DNR News: Turkey on the table, #OptOutside, forest-inspired crafts

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News Digest - Week of Nov. 23, 2020

orange, red and gold trees surrounding a stream running away from the camera, blue sky with clouds

Some of the items in this week's news digest reflect the impact of COVID-19 and how the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is adapting to meet customers' needs. Public health and safety are our biggest priorities, and we will continue to share news and information about the safest, and sometimes new, ways to enjoy our state's natural and cultural resources.

Follow our COVID-19 response page for FAQs and updates on facilities and reopening dates. For the latest public health guidelines and news, visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

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 below, and others, are available in this folder.

Media contact: For more information on any of these stories, email DNR-Public-Info@Michigan.gov.

Why not wild turkey for Thanksgiving?

front facing wild turkey in front of some trees in a sunny forest

Holiday gatherings may look a bit different this year, but there is still delicious food to eat and memories to be made! And what is Thanksgiving dinner without a juicy turkey on the table?

“There’s nothing more rewarding than to serve a wild turkey that you harvested for Thanksgiving dinner," said Al Stewart, DNR upland game bird specialist. “Wild turkey meat is very flavorful and can be used in a wide variety of recipes."

Maybe you were lucky enough to take a wild turkey this fall, or perhaps you still have a bird in the freezer from the spring season that could be part of your family’s feast. The most traditional way to cook turkey, whether store-bought or wild, is to roast it in the oven. If you’re looking to switch things up, though, consider deep-frying or grilling.

Deep-frying has become a popular trend for tasty turkey; just be sure your turkey is fresh or has been completely thawed. While heating your deep-fryer’s oil to 375 degrees, pat the turkey dry with paper towels to reduce any excess moisture and then season the turkey as you like. Always carefully read the fryer instructions to prevent fire or injury.

For a unique and robust-flavored turkey, consider smoking or grilling your turkey. The National Wild Turkey Federation offers step-by-step instructions for a variety of methods, including charcoal grilling, gas grilling, smoking or rotisserie cooking, plus an added bonus on how to grill gravy. If you want to try something a little less traditional, the NWTF After the Hunt webpage offers many other turkey dishes among its wild game recipes.

We'll share a Thanksgiving throwback Wednesday with a 2018 roundup of DNR staff recipes. Watch for that and other Showcasing the DNR stories at Michigan.gov/DNRStories.

From the DNR family to yours, we hope you have an enjoyable holiday and that everyone can take time to experience the outdoors this beautiful time of year.

Get creative with forest-inspired crafts

red, yellow and green origami pine tree-shaped trees, on a woven mat and surrounding by white holiday lights

Need a creativity boost? Take a look around the house – and even outside the house – for a little inspiration. With the following winter craft ideas, simple items like popsicle sticks, recycled paper, pine cones and twigs can be transformed into beautiful, often purposeful crafts. Half the fun is collecting the ingredients for your project.

One of the simplest projects is a festive origami conifer tree, made from your favorite paper by following along with these PDF or video instructions. Make one as a splendid standalone centerpiece or go wild and create a whole forest of different sizes and hues.

Pine cone projects

When it comes to nature-related crafts, pine cones show up in all sorts of decorative items. Two popular ones – a bird feeder and an ornament – are quick and fun to make.

a pine cone covered in peanut butter and bird seed hangs by a red ribbon from a black hook on a wooden post

Bird feeder: Welcome feathered friends with a pine cone bird feeder. Start by using a spatula to cover the cone in natural peanut butter (no sugar or additives for wild birds, please!), and then roll it in bird seed. Hang it outside and watch the chickadees, nuthatches and sparrows flock to this tasty treat.

Ornament: Begin by first baking gathered pine cones on a sheet of foil in a 250-degree oven for 30 minutes; make sure they don’t burn. This helps to dry the pine cones and remove any critters that could be hiding within. Once they’re cool, it’s time to get creative! Paint the cones with acrylic paints, glue on small beads or stones, or decorate with glitter glue. You can hang the decorated pine cones on trees, add them to a holiday wreath, string them on a twine garland or use them as a rustic alternative to a gift bow.

Sticks and stones

Did you know that popsicle craft sticks are primarily made from fast-growing, sustainably managed birch and aspen forests? That makes them a good option for craft projects, like winter snowflakes (though small twigs from the backyard work great, too).

Snowflake ornament: First, cross three sticks together and firmly tie them in the center with yarn or twine. Then, color them with markers or paint and decorate with wooden beads, small stones or shells. Add a string or ribbon to hang them where they can be admired. Want to go big? Make this project using paint stirrers or branches.

Plenty of reasons to #OptOutside this holiday weekend

A family dressed in fall coats, walks toward the camera along a fall trail, forest in the background, autumn leaves on ground

These days, everyone could use a little more fresh air and a whole lot of green space. Not only does time outdoors provide a variety of activities that are easy to do while practicing proper social distancing, but it also does wonders for your mental, physical and spiritual health.

Not sure where to start? For ideas and places to hike, fish, hunt, bike and just explore Michigan’s out-of-doors closer to home, visit the DNR's Michigan.gov/YourLocalOutdoors website.

It’s also the last weekend for regular firearm deer season, so if you’re ready to hit the woods, go to Michigan.gov/Deer for info on check stations, regulations, public land for hunting and more.

No matter what you do this holiday weekend, give thanks for Michigan's forests, lakes, trails and other welcoming natural places – get out there and give yourself some space!


From "That '70s Basement" to the 1963 Constitutional Convention, spend some time with uniquely Michigan stories in Michiganology!


Next time you renew your license plate, pick up the Recreation Passport for just $12 and start exploring state parks, trails, state forest campgrounds and more.


Arm yourself with information and check out the #NotMiSpecies webinar series. Learn the ins and outs of keeping harmful invasive species in check.

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