DNR News: Waterways anniversary, donate your deer, November hiking and more

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News Digest - Week of Nov. 14, 2022

A male white tail deer with majestic antlers stands in a grassy field lightly dusted with snow.

Firearm deer season opens today! Hunters can donate their harvest to Sportsmen Against Hunger and help their communities.

Here are just a few 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 others, are available in this folder.

Photo ambassador snapshot: Winter waxwing

A cedar waxwing sits resplendant on a barren bush with a few red berries still clinging on.

Want to see more pictures like this, taken by Michigan state parks photo ambassador Sheen Watkins at Pigeon River Country State Forest in Otsego County? Visit Instagram.com/MiStateParks to explore photos and learn more about the photo ambassadors! For more on the photo ambassador program, call Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182.

'Paint the Waterways' celebrates 75 years of Michigan's waterways program

A watercolor painting of a sailboat docked at a harbor with historic buildings on a calm summer's day.

To cap off the 75th anniversary of Michigan's waterways program, the Great Lakes Plein Air Painters Association put an artistic flourish on boating. 

"Paint the Waterways" is an artistic interpretation of today’s boating system showcased through the group's original artwork. The virtual art exhibit features a year's worth of paintings and a new way to experience boating: through a paintbrush and canvas.

Plein air painting embraces the "open air" practice of creating landscapes outside the four walls of an art studio. The practice goes back centuries but became well known through the work of French Impressionists. 

Over the last year, painters set up easels in harbors and along lakes and rivers across the state to create nearly 50 paintings in honor of Michigan’s waterways.

People can experience the exhibit two ways:

All original artwork is for sale through the online gallery, with 25% of proceeds going to support historic interpretation at Michigan waterways facilities.

The Michigan State Waterways Commission, a seven-member advisory commission appointed by the governor, was created in 1947 to advise how Michigan would place, fund and manage harbors to provide safe, navigable boating on Michigan’s Great Lakes. Years later, the commission took on acquisition and development of public boating access sites. The establishment of the commission is also considered the official establishment of Michigan’s waterways program 75 years ago.

“As this boating milestone comes to a close, it’s fascinating to see the different perspective each artist shares through their paintings,” said Maia Turek, engagement and innovations specialist for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “It’s a good reminder how differently we all see and experience the world."

Learn more about "Paint the Waterways" and the 75th anniversary of the Michigan waterways program at Michigan.gov/DNR/CelebrateBoating.

Questions? Contact Maia Turek at 989-225-8573.

Deer hunters can help families in need, enter to win prizes

Crates full of pre-packaged venison.

As hundreds of thousands of hunters head into the field with Michigan’s firearm deer season kicking off today, the DNR encourages them to help hungry families in their community by donating a deer to Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger. 

“Hunters who donate a deer will help local communities in need by providing them with highly desirable venison meals,” said Joe Presgrove, public outreach analyst in the DNR Marketing and Outreach Division who coordinates the department’s partnership with Michigan Sportsman Against Hunger.

“Also, donating a deer is not the only way hunters may help. To help cover the cost of processing donated deer, individuals can make a monetary contribution when purchasing hunting and fishing licenses. Every dollar donated helps feed those in need, and hunters who donate a whole deer have a chance to win some great prizes for participating."

Hunters have a chance to win gift cards and other prizes by donating a deer at:

  • Any Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger participating processor during the 2022 Michigan deer hunting season (win one of five $100 gift cards).
  • Frank’s Great Outdoors deer drive in Linwood Nov. 16, 17 and 18 (get a $20 gift card with every deer donation).
  • Jay’s Sporting Goods deer drive in Clare Nov. 18, 19 and 20 (win one of 10 $50 gift cards).

Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger – an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization – helps connect donors, wild game processors and charities like food banks, pantries and shelters that help feed those in need.

The organization distributed over 100,000 pounds of venison last year, providing more than 400,000 meals for needy families.

To learn more about the deer donation drives, find a participating processor or make a monetary donation to support venison processing, visit SportsmenAgainstHunger.org.

Questions? Contact Joe Presgrove at 517-284-6108.

Head out for a hike this November

A small child in a dark green jacket walks alone on a forest trail blanketed with pine needles.

As the last vestiges of autumn fade and snowflakes start to fall, cozy season is here – but that doesn’t mean you have to stay inside.

November is a great time to bundle up and explore your surroundings or maybe experience them in a way you haven’t before.

Fall hiking in Michigan is always a beautiful sight, with the last jeweled leaves of peak autumn still clinging to trees as early snow dusts the landscape and quiets the world.

If that sounds like heaven to you, you have plenty of opportunity to get outside and experience the wonder of fall hiking this month. National Hiking Day is Thursday, Nov. 17, and the annual #OptOutside campaign from REI – the day after Thanksgiving – is a great way to get moving after a day of feasting. But you don’t need a special holiday to enjoy fall hiking – the outdoors is here for you every day.

No matter where you go, always check the weather before you leave, wear appropriate clothing (don’t forget to layer!) and proper shoes, bring plenty of water and sunscreen (you need it year-round, not just in summer) and trekking poles or a walking stick for extra stability on snow-slicked trails.

Also make sure you’re wearing bright colors, especially blaze orange. The firearm deer season opens today, so be aware of your surroundings and know if your trail takes you through areas open to hunting.

Make sure to observe proper trail etiquette, too, to ensure everyone has an enjoyable experience on the trails. Keep an eye out for cyclists and horseback riders, stay on the trails and respect trail conditions, leave no trace and make sure you communicate with other trail users – a simple “hello” is a great way to announce your presence.

For more information on trails, including where to hike, maps and more, visit Michigan.gov/DNRTrails.

ICYMI: Leave the leaves!

A black and blue salamander takes shelter under a large fallen maple leaf.

Where do little critters go during the winter? They overwinter in leaves!

In case you missed it, last week’s Showcasing the DNR story covered the benefits of leaving your lawn as-is (or close to it) during the colder months.

Many species, like moths, bees, salamanders, turtles and more, rely on fallen leaves for different stages of their lives, either hiding among the foliage or eating the leaves.

As you prep your outdoor spaces for winter, try not to be too orderly – leaving a bit of natural chaos is just how many species like it.

Read the full story for more.


The first official shoreline horseback riding season at Silver Lake State Park closes Nov. 30, so there's still time to take part in this incredible opportunity. Cost is $10 per horse per day, and 100 slots are available each day. Happy riding!


Deep snow will be here before you know it, which means peak snowmobiling season is right around the corner. Get your permit, register your sled, get your safety certificate and have a great time on the trails.


No matter where you go this season or how you get outdoors, always be on the lookout for invasive species and report them – especially if they're on Michigan's watch list.

Download the new Michigan DNR Hunt Fish app