Friday, November 30, 2012

Dedication-the stuff DNR personnel are made of

   It's been my experience all over the state that the DNR folk are some of the most dedicated people I've ever known.
   They are out and about for talks, demonstrations, as a source of information from the public, and many have the ability to work in their respective facilities as carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and garbage disposal.
   While they do all of this they keep an eye on the budget, try to implement new programs, and as the modern saying goes, do more with less.
   As I wrote previously, many in the outdoor sporting community find fault with fisheries biologists for not planting walleye in a particular lake. Why don't they plant Grayling in the AuSauble, or more salmon in the Great Lakes?
   Wildlife biologists hear how deer herd numbers, when published, are always to be viewed as suspicious. And that the only reason the numbers are up is to produce more revenue for the department.
   Youth mentoring is the newest program to get a thumbs down my many. Seems this too is just another way the department has of making money off us true sportsmen.
   The truth is we all have someone to answer to. That fisheries biologist would no doubt like to stock those fish, and the wildlife people hope you'll see more deer.
   But they work within the departments means. That's something all government should consider doing before taking on anything else. Come to think of it it's good for our households to stay in line with a budget.
   If there had been no dedication, no purpose, no incentive to grab hold of an idea then the recent handicapped deer blind erected at Holly State Recreation Area wouldn't have happened.
   This took the effort of several DNR folks representing a variety of divisions. They worked together to make something happen that will be rewarding and of benefit for a lot of folks now and in the future.

Monday, November 26, 2012

No Birds Left Behind

   One of Cornell Lab of Ornithology's annual winter projects to help the bird population throughout the year. An added benefit for you is maybe giving you a new hobby, bird watching and identification, not to mention helping to pass those cold, gray winter days.
   How can we make life easier for birds in our neighborhoods? That's the question behind the latest seasonal challenge from Celebrate Urban Birds. This Cornell Lab of Ornithology citizen-scence project focuses specifically on birds in urban settings and how they benefit from green spaces created by humans.
   Several times per year the project holds contests, or "challenges" to get participants thinking about birds in their neighborhoods. Challenge entries may be photographs, artwork, video, a story, or a poem showing or describing how birds are surviving and making use of their habitat.
 "As part of this challenge, we want to see the creative or interesting ways in which people help wild birds," says project leader Karen Purcell. "Or it could be as simple as setting up feeders or nest boxes, providing water, or planting flowers that provide seeds."

Deadline for entries is December 15. Learn more about how you can take part.

Great prizes include feeders from challenge sponsor Kaytee, plus bird guides, sound recordings, posters, fun bird books for adults and children, and more.

How to participate:
1. Email your entry to
2. Write your FirstName_LastName_City_State_NOBIRD in the subject line
3. Include your postal address in the body of the email
4. Please explain where the photo was taken and the name of the bird if you know it
5. Read and agree to the terms and conditions of the Challenge

Celebrate Urban Birds is a free, year-round citizen-science project focused on birds in neighborhood settings.
 Mail entries to the address below or send them to
Our mailing address is:
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd
Ithaca, NY

Friday, November 23, 2012

Youth hunt-Misconceptions according to this hunter

   There's a fair amount of controversy these days about deer seasons and the mentored youth hunt. One side feels these hunts have been put in place for the DNR to make more money. The same groups insists mentored hunts affect deer herd numbers probably because the numbers of hunters in the field is increased making the likelihood for deer kills all that more possible.
   Those on the other side argue it's a good thing to get kids out hunting even at an early age. They feel that all of the gadgets children are exposed to these days takes away from the outdoor sports and spending one-on-one time with a parent.
   They don't agree these programs are in place to increase the coffers of the DNR arguing instead that those hunters that claim this or are concerned about the deer herd being decimated are themselves, selfish.
   I come down on the side of the youth hunts. It used to be when I went out hunting with my dad and his bothers, I brought along a gun. It was my Daisy, Red Ryder B-B gun. I felt I was one of the big guys, a part of the hunt.
   On these trips I began to learn and see how things were done in a safe manner. Critics will fire back (no pun intended) that a B-B gun is a far cry from a shotgun. True. But like other things in this world hunting has moved up a little.
   The one part left out has been any form of hunter safety program now required of hunters. Somehow this needs to be integrated in the mentored program.
   Not taking away anything that dads can teach children, a fresh set of instructions, preferably from someone who isn't a family member, seems to resonate better than if dad or mom are doing the instructing.
   The program is in place. Now lets work to smooth it out. Fine tune it and move on.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Parades, football, families, hunting-all part of Thanksgiving

