UP Whitetails Association, Inc.

Projects

Our projects have won awards from: U.S. Forest Service, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Michigan State University and Michigan United Conservation Clubs!

The projects listed are that of all the organizations, some are done in each county and others are a joint effort by the organizations. (Education is a major concern and is supported by each organization in their local counties.)

Projects include, but are not limited to: Major sponsor of Hunters safety, new shooting range and building for the Boy Scouts summer camp in Upper Michigan, the 4-H shooting team sponsor, Trap-Tag and Release deer migration studies (on going 13 year study), scholarships in forestry and biology, reforestation - actual tree planting as well as a major sponsor of Michigan State University's study on white cedar regeneration, Books in schools and public libraries on wildlife and wildlife habit, Sponsor of educational meetings between the Department of Natural Resources and the sportsmen as well as other seminars to help educate the general public, Cost share programs for Wildlife food plot openings and winter-feeding programs (if needed), billboard advertisement - Let'em GO - Let'em Grow for volunteer deer management, just to mention a few.

Note: Let'em GO - Let'em Grow is a copy right of the Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club.

Menominee River Organization Makes Jerky for Soldier

MENOMINEE Every tradition starts with a good idea. Menominee River U.P. Whitetails Inc. hopes its idea grows like a trophy buck's antlers.

Club members met Saturday at the Ingallston township home of Wayne Kellner to make venison jerky for Travis Menacher, a Marine stationed in Afghanistan.

A 2007 Menominee High School graduate, Menacher operates a mine roller, which is designed to detonate anti-tank mines. Menacher's company will soon dig into a care package stuffed with a little U.P. pride.

Saturday, 16 club members brought venison to Kellner's home, where an assembly line of production transformed about 50 pounds of venison into 7-8 pounds of jerky. "This is our first year. We kind of brought it up at the last minute," said club member Mike "Scooch" Hubert. "Next year I'm sure we could do better."

Hubert's son, Matt, first brought up the idea with his buddy, Menacher. "Travis said 'jerky, that sounds real good. Send me some,'" Scooch Hubert said.

It went over so well that the club got involved and went into mass production. They had a grinder on hand and mixed in spices. They used caulking guns, or "jerky cannons" to lay strips on the racks which go into the dehydrators. "It probably takes five to eight hours for the jerky to become dried out completely," according to Scooch.

The jerky was then vacuum sealed before delivery. "Apparently they'll accept dehydrated meat," Scooch said. "They won't accept it otherwise."

They hope the idea catches on to other whitetail clubs across the U.P. "It's a good feeling for all of us," club officer Jerry Plansky said. "We know they're doing a job for all of us. It's something we can give back. It's a tremendous feeling."

The club members brought three flavors but settled on cajun. "It's probably 110 there, and we're sending spicy jerky," Scooch said.

"He's just a fun kid," Matt Hubert said. "He likes cars Ford Mustangs."

It's the latest project by Menominee River U.P. Whitetails Inc., which meets on the second Wednesday of each month. Among the other projects are a food plot program, a predator hunt, apple tree program, a Menominee hunter education program and a outdoor wildlife conservation program which awards $500 scholarships to Marinette, Menominee and Stephenson students.

The club is not a member of a national organization, so all club dollars are used locally. Their latest project will improve the quality of life for a company of Marines about 6,750 miles away.

"For a whitetail club it doesn't get any better," Scooch said.

Trap, Tag and Release Project

For some years now different articles have been published on how far a deer will travel. Most of those articles were written about southern deer. Let me define that for you; a southern deer area to anyone from Upper Michigan means an area in winter that does not have three-six feet of snow!

Due to the snow depth in Upper Michigan (mostly flat land) the deer have both a summer and a winter range! Large numbers of animals migrate down from the north (out of the deep snow) to try and survive in the southern regions of Upper Michigan where the snow is not as deep! This migration creates Deer-concentration (yarding) areas where the deer in past years have numbered in the thousands during winter.

Where do they all come from? The following project was designed to find out the answer to that question.. But why you may ask? The information gathered would give us an understanding of the migration route between summer and winter range to better manage the herd size so the deer would not eat themselves out of house and home during winter! Winter deer kill estimates in past years have been over a hundred thousand animals in one year!

