Want to know how, where and when to pursue wily whitetails lurking in the Great Lakes State? Put-on your best warm weather hunting apparel, as we head-off on a whitetail adventure to one of most northerly places in the US Lower 48. The weather may be cold but the deer hunting is hot!
1. What to know and where to go
Since the southern portion of Michigan offers the best chance at a trophy buck, whitetail hunters should focus-on Lapeer, Berrien, Ottawa and Lenawee counties for the best chance at a big boy.
The whitetail rut in this part of state, typically runs from early to late November when the resident males are randy and out on the prowl, offering sportsmen(& women) the best opportunity at bagging a mature buck!
For more information on the Counties of Michigan:
2. Proven Michigan hunting techniques
The most popular deer hunting technique used in Michigan is stand hunting. Hunters setup tree stands in areas of higher deer activity, or over bait in some cases, and sit still waiting for them to arrive. Ground blinds are another form of stand hunting but instead of hunting from a tree, you hunt from a concealed location on the ground. Stand locations are the result of scouting to determine the best set-up site, offering the best opportunity of seeing deer. This form of hunting is very effective in Michigan.
For tips on proper tree stand placement, read this H&B feature: https://www.hookandbullet.com/tree-stand-placement-is-critical/
A deer drive is a proven hunting technique as old as time, utilized by a group, or gang, of deer hunters who come together to form an organized chase/drive. A typical deer drive consists of 4-8 hunters who set-up the chase with a set of ‘watchers’ and a set of ‘chasers’. The watchers’ role is to position themselves at ambush points, waiting for deer to be driven to them. The chasers walk the woods spread-out forcing unsuspecting deer towards the watchers. Deer drives are productive in Michigan, and used by hunt gangs when whitetails aren’t actively moving, and require a ‘bump’ from bedding or feeding areas.
Still hunting is an effective technique often used in Michigan, which combines stand hunting and deer drives. The hunter walks slowly and methodically in the deer woods, keeping prevailing winds at his/her nose, watching all around and stopping frequently along the way. This quiet ‘stopping and starting’ motion while hunting is extremely effective, as deer cannot determine where or what you are, since the hunter is usually ‘up wind’ of them. A whitetail’s natural instinct and reaction is to circle downwind to determine what the intrusion is. A good Michigan still hunter is stealthy and patient covering ground very slowly.
3. Deer harvest reports
New for 2022, every hunter MUST register their deer harvest and they have 72 hours from the time the deer is recovered, to report the harvest.
Hunters must attach a DNR-issued tag to every harvested deer. If you cannot report a harvest yourself, a friend or family member may assist with the process, or visit a deer station.
You must report a harvest even if you have limited or no access to an internet connection. If you ask someone for help, you will need to provide them with the kill tag license number, your date of birth and the harvest location.
If you make a mistake in reporting, contact the DNR licensing: (517) 284-6057, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Once a report is filed, hunters receive a confirmation number they should save as proof of a legally reported harvest.
If you should fail to report a harvest, it is a potential 90-day misdemeanour with fines ranging from $50 to $500. The Michigan DNR understands this is the first year of the new system, and will work with hunters and the community to ensure the process is followed correctly.
4. Whitetail information & regulations
Buying a license
In order to hunt white-tailed deer in the State of Michigan, hunters require the proper accreditation and licencing. For more information: https://www.mdnr-elicense.com/
Michigan Deer Hunting Seasons:
Liberty Hunt: September 9-10, 2023
Early Antlerless Firearm: Sept. 16-17, 2023
Independence Hunt: Oct. 19-22, 2023
Archery: Oct. 1 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1, 2023
Regular Firearm season: Nov. 15-30
Zone 1: Dec. 2-11, 2022
Zone 2: Dec. 2-11, 2022
Zone 3: Dec. 2-11, 2022
Late Antlerless Firearm:
Dec. 12, 2022 – Jan.1, 2023
5. Reserved Deer Hunts
Reserved public-land deer hunts are restricted to individuals with disabilities, with a limited number of reserved hunts available on selected state and federal public lands. Hunters can apply for a reserved hunt access permit from July 15 – August 15, and are selected by random draw.
A reserved deer hunt permit authorizes the permit holder to pursue whitetails at a specific location on specific date. The access permit is not a kill tag; hunters must possess appropriate deer license(s) to harvest deer, in accordance with state hunting regulations, and any local restrictions that apply.
For more information on Reserved hunts
Give Michigan deer hunting a try and as my old pal, Michigan-born ‘Uncle’ Ted Nugent, the Motor City Madman himself, used to say; Whack em’ and stack em! Enjoy hunting Michigan’s legendary white-tailed deer.