   I don't mean to minimize the importance or meaning of Thanksgiving. For our family it's always been one of the days during the year our family was together.
   With three of our four children scattered around the world just our oldest spends holidays with us. Once in awhile one or more of the others will come home but not too often. The cost is too much for a short trip back to the states.
   Our daughter Jennifer maintains the Thanksgiving tradition in her home near Huddersfield, U.K. (She does the same for Halloween, decorating the outside of their home. Kids ask her husband Jeff where is the house the lady from the states lives. He directs them to his home as Jennifer has become known as the Halloween lady!)
   In our home, we take time to be thankful for what we have, that our children are well and happy. That they came from a good home, one where we all are close. Our children had a good upbringing and we are proud and thankful for the way they have all turned out.
    Some will spend the day taking a stand in the woods trying to get that whitetail. Others will watch the annual parade from Detroit. Still others will tune in the annual Thanksgiving Day game the Detroit Lions play each year.
   Of course there is the traditional big meal most of us don't need to consume. We'll all overeat, sit around, then eat some more.
   Somewhere in between eating, watching the game, or going in the woods, take a moment to think about why we have this day and all that goes with it. It's a good time to be thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

DNR personnel dedicated to their work

   Often the DNR comes in for criticism. It's usually related to the deer herd and lack thereof, or to fishing and why more of this or that species isn't stocked in certain lakes.
   Rarely are the DNR's employees mentioned. If they are, it's often not in a kindly way. Often conservation officers-CO's- those policemen and women in green that keep an eye on the outdoor sporting life are talked about negatively.
   Just like cops are lumped into one group. You know, those folks without feelings, cold hearted, willing to give their mom a violation.
   But the truth and more accurate account of these professions is that by and large, the people that choose them for careers are very dedicated.
   Many could have gone into other professions, made more money, had a better position, and wouldn't put in the hours as some public employees do.
   The staff at Holly Recreation Area and the DNR's wildlife personnel that serve that area are a case in point.
   First, it's because they all work so well together. Park manager Shawn Speaker manages to keep up with the challenges of overseeing a large park. That includes everything from road maintenance, pluming and electrical work, to enforcement of park rules amongst many other duties.
   Speaker and his staff thought the park needed an accessible hunting blind for disabled persons. Once the idea was presented, wildlife personnel Jon Curtis and Sarah Ecker-probably others too-located a spot, arranged for an Eagle scout to build the blind, and worked hard to see that the entire project came together in time for the 2012 firearms deer season.
   They didn't just stick a blind out in some field. They scouted the area, knew that deer frequented it, then went to work planting corn and clover as crops to help attract deer.
   The first hunters to make use of the blind arranged to stay in one of the park's camping cabins. They were treated like royalty, or guests would be treated in some upscale hotel.
   Their story will be in this next Sunday's Oakland Press. The story of the dedicated parks personnel that made this all possible continues everyday.
   The best thing any of them could say after all of the work was done and the hunters using it was that they were happy to be a part of something that was so pleasing to others.
   Way to go Holly Rec and wildlife personnel.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Weather great for deer opener

   Hunters in North Oakland County enjoyed mild temperatures for the November 15 deer opener. Once he sun came up it turned nearly into shirt sleeve weather. Weather reports for the weekend indicate continued sunshine with temps in the 50-degree range.
   Hunters wishing to stay close to home and still enjoy the camaraderie of deer camp should take advantage of the campgrounds at Holly Recreation Area.
   One loop has been left open for hunters and other campers who enjoy fall camping. You'll have your choice of secluded sites this time of the year. And hunting is just a walk away.
   Hunters interviewed Thursday were seeing deer. Many had been successful as indicated by the many deer brought to the deer check station.
   If you decided to hunt, be safe, wear plenty of orange, and know what your target is and the backstop. Good luck!

