Hunting In Michigan

With its diverse landscapes and abundant wildlife, hunting in Michigan offers some of the finest hunting opportunities in the country.

Like Ohio, Michigan has a longstanding tradition of deer hunting that draws in hunters from far and wide. And let’s not forget the exceptional pheasant hunting in Michigan – a state that truly sets itself apart from its neighboring states when it comes to this speedy bird.

So if you’re interested in learning more about this cherished tradition, we invite you to explore the many facets of hunting in Michigan.

Michigan Hunting Seasons

Deer HuntingArchery: Early October to mid-November; Early December to early January
Firearms: Mid- to late November
Muzzleloader: Early to mid-December
Firearms-Antlerless: Mid-December to early January
Pheasant HuntingMid-October to early January
Wild Turkey HuntingSpring Season: Mid-April to late May
Fall Season: Mid-September to mid-November
Waterfowl Hunting
(duck and goose)
Late September to early December
Small Game HuntingGrouse: Mid-September to mid-November; Early December to early January
Rabbit, Hare, and Squirrel: Mid-September to mid-March
Bear HuntingMid-September to late October
Elk HuntingLate August to mid-December

Open Hunting Season

Michigan’s vast forests, abundant wetlands, and diverse wildlife make it a prime location for hunting opportunities all year round.

Now, you might be wondering why certain species can be hunted throughout the year. Well, the answer lies in sound wildlife management principles. These species are typically abundant, and their populations can withstand year-round hunting.

Here is the list of hunting species that can be hunted year-round in the state:

  1. Coyote
  2. Eurasian Collared-Doves
  3. Ground Squirrels
  4. Porcupine
  5. Starlings
  6. Crows
  7. English Sparrows
  8. Feral Pigs
  9. Opossum
  10. Weasels
  11. Skunks
  12. Red Squirrel
  13. Ground Squirrels
  14. Woodchucks

Michigan is a treasure trove for hunters, thanks to its rich and diverse wildlife. The state boasts some of the best hunting opportunities in the country.

Here are the hunting opportunities you can expect when hunting in Michigan:

Deer Hunting

Michigan has a rich history of deer hunting, which is not only culturally significant but also important for wildlife management. The state’s varied habitats provide a thriving population of white-tailed deer, making it a popular destination for hunters from all over.

You can easily catch a glimpse of White-tailed deer all over the state, but they are most abundant in the southern and central regions of the Lower Peninsula. And despite having fewer deer, the northern Lower Peninsula and Upper Peninsula are recognized for producing larger, fully-grown bucks due to their vast and undisturbed forest habitats.

Regarding hunting regulations, it’s important to note that all deer hunters in Michigan must have a base license, which allows them to hunt small game. On top of the base license, you’d need a deer tag. There are two main types of deer tags:

  1. Single Deer Tag: This comes with the base license and allows you to harvest one antlered deer during any season.
  2. Combo Deer Tag: This is available for an additional fee and allows you to harvest two deer, with specific antler restrictions for the second deer.

Michigan Quality Deer Management

Michigan is recognized for its exceptional white-tailed deer, largely due to its implementation of Quality Deer Management (QDM). QDM is a comprehensive approach that involves careful management of deer habitats and populations to promote their long-term well-being and preserve the ecosystem.

Pheasant Hunting

Pheasant hunting is a classic pastime that’s alive and well in the beautiful state of Michigan! And hear this: Michigan is widely known as a top destination for pheasant hunting in the US. The state’s DNR has taken measures to enhance pheasant habitats, which has resulted in thriving populations of this bird species.

To hunt pheasants in Michigan, you’ll need a base license, which allows you to hunt small game. The daily bag limit is usually two male pheasants (roosters), with a possession limit of six.

Remember, only roosters can be harvested – hens are protected to ensure the future of the population.

Controlled Hunting

In Michigan, hunting for certain species like black bears and elk is managed through a lottery-based system, also known as a “draw” system. This is done to ensure the sustainability of these species and offer fair access to these highly sought-after hunting opportunities.

But remember, even if you’re not successful in the lottery one year, don’t lose heart! The bear and elk lottery systems allow you to earn preference points to increase your chances in future years. It’s all part of the adventure and anticipation that make hunting thrilling.

Black Bear Hunting

Black bear hunting in Michigan is an exhilarating experience. With one of the largest black bear populations in the United States, Michigan offers prime opportunities for this big game hunt. However, the state uses a lottery system because the demand for bear hunting exceeds the number of licenses available.

To enter the draw, you must purchase a bear hunting license application during the application period, typically from early May to early June. Applicants can accumulate preference points yearly to increase their chances of selection in future drawings.

Successful applicants are awarded a license for a specific bear management unit and hunting period.

