Turkey hunters rendezvous set for March 29 in Baldwin

BALDWIN  — A tradition for the last Saturday in March continues. The Pere Marquette Chapter of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters will be having its 33rd rendezvous at Baldwin High School on March 29.

The wild turkey hunters rendezvous will start with events at 9 a.m., although doors will open at 8 a.m. The morning program will feature exhibits, door prizes, calling and hunting clinics, plus gun and silent raffles. That will be followed by the Michigan State Turkey Calling Championships.

In the afternoon, a turkey shoot, with participants using shot guns, will be at the VFW grounds north of Baldwin, followed by the turkey supper and evening program.

Jim Maturen of Reed City is president of the Pere Marquette chapter. He recalls how the event began, led by area hunters Jay Drilling and Gary Truxton, who were two chapter members.

“They did the first couple at the Shrine of the Pines,” Maturen said. “It was just a small affair. About the third year, we moved to the high school in Baldwin. Then we had an offer from the VFW to put on the supper. We said ‘you let us have a turkey shoot on your grounds and after the shooting, we’ll come in and have a turkey supper.’”

Proceeds that the chapter receives from the event go into its turkey feeding program.

“We’re close to 2,700 turkeys that we’ve supported this winter,” Maturen said. “The money that we make, we have two guns we raffle off. The money we make on that and the rendezvous we set aside. We’re all volunteers. No one gets paid a penny. We set it aside. The next winter, we buy however many tons of corn we have to,”

The Michigan United Conservation Clubs will provide information on a petition to go to the legislature to preserve hunting rights.

Maturen anticipates close to 200 individuals to attend the event.

“We have a fellow coming all the way from Indiana,” Maturen said. “We have some people that travel a long distance to get there. The NWTF (National Wild Turkey Federation) has its banquets, but there’s nothing like what we’re putting on.

“If you take your new hunters, how do you hunt turkeys? That’s what we try to provide through these classes.”

Maturen said there are around 100 members in his chapter.

“We’ve got members in the Detroit area, southwestern Michigan and any where we don’t have chapters,” Maturen said.

Ivan Giese, a Pere Marquette Chapter member, enjoys coming to the event from neighboring Osceola County.

“The calling is good, the demonstrations are good, the turkey shoot is good,” he said. “The training sessions they put on for new people and even older people are interesting to attend. People that have hunted before can learn something knew.”

Giese is planning on buying a license for the third and last season, which starts in early May.

“I think the last hunt will be better than the first two, just with the snow,” Giese said.