2012-09-06 / Outdoors

DNR: Plenty of small game, water fowl


Hunters make their way along a snow covered trail after a successful rabbit outing in Ionia County last year. 
Courtesy photo Hunters make their way along a snow covered trail after a successful rabbit outing in Ionia County last year. Courtesy photo LANSING – Small game hunting season began Sept. 1 and ends March 31. Department of Natural Resources 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.

Rabbits

Season: Cottontail rabbits and varying (or snowshoe) hare can be hunted from Sept. 15 – 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.

Squirrels

Season: Sept. 15 – 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.

Ruffed Grouse

Season: Sept. 15 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1, statewide. The bag limit is five per day/10 in possession in the northern twothirds of the state, three per day/six in possession in Zone 3 (southern Michigan).

Outlook: Grouse populations are cyclical, typically rising and falling over a 10-year period, and indications are that we are coming off a peak, though spring drumming surveys indicate populations are still high and a warm, dry spring should help this year’s reproduction. Woodcock

Season: Sept. 22 – Nov. 5, statewide. The daily bag is three with a possession limit of six.

Outlook: Although woodcock populations are in long-term decline because of decreasing habitat quality, hunters can expect about the same results they enjoyed last year, when roughly 35,000 hunters – often in conjunction with grouse hunting – said they pursued woodcock.

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Season: Oct. 10-31 in the eastern Upper Peninsula, east of M-129 and east of I-75 north of M-48. The limit is two daily, with four in possession; six per season.

Outlook: This is the third season of hunting after nearly a decade of closed season. Sharptails are birds that use grasslands and associated shrubby habitat; think pheasant habitat, as sharp-tailed grouse feed on upland seeds and berries.

Pheasants

Season: Oct. 10-31 in the Upper Peninsula in Menominee County and portions of Iron, Marquette, Dickinson and Delta counties, Oct. 20 – Nov. 14 in the Lower Peninsula and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1 in selected areas of Zone 3. The limit is two cocks daily, with four in possession.

Outlook: Pheasant populations have been in decline for a number of years, primarily because of changes in agricultural practices and/or urban sprawl, though biologists are optimistic that ideal nesting conditions this spring may show a bump in young-of-the-year birds.

Quail

Season: Oct. 20 – Nov. 14. Quail can be hunted only in 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 counties. The bag limit is five per day/10 in possession.

Outlook: Quail hunting often is associated with pheasant hunting in Michigan, and bird populations are patchy at best, though spring nesting conditions were ideal.

Wild Turkey

Season: Sept. 15 – 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, firstserved 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.

Ducks

Seasons: Sept. 22 – Nov. 16 and Nov. 22-25 in the North Zone (Upper Peninsula); Sept. 29 – Nov. 25 and Dec. 15-16 in the Middle Zone; and Oct. 6 – Nov. 30 and Dec. 29 – 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.

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.

Canada Geese

Seasons: The 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.

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.

For more information visit www.michigan.gov/hunting.

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