2013-09-19 / Outdoors

DNR: Small game bountiful this season

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. Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists across the state say hunters should find conditions similar to last year 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).

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.

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 and into decline. The spring drumming survey showed a statewide decline of 13 percent from last year with the highest counts in the Upper Peninsula. Grouse are most numerous in the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.

Woodcock

Season: Sept. 21 - Nov. 4, 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 fourth season of hunting after nearly a decade of closed seasons. Sharptails are birds of grasslands and associated shrubby habitat (think pheasant habitat).

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 this summer rural mail carrier brood index was the best since 2004

Wild Turkey

Season: Sept. 15 - Nov. 14 in 11 management units including the entire Upper Peninsula (except Isle Royale). 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.

Ducks

Seasons: Sept. 21 - Nov. 10 and Nov. 23 - Dec. 1 in the North Zone (Upper Peninsula); Oct. 5 - Dec. 1 and Dec. 14-15.

The bag limit for ducks is six per day with no more than four mallards (no more than one hen), three wood ducks, three scaup (bluebills), two redheads, two pintails, two canvasbacks 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: Prospects for Michigan’s 40,000 duck hunters are excellent. Continental populations are down 6 percent from last year, but remain 33 percent above the long-term average.

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.

The regular goose seasons are Sept. 11 - Dec. 11 in the North Zone.

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, with as much opportunity as ever.

For more information on Michigan hunting seasons, licensing and other information, visit www.michigan.gov/hunting. If you’re looking for a place to hunt, check out Mi-HUNT (www.michigan.gov/mihunt).

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