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With a 6,307-acre northern hardwood forest managed for grouse, woodcock and forest wildlife, the Deep Portage Learning Center is the perfect venue for upland bird hunting opportunities and education.

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However, the reserve, located near Hackensack in central Cass County, has always been more about the many other amenities and features that make up the environmental education/outdoor recreation center.

And those are indeed numerous at an outdoor oasis that also features, glacial hills, lakes, rivers and bogs.

The just-released summer program schedule is a reflection of that, with tower hikes, canoeing, wall-climbing, bog hiking, nature arts, archery, fish printing and orienteering featured from mid-June through early August.

A program concentrating on upland bird-hunting guns, however, is the cornerstone — and a kickoff — of that extensive summer schedule.

On June 9, Deep Portage and the Deep Portage Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society will host the Between the Trees Side-by-Side Shoot, celebrating side-by-side upland bird guns at Deep Portage. The shoot starts at 9 a.m. and participants must provide their own shells.

The main event includes a 100-target bird-hunter-designed sporting clays course; side games will be available. According to Deep Portage, targets may be engaged with any bore, limited to a maximum of 1-1/8-ounce of No. 7 or smaller shot. A fundraiser for the hunting and shooting sports education programs at Deep Portage, the shoot is open to any gauge side-by-side shotgun.

Registration is limited to 50 shooters and the cost is $125 per shooter, which includes continental breakfast, lunch, a banquet dinner and prizes. For information and event reservations, call (218) 682-2325 or email portage@uslink.net.

The outdoors-oriented summer schedule begins in fervor several days later. Open to families and individuals, the programs are offered on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from June 12 through August 9 (excluding July 4). All programs begin at 1 p.m. and run approximately two hours.

Regular program fees are $5 for adults, $3 for children 12 and under and $3 for seniors and Deep Portage members. The climbing wall and fish printing program fees are $10.

The programs:

• Tower hike: Visit Deep Portage’s 55-foot observation tower and learn about the natural history and vegetation of the land.

• Canoeing: Travel up the Little Boy River for an afternoon of paddling, canoe portaging and wildlife sightings.

• Climbing wall: Climb the 35-foot indoor climbing wall. This program is suitable for ages 8 and above.

• Bog hike: Explore the Deep Portage north bog and learn about the unique vegetation and natural history of the area.

• Nature arts: Learn how to make recycled paper bead necklaces, bracelets and paper birch rings.

• Archery — Intro to Archery: Equipment provided, including compound and recurve bows. Program is suitable for ages 10 and up.

• Fish printing: Learn the traditional Japanese art of fish printing (Gyotaku). Program includes a T-shirt to print on.

• Orienteering: Learn how to use a compass, read a topographic map and measure distance with paces.

The summer schedule:

June: 12, tower hike; 13, canoeing; 14, climbing wall; 19, bog hike; 20, tower hike; 21, nature arts; 26, climbing wall; 27, archery; 28, tower hike. July: 3, tower hike; 5, climbing wall; 10, canoeing; 11, tower hike; 12, bog hike; 17, fish printing; 18, orienteering; 19, tower hike; 24, tower hike; 25, bog hike; 26, archery; 31, nature arts. August: 1, tower hike; 2, bog hike; 7, climbing wall; 8, orienteering; 9, tower hike.

For more information or to make reservations, call Deep Portage at (218) 682-2325 or email portage@uslink.net.

Deep Portage, located at 2197 Nature Center Drive N.W., Hackensack, is open to the public — and all ages.

The campus includes a 50,000-square-foot Resources Heritage Center with two great halls, a giant climbing wall, library, classrooms, theater, food service and overnight accommodations for up to 175. The Interpretive Center houses the museum, freshwater lab and bookstore and is the starting point for the many miles of trails.

Outdoor classrooms include the wildflower gardens, 11 miles of ski trails, lake piers, weather station, archery range, compass schoolyard, rifle and trap ranges, sporting clays, bog boardwalk, orienteering course and forest management demonstrations, with plenty of hills, hollows, marshes, and meadows. Also, the 10-square-mile reserve surrounds six lakes and is bordered by seven more.

For more on Deep Portage, go to www.deep-portage.org.

BRIAN S. PETERSON, outdoors editor, may be reached at brian.peterson@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5864. To follow him on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/brian_speterson. For his blogs, go to www.brainerddispatch.com.

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