Turkey hunters indicate little impact from changes

BALDWIN — Local turkey hunters generally aren’t predicting significant differences this turkey hunting season despite various changes being implemented.

The application period for permits started Jan. 1 and continued until Feb. 1. During that time period, hunters applied for one limited-quota license for a specific spring hunt unit and season dates.

Applicants successful in the drawing can purchase a limited-quota license. Hunters can buy a leftover license until quotas are met. The DNR notes that if any licenses are available after the drawing, unsuccessful applicants can buy one from any license agent on a first-come first served basis for a one-week stint beginning March 10.

Those who don’t apply in the drawing can buy a leftover license starting on March 17. This season, the Hunt 234 license, the DNR said, is sold as a leftover license with no quota. Hunters can buy one of that season’s licenses during the entire season.

“I don’t think it will impact the season at all,” said Dave Randall of Remus, a National Wild Turkey Federation member. “(Permits) will still be available. It will be on a first-come, first-serve basis which basically it was before anyway. It’s a timeline change as far as I’m concerned.”

“Whether you buy it in January over the counter or you go in March 10 and buy over the counter,” Randall simply sees it as a procedural change.

Doug Loomis of Ed’s Sports Shop in Baldwin noted that there’s no quotas for Hunt 234.

“You want to read it line-by-line,” he said, referring to the 2014 spring turkey hunting booklet. “There’s a lot of changes.”

Mark Knee, DNR wildlife technician for Lake County, sees positive impact from 234.

“Hopefully, that will provide more people with more opportunities,” he said.

Reed City resident Jim Maturen of the Pere Marquette Chapter of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association, said he’s not aware of the DNR asking for his group’s input on the changes.

Meanwhile, Maturen issued a reminder, in light of the severe winter weather, for individuals leaving out food for wildlife including deer, turkeys, small game and others.

“There’s things people can do,” he said, noting that his chapter has purchased food and distributed it over the years. “It’s a survival program so we can bring them through the winter.”