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Pointe Mouillee State Game Area

Pointe Mouillee State Game Area

734-379-9692

dnr-wildlife@michigan.gov

Hours of Operation

Open at no charge to the public.

This hunting location conducts daily drawings for free hunting zone permits throughout the open waterfowl season.

Description of the area

On the western shores of Lake Erie, Pointe Mouillee State Game Area is one of the most respected waterfowl locations in Michigan. Consisting of 4,040 acres it is one of the largest freshwater marsh restoration projects in the world. Along with exceptional waterfowl hunting, its numerous bird species and habitat diversity make it an important birding site in the Midwest. Bald eagles, black-bellied plovers, glossy Ibises, osprey, and whimbrels are unique species that inhabit Pointe Mouillee throughout the year. Along with many recreational opportunities that are present, Pointe Mouillee also has an annual waterfowl festival in September.

PDF map of area

Hunting Information

  • Morning hunts: Sun., Thurs., and Oct. 9 5:30 a.m. (Reserved hunt opening weekend of duck season)
  • Afternoon hunts: Sun., Tues., and Oct. 9 11:00 a.m. (Reserved hunt opening weekend of duck season)
  • Permits for Thurs. morning drawings are valid until close of shooting hours.

Activities

  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Canoeing and Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Nature Trail Hiking
  • Biking
  • Jogging

Week in review

Through 12/10/2023

Weather

Unseasonably warm for the week, with temperatures in the upper 30s early then rising to above 50 for the weekend. Very little precipitation, but with higher winds, averaging between 15–30 mph.

Waterfowl abundance

Refuge numbers dipped this past week, resulting in one of the lower counts for the season. Mallards and black ducks dominated the count, while some ringnecks showed up and pintail and shovelers are still lingering. Concentration of waterfowl was mostly in refuge units.

Hunting conditions

  • Long Pond (2-10): Marsh unit. 2–3.5 ft. deep. Tremendous vegetation response this year, providing much more cover than previous years. Water depth is between knee and waist deep throughout the unit, allowing for walk in hunting and small boat use. The bottom is much more firm than last year, but it is still a marsh with submerged cattail mounds, so caution will be needed.
  • Nelson (11-14): Cropped unit. 1–3 ft. deep. All zones are partially flooded currently as to not expose all seed yet. Water is concentrated at the east end of each zone. All corn grew very well standing at 7–8 ft. tall, while there was some buckwheat loss due to heavy rains in late August.
  • Walpatich (15, 19, 21): 0–2.5 ft. deep. Cropped units. Corn grew very well standing around 7 ft., with significant buckwheat loss due to heavy rains, but still providing plenty of food. Water is concentrated in the lower areas of the units currently, but will be added to throughout the season.
  • Walpatich (16-18, 20, 22): 1.5–3.5 ft. deep. Marsh/moist soil units. 16 is not cropped this year but will provide shallow water hunting and cattail cover. 17, 18, 20, 22 are cattail marsh units with plenty of good cover. Water depth ranges from ankle–waist deep.
  • Brancheau (23-25) managed by USFWS: 1.5–3.5 ft. deep. Located about 5 miles south of Pointe Mouillee, this is a cattail marsh unit that provides excellent habitat for waterfowl. Cattails will provide plenty of cover for hunters.
  • Vermet: Public hunting unit. (3.5–5 ft. deep) Still has limited cover due to inability to move water significantly without use of a big pump. Water levels are shallower to the west where walk–in hunting is feasible, but most of the unit will require a boat to hunt.
  • Humphries: Public hunting unit. West end (1–3 ft. deep) has awesome shallow water habitat, while east end (>5 ft. deep) is deep with cattail mats. Walk in hunting along the west, while a boat will be needed for the east.
  • Bad Creek/Cripple Point Units: 1–3.5 ft. deep. Public hunting units. Walk–in units. These units were treated extensively for phragmites and reed canary grass this summer, which created good openings throughout the units. Cattails are healthy and will provide great cover.

Hunter numbers

Draw sizes were the lowest weekly total for the season, likely due to icy conditions, but still had more than expected show up for draws.

