Deer Habitat Projects Around The State
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Upper Peninsula - Ontonagon County
A grant program in the UP between DNR, sportsmen's groups, concerned citizens and partners has shown three great benefits – production of on-the-ground deer habitat, education on the importance of habitat work, and great relationships are built by like-minded people. Wildlife Unlimited of Ontonagon County planted multiple wildlife openings with the Deer Habitat Improvement Partnership Initiative.
Upper Peninsula - Marquette County
Several small openings, totaling 16 acres have been planted to rye or mowed in Southern Marquette County this year to provide a great food source for deer. The openings are located on a two-track used by hunters, just north of the deer wintering complex and were last managed in 2009 with the U.P. Whitetails helping to sponsor the project. "This is great to be able to work these fields again," stated Wildlife Biologist Brian Roell. "Because of the new license structure the fields have been put back into production providing more great places for deer and deer hunters."
Upper Peninsula - Mackinac County
Over 1,300 oak saplings were planted in western Mackinac County this spring to increase hard mast for deer. The plantings were focused on areas that have been hit hard by beech bark disease (BBD), and also in deer wintering complexes. BBD areas will see a large loss of beech nuts, and the oak acorns that are produced in the future will help to mitigate some of the loss from BBD. “We were able to get saplings planted to help avoid problems with deer browse, and as a bonus they’ll also throw acorns sooner,” stated Wildlife Biologist Dave Jentoft. “We had great cooperation with our sister division, the Forest Resources Division, in making these plantings happen.
Upper Peninsula - Delta & Menominee Counties
Several locations in Delta and Menominee Counties will soon be a bit fruitier. Over 4,000 fruit bearing trees were planted providing a great food source for deer. A variety of trees were planted including: black cherry, elderberry, high bush cranberry and serviceberry to name a few. The trees were planted along the edges of maintained openings, and along hunter walking trails where adequate food was lacking for wildlife. Many of the trees were sheltered to provide protection from deer browse, and they will be a great benefit to deer for years to come.
Northern Lower Peninsula - Alpena County and Presque Isle County
The state forest land around Alpena and also near the Onaway and Millersburg areas has an additional 126 acres of wildlife opening available this fall for hunters to target this deer season. The openings had not been farmed the last several years, but this year due to the new license restructure, more openings in this area have been planted to buckwheat and rye, ranging from 0.5 acres to 20 acres in size.
Northern Lower Peninsula - Midland & Isabella Counties
Sometimes the accessibility to public land can be a big draw to hunters establishing deer camps and looking to find an area to hunt. In both Midland and Isabella Counties, thousands of acres of public land are available for those not wanting to travel to far north. Major highways and county roads can get you to these areas for a quick hunt after work or a weekend of hunting, not driving. Recently road work has been completed on two-tracks into the public land in order for the roads to be passable by vehicles. "These counties can have some pretty wet low lying areas, great for hunting, but hard to maintain good vehicle access," stated Wildlife Biologist Bruce Barlow. "We try to make sure areas are accessible with a few roads, but balancing the habitat to provide a great hunting experience." Visit MI-HUNT to see public lands in the area to plan your hunting adventure.
Northern Lower Peninsula - Kalkaska County
The Fletcher area in southern Kalkaska County is a great destination this fall for deer hunters. Over 1,600 acres of public land is available to set-up camp during firearm, late archery, or even muzzleloader season. This spring over 470 acres were prescribed burned in an effort to kill woody plants that are closing in on this large grassland complex. Over 120 acres were mowed and numerous acres were planted to winter wheat, rape, and turnips. Visit Mi-Hunt to explore this area from home, and make plans to visit in person to hunt the fall and early winter seasons.
Northern Lower Peninsula - Lake County
Approximately half of Lake County (around 200,000 acres) is public land open to hunting, and about a 1/3 of the land is state-managed with the remaining public land being federally-managed. With good access off major highways, it can be a great destination for hunters. Over 300 acres of alfalfa and rye were maintained this year, giving hunters locations to focus their hunting adventures. The state land is primarily forested and managed through timber sale activity to provide even more valuable food sources for deer - oak and aspen stands. Use MI-Hunt to search for a great place to target the remaining firearm season, or make it a new late season tradition.
Southeast Lower Peninsula - Sanilac County
With an "up north" feeling in the thumb region of Michigan, Minden City State Game Area, just south of Minden City is a great location for deer hunting. Wildlife Biologist Don Bonnette says that "extensive timber cuts have been conducted to create mixed aged aspen stands with plenty of young shoots for deer to eat." The DNR recently acquired 200 additional acres for the game area, all with excellent deer habitat. About 75 percent of the game area is naturally swampy, making for good winter cover for deer and a challenging hunt for adventurous hunters. Be sure to check it out this fall!
