DNR News: Liberty Hunt, elk viewing, Underground Railroad learning and more

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News Digest - Week of Sept. 7, 2020

fall color in Ontonagon County, Michigan

Check out Pure Michigan fall color tours for peak season across the state!

Here's a look at some of this week's stories from the 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 some of the images used in this email are available in this folder.

Catch a glimpse of the mighty Michigan elk

elk breath

The fall breeding season is the most popular time to view Michigan’s wild elk herd. This month and next, elk are more active and can be found in open, grassy areas during dawn and dusk. 

Elk viewing areas can be accessed by roads throughout the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord. These designated areas have been managed for elk habitat, providing visitors with an excellent opportunity to observe the herd or hear the beautiful, unmistakable bugle of a bull elk. 

Use the elk viewing guide to plan your route and remember to bring your binoculars, spotting scope and camera. Learn more about the history of elk in Michigan.

First deer hunt of the 2020 season this weekend

liberty hunt

Michigan’s Liberty Hunt, a firearm deer hunt on private or public lands for youth and hunters with disabilities, is back statewide Sept. 12-13. Those 16 or younger and eligible hunters with disabilities can join the hunt. A list of qualifying criteria is available in the 2020 Hunting Digest or at Michigan.gov/DNRAccessibility.

This year, the weekend is open to hunters who are deaf or hard of hearing, a Liberty Hunt qualification that was added at the request of the DNR Accessibility Advisory Council.

“People with disabilities can experience difficulties with mobility, climbing into a tree stand, sighting in game, hearing game approaching or holding a firearm,” said Hannah Schauer, DNR Wildlife Division education and communications coordinator. “The Liberty Hunt provides opportunities for veterans and others to get outdoors and try a new sport or continue to enjoy one they love.”

Some locations offer track chairs, elevated hunting blinds or hunting blinds equipped with adaptive gear. Learn about additional outdoor recreation opportunities at Michigan.gov/DNRAccessibility.

Valid licenses for this hunt include a deer, deer combo or antlerless deer license or a deer management assistance permit. Antler point restrictions do not apply. This hunt’s bag limit is one deer.

For those participating in the Liberty Hunt:

  • Hunters with disabilities may bait now through Sept. 13.
  • In areas of the Upper Peninsula where baiting is legal, youth hunters also may bait now through Sept. 13.
  • In the remainder of the state, youth hunters may not use bait.

Additional regulations for all seasons can be found in the 2020 Hunting Digest or at Michigan.gov/Deer.

Michigan Operation Freedom Outdoors is a proud sponsor and partner of the Liberty Hunt. Learn more about the organization at MiOFO.org or by calling 734-612-6677.

Hunters of all ages and experience levels are urged to put safety first. Find hunting safety tips and resources at Michigan.gov/HuntingSafety.

Questions? Contact DNR-Wildlife@Michigan.gov.

Hunting, diversity in the outdoors, responsible recreation and more in new 'Wildtalk' podcast


Looking for something new to jazz up your commute or walk in the woods? Give a listen to the DNR's "Wildtalk" podcast – an opportunity every month to hear from many of the department staff and partners who do their best to take care of Michigan's natural resources and make it easier for the public to enjoy them.

This month features guests Alexis Hermiz, Ashley Autenrieth and Clay Buchanan talking about the department's efforts to bring more diversity, equity and inclusion to the outdoors. Hermiz said that when it comes to equity among the DNR's workforce and current and prospective users, it's about much more than just race.

"Equity is about giving people what they need to succeed, because not everybody has the same starting point, not everybody has the same resources," she said. "Inclusion makes sure that all of our voices are not only heard, but also considered in our workplace culture and in the type of recreation (people) want to see in our parks and our public spaces."

In addition to that interview, the podcast has updates on hognose snakes, upland bird hunting and the elk season opener, answers to "mail bag" questions and more.

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

ICYMI: Michigan Freedom Trail Commission's Heritage Gathering moves online for 2020

a monument to the Underground Railroad, in Battle Creek, Michigan

In case you missed it, the Michigan History Center recently shared that the third annual Underground Railroad Heritage Gathering is underway now, as a series of virtual presentations on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout September.

The sessions are free and open to anyone interested in learning more about Michigan's many connections to the Underground Railroad. 

This year's events, hosted using the Zoom platform, include panel discussions, local research, tips for researching local history and more. Topics include antislavery journalism, archaeological findings that link to Michigan’s abolition history, how to nominate sites for the national Network to Freedom and many others.

Read the full story for information on the full slate of programs, along with links for registration.


Need inspiration to get off the couch? Walk, hike, paddle or ride during the Michigan Trails Week Challenge, Sept. 20-27, and help us reach 100,000 miles!


Whether your fall plans involve hunting, fishing or off-roading adventure, make sure all of your licenses and permits are up to date before you hit the road.  


Forests, parks, trails, hunting land and more – Michigan is rich with places to enjoy the outdoors! Learn about the process for an updated land strategy.

DNR COVID-19 RESPONSE: For details on affected DNR facilities and services, visit this webpage. Follow state actions and guidelines at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.

Census 2020 - Be Counted