When one thinks of the mitten state, images of Great Lakes salmon and steelhead, and ice fishing for jumbo yellow perch and crappie often come to mind. This beautiful state prides itself on being largely wild, with the slogan “Pure Michigan” proudly broadcasted. The land is loaded with lakes and rivers throughout, providing countless opportunities to drop a line. What many may not know, is that Michigan is home to some truly fantastic hunting as well.
Hunting In Michigan
The state is split into two zones by locals, the south and the Upper Peninsula. The southern area is populated, and looks like a traditional Midwest state. The landscape is littered with agricultural fields of corn and soy with scattered woods throughout. The north, however, is completely different, as it is made up of densely timbered forests and swamps that span for miles. Deer hunting regulations are largely tailored to this divide.
Michigan Deer Hunting
Up until 2019, it was illegal to hunt deer with a centerfire rifle south of Grand Rapids and in the southern zone. They have now changed the regulations slightly to allow for the use of .35 caliber or higher rifles employing a straight wall cartridge. This is still fairly limiting, as these bullets are restricted to shorter range like the previous shotgun-only laws, but allows hunters more variation in their firearm selection. The north, however, allows all rifles during gun season.
In the south, whitetail deer are often hunted in the traditional Midwest manner, with hunters sitting in box blinds or tree stands on field edges. Deer have the ability to grow massive here due to the unlimited supply of food provided by annual soy and corn crops. The northern woods host a much smaller deer population due to the extremely harsh winters and less abundant food sources, but the deer that survive are often of extremely high quality. One popular way of deer hunting in the north involves still-hunting the timber. This is when a hunter walks the woods very slowly and searches for movement. This is popular in the late season when there is snow on the ground, as hunters can find large buck tracks and follow them to the animal. These encounters are often close quarters and happen quickly. This gadget free, old school style of hunting is perfect for those hunters looking to hunt like Daniel Boone, and have it be just them, a gun, and the deer. Non-resident hunters must purchase their base license and then a single or combination deer tag. Prices for the license and a single tag are extremely reasonable as far as hunting licenses go, and offer a relatively inexpensive option for an out-of-state hunt. However, if fast paced shot-gunning is more your speed, then Michigan’s waterfowl hunting may be of interest.
Michigan Waterfowl Hunting
As previously mentioned, Michigan is home to innumerable bodies of water, a fact that brings a smile to any duck or goose hunter’s face. The state also has a wonderful law that allows hunters access to any body of water as long as the route from boat ramp to end location is navigable by canoe. This opens options immensely and allows those hunters with a bit of grit access to hidden honey holes. Michigan also boasts an extremely long Canada goose season, that depending on your zone, can run from the beginning of September to mid-February, with some short closures and bag limit changes in-between. There are also long seasons for ducks that occur in October, making them much earlier than those in other states around the country. This offers the opportunity for an early season hunt for those out-of-state hunters that just can’t wait!
Michigan does a great job of managing its public land, especially for waterfowl. There are several waterfowl wetland projects in the state that offer phenomenal duck and goose hunting. These projects are known as the “Wetland Wonders,” and consist of 29,000 acres of prime duck and goose habitat spread among seven areas in the southern portion of the state. Make sure to check local regulations though, as certain areas are trolling motor only, and hold site specific guidelines. Excellent diver duck hunting can also be found on the St. Clair River Flats and on Saginaw Bay in the eastern portion of the state. Some of the more managed areas can become crowded at times, so an early start may be necessary to obtain a prime blind location.
Those looking to hunt waterfowl must purchase a base license or 3-day or 7-day license, a separate waterfowl license, a free migratory bird survey, and a federal duck stamp in order to chase ducks and geese in Michigan. If you love to tote a shotgun, but prefer uncut fields to flooded timber, there are also great opportunities for upland birds in Michigan.
Michigan Upland Bird Hunts
Michigan is home to several highly sought after species of upland birds. Ruffed grouse, American woodcock, and sharp-tailed grouse are abundant in the Upper Peninsula. Ring-necked pheasant and bobwhite quail are found in the southern region. Several groups manage these birds very closely, and have been able to restore bird populations greatly over recent years. Hunters need only purchase a base hunting license or a 7-day small game license to hunt upland birds, allowing for a relatively inexpensive hunt.
Hunters can also chase turkeys in the spring and fall, as well as bear in northern states. Turkey and bear tags are very inexpensive when added to a base license, but bear tags do involve a limited draw system. Residents have the opportunity to chase elk in the northern region, but again must draw a tag.
Book Your Next Michigan Hunt
Whether you are looking to kill a corn-fed brute of a whitetail, break ice on the river for a late season goose hunt, shoot early season wood ducks and teal over a farm pond, or stalk the dark and dense timber with your favorite lever action 30-06, Michigan has some truly incredible opportunities for hunters of all ages and skill levels. All you have to do now is pick from our extensive list of expert guides and outfitters on HuntAnywhere.com to begin your adventure, and book a hunt you will not soon forget!