Monday, November 12, 2012

EHD means fewer doe permits

   With evidence of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) now affecting white-tailed deer in more than 30 Michigan counties, Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh has signed an emergency order that decreases antlerless license purchase limits for deer management units (DMUs) where the most EHD-related die-offs have occurred.
    Effective immediately, the purchase limit for DMU 486 (a multicounty unit in the southern Lower Peninsula) is five private land antlerless deer hunting licenses per hunter.
   Also effective immediately, the public antlerless license purchase limit per hunter is two for each of the following DMUs: 012 (Branch), 034 (Ionia), 039 (Kalamazoo), 041 (Kent), 044 (Lapeer), 076 (Sanilac), 078 (Shiawassee), 079 (Tuscola) and 080 (Van Buren).
    Individuals who purchased antlerless licenses prior to this emergency order are not required to return licenses. This order only applies to antlerless licenses purchased on or after Nov. 8, 2012.
    To better address the public’s concerns and questions about EHD, deer hunting, or deer in general, DNR’s wildlife veterinarian Steve Schmitt, deer and elk program leader Brent Rudolph and Law Enforcement Division Assistant Chief Dean Molnar will field questions in a cyber discussion on Tuesday, Nov. 13, from 7 to 8 p.m. To join the live-streaming event, residents are asked to visit
    In addition, on Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., DNR staff, including Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason and Assistant Chief Doug Reeves, will be available for questions at some of the busiest retail stores in southern Michigan. For a complete list of locations and participating staff, visit
    The DNR will take reports of dead deer that are likely EHD-related until Jan. 1. To report the presence of dead deer, the DNR encourages residents to contact their nearest DNR wildlife field office by consulting the list available at

Friday, November 9, 2012

DNR to host live online video forum Nov. 13

   Deer hunters and others interested in deer management in Michigan are invited to join the Department of Natural Resources at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, for “DNR Live: Deer” -- a one-hour online forum designed to answer questions from the public about the state’s deer population, hunting seasons and regulations.
   The video event will stream live on the DNR’s Facebook page at A Facebook account is not required to access the page and watch the livestream event.
   The online forum’s panel of DNR experts will include the Wildlife Division’s deer and elk program leader Brent Rudolph and wildlife veterinarian Steve Schmitt, along with Law Enforcement Division Assistant Chief Dean Molnar.
   The public is invited to post questions in advance on the DNR’s Facebook page, send via Twitter to @MichiganDNR using the hashtag #DNRlive, or email to, no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12.
    “We are excited to use this interactive technology to share information with the public on the cusp of Michigan’s firearm deer season opener,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh.
   “Our panel of experts is looking forward to answering a broad range of questions about deer management and hunting. We expect to address deer season prospects and the health of the state’s deer herd, including this year’s outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD).”
    For more information about how to participate in the “DNR Live: Deer” online forum, email or contact DNR Public Information Officer Ed Golder at
   To learn more about deer management and hunting in Michigan, visit

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Take a book deer hunting

    But make it a good book. Something that is a page turner and keeps your interest. On my first deer hunt, I spent all morning trying to be still while I leaned against a large oak tree. A couple of times I sat on a cushion on the ground.
   While I heard shooting all around me and far off, nothing came my way. Later that day for an evening hunt I was sitting on the edge of a woods with a farmers field behind me.
   I laid my shotgun down on the top rail of a split-rail fence that had seen better days. Just a few feet to my right was what appeared to be a run.
   From my stand, I was looking down into an open area near a woods full of oaks and beech trees. The forest floor was covered with leaves.
   It was cold but with little wind. I was engrossed in a novel; probably one of Elmore Leonard's. It was a page turner and I got totally engrossed in it.
   When I first began reading my book, I would look up at the end of each page. Somewhere in there I got so interested I read several without leaving my book.
   Thinking I should take a look-see, I slowly raised my head and looked straight ahead. I almost had to pinch myself when I saw a buck at the bottom of the hill, feeding and completely broadside to me.
   My shot hit the buck a little high and forward in the shoulder, allowing it to run a short distance. I was able to get a second shot off, bringing him down.
   This was my first deer. Had you told me reading a book would have been key in getting it, I would have laughed.
   Now, I always have a book along in my pack. For you see, it really does force one to sit still and concentrate. And that is key when deer hunting.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Steelheading on the Platte to be protected