  • 138 hunter trips
  • 122 parties present for draws
  • High: 40 parties for Sunday AM
  • Low: 23 parties for Tuesday PM

Running total

  • 1420 hunter trips
  • 940 parties present for draws (including leftovers)

Waterfowl harvest

Harvest jumped this week, with the best week of hunting since late October. Harvest consisted mostly of mallards and shovelers.

Week totals:

  • 78 ducks
  • 1 goose
  • 0.57 ducks/hunter trip

Running total:

  • 1546 ducks
  • 47 geese
  • 1.09 ducks/hunter trip

What to expect this week

N/A

Upcoming events 

No draws for late split (December 30–31).

Other comments

All units open to general use beginning December 16.

Weekly waterfowl count dashboards

Weekly waterfowl counts are conducted annually, September through January. Use these interactive dashboards to view waterfowl counts across the Wetland Wonders for current and previous years. When the dashboard loads, you will have a total count of the Michigan DNR's Managed Waterfowl Hunt Areas (MWHA) for which counts are provided. The pie charts will show distribution across the areas during the currently selected week (week ending date can be changed using the date selector). Select a specific managed area at the top by clicking/tapping on it to see the numbers for that area. Use the navigation at the bottom of the dashboard to view further breakdowns of area waterfowl numbers.

2023 waterfowl counts

2022 waterfowl counts

2021 waterfowl counts

2020 waterfowl counts

2019 waterfowl counts

2018 waterfowl counts

2017 waterfowl counts

2016 waterfowl counts

Table of contents

2022 annual report

General introduction

The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (PMSGA hereafter) is a managed waterfowl unit consisting of 5,195 acres of hemi-marsh, shallow open water, diked cropland, lake plain prairie, island, and lowland hardwood communities. The project is located about 30 miles southwest of Detroit at the confluence of the Detroit River, Huron River, and Western Lake Erie. The state game area, currently, has two permanent full-time employees (one biologist and one technician) along with summer, fall, and winter seasonal staff. These staff are also responsible for management of Erie State Game Area, Petersburg State Game Area, Pointe Aux Peaux State Wildlife Area, Brownstown Prairie State Wildlife Area, and the recently acquired Crystal Waters State Game Area.

Normalcy, for the most part, returned in 2022 for operations and management of the areas. The office reopened to the public and COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed, however, health and safety of staff and the public remains of utmost importance. The reopening of the office was welcomed as hunters enjoyed the traditional hunt draw process in the check station, the public enjoyed the Waterfowl Festival, and deer hunters proudly showed up with their harvests. The normalcy fed into a very productive year at Pointe Mouillee.

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Area goals and management emphasis

The management goal for PMSGA is to restore and maintain biotic communities and public use opportunities through practices and improvements that do not disturb existing unique features. These practices also complement natural processes and local area ecology by applying featured species management for species such as mallards, osprey, white-tailed deer, ring-necked pheasants, and wood ducks. Management of this area focuses on restoring sustainable, naturally functioning systems, where possible, and actively manage those systems that cannot be restored to function naturally. Hunting, trapping, fishing, viewing and other wildlife recreational opportunities are available in a diversity of settings because of area management.

Ecosystem Management

Ecological management is an ever-changing practice. From a time where ecosystems were self-sustaining, to a time where overconsumption ran rampant, humans have learned that there is a balance required to sustain wildlife populations and overall ecosystem health. Humans are now aware that ecosystems are there to serve them, however, they must also serve the ecosystems to satisfy the balance. This is known as the land ethic, first authored by the father of wildlife ecology, Aldo Leopold.

Great Lakes coastal wetlands are a hotspot for Midwest biodiversity, home to multiple native species of plants and wildlife. Over time, these ecosystems have deteriorated, losing acres of precious land that is crucial to survival of waterfowl, fish, amphibians, and mammals as well as plants like cattails. However, important initiatives in recent decades have placed importance on restoring these fragile ecosystems; this case being the Pointe Mouillee State Game Area on the northwestern shores of Lake Erie. A dedication of Leopold’s land ethic has helped restore habitat and species traditionally found in this location. Humans, knowing only they had the power to quickly restore this natural feature, implemented extensive practices and projects to do so. The ethic now continues, with the Michigan DNR actively managing this wetland complex to provide quality habitat for the wildlife species that use it.
 
