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Posted on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Public land allows hunters, outdoor enthusiasts to escape to nature close to home

By Kyle Mattson


Pickerel Lake in the Pinckney State Recreation Area. | Kyle Mattson -

While many hunters made their annual trek to northern Michigan for Thursday's opening day of firearm deer season, others started the day with an early morning cup of coffee in the comfort of their home.

For some this is possible because of the opportunity to access privately owned land in area; however, for the rest of us state and federally owned land will be home for the next few days. Thankfully, Washtenaw and neighboring Jackson and Livingston counties offer hunters and outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy their sport of choice through wooded rolling hills, on serene lakes, and flowering fields


The view from a Washtenaw County treestand

With more than 7.5 million acres of land in Michigan alone. the American public land system is one that is easily taken for granted by all. The Pinckney and Waterloo state recreation areas, just a 30 minute drive northwest of Ann Arbor, offer more than 30,000 such acres to enjoy. Although I'll be 20-feet up a maple tree Thursday in hopes of tagging a deer to hang at the annual Mill Creek buck pole, I've probably checked the box of nearly every possible sport you can participate in at the two parks. From biking the "Poto" to sunrise kayaking the lakes of Waterloo it is difficult to come up with a excuse to sit inside and watch television all weekend.

Although everyone may not agree with the sport of hunting, and for hunters it can be a frustrating experience to find a secluded corner of the woods away from others on public land, I'm grateful to have the opportunity to explore nature without driving hours away. If you've yet to take advantage of these public lands I'd highly suggest checking them out and seeing what they have to offer as we all need a break from the computer screen now and then.

Are you a hunter that had success in the field this year? Send us a photo of you and your deer using the form found here and we may feature in an upcoming gallery.



Sat, Nov 17, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.



Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 11:24 p.m.

As for me? Camping. No tent this time of year, but still. Awe.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.

@ Rork: Oh, I see what you meant. Yeah, these days people (especially writers!) seem to think that the word "kayaking" is synonymous with "boating," and especially "paddling." And, re: "I worry they have become the default for younger people without sufficient cause," I'm also with you there –– if people are sincere in their desire to experience the outdoors, you would think that they'd be eager to acquire the necessary skills. As for, "on my smallest one 2 adults is about the limit," my smallest canoe doesn't even have enough extra room for my dog! If all I'm taking with me is a daypack, man, is it fun! But other times, a medium-sized tandem will, as you say, handle just about anything from solo paddling to even bringing along a third party. Gotta love them local native boats! The story is, when settlers new to the "New World" got off of their ships, they were almost as astounded as the Native Americans who paddled out to meet them –– neither could believe the direction that the other was facing. The "more sophisticated" settlers were facing back the way that they had come, while the natives were looking where they were going!

Rork Kuick

Fri, Nov 16, 2012 : 1:16 p.m.

Paddling - that's the word we need. Thanks. The lesson about canoes I always recall is from trappers and explorers - they very often did not use European-designed boats, cause those birch-bark thingies were so good.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 8:13 p.m.

Although I'm not a hunter myself, the licenses hunters and fisherman purchase contribute to conserving our natural beauty in every corner of the state. Thank you hunters!


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Like Rork, I prefer a canoe to a kayak –– it's no contest, for me –– and including the one, but not the other, in your poll was a glaring mistake. I don't agree that " Kayaking is not synonymous with boating," but if you invest the time and energy it takes to learn how to paddle well, there is nothing like a solo canoe. Yes, kayaks have a much shorter learning curve, so they are attractive to novices, but they are less comfortable, and overall less convenient than canoes. Try paddling some of the Huron's tributaries if you want to get away and see absolutely nobody all day. But don't try it in a kayak. Your double-bladed paddle will constantly be getting stuck in the overhanging branches, and if you come across a downed tree blocking the creek (and you will!), you will be in a very frustrating, and, in high-water conditions, quite dangerous situation. Paddling all of the way to Ann Arbor from over by Stockbridge, in Ingham County, was challenging in my solo canoe, but would have been completely impossible in a kayak. I'm not saying that everyone wants to, or should have to, progress past the beginner level, but at least include canoeing alongside kayaking, or do what we do, and call the sport "paddling." A much more inclusive name for an excellent sport.

Rork Kuick

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 6:24 p.m.

