Lake Orion, Mich. — From record-setting bucks and trophy muskies to a fee increase for hunting and fishing licenses and citizen-initiated referendums, there was no shortage of news stories surrounding the outdoors in Michigan in 2013.
Before we dive head-first into 2014, let’s take a quick look back at some of the headline stories that graced the pages of Michigan Outdoor News last year.
n Ontonagon resident J.R. Richardson was appointed chairman of the Natural Resources Commission.
n It was reported that Brooklyn, Mich., fishermen Chad Hamlin and Jim Martin finished second at the North American Ice Fishing Circuit championship at Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota.
n The American Sport Fishing Association announced that participation in recreational fishing increased by 11 percent across the country during the past five years.
n The DNR announced that Michigan’s 2012 firearms deer season was the safest on record, with just three firearms-related injury incidents and zero fatalities.
n Water levels for lakes Michigan and Huron hit an all-time low of 576.04 feet above sea level Jan. 21. The new low beats the previous record low of 576.05 for the combined lake basin, set in March 1964.
n Albert Avendano and Eric Moore, of Jackson, won the Midwest Open Ice Fishing Tournament on Devils Lake in Jackson County with 6.64 pounds of bluegills and crappies.
n Jim Bosscher, of McBain, Jason Webb, of Westland, and Dave Gitins, of Kawkawlin, won the Pure Michigan Hunt lottery.
n Bill Demmer, of Lansing, was elected president of the Boone and Crockett Club. He is the 30th president of the club, which touts itself as America’s very first conservation organization, having been founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887.
n The DNR announced that the 2012 bear harvest was much lower than the year before due to a major reduction in the number of bear licenses that were issued. Only 7,991 bear licenses were available last year, compared with 11,742 in 2011. A total of 1,684 bears were registered by hunters in the state in 2012 compared with 2,039 in ’11.
n In his state budget proposal, Gov. Rick Snyder called for restructuring hunting and fishing licenses and increasing most license fees. Snyder’s budget proposal also called for an increase in General Fund appropriations to the DNR from $17.6 million annually (about 6 percent of the DNR’s total budget) to $24.7 million. One immediate advantage of that influx of cash would be the addition of 25 more COs in the field.
n Ammunition, firearms, and archery sales all surged in 2012. That rise translated to record payouts to hunting and wildlife habitat programs across the country. The federal funds come from excise taxes collected on firearms and archery equipment under the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937, better known as the Pittman-Robertson Act. Michigan was eligible to get more than $17 million according to Hodgson, up from $12.3 million in 2012.
n President Barack Obama tapped Sally Jewell as the new interior secretary to replace Ken Salazar, who held the position since 2009. Jewell was the chief executive at Recreation Equipment Incorporated (REI).
n The Humane Society of the United States and three other groups filed a federal lawsuit, disputing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove gray wolves in the Great Lakes region – Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota – from the endangered species list.
n A limit of six sturgeon was taken during the three-day Black Lake sturgeon-spearing season.
n Robert Sopisch’s 12-point buck, which scored 1821⁄8, established a new state record for typical bucks killed with a bow.
n Mike Hopkins’ 11-point buck, which scored 1751⁄8, set a new state record for typical bucks killed with a handgun.
n The state Natural Resources Commission formed the NRC Youth Conservation Council.
n Royal Oak resident Myles Ehret, 19, and William Francis, 27, of Riverview, pleaded guilty to a single count each of misdemeanor animal cruelty for shooting a deer with a bow in the city of Warren.
n State officials announced plans to run walleye-rearing ponds at full capacity this year after several years of slowed production due to viral hemorrhagic septicemia, a deadly fish disease.
n Fisheries biologists announced that Lake Erie’s walleye and perch populations were 20-percent lower than in 2012.
n The DNR announced that 23 whitetails and four cattle herds were found infected with bovine tuberculosis in 2012 and early 2013.
n Bassmaster Magazine named Michigan’s Lake St. Clair the best bass-fishing lake in the country.
n The state Legislature passed bills authorizing the state Natural Resources Commission in addition to the Legislature to designate a species as a game animal; grant the NRC exclusive authority to regulate the taking of fish in Michigan; protect Michigan citizens’ right to hunt, fish, and take game; and provide free hunting and fishing licenses to active members of the military.
n The state Natural Resources Commission voted 6-1 to approve a limited six-week wolf hunt that would target a total of 43 wolves in three designated areas of the Upper Peninsula.
n Bass anglers Nick Marsh and Kyle Boe, of Lake Orion, teamed up to win the national high school championship at the Bass Federation (TBF) High School Championship at Beaver Lake in Arkansas.