Prior to the construction of the barrier dike system that now makes up the game area, native wetlands were washing away into Lake Erie, decreasing essential habitat for wildlife species. Now, intensive land management practices are used by area staff to restore native and agricultural vegetation that provide cover and food for the local and migrating species. Cattail marshes and wild food have regrown, and nearly 200 acres of agriculture are planted each year as supplemental food for various wildlife species. Also, portions of terrestrial areas are managed for certain mammal and avian species. PMSGA has greatly benefitted ecologically through the intensive management practices required to sustain a wetland complex of its magnitude.
 
Aldo Leopold’s land ethic has helped restore an area so important to Michigan’s wildlife. Now providing a home for mammalian, avian, amphibian, and reptilian species, PMSGA is a true success story of humans instilling conservation.

Land Management Strategies

The PMSGA Master Plan promotes the management and values of wetlands to hunters and other recreational users (i.e., trappers, birdwatchers, etc.). Implementing this plan aligns with the strategies and goals identified by the Wildlife Division’s GPS goals and the Southeast Region Operational Plan.
 
The Master Plan sets the direction for management within the game area. Through successful implementation of these strategies there will be an increase in the diversity, quantity, and quality of the habitats that will produce a greater variety of wildlife species. PMSGA is intensely used by waterfowl and shorebirds during all times of the year. The Master Plan incorporates this phenomenon by prioritizing habitat optimization for waterfowl and shorebirds, which in turn benefits other species. Nesting habitat is increased for waterfowl by restoring and maintaining open areas adjacent to brood rearing habitat and restoring some of the historical wet prairie that once existed. The wildlife and fish produced and maintained on the game area are the basis for increasing recreation by hunters and non-hunters.

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Wildlife production and use estimates

  • 75 pairs breeding ducks of various species including mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) and wood ducks (Aix sponsa) — 300 ducklings produced
  • 130 pairs breeding Canada geese (Branta canadensis) — 425 goslings produced
  • 40 White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus)
  • 40 Ring-necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus)
  • Other game:
    • 300 Fox Squirrels (Sciurus niger)
    • 120 Eastern Cottontail Rabbits (Sylvilagus floridanus)
    • 225 Woodchucks (Marmota monax)
    • 12,000 Muskrats (Ondatra zibethica)
  • Unique wildlife species:
    • 30 Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 4 pair nesting on the game area and multiple pairs nesting within 20 miles
    • 10 nesting pairs of Great Egrets (Casmerodius albus)
    • 15 Black-Crowned Night Herons (Nycticorax nycticorax)
    • 30 nesting pairs of Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias)
    • 350 American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
    • 3 pair of nesting Osprey (Pandion Haliaetus)
  • Invasive Species of Concern
    • 15 nesting pairs of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor), 100 non-breeding individuals, and 40 cygnets produced

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Significant habitat management

In previous years, through participation in a Cooperative Weed Management Association (CWMA) with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Detroit River, Huron-Clinton Metro Parks and The Nature Conservancy (among others), phragmites management has been a top concern for the cooperative. The Pointe Mouillee office has treated 200 acres of phragmities (Phragmites sp.) via aerial spraying in the Humphries Unit, along the diversion dike (southwest area of game area), and in the portion of the game area north of the Huron River. Up to 2020, phragmites were sprayed at the PMSGA for sixteen consecutive years. Unfortunately, 2020 placed Covid-19-related restrictions on spending that prohibited a seventeenth consecutive year of spraying for the invasive species. Fortunately, phragmites treatment was resumed in 2021 and continued in 2022, albeit at a smaller scale than previous years. Our partners in CWMA, specifically the strike team (managed by USFWS), treated 31.97 acres of phragmites in the Bad Creek and Cripple Point Units and 0.09 acres of floating primrose-willow in Cripple Point.