It all started in December of 1988 when U.P. Whitetails Association Inc. asked a local Biologist by the name of Richard Aartila with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for a wintering deer management project. Mr. Aartila stated the Department was having a problem trying to set the number of doe permits in different areas due to lack of information. After a few meetings Mr. Aartila came up with the idea of a Trap, Tag and Release Project for the winter of 1989-1990. The idea was to gather information concerning the migration of deer between their summer and winter range in Upper Michigan. This information was needed to better regulate herd size in the high migration areas. U.P. Whitetails Association Inc. signed an agreement with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to pay all trap costs and supply labor for the Trap, Tag and Release three to five year project. (The project is now in it's thirteenth year!)

The trapping method would be the same proven method used in a one square mile fenced in deer study area near Munising Michigan at the Cusino Wildlife Center of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The wildlife center at that time had a head biologist by the name of John Ozoga. Yes, the same John Ozoga you read articles from in Deer and Deer Hunting, and other major magazines. One of the best deer specialists in the world! We worked side by side with John at Cusino as well as receiving John's expertise and knowledge on how to make the traps and handle the deer. John's technician at the center and the man who gave the actual hands on training of how to handle live deer out in the field was Dan DeLisle. Dan at present is the President of the Michigan United Conservation Clubs with over 500 member clubs. The local DNR technician Frank Short, U.P. Whitetails Association members Don Seymour and Pete Jandro were the main crew chiefs and schedule keepers also played a major roll in this ongoing project. Our volunteer members who worked with the deer-trapping projects over the years would number in the hundreds and saved the DNR an estimated $20,000.00 per year in labor costs alone. This savings enabled the DNR to do a project of this size that funding would not have been available for otherwise. This deer project could only be done in the winter after the migration from deep snow country had moved south to their winter yarding areas.

A number of Large box traps were built and used for the project. Please understand no drugs what so ever are used with these animals! The animals are all handled by hand! We have handled as many as two hundred plus deer in one winter season without the need for a Band-Aid for the help or the deer. Trapping takes place in midwinter after the bucks have dropped their horns.

As the sun is coming up and the frost is heavy on the trees we are driving to our trap sites every morning during the project. The snow under the tires of the truck is making a loud crunching noise, which means it is very cold and the deer were moving during the night to stay warm. As we get close to the first trap we can see the doors are down! Walking toward the trap the crunching sound from the snow is now under foot. Kneeling down in front of the trap we slowly rise to door about an inch or two and look into the trap. A large doe is lying there looking back. Using a smaller transfer box and a side door with a little sunlight at the end, we transfer her into the smaller transfer box (which she walks into). Now the work begins!

Four men carry the transfer box twenty to thirty feet to a nearby open area. This is so the animal and the handlers will not get hurt. An escape route for the deer is also planned before the animal is handled. Two men handle the back legs, one the front legs and one the head to cover the eyes with a special hood. We cover the eyes to prevent damage to the eyes and to settle the animal. Oh yes, one more man to tag the animal.

You may be thinking four or five men on one poor little deer - poor deer. Bull! Poor workers, you have no idea the power of these animals. Our people are very well trained, in fact some of the best in the country we have been told by John Ozoga and we have all we can do to tag some of these larger animals. When ear tagging; the animal is only on the snow for a few minutes and released. When radio collaring the animals as we have done with Michigan State University on a three year study, the animals are on the snow about five to eight minutes and released. The animals are not hurt; in fact one year our Schoolcraft County Organization trapped the same animal fourteen times! He had good food, was warm, and knew he would be released. Not so dumb are they! Please do not try this at home. You could hurt or kill the animal or you if not trained in the proper manner.

A local herd of deer in Upper Michigan may travel seven to fourteen miles between their summer and winter range. A majority of the migration animals will travel 28-32 miles, while others will travel over sixty miles in Michigan's Upper Peninsula! During our radio collar project with Michigan State University a group of animals traveled fourteen miles overnight!

Since 1955, 2154 deer have been individually marked in Michigan. A total of 347 deer were marked using self-attaching deer collars during the 1955-1988 periods. Colored ear-tags have been used to mark 1807 additional deer since 1989. These marking efforts have yielded 1706 observations of tagged deer that are appropriate for determining the spatial distribution of tagged deer. Reports of another 56 deer may be used for demographic analysis but do not have adequate information for determining where the animals were observed.

We trapped and handled some very large animals over the years, but every year we had a few that made us really wonder; how big does a deer have to be to break the end of the trap, walk away and have five men happy he did so?

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