By Maralee Cook

Ever wonder what the difference between a coyote and wolf is?  How about between a red and gray fox?   How big is an Elk? What does a black bear sound like? You can see, hear and feel for yourself the qualities of many of Northern Michigan’s wild animals, mammals and fish at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center in Cadillac.

The life-size animals and mammals, snowy owls, porcupines, turkeys and more are on display, in addition to a marsh diorama and fish aquarium. What’s more, you will learn the history, identification signs and reasons for behavior patterns of different animals.  Why do male deer rub against trees, and why do they rub the velvet from their antlers? If you see animal scat on a hiking path in the woods, would you know which animal is sharing the path with you?

There is also a fishing room, with mounted examples of the area’s many fish species. Our much sought-after Steelhead, trout and salmon varieties, pike, perch, large and smallmouth bass and many more are on display.  You’ll even see the extinct native Michigan Grayling. And, what should be in your tackle box?  If you want to take up ice fishing, what tools do you need?  The answers and examples are all there to see for every curious family member.

The entry point to the 2.5 mile nature hike

The history of hunting and fishing, special events, outdoor programs, classes, clinics and family programs are also a part of the Center, as is a multi-media auditorium. A gift shop with books, stuffed animals and more, adds to the educational focus, and the Center is also universally accessible. Guided group tours are welcome to the center and on a 2.5-mile hike on the Heritage Nature Trail.

The Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center is named for the founder of the Michigan Conservation Foundation, a life-long supporter of hunting and fishing. It is located at 6087 E M-115, Cadillac, MI 49601, and is part of the William Mitchell State Park.  For more information, visit or call 231.779.1321.