There couldn’t have been better timing for the recent warmer temperatures and frequent rains as volunteers with MUCC’s wildlife habitat program have been planting trees in wildlife openings on public land. Two weeks ago, volunteers planted ~1,000 trees between two projects at the Tuscola SGA and the Crane Pond SGA. Next weekend, we will be at the Muskegon State Game Area planting trees in locations selected by DNR Wildlife Technician, Greg Hochstetler. The trees will be provided by MUCC’s Members-Only Tree Sale; clubs affiliated with MUCC have the opportunity to receive 300 trees from the Vans Pines Nursery on Saturday, May 14th from 9am-2pm.
On Sunday, May 15th at 9am we will be meeting at the Muskegon State Game Area to plant a variety of conifers in wildlife openings. The types of trees being planted will be Eastern white pine, white spruce, and Norway spruce. Conifers are great for providing cover for wildlife, such as thermal and nesting cover for many wildlife species. The white spruce will provide crucial winter cover and nesting sites to rear young with their dense needles. This project will improve habitat to benefit multiple species of wildlife including whitetail deer, turkey, woodcock, and other small game. The Muskegon SGA is an area that MUCC’s Wildlife Habitat Program has not reached yet; so I’m looking forward to establishing the program there.
I’ll get to spend some time on favorite public land, the Pigeon River Country, on Saturday, May 14th. We will be improving a wildlife opening in the area by cutting out encroaching timber. This project will restore habitat for the areas elk, whitetail deer, turkey, and small game species. Elk and whitetail deer use these small wildlife openings within the forest for bedding/fawning areas. We will also stack the trunks and limbs of felled trees into large brush piles in the edges of the opening for rabbitat. This project is scheduled to start at 12:30 pm so that we don’t disturb any morning turkey hunters as the 0234 hunt will be taking place during that week.
See more details about the May 14th or May 15th habitat events and RSVP to volunteer here!
I wish the best of luck to any turkey hunters during the remainder of the season and congratulations to those of you who’ve already had success this season! I have been out three times this week and only have two more opportunities to hunt before my spring season ends. It’s been a great learning experience so far; I didn’t see or hear any sign of turkey my first hunt, I saw a lone hen on my second hunt and saw the same lone hen on my third hunt. I was discouraged at first as I spotted a tom surrounded by five or six hens on private land as I was driving out just a quarter of a mile away from the public land I hunted. I quickly gained that excitedness back this morning, though, as I heard a turkey gobble just as I was getting out of my car before daylight.
These moments constantly remind me why I love my job with MUCC and being involved as a member of organizations such as the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. It’s humbling to think that I have the opportunity to hunt this species because fellow hunter-conservationists put in the time and work to restore their habitat and ensure a stable population to hunt. I’m more than happy to put in my time and work to do the same. It’s great to see that volunteers with the program share the same perspective even if they have a different outdoor background!