Turkey hunters focus on habitat during annual event

BALDWIN  — Jim Maturen and other members of the Pere Marquette Chapter of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters’ Association have been working at their annual hunter rendezvous for a long time.

But the essential goal remains the same: improving the turkey habitat.

The 35th annual rendezvous was last Saturday at Baldwin High school and featured vendor exhibits, calling clinics, a gun raffle, turkey shoot and turkey dinner.

The clinics included a class on box calls and slate calls by Maturen, a Reed City and longtime turkey hunter, and hunting techniques and mouth calls by Jim Skipper. Pat Donovan was master of ceremonies for the calling contest.

The chapter points out all proceeds from the event is spent on supporting winterizing turkey flocks and improving the habitat.

“On public land, the turkey habitat isn’t much,” Maturen said, “either national or state forest. We don’t have many turkeys on public land. On private land, you have farmland with crops and food. Most of your turkeys will be found on private land.

“To our knowledge, once you get deep snow, if there’s any turkeys on public land, they migrate out to a private land somewhere that they can find a food source. In the winter time if you have a dairy or cattle farmer spreading manure, you’ll find turkeys on this land. They’ll pick grain out of manure and can survive all winter long.”