"We take some nice deer out of here," comments local wildlife technician Mark Bishop. Bishop has been working for the Michigan DNR for 30 years and hunts the area himself.
"Even though the area gets some heavy pressure during the archery season, the firearm opener and again around Thanksgiving, we have a stable whitetail deer population," Bishop reports.
"The reason is that the area is managed for deer and most of the activities around here center around creating good deer habitat."
According to Bishop, ongoing timber management includes cuttings, which open up excellent deer browse. Food plots are planted annually with rye, corn and soybeans, all of which are heavily used by the deer.
The southern section of the SGA is characterized by rolling hills, upland fields, wetlands and a generally good mix of habitat.
The northern section is flatter, with more agricultural acreage interspersed with woodlots, another habitat mixture conducive to producing big bucks.
"We try to manage the area to keep the deer distributed evenly," said Bishop.
"You can find deer anywhere on the area, but I always recommend doing some pre-scouting. If your first choice is busy, go to your backup site."
If he had to choose, Bishop's first choice to start hunting would be the Otis Lake section.
The deer population is consistent for a couple miles out from the lake in any direction. This area is hilly and swampy and transitions into agricultural land.
Targeting the food plots would be Bishop's second choice. Whitetails commonly visit the plots until spooked by hunting pressure.
The third choice from Bishop is the adjoining Yankee Springs area, which has 3,000 acres of state-owned land open to hunting.
Access is good via hiking and bike trails. A map is available by calling the DNR at (269) 795-9081.
"In general, try anywhere you see a gated area marked with yellow pipe," Bishop said.
"There are over 200 of them and you may have to walk a mile or 2 past the gates and parking lots, but a gate means there's a food plot or cut timber back there that can mean good hunting."
Bishop explains that checking the Hunter Access book will show bordering private lands where owners will give permission to hunt.
These lands can be very productive too.
All state regulations apply. It's bucks-only hunting unless an antler-less permit has been drawn.
Hunters in possession of a combination license may take a second buck that has four points on at least one side.
Archery season opened Oct. 1 and runs through Nov. 14, then again Dec. 1 through Jan 1. Regular firearm season is Nov. 15-30.
Muzzle loading season is Dec. 1-17.
For more information contact the Barry Field Office at (269) 795-3280 or the Plainwell DNR Operations Center at (269) 685-6851.
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