Big Bear Sportsman’s Club hosting deer check station

KALEVA — The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is always looking at ways to improve the health of Michigan’s deer herd.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Brian Roell gets ready to check the age of a buck. The Big Bear Sportsman's Club will be running a deer check station this year.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Brian Roell gets ready to check the age of a buck. The Big Bear Sportsman’s Club will be running a deer check station this year.

One of the big steps they take to make that happen is to gather information from deer check stations they hold at various locations around the state. For the third straight year successful hunters will have the opportunity to do that at the Big Bear Sportsman’s Club, which is located at 8927 Puustinen Road in Kaleva.

Big Bear member Kyle Converse is once again leading the efforts at the Big Bear Sportsman’s Club. He said it is the only check station that will be open in that area.  According to the DNR website the next closest check stations are in Baldwin at the field office at 2468 W. 24th St. and in Traverse City at  2122 South M-37.

Converse said he and Big Bear Sportsman’s Club officials well schooled in doing the check to DNR requirements.

“I am retired from the DNR where I worked in parks and recreation,” Converse said. “What we are doing mainly is aging the deer by wear on the teeth, measuring the the antlers for age and size of the deer to check for diseases.”

Hunters are asked just to bring in the head to the deer check station. Converse said they aren’t pathologists and are just looking for things that may jump out of that don’t look normal.

“All hunters who have their deer checked will receive a successful deer hunter patch issued by the DNR,” said Converse. “All that is needed is the head, which will be aged along with other information. Keep the head cool but preferably not frozen.”

Converse said there is added incentive for the young hunters to get their deer checked at the station.

“All successful youth 17 and under will receive a certificate of achievement along with an engraved plaque, which will be permanently mounted on a bragging board displayed in the club house,” said Converse.

There also is incentive for the adults to get their deer checked at the station as well. Everyone likes to show off the results of a successful hunt.

“Adults who are members or who join the club will be eligible to have their names on the bragging board for the biggest rack in either archery or gun category,” said Converse. “There will be separate listings for men and women.”

He also added that there will not be anyone present from the DNR at their location when they do the check-ins as the Big Bear members are certified and have received training to do the checks. Over the past two years they have checked close to 100 deer each year.

“We are trained by the district wildlife biologist in Cadillac on how to do it,” said Converse. “We are also encouraging anyone who would like to do this to come in and watch what we do. It would be great for anyone going into outdoor education programs.”

The station at the Big Bear Sportsman’s Club will be open from 5 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 22, Nov. 4, 11, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25,  Dec. 2, 9, 16 and Jan. 2. They also will have extended hours on opening day (Nov.15) of the firearm hunting season from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

People should show up at the Big Bear Clubhouse on those dates and times or they can contact Converse for more details at (269) 986-6211.


Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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