Long Pond Unit, one of the three managed hunting units, is a cattail marsh. The unit was at a low depth this season to promote vegetation growth. In 2020, muskrats severely depleted many of the good stands of cattails throughout the unit, but trappers intensely pursued them and a draw-down of water depth forced many out. Cattail response was good with the draw-down, but reeds are still young and short. Response should be better in 2023 as continual water level management for optimal growth is planned.

Nelson Unit, Bloody Run Refuge, and Zones 15, 16, 19 & 21 of Walpatich (agriculture) were again planted into strips of corn, buckwheat, and millet. Corn production was impeccable, with nearly 95% germination, an average height of seven feet, and full seed production. Buckwheat and millet production were also exceptional. Water levels were watched closely, adding slowly throughout the season.

Walpatich marsh zones were treated with either water levels or chemical and mechanical methods. Zone 16, 20, and 22 were managed mechanically and chemically as these zones had experienced increased phragmites growth in historical pothole openings. Zones 17 and 18 were left at full pool all year to increase openings.

Staff planted 85 acres of corn, 80 acres of buckwheat, and 30 acres of millet for managed waterfowl hunting.

Sorghum strips were planted in the Mouillee Creek Unit at Pointe Mouillee for pheasant habitat.

Clover plots at Pointe Mouillee and Erie were maintained by mowing multiple times during the summer. A mix of sunflowers, buckwheat, sorghum, and oats were planted in 3 fields at Petersburg.

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Land acquisition

No new land was acquired in 2022.

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Area maintenance

  • Staff maintained equipment, parking lots, signs, dikes, pumps, barriers, and buildings.
  • All the rollers at PMSGA were repaired before the waterfowl season.
  • Two culverts and gates were replaced, including the Long Pond/sump ditch and Bloody Run/sump ditch connections.
  • The culvert connecting the small pumphouse to the river was replaced.
  • Signs posting at all game areas was completed in the most necessary areas.
  • Access trails and safety/zone lines were mowed at Pointe Mouillee, Erie, and Petersburg.

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Equipment

No new equipment was purchased for PMSGA this year.

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Special projects

Area personnel banded 405 Canada geese and 31 wood ducks.

Deer Check was open at the Pointe Mouillee office this year. The Cabela’s location was eliminated. With the introduction of the new mandatory online harvest reporting and successful collection of CWD samples in 2021, deer check was best fit for Pointe Mouillee. Overall, from November 15-23, 26-30, the office completed the following:

  • Helped with online registration for 25 hunters
  • Aged 11 deer
  • Answered 85 calls about deer check
  • Collected 26 CWD samples at the check station, and 12 from the drop box
  • Collected 13 TB samples

The Pheasant Hunting Initiative (appropriated by Public Act 618 of 2018), provided the release of pheasants at PMSGA and ESGA again in 2022. There were 94 total birds released at PMSGA and 80 at ESGA.

PMSGA personnel continued their affiliation with the Western Lake Erie Cooperative Weed Management Association (CWMA) steering committee with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, DTE, Huron Clinton Metro Park Authority, Eastern Michigan University, and SEMCOG.

The Managed Wetland Area workgroup comprised of staff from these areas throughout the Southeast and Southwest regions continued their charge of evaluating and creating a long-term plan for Pointe Mouillee, St. Clair Flats, Shiawassee, Fish Point, Nayanquing Point, Fennville Farm, and Muskegon Wastewater.

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Recreational and educational activities

Bird watching, fishing, trapping, and hunting are the major recreational activities at PMSGA. Thousands of people from all over the United States and Canada visit the game area throughout the year to view a diverse group of bird species. Fishermen make thousands of trips to PMSGA and to the headquarters to launch their boat for lake and river fishing or fish from the sea wall. Wildlife watching, hunting, trapping, fishing, hiking, dog training, and boating are recreational activities enjoyed by the public at PMSGA.

This year, the first confirmed sighting in the United States of the common redshank (Tringa totanus) occurred at PMSGA. The sighting of this Eurasian shorebird brought in birders from all around the country, emphasizing the importance of Pointe Mouillee as a hotspot for shorebird habitat.