Elk Hunting

Elk hunting in Michigan is a bucket-list experience for many hunters. The state’s elk herd is a conservation success story, having been restored from near extinction in the early 20th century to a thriving population today.

As with bear hunting, licenses for elk hunting are issued through a lottery system due to high demand and limited supply. Hunters must apply for the elk license lottery during the application period, typically in May and June. If successful, they receive a license for a specific elk hunt period and hunt unit.

Remember: Hunting for elk in Michigan is subject to strict regulations and can only occur in designated areas in the northern Lower Peninsula.

Top Hunting Locations in Michigan

Michigan has numerous hunting locations, each providing a distinct combination of habitat, game species, and hunting encounters.

Now, let’s take a quick look at these top hunting locations in the Great Lake State:

The Upper Peninsula (UP)

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a prime location for hunting enthusiasts. Its expansive wilderness, varied habitats, and reduced hunting activity offer an exceptional experience.

Particularly renowned for white-tailed deer hunting, the U.P. may have lower deer densities than southern regions, but it is an excellent opportunity to hunt a mature, trophy-class buck.

Plus, the U.P. offers excellent opportunities for hunting black bears, grouse, and waterfowl, all set against the backdrop of some of the state’s most beautiful landscapes.

Remember, when hunting deer in the state, the U.P. has some areas that regulate antler point restriction. So, always check the regulation before heading afield.

Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge

The Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge is a popular destination for waterfowl hunting enthusiasts in Saginaw County in the Lower Peninsula.

This refuge is strategically located along the Mississippi Flyway, making it a significant stopover for migrating ducks and geese. The refuge’s abundant wetlands attract hunters looking to harvest diverse species.

Remember, hunting here is managed through a draw system to maintain quality hunting experiences and sustainable waterfowl populations.

Allegan State Game Area

The Allegan State Game Area, in the southwestern part of the state, is a popular destination for deer and small game hunters. Its varied terrain of forests, wetlands, and fields offers a diverse hunting experience. Additionally, the managed forests in this game area make it an ideal spot for those seeking to hunt squirrels and rabbits.

One unique regulation in Allegan is that some areas are designated for hunting only by individuals with disabilities who possess a special permit. Also, some parts of the game area may have additional restrictions on hunting methods or may be closed to hunting altogether for safety or conservation reasons.

Michigan Hunting License and Tag

First and foremost, you’ll need a valid Michigan hunting license to hunt in the state. The type of license you need depends on the species you’re hunting.

Here’s the rundown of the available hunting license in Michigan:

License TypeResidentNonresidentYouth and Senior
Base License$11.00$151.00Youth: $6.00
Senior: $5.00
Deer-Single License$20$20Youth: $7.00
Senior: $8 .00
Deer-Combo License$40$190Youth: N/A
Senior: $28.00
Bear License$25.00$150.00Not eligible
Elk License$100.00Not eligibleNot eligible
Waterfowl License$12.00$12.00Not eligible
Turkey License$15.00$15.00Youth: N/A
Senior: $6
Note: Hunters born after 1959 must complete a hunter education course to purchase a hunting license in Michigan. The Michigan DNR requires this to ensure hunters have the knowledge and skills to hunt safely and ethically.

Mentored Youth Hunting Program

The Mentored Youth Hunting Program promotes outdoor exploration and fosters a lifelong love for hunting among young individuals. This program allows kids under 10 to hunt under the guidance of a skilled mentor who is at least 21 years old and possesses extensive hunting knowledge.

To ensure a secure and supervised hunting experience, the mentor accompanying the youth hunter must possess a valid Michigan hunting license and remain within arm’s reach at all times.

With this program, individuals can purchase a mentored youth license package for only $7.50. This license encompasses a small game, spring and fall turkey, two deer tags, a furbearer trapping permit, and an all-species fishing license.

This guide offers a thorough overview of outdoor sports in Michigan, focusing on making the experience enjoyable and accessible for young hunters.

Hunting Access Program (HAP)

The Hunting Access Program (HAP) aims to enhance public hunting opportunities in southern Michigan, where public land is scarce. Through this initiative, private landowners are given financial incentives to open up their land for public hunting.

The program grants landowners yearly compensation ranging from $2 to $25 per acre, determined by the type of hunting permitted and the property’s location. In exchange, hunters gain entry to exceptional privately-owned lands for hunting deer, turkey, small game, and occasionally, waterfowl.

The HAP lands are easily identifiable with clear signage, and hunters must adhere to specific regulations while hunting on these grounds. Usually, hunters must register their presence by signing in and out at a designated self-service box on the property.


Hunting in Michigan is a rich tapestry of opportunities, boasting diverse wildlife, an array of hunting programs, and abundant lands that provide hunters with an exceptional experience.

Again, when hunting, it’s important to be aware of the facts and fiction of hunting to avoid causing stress to mother nature.