Spring a time for turkey talk

TUSTIN — If you’re looking for a fun way to spend Saturday, Kettunen Center may have a suggestion. This Saturday is its annual Spring Family Fun Day, and all sorts of activities will be going on at Kettunen, which is located east of Tustin.

The event is for families, with children as young as 4 having special things to do and family members right up through grandparents likewise.

There will be such things as geocaching, learning how to use a handheld GPS unit, how to use a compass and year-round ski walking (Nordic Walking). Also on tap will be making maple syrup, a spring discovery hike, and a special craft project.

When it comes to talking turkey, Jim Maturen is an expert. In fact, he gives such talks about this interesting game bird at schools, area groups, and elsewhere throughout the state.

He knows his stuff. He probably even knows his stuffing. He has stalked and hunted turkey for 43 years. He has taught many others to do the same, including his grandchildren. He knows how to call turkeys. Oh, not by phone, but he can call them with a straw.

Now, maybe that’s how the song came about, but likely not. Undoubtedly, this man who heads up the Pere Marquette Chapter of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association will have some fun Saturday teaching families from little children right up through the grandpa stage, how to call turkeys with a straw. He says he usually does.

Asked about doing that Saturday, Jim just grins a big ol’ grin. Then he nods.

He will fill them with facts too, from why and how turkeys disappeared from Michigan at the turn of the century, and why they are making a comeback. He delights in sharing ways children and their families can help that happen.

“What a neat thing it is to see the kids get involved,” Jim said. “Without them to continue it, it won’t just happen when we’re all gone. I can also give them ideas for making deer-proof bird-feeders so they can feed turkeys and not the deer.” He predicts that it may not be long until that law may change.

Maturen also writes “Turkey Tracks,” which has issues published on a website.

Maturen also enjoys fishing, and recently headed up north to do some smelt fishing. It was a great day, and they could see hundreds of smelt beneath the water.

Although he and his friend only got a few smelt between them (Jim nine, Bob six) and a couple of perch, they worked out a deal. Maturen took all the smelt home. “Bob” took home the perch. Bob ate the perch. Jim’s wife ate the smelt, and Jim was happy with a cheese sandwich.

“It’s just great being in the outdoors. Fun. And it’s so much fun seeing kids get interested in the things we love too,” he said.

The event begins at 10 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m.

Registrations are due by April 6, but there is a possibility that there still will be some openings, so give Kettunen a call at (231) 829-3421. The cost is only $7 per person, which includes supplies, materials, a snack and hot buffet lunch.

The Spring Family Fun Day is made possible thanks to a grant from Osceola County Community Foundation, Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, and General Mills/Yoplait of Reed City.