Estimated user trips and harvest at Point Mouillee State Game Area 2022:

  • Waterfowl hunting
    • 8,500 user trips
    • 9,250 birds harvested
  • Deer hunting
    • 250 user trips
    • 10 deer harvested
  • Small game hunting
    • 1,200 user trips
    • 200 animals harvested
  • Trapping
    • 100 user trips
    • 3000 animals harvested
  • Fishing
    • 15,000 user trips
  • Wildlife viewing
    • 7,500 user trips
  • Tournament/festival
    • 2,000 user trips
  • Educational tours
    • 5 user trips
  • Other (boating, etc.)
    • 2,200 user trips
  • Total 
    • 36,755 user trips
Youth duck hunt, lunch, and workshop put on by Gibraltar Duck Hunters Association, Waterfowl USA Southwestern Lake Erie Chapter, and the DNR Wildlife Division. 50+ youths participate and receive raffle gifts, t-shirt, waterfowl hunting instruction, calls, and lunch. The event is hosted during the Waterfowl Festival at the PMSGA Headquarters.
 
Christmas bird count – Yearly bird count performed by members of our local Audubon chapters.
 
Spring, Summer, and Fall Bird Counts are conducted by volunteers and results are given to PMSGA staff for tracking.
 
Pointe Mouillee Waterfowl Festival hosted by the Waterfowl Festival Committee and DNR staff. Between 3 and 6 thousand people come to Pointe Mouillee over a weekend in September to participate in the festivities surrounding the Waterfowl Festival; the events include the duck hunters’ shooting tournament, duck and goose calling contests, dog jumping contest, trading post, auction, and concessions among others. 2022 was the 74th Annual Festival.
 
Fall open house hosted by Pointe Mouillee staff. Hunters and non-hunters attend. Light refreshments provided and projects accomplished over the past year and current marsh conditions leading up to waterfowl season are discussed. A driving tour of the game area is also provided.
 
Audubon driving tours – Chapters from Detroit, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Jackson organize driving tours for their members.
 

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Trapping

There was a total of 6 registered trappers for the 2021-2022 trapping season. They harvested nearly 3000 muskrats and 20 mink.

Permits for each season become available in November. For interested trappers, please inquire at that time for next trapping season.

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Waterfowl banding and surveys

Goose banding operations were again scaled down for 2022. Public volunteers were not allowed to participate for health and safety precaution due to COVID-19 precautions and the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) outbreak, therefore, only full-time staff participated. 405 Canadian geese and 31 wood ducks were banded.

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Hunting season report

Introduction

Managed hunting at PMSGA is conducted three days a week (Sunday AM/PM, Tuesday PM and Thursday all-day) in the Walpatich, Long Pond and Nelson Units (21 zones totaling approximately 450 acres). Through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a draw also occurs for three zones owned by the USFWS at the Brancheau Unit in Estral Beach. Each of the managed hunting zones has specific rules regarding shot size, shell limit, and hunting party limit to optimize the experience for those utilizing the managed zones.

Leftover permits are available until 4:00 p.m. each draw day.

The Brancheau Unit was again removed from the draw for the majority of 2022 per request of USFWS. It was re-added in late November.

The Vermet, Humphries and Bad Creek Units consist of 1,820 acres of emergent vegetation/cattail marsh. These areas are open to public hunting 7 days a week during waterfowl season, offering opportunity for those unsuccessful in the draw.

There are also three refuge units (Bloody Run, Banana Dike, and Lautenschlager Units) that are closed to all use and occupancy September 1st through December 15th.

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Weather and habitat conditions

After a dismal 2021 for crop planting, 2022 was essentially the opposite. Weather was almost perfect for crop production, aside from some drought in the summer. Corn was planted and sprayed on time, producing the tallest stalks and best yield in years. Buckwheat and millet also had tremendous yield. Food production and cover availability in Nelson (Zones 11-14) were the best they have been in recent memory. In Walpatich (Zones 15,16,19,21) some corn suffered goose damage, but still produced plenty for cover. Strip direction for crops were:

  • Bloody Run Refuge: East/West
  • Nelson 11 & 12: East/West
  • Nelson 13 & 14: North/South
  • Walpatich 15 & 16: East/West
  • Walpatich 19 & 21: North/South

Water levels were also purposely kept much shallower for the duration of the season. Water was added to each unit periodically to expose new food at a sustainable rate for the season.

