Wild turkey season opens in the Upper Peninsula Sept. 15. Wild turkeys are numerous across Iron County, as can been seen while driving along roadways and along fields. (Bob McCarthy photo)
LANSING—Small game hunting season began Sept. 1 with the opening of the early Canada goose season and continues until rabbit and hare season ends on March 31.
DNR wildlife biologists across the state say hunters should find conditions similar to last year – with a couple of notable improvements – in Michigan’s wood lots, farm fields and wetlands.
Cottontail rabbits and varying (or snowshoe) hare can be hunted from Sept. 15 to March 31, statewide. The daily bag limit is five in combination with a possession limit of 10.
Outlook: Roughly 60,000 hunters reported pursuing rabbits in 2010 (the most recently completed harvest survey), and about 15,000 hunted hares.
Cottontail populations are good throughout their range over much of the state. Concentrate on thick cover, such as briar patches and brush piles, often near agricultural fields.
Snowshoe hare populations, which are cyclical, are down somewhat from historic levels.
Look for early-successional forests (such as aspen stands), and low-lying swamps with blow-downs and brush piles in the northern two-thirds of the state.
Squirrels season is Sept. 15 to March 1. The daily bag limit is five per day with 10 in possession.
Outlook: Both fox and gray squirrels are at moderate to high levels across much of the state. Areas that had good acorn or nut production last year are a good bet as are wood lots adjoining corn fields.
Post-deer-season hunting, in January and February, is increasingly popular. About 70,000 hunters pursue squirrels each year.
Ruffed grouse season is Sept. 15 to Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 to Jan. 1, statewide. The bag limit is five per day/10 in possession in the northern two-thirds of the state, three per day/six in possession in Zone 3 (southern Michigan).
Woodcock season is Sept. 22 to Nov. 5, statewide. The daily bag is three with a possession limit of six.
Wild turkey season is Sept. 15 to Nov. 14 in eight management units including the entire Upper Peninsula (except Isle Royale) and all counties to the south of and including Oceana, Newaygo, Mecosta, Isabella, Midland, Bay and Huron (except Wayne and Monroe) and Beaver Island.
A total of 50,050 licenses are available – 3,350 general licenses that may be used on public or private land and 46,700 licenses for private land only.
Licenses are issued by lottery, though leftover licenses are available over the counter on a first-come, first-served basis until management unit quotas are met. The limit is one bird of either sex per license.
Outlook: Fall turkey seasons are only held in areas where populations are stable to increasing, so prospects are very good. Roughly 16,000 hunters pursue wild turkeys in the fall hunt, many of them during the archery deer season.
Duck seasons are Sept. 22 to Nov. 16 and Nov. 22-25 in the North Zone (Upper Peninsula); Sept. 29 to Nov. 25 and Dec. 15-16 in the Middle Zone; and Oct. 6 to Nov. 30 and Dec. 29 to Jan. 1 in the South Zone.
The bag limit for ducks is six per day with no more than four mallards (no more than one hen), three wood ducks, four scaup (bluebills), two redheads, two pintails, one canvasback and one black duck.
Five additional mergansers (no more than two may be hooded mergansers) may be taken. Possession limit is two days’ daily bag limit.
Outlook: Hunting prospects for Michigan’s 40,000 duck hunters are excellent as continental populations are at an all-time high and most species are above long-term averages.
Locally, spring surveys indicated a 70-percent increase in mallard numbers, but biologists are tempering their enthusiasm because of drought conditions this summer. Good opportunities for puddle ducks, especially wood ducks, exist in beaver ponds and small inland floodings, but some of those areas could be dry this year.
Diving ducks, which usually begin arriving in good numbers around mid-October, should be plentiful on the Great Lakes, with improved bluebill numbers allowing for a larger bag.
Canada geese early season is Sept 1-15 except in the Upper Peninsula and Saginaw, Huron and Tuscola counties, where the season is Sept. 1-10. The daily bag limit is five.
The regular goose seasons are Sept. 22 to Dec. 22 in the North Zone; Sept. 29 to Dec. 29 in the Middle Zone; and Sept. 22-23, Oct. 6 to Nov. 30, and Dec. 29 to Jan. 1 in the South Zone, except in designated goose management units (GMUs).
The daily bag limit is two. In the Saginaw County and Tuscola/Huron GMUs, the season is Sept. 22-25 and Oct. 6 to Jan. 1 with a daily bag limit of two.
In the Allegan County GMU, the season is Oct. 6 to Nov. 25, Dec. 8-23 and Dec. 29 to Jan. 22 with a bag limit of two
In the Muskegon Wastewater GMU, the season is Oct. 9 to Nov. 13 and Dec. 1-23. The bag limit is two.
The late goose season, in the South Zone excluding the GMUs, is Jan. 12 to Feb. 10 with a daily bag limit of five.
Hunters may take 20 snow, blue or Ross geese daily and one white-fronted goose and one brant during the regular and late seasons.
Outlook: Resident Canada goose populations, which account for more than 70 percent of the state’s total harvest, are above population goals, so hunters should find plenty of geese, and with 107 days of hunting, more opportunity than ever. Roughly 35,000 hunters pursue geese in Michigan.
For more information on Michigan hunting seasons, licensing and other information, visit www.michigan.gov/hunting.