Michigan DNR Appeal Wolf Decision

February 28th, 2015

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources today filed an appeal of a December 2014 federal district court ruling that returned wolves in Michigan and Wisconsin to the federal endangered species list and wolves in Minnesota to federal threatened species status.

The appeal – filed by the Michigan Attorney General in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – asks the court to uphold the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s December 2011 decision that removed the Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment (DPS) of wolves from the federal endangered species list.

“Returning wolf management to wildlife professionals in the state of Michigan is critical to retaining a recovered, healthy, and socially-accepted wolf population in our state,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “Michigan residents who live with wolves deserve to have a full range of tools available to sustainably manage that population.”

Wolves in Michigan are 15 years past the population recovery goals set by the federal government. The DNR will argue against the federal district court’s ruling that wolves must recover across their historic range – which includes the lower 48 states and Mexico – before Michigan’s wolf population can be removed from the federal endangered species list.

In addition, the state will argue against the district court’s conclusion that the USFWS failed to demonstrate that Michigan’s laws and regulations adequately protect the wolf population within Michigan.

“Wolves in Michigan and the other western Great Lakes states are fully recovered from endangered species status, which is a great success story,” said DNR Wildlife Division Chief Russ Mason. “Continuing to use the Endangered Species Act to protect a recovered species not only undermines the integrity of the Act, it leaves farmers and others with no immediate recourse when their animals are being attacked and killed by wolves.”

Michigan’s wolf population numbers approximately 636 in the state’s Upper Peninsula. With the return to Federal protection in December of 2014, the DNR lost the authority to use a varity of wolf management methods, including lethal control, to minimize wolf conflict with humans, livestock, and dogs.  The change in statis also suspended state authoity that allowed livestock and dog ownersto protect their animals from wold depredation when wolves are in the act of attacking those animals.

The Federal District Courts December 2014 decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Humane Socioty of the United States, in which the state of Michigan participated as a defendant-intervener arguing against returning the Great Lakes DPS of wolves to the endangered species list.

Michigan joins the USFWS and a number of hunting and conservation organizations in appealing the ruling.

For further information on this topic visit www.michigan.gov/wolves.

Bear Population Steady According to Michigan’s DNR

February 23rd, 2015
February 01, 2015

Michigan’s black bear population is healthy, not declining, according to the most recent estimate made public at the Bear Symposium hosted by the DNR at Roscommon’s RAM Center on December 6. So the reduction in the number of bear licenses issued in the state over the last three years was not necessary. The reduced bear harvest that occurred over those years will insure the population is increasing, however, which is a good thing.

A new technique was used to come up with the most recent bear population estimate. It’s called statistical reconstruction and it was explained by DNR research specialist Sarah Mayhew at the Bear Symposium.

“We have sex and age data from our bear population since 1992 to the present,” Mayhew said. “We have the age at harvest for our bears from mandatory registration of animals taken by hunters. Those ages are determined by looking at the teeth from those bears. Hunting effort is determined by annual surveys of bear hunters.

“All of the information is plugged into the program and it goes through a number of scenarios to determine what the bear population was most likely to have been like to produce the harvest that we know we had, given the other data that is known.”

We have noticed an actual increase in bear activity around our camp in the Marquette area.  One female we saw on numerous accasions had four cubs with her.  This is highly unusual as two and possibly three are the norm. Also the bear seem to have become bolder than in the past.  One sub adult bear walked right through camp a few weeks before season opened. Altogether we had 9 different bears frequenting our two bait sites. Sightings seem to be up in the area we hunt over the last few years.

Susan Smith from Kawkawlin is pictured below with her 410 pound (black bear) she shot on September 15 in Dickinson County.

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Various Deer Antler Scoring Systems

February 20th, 2015

11 point measurements 00811 pointer 032There are four generally accepted ways for scoring big bucks – Boone and Crockett (B & C), Pope and Young (P & Y), Longhunter, and Buckmasters (BTR).  I thought I would use three of these scoring systems to measure a buck I shot 3 years ago not far from my house.  This buck has some “non-typical” points, so it should be interesting to see the different outcomes from each score.