The Long Pond marsh unit, after severe muskrat damage the year prior, responded well to a midsummer drawdown. Many young cattails sprouted and are still in a juvenile stage, not providing much cover for this season. However, the health of the marsh is moving in a positive direction now. The setback, however, was the extremely thick muck that made for difficult walk-in hunting. With the drawdown, the exposed mud expanded and will need time to compact. Even with the difficult hunting conditions due to the muck, the lower water levels provided prime habitat for dabblers, with water depth not reaching more than 18-24 inches.

The Walpatich Marsh Zones remained in healthy shape. Zones 17 and 18 had very good response to year-round water cover. Zones 20 and 22, after extensive phragmites management, provided good potholes in the extensive cattail cover.

Weather for the entire season was cool. From the opening weekend to the last day, temperatures were never “hot” or “frigid”. A steady mid-30s to upper-50s seemed to be the standard. Minimal ice formed throughout the season with no major freeze outs. There were a few days of sheet ice that deterred hunter participation, but overall hunting opportunity was nearly at its maximum for the entire season. Western Lake Erie water levels dropped significantly from the average over the past few years and often stayed very low because of the strong west winds for most of the season.

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Migration and waterfowl numbers

Weekly population estimates are done from September through January at Pointe Mouillee. The count is done in the Bloody Run and Banana Dike Refuge and the Vermet Unit. Counts are done from the ground in a vehicle.

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Season dates and area regulations

Managed hunting was offered three days a week on a regular Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday schedule from October 16-December 11. Sunday was an AM/PM hunt, Tuesday was a PM, Thursday was an AM draw for an all-day hunt. An opening day hunt (Saturday, Oct. 15) was offered for an AM/PM draw. Hunters were limited to 25 shells per hunt and all federal/state regulations were in effect. 

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Hunting season results

Pre-registration

2022 was the second year with a pre-registered hunt for the opening weekend. Pre-registered hunts were offered for both days of opening weekend.

A youth-only hunt was held for the PM hunt on opening weekend. Leftovers were available for non-preregistered parties only if they had a youth in the party. A youth-preferred hunt was held on November 6th, where leftovers were available for all parties. A veteran’s only hunt was held on November 10th. Leftovers were available only for parties with veterans.

Harvest and hunter use

For harvest data collection, a self-reporting data card is left in designated permit tubes by hunters after each hunt.

Daily bag limits for 2022 were 6 ducks, the same as 2021. The 2022 season was the second-best harvest for ducks in managed hunting history with 1374 ducks harvested, trailing only 2017’s record of 1534 ducks. Goose harvest remained high compared to historical total harvest, finishing at 64 geese harvested. 16 different species of waterfowl were harvested in the managed zones. Hunter trips increased from 1,211 in 2021 to 1,229 in 2022. Hunter success increased, with 1.17 birds per hunter trip in 2022 compared to 1.04 in 2021.

Early Teal and Goose Seasons: The managed waterfowl hunting area is not open for these seasons. Early teal and goose hunting are allowed in the public hunting areas throughout PMSGA. Hunters are not required to report their harvest in the open hunting areas. Our observation is that over the weekends there was good participation in the hunt but during the week participation was very limited on the game area.

Youth Hunts: There is not an early season youth hunt in the managed waterfowl hunting area however all the public hunting areas are open. We partner with Waterfowl U.S.A. Southwest Lake Erie Chapter and Gibraltar Duck Hunters Association to put on a youth hunt/workshop/luncheon. This youth event brings in 45-55 youth hunters every year. Each youth receives a dozen decoys, duck and goose calls, and a goody bag.

During the regular waterfowl season, we hosted two youth only draws in our managed waterfowl area on October 15 and November 6. The October hunt had 10 youth parties. The November hunt had 8 youth parties.

A veteran’s only hunt occurred on November 10. This hunt produced 8 veteran parties.

