Contrary to what the recent weather patterns may have us believing, the fall hunting seasons are officially here and in full swing. With waterfowl, small game, bear, fall turkey and archery deer seasons all open, the woods are an exciting place to be these days.
As usual, it is also an exciting time at the Department of Natural Resources, as our dedicated staff members have the opportunity to interact with the hunting public at wild game registration stations and at the DNR offices where licenses are sold. Not only do we get to hear the stories and see the smiling faces of successful hunters, but it is also a golden opportunity to answer any questions or concerns our customers may have about hunting season rules and regulations.
Here's a sampling of some of the most common questions we are hearing this fall:
Does the federal shutdown affect the DNR's operations? Will I still be able to buy a hunting license? The federal government shutdown does not affect State of Michigan DNR operations or hunting license sales. State parks and campgrounds, DNR offices and other DNR land and facilities remain open for the public's enjoyment this fall.
My teenager would like to try hunting for the first time. Does he/she need to complete hunter's safety first? First-time hunters ages 10 and up may hunt with an apprentice license for two license seasons before completion of hunter education is required. Apprentice hunters 10-16 years old must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or someone designated by the parent or guardian; apprentice hunters 17 years and older must be accompanied by an adult 21 years or older. The mentor accompanying the apprentice hunter must possess a valid regular hunting license for the same game/season as the apprentice.
Did all of the wolf hunting licenses sell out? Yes, and no. On Saturday, Sept. 28, when licenses went on sale over-the-counter, the 1,200 licenses sold out before the end of the day. However, some license holders may choose to void their license before the end of the sale period on Thursday, Oct. 31, meaning small numbers of licenses could be returned to the license pool for purchase. Anyone interested in obtaining a license who was not yet successful should check periodically at www.mdnr-elicense.com to see if licenses are available. License agents at the DNR Operations Service Centers (OSCs) in Baraga, Marquette and Newberry can also check license availability for customers.
I have a wolf hunting license, how can I find land to hunt in one of the Wolf Management Units?
Abundant public land is available for hunters targeting wolves in the three Wolf Management Units (WMUs), however, the DNR is offering assistance in connecting hunters with farmers who have experienced wolf depredation of livestock. While the WMU boundaries were drawn to specifically target packs with a documented history of depredation, farmers and hunters partnering together will make this targeted approach to wolf management more successful. Those with a wolf hunting license looking for land to hunt should call the Baraga, Marquette or Newberry OSCs before Friday, Oct. 18, to be added to a list that will be shared with farmers.
When and where can I have my deer checked?
DNR deer registration stations at the Baraga, Marquette and Newberry OSCs are open M-F, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (and other business hours by appointment) during the archery deer season. Hours and locations will be expanded during the November firearm season. Registration is voluntary and participants receive a 2013 Deer Cooperator Patch. For a list of locations and hours, visit www.michigan.gov/deer.
Have other questions for us? Feel free to stop by or call any DNR OSC for help, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/midnr, or call in to "Ask the DNR" on WNMU-TV 13 on Thursday, Nov. 7 and Thursday, Dec. 5 to have your question answered live on the air.
Additional items of interest for October:
Fall color chairlift rides will be offered this weekend, from noon to 7 p.m. Oct. 5-6, at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park ski hill for $5 per person (children under 12 ride free of charge). For details, call the ski hill at 906-885-5209 or visit www.michigan.gov/porkies.
The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will hold its annual Upper Peninsula meeting on Thursday in Iron Mountain at the Pine Mountain Lodge beginning at 1 p.m. CST. The meeting will feature presentations by the Wildlife and Fisheries divisions, the consideration of two U.P. land transactions, the presentation of the Partners in Conservation award to two U.P. residents, and opportunity for public comment. Additional details, including instructions for signing up for public comment, can be found online at www.michigan.gov/nrc.
Hunter education field days will be offered in Ironwood (Oct. 12) and Negaunee Township (Oct. 13) for anyone taking the online or home study course. Completion of the field day is necessary to receive a hunter education certificate. Pre-registration is required and students under 10 must be accompanied by an adult. For additional details and to pre-register, call Cpl. Ryan Rademacher at 231-578-1313.
Debbie Munson Badini is the DNR's Deputy Public Information Officer. Have suggestions for future column topics or questions about natural resource management in the UP? Contact her by phone at 906-226-1352, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @MichiganDNR.