By EDITH ZHOU
Capital News Service
LANSING – The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has enhanced its Mi-HUNT computer app and made it more user-friendly in time for the fall deer hunting season.
Michael Donovan, a DNR wildlife biologist, said that the most important and useful enhancement lets users “view 7 million acres of public hunting lands and print hunting maps highlighting the vegetation of most interest to hunters.”
The other improvements include detailed information and printable maps of Hunting Access Program lands and state game and wildlife areas, and capacity to load that information directly into the user’s personal GPS.
The free application, originally released in 2010, can be customized to fit hunters’ and other outdoor enthusiasts’ trip-planning needs. It allows them to view, print, measure and create custom routes.
Donovan said, “The application makes it easier for people to find a place close to them and hunt. And we also have a video on our website to teach people how to use the application.”
Russ Mason, chief of the DNR’s Wildlife Division, said, “Anyone with access to a computer and the Internet now has the opportunity to easily learn how to use Mi-HUNT in a way that caters to their specific outdoor sport.
“This program makes it possible to target lands for different types of hunting and outdoor recreation,” he said.
Kent Wood, the legislative affairs manager of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said that the app is helpful to hunters, especially newer ones.
“Studies continually show that one of the big hurdles to hunters getting out into the woods to hunt is a lack of places nearby to hunt. Having all kinds of hunting information condensed into one location online can be very helpful for those looking to see what they have around where they live, or those who travel to an unknown place in the state to hunt,” Wood said.
According to the department, from October 2011 through September 2012, there were 61,000 visits to Mi-HUNT. Of them 24,000 came in September. The average is much lower in months with little hunting.
Donovan said that “for the first 10 days of October of this year there were already 16,500 visits. So with the new features of Mi-HUNT, we are experiencing a significant increase in use of the application.”
So far the app is computer-accessible only, not available on phones or tablets.
Wood said that making the app mobile would be one more way to engage people with hunting and the outdoors.
“People may not take the time anymore to attend a seminar or weekend class on hunting, so I think smartphone or smart pad apps would probably be the next step,” he said.
Donovan said that DNR is considering making it mobile but has technical concerns.
“However, users can download a PDF version of a map into their mobile device,” he said.
Currently there are two other free mobile apps the public can download from DNR’s website (http://www.michigan.gov/dnr).
Cindy Krueger, the website administrator of the department, said, “We have a Mi camping and recreation locator that helps people get information about places to camp, boat, hike and swim and a mobile fishing app lets anglers purchase a 24-hour license from a smartphone.”
According to Krueger, the locator application has been downloaded more than 48,000 times since its launch last year.
“We have many ideas but currently we don’t have anything new in design,” she said.
By EDITH ZHOU