The 2022 managed waterfowl season saw a total of 1,229 hunter trips. Hunter trips increased from 2021 (1,211 hunters). An average of 19.6 parties showed up for registration for 21 available zones (24 after November 27th when Brancheau Unit was added), and 14.5 zones per draw were taken on average. There was a high of 33 parties and low of 8 parties.

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Cropland, marshland and water level management

Farming direction in zones 13, 14, and 21 were continued in a north/south direction and 19 was added to this direction, while 11, 12, 15, 16, and the Bloody Run were planted in an east/west direction. Corn and buckwheat strip rotation was done in all agriculture zones. Millet strips were also planted in Nelson and Bloody Run.

Long Pond, an all-cattail marsh unit, was at lower depth than previous years (about 10-12 inches shallower). This promoted cattail growth but did make boating in the unit more difficult or impassible in some spots. Walking was also more difficult due to the thick muck.

Walpatich has good cattail growth. Lautenschalger was drained and remains shallow, an area which needs cattail and other vegetation growth. Walpatich was drained for agriculture planting then flooded for normal hunting levels. Zones 17 and 18 remained flooded for moist soil and marsh habitat, while zones 20 and 22 were managed mechanically and chemically to increase openings in the cattails.

Significant projects:

  • Mowed and sprayed large phragmites patches in zone 20 and 22 and Cripple Point.
  • Replaced 2 culverts and water control gates (Long Pond/Sump Ditch, Bloody Run/Sump Ditch)
  • Replaced culvert connecting the small pump house to the river
  • Repaired rat holes on ~8 miles of dikes
  • Replaced boat rollers on North Causeway

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Volunteers and partners

  • Michigan Duck Hunters’ Tournament & Pointe Mouillee Waterfowl Festival: Holds annual festival to draw visitors and spark interest in the game area. Donates money to the game area for seed, fertilizer, and equipment. Constructed and coordinated the ADA blind in Zone 11.
  • Waterfowl USA Southwestern Lake Erie Chapter: Donate money to PMSGA for equipment/repairs and aids with the cost of the regional and flyway meetings that the DNR hosts. Co-sponsors annual youth waterfowl hunt at PMSGA.
  • Gibraltar Duck Hunters Association: Purchases equipment, donates to habitat and other special projects, wood duck boxes, and co-sponsors the youth waterfowl hunt at PMSGA. Coordinated and installed the floating dock at HQ launch.
  • Ducks Unlimited: Wetland restoration projects, grants, phragmites control, and advice on pumps and water control structures. Donates seed and nest boxes.
  • Pheasants Forever: Advice, seed, and help with planting fields designated for grass planting. Also plays major role in the Pheasant Hunting Initiative project.
  • Michigan United Conservation Clubs: Pheasant Hunting Initiative, invasive species control, volunteer in On-the-Ground projects, provide copies of Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine.
  • Detroit, Jackson, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Oakland Audubon Societies: Volunteers hours for bird counts and tours.
  • Detroit International Wildlife Refuge: Apply for grants. Help with management on federal lands. Common Tern banding, duck and goose banding, hunting regulations on federal land, and managed draw for the Brancheau Unit.
  • Cooperative Weed Management Association (CWMA): Phragmities strike team, TNC, DTE, Consumers Energy, Huron Clinton Metro Park Authority, Eastern Michigan – apply for grants, and a group attack on phragmites.
  • Wayne County Road Commission: Grades drive/parking lot and the section of Mouillee Road that is state-owned. Cuts back vegetation growing along Mouillee Rd and plants trees at headquarters and along Mouillee Rd.
  • Monroe County Conservation District: Houses and maintains no-till drill for the No-Till Drill program. Conducts for the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program.
  • Law Enforcement Division: Cooperatively work in enforcing violations, game area and hunting rules, etc.
  • Fisheries Division: Tags walleye in Huron River and fish research in Lake Erie. Co-coordinating fish habitat work at Crystal Waters.
  • Parks and Recreation Division: Various wetland projects and the osprey platforms at Sterling State Park.
  • Osprey Watch of Southeast Michigan: Monitors all osprey nests in Southeast Michigan and helps band the osprey chicks.

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Economic benefits

There are a number of local businesses that benefit from having the PMSGA nearby. Because we offer so many recreational activities at the PMSGA, our users purchase from local retailers regularly. The local marina and the local bait and tackle store depend on our patrons for a good portion of their business. There are three public boat launches with access to Lake Erie and the Detroit and Huron Rivers in the immediate vicinity of the PMSGA. In addition, the gas stations in nearby Rockwood and South Rockwood also benefit. These gas stations are near I-75 and are the two main exits people use to get to the PMSGA. Hunters, bird watchers, and fishermen frequent these establishments purchasing gas, coffee, water, snacks. There are also a few restaurants and bars in Rockwood, South Rockwood, and Brownstown Township that benefit from hunters, fishermen and bird watchers stopping to get something to eat. During the Pointe Mouillee Waterfowl Festival, upwards of 8,000 people descend on the PMSGA over a two-day period spending their money in the surrounding area.

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Recommendations

  • Continue to pursue funding for wetland restoration projects at Pointe Mouillee.
    • Lezotes Landing
    • Pointe Sec Unit
    • Smith Creek restoration
    • Large pump replacement for water control
  • Continue experimental methods to control Phragmites. Without intensive management practices, Phragmities will out-compete native vegetation in the wetland ecosystem, resulting in a monoculture of Phragmites.
  • Continue row crop planting on drier sites behind zones 13 and 14 to help control brush invasion and aid terrestrial species such as white-tailed deer and pheasants.
  • Maintain existing program of flooding cropland in the Bloody Run Refuge to attract, feed, and hold migrating waterfowl during fall and spring migrating seasons.
  • Develop new nesting meadow and prairie grassland sites along the Long Pond Unit, particularly in zones 4 and 6 and extend the prairie grassland in the back of Zones 11 and 12.
  • Continue developing the Mouillee Upland into a strip-cropped unit for pheasant and white-tailed deer habitat by removing brush and weeds and planting corn and grass.
  • Continue prescribed burn rotations on prairie grass fields at PMSGA. This management strategy will maintain our warm season grasses while setting back cool season grasses, broadleaf weeds, and brush.
  • Work with Gibraltar Duck Hunters Association, Pointe Mouillee Waterfowl Festival, and Waterfowl USA Southwest Lake Erie Chapter to create more opportunities for hunters through projects like additional blinds.
  • Continue with pre-registered hunts at PMSGA during opening weekend.
  • Two youth hunts and a veterans’ hunt conducted in the managed areas.
  • Continue experimenting with a self-registration system that allows hunters to register themselves late in the season when the marsh is frozen or there is a lack of participation.

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Conclusion

The Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (PMSGA) is one of seven managed waterfowl hunt areas provided by the Wildlife Division of the Michigan DNR. Following the direction of the Guiding Principles and Strategies (GPS), intensive management is done each year to provide a quality experience not only for waterfowl hunters, but all who visit the game area. The preceding report outlines how the PMSGA has been managed over the previous year and provides data for future management implications that will continue to provide habitat for numerous wildlife species and enjoyment of all who visit.

PMSGA is home to a variety of wildlife species, each benefitting from the habitat management done by staff and the hunting and observation practices of all patrons. Waterfowl, white-tailed deer, pheasant, squirrels, rabbits, and non-game species all draw a variety of visitors to the game area each year. It is because of these species and enjoyment by visitors that the staff at PMSGA works so hard to preserve the 5,195 acres. From the physical work in the field by staff doing habitat management and facilities maintenance, to providing a managed hunting units lottery draw for waterfowl hunters, giving birders the opportunity to observe numerous species, and working with partners for the future of wetland conservation, PMSGA is a true gem for the State of Michigan.

    Get out and explore Michigan's Wetland Wonders, our managed waterfowl hunt areas, this fall. Held in early October, these open houses will give you a chance to talk with local staff, tour the areas and see what each one has to offer for the upcoming waterfowl season. 

    • Pointe Mouillee (Monroe and Wayne counties) – Oct. 12.

    All open houses begin at 6 p.m. at the area's headquarters.