Southeast Lower Peninsula - Jackson and Washtenaw Counties
A lovely spot for deer hunting is Sharonville State Game Area in Grass Lake. With a combination of agricultural fields, forested ridges, and open grasslands, Sharonville has outstanding deer habitat. With money from the 2014 Wildlife Habitat Grant program, extensive work has been done this spring and summer to increase hunter accessibility to the area especially for hunters with disabilities as part of the Michigan Freedom Outdoors partnership. Food plots have also been planted in several parts of the game area to improve deer habitat. Take a trip to Sharonville this fall!
Southeast Lower Peninsula - St. Clair County
License fee increases are helping DNR Wildlife Division staff to make habitat improvements for deer and other wildlife around the state. Port Huron State Game Area is no exception. With an increased budget for habitat work, more seasonal wildlife assistants were hired this year allowing nine additional acres at Port Huron SGA to be converted to food plots of corn and small grains. This brings the total number of acreage planted with food plots to 20. These employees also worked on improving parking lots and posting additional signage around the area to improve hunter accessibility. Check out Port Huron State Game Area for an enhanced hunting experience this fall!
Southeast Lower Peninsula - Monroe County
Petersburg State Game Area is just southeast of Petersburg, Michigan in Monroe County, and is 469 acres of prairie grass, oak openings and woodlots. The area is heavily managed as an oak savanna (a globally rare ecosystem type) for species such as the Karner blue butterfly, grasshopper sparrows and white-tailed deer. The ecosystem is a natural home for deer, and the acorns from the oak trees provide an important food source, while the prairie grasses provide excellent bedding locations. This year, dozens of acres of food plots were planted with sunflowers, soybeans and buckwheat as food sources for deer. The Nature Conservancy Lakeplain Prairies Office partners with the Michigan DNR to help remove invasive species and complete habitat projects on the game area. This extensive management creates excellent opportunities for deer hunting.
South Central Lower Peninsula - Montcalm & Ionia County
Several DNR State Game Areas are seeing great habitat improvement projects deer hunters will enjoy. Edmore, Langston, Flat River and Portland State Game Areas created many small openings not only to provide feeding areas for deer, but also give great access for hunters! The result of recent timber sales in several State Game Ares in this area is providing great cover and browse for deer with the young dense forests that are created. The DNR's partnership with the Ruffed Grouse Society has been instrumental in achieving these improvements. Check out the public lands near you and have a safe and memorable hunt this fall!
Southwest Lower Peninsula - Cass County
Over the past year, staff at the Crane Pond State Game Area have installed over 200 acres of food plots and other plantings for the benefit of wildlife on the game area. Food plots are placed in strategic locations to enhance recreational opportunities for SGA users. The picture to the left shows a field border practice adjacent to a corn food plot. Such practices allow species such as deer, turkey and pheasants to have transitional and security cover adjacent to important high calorie winter food sources. Field borders also provide valuable nesting and bedding cover and can greatly enhance the number of bird species using an area. This is just one example of the many habitat management practices implemented at the SGA over this past year.
Southwest Lower Peninsula - Allegan County
The Fennville Farm Unit, located within the Allegan State Game Area, is 4,100 acres of wildlife habitat that provides opportunities for archery deer hunters. In part, this is because there is no firearm deer hunting allowed on the Unit during the Managed Goose Hunt (November 1, 2014 – January 31, 2015). The numerous corn, rye, sorghum, and hay foodplots, coupled with the woodlots and wetlands on the Farm Unit, result in this being a quality archery hunting area with higher deer densities than surrounding forest land. Zones 1,9 and 10 are open to archery hunting every day except December 27, 2014 (Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day). Zones 2-8 are open to bow hunting Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday after 3:00 pm. "The Farm has experienced lower pressure from archery deer hunters this year," said DNR wildlife biologist Mark Mills. "The Farm Unit is primarily managed for waterfowl and pheasant (grassland) habitats, which suit the deer as well." Check out the Fennville Farm Unit for your next archery hunting excursion!
South Central Lower Peninsula - Gratiot and Saginaw Counties
Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area is seeing positive improvements for deer and deer hunters alike. Currently, within the Gratiot-Saginaw State Game Area, timber sales have created great young forest that deer will use as food and cover. Several areas have also been mowed for more accessible hunting places for hunters and grazing habitat for deer. If you've never visited or hunted Gratiot-Saginaw, you will find over 16,000 acres to explore. Take the time this deer season to expand your hunting range!