DNR News: Firearm deer opener, Take a Hike Day, lifesaving and hunter safety awards

Share or view as webpage  |  Update preferences

News Digest - Week of Nov. 11, 2019

woman dressed in winter gear, hiking through a snowy forest, backlit by the sun

Enjoy National Take a Hike Day (Nov. 17) at state parks across Michigan, like P.J. Hoffmaster in Muskegon County.

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources:

See other news releases, Showcasing the DNR stories, photos and other resources at Michigan.gov/DNRPressRoom.

PHOTO FOLDER: Larger, higher-res versions of the images used below, and additional ones, are available in this folder.

Firearm deer season starts Friday statewide

side body view, front facing white-tailed buck in low grass, forest in background

For a lot of residents, Nov. 15 ranks up there with major holidays. Gathering with family and friends for the firearm deer season opener is a time-honored tradition in many Michigan families, built around the excitement and fun of enjoying time in the state’s great outdoors.

Some hunters share their love of deer hunting by introducing someone new to the sport. Mentored youth hunting licenses are available to kids 9 and younger, while apprentice hunting licenses are available to those 10 and older who haven’t yet completed a hunter safety education course. Learn more about these options at Michigan.gov/MentoredHunting.

This tradition is economically important, too. More than 500,000 hunters pursued deer in Michigan during the 2018 hunting seasons, providing critical license revenue that supports wildlife conservation efforts. All of Michigan’s hunting seasons – from deer and elk to waterfowl and rabbit – contribute nearly $9 billion a year to the state’s economy.

play button thumbnail image from DNR video explaining baiting restrictions

All hunters are encouraged to review the 2019 deer hunting regulations, found in the Hunting Digest or at Michigan.gov/Deer. Key changes this season include:

Hunters can take deer to a DNR deer check station to earn a successful hunter patch. Visit Michigan.gov/DeerCheck for locations of check stations and drop boxes. (Click an individual location to see if it offers deer check, drop box or both.)

Questions? Contact the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Safety is key to every successful hunt

side view of a man wearing hunter orange vest and cap, holding firearm upright, walking through a grassy field

With Michigan’s firearm deer season starting in just a few days, the DNR reminds both new and veteran hunters to always put safety first.

Lt. Tom Wanless, who heads up the DNR’s recreational safety programs, said that although some safety tips seem obvious, it’s critical for anyone hunting with firearms – regardless of their experience level – to understand safety basics.

“You’re not successful unless you’re safe,” Lt. Wanless said. “We want everyone to return home to their families and friends. While many safety recommendations may seem like common sense reminders, they shouldn’t be taken for granted.”

Some safety tips to keep in mind include:

  • Treating every firearm as if it is loaded.
  • Being aware of your surroundings – know your target and what is beyond it.
  • Unloading the firearm when crossing obstacles and/or getting in or out of a tree stand.
  • Obeying “no trespassing” signs – they are there for a reason.
  • Obtaining the landowner’s permission to retrieve your game if it wandered onto private property.
  • Wearing as much hunter orange as possible to increase your visibility.

Get more hunting safety tips and resources at Michigan.gov/HuntingSafety. For season and regulation details, see the 2019 Hunting Digest at Michigan.gov/DNRDigests.

Questions? Contact Lt. Tom Wanless at 517-284-6026.

DNR parks employees honored for lifesaving actions

Several DNR Parks and Recreation employees and supervisors pose with their lifesaving award plaques

People come to Michigan state parks to enjoy the great outdoors, but sometimes unexpected circumstances can threaten visitors’ safety and even their lives. For their actions on two such occasions this year, several DNR Parks and Recreation employees were honored with the division's Lifesaving Awards at Thursday’s Michigan Natural Resources Commission meeting:

  • May 14 – Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County). A man mushroom hunting in the park’s Jackson Hole Lake area began experiencing chest pains and flagged down seasonal employees Gabe Feller and Walker Truckey, who called the park office. Park ranger Mandy Hills and park manager Tony Trojanowski responded to the scene with the park’s defibrillator. The man’s chest pains worsened, and 911 was called. Feller and Truckey met emergency personnel at the park office and guided them to the scene. An electrocardiogram determined the man was having a heart attack, and he was taken to Borgess Hospital. The grateful man has since returned to the park to thank everyone involved.
  • July 30 – Holland State Park (Ottawa County). During red-flag beach conditions, park officer Dana Skytta observed a 9-year-old boy and his father being swept out of the swim zone toward the park’s north pier. A 12-year-old girl also witnessed this and tried to help the boy, but she was quickly overwhelmed by the wind and water. Skytta quickly entered the water with a life jacket and threw a rescue line to the struggling boy and girl. On his second attempt throwing the line, Skytta was able to pull the fatigued children to shore. The boy’s father had safely reached the beach, too, and everyone was examined by emergency services personnel.

For more on these awards or general information on Michigan state parks, contact Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson at 517-243-1477.

Hunter Education Instructor of the Year is a military vet, retired officer

Michigan DNR Law Chief Gary Hagler and Dennis McMahan, holding his Hunter Safety Instructor of the Year award

With more than 50 years of experience teaching hunter safety education, Dennis McMahan of Freeland was recognized as the DNR’s 2018 Hunter Education Instructor of the Year. The award was presented at Thursday’s meeting of the Michigan Natural Resources Commission in Lansing.

McMahan has been a certified hunter education instructor since 1968. He’s also a certified snowmobile and ORV safety instructor. McMahan has been an active instructor in the Saginaw area, as well as at Michigan United Conservation Clubs camps, statewide events and trade shows, and DNR volunteer instructor training programs. Additionally, McMahan has served as an interpreter at Bay City State Park and has been integral in recruiting new volunteer instructors.

As a retired sergeant with the Saginaw Township Police Department, McMahan continues to teach at the department, as well as at the Delta College Police Academy. He also teaches first aid, CPR and emergency management.

“I want to thank Mr. McMahan for his devoted service to the DNR recreational safety program,” said DNR Law Enforcement Chief Gary Hagler. “Mr. McMahan has served his community, the state and our country. We value the commitment he has made as a volunteer to teach others how to safely enjoy the outdoors.”

Michigan’s recreational safety programs rely on the skills and experience of more than 3,200 volunteer safety instructors. More than 18,800 people received hunter safety certificates in 2018, giving them the opportunity to hunt for a lifetime. The DNR offers hunter safety education as an online, self-paced course with a required field day, a home study option with a required field day and in a traditional classroom setting.

Learn more about becoming a volunteer recreational safety instructor at Michigan.gov/DNRVolunteers.

Questions? Contact Lt. Tom Wanless at 517-284-6026.


This Sunday is a great time to tell your friends and family to take a hike! It's National Take a Hike Day, the perfect opportunity to grab your boots, water bottle and some snacks and explore Michigan's roughly 13,000 miles of state-designated trails.


Interested in a two- or three-week artist-in-residence program on Mackinac Island? Writers, composers, sculptors and visual artists are invited to apply by Jan. 15 for residencies available from early June through early October.


If you'd like to share your thoughts about plans for a public art Iron Belle Trail trailhead sculpture on Belle Isle, attend a meeting this evening at the Detroit Design Center or take a survey that's gathering ideas about this "gateway" sculpture.

Was this email useful?

thumbs upthumbs down