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hawkeye270's picture
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Location: Fort Collins, CO
Joined: 06/15/2008
Posts: 1862
Michigan Deer Hunting

I have family that lives out there and it is my most solid tie to the white tailed deer hunting world. How has the hunting been so far this season?

Ca_Vermonster's picture
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Location: San Diego, CA
Joined: 07/27/2007
Posts: 5813
No clue on how it's been this

No clue on how it's been this year, but I can say that if I had family up there, i would be hitting them up for a place to stay in a heartbeat.  Especially if they are in the Upper Peninsula.......

jim boyd's picture
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Joined: 07/06/2010
Posts: 889
Michigan has some bruiser

Michigan has some bruiser bucks, that is for sure.

If you look at the Pope and Young - and then Boone and Crockett - record books, that state has made a LOT of contributions!

Vicious cold, though... I am sure of that.

My guess is they hunt in the snow... a lot!

I do not know how their seasons run - as far as now and shotgun - heck, I don't even know if they have a gun season...

If you have a chance to hunt it, I would say GO! 

cscott711's picture
Location: Michigan
Joined: 11/22/2010
Posts: 101
Where do I start?  First,

Where do I start?  First, what part of Michigan?  UP, Northern Lower, or Southern Lower.  Do they have private land to hunt or would you be hunting public land?

We do have somewhere around 2 million deer, however it also seems like we have 2 million hunters.  In reality, they do annually estimate there are around 750,000 or so that head out for the Nov. 15th annual firearm opener.  It's literally an orange army.  There are a couple early season special hunts for youth, disabled, and even a early antlerless hunt in September, but those are pretty minimal in impact.  Archery season starts October first and runs until November 14th.  Gun season is Nov. 15th-30th.  Then archery season will pick back up on Dec. 1st and run until Jan. 1st.  There is also a concurrent muzzleloader season in December, although the length varies depending on the area of the state.  There is also a late antlerless firearm season in December.  

Public land hunting in Michigan is an extreme challenge.  One, you have to somehow find a spot that other hunters aren't at.  A lot of the public land tracts are so small that this really isn't an option.  I honestly wouldn't recommend it at all.  

If your hunting in the UP, then you'll have a tough time finding deer in many areas.  Particularly, the eastern UP.  The closer to Wisconsin, the more deer you will see.  There is an ever increasing wolf population up there that is the most commonly accepted reason for the decline in deer numbers up there.

The northern lower peninsula is better than the UP (deer numbers wise), but many are stating that things haven't been looking good the last few years with numbers on their way down.  I'm not really sure of the reason.

The southern half of the lower peninsula is getting better and better every year.  While our DNR is behind the times as far as deer management (in my opinion), many land owners are taking matters into their own hands and creating QDM co-ops.  It is absolutely amazing to see the results after a few years of implementing some raised standards.  The bucks rival those of the best whitetail states.  

I am in process of starting my own co-op in the Thumb where I hunt.  I have been passing 1.5's and 2.5's for 7 years now, but am only seeing marginally improved results.  I have many times witnessed a spike or other buck that I've passed cross over to the neighboring property and face it's demise.  I talked to a couple neighboring land owners so far and plan on getting the word out this spring with a QDMA representative and I hosting a meeting for those interested in the early summer.  

Part of the problem is that two bucks can be taken in Michigan.  One anything goes and the other is a restricted tag to 4 or more points on a side.  The buck to doe ratio is terribly skewed and something needs to be done about it.  Many of us Michiganders have the "if it's brown, it's down" mentality.  This especially applies to anything with horns on it's head.  

My advice, go anywhere else in the midwest.  Way less hunters and way better overall deer.

jaybe's picture
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Location: S.E. Michigan
Joined: 10/19/2010
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From a Michigander

scott has it pretty well covered -

 - but there are a few exceptions.

There is public land where few hunters go because it is too difficult to hunt.

One area I hunt is so up and down that very few hunters go there.

If they do, they tend to hunt near the roads, never venturing back where the deer are.

Another area is so thick that the hunters tend to actually sit on the side of the road waiting for deer to cross.

Because we have 8 counties in the Northern Lower Peninsula that are special units because of a TB scare, there are also special reg's that apply only there.

The DNRE is apparently trying to severely reduce the number of does by issuing almost endless permits in those areas.

If you like to shoot does, this is the place to go.

The weather was alluded to in a previous post.

Most of the archery season is free of snow almost every year - - there are exceptions, of course.

For the firearm opener (Nov 15), it's probably 50-50; some years no snow, some years a little. Only occasionally is it a foot deep.

This year where I hunted we had 1/2" of new snow opening morning but it was gone by noon.

