Small game season ends on quiet note

BALDWIN — A rather tough season for small game hunters ended with the close of the rabbit campaign on Monday.

Winter conditions, obviously, made it tough for hunters to have much success.

Erin Victory, the Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist for Lake and Osceola counties, said hunter access in the woods “has been a real challenge this year. There hasn’t been a whole lot of (activity) in the woods. Not a lot of hunter activity. But we certainly have particular areas where we have a lot of clear cut down and trees, etc., and they’re chocked full of rabbits and squirrels.”

Ivan Giese, an active Osceola County small game hunter and a member of the Pere Marquette Michigan Wild Turkey chapter, said he wasn’t able to get out.

“The rabbits I had the coyotes, fox and owls got them all,” Giese said. “The rabbit tracks on my place, I was out the other day. I can’t find a rabbit track in the snow anywhere. Last fall, I saw quite a few of them.”

Turkey season opens April 21. But predictions on that season’s potential success is too early to tell, Victory admitted.

“People have not been in the woods and we don’t quite have a good idea yet on what the impact of this severe winter will be on the turkeys,” Victory said. “We’re definitely above the average on the severity index for this winter. We still have too much snow on the ground.”

Both Victory and Giese were at the Pere Marquette Wild Turkey Hunters Rendezvous Saturday at Baldwin High School.

“The predation is getting awful with this heavy snow.” Giese said. “Even some of the turkeys are going to get caught. When the snow is light and fluffy, the turkeys have to run to take off and fly and, they need a hard surface to run on. They can’t run and get away from the coyotes. It makes it harder for them to survive.

“The predation this winter and this weather is going to cut down on the turkey hunting quite a bit this year.”