While Michigan may be known for its record-breaking cold temperatures in the winter months, this makes it quite the hunting haven, as animal tracks can be seen for miles, and the frigid temperature limits their movement. From whitetail deer to rabbits, here are some of the creatures that you can expect to see if you head off for winter hunting in Michigan.
Back in the early 1800s, the whitetail deer population in Michigan was thriving, as the mix of hardwood forests and open land provided them with the perfect habitat. This made deer-hunting quite the local tradition for over 100 years, and while the deer population in Michigan may be starting to decline, the hunting of whitetails is still extremely popular. The wilderness of the Upper Peninsula has always been one of the best places to hunt whitetails, while the Northern Lower Peninsula is home to hundreds of traditional deer camps. If you are seeking out the biggest bucks in the state, then Southern Michigan, otherwise known as Farm Country, is the place to go.
Pheasant hunting is available in Zone 3 of Michigan, which primarily encompasses the lower end of the state. Beginning in early December and running until January, pheasant hunting season is always highly anticipated, and the Thumb area is best for this. Your best bet when it comes to finding a large amount of pheasant is to speak to some local farmers, as they more than often rent out hunting rights within their grounds, which are usually teeming with the birds.
Bear hunting in Michigan is not open to everyone, and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is quite strict over who is able to bear hunt each year. In order to in-keep with wildlife management goals, a lottery is drawn each year, with hunting rights granted to a lucky few. The lottery is usually drawn at some point in the summer, so you will know well in advance if you have been chosen, giving you more than enough time to plan out your hunting trip.
Rabbits are usually abundant in Michigan in the winter, and the snow provides the perfect way to track them, with many trails leading right up to the actual bush that the rabbit happens to be hiding in. The cottontail rabbit is the most common, and their population during the winter has been steady over the years. These are most likely to be found near food sources, as well as brush piles, which they use for shelter. The snowshoe hare can also be hunted in the winter months, although this is much harder than the cottontail, as the hares change color, from brown to white, as the winter rolls in, making them much harder to spot.
Michigan is home to over eight million acres of public land, with the majority of this open for hunting. From the wilderness of the Upper Peninsula to sprawling local farms, there are hunting opportunities to be found just about everywhere in the state, meaning that you are more than likely to be able to return home with a prize.