Monday, August 15, 2016

Looking for a new hunting Michigan adventure? Make a GEMS stop this fall!

This fall, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources encourages hunters to try upland bird hunting at one, or several, GEMS (Grouse Enhanced Management Sites) – which offer a chance to explore a new type of hunt or a new location. Each of the 17 GEMS has miles of hunter walking trails, developed from old logging roads, that wind through thousands of acres of great habitat. 
“Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula have some of the best grouse and woodcock habitat,” said DNR upland bird biologist Al Stewart. “In Michigan, we have 10 million acres of public hunting land – the size of Massachusetts and New Jersey combined.”   
Driving directions; individual maps showing hunter walking trails, timber stand information and parking areas; information about businesses that give great discounts to hunters, and other details about all 17 GEMS locations are available at mi.gov/gems.
“If you’re a new hunter, GEMS give you a place to focus, but if you’re a seasoned hunter, GEMS are a great way to try a new spot,” said Stewart.
Two GEMS will host preseason celebrations this fall:
  • Friday, Sept. 9, at 9:30 a.m. at the Bill Rollo Memorial GEMS (formerly known as South Marquette). For questions about this event, call 906-228-6561.
  • Saturday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. at the Mark Knee Memorial GEMS (formerly known as Evart). For questions about this event, call 231-775-9727.
GEMS logoGEMS started in 2014 as an opportunity for a unique hunting experience that provides destination points for traveling hunters and a way to connect small communities with hunters and supply young aspen forests vital to grouse and woodcock. GEMS showcase the fantastic habitat Michigan maintains through accelerated timber harvest. 
“The hunter walking trails within a GEMS location are great for someone with mobility challenges or youth,” said Stewart. “You can put one hunter in the woods off the trail, while another hunter walks along the trail. It’s really a confidence booster to be able to hunt near a trail if you are new to the sport.”
A base license is required to hunt small game in Michigan. For those who plan to hunt woodcock, a free Woodcock Stamp is required, which includes the HIP endorsement. Grouse season is open statewide Sept. 15 to Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 to Jan. 1. Woodcock season opens the Saturday nearestSept. 22 and extends 45 days. This year, woodcock season runs Sept. 24 to Nov. 7.   
Visit mi.gov/gems for more information, or take the adventure further by using Mi-HUNT to explore all public lands open to hunting.