schools. They affect community change to maintain a healthy environment and have a natural area that supports community health.

I have presented many programs in schools in the Oscoda, Mio, Roscommon, West Branch area and for Kirtland Community College as well as in other regions of Michigan. My contributions seem minor and I wonder if they effect positive change like that committed group’s or those in Cedar Springs and Rockford.

Then Margaret Mead comes to mind again with a quote: Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else. She reminds us there is a place for each of our contributions. Each of us can offer greatness for our community and its environmental health if we receive a spark and the right bit of knowledge.

I see the obvious greats in our local community like Sue Harrison, Red Flannel Grand Marshal (and Librarian) Donna Clark, recently deceased Jack Clark, and school superintendent Laura VanDuyn. Recognize how each is building a better community for adults and children through unique positive efforts. I support and commend them for the challenges they face trying to meet everyone’s expectations despite detractors. My employment was to bring about energy conservation in schools, healthy farm sustainability, ecosystem health, improved water quality, student appreciation and excitement about the natural world and the list goes on but detractors opposed the efforts.

It all seemed so overwhelming but “unique” individuals saved the day. A fifth grader grew, acquired his Ph.D. in botany and works for the MI Natural Features Inventory. He was the keynote speaker at a statewide meeting of the Michigan Botanical Club and told the program organizer I was the reason he went into the profession. I did not know him and asked him how I was responsible for his career. He said his dad brought him to Ody Brook for a 5th grade school assignment and he was impressed with my insect research activities and collection. That was the spark that guided him. Until then he was unaware scientific natural history research like that existed.

Recently, I commended Denny Brooks from Midland for his Michigan efforts with Monarch Watch and how he guides people to help Monarch butterflies survive. He responded by telling me that a couple decades ago I presented a program in Jackson at the Dahlem Environmental Education Center and that was the spark that got him started with Monarchs. My efforts often seem superficial and ineffective but my role is unique and effective in its own way. Your role with children, grandkids, and neighbors is unique and will help community environmental health thrive in ways you might never know. Be the committed spark for natural history and encourage teachers to take their classes to HCNC to learn and discover.

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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Kids find success in annual Youth Hunt

 

Last weekend, September 17-18, was the annual Youth Hunt here in Michigan. At least three area youth bagged a deer last weekend, all for the first time.

Hunter Hankiewicz

Hunter Hankiewicz

Spencer Township youth gets first deer

Ten-year-old Hunter Hankiewicz, of Spencer Township, pictured right, went hunting for the first time on September 17, in Mason County, and got his first buck. It was an 8-point with a 14-1/2 inch spread. Good job, Hunter!

Brothers both get first deer

Coty Youngs Jr.

Coty Youngs Jr.

Coty Youngs Jr., 10, of Ensley Township, went hunting with his dad, Coty Youngs Sr., on the first day of Youth Hunt, September 17, and got his first deer. It was a nice 8-point buck. He was hunting in the Hardy Dam area, on his Uncle Bill’s place, in Big Prairie Township.

Andrew Youngs

Andrew Youngs

Later that day, Coty’s younger brother, Andrew Youngs, 8, also shot his first deer at Uncle Bill’s place. The boys say thanks for a great place to hunt

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European frogbit detected in West Michigan lakes

 

Frogbit leaf: European frogbit leaves, shown here, are similar in shape, though much smaller than those of the water lily.

Frogbit leaf: European frogbit leaves, shown here, are similar in shape, though much smaller than those of the water lily.

Invasive species alert

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of European frogbit, a prohibited aquatic invasive plant, in Reeds and Fisk lakes in the city of East Grand Rapids. European frogbit was first verified in Michigan in 1996 along the Great Lakes waterways in southeastern Michigan and has since been found in areas along Lake Huron and the eastern Upper Peninsula. The detections on Reeds and Fisk lakes represent the westernmost known locations of this invasive plant in Michigan and the Midwest.

Frogbit colony: Dense colonies of European frogbit can develop quickly in shallow, slow-moving water.

Frogbit colony: Dense colonies of European frogbit can develop quickly in shallow, slow-moving water.