I only meant up there that folks now-a-days say kayaking rather than boating, as if everyone uses a kayak. They used to say canoeing. Sorry if it came out wrong. In addition to your reasons I like canoes cause: 1) tradition. The Anishinabi used no kayaks, and they were masters of these waters. 2) flexibility. I can go alone, or I can have 3 people in there, though on my smallest one 2 adults is about the limit. 3) capacity. I can fit my bow, treestand, clothes, and a dead deer in there - easy. Works fishing too. 4) speed at portaging. I can get out and put on a giant pack that actually came out of the canoe in one piece. 5) with a partner, it's a partnership - it's fun. I agree the kayak is easier to begin with, and some are fast (so is my skinniest canoe), and decking is good in very heavy water, but I worry they have become the default for younger people without sufficient cause.

Rork Kuick

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

And now for a little of what I did not like. Tennis is a sport I play. I have about 20 pursuits or hobbies in the green world, none of which I consider a sport. Chasing fox on horseback, or shooting animals driven past you and then dressed by your underlings - maybe that was a sport, and it's happily dead. I use a canoe. Kayaking is not synonymous with boating. It sounded like you were hunting in order to hang a deer on the buck pole. While many want to eat some venison, very few display the carcasses in public. You can if you want, I never will. Problems with seclusion? Don't ya know about the bow season. Much more beautiful, and you get to see lots more animal behavior. You won't be going Nov 15, cause your freezer will be full.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

I live right there, I have no problem with hunting, LOVE IT in fact. What we don't love is the irresponsible people who do not respect the homes in the area. Therefore we have a bullet hole in the side of my home from a previous years hunt. We also keep an air horn near the front door to try to help WARN the misguided that they are in the residential portion. This morning, I just prayed on the way to work, WAY WAY too many vehicles up and down the road for the amount of land in that particular area. Recipe for someone to get hurt inadvertently. We will be visiting the Buck Pole this evening to see the good fortune that our area has this year, let us pray its all done safely!

Linda Peck

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

For all of the non-hunters, please be careful if you are sharing woods, prairies, and marsh lands with those who are hunters. I would not walk in the woods during hunting season, lovely though it is. Pheasant, duck, and deer season is long. Be careful out there. My uncle was accidentally shot in the woods.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:52 p.m.

Hunters need to respect the laws when they go out, especially staying off property clearly marked as "NO HUNTING". You are not welcome in these areas, and those who violate this give all the law-abiding hunters a very bad name. Respect the wildlife as well, do not shoot just anything that moves and do not poach. Throwing your trash in the woods is another sign of poor sportsmanship, the public lands belong to everyone.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

Hi, Mermaid. As a responsible hunter and outdoorsman, I agree with you on these items. However, I would ask that you not judge all hunters by the actions of a few. Just like any other demographic group there are a lot of responsible well behaved hunters, and a few idiots. As for throwing trash in the woods, the same measure applies. As when hiking, during hunting I follow the 'Leave No Trace' (LNT) practice. When hiking, I frequently carry a bag with me to pick up trash I find along the way. Honestly, I have seen far more 'hikers' and casual outdoors-people drop trash in the woods than I have seen from hunters. - Please try to make your surveys more flexible. I believe that there are many people who enjoy several of the outdoor activities that you offer as options equally, but are limited to only one by the format of your survey.

Rork Kuick

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

There are incredible things out there, much better than most people imagine. Some woods with fat oaks look better to me than anything I've seen farther north, and the diversity of our wet places is astonishing. I volunteer: lists opportunities on these lands, and many others. The results are very satisfying.

Great Lakes Lady

Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 1:23 p.m.

Ann Arbor's Greenbelt Program: Are those lands available for hunting?


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

I may be wrong, but I think most of the Greenbelt money has gone to by development rights for farmland. This allows farming to continue on the land, and prevents conversion of the land to strip malls and subdivisions. The land remains privately owned by the farmers, and it's up to them to decide about access for hunters. I'm pretty sure that hunting is not allowed on County parklands, and I'm sure it's not in city parks.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

We are so fortunate to have so many beautiful acres of public land around us in this area. I wish the hunters good luck and pray that they all will be safe. We especially enjoy hiking the many trails. Please make sure to take your trash back home with you whether you are a sportsman or a trekker. Nature will thank you.


Thu, Nov 15, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

One thing I love about Michigan is the fact that most people DO clean up after themselves! Although you do see litter or cans here and there, it's nothing compared to some other states (especially states without a bottle deposit law). One more thing that makes me happy to live in Michigan.