The Boone and Crockett club was established in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt who had a vision for sportsmen and conservationist to deal with issues affecting hunting, wildlife, and wild habitat.  The B and C club has become the benchmark from which all other scoring systems get their standards

As you can see by the picture this is a very respectable buck, but he fooled me concerning my “field estimate” as to what he would score.  I used the Boone and Crockett system for scoring, which is exactly the same as the Pope and Young system.  The difference is that to make the B and C record book the animal must be legally harvested with a firearm.  The minimum score to get you in the B and C book is 170 inches typical and 185 non-typical.  The only difference between these two systems is that the Pope and Young book is for bowhunting records and the minimum scores are lower.  It takes a minimum score of  125 typical and 155 non-typical.  I shot this deer with a bow and figured it was a shoe-in for the minimum score of 125!

On the right side of the deers rack I came up with 52 -4/8 and on the left side I had 65-2/8 due to more points and longer tine length.  The beam on the right was longer (24) vs the left which was 22-1/8. You get four circumference measurements between points and also you get to add the inside spread of the main beams which was 15-5/8. This comes to a total of 133-3/8 inches, but in order to qualify as a typical entry the uneven points (including the non-typical points must be deducted. There is 24-3/8 points of deduction so we end up with a net score of 109.  Not nearly enough!

Now if I measure the deer as a non-typical he comes out as 140-5/8. Sounding better unless you still have to deduct the irregularities between the left and right sides.  In that case your back down to 116-1/8. I’m not fully sure if that is the right way or not, so sound off if you can help on this particular issue.

I also measured the deer using the Buckmasters (BTR) full scoring system.  You get full credit with no deductions using this up and coming system.  Because this system only allows total mass of the antlers they do not allow for the inside spread measurement. The BTR score for my deer was 125, which ended up being the highest score out of the three methods.

Like I said at the beginning I was quite surprised to see just how low this buck scored according to the different scoring systems. No matter he is a very unique 11 pointer, and I’m happy to have him hanging on my wall. The longhunter system is reserved for those who take a buck with black powder.

Mike

Big Deer On The Wall!

February 18th, 2015

6-point buck 005IMG_86381I went and picked up my deer head from the taxidermist a couple of days ago.  Gary (Gary Browns Taxidermy) did a great job and it only took him three and a half months.  Another local taxidermist has had a turkey of mine for over 4 years.  He will never get anymore of my business.

I would have never thought to mount a 6 pointer, but then I had never seen a 6 pointer like this one.  I decided to put a tape on his horns this afternoon and was pleasantly surprised by my calculations.  The right side score was 47-3/8 and the left side was 46 even.  Add 18 inches for the inside spread and you come up with 111-3/8 gross inches.  There were 6-5/8 inches of deductions for some irregularities, which translates into a 104-6/8 net score.  That’s not official, but it’s close, as I do know the procedure for measuring.  I do believe that the minimum entry into the Michigan Commemorative Bucks record book is an even 100 inches, which means my 6 point will qualify.  Very unusual for a 6 point to make the “book!”  And that my friends is why he’s on the wall.

My brother Darryl also got his 9 pointer back from gun season.  He has another nice buck to hang in his “man cave.”  He is also waiting for his bow bagged 8 point and the nice bobcat he just got last week to go on the wall.  His 9 point will net in the upper 120’s or low 130’s.  Nice tines and really good mass on that one.  Posting a picture of both deer.

Mike

Canadian Connection

February 16th, 2015

Mom's 90th. Birthday Party 021nancy and doug 022I, along with my five (5) brothers, have an awesome Canadian Mother.  We celebrated her 90th birthday this past Sunday. What a great time we had with this special Christian lady.  Ninety of her family and friends gathered for a celebration of her amazing life.  My mother was born in Sault Ste. Marie Canada.  That’s right she is a Canuck, but the Detroit Red Wings are her favorite team, and she follows them like a pro scout!  She has 3 nephews and a niece in Canada, and Nancy and her husband Doug (Fairburn) were able to come in from the Sault for the celebration.  They actually came in on Wednesday evening giving mother a special surprise.

None of us had ever met Doug before, but he fit in with the Ansel’s like an old shoe.  He’s a Jack of all trades, a hunter, and has worked as a fishing and bear guide around North Bay.  Did I mention he can cook?  Wow he fixed my mother and “us” some real Canadian “butter tarts” along with several flaky crusted meat pies.  The guy actually liked to “show off” in the kitchen which was fine with my mother.  He definitely endured himself to her in just a few days of being around.  Of course our cousin Nancy makes him look good because she is about as sweet as a woman can be.  Us Ansel boys have always had a special place in our hearts for our lovely Canadian cousin.  Anyway they have moved from North Bay and are now back in the Sault.  Doug may try to get his guiding license so we can go after some of those big Canadian black bears together.  We will certainly be making some extra trips across the border in the future.  So glad we have a Canadian Connection!