   The Department of Natural Resources has announced the Platte River spawning closure will return to its historic timeframe of January 1 through March 31, in 2013. All fishing is prohibited during he closure.
    This closure affects the Platte River from the Platte River State Fish Hatchery down to Platte Lake.
   In addition, no fishing will be allowed within 300 feet of the upper hatchery weir whenever the weir is in place (which was August 15 through September 30 in 2012). This closure provides enhanced protection of migrating coho salmon, many of which are used as broodstock for hatchery operations.
   These spawning closures will go into effect on January 1, 2013 and will read as follows in next year’s fishing guide:
   “The Platte River is closed to fishing from the US-31 bridge at Veteran’s Park downstream to Platte Lake, January 1 – March 31” and “The Platte River is closed to fishing within 300 feet of the Upper (hatchery) weir infrastructure, whenever the weir is in place.”
   Since 2010, DNR’s Fisheries Division has been annually stocking the Platte River with 20,000 yearling steelhead.
    This stocking program is anticipated to increase the steelhead population to a level that could support a back-up egg take facility at the Platte River State Fish Hatchery and thus enhance angling opportunities on the Platte River.
   “Moving the date of spawning closure last spring offered a good level of protection for the first group of steelhead that returned to the river following our stocking efforts,” said Heather Hettinger, DNR fisheries biologist for the Platte River. “Now that we have had a chance to see our efforts are beginning to work, we feel confident we can restore angling opportunities and protect these fish at the same time.”
   For more information, please review Fisheries Order 204 at

Friday, November 2, 2012

Poacher charged with 125 violations

   Brian Birchmeier, 51, of Shiawassee County’s Owosso Township, was arraigned in Shiawassee County District Court on 125 misdemeanor charges related to poaching deer and turkey in Michigan.
   The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Law Enforcement Division found Birchmeier to be in illegal possession of more than 100 parts of animals, including deer and turkey.
   Based on the charges, Birchmeier could face more than $120,000 in reimbursement payments, loss of his hunting privileges and as many as 90 days in jail. Each hunting-related charge carries a penalty of as much as $500 per violation. Each license violation carries a penalty of as much as $250 per violation.

Specifically, Birchmeier has been charged with:

• 115 count of taking or possessing a deer over the legal limit.
• 1 count of taking a deer without a license.
• 7 counts of taking a turkey without a permit.
• 2 counts of illegal baiting.

“This is one of the larger poaching cases we have seen in recent years,” said Lt. Sherry Chandler of the DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. “As the start of firearm deer season approaches, this arrest is an important reminder that game laws are in place to protect the state’s natural resources, including its deer population, so we can safeguard a healthy herd for all Michigan hunters.”
   DNR Conservation Officer Daniel Bigger was called to Birchmeier’s home in early October on a tip from the Shiawassee County Sheriff’s Department. Officer Bigger found numerous sets of antlers at Birchmeier’s home, as well as illegal bait piles. Officer Bigger subsequently executed a search warrant at Birchmeier’s home, seizing more than 170 antlers, as well as shoulder mounts, crossbows and turkey beards.
   Based on a review of licenses purchased by Birchmeier, and an absence of hunting records prior to 1982, the number of deer parts alone that Birchmeier illegally possesses is estimated at well over 100. The investigation and a subsequent interview with the suspect indicated the illegal taking of turkeys as well.
   “Hunting and fishing are great traditions in Michigan,” said Lt. Chandler. “The state depends on hunting and fishing regulations to make sure that tradition is protected and enhanced for future generations.”
   Apparently, Birchmeier didn't subscribe to the age-old concept about rules, regulations, and fairness. You remember the one that goes something like, it's important to conduct yourself properly at all times. But it's what you do when no one is watching (like a DNR CO) that makes you the true sportsman.