Michigan’s wild elk herd is flourishing, with over 1,000 elk living in an 105,000-acre area in the northeast Lower Peninsula. You are most likely to see elk early in the day and again just before dark. Large herd bulls with their polished antlers gleaming gather cows into harems for the annual breeding season. King is said to have sighted the last known wild passenger pigeon in the region (for which the Pigeon River Country is named) near the property. The DNR manages state land by cutting old timber to create forests, by planting food plots, and by using prescribed burning. Recently, the DNR announced elk habitat has been further protected with the addition of the Elk Forest at Black River, a 597-acre parcel in Montmorency County, to Pigeon River Country State Forest. Trout fishing season begins the last Saturday in April and ends Sept. 30. ___ This story has been corrected to show the state forest is called the Pigeon River Country State Forest, not the Pigeon River State Forest. with matching funds from the DNR’s Land Exchange Facilitation Fund and a $75,000 donation from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The elk herd has had its ups and downs since its reintroduction into Michigan in 1918, but currently about one thousand elk live in the elk range of southern Cheboygan, Otsego and Montmorency Counties. A smaller lake and pond are nearby. In the depths of the Pigeon River Country State Forest near Gaylord resides Michigan’s wild elk herd. Still, if you cruise some of the best areas (explained later) at the crack of dawn or just before dark, you may see a large bull with antlers in velvet or a group of elk cows with their calves. With about 500 head of elk, this heard provides prime elk viewing opportunities year round. Through an important partnership effort with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the DNR is working to improve elk viewing areas and elk viewing education as well as materials and programs. Not only is it illegal to chase after or otherwise harass wildlife with a snowmobile, it is not The big one ends up being a 6 x 7. Upland from the lake and river, a forest of mixed pine, aspen and oak is a thriving wildlife haven, and near the water, wetland plants such as wild cranberry and carnivorous pitcher plants grow beneath a canopy of cedar. Elk may be seen in and around these meadows or just by chance almost anywhere in the elk range. “Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is pleased to collaborate on the strategic protection of important elk habitat within the Pigeon River Country State Forest.” said Blake Henning, the foundation’s chief conservation officer. When several large bulls are bugling and breaking brush with antlers to help impress rival bulls, it can raise the hair on your neck. Three world-class trout streams ramble through forests and wetlands at the heart of the state’s elk range. © 2020 Advance Local Media LLC. The rugged, 108,000-acre expanse of Michigan’s Pigeon River Country State Forest is already one of the state’s premier destinations to connect with nature, but a recent DNR purchase has made it even better. These crops along with the natural grasses and forbs provide food for these large herbivores. An aerial view of Walled Lake. It looks like the color up here peaked last week. September and October are prime months to watch elk. The DNR urges everyone to respect the owner’s privacy until that time. Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/20). It looks like the color up here peaked last week. Some viewing areas have been planted with rye, clover, alfalfa or buckwheat. They are on their own schedule coming and going when and where their biological needs take them. Deep in the forest are the foundations to the hunting camp of George King, an early 20th-century fishing guide. good for the health of the animals. Vern went out by himself and, naturally, bagged a big bull. The 95,000-acre state forest contains native hardwoods and pines that are interspersed with fields and forest openings. Elk hunting is the primary tool used to maintain the balance between elk numbers and habitat, while also addressing crop damage concerns. An elk photographed in the Pigeon River Country State Forest (DNR) “This area is full of wildlife,” said Kerry Wieber, DNR forest land administrator. Northeast of Gaylord is the 108, 000-acre Pigeon River State Forest, which covers 240 square miles and is the largest undeveloped tract of land in Lower Michigan. With fewer leaves on the trees as the season progresses, the elk can be easier to spot in the woods, too. The purchase provides public access to Walled Lake, a spring-fed, 44-acre double sinkhole lake. This video is unavailable. They roam woods and fields of the northern Lower Peninsula, with the highest numbers in the Pigeon River Country area. Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR. But please remember winter is a stressful time of year for animals. Parking places are provided where good visibility is afforded. Photo courtesy of Michigan DNR. Pigeon Bridge State Forest Campground. Vanderbilt, Michigan They prefer a landscape with open young habitat. The $2 million Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) transaction happened, in part, thanks to a $75,000 donation from the Rocky Mountain Elk … During the winter, when snow covers the ground, elk can be found near logging operations or in recently logged areas that have an abundance of young woody sprouts. Recently, the DNR announced elk habitat has been further protected with the addition of the Elk Forest at Black River, a 597-acre parcel in Montmorency County, to Pigeon River Country State Forest. According to the DNR, the land deal further conserves from development Michigan’s core elk range. The Pigeon River Country State Forest and surrounding land is home to the largest free-roaming elk herd east of the Mississippi River. This ten-site campground is the only campground in the PRC that allows horse camping. Grassy meadows are focal points. Managed forests provide year round food sources and are diverse in the types and ages, which is effectively controlled with timber cutting. Recent hunts to keep the herd in balance with its habitat have provided a limited number of hunters some memorable outings. The state’s Department of Natural Resources says a bull elk was shot earlier this week in Montmorency County, north of Atlanta. ... Elk Hill Equestrian River Trail Campground. Elk viewing is one of the most popular pursuits in the elk range, drawing people from down state, out-of-state, and locals alike. Area residents found the three elk about 50 yards north of Hardwood Lake Road near Bobcat Trail, in the Pigeon River State Forest, east of Vanderbilt. An elk photographed in the Pigeon River Country State Forest. Another elk was shot last weekend in the Pigeon River State Forest in Otsego County. There are eight rustic campgrounds in the Pigeon River Country State Forest with two them, Elk Hill Trail Camp and Johnson’s Crossing Trail Camp, serving equestrians and their horses. They roam woods and fields of the northern Lower Peninsula, with the highest numbers in the Pigeon River Country area. The nearly 100,000-acre state forest contains native hardwoods and pines that are interspersed with fields and forest openings. The Ruffed Grouse is one of the hardest birds to hunt, primarily due to the habitat they live in and the speed at which they fly. 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