The start of the spring turkey hunting season is just a couple of weeks away and I couldn’t be more excited to hunt turkey for the first time this year. Michigan is ranked seventh in the nation for turkey harvest! There are more counties open to hunting turkey than ever before in Michigan due to a successful comeback and ongoing conservation. In fact, the Allegan State Game Area played a major role in the reintroduction of the wild turkey in Michigan. Volunteers with MUCC’s wildlife habitat program have completed several projects in the Allegan SGA that benefit wild turkey habitat among other species. I’m not being completely selfish though, I will be assisting with several other adults on their first turkey hunt experience this spring as well!
This weekend is the start of the Learn To Hunt: Turkey program sponsored by NWTF, the DNR, and Michigan State University. I will be assisting with the Hunter Education course field day as the 16 adult participants learn hunter ethics and responsibility, practice safe firearm handling, complete the hunter safety exam and practice patterning shotguns of various gauges at the range. As a newly certified Hunter Safety Education Instructor, I look forward to teaching this course specific to hunting wild turkey and welcoming more responsible hunters to the lifestyle.
I like to include examples of volunteers as ethical and responsible hunters. Volunteers that help improve and restore wildlife habitat in various state games areas are ensuring the conservation of the species they like to hunt. Many of the projects completed benefit multiple species; some that benefit turkey include building brush piles, aspen regeneration, hinge-cutting, and planting trees. Making sure that wild turkey have suitable habitats to thrive in has been the key to their successful comeback since the Pittman-Robertson Act of 1937 helped to provide funds for such projects. Now, many of us get to enjoy hunting a variety of species each year on public lands and have programs to share opportunities with new hunters.
This Learn To Hunt program provides opportunities for adults that are interested in hunting a species for the first time to hunt with an experienced mentor. Prior to the mentored hunt weekend in May, participants will have completed hunter safety certification, patterned shotguns of different gauges, and scouted the hunt area for turkey signs and practiced calling. The mentored hunt will be throughout the Barry State Game Area in Southwest Michigan. MUCC’s wildlife habitat program will have a project scheduled in the Barry SGA this fall as well-check out other upcoming projects here!