Keeping mind off snow-filled woods not easy

A friend at work made the astute – although depressing – observation that we are already losing stream fishing days because of the lingering winter weather.

There are usually several tributaries to the Great Lakes that provide great fishing this time of year, but the heavy snowpack makes it difficult to even get to the water’s edge. In addition, when the weather warms a little, the runoff fills the streams and often renders them even more difficult to fish.

We’re missing out on other outdoor pursuits as well, including such things as hiking, ORV riding, mushroom hunting, scouting for wild turkeys and simply getting to camp.

So as we idle along in this not-so-pleasant spring, I decided to scout around the desk and desktop to see what little outdoor tidbits are laying around to occupy my time.

Included were:

  • It appears an upgrade in the hunting and fishing license retail sales system last year helped feed a lot of hungry people.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources reports that included in the upgrade was making it easier for anglers and hunters to donate to the Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger program. It also made it easier for the person selling the license to offer the optional payment.

According to the DNR, the change resulted in about 44,000 license buyers – which is roughly four times as many as in previous years – donating more than $50,000 to the program.

Dean Hall, chairman of the MSAH board, said more than 30,000 pounds of venison were collected last year, resulting in more than 150,000 meals.

“Many of those who benefited were elderly people on fixed incomes and families who work, but need additional support,” Hall said. “This additional revenue will help us increase our ability to encourage more processors to participate and increase the pounds of venison that we distribute across the state.”

For more information on Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger, visit the organization’s website at www.sportsmenagainsthunger.org.

  • Also in the world of whitetails, it appears there were a whole lot of guys who got beat out by a young lady in the Big Bay Sportsmen’s Club big buck contest.

Held during the firearm deer season, there were about 90 hunters who signed up for the contest, which was won by Katie Wilcox of Big Bay. She is shown in the photo accompanying this column with the nice 8-pointer she shot.

Sportsmen’s club President Earl Bevins said 23 hunters registered buck, with Wilcox’s even beating out a 10-pointer. That was the case because like in many big buck contests, a hunter’s score is determined by adding the number of points and the inside spread in inches.

I happened to be one of the 90 who entered the contest, but I wasn’t among the 23 who registered a deer – oh well, there’s always next season.

  • There is another outdoor activity coming up that some people classify as work, although I find it great therapy for what the daily grind inflicts upon you.

This activity involves cutting firewood, which actually has several benefits. In addition to the aforementioned relaxing of the mind, it can be great exercise, save you money heating your house and provide the means to cook little brookies over an open fire.

Some of us are lucky to have stands of hardwoods available to supply the trees for turning into firewood. For others it can be difficult to find a source.

However, the DNR has a program that can help you out in this area. The department has permits available for cutting firewood on selected state lands spread across the Upper Peninsula, as well as in the northern Lower Peninsula.

According to the DNR, the process was streamlined this year to make it easier for woodcutters to purchase a permit, which can be done in person or through the mail.

The permit costs $20 and enables the buyer to cut up to five full cords of firewood for personal use, not for sale or trade. The permits are good for 90 days.

To obtain a mail-in order form or for more information, including location of available cutting areas, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/fuelwood.

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