The heatwave of summer may be here, but hints of things to come are beginning to appear.
Last weekend was proof that fall hoodie weather isn’t too far away. That also means the pool of hunting opportunities Michigan presents to its residents and visitors is about to explode with outdoor activity.
Andy Williams may sing about the most wonderful time of year that occurs in December, but for those who enjoy the outdoors and the hunt, that time is about to begin.
When it comes to preparing for upcoming hunts, there are a few things hunters should do before heading out into the field.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources suggests that hunters purchase their licenses now for hunts they are interested in participating in. They can do so at any retailer where hunting licenses are sold or by going online at michigan.gov/dnrlicenses.
The DNR also suggests reviewing the 2022 regulations for the hunt you’re interested in participating in and having them handy. All 2022 hunt summaries can be viewed online at michigan.gov/dnrdigests. They are also often available at retailers where a hunter purchases licenses from him or at local DNR offices.
The DNR also suggests that all hunters, regardless of skill or the number of hunts they have participated in, review safety standards.
This includes the requirement that all first-time hunters born on or after January 1, 1960 take and pass a hunter safety course. You will not be able to purchase a basic license other than a learner’s license unless you can show that you have successfully completed a hunter safety course.
The DNR also suggests reviewing general safety reminders, firearm safety tips, tree stand safety tips, and hunter orange regulations and being careful not to trespass on private property.
Finally, the DNR suggests looking for a hunting spot before heading out for the first time this fall.
To help, the DNR recommends using Mi-HUNT, which shows the approximate boundaries of land open to public hunting, including public hunting land and private land, open to the public for hunting. It also contains up-to-date information to help you plan your next hunting trip, including land cover types, nearby recreation facilities, trails, and more.
If grouse or woodcock hunting is your niche, the DNR said using an improved grouse management site is a good idea.
There are six GEMS in the northern Lower Peninsula and 13 sites in the Upper Peninsula. These sites are managed specifically for grouse and woodcock habitats, optimizing the chances of a successful bird season. They also include clipped walking trails, abundant young forest cover, and open parking areas with trail maps.
Each site offers a unique hunting trip and hundreds of acres of publicly accessible land. Eighteen sites are equipped with a map, information kiosk, and hunter walking trails. If you’re looking for a more remote off-trail experience, check out Norwich GEMS, located in the Ottawa National Forest.
Similarly, Michigan’s wetland wonderlands are premier managed waterfowl hunting areas. These areas provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities and are funded by hunting license fees and area use fees. They are open for anyone to visit, use and enjoy most of the year.
Finally, Michigan has a system of publicly owned lands managed for wildlife habitat, wildlife viewing, and hunting. There are more than 100 units in the game and wildlife system covering more than 340,000 acres.
As for the upcoming seasons, deer hunting is celebrated throughout the state, while archery and firearms don’t start until October and November, respectively, some deer hunting opportunities will arrive in the coming weeks.
The Hunt for Freedom is scheduled for September 10 and 11. The Michigan Freedom Hunt is a firearm deer hunt on public or private lands for youth and hunters with disabilities.
Early antlerless season is September 17-18 and is open on private land only. The entire Upper Peninsula is closed for this season.
Another popular hunting season in Michigan is for black bears. For those lucky enough to get a license, the time you’ve been waiting for is fast approaching in the Lower and Upper Peninsulas.
In the Lower Peninsula, the Red Oak, Baldwin and Gladwin Bear Management Units have bear hunts September 11-19 and again October 7-13.
At Red Oak, Baldwin and Gladwin BMUs, the first day of hunting season (September 11) and October 7-13 are for bait hunting or other non-dog methods. At Red Oak, Baldwin, and Gladwin BMUs, dogs must be used for bear hunting on September 18 and 19.
At Red Oak, Baldwin, and Gladwin BMUs, firearms may not be used for bear hunting from October 7-13. During this time, only archery equipment including bow and arrow or crossbow may be used.
Hunters can also enjoy small game hunting statewide with their basic licenses and includes cottontail and snowshoe hare, fox and gray squirrel, grouse, woodcock and pheasant.
COTTONTAIL RABBIT AND SNOWSHOE HARE
Cottontail and snowshoe hare hunting seasons are open statewide from September 15 through March 31. The daily hunt limit is five and the possession limit is 10.
SQUIRREL, FOX AND GRAY
Fox and gray squirrel season (including the black phase) is open statewide from September 15 through March 31. The daily bag limit is five and the possession limit is 10.
The ruffed grouse season dates, statewide, are September 15-November 14 and December 1-January 1. In Zones 1 and 2, the daily bag limit is five and the possession limit is 10. In Zone 3, the daily bag limit is three and the possession limit is six.
THE WOODCOCK SEASON STARTS IN SEPTEMBER. fifteen
Woodcock season now runs from September 15 through October 29 statewide. The daily bag limit is three and the possession limit is nine.
All woodcock hunters must have a valid base license and free woodcock stamp. The woodcock stamp includes registration with the federal Migratory Bird Collection Information Program. Shotguns must be covered so that they cannot contain more than three cartridges.
PHEASANT HUNTING, LICENSE REQUIREMENTS AND RELEASE INFORMATION
Pheasant seasons (males only) will begin in October. The daily bag limit is two and the possession limit is four.
• Zone 1 (Upper Peninsula): from October 10 to 31. See the Game Compendium for Zone 1 pheasant management unit boundaries.
• Zone 2 and Zone 3 (Lower Peninsula): from October 20 to November 14.
• Zone 3 (south of M-20/US-10 and east of US-131, including all of the Thumb, in the Lower Peninsula): December 1 to January 1. Consult the Hunting Digest for the Zone 3 boundary pheasant management unit.
A $25 license is required for all hunters over the age of 18 to hunt pheasant on any public land in the Lower Peninsula or on land enrolled in the Game Access Program.
You do not need a pheasant hunting license if you are: a pheasant hunter on private land; hunting on public lands in the Upper Peninsula; holder of a lifetime license; 17 years old or younger; and only hunt pheasants in a game bird hunting reserve.
As a reminder, the new law, Public Law 262 of 2020, which requires the pheasant hunting license on public lands, has an expiration date of January 1, 2026.
Money from the new license will be placed in an account to be used for the purchase and release of live pheasants on state public lands with suitable pheasant habitat. Releases generally take place during the regular pheasant season, which runs from mid-October to mid-November. It is unknown if there will be a release in 2022.