Need to get my mind off deer hunting

As November rolls around it’s nearly impossible to get your mind off deer hunting, especially when you hang around like-minded hunters. With all this talk about bucks that have been captured on trail cams and what archery hunters are seeing and shooting, all I want to do is move the calendar up and hit the woods for the firearm season.

Alas, there’s still two weeks before the opener, so I took a look around my cluttered desk and even more cluttered email in-box to find a diversion or two to rest my mind from obsessing about the firearm deer season.

Here’s a look at a few of the things I found:

  • The Michigan Natural Resources Commission held its October meeting in Iron Mountain and honored two area residents with Michigan Department of Natural Resources Partners in Conservation Awards.

The awards were presented to Sten Fjeldheim of Marquette County and Dave Cella of Baraga County.

Fjeldheim, who is well-known in the Marquette area for being the longtime coach of the Northern Michigan University Nordic ski team, was recognized for his work on area trails.

In particular, he has been a driving force in designing and developing the very popular Blueberry Ridge cross country ski trails near the crossroads of Marquette County Road 480 and M-553.

According to a press release, Doug Barry of the DNR Parks and Recreation Division nominated Fjeldheim because of his “experience, expertise and willingness to help are among the primary reasons the Blueberry Ridge trail is highly regarded as a destination for cross-country skiers.

“His commitment to the cross-country ski community is extraordinary and has expanded opportunities for so many people to participate in outdoor activities which restore us all.”

Fjeldheim said he was honored to receive the award, and spread the credit around a little for the Blueberry Ridge project.

“My whole family’s been involved, my wife and my kids,” he said. “We’ve taken a family interest and it’s been fun watching the evolution of those trails.”

As for Cella, he was recognized for his longstanding commitment to area fisheries, particularly his efforts on the Huron River Watershed. Included was significant contributions to an extensive road/stream crossing study in the watershed, which involved cooperating with the DNR in collecting data at 243 stream crossing. Information that came from the effort helps biologists assess the sediment load entering streams in the watershed.

According to the press release, Cella’s efforts saved the DNR significant costs in staff time and travel that would have been required to complete the project.

“Dave’s commitment to environmental stewardship and resource protection through volunteerism is remarkable,” DNR fisheries biologist George Madison said. “He has provided extremely valuable assistance to the department and to the community, dedicating his time and personal resources on numerous occasions to get the job done.”

This isn’t the first accolades for Cella, who was named Volunteer of the Year by the Copper Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited in 2007 and honored by the DNR for saving the life of a camper in 2009. He was also instrumental in creating Lake Superior’s Huron River Restoration Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of the Huron River Watershed in Baraga and Marquette counties.

As with Fjeldheim, Cella was also a little humbled by the award, saying it was a bit of a shock.

“You do what you do because you love it, not because you’re looking for recognition,” he said. “But, you do like to be recognized for what you do.”

Both these gentlemen of the northwoods are well-deserving of being honored as Partners in Conservation.

  • In another note of interest to anglers, the Fred Waara Chapter of Trout Unlimited will be hosting a “fishing after hours” gathering Wednesday in Marquette. The group meets at 6 :30 p.m. at the Landmark Inn.

Guest speaker at the meeting will be Joe Wagner, a Northern Michigan University graduate student in fisheries. Wagner has been hired by the chapter to do surveys of the Escanaba River Watershed and identify key areas for habitat improvement work. He will give an update on the project, as well as outline this year’s fish stocking efforts in the watershed.

Anybody who is interested in cold-water fisheries and conservation are welcome to attend the gathering, which includes light refreshments being available starting at 5:30 p.m.

  • The DNR launched its new reservation system for state parks and harbors today, promising it will be much improved over the old system.

Reservations that can be made will be limited today and Saturday, but beginning Sunday the system opens to facilities with a six-month reservation window. These include campsites at state parks, select state forest campgrounds and harbor slips.

Reservations for cabins, mini-cabins, rustic cabins and yurts can also be made online at or through the DNR’s reservation call center at 800-447-2757.

These little items certainly pushed aside the deer hunting bug, but I’m sure it will return soon enough.

Editor’s note: City Editor Dave Schneider can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 270.