11-23-2017 Outdoors

Our ubiquitous symbol of Thanksgiving, the turkey, was an integral part of Native American life long before that storied feast. DNA studies showed that Indians in south-central Mexico at around 800 B.C. and in what is now the southwestern U.S. at about 200 B.C. kept flocks of turkeys around their villages. However, they weren’t eating them; they were collecting the feathers.

The natives of these regions constructed blankets by wrapping feathers around cords then joining the “fuzzy cords” together. The colorful male feathers were also favored by many tribes for creating headdresses, clothing, and arrows. Turkeys molt three times a year so a small flock could provide a steady supply of feathers. So they were worth more alive than dead.

Anthropologists believe that the purpose for keeping turkeys shifted around 1100 A.D. from feather cultivation to food cultivation. The skeletons of the “managed” turkeys were more robust than their wild relatives indicating that they had more to eat. Also, there were many more males than in a natural flock which the scientists believe was the result of purposeful design.

Excavations of village settlements have revealed pen-like structures adjacent to dwellings. The scientists believe that some groups utilized these to contain their flocks while others let them roam free throughout the village.

The Nature Center will be closed for Thanksgiving Day but will resume regular hours on Friday.

Across the state many areas had no fishing activity, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said. Fishing slowed especially in the Upper Peninsula after the rain, snow and colder temperatures. A few anglers were out during the brief warm up, but many are now deer hunting with the opening of gun season.

The fishing tip for the week from the DNR is where to find Northern Pike in Michigan. As the temperatures continue to cool, fishing for Northern Pike will continue to pick up. Pike are extremely popular during the ice fishing season, but are readily available throughout much of the year.

There are many notable Northern Pike fisheries located throughout Michigan, including on Muskegon, Portage and Manistee lakes and also Michigamme and Houghton lakes. But this species can be found in many lakes and virtually all larger rivers in the state.

Please note there are many regulations for Northern Pike regarding minimum size and possession limit. Be sure to read up on this species in the 2016-2017 Michigan Fishing Guide.

The recent cold, wind and rain in our area put a stop to most anglers going out. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven said he had heard they had been catching steelhead and white fish off the pier in Grand Haven, but had not heard of successful anglers on South Haven Pier or St. Joseph Pier.

There are plenty of fish in the Black River and the Kalamazoo River, but both are running high, making it difficult to catch fish. At the Allegan Dam they have done well with plenty of steelhead and walleye being taken.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported slow fishing in the area, but on good days (like Monday), the pan fish are plentiful and anglers are filling their pans with patience. Dave reminds anglers that on December 5, 2013, anglers were able to ice fish and that is only a couple weeks away, so ice fishing will be here before you know it.


The DNR announced the federal lab confirmed that the 1.5-year-old hunter-harvested buck in Montcalm County last month in Sidney Township tested positive for chronic wasting disease. This is the second deer taken in Montcalm County that has tested positive. Three additional deer suspected of being positive are awaiting confirmation.