Last weekend was a successful work weekend as well as some time spent in the forest that’s so familiar to me and many others; the Pigeon River Country. I attended Northern Michigan’s Outdoor Expo hosted at the Otsego County Sportsplex in my hometown of Gaylord, MI. The expo opened doors to the public Friday afternoon and went on until Sunday afternoon. Vendors for local Michigan hunting, fishing, and outdoor companies, including our friends from Michigan Gone Wild, set up booths at the Sportsplex to promote their products and services over the weekend. Most of the attendees were from the area but some traveled from as far as Ludington to see the expo!
I spent the weekend promoting two local events with MUCC’s wildlife habitat program that will be taking place this summer in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. A good number of people took interest in attending the events and I recognized a few people that volunteered with me at last year’s events as well; one of them being Walter Gumtow (also a fellow NMU Wildcat-brownie points!) and his cousin Denise Lange. They stopped at the MUCC booth to ask about what events are coming up and told me how much they enjoyed volunteering last year- double brownie points! Many people commend these wildlife habitat improvement projects and I look forward to spending some more time in the PRC on May 14th and on June 4th– click the links to see more details about events on those dates and RSVP to volunteer.
I got to make some great connections with other vendors at the expo. In the booth next to MUCC, there were two very nice ambassadors for a foundation called “Hunt of A Lifetime” that I got to chat with. Their foundation takes kids under the age of 21 with a life-threatening illness on the hunt of their dreams; all expenses for every detail covered for any hunt they want! What an incredible and rewarding experience available for kids. I also met some fellow members of the Michigan Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and had great conversations about what to expect in the near future. If you haven’t already, check out BHA and the Michigan Chapter’s facebook group here!
Although the weekend was mostly work, I did get to play a little! Sunday after the expo ended, I took a drive out to last year’s elk habitat restoration site with my copilot and super-volunteer, Bethy Williams, to look for signs of use. It was 74 degrees and sunny; perfect weather to be in the woods. We were hoping to find an elk shed while we were out there, no such luck, but there was plenty of sign of elk utilizing the area. I found fresh browse on saplings high and low, elk and deer tracks, and plenty of scat. It’s evident that the elk are using the newly opened area that hadn’t been maintained in close to 100 years.
Coming up this week, volunteers MUCC’s wildlife habitat program will be planting trees in the Tuscola State Game Area on Friday and in the Crane Pond State Game Area on Saturday. The Reese High School Out-of-Doors Club will be helping us plant 500 conifers in the Tuscola SGA on Friday starting at 10:30am. They’ll have the day off from school to attend the habitat event and will even be starting out the morning by cleaning up a section of their adopted highway! On Saturday, volunteers will be meeting at the Crane Pond SGA at 9am to plant conifers and mast producing trees in selected areas. Frequent volunteer Steve Waksmundzki has recruited his girlfriend to cook up sloppy joes for all of the volunteers at this event; don’t miss out-RSVP here!