Staff from PLM Lake and Land Management Corporation initially identified the plant during a routine lake inspection and reported the finding through the Midwest Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN), triggering a notification to the DNR and the Department of Environmental Quality’s Aquatic Invasive Response Team. The team currently is assessing the risk level of the situation and working with partners in the community, including the city of East Grand Rapids, Kent Conservation District and the West Michigan Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, to develop an action plan.

What is European frogbit?

A native of Europe and parts of Africa and Asia, European frogbit is an aquatic plant with small (half-inch to 2.5 inch), heart-shaped leaves resembling miniature water lilies. Unlike similar aquatic plants, European frogbit does not anchor its roots in the lake or stream bed but remains free-floating. Three-petaled white flowers with yellow centers appear briefly sometime between mid-July and mid-August.

Why is it a problem?

The plant quickly forms dense colonies or mats in shallow, slow-moving waters. These thick mats prevent native plant growth, make movement difficult for ducks and large fish, and cause problems for boaters, anglers and swimmers.

European frogbit is spread by plant fragments or by turions—small, quarter-inch buds that break off the plant and overwinter in lake or stream beds. Plant parts easily can be transported to new water bodies on boat motors or trailers, fishing gear and other recreational equipment.

What can be done?      

“Detecting European frogbit in West Michigan is a call to action to all lake, stream and wetland users to clean, drain and dry boats and gear,” said Kevin Walters, an invasive species aquatic biologist with the DEQ. “Take the simple steps of removing all plants and debris from boats, trailers and gear and draining bilges and live wells before leaving a site. Allow boats and equipment to dry for at least five days before moving to another water body.”

Walters said that even waders, fishing nets and inner tubes can harbor invasive species and should be thoroughly dried in the sun or cleaned with a 2-percent bleach solution before being used at a different location.

What if I see European frogbit?

Anyone can help by reporting suspected European frogbit. The easiest way to report this harmful invasive plant is through the MISIN website, at www.misin.msu.edu or by downloading the MISIN app to a smartphone.

First, become familiar with identifying the plant. MISIN offers a short identification tutorial which helps distinguish between European frogbit and similar aquatic plants.

If you encounter European frogbit on the water, take some photos. These can be uploaded on the MISIN website or attached to a report via the MISIN app. Reports are directed through MISIN to DNR and DEQ aquatic biologists.

For more information on European frogbit and other invasive species, visit Michigan’s invasive species website at www.michigan.gov/invasivespecies.

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Insect or wind pollinated

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

Showy attractive flowers tend to be insect pollinated. Flowers that do not capture our attention are typically wind pollinated. The size of pollen is a critical factor between the wind and insect pollinated flowers. Large pollen weight causes it to fall to ground near the parent plant when dislodged. An insect or bird is needed to carry heavy pollen from flower to flower in order for the plant to have successful fertilization. Tiny pollen is easily carried long distances by wind to improve chances for pollination.

When a bee, butterfly, beetle, other insect, or hummingbird carries pollen from one flower to another, the pollen sticks to the top of a pistil if it is ripe and receptive. Male pollen is equivalent to sperm in animals. When it is released from a flower’s anther, an animal carries it to another flower. Animals that carry pollen improve the chances for pollination because pollen on their bodies has the best chance of reaching a flower of the same species. Wind carried pollen rides the wind wherever it goes.

We notice yellow pollen on a honeybee’s body. Showy flower petals attract the attention of insects. When insects approach a flower, they see “lighted runway” landing strips. They are not as noticeable to our eyes because petals reflect ultraviolet light we do not see. Insects see a broader visible spectrum. We might see dark or light lines on the petals that lead toward the center of the flower.

Those lines are runways that direct the travel of insects like airport runway lights help a plane’s pilot on the landing strip. As the insect walks toward the center of a flower to probe for nectar, it brushes against an anther that sits atop a thin string-like filament that bends when bumped. If the anther is ripe, pollen will be released onto the body of an insect and sticks to its “hairy body.”

The female part of the flower usually ripens later than its flower’s anthers and is not receptive when the pollen is released. This helps prevent inbreeding. The part of the flower pistil that captures pollen has a sticky top called the stigma. Pollen on it digests its way through a long neck called the style and when it reaches the ovule (egg) in the ovary it will fertilize it. The fertilized ovule becomes a seed.