Most places around it (because of lower elevation) was barren on the opener.

Late season - December - can be so deep you can barely walk through it.

Two years ago my buddy and I had to wade in through thigh-deep snow, not being able to drive into the inner area we wanted to hunt.

Fortunately, we found the deer bedded in the pines seeking thermal shelter and both tagged out within 1/2 hour of starting.


Joined: 12/06/2010
Posts: 2
Hawkeye, There is a lot of


There is a lot of great deer hunting in Michigan.  You can hunt the farmlands of southern Michigan (with permission of the landowners or at State Game Areas), the mixed oak/aspen/pine areas of the northern lower peninsula or the U.P. with vast areas of National and State forest lands covered with swamp conifers, upland conifers, aspen and northern hardwoods.  The eastern U.P. and the Keweenaw peninsula (extreme northwest U.P.) have relatively low deer densities because they have the poorest deer habitat (lots of maple/beech/hemlock) and lots of snow with long winters.  The southern U.P., the "banana belt" (generally less than 100" of snowfall in the winter) has a mix of corn, oats and hay fields interspersed with cedar swamps and aspen/balsam mixed upland stands.  It is good deer habitat and the densities show it: when I helped manage the area in the 90's deer densities in many places exceeded 100/square mile.  They are somewhat lower now, but still very high.  The north-central U.P. can go from pretty good to lower deer densities with low hunter numbers in the area west and north of Marquette.  The northern lower peninsula has a lot of state forest land and national forests as well. 

The key to hunting deer in Michigan, if you don't have access to a farm in southern Michigan, is to go talk to wildlife biologist or forester and find out where timber harvest has ocurred.  Deer populations move in response to habitat 'disturbance' and you need to keep up with these changes to consistently locate deer sign and, therefore, deer.  Lots of hunters just hunt the same old areas each year and as habitat ages fewer and fewer deer use that particular area.  That's when the complaints start to escalate about 'no deer' etc.  They will be in the best habitat, and that means YOUNG, regenerating forest areas with lots of edge.  Look for the shrubby stuff in and around young aspen stands and you will find deer in Michigan.  Good luck!!

Location: Michigan
Joined: 09/23/2009
Posts: 17
I think some of these guys

I think some of these guys are being a little hard on MI.  I have been hunting here all my life and have harvested an animal almost every year.  Have taken some as far south as Saginaw county and as far north as Houghton County.  I put it some serious time in the woods on some years as well it just depends on my schedule.  The years i was unable to get a deer is because i just didnt have the time to hunt.  Not saying its easy because its not but there are plenty of good public lands to hunt.  Hunting public land in the lower peninsula does require some footwork if you want to get some area to yourself but not nearly as much walking as I did in Colorado.  The areas i have hunted in the UP have had very few hunters.  Almost all of the deer i have taken were on public land.  Farm country can be much better hunting but its definately not the same as heading up north and hunting nothing but forest.  The tags arent bad price for out of state and if you have a place to go it could be a fun hunt.  Now if your looking solely for a big buck then i have heard many other states are better.  If your looking for someplace new to hunt and maybe a chance at scoring a doe(if available) or smaller buck then by all means don't be discouraged.  If you have any specific questions feel free to PM me and ill try to answer them if I can.

hunter25's picture
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Location: Colorado western slope
Joined: 11/13/2009
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Now that I've finally taken

Now that I've finally taken my first whitetail buck, you just about talked me into heading back to the family property up near Hardwood in the U.P.

All the reports I had heard were that it's just not worth it. Like was said, my mom tells me the wolves get all the blame but I'm sure theres more to it than that. I read somewhere that the decline in timber cutting is a big contributor.

It's been about 25 years since I went back and it would sure be good to walk the old places again.


Topgun 30-06's picture
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Location: Allegan, MI
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Never heard of a place in

Never heard of a place in Michigan called Hardwood.  Ya wouldn't be talking about Ironwood way over near WI by the Porkies would ya?

hunter25's picture
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Location: Colorado western slope
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Sorry but Ironwood is far to

Sorry but Ironwood is far to the west. Hardwood is very small and did't even come up on a google maps search when I puched it in for reference. But it did show up when I zoomed in.

I was born in Iron Mountain and grew up in Kingsford. Hardwood is north of Iron Mountain till you hit highway 69 and then east about 25 or 30 miles from there.

My mom lives in Ishpeming now and that is even farther up north.

Topgun 30-06's picture
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Location: Allegan, MI
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Then you're talking not too

Then you're talking not too far west of Escanaba!!!  There ought to be some good whitetails in that area since it's more in the farmbelt area of the UP!

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