2015 Black Lake Sturgeon Harvest

February 13th, 2015

Department of Natural Resources officials today announced the 2015 Black Lake sturgeon harvest season ended after less than five and a half hours Saturday, Feb. 7, with five fish being harvested. The fishing season, which included spearing or hook-and-line fishing, was scheduled to run Feb. 7-11 or until the harvest quota of five fish had been reached.

First fish caught during 2015 Black Lake sturgeon season, 67-inch female weighing 75 poundsThere were 303 registered anglers on the ice Saturday, up from 228 the year before. Most anglers registered at the preregistration held Friday, Feb. 6, which allowed for a much more streamlined process. Anglers of all ages and genders participated, including a good number of supervised youth.

According to DNR fisheries biologist Tim Cwalinski, the first sturgeon was harvested around 9 a.m. It was a 67-inch female that weighed 75 pounds. Fish number two was taken at 9:33 a.m. and was a 58-inch male weighing 45 pounds. Fish three was a 69-inch female that weighed 80 pounds, taken at 12:35 p.m. Fish four was the day’s largest, a 71-inch female that weighed in at 87 pounds and was taken at 12:50 p.m. The fifth and final fish was harvested at 1:27 p.m. and was a 50-inch female that weighed 31 pounds.

Four of the five fish taken had been captured several times before by Michigan State University and DNR sturgeon researchers during spring spawning runs.

The sturgeon fishing hotline was updated at 1:27 p.m., which officially closed the season. In addition, signal cannons and sirens were used within minutes of the final fish being harvested to indicate the season’s end. DNR law enforcement officials and other department personnel were embedded in the on-ice fishing communities and were able to quickly report harvested fish this year, as well as to quickly contact all lake sturgeon anglers on the ice and close the season.

“The unlimited entry fishery paired with a significant on-ice presence of DNR personnel allows for greater participation by anglers while protecting the population of lake sturgeon in Black Lake from overharvest,” said Cwalinski. “It was deemed a very successful season for angler participation, fish harvest, quick response times, and from a safety perspective.”

Rehabilitation of lake sturgeon in the Cheboygan River watershed is a cooperative effort involving the Department of Natural Resources, the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow, Michigan State University and Tower-Kleber Limited Partnership.

“The 2015 sturgeon fishing season on Black Lake was a success, from the angler participation, the Sturgeon Shivaree event, to the harvest,” said Brenda Archambo, president of the Black Lake Chapter of Sturgeon For Tomorrow. “This entire weekend shows the link lake sturgeon have to this area, not only biologically, but socially and culturally. We look forward to upcoming years working collaboratively in planning and facilitating future events.”

Michigan Bobcat Hunting Success

February 11th, 2015

Jim shephard 005Darryl and Bobcat 003Darryl and Bobcat 014Little brother returned safe and sound from his Northern Michigan bobcat hunting adventure with a beautiful male cat in tow!

Darryl hunted with Jim Shephard who guides bobcat hunters in the Northern Lower Peninsula for the entire bobcat season. The season runs from Jan. 1st. till March 1st in the northern zone.  Jim runs several different blue tick hounds, and like most houndsmen loves his dogs.  Jim will usually only use two or three dogs on a hunt as he drives the back roads searching for a fresh cat track.  Actually a coyote and a bobcat track look very much alike, and Jim will get down and blow into a fresh track to determine whether he turns the dogs loose or not.  The bobcat claws are retracted while a coyote’s are visible in the snow.  Jim will hunt 7 days a week, but success always depends on the weather, and the hunters ability and conditioning.  Jim said that the bobcat population in the Northern Lower is stable, and the DNR website confirms Jim’s assessment.  A hunter can actually harvest 2 (two) bobcats per season, but only one of them can be taken in the Lower Peninsula.  The second cat would have to be harvested in the Upper Peninsula where there is a 2 cat limit.

Brother Darryl actually hunted with Jim twice this season and saw 3 cats total.  Weather played a role in each of the hunts, but Darryl connected on the last day of this most recent adventure!  You would think a once in a lifetime bobcat would be good enough, but little brother is hooked.  He fell in love with the hunt, the baying of the hounds, the complete knowledge of his guide, and the whole mystique that surrounds this little known part of Michigan’s outdoor scene.  Darryl said Jim’s dogs are phenomenal and he took a special liking to one called Page.  Darryl is a senior citizen (65) but he pushed his way through 10 inches of snow on numerous occasions before his last final 700 yard foray into the thick underbrush of the bobcats “last stand!” Darryl downed the big cat, as it broke from cover, with his trusty 20 gauge Benelli, shooting number 5 shot.  Darryl threw the trophy over his shoulders as he humped back to the truck and the congratulations of everyone involved with his successful hunt.

