Conservation officers stay busy on opening day

On the opening day of firearm deer season, Conservation Officer and Ontonagon native Jackson Kelly began his patrol on a patch of state land near Gwinn.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 5:51 PM EST
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MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - Ontonagon Native Jackson Kelly has been a Conservation Officer out of the Michigan DNR’s Marquette Office for over a year.

On the opening day of firearm deer season, Kelly began his patrol on a patch of state land near Gwinn.

He stopped by a deer blind, but no hunter was home. Kelly explained he’s spoken to this person before.

“That particular spot, it was going to be ORV Trespass because he diverted off the trail, onto state land pretty far and blazed his own ORV trail,” Kelly said. “Definitely over baited, he had more than two gallons out like I showed you, quite a bit more than two gallons.”

On top of checking blinds and bait piles, Kelly spoke with hunters and checked their licenses.

If any were lucky enough to get a deer, Kelly would check the points to make sure they matched the license requirements.

As fully licensed law enforcement officers, he said they aren’t there to get hunters into trouble.

“If we’re stopping to talk to them, check licenses, legally just have your license on hand for what you’re hunting,” Kelly said. “Other than that, sometimes we’re just out there to talk to people, see how people are doing, so there’s no reason to get nervous around us or anything.”

Kelly said he wanted to become a conservation officer because of his love for Michigan’s natural resources.

He explained a lot of other conservation officers share the very same mindset.

“They pretty much have to love the outdoors because that’s what do on a day-to-day basis,” Kelly said. “Most, if not all, of us are hunters or fishermen or we use the natural resources in the state land just like everyone else that we’re contacting.”

As the hunting season continues, Kelly encourages hunters to stay safe and stay up to date on the hunter’s digest.