n A new mandatory antler point restriction was approved by the Natural Resources Commission for 12 counties in the northwest Lower Peninsula.
n Jim Vozar, of Coldwater, caught a trophy muskie in Grand Traverse Bay that weighed 52 pounds, had a 25-inch girth, and was a tad over 50 inches long. It was the second-largest muskie ever caught in Michigan waters.
n The DNR decided to scrap a 6-year experiment to restore brown trout in Lake Huron.
n The DNR announced that an estimated 654,000 hunters combined to kill about 414,000 white-tailed deer during all of the 2012 hunting seasons combined.
n Winners in the Michigan Outdoor News Youth Writing Contest placed in the national Norm Strung Youth Writing Contest, sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Jessica Robach, of Perry, won the Junior Prose Division, Sarah Zumbrock, of Grand Rapids, placed second in the Junior Prose Division, and Stephen Miller, of Coloma, placed second in the Senior Poetry Division.
n The Natural Resources Commission voted to cap the number of antlerless permits for the 2013 deer-hunting seasons at 553,950, down 154,700 from 2012.
n The DNR announced that it stocked a total of 19,130,659 fish in Michigan lakes and streams.
n Twelve-year-old Abby Wetherell survived an attack by a black bear as she was jogging near her grandfather’s cabin in a wooded area just outside Cadillac in Wexford County.
n Brian Birchmeier, 51, of Owosso Township, was ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution and had his hunting privileges revoked through 2016 after facing 125 misdemeanor charges related to poaching deer and turkeys.
n Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation that revamps the hunting, fishing, and trapping license system, increases many license fees, and is expected to generate $18 million annually for the DNR.
n Epizootic hemorrhagic disease was found in a dead deer in a watershed in the southeast corner of Muskegon County.
n The NRC approved changes to pike and muskie regulations.
n More than 900 trees were airlifted and placed in the AuSable River South Branch in an effort to improve habitat for brown trout and brook trout.
n Mark Starr, of Mason, killed a black bear that tipped the scales at 605 pounds while hunting behind hounds in Iron County.
n Sea lamprey populations in the Great Lakes declined by nearly 50 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
n The DNR announced a partnership with other organizations to create an outdoor facility in southern Michigan for disabled veterans and other citizens with disabilities.
n Michigan United Conservation Clubs and the Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association announced the launch of the “Defend the Hunt” program. The groups are soliciting donated deer and other animal hides to raise money to fight an effort by anti-hunting groups to repeal wolf hunting in Michigan .
n Michigan conservation officers located a missing 21⁄2-year-old girl who had been lost in the woods of Newaygo County for 24 hours. The girl was found in good condition.
n A national hunter survey revealed an increasing percentage of hunters (35 percent) hunt for meat, as opposed to other reasons like recreation, camaraderie, or trophies.
n Scientists documented for the first time that Asian grass carp successfully reproduced in tributaries of Lake Erie.
n The DNR’s Marketing and Outreach Advisory Committee announced that after years of declining hunting and fishing license sales, the slide is leveling off, maybe even ticking upward.
n Richard Radcliffe, 51, of Grawn, was sentenced to 25 to 52 years in prison after he was convicted of shooting at a state conservation officer in April.
n DNR fisheries biologists announced that the state would retain its five-fish limit for salmon in 2014.
n State lawmakers voted to increase the fines for a trespasser who kills an animal on private property.
n Jeff Toy’s massive 12-point buck is expected to challenge the current state record of 198 inches for typical bucks.
n Michigan Outdoor News announced that it is accepting nominations for the 2013 Person of the Year award.
n The DNR announced that it would hold its first conservation officer academy – to train a group of new COs – since 2007.
n State lawmakers approved legislation to increase significantly the penalties for poachers who target trophy bucks.
n Chloe Humphrey, of Vestaburg, Mackena Rhadigan, of Clinton Township, Sarah Zumbrock, of Grand Rapids, and Lauren DeRose, of Spring Lake, earned top honors in the 2013 Michigan Outdoor News Youth Writing Contest, sponsored by Cabela’s.
n According to early reports, hunters experienced mixed results during the 16-day, 2013 firearms deer-hunting season.
n Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management announced that it would start collecting signatures for a citizen-initiated law called the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. The proposal would protect the Natural Resources Commission’s ability to name game species and issue fisheries orders, protect the DNR’s ability to issue free licenses for active military members, and include $1 million in funding to keep Asian carp out of Michigan waters.