The same process occurs in wind-pollinated flowers like corn, grass, sedges, and ragweed. Ragweed blooms at the same time as showy yellow goldenrod flowers in a field. The pollen on goldenrod is large and fewer in number than minute pollen cells released from ragweed. Goldenrod pollen will not be carried far by wind and falls to the ground. It is insect dependent for pollination. Ragweed pollen, like corn pollen, can float in a gentle light breeze. It will go wherever the wind goes and is less efficient at reaching a flower of its own species. More pollen is produced by wind-pollinated plants and compensates for the lower efficiency.

Pollen from the nondescript green ragweed flowers makes it to our nose and sinuses where it causes an allergic reaction we call “hay fever.” People unjustly blame goldenrod for “hay fever.” Goldenrod pollen is unlikely to get in our noses unless a bee enters our nose. If that occurs, the bee will be of greater concern than the pollen.

Some insect pollinated flowers are green but the insects find them. I wonder if they reflect ultraviolet light. Some flowers can utilize both wind and insect pollination. How I wish I knew more about the secret workings in nature niches. There is always something new to discover outside. Do not blame the insect-pollinated goldenrod for “hay fever.”

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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Rare butterflies make news

Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Human health is aided by rare butterfly protection. Long term human economic interests are protected by aiding endangered butterflies. There are short term economic expenses that create concerns whether effort should maintain healthy habitats that serve people, butterflies and other organisms. Maintaining components of an ecosystem does not make sense to some people.

Paul Ehrlich described the importance well. He said if you are flying on a jet and a rivet pops off, it is not too concerning. When additional rivets holding the plane together come off, passenger concern increases. When enough rivets disappear the plane will dismember and crash, killing all on board.

Species in habitats are like rivets on a plane. There is little concern when one species disappears. As more disappear, our human economy and health falters when ecological services fail. Many cases document ecosystem simplification that caused human economic loss and death. The famous potato famine is just one example causing massive human death and a country’s economic collapse.

In 2000, a West Michigan Butterfly Association member, Kathy Bowler, discovered a population of the federally endangered Karner Blue Butterfly along the White Pine Trail in Algoma Township. Kent County was not known to have this species. Mo Nielsen and I verified the identification. Successful efforts by the Land Conservancy of West Michigan established the Maas Preserve to protect the habitat.

The Grand Rapids Press interviewed Leon Uplinger and me. Leon was Algoma township supervisor at the time. The press reported Leon thought all the fuss over a few butterflies is a waste of time and he did not expect the township to join any preservation efforts. He further stated, “I take the position that I would rather help a human life rather than another creature.”

I was invited to address community members in the Berrien Springs area regarding a different endangered species back then. The least expensive highway construction would likely impact the survival of the Mitchell’s Satyr butterfly and possibly push it to extinction. An alternative that protected the environment costed more money but protected the environment, sustaining human community health. Some people felt like Leon did about the Karner Blue and some thought the habitat needed protection.

When our focus is narrow, we do not recognize how other creatures and the environment maintain economic, social, and environmental health for us, our kids, and future generations. The Karner Blue and Mitchell Satyr are rivets in the local ecosystem. Losing them is like losing two rivets from a jet. Environmental components needed by butterflies are also needed by humans. Nature Niches are connected in ways that are not obvious but they serve humans and other creatures.

The Mitchell Satyr depends on groundwater instead of surface water to support its habitat. The water picks up minerals and carries them to surface wetlands that support a unique variety of fen organisms that would not otherwise survive. The fen water feeds surface streams maintaining water quality. The wetlands serve human uses beyond simply saving a few butterflies. The least expensive highway proposed would damage surface habitat and groundwater with negative impact on human communities.

The short view was that greater expense to protect the environment and butterfly hurt people economically. The long view was that a greater expense protected the butterfly, community groundwater supplies, filtered pollutants from getting into surface water, enhanced fishing and hunting habitat, protected farmland, maintained pristine habitat for human enjoyment and maintained essential ecological functions provided by many species. Do you support the short or long view? Protection of the Endangered Species Act takes the long view. Efforts continue to undermine and eliminate the Endangered Species Act. Political parties are now separated by short and long view efforts.

