Drew YoungeDyke Drew YoungeDyke
With apologies to Tony Hansen, it’s not just bow season that resumes this month. Since a lot of Michigan deer hunters are firearm-only hunters, many of you are on hold until next season. Hopefully you got your deer. Maybe you didn’t. But you have approximately 350 days until you hunt again, so whatever will you do with your time? Obsess about it? Check. Buy new gear? Probably. Scout? Target shoot? I sure hope so. But there’s something else you can do, too: Volunteer for wildlife habitat.
MUCC’s On the Ground (OTG) program will kick off its new field season on December 13 at Allegan State Game Area. We’re meeting at the Fennville Farm Unit office and cutting a stand of old aspen trees nearby. Young aspen is great for wildlife like white-tailed deer, grouse, woodcock and turkeys. But when aspen gets old and dies off, the stand will transition to other species of trees. So by cutting the old aspen before it dies off, we’ll be able to convert the stand back to young aspen. It’s a simple concept that requires hard work.
DNR biologist Mark Mills assessing the aspen stand to be cut. DNR biologist Mark Mills assessing the aspen stand to be cut.
So lace up your winter boots, put on your coat, grab your saw and let’s get this done. You’re welcome to bring a chainsaw if you have safety equipment and know how to handle it safely. You can also bring handsaws for felling smaller diameter trees, or just bring your willingness to work and help stack the trees into brush piles for rabbits and pheasants. (Did I mention this area was great for pheasants, too?).
By the way, if you’re not confident in your chainsaw safety skills, we’re hosting a Chainsaw Safety Training by Chuck Oslund on January 17.
As with all OTG projects, volunteers will get a cool t-shirt, a truck decal, a one-year digital subscription to Michigan OutofDoors Magazine, and a delicious lunch. And don’t forget to thank the Michigan Department of Natural Resouces and our friends at Outdoor Life Magazine for sponsoring this project, which is being funded in large part by a Wildlife Habitat Grant from Michigan DNR and receiving promotional and equipment help from Outdoor Life’s Open Country program.
Grouse thrive in young aspen.  Grouse thrive in young aspen.
Your deer season may or may not be over. I know mine isn’t – I’ve still got a month of bow season left and I haven’t given up yet. Maybe you’re hunting with a muzzleloader or participating in the late antlerless season. Or, you may be done until next November.
Whatever your hunting situation, it can’t hurt to build up some karma points by volunteering for public land wildlife habitat. And December 13 is a great time to start. Click here to sign up and don’t forget to donate your deer hide to Defend the Hunt!
WildLife Wednesday is the weekly blog from MUCC Field Manager Drew YoungeDyke

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