It is that time of year in Michigan where hunting seasons for various species are getting underway in Michigan. Next up in the rotation are bear and elk season, both of which will be opening in the coming weeks. If you intend to hunt for these animals, be sure to get your preparations underway now so you will be ready when the time comes.
Although there was an earlier elk season back in August for Hunt Period 1 which ran from August 25th through August 28th, the next round is coming around very soon. The dates for the remainder of Hunt Period 1 will fall between September 11th-14th and then from September 25th-28th. Beyond that is Hunt Period 2 which will run from December 5th-13th. Hunt Period 3 is planned for January 13th-17th but will be held on an as needed basis so stay tuned to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to find out whether or not that period will actually be occurring.
Though in years past elk numbers have been elevated, they currently fall within a more manageable number range that better coincides with population goals. This means there will be less license availability and that all goes back to whether or not Hunt Period 3 will actually occur. Licensing determinations will be made based on how many elk are harvested and how those numbers correlate with population management. If harvest is deemed adequate for the year, the January hunt will not occur but if harvest numbers are low, additional time in the field will be granted to bring numbers closer to goal.
As far as bear seasons go, the Upper Peninsula season will be from September 10th through October 26th. Drummond Island bear hunting will occur from September 10th through October 21st. The Lower Penninsula will have a season running from September 20th-28th but an archery only session will occur from October 2nd-8th in the Red Oak unit. The Gladwin unit is open from September 20th-28th and the Baldwin unit will have a season from September 11th-26 in the north and then September 20th-28th for the whole unit. Stipulations include the first five days in the Upper Penninsula being for bait only. The first day is bait only in the Lower Penninsula. The archery season in Red Oak is bait only for the duration with the last two days of that season as well as Gladwin and Baldwin being dogs only.
The bear license availability for Michigan is based on the same preference point system that has been in place since the year 2000. Total applicants including those seeking a bear license (30,906), a preference point only (20,260), as well as those who applied but where ineligible (269) came to a total of 51,435. Of that number, the season tally of issued licenses came to a total of 6,951 and these hunters are in for a good season with bear numbers looking great. The current population is expected to fall in the area of 11,000 without the inclusion of cubs in that figure.
Best of luck to those who are licensed and ready to get their hunting seasons underway, be it for bear, elk, or both in their own time. Should you need any last minute information before setting out, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website can be found here. May your season be exciting, plentiful, and safe!