At long last fall is upon us and with it comes many more hunting opportunities. Though the smell of everything pumpkin is in the air, so is something else: the smell of gunpowder as October hunting seasons get underway. As the leaves change colors and the mercury dips, there is a game animal season to suit the tastes of just about every hunter having opened already or opening soon.
If you want to do your part to control the abundant raccoon population, now is the time to get started. Raccoon season opened statewide on October 1st and will run through January 31st. The exception to this is the year round hunting of raccoon that is allowed on private property. There is no bag limit for raccoons and 75,000 hunters are expected to be pursuing them this year, typically at night and with the help of dogs.
Beginning on October 10th and running through the 31st is Sharp-tailed Grouse season. These dates are for the areas of the east of M-129, east of I-75, and north of M-48 in the eastern Upper Peninsula. Hunters may take two per day but the season limit is six, with four in possession at any given time. The number of hunters seeking these birds is fairly low, hovering below 400 in recent years, but those hunters should have their best success in grassland areas. A sharp-tailed grouse endorsement is necessary to hunt this animal but this endorsement is a free addition to your license.
Next up is Pheasant season which has dates that vary by area. In the Upper Peninsula (Menominee and portions of, Dickinson, Delta, Iron, and Marquette counties), season dates are from October 10th through the 31st. Pheasant season in the Lower Peninsula runs from October 20th through November 14th. Lastly, some areas of zone three will have a season running from December 1st through January 1st. The roughly 23,000 pheasant hunters in Michigan will again be faced with declining numbers this year although some locally abundant populations have been established. Pheasant limit is two daily with a total of four in possession.
The next season to open from a chronological standpoint is fox season which includes both red and gray fox. There is no bag limit on fox and they are open for hunting from October 15th though March 1st. Red fox are more common and tend to hang out in agricultural areas whereas the less plentiful gray fox prefers the woods. Remember that coyotes tend to drive fox away, so if there is an established coyote population in your hunting area, fox may be tough to come by. A fur harvester license is required to hunt fox.
Wrapping up the year as the final season to open is Quail season. This season will run from October 20th through November 14th. During this time, the bag limit will be five daily with a total of 10 in possession. The counties in which quail hunting is permitted are Branch, Calhoun, Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Gratiot, Hillsdale, Huron, Ingham, Ionia, Jackson, Kent, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Montcalm, Oakland, Saginaw, St. Clair, St. Joseph, Sanilac, Shiawassee, Tuscola, Washtenaw, and Wayne.
Once this last group of seasons gets underway, the remainder of the 2015 hunting season will be in full swing. There are no other seasons opening until after the first of the New Year, at which time Bobcat and Coyote seasons will eventually open. It is a busy time of year for Michigan hunters so get out there, be safe, and may your hunting success be great!