Thursday, August 27, 2009

Scouting... From Your Armchair

One of the most important pieces of the successful hunting puzzle is scouting. You can have every other aspect of your hunt down to a perfect science, but if you aren't where the game want to be, your chance of success is slim at best. And that is why every year we hit the woods and waters to observe. To try to pick up any indication of our game's everyday rituals so, when season comes, we can be in that right spot at the right time.

But where do we start? Starting is often where a lot of us have the biggest problem. Between work, family life, and many other commitments, we find it hard to go out and pick a piece of land and just start looking and even more so if you are scouting state land.

Now, there is nothing that will replace getting out into your prospective hunting areas. But you can eliminate a bit of leg work from the beginning of your scouting. And it can be done from the comfort of your home or office on a coffee break or commercial break on your favorite outdoor channel. Cyber Scouting is quickly becoming a popular form of early scouting, if not part of the norm. With programs such as Google Earth and MapQuest, You can get a good idea of the lay of the land. You can find where a field meets a a forested area, or a natural funnel in the middle of that prime deer spot. You can also see the elevation and where the good vantage points may be, along with noticeable landmarks, should you decide to check the area out further. And for those hunting state owned land, some programs show the hunting land boundaries and parking areas. Some programs also show coordinates so you can punch them into your GPS.

While this will not replace the actual footwork of getting into the woods, it will speed the process along. It can also provide that little bit of needed motivation to get out to do your scouting. I know that once I see a spot that looks prime, I want to check out the new spot so bad, it feels like waiting for Christmas morning. So pull up a chair and start scouting!

Friday, August 14, 2009

2009-10 Michigan Waterfowl Dates & Regulations

The waterfowl season is fast approaching, so its time to start making our plans on the water and in the fields. I just received this email from the Michigan DNR today, outlining this up coming season...

Michigan duck hunters will enjoy three opening days this fall as the
Natural Resources Commission set waterfowl seasons at its meeting
Thursday in Lansing.

The seasons, which were recommended by Department of Natural Resources
biologists, correspond to the recommendations of the Citizens Waterfowl
Advisory Committee, which met Aug. 8.

Duck seasons will run Sept. 26 - Nov. 20 and Nov. 26-29 in the North
Zone (Upper Peninsula), Oct. 3 - Nov. 29 and Dec. 5-6 in the Middle
Zone, and Oct. 10 - Dec. 6 and Jan. 2-3 in the South Zone.

There is an open season on canvasbacks this year as well as expanded
opportunity for scaup. The daily bag limit is six ducks to include no
more than four mallards (no more than one hen), three wood ducks, two
redheads, two scaup, one pintail, one black duck and one canvasback.

Early Canada goose season opens Sept. 1 and runs through Sept. 15
statewide, except for the Upper Peninsula and Saginaw, Tuscola and Huron
counties, where it runs through Sept. 10. The daily bag limit is five.

Regular goose seasons are Sept. 16 - Oct. 30 in the North Zone; Oct.3 -
Nov. 9 and Nov. 26 - Dec. 2 in the Middle Zone; and Oct. 10 - Nov. 12
and Nov. 26 - Dec. 6 in the South Zone, except for designated Goose
Management Units (GMU). The daily bag limit is two.

In the Saginaw County and Tuscola/Huron GMUs, the goose season is Oct.
10 - Nov. 12, Nov. 26 - Dec.6, and Jan. 2-31 with a bag limit of two.

In the Allegan County GMU, the season is Nov. 28 - Dec. 21 and Dec.
28-Jan. 17 with a bag limit of two.

In the Muskegon Waste Water GMU, the season is Oct. 13 - Nov. 14 and
Dec. 1-12 with a bag limit of two.

Elsewhere in the South Zone, the late season is Jan. 2-31 with a bag
limit of five.

Hunters may also harvest other geese during the regular and late goose
seasons in their respective zones. The bag limits are 10 snow, blue and
Ross’ geese in combination; and one white-fronted goose or one brant.

Hunters are also reminded of the Youth Waterfowl Weekend on Sept.
19-20. This hunt is statewide for licensed youths 10 to 15 years of
age. Youths must be accompanied by a parent, guardian, or someone 18
years or older. The adult will not be allowed to hunt waterfowl and is
not required to have a waterfowl hunting license. The daily limits are
the same as those allowed for the regular duck season.

To learn more about hunting opportunities in Michigan, visit the
DNR’s Web site at