If any of you readers would be interested in a similar hunt give Jim a call at 989-733-4147.  He will be glad to work with you in trying to fullfill your quest for one of Michigan’s “little lions”  and will quote you a price for the hunt.  Sorry but starting this year non-residents are no longer able to hunt Michigan’s bobcats.  Check the DNR regulations concerning permits, licenses, and the check in for “lucky” hunters.

Way to go Darryl!

Mike

Michigan’s Bobcat Season

February 9th, 2015

bobcat 001Since my little brother is in the northern part of Michigan chasing the elusive bobcat, I thought I would find out more about this secretive cat.

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources there should be a plentiful harvest of bobcats in the Upper Peninsula where their numbers have increased over the last several years.  Numbers in the northern lower counties remain stable according to Debbie Munson Badini of the Michigan DNR.

Hunters need to purchase a fur harvester license to hunt or trap bobcats in Michigan.  They also need to get a kill tag from the DNR and register any animal they harvest during the season.  Hunters are limited to one bobcat per season in the Lower Peninsula. Those that would like to harvest a second cat must do so in the Upper Peninsula where numbers are much higher.

Badini says that”over the past five years hunters have harvested an average of 680 bobcats each year.”  This year the harvest is expected to be within the same range.  Season ends on March 1 st. in the Upper Peninsula and in the northern counties of the Lower.

Bobcat hunting is not a sport for the faint of heart, as you better be in good physical condition to chase these swamp dwellers across miles of snow and forest!  This is the second trip little brother (Darryl) has made this year, and according to him it’s “a real butt kicker!”  He should be home some time today after driving through a blinding snowstorm last evening.  I’ll report on his trip in my next blog.

Mike

Florida’s Black Bear Dilemma!

February 5th, 2015

????Since 2012 four people have been injured by attacks from black bears in the state of Florida.  Bears are being seen in larger numbers as the bear population expands, and their traditional habitat is increasingly under development.

Florida has had a ban on bear hunting for 20 years, but now the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission is considering a limited bear hunting season.  There are concerns that bears are becoming a threat in many of the suburban areas where sightings are becoming common-place.  The last study on the number of bears roaming throughout Florida was done in 2002.  That estimate was 3000 bears.  A new population study is under way presently as experts believe the population may double the 2002 census.  Thomas Eason, from the wildlife commission, said permits to kill some 275 bears would not threaten the survival of the current population.  He also explained that hunting would not eliminate attacks caused by people leaving food and garbage unsecured in their neighborhoods.  There is a separate proposal in the works that would make it illegal to leave food and garbage around that would entice bears into neighborhoods for an easy meal.

Of course the opinions are quite divided on the bear hunting issue.  There are currently 41 states that have a bear population and 32 of them allow bear hunting.  There are several environmental groups opposed to such a hunt, and the Humane Society of the United States has thrown its hat into the ring against bear hunting.  It will be interesting to see if the wildlife experts or the deep pockets of the anti-hunting community will win this argument.

Mike

Golfer VS. Alligator – See Who Wins!

February 3rd, 2015

golfer and gator 001This is the time of year that many head for Florida to escape the cold and snow from the northern states.  Many retirees have vacation homes, or just like to spend the winter months playing golf in sunny warm Florida.  I have taken a few golf trips down to the Sunshine State myself, and certainly have not missed those harsh Michigan winters.

If you play on any of Florida’s numerous courses you will eventually run into an alligator or two.  The rule is “You leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone!”  For the most part that is true.  We have had our share of encounters, and tend to give them a wide berth.  On one of the courses we played there was at least a 10 footer laying just off the fairway.  A “gator” that big can hurt you bad, so don’t be an idiot, leave him be.

The reason I mention this is that I recently saw a video of a golfer trying to retrieve his ball laying next to a 10 foot alligator.  He must have been watching to many reality alligator shows, and thought he knew how to handle this big bruiser.  It did not end well for the dummy, as he came awful close to being dinner.  The gator did get ahold of his arm and threw him around like a rag doll, but the guy walked away (without his golf ball of course.)  Why would you risk your life for a golf ball.  I heard it wasn’t even a Pro-V-1!  I downloaded part of the video.  I sure hope it turned out.

Mike