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

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Smallmouth bass state record broken

 

Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida, recently set a new state-record catch for smallmouth bass with a fish he caught Sunday, Sept. 11, on Indian River in Cheboygan County. Kraemer owns a cottage in Indian River and spends most of the summer there.

Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida, recently set a new state-record catch for smallmouth bass with a fish he caught Sunday, Sept. 11, on Indian River in Cheboygan County. Kraemer owns a cottage in Indian River and spends most of the summer there.

Michigan’s existing state record for smallmouth bass was broken Sunday by Robert Bruce Kraemer of Treasure Island, Florida.

A longtime angler with a cottage in Indian River, Cheboygan County, Kraemer said he’s been fishing Michigan waters since 1965, but this is his first state-record catch. Using night crawlers for bait, Kraemer landed a 9.98-pound, 23.10-inch smallmouth bass while out on the Indian River.

“I usually spend June through the end of September up here at the cottage,” Kraemer said. “I’ve got some great fish stories and some nice fish, but nothing like this.”

The record was verified by Tim Cwalinski, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist in Gaylord.

The previous state record for smallmouth bass was set in October 2015 when Greg Gasiciel of Rhodes, Michigan, landed a 9.33-pound, 24.50-inch fish from Hubbard Lake in Alcona County.

Prior to Gasiciel’s catch, the smallmouth bass state record had stood since 1906. That fish was a 9.25-pound, 27.25-inch fish from Long Lake in Cheboygan County.

“In just the last four years, anglers have caught a total of 16 state-record fish, a remarkable number of big fish in a relatively short time,” said Jim Dexter, chief of the DNR Fisheries Division. “This is just more evidence that Michigan is home to a healthy, robust fishery—a resource and sporting opportunity that continues to draw people from all over.”

Kraemer, the new smallmouth bass state record-holder, agreed.

“I keep coming back to Michigan for a lot of reasons,” he said. “The weather, the clear, cold water, good fishing…it’s just nice up here.”

Michigan fishing 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.

For more information on fishing in Michigan, including other state-record catches visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Liberty Hunt this weekend

 

Youth Hunt and Hunters With Disabilities

The Liberty Hunt, a firearm deer hunt consisting of both the Youth Hunt, and Hunters with Disabilities, will take place this weekend, September 17 and 18.

Youth ages 16 and under, veterans with disabilities, and individuals with disabilities who qualify as stated below, may participate in this hunt.

To qualify, an individual must fit one of the following criteria:

*be a veteran who has been determined to have 100-percent disability, or is rated as individually unemployable by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

*have been issued a permit, by the DNR, to hunt from a standing vehicle.

*have been issued a permit by the DNR to hunt using a laser-sighting device.

*be blind as defined by MCL 393.351.

During this two-day hunt, a deer or deer combo license may be used for an antlered or antlerless deer. Antler Point Restrictions do not apply. A Deer Management Assistance (DMA) permit may also be used to take one antlerless deer only, if issued for the area/land upon which hunting. The bag limit for this season is one deer. All hunters participating in this season must wear hunter orange.

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Catch of the Week

out-catch-of-week-mabieEmerson June Mabie, age 7, daughter of Ryan and Koree Mabie of Ada, caught her first trout—an 11-1/2 inch brown—while fishing at the bridge on Cedar Creek with her grandfather, Kurt Mabie, on Memorial Day weekend.

Way to go, Emerson! You made the Post Catch of the Week!

 

It’s back—get out those cameras!

It’s that time of year again when anglers big and small like to tell their fish tales! Send us a photo and story of your first, best, funniest, biggest, or even your smallest catch. Include your name, age, address, and phone number, along with the type and size of fish, and where caught.  We can’t wait to hear from you! Photos published as space allows. Photos/stories may be sent by email to news@cedarspringspost.com with Catch of the Week in the subject line, or mail to: Catch of the Week, PO Box 370, Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

 

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