Last weekend, the Crane Pond State Game Area hosted its Annual Youth Rabbit Hunt. The area’s DNR Wildlife Biologist, Ken Kesson, DNR Wildlife Assistant, Dean Boerman, and DNR Wildlife Technician, Nate DeVries organize the event each year with local mentors that volunteer to guide groups of youth hunters during the hunt. Areas of recent habitat improvements, such as the brush piles built for rabbitat by volunteers with MUCC’s Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (On the Ground), are key locations for this hunt. MUCC provided lunch for the event from a local smokehouse as well as Tracks Magazines for each of the 31 youth participants. The event is also supported by the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), and Rural King- America’s farm and Home Store.
With very little promotion, the youth hunt event is growing each year and engaging more youth in hunting public lands. This year, every group saw a lot of activity in the field. It was a windy and bitter 28 degrees, but the rabbits were more active with the help of the cold. Mentors provided dogs to run the rabbits out of the brush piles and the youth hunters got to see quite a few runs and several had the chance to get a clear shot at a rabbit. By the end of the hunt, the groups came back with 4 rabbits and 2 fox squirrels! Mentors showed the youth participants how to skin and clean their small game harvests and then enjoyed a well-earned hot lunch. After lunch, the sponsors provided some really nice hunting gear for a few lucky winners in the group.
A young girl hunter won a nice trail camera and a few lucky boys won a .410 single barrel shotgun, a crossbow and archery target, and a two way radio set. Every participant got a goody-bag with small hunting supplies and a Youth membership with NWTF. Aside from the gear and prizes, these youth gain much more from the event than that. They’ve made unforgettable memories with their parents, siblings, or friends whether this was their first hunting experience or not. They’ve met mentors that they can look up to and were shown great examples of ethical hunting. Mentors Steve Waksmundzki and Larry Radke couldn’t be setting better examples for these youth as they have guided several youth hunts and often volunteer to improve wildlife habitat on public lands.
This weekend, we will be in the Fulton State Game Area building more brush piles for rabbitat! Utilizing volunteers to build brush piles is actually written in the area’s Wildlife Management Plan by DNR Wildlife Biologist Mark Mills. Habitat improvement projects have been completed in previous OTG events in the south and the central region of the Fulton SGA. This Saturday, volunteers will be working in the north region to make improvements in a new area. See upcoming event details and RSVP to volunteer for wildlife using the links below!
UPCOMING OTG EVENTS:
We will be partnering with Huron Pines AmeriCorps member Jason LaPointe on a large-scale service project that consists of removing concentrated areas of Scotch Pine from a Jack Pine Plantation near Tomahawk Floodwaters.
March 2017 St. Clair County
We will be building brush piles for rabbitat. (Date to be determined)
MUCC’s